Training and Tapering

I wasn’t tired. My arrows were hitting fine. But, there’s a point where you need to be careful not to over do it. I stopped after just 132 arrows for the day. I eased back on purpose.

I’ve gone into tournaments tired. Fatigue earned from shooting and other activities such as running, riding and swimming.

Tapering in archery is a skill I have yet to master. Trying to equate it to other sports does not work. I tried to cipher a top dog coach’s plan and incorporate his suggestions. His work was a general-purpose plan that he provided to all his athletes.

At the onset of training for a new sport one plan fits many is fine. As athletes gain skill those plans need to change. No two athletes are alike. The master coach’s plan (master level coaching skill rank assigned by the coach) became apparent had been created by evaluating a running schedule and adapting it for archery. That won’t work – I know I tried.

My statistics of each practice seem to be equating to some degree with heart rate and effort for running. That is, I’ve observed peaks and valleys well enough to see trends. I’m not sure if the variance in the stats is as much a result of physical fatigue as a combination of physical and mental. The range in the variance is about 3%.

No matter what, I felt like 132 arrows (50-meter) over two practices session was enough for the day.

50-meters and Snake Hunting

In a post about 50-meter practice I mentioned the extra time it takes to walk the 100-meters to pull arrows, compared to 18-meters or 3D, and return to the shooting line after each end. During 50-meter shooting I fire off six arrows before I pull. So, there’s a lot of time spend walking back and forth. Overall, it breaks down to around 2 hours on the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon of 100-meter out and back walks. (84 arrows each session)

A scenic hike to pull arrows

After that post a good friend of mine, Jack, responded with a question. Jack is not an archer. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and I have met a lot of smart people. Let me qualify smart: I have two doctorates and a master’s degree, much like Dr. Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang. Some people have said I’m smart. I’ve never felt smart. Believe me, I have been surrounded by others that made me feel like a microcephalic. Jack is a member of that crowd of mental wizards that have often left me slack jawed and wide-eyed at their gift. Back to Jack’s question:

“Do you use the walking time to visualize your techniques and relax, or does your mind just wander….which can also be a form of relaxation?”

There you go, thoughtful. Jack’s question is probably one that other expert archers would have given a nearly philosophical response. They’d have shared how they use the walk to evaluate their performance, adjust form, and clear their minds to enter the Force during their next end.

Of course, I answered Jack honestly, “I use it to hunt for snakes.”

This snake was so “Green” I had to bring it home for a few minutes to show Brenda. I put it back near where we met.

Yes, that is exactly what I’m doing as I hike back and forth to pull arrows. I frequently find them – at least several times a week. The non-poisonous snakes I mostly leave alone. Sometimes I catch them and bring them home to show my wife, Brenda, before setting them free. The nasty water moccasins and copperheads are what I am really hunting. I want to see them before they bite me. (I do always practice with 17-inch snake boots on during the snake months)

Heading to the range wearing 17-inch Lacrosse snake boots and carrying a Ruger .380

In a way, snake hunting is relaxing. It certainly slows my pace and my mind does wander during the hunt. Here’s the kicker, since April I’ve shot one copperhead and five water moccasins. That’s about two snakes per month. Two have gotten away; each of those was chased away with a long heavy limb since I wasn’t carrying a pistol when we met.

After a rain this area reveals just how swampy it can get

There are probably readers that employ a more live and let live opinion of snakes. In some circumstances that is fine. When it comes to the variety of snake that has no compulsion against biting and maybe killing me, well I am less tolerant.

But, snake hunting does clear my head. Maybe during the upcoming 50-meter tournament in Burlington, North Carolina, I place some rubber snakes on the pathway I’ll be hiking to make it feel like home.

A Little Running and Cycling to Go With Archery

Before archery practice I run then I ride. Running is as much for River, my lab, as for me. She really seems to enjoy it and acts eager to go every morning. When we get home from the run I head out for a bike ride. Not hard, not too far – between 10 and 25 miles. Then, I’ll head out to the range for archery.

I own several bikes and I rotate them for rides. The past few weeks I’ve been using either a Litespeed road bike or Cannondale mountain bike. Neither bike is new. The Litespeed is 21 years old. The Cannondale is twelve. Both are in excellent condition.

Some of my bikes

The Litespeed is one of my favorite machines. The only original component on the frame is the front derailleur. The frame, titanium, feels amazing.

Part of the training I do is for fitness. One day I may decide to do more triathlons, mountain bike racing or cycling time trials. Or maybe not. Either way, I believe being fit provides an advantage for me in archery.

Savannah Wheelmen at a race in Virginia – 1972 (Me in the middle with the light colored hat)

Certainly, I’ve shot against a lot of archers that I would say aren’t physically fit. There are a lot of good shooters that aren’t what I’d consider healthy. At least they’re doing something beyond watching television or playing video games. And many of them can really shoot a bow.

For me, I prefer being in better health. I don’t mind running or cycling. Of course, I swim –just not very fast.


50-meter practice is slower than 18-meters. Well, think about it – you have to walk back and forth a lot and each trip is 100-meters. There is something really enjoyable about practice – letting loose an arrow that’s going to fly 50-meters. That is just a bit addicting.

Time for new paper

There’s only 9 days until I try my hand at a 50-meter event. Honestly, I have no idea what it will take to have a winning score here in North Carolina.

I do know 720 is a perfect score – I’ve not yet broken 700. I also know that the top pros are shooting between 702 and 714. Right now getting 6 arrows in the 10-ring is goal.

This bee hung around, landed on arrows, and seemed interested in what was happening on the paper

I’ve come close, 5 out of 6, 4 out of 6 in the X or 10-ring. But, thus far I manage to drop an arrow or two in the yellow of the nine. This morning I ended up with 35 tens, 35 nines and two eights. It was a little disappointing – not my lowest score, not my highest, pretty much in the middle. (681 for those counting) But, I don’t like shooting an 8 much less two of them. Maybe this afternoon will be better.

(Afternoon practice – Nope. Started out looking great.  But, it fizzled out.)

Why is it that Amazon is Doing So Well?

After 11 days on the road we needed groceries. More and more we buy from Amazon’s Prime Panty. While we were on the road we neglected to place an order from Prime Pantry. Their fulfillment center’s are fast, but in this case it wouldn’t be fast enough.

Much of the fresh produce and meat we purchase comes from local vendors. Then, there are those times where we need a lot in a hurry. This was one of those times and meant a trip into town. We did stop at Bright’s Delights, a local produce stand, on the way into town where we loaded up on tomatoes, okra, squash, and green beans.

A lot in a hurry means staples. Our choices are Farm Fresh, Food Lion, or Wal-Mart. On this particular day we really needed to stock up and wanting to save cash we found ourselves at Wal-Mart in Elizabeth City.

Wal-Mart does have lower prices. We go shopping with a list, which we separate, grab two carts, pull the lower priced items off the shelf and queue to check out in about 15 minutes. We’ve got speed shopping down to an art. Although the sights throughout the mega-store can be similar to a side show we stay focused and get out. Well, we hurry along and then we stand in line.

Today I timed the wait in the queue. From the moment we entered the checkout line, ours backed-up past the vats of out-dated discounted DVDs, mouthwashes, and candy tubs to the “Fine Jewelry” counter, to the moment the cashier scanned our first item – 20 minutes.

During our wait the customer parked ahead of us said, “I know what their plan is – it’s to make us use the self-check out.” We mentioned we had considered the self-check out. The problem with self-check out, “We done it and it never works.”

You can make out the 3 open check out lines

The customer ahead sighed, “I know, it’s never worked for me either, and this time I have a gift card.” We figured the gift card would lock things down for a bit.

When self-check out operates properly it’s okay. We used self-check out exclusively at the Giant in Easton, Maryland before we sold that house relocated to North Carolina. We used self-check out at Home Depot in Athens, Georgia last Friday it was flawless. The ones here at Wal-Mart in Elizabeth City offer challenges that push patience.

Waiting in the line next to us was a mother with her 5-year old daughter. The poor child had all she could stand. Mama sent her over to a candy tub to search for a delicacy. This calmed the child as well as Mama’s Prozac.

The last time we shopped at Wal-Mart their computer system failed and no one could check out. We waited way too long. I suggested leaving the cart and heading over to Farm Fresh since we had to drive past on our way home. Brenda, my wife, not one to be defeated fought on and we waited.

On today’s wait our shopping cart included one bottle of wine. That would never pass muster at self-check out. Every bottle we’ve tried to slip past the customer operated payment system ended up needing a store representative to verify and confirm our ages. The wine purchaser age check delay combined with classification locks and system reboots conducted by a store expert increases time spent experiencing the Wal-Mart during self-check out.

Back in line our friend, Mike, the customer waiting ahead of us (we were now on a first name basis) continued to explore his idea that Wal-Mart’s plan is to redirect shoppers to check themselves out. I doubted the plan suggesting, “Mike, to have a plan someone has to think.” At this point he stopped arguing at just the right moment – it was his turn with the cashier.

Mike had 7 items. We were getting close! I could almost feel the parking lot outside.

Mike’s gift card failed. He’d made it to the cashier, his seven items scanned, his card failed. Mike, Brenda, and I just laughed! We knew it would fail. The card was good. Mike was innocent of creating the failure. Three attempts by the cashier and his line supervisor was all it took for Mike to hit pay dirt. Mike was free and clear. We were up to bat.

During the wait for Mike’s gift card to clear we’d unloaded our potential purchases. Unlike Mike’s seven items, no the 20 item or less check out line was not open; Brenda and I piled our goods on the biofilm saturated conveyer belt. The cashier went about his business of sliding, scanning, and stuffing items into urban tumbleweed bags hooked to a small merry-go-round. Seven minutes later he was done. Brenda inserted her debit card to pay – it failed. The cashier and his supervisor worked out a few keystrokes and within a several more minutes we were free to leave with our purchases.

We departed with only three items on our list not accounted for. We’ve never experienced a trip to Wal-Mart when they’ve had everything on our list. This trip we missed: fresh basil, shelled edamame and coconut milk. We can get the coconut milk (for a recipe) from Amazon’s Prime Panty. The fresh basil we’ll get out of our neighbor Jimmy’s garden. They have the shelled edamame at Farm Fresh.

We’d be passing the Farm Fresh on our way home, anyway.

July 4th, 2017

We’re one the road and in Georgia. It’s our annual 4th of July celebration. We’ve been doing this for decades. Since I’ve been writing on this site this marks the third year where our 4th coincidenced with archery. We have a big production here at the Lake House.

Sean and River anticipating their next swim

My father-in-law, Ray, is the primary instigator of the celebration. He’s retired Army and retired ROTC teacher. The 4th is particularly meaningful to him.

To get to Georgia we stop along the drive and camp. We used to make the drive in one shot. Since we bought our Winnebago, it’s more fun to take our time and enjoy the view.

View from our campsite at Little Pee Dee

Our first stop was at Little Pee Dee Campground near Dillon, SC. This makes our third stop at that Campground. Because our trip was just before the weekend of the 4th, we had to settle for the last open campsite. It was really tight. That’s not to mean it wasn’t spacious, it was tight with trees requiring extremely careful parking of the RV.

That was tight

I needed to be perfect backing in because two trees bordered the entrance. One of them leaned in allowing just inches of clearance. Once in the space was just excellent.

Tight but no one is on top of us at Little Pee Dee in SC

In Tignal we camped at Hester’s Ferry Campground. Having a Winnebago means no one has to rent a place for the overflow of family that comes to enjoy the lake, food, and fireworks.

Hester’s Ferry campsite in GA

The trip is not a vacation from archery.  We have a field where I practice with my bow and Ray practices with his crossbow. This trip I brought a large block. There are two blocks here, both shot to pieces. The bigger block, carried here in the truck, has two sides that will stop arrows. The larger sides don’t even slow arrows.

The block was hauled to the field, balanced on a smaller block that rested on a chair. Once the paper target was attached to the old block I used a 100-foot tape measure to wheel out 50 meters. Before long the range was open for business.

In the past, I’ve said that I prefer warm weather to cold. Well, I got my wish. I think the coolest day during this trip peaked at 93°F. That’s not to too bad. We get similar temperatures on the coast of North Carolina all the time. Sure, archery practice can be a sweaty business.

Cycling, in the case of this trip, was done pretty early and the heat was not a factor. Even bike rides later in the day didn’t feel as hot as did standing still in the sun shooting. Riding a bike creates a nice breeze.

The final day of 50-meter practice here was the hottest of all – over 100°F. The forecast was for 100°F and we surpassed the prediction. Hiking to pull arrows I made sure to put my bow under the shade of a tree otherwise after an hour or so the bow gets really hot. A black aluminum bow is a great thermopile. Still as hot as it was, I’ll take it over the cold.

Got to keep this bow in the shade

We begin our trip home tomorrow. Another 4th is history. Thousands of dollars for fireworks blasted. A mess of great food was eaten. I’ve finished a short bit of writing to remind me about it in the future and I am sharing with you.

In a final note there is group of archers on western shore of Maryland who banned me from their site when I shared my 2014 4th of July post with them. To them I say, “Happy 4th of July! And may the blue rubber suction tips on your arrows always hold true.”