Missing a short shot

Finally, there was a target that was at close range. All day our group had been plugging foam that was never close. Until this really close target the shortest distance shot had been 28 yards. Here in front of us was a javelina, on flat ground, at 24 yards. I called an upper twelve.

I needed another twelve to balance out a few eights. It was a tough range, but a fair range. Shooting pins at 40 yards isn’t hard if you’ve practiced and I felt confident. The few eights where quickly balancing with twelve’s. There it was the twelve I needed just 24 yards away.

I have a javelina on my range. I’ve shot it over 1000 times. I bought it out of necessity. Everywhere I’d been competing the little varmint was there. It would be sitting between 35 and 40 yards. So, I bought one and practiced.

My little friend

On this day the critter was only 24 yards out. I was practically laughing when I reached the stake. With confidence I called, “Upper 12.”

I took my time. Studied the shot. I got my feet perfect. Loaded and nocked an arrow. I raised my bow, drew my arrow, bending at the waist (better than dropping an arm) took aim, and landed a high 5.

I knew it before the arrow hit. Just before the shot I had a brain-fart, lost the target, and before I could stop and think to let down I’d shot the target – shot it high.

Sometime I watch golf. I see professionals on TV do things while putting I’d never do. They walk up to a close shot, sort of lean over on one foot and knock the ball into the pin. One day I’ll watch one of these guys brain-fart and miss the put.

There are no “gimme” shots in archery. Each shot counts. Sure, we all have an occasional brain-fart. But, the fewer the better. (I still finished good enough to win. But, below what I should have shot. And perhaps there was a little luck involved.)

The Week that Began and Ended in Social Circle, Georgia

It was a long week. Starting with an archery tournament and ending with another both in Social Circle. In the middle there was a big family gathering and one huge birthday party.

The start was a competition I nearly didn’t shoot. It wasn’t the difficulty of the shooting that created some pause, it was the hour. It tournament didn’t start until 7:30 PM. But, it was shooting near home, about 25 minutes away in Social Circle. Being so close it is hard to pass up archery contests such a short drive down the road. Heck, if it got too long I could always just go home.

Going home was a drive for others that came to the tournament. Archers from Atlanta, Decatur and Kennesaw were on the line. The line was at 50 meters and the lines were full.

Yes sir, it was a long tournament, but I didn’t leave even though this event went well past my bedtime. The crew from ACE Apache, led by USA Archery Level 4 Coach Big John Chandler, did a great job of organizing and running the show.

I did leave before the awards were presented. I’ll go out on a limb and say I won my age group (over 50). The chance projection is based on the semi-final Olympic Round where when I was finally eliminated – the other few remaining archers seemed no older than 30 years. I made it home at midnight. I was so keyed up that there was no sleeping until after 2:00 AM.

We camped for the “Party”

Even though I didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00 AM, our dogs insisted that I was up by 6:00 AM. Dogs have no mercy when it comes to human sleep requirements. It took three days to get over the break in my sleep pattern.

Little Roy and Lizzie playing

With that to endure there was no time to ease up. There was a birthday bash to follow. By birthday bash, I mean catering, a live blue grass band and a good percentage of the Town of Lincolnton, Georgia attending. This shindig was put together in part by his friends in Lincolnton and his family. It was Ray’s, my father-in-law, 90th birthday.

View from our campsite

Aside from lawn maintance my role was to smoke a ham, two large Boston Butts for pulled pork, and grill about 12 pounds of sausage.

After long days at Ray’s it was nice to get to a piece of quiet

At the end of a long week I got to pick up a bow and shoot another tournament, this time a 3D competition. What I can say about the crew at ACE Apache in Social Circle, the put together a 3D range that was perfect. I won that on as well.

Yes, this was nice

It was a long week. It was fun. I am tired.

Being a Fit Archer

Coaching tip

You and I may have never met. It is an easy assumption considering 15,000 readers come to this site every month. Chances are you are an archer. Odds are you may not be in the greatest shape of your life.

Nearly every week I see a lot of archers. A good many of them are better archers than me. (To be fair – not that many) Here’s the thing, some of you are a bit overweight.

Archery takes a lot of practice and many hours to gain the skill you have and need. Most of you have a full time job, or in school, maybe have a family to support, and must find time to practice with your bow. You’re lucky to get an hour’s worth of shooting in a few times a week. There’s no time to do cardio work that will help keep your fitness. Therein lays the problem.

Eagleman Ironman triathlon

Over years and years of archery practice 3 – 4 times a week, working all day, and skipping exercise adds to your health in that it takes a toll. You’ll one day end up that old geezer flinging arrows huffing and puffing while trying to walk the range. Overtime, your waist sort of ballooned, your blood pressure increased, and sleep is intermittent at best. You may already be there.

I know I’m describing some of you. I’ve shot with archers in their 20s and 30s that had to stop and rest between targets on a 3D range. More than once I have been in a group where we needed to wait while an archer sat down and caught his breath before we could continue.

Ironman World Championship, Kona, HI

It is common to see “chunky” archers. I mean archers need to not move to be good. Hence, our sport isn’t going to burn the calories the way a triathlon does. But, being fit can help you stand still when you need to and stay an archer longer.

If you are concerned that you may be headed down the road of obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, find help now.

There’s a pro archer I knew in Europe. Three years ago he said, “The only time you’ll see me running is if I’m being chased.” He may have tried to run, but he’d not have gotten very far. A year later, after some health issues, he rides a bike, takes walks, and has improved in diet. He has, at last count, lost 50 pounds. Has his shooting improve, no he’s still really good. However, his health has improved significantly.

Someone yelled, “Get him” and I ran. Yes, that is grey in my beard

He may get slightly better as an archer in that he’ll have improved stamina toward the end of those long, shoot-a-lot tournaments where he finds himself in a shoot down. The weight loss and physical conditioning is going help make those long days shooting feel a bit less taxing.

It is hard work to be fit. It is a lot easier to not worry about fitness, practice archery only, and roll on down a path that leads to health problems. Those problems, by the way, will reduce the time you have to enjoy archery.

I don’t shoot for Elite. That “E” was a coincidence.

If you aren’t taking a total fitness approach to archery consider it. Overall, it will be good for you.

Get Some Sleep

It is too easy to stay awake after a long day. Too many of us don’t want to miss a night out or a night watching a favorite show. While at the time your doing whatever it is that is keeping you away from the sack it won’t help your athletic performance.

Coaching Tip

As a species we’re becoming more sleep deprived. How many hours do you sleep per night? Six, seven, five? That generally is not enough if you are looking for peek sports performance.

There are e numbers of studies that suggest humans need from 7.5 to 8.1 hours of sleep per night. It is my opinion athletes are better off on the more is better end of time sleeping.

Dr. Cheri Mah, of UCSF, took a look at what happens to athletes with they get more sleep. In her study, the subjects (college basketball players) were averaging 6.5 hours of sleep per night. They increased their sleep time to an average of 8.5 hours of sleep per night. (1)

By the end of the study the basketball players had increased their free throw percentage by 11.4% and their 3-point shooting by 13.7%. (2)

Image what you could do with an 11-13% improvement in you shooting.

Reference:

You Gotta Know When to Hold ‘Em

Wednesday is hump day. On Wednesday, I was feeling it.

A typical day of training for me goes like this:

First thing in the morning I stretch. As we age we lose our flexibility. I stretch to help prolong my flexibility. It is also a nice way to start the morning. Then, I have breakfast.

After breakfast I run. All my current running is spent on the trails behind my house. River, my lab, joins me. It is about a half an hour of spending quality time with River and getting in cardio. River really seems to enjoy running in the woods.

By the time this is done it is around 0730. I gather my archery gear along with my plan for the morning’s practice. Depending on what is planned the practice can be anywhere between 60 and 120 arrow shot. This takes about two to two and a half hours.

Practice at 55 yards and 70 yards

Between 1030 and 1100 it is break time. From 1100 to 1200 I have write (as I’m doing now) and have lunch. After lunch I take a short nap.

Two days a week (Monday and Thursday) I go to the gym. By 1430 I am headed out for a bicycle ride – more cardio. The cycling is a practice that happens five days a week. I ride for an hour.

At around 1600 I am back on the range for another one to two hours. That’s a lot of arrows – the finish of this morning’s practice 1080 arrows had shot in practice. I stopped a little early on this Wednesday. I was feeling a bit fatigued.

You need to be able to recognize when your body is tired. There are times to push through fatigue. There are also times when you need to listen to your body and ease up a bit.

Taking a break when your body calls for it may reduce the risk of an injury or developing a habit that is poor form.

How Much Do You Shoot Everyday?

It is a question I’ve been asked a lot, “How Much Do You Shoot Everyday?” I’ve asked it of others. Is there some magic number where if you fired off that magical number of arrows it would make you a champion is a set amount of time. There is not such a magical number outside the world of Harry Potter. Harry, of course, wouldn’t rely on an archer’s skill, he’d simple apply the magic.

Neither you nor I have that magic. We have to practice. So, how many arrows per day is a good goal?

One of my favorite answers refers to Olympic archers. The answer posted read that Olympic  archers shoot 5000 arrows per week. I doubt it. Here’s why,

5000 arrows per week comes to 833 arrows per day for a six-day week. I do not use a 7-day workweek for sports since there should be an allowance for recovery.

Assuming Olympians are on a 24-hour day allow 8 hours for sleep. Athletes that are sleep deprived don’t make for excellent performers. That leaves 16 hours. Among those sixteen hours three will be used up eating and other nutrition necessities (intake and output) leaving 13 hours. An hour of the day is used up for dressing, undressing, showering and other hygiene making a remainder of 12 hours.

If 100% of those 12 hours could be spent flinging arrows down range that would be 69.4 arrows per hour for 12 solid hours. That’s one arrow every 51.87 seconds for 60 minutes per hour at 12 hours non-stop. Once again, the number doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Realistically, setting a number of arrows isn’t the best way to frame practice. Your time available to practice is going to determine how many arrows you can shoot per day. If you’re lucky you have several hours of practice time available per day.

With whatever amount of time you have for practice build a plan for that session beforehand. On other words, don’t just show up at a range and start shooting. Be prepared with a specific practice plan. That way you can get the most of the time you have available.

To answer question – more can be better. Too many isn’t good. Too few are not enough.

Georgia ASA State Championship

I camped for this tournament at Hamburg State Park

Alas, life is full of disappointment. Among them, for me at least, was this past week’s Georgia State ASA Championship. One thing that was not remotely close to disappointing is the Po Boy’s Archery 3D range near Mitchell, Georgia.

On the road to Po Boys Archery

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from my campsite

The Po Boy’s 3D range is one of the finest I’ve seen in my nearly five years (4 years, 8 months) of archery. It was such a nice range I wanted to ask if I could shoot it again for fun. I didn’t, the range was full of archers, young and mature, giving clinics on how to shoot 3D.

Smacked with two 12s and two 10s at 40 yards

The competition was so strong that if you messed up on a single shot you’d more than likely be out of the run for a first place award. That was me, only I managed it on a few shots. But, there was only one that was strictly unrecoverable – a big hog.

I have a couple pigs on my 3D practice range. The hog on range ‘A’ was honestly one of the easier targets. It was a giant of a pig at least 3 times the size of my largest and my downfall. It was sitting behind two trees which bordered it.  It was a great target. It looked so close.

I misjudged that hog by 10 yards. I knew it in the millisecond before my arrow released. And there flew any chance for a descent finish. You know, a giant hog at 38 yards looks a lot like a small pig at 28 yards – at least it did for me. Despite a very solid second round, on range ‘D,’ my tournament was over on range ‘A’ target 10. Unless there would be others that might botch a shot.

On range ‘D’, the second of the two ranges I’d been assigned, I hit seven upper 12s. I knew I’d hit them before I shot. I never called them. The fear was that if I called them I’d shoot an eight and I needed to be conservative and finish with all 10s. The hope being that the other archers in my class (Senior Hunter) would screw up. They did not provide me any help. I finished a sad third place.

These “Po Boys” put on one excellent tournament on a spectacular range

My plan going into the tournament was to finish even. Shoot for tens and maybe pull out a 12 here and there. It seemed that 2 to 4 up would win the day in the Senior Hunter class. Shooting even might even bring home a fancy belt buckle.* If I could have stuck with the plan it would have worked. If I’d shot range ‘A’ like range ‘D’ it would have worked. If I’d just shot range ‘A’ a bit tighter. If only, if only….

Yes sir, you can expect to find this little fellow somewhere between 32 yards and 38 yards these days. Our little buddy here was at 36 yards.

Believe me, these archers in Georgia aren’t going to cut anyone any slack. The average (eyeball measurement from Facebook posted scores) winning score was 8.7 up with a couple division winners hitting plus 28. If you shoot yourself into a hole there is little opportunity to dig back out.

Mike, another archer, also camped at Hamburg State Park. We met as we were leaving.

Once again, there’s next year.

I’ll return to Hamburg State Park
  • As it turned out shooting even would have won the Senior Hunter division.  It is a tough class with a 40 yard maximum yardage, using a hunting rig, and at unknown distances. The winner took the prize at 8 down.

Two Points

Two points is the difference between shooting my Black Eagle Challenger arrows and Carbon Express arrows. One point can be the difference between first place and second in a 3D tournament. At this weekend’s upcoming ASA Georgia State 3D Championship; I’ll not be able to fire off my Black Eagle arrows.

I’ve got plenty of the Black Eagle arrows. Some are only the shafts; others have busted nocks and ripped vanes. Two weeks ago I dropped off seven of these arrows or shafts to have them readied for the upcoming shoot and ordered a package of extra nocks. I kept five for practice while I traveled.

By the time I finished my travel those five Black Eagles that made the trip didn’t completely survive the practices. None of the shafts got busted but I lost three nocks and the vane off of one of the other arrows. That left me one intact arrow. No problem, I had seven more to pick up that should have been perfect. Those arrows along with a package of extra nocks would me sitting just right.

When I arrived at the shop to pick up my arrows is where I learned they weren’t ready. They were also not going to be ready before I left town for the 3D championship.

The Carbon Express arrows are old. I bought them three years ago in Pittsburgh. I’d had a dozen and have eight remaining. They’d have to work.

The Carbon Express is not fat (23) like the Black Eagle. Typically, I don’t get too many line cutters. The arrow is either on or off the mark. Still, I’ll end up getting a few extra points thanks to a wider diameter arrow.

Yesterday, in practice, there was one shot where a slightly wider arrow would have made a two-point difference. I guess I’ll need to be on this weekend.

Reviewing Practice

During practice it is a good idea to take notes. A small pad or folding piece of paper is adequate for making notes on shots.

Coaching Tip

I carry a small pad in my quiver on which to record my notes. Here is what I am reviewing from this mornings practice.

First off, today’s morning practice was a mock 3D tournament. This means, in ASA style, 20 targets. There are times when warm up isn’t possible, so to make this practice more complicated I did not take any warm-up shots.

The twenty targets included three bear, three pigs, three turkey, three deer, two javelina, two mountain lions, badger, mosquito, bobcat and a rabbit. All these targets are either small or medium sized.

All targets were shot without the benefit of a range finder. A range finder was used after the shot to compare its measured distance with the distance I selected for the target.

Notes from this morning

The final score was not overwhelming well – 181 or 9.05 points per target. I shot three 5s which need attention. The first 5 was a small black bear at 33 yards. The elevation was fine and the range finder was in agreement with the distance I’d judged. The problem – I rushed the shot and pulled the shot right. The next 5 was a badger at 28 yards (ranger finder 29 yards). The arrow was perfect right to left; I’d judged the yardage well. But, I’d had poor placement of my aim. I attributed this to the early morning lack of light and overcast sky. Perhaps, if I’d approached the shot more slowly I might have had a better score.

The worst 5 was on a target I typically hit in the 10 ring. This was a cinnamon bear at 32 yards. The error was a major, my worst mistake, judgment of distance. I shot it for 38 yards, it was only 32 yards.

I did have 3 twelves. One each on a javelina (26 yards), a deer (30 yards) and a small pig (32 yards.) The other scores were eight 10s and five 8s.

This afternoon I’ll go back to the range and shoot most of these targets again from 20 to 45 yards in 5-yard increments. The very small targets, bobcat and rabbit for example I’ll not shot from over 30 yards because their shooting lane isn’t long enough. But, my notes reveal where I need work. Without the notes I’d be guessing at areas where I need to improve.

Keeping notes doesn’t take much time and reviewing them for weaknesses then working on them is important to improving your scores.