Well, that was fun!

It was a pretty exciting day. It was cold and it started with stretching an indoor activity. It wasn’t long before River, my lab, and I hit the trails to run. By then, it had warmed to a toasty 28°F.

There are some big mushrooms in these woods. (My shoe is a size 10 for reference)

For sure, I’ve run when it has been colder. When I lived in Cleveland during the winter temperature around 0°F wasn’t uncommon. Still, I got up and ran.

Lake Erie in the winter

Running here, back home in Georgia, temperatures are as rough in the winter. Heading out on single track or animal trails through the woods is plain fun.

But, archery outside in 28°F isn’t a lot of fun. You just don’t work up enough internal combustion to stay warm. Wearing everything you own to stay warm while practicing is too cumbersome for me. The other night, after league shooting, a fellow and I were heading to our vehicles. It was around 8:20 PM and already getting cold. He bragged about the temperature not being cold to he – being from Boston and all.

For seven years I had an office in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I worked for extended periods of the winters in Sweden. In all of those places, I ran in the morning before work. I understand cold. Spend a winter or two in Uppsala, Sweden and Boston winters seems cute.

Uppsala, Sweden

After running it was off to Ace Hardware is Social Circle, Georgia to use their indoor range. Yep, Ace has an archery pro shop and very nice indoor range. They are also the major sponsor for an archery club, where I am a member, in this area.

Mornings at the hardware store archery range often mean the early risers can have their choice of lane to use. I try to get to the shop as soon as possible. I’m never entirely alone, other shooters come in, fling some arrows, and leave. As a rule, I do have a solid place to practice away from the cold.

Perfect for winter practice

On this morning I used a new target after the first 50 or so arrows. I moved it higher on their archery butt to take some time shooting the top target with a bit more elevation. On my second end on this new target I screwed up.

My shoulders were all wrong, my anchor felt off, my peep had rotated, so I needed to let down and start over. As I was becoming aware to let down I blinked. It seemed that something hit me in the eye. Naturally, with my eyes closed and my braining thinking, “Ouch” the arrow launched away.

All I could do was wait to here the arrow crash into the wall above the target. But, that’s not the sound I heard. I was lucky I heard the arrow hit the archer butt.

Looking for a five at best I didn’t immediately notice the arrow. Looking off the target entirely I still couldn’t find the arrow. Then, no, that is too lucky – the arrow hit the X. Not only hitting the X but it couldn’t have landed more perfectly. It was probably a one in a million shot.

The top arrow, eyes closed, the arrow got away, but seems like a well trained arrow

The weather “person” promised rising afternoon temperatures. So, after the morning at 18-meters I hoped to practice at 25-meters in the forecasted warmth. Sure enough, after a short cold afternoon bike ride, the temperature peaked into the 40s. On top of that, my new target arrived.

The sad, old, poorly repaired, block targets on my range could no longer do their jobs. Sure arrows slowed down, but there was no stopping them. I’d resorted to shooting a bag, which isn’t a great butt for a 3-spot. On the bag I use a vertical 3-spot is too long and the Vegas style target has only on sort of flat target. It was time for a new butt.

Target are expensive. It is one of the items on which I hate spending money. I know that before long the purchase by using it will end up wasted. You can shoot a bow over and over, you can use arrows over and over, but anything you shoot an arrow into eventually is gone.

What I’d been looking at for a replacement cost over $300. The same item was available on Amazon for $260. Amazon also had another brand that was a little smaller, a few inches, but a third the price. I figured for around $100 I’d take a chance.

In this case, that chance paid off. The target is very high quality as good as or better than the more expense products. The bonus is that it arrived about 30 minutes before I was planning to practice 25-meters.

Found on Amazon for around $100. It is heavy, 70 pounds.

During 25-meter practice daylight began to fade. The range is on a cleared area in the woods behind our house. In those woods, off not too far, I could hear coyotes howling. Usually, I’ll carry at least a pistol with me on the range; particularly in the summer as defense against rattlesnakes and copperhead. During winter months I don’t always bring a pistol. Those coyotes were too close for comfort even though I had a bow.

The coyotes marked the end of a fun day. There was running and riding and shooting. Granted, it was all part of training to do well in archery, which is sort of like a fun job.

Archers Run

If you’ve read “Putting it on the line” you know I’m an archer as well as runner and cyclist. You know that I think fitness is critical to sport including archery.

I try to post stuff that supports fitness and athletics beyond shooting a bow. Often those posts are about bicycling or running.

Cycling isn’t a 100% everyday activity because of weather. I’ve ridden in the rain or cold, but rather not ride in the rain and cold. I’m also not heading out on a bicycle in a storm.

This trail leads home

Running is another matter. Unless the weather is really bad, I’ll run. Once I read a saying that went, “Athletes Run.” In a general sense that seems true. Archery is a bit of an outlier in that many great archers don’t look like they could run 10 yards. There was a time, however, when archers ran as a matter of course.

In the early days of archery, say 1480 England, archers not only needed to shoot well, they needed to be fit. They needed to be able to run away from or toward a battle. In some accounts they joined a battle from their positions to finish off an opponent. They didn’t wear armor making them more mobile and perhaps fresher than the enemy that had been taking a pounding. Anyway you look at it archers were fit.

Found this remains about a mile from home. Not far from a road. This deer probably got hit by a car and made it into the woods before dying.

Fitness training is an excellent adjunct for the sport of archery. Taking a morning run through the woods is pleasant. Along a trail run you get to feel the outside. You never know for sure what you’ll pass and it is always a bit of an adventure.

Leveling the Playing Field

Backyard archery isn’t as controlled as shooting indoors. Shooting outside is great and ideal for 3D practice or long shot archery. Its fortunate that I’ve got room for long shots, up to 100 yards, and practicing 3D. But, those short shot practice sessions, when conducting the work outside, can be a bit of a challenge.

A major part of the problem is a level archer’s box. My property slopes and rises. That’s great for 3D. It isn’t so great for shooting dots.

At intervals from the target I have little flags stuck in the ground for distance. Each flag, in 5-yard increments out to 80 yards (at the moment no flags from 80 to 100 yards). Every flag drops in elevation from the target. At all of the flagged positions my left leg lands a little higher than my right, which makes for some lope-sided shooting.

25-meter spot

In order to remedy the awkward stance I use a hoe and level the field. That makes for better shooting and less frustration.

Archery Fans’ Signs

In my current issue of Runner’s World magazine they had an article that pictured lots of signs held by fans lining marathon courses. Marathons were never my favorite distance. I only ran them to train for Ironman races where we had to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112 miles. A single event like a marathon was essentially a fun way to train.

All marathons are different. The distance remains the same but each race is unique. The distance isn’t the only constant; there are always thousands, if not tens of thousands of fans watching the race. At the Tokyo marathon a few years ago (yes Japan) the course was literally packed with fans. The noise was incredible. Like all the other marathons I’ve run Japan had another constant of the race – fans with signs.

I couldn’t read the Japanese signs. For the most part I couldn’t understand what was being said around me. I had the same problem racing or training in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. Usually, I’d find someone that spoke English and that person was a prize. But, in every race, no matter where, there were signs.

I love that about sports, that fans come out and watch us suffer while often providing a bit of humor is wonderful. That is except for archery.

I did a search for signs by fans of archery. I found one. Apparently the Koreans are less inhibited than other fans and produced signs in support of their champion Park. (I can’t show it. The sign, while available in the public domain, came with a copyright warning.  Typical.)

Signs for runners aren’t necessarily going to support a champion, at least in the sense of the race winner. They support runners in general or a runner in specific. My wife, Brenda, at the Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii, drew me a sign on the road with chalk. I hadn’t known she’d done it but I saw it. It was a small thing in the grand scheme of a lifetime together but I haven’t forgotten the gesture.

There may be a sign or two at major archery tournaments, but they have eluded my search. I think fans with signs supporting their favorite archer is a good thing and it is sad we don’t see them. I think it is great when fans of a sport make and hold up signs that are non-athlete specific and are meant to support everyone.

Some signs I read along a racecourse have stuck with me and I was thankful to have read them. Of course, archery judges or more stoic observers of the sport might not welcome some of the signs held up by rabid running or triathlon fans should similar signs migrate to archery.

Still, I remain in favor of fans enjoying archery even if enthusiastic ones held signs over their heads that might be a distracting to serious minded, stone faced, fans, competitors and officials of the sport. For me, the signs have always been refreshing and welcomed.

Time to Give the Senior Division a Shot?

As 2019 approaches and tournaments begin to open there is the matter of which division to shoot. A goal, when I started shooting a bow, was to migrate from the Masters division to the Senior. That move would be based on my scores. (In archery Senior is the group between 21 and 49 years old.  Masters are over 50 years old.)

Archery is one of two sports where age isn’t a tremendous factor. For example, if I were training for a triathlon the consideration to compete against a 25 year old would be out of the question. In archery I compete against opponents less than half my age all the time. However, I’ve not yet made the shift to a younger group in any major event.

At the moment I am preparing for the USA National Indoor Championship. I’ve not yet entered – entry for my area isn’t available at the moment. In the meantime we have a 25-meter State Championship in ten days time. I’ve entered that as a Master.

My rolling average is creeping toward 600

The internal debate of Senior versus Master Division is a matter of confidence. I suppose it can’t be truly earned by simply comparing scores. It will come from head to head competition and a bit of guts.

“I can’t sleep at night – any idea why?”

Sleep study data

There have been a number of “studies” published stating individuals that have poor sleep who don’t exercise may get better sleep if they exercised. Seriously, that has been studied. Another way to look this is that if you complete a day of hard labor or exercise you are likely to sleep more soundly than if you lounged about all day. Scientists study a lot of topics that are pretty much common sense.

An early run is a nice way to start your day

People are frequently talking with me about their sleep problems. Not because I’m a good listener (I am) but because I have a background in sleep medicine. The most common complaint I hear relates to a poor night’s sleep. Some of the folks have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which needs a medical intervention. Some folks’ sleep issues are related to poor sleep hygiene and a lack of exercise.

Archery isn’t the same calorie burn as a run, but shoot enough and you’ll get some decent exercise

Without getting too in-depth an example of poor sleep hygiene refers to lounging in bed while watching television hoping to become sleepy. A some piece of advice – If you have a television in your bedroom take it out.

Having a gym membership can provide weights to support muscle mass as well as treadmills or other cardio machines. Nice to be able to go inside when it is raining.

A lack of exercise is, as a rule generally, understood. Running for example is considered exercise. If you run you exercise. A video game played seated would not be considered exercise.

Some folks are runners and prefer cycling. Mountain bike riding can get you out of traffic and into the woods

When you exercise you’ll need to rest for recovery. Sleep is a method of recovery. You do enough exercise, moving around versus playing video games; you’ll find that you can sleep well.

Fitness won’t hurt your skill as an archer

A 12-Mile Mountain Bike Loop Failure

It started as a short 12-mile mountain bike ride. Most of it on trails or narrow dirt roads. There was one section of paved road that I suspected would put me on a loop back home. If it worked I’d have a nice 12-mile loop.

When I started racing bicycles in 1972 our team, The Savannah Wheelmen, had permission to train on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. There was a road, Perimeter Road, which as named, encircled the perimeter creating a 10-mile loop of the base. Our team would ride around Hunter two to twelve times per day. Since it was a 10-mile loop it wasn’t tedious. The major factor was that it was nearly void of traffic. It remains one of the safest training routes in memory.

Finding a 12-mile loop, mostly off road, here near Athens, Georgia seemed like a great idea. I’d been searching and felt I was close. Heading out to find the last few miles needed to create the course I was optimistic.

Miles of this on a mountain bike is fun. This is a long uphill grade, steep in sections.

For seven miles I was primarily on trails, dirt roads and a very isolated paved road. Then, things got dicey.

I knew a section of the yet discovered loop would be on a more traveled road. It wasn’t a bad road and there were signs to encourage motorists to “Share the Road” with cyclists. This would last only a mile or so before I turned left and took my Cannondale back into the woods to close the loop.

This old shack is next to a single track

The surprise came from a road closure with only four miles of my estimated ride remaining. Riding right wouldn’t work since that would send me in the wrong direction. Left was out because that landed me on a road with heavy traffic. I took road number three a total guess; Monty Hall would have been proud. He’d also have been saddened by my choice –it was the wrong road.

Not exactly certain where this is, but there were cattle everywhere.

After too long and being a bit lost, I needed help. I had my phone in my pocket and decided to consult Google Maps. Naturally, there was no cellular service. I did spot a few folks skinning a deer so I rode over on my bike to ask for help.

This is a familar crossing.

One nice thing about living near Athens, cyclists are a common sight. So are people skinning deer. In fact, many cyclists here skin deer. When I asked how to get back to Good Hope, Georgia, I learned I was way the hell off course. So far so that the fastest way home was to do a 100% back track.

When I passed this, I knew I was at a minimum in the correct county

I’ll try this again with the road is open. I know there is a way to come up with a 12 to 15 mile loop that is almost as safe as those days circling Hunter.

295 (Not the Loop around a city)

It is time to reset a goal. Over the five years that I’ve been shooting a bow I’ve set goals. Some are short term; there are mid-range, and long-term goals. Setting them brings an athlete out of a comfort zone.

The score of 290 out of 300, doing it twice in a row, to reach 580 as a final score against a USA Archery style 3-spot has to change. It seems tough to hit 290, but the data on practice says it is time to make a change.

In the past moving up was hard. I don’t expect 295 twice will be easy. Shooting a consistent 590 is a pretty good score. It isn’t perfect. It does mean fifty Xs and ten 9s. Certainly, I’d love to shoot 600, but for now 590 is the target, that is hitting 295 on the first 30 arrows and doing it a second time.

That’s an average. I could reach 590 with a 289 plus 291. Any way you do the math, it is a lofty goal. By breaking it up, 295 and 295, it doesn’t sound a difficult as scoring 590. It is also a reachable goal.

Hitting 580 or a personal best (in practice so far) of 588 you might wonder way not set the goal for 600. Six hundred is the ultimate goal.

Coaching Tip

Six hundred has only be achieved a few times. It is better to set an obtainable goal, for me anyway, of 590 (2 X 295). Once that becomes comfortable, then jump to the next level.

It Takes Time

November 1st  (2018) marked 5 years of shooting a bow for me. Sixty months isn’t such a long time. During these past sixty months USA archery changed the way we score a 3-spot. That is, we changed from scoring 10s and Xs to only the X ring equaling 10 points. The sport got tougher and it is taking longer to achieve a level of expertise than I’d initially guessed.

When I began shooting this would have scored as 30 points or X,X 10. Today it is X,X, 9 or 29 points.

The smaller ten ring (inner ten)  makes scoring a perfect 600 tougher. Heck, scoring a 600 using the old scoring method remains tough. I’ve not yet shot a 600 using either scoring method. I’ve come close scoring the old 10 ring. Last week I shot 599. It was going well until the last six arrows. With six arrows to go I shot 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10. On the old larger ten ring mind you.

Inner 10 scores over the past three years. (There are data like this in a 3D file, 50-meter file, 5-spot file, etc.)

The little ten or inner ten or X ring, whatever you want call it this dime sized 10 point ring remains the same in size. But, the outer ten is now only worth nine points. At 18-meters (20 yards) a dime is a small target. The thing is I thought I’d been shooting with a bit more accuracy after 5 years.

A steeper slope would have been nice

When I began shooting arrows I thought it would be pretty much like switching from cycling to duathlon. That was pretty easy. All I needed to do was start running. I could already ride a bike and had won all sorts of prizes racing bicycles in the US and Europe.

Run like you’re being chased

Sure enough duathlon moving along pretty rapidly and I earned a spot on the USA Team to the World Duathlon Championship about a year after I picked up running. When I added swimming, part of the plan to become a triathlete, I learned swimming was not a strong discipline for me.

A few years ago (@2011). This triathlon was in the fall in Cambridge, Maryland. The water was cold.

Still, I did well in shorter triathlons where I didn’t lose so much time during the swim. Eventually, I moved up in swimming from the slowest 25 percentile to the upper (faster) 25 percentile. I even brought my long distance, 2.4-mile swim (Ironman distance) down to around an hour.

2007 ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon

Transfer talent from cycling to triathlon wasn’t all that difficult particularly competing in my age group. Archery, however, is another matter. There are some elements of sport that do transfer such as determination and discipline. The mental focus is, in my opinion, different. Archery requires a mental effort unlike that of racing an Ironman.

By looking at a rolling average I can set goals. A goal was to average 290 points out of 300 or 580 out of six hundred. Now that I’ve hit that goal I reset the goal to 295 or 590.

Archery excellence or at least elite level performance based on scores and winning, is going to take time. Five years into this sport I’d hoped to be further along. It can be frustrating. Thankfully, I have data that shows progress, even though part of the progression included making the ten ring smaller.

 

Frozen

When I finished practice this morning the temperature had climbed to 44°F from 37°F. Half way through practice I stopped, hiked back to the house, went inside, thawed, added more and thicker clothes and headed back out. The temperature had risen a little and was outmatched by the increase in wind. Convective heat loss is heartless.

I know some of you archers who live north of the Mason-Dixon line laugh at a windy 37°F. You’ll be outdoors at that temperature taking selfies to post of fresh snow while barefoot, wearing short pants and a tee shirt. I applaud your grit and wish you speedy recovery from your pneumonia.

By the time I finished practice I felt like the Michelin Man. I was wearing many puffy layers. Five layers up top to be exact: short sleeved undershirt, long sleeved undershirt, running insulated top, down filled vest and a jacket. The bottom half, an error in thermoregulation, consisted of jeans, socks and boots. Tomorrow morning I’ll be sporting long johns.

For my head and ears I done right. An Elmer Fudd hunting hat – flaps down. Hands are another matter. I’d ordered hand warmers from Amazon. They hadn’t arrived. When I mentioned the warmly anticipated order to my wife, Brenda, she corrected me. Turns out I never ordered them. I’d put them in the cart and forgotten to click order. (I placed the order after coming in from yesterday’s morning practice. I suppose my brain was still in a hypothermic state.) No, I’d not clicked the order and Brenda cleared the cart.

I can wear a glove on my bow hand, which I did. It is thin and doesn’t provide much insulation. The hand that holds my release just freezes.

Yesterday, during the Georgia versus Auburn football game my son-in-law showed me his outdoor propane portable heater. With it running I stood next to it. It was pretty good. When I return to Amazon today to actually order those hand warmers that propane heater will also make it to the cart. Just have to remember to click the order.

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