9.5, that’s my average for the two 3D competitions I’ve entered in 2018. 9.5 is not a great average. I’ve been shooting in the senior hunter class aiming at unknown distances. The Georgia ASA State Championship is in a few weeks. I have no idea how my average score compares the other 15 qualified seniors (50 year old group) are performing here in the Peach State.
There are lots of people who say don’t worry about the score. Certainly, there is no need to worry. You go out and do your best. “The score will take care of itself,” to quote Coach Pete Carroll of the Seahawks.
Still, is good to have some idea of how the people you’ll be against against are performing whether it is archery or professional football. You then know what to expect and it provides you a scoring goal. Yes, you’ll try to shoot all 12s. I won’t. There will be times I’ll not risk going for a 12. There will, also, be times I’ll shoot an eight and hopefully not have any fives.
Having no idea what to expect at the upcoming State Championship I reviewed the top three scores from all the ASA Pro/Am tournaments for 2018 among the Senior Hunters. It is 10.1. My average score wouldn’t have landed me in the top 10 among this year’s ASA Pro/Am events.
A few variables I don’t know might make a difference. Those are the terrain and distance. I’ve shot the ASA Pro/Am in Augusta and know that course is mostly flat. It seems the distances weren’t outrageously long. This far for 2018 it seems the local events are rolling hills and lavish use of real estate. As best as I’ve recorded the mean distance for local hunter targets has been between 31 and 33 yards.
I don’t like going into a tournament cold, meaning not having a clue how the other guys are shooting. Coach Carroll may advocate not worrying about the score, but I bet he is real clear on how his team, the Seattle Seahawks, matches up against their opponents on any given game day.
I took about 8 months off from the gym. It was a matter of a move, getting settled and finding a convenient and moderately price facility. Now that we’ve landed in Georgia a gym membership and weight lifting program is off of my to do list and part of my weekly training.
Lifting weights is an important adjunct to any athlete. After the Master’s Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia Tiger Woods was interviewed. During that Tiger pointed out the work it has taken him to try and bring himself back into competitive professional golf. One of his comments referred to time spent in the gym.
In nearly every sport there is an avenue among the training regime that leads the athlete to a weight room. Archery is no exception. It is obvious that not all or even most archers spend time at a gym.
Spending time lifting weights can become an asset to you during long tournaments where the weight of a bow and the drawing of an arrow can become physically draining. Not only can the arms and shoulders benefit of weight lifting, but also your core and legs (support the shot) should be part of your conditioning program.
I thought I was doing enough practice. Including rest days (when I don’t pick up a bow – about one day every 7 to 10 days) I shoot about 100 arrows per day. When I practice I break it up so that I shoot in the morning then in the afternoon. I try to get no less that 125 arrows each day that I actually shoot (rest days excluded). I have long days where I shoot more and tapering days when I shoot less.
Last week, I watched a 15 year old that has been shooting almost exactly the same number of months I have – around 55 months. He was nearly perfect on a 3D course that was pretty tough. He was shooting known 45 and ended up with a 220 for 20 targets. During conversation he mentioned he’d only been shooting 3D for a year.
Granted, he’s ranked number one in the US in his age group outside of 3D. But, he finished last weeks 3D course with the highest overall score. He also mentioned in conversation that he shoots about 200 arrows per day.
That got me to wondering. Maybe I should increase the arrows I fire off to around 200 per day.
There were only two shots out of twenty under 30 yards. One target at 22 yards and the other at 26 yards. They were my worst two shots of the day. Aside from those two shots, ones I wanted back immediately, it was a long day. By long I don’t mean time spent shooting.
In a recent post I noted that in the bowhunter class 3D targets seem to be stretched. My comments didn’t sit well with some folks that seemed to feel affronted by my review of that particular range. Of course, no offense was intended. Like mama taught me,”It is not what you say, it is how you said it.” Perhaps I wrote the prior summary without the correct finesse. In that post I’d noted that faux animals in the bowhunter class seem to be getting further away from the stakes.
I’ve competed in the Pro Bowhunter Division at an IBO World Championship. The equipment in that class was limited to pins, short stabilizer, and no magnification on the sight. The maximum distance was 50 yards. Essentially, what I’m saying is that I am not afraid of long shots. The absence of fear doesn’t equate to accuracy of an arrow.
To be fair I’ve shot 3D using a target bow rig with all the fancy thingamajigs allowed on a bow. But, last year I switched back to pins and a hunting rig to shoot 3D. Why? Because that’s how I hunt with a bow. I thought it might be fun to shoot 3D with a hunting bow set up for hunting. And it is. I got to test the rig again on Saturday in Shady Dale, Georgia at an ASA State Qualifier.
I got lucky and was able to hitch a range ride in a group where I knew everyone. There were three excellent shooters using target bows from known distances, Steve, Butch, and Austin. Butch’s son Luke was in the group and he was using a bowhunter rig.
Luke may be all of eight years old. He was tearing it up on the range. His bow doesn’t have a whole lot of speed or power but he was smacking mostly tens with a few twelves and a few eights. For a little guy he did have a quick wit.
On one shot his arrow hit high and bounced off the target. We all saw the shot and knew his score for that target. However, when one of the scorekeepers, Steve, asked, “What was it” referring to the score, it was Luke who spoke up first. As straight-faced and serious sounding as he’d been all day, he replied, “Oh, that was a twelve.” He knew as we all did it wasn’t a twelve. The entire group caught the intended humor. “Yep, “ someone replied, “he’s an archer.”
The most impressive shooting of the day was by a 15 year old in our group, Austin. With one target to go he was 20 up shooting from known 45. On the last target he scored a 10 and it was the highest score on that 26-yard target.
That target was a hyena sitting in a completely dark hole and simply could not be seen. Of the adults we scored a 10, an 8 and two 5s (including Austin as an adult – he had the 10). It was a difficult shot simply because it was too dark to see the target and one I’d have never taken hunting. I was uncomfortable shooting it on the range.
There’s an old rule that for me is hard to ignore, “Never shoot at anything you can’t see.”
Aside from that one target all others were well placed even if no real estate remained left behind. I think I’ll finish the year with a bowhunter rig and change back to a target bow and shoot some known yardage for 2019. Seems that’s where everyone is shooting.
Tomorrow is there’s a Georgia ASA State Qualifier about 38 miles away. I’ll shoot that hoping to qualify for the State Championship. The past week or so I’ve been cranking out arrows concentrating on 3D. (I’m a little behind in that discipline.)
In addition to archery practice I maintain a rigorous overall fitness program. It’s part of my training for archery and just in case there’s a race I’d like to try. There is a duathlon nearby in August and I am considering it.
At a recent tournament I overheard a “Pro” archer talking about his training schedule. He said he shoots for two hours a day and adds running and weight lifting to his workouts. That is an excellent way to go.
Aside from archery I run nearly every morning. I ride a bike almost every afternoon and I’m in the gym at least two days a week. Unlike that young professional archer I can’t recover as fast as I did when I was in my 50’s, 40’s, 30’s 20’s and teens. So, today after running I practiced archery for just an hour. I consider that sort of practice active recovery.
This afternoon I’ll ride a bike, but it will not be as intense a ride as yesterday’s. I may fling a few more arrows, but for the sports part of my day I’ll take it easy and save some for tomorrow. Sunday is a nearly total break while we go fishing. (I’m still on the hook today for several hours of yard and range work.)
You’re facing a coyote that is positioned 40 yards away on a small hill. Between you and that target are trees obscuring the view. Your 3D rig is hunting with a shorter axel-to-axel length, sporting a short stabilizer and you’re aiming using pins.
A coyote is not a large target. At 40 yards firing off an arrow a little hot or a little cold and you’ll find yourself excavating behind your intended mark for an arrow that’s gone astray. There’s no easy way to avoid this type of mishap. The way to best avoid it is to practice it over and over before you encounter it in a tournament.
The same holds true for that small black bear sitting in a black hole down range at 40 yards. Or the javelina perched on a log below a crest with a tree branch over its back and leaves blocking your view. A slight error and you again are taking a pause to hunt down an arrow. Be confident when you will see these targets. Confidence that practice and exposure to competition and knowing you can hit the mark.
Taking aim on a black target in a dark hole using pins need not be an exercise in “wing and a prayer” archery (that approach has been known to work). Another way is to perfect your aim on this type of target is to practice it over and over.
You need to prepare for all sorts of target conditions during a 3D tournament. Even when you think you have all contingencies rehearsed there will a target that might throw you for a loop.
The last competitive 3D tournament I shot was last years Virginia IBO State Championship. I won. Then, I put down my 3D rig and concentrated on 18 meters. Since then, we’ve moved and I’ve shot in a number of tournaments all of which were not 3D. Last week I shot on a 3D course other than mine for fun. I shot a 198. Not spectacular.
The past two weeks we’ve traveled as far north as Watch Hill, RI. During that trip we drove through pasts of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginal, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. It was a long trip. This week we spent 3 days at Brenda’s dad’s lake house in Tignal, Georgia.
Needless to say, archery has taken a hit. Practice while we were on the road ‘up north’ didn’t happen. Once we returned to Good Hope and before heading to Tignal I got practice in at home. At Ray’s house, Brenda’s dad (my-father-in-law), I got plenty of practice on his range.
His range is simple, one set of targets he uses for practicing with his crossbow. I used it to work on yardage. When we left Ray’s and returned home I went to my 3D range to take a practice run at a 20-target ASA style tournament.
Last year I went back to a hunter class rig. That means pins and a short stabilizer like I’d use when actually hunting. While top 3D shooters all seem to prefer field target style rigs I like a hunting arrangement for 3D. At some point I may switch back to long stabilizers and a scope for now I am happy with my Elite 35 set up for hunting.
What I wanted to measure today is how I am fairing at unknown distances. Prior practices have included a range finder. Today I estimated yardage that ranged from 14 yards (mosquito target) to 42 yards (a standing deer). The average yardage was 27, which included several small targets shot from 14 to 18 yards (mosquito, bobcat sizes). If I removed the small target short shots the average distance was 33 yards.
At most ASA style tournaments I don’t expect to see a lot of backyard type targets. Oh, there will be a javelina at 35 to 40 yards and I have a javelina that I practice shooting at that distance. There’s also a badger that I shoot from 20 to 40 yards because it is likely to appear during competition. What I don’t have are the newer spotted cats or very large targets. Hopefully, my target sponsor will send me a few of those soon. (Wait, I don’t have a target sponsor. Guess those free targets aren’t heading my way after all.)
When I finished practice and tallied my points I’d failed to maintain a 10-point per target average. I shot an average of 9.5. I botched a coyote landing a 5 at 30 yards. It happens.
The short shots helped with my average. If I removed them my average dropped to 9.01 points per arrow. There is work to do before next weekends ASA State Qualifier.
You’ve practiced, you’re ready, but during 3D competition you blow it. Here are a few pearls that may help you to not blow it.
We’ve all been there. That place where we botch a shot. From time to time I revisit ‘there.’ So, rather than return to ‘there’ more often than necessary set up practices to find the mistakes that could that lead you back ‘there.’
For those of you that left ‘there’ and never returned my hat is off to you. Some of us make mistakes when shooting 3D that result in lost points or lost arrows.
About losing arrows – don’t be afraid to lose them during practice. While practicing it isn’t a bad idea to push your limits. Doing so is going to cause a miss. Better to miss while in practice than during competition. When you do find a particular shot that is off course do it over and over until you get it. Then, do it some more.
Aside from judging yardage, which is another matter, there are things than you can do to help make that shot. For baseline, we’ll pretend you always judge yardage smack on. We’ll also agree that you are a practiced and proficient archer that on occasion messes up a little.
Here are a few pearls that are simple things to remember that can help you 3D competition.
First, unless you’re one of those top gun archery celebrities, almost no one is watching you shoot. Sure, you’re at the stake standing isolated at the stake for everyone to see, but they are either watching the target, eating a Little Debbie snack, talking, daydreaming, or worrying about their own score. Relax and don’t let your egocentric imagination go wild. Stay calm, relax and shoot an arrow.
When you’re not shooting take that time to study the shot. Before you reach the stake have a mental plan of how to solve the shot. Say, for example, your target is half of a javelina exposed from behind a tree at 40 yards. Of course, the center shot for a 10 (ASA scoring) is inches away from the tree.
First off the tree is a bonus. It provides a linear boarder. Aim so that the tree provides a black line, the part of the javelina exposed, between the tree and the X. The shoot the X.
Next, make certain you don’t screw up your shot. If you push or pull and arrow, depending on whether you are right or left handed you are going to hit the tree next to that javelina.
To avoid that catastrophe remain clam, take you time (you of plenty) and do what so many neglect, follow through with the shot. You’d be surprised at how often archers get rushed and don’t follow through. Heck, don’t take your aim off the target until you hear your arrow hit and then hold some. If you got the yardage right you’ll be fine. If your elevation is good but your arrow landed right or left, well you messed up your shot. You probably didn’t follow though or rushed the shot and pushed your arrow. (Assuming your form is good most of the time and your not torqueing your bow and punching your release. Oh, you can punch a hinge. Just try snapping your wrist back to activate the hinge.)
Don’t rush. Take your allotted time. That doesn’t mean walk up to the stake and fire up a cigarette (I’ve seen it). Start taking time before you approach the target. Take time to judge yardage. Notice where the other arrows have hit (if you are not the first shooter) and see if the other arrows are going to highlight the point where you want to place your shot. In archery, slow is good.
This is an easy pearl for archers – eat. So much of archery is governed by the brain that keeping it supplied with energy is critical for a long tournament. The brain’s primary source of energy is carbohydrates. Take sometime to eat, beef jerky is not a carbohydrates, to provide the carbs your brain wants and stay hydrated. (I have nearly bonked during long tournaments. I know on those times I lost points by not paying attention on my calorie needs. Archery has demands other than those experienced in long distance running, cycling or triathlon. Nevertheless, if you get hungry during a tournament your shooting will suffer.)
None of these little pearls should be new to you. You know them and sometimes you (and I) forget them. When you practice pay attention to these little pearls and your scores will reflect the effort you made to improve your shooting.
3D is a tough discipline for anyone in archery. Not only does the archer need to perform a flawlessly formed shot, the archer must contend with unknown distances (unless shooting in a known class), shooting a variety of targets, having various colors, with changing lighting, on unleveled ground, and during inconsistent weather. It is judging yardage that is my Achilles Heel. The other issues that confound shots are conditions where I hope luck can remedy.
I’ve listened to all sorts of advice when it comes to finding a reliable method to judge distance. One is the 20 yard method where 20 yards is guessed and excess yardages are estimated by rolling that 20 yard distance over in one’s mind’s eye. Then adding the rolled over distance to adjust the mental image of the actual distance.
Another is to look at trees lining the shooting lane. Select a tree about 10 yards away allowing that you now know 10 yards. From that tree to the next judge the yardage then combine the prior tree’s 10-yard distance with the subsequent trees distance for a total. If the trees zigzag subtract a bit of yardage. Continue this approach until the target is reached, mentally hopping from tree to tree and zig to zag.
There’s the know 30 yards really well or the know 40 yards really well approach where the archer becomes an expert at those distances and sizes up each target based on its proximity to the 30 or 40 yard comfort zone. (My comfort zone is at 20 yards).
The target size is a popular method. That is where distance is guessed depending on how large or small the target appears. The smaller the target seems the further away it is positioned. (Duh)
A favorite of mine is measuring distance with your thumb. The idea is that by holding out your thumb to measure angles, you can tell your distance to things (people, cars, buildings, planes, clouds, etc.).
Hold out your arm, look at your thumb, and see a distant car half as high. Cars are about 5 feet (1.5 meters) high. So your thumb may appear 10 feet (3 meters) wide. And since you know your thumb is x30 times as far as it seems tall… you know the car is something like 300 feet (90 meters) away! (I’ve never tried this one. Maybe if foam Ford Focus landed on a 3D range I might give it a whirl.)
Sadly, none of those techniques has been much help to me. Maybe I started archery too late in life to have mastered the distance estimating methods that yield others their success. All I can do is head out to 3D practice and shoot arrow after arrow after arrow over a range is distances. Hopefully, something will sink in. On a good day that something sinking in is an arrow in the 12 ring. (Or 11 if you’re an IBO fan)