Win It All – At Least Knowing The Numbers Creates a Goal to Win it All

18-meter practice over the past eight weeks has been an up and down business. It feels mostly down because I hit a peak early on in a six-weeks cycle.  Naturally, going into the final two indoor tournaments of 2018 I was rolling around in the mire of a down turn in performance.  Still I won one of them.  The second, competing against the 21-49 year old men, it was all I could do not to embarrass myself.  Nevertheless, I finished respectably and used the tournament for an “educational” session.

For 2019 I am still working out in which tournaments to compete and the goals for those events and the year.  I keep coming up with an all-encompassing goal of ‘win everything.’  While it might sound brash the data suggests it might be possible.  So, why not have the foremost goal for 2019 to win everything.

2019 has major tournaments early in the year with two state championships in February.  In 2018 January and February were moving months.  For eight weeks I barely got in any practice.  The lack of training showed up with three consecutive second places.  Once I got back to practice things improved and I won the next three State Championships setting a record in one.  Then, I took a second place, at the Georgia Cup, competing against a younger crowd (thanks, Paul – he knows what I’m writing about).  Few more wins and a few more seconds, the younger guys still knocking me down after the Georgia Cup.

So, why would I have a goal to win everything?  It is because my data suggests that’s possible.

Here’s an explanation for 18-meters: In 2017 the top two places in my age group for the indoor Nationals finished with scores of 1155 and 1154.  Over the past eight weeks my lowest two scores totaled 1130 – not so good.  My highest two-day score is 1183 – a winning combination.  During this eight weeks cycle my average score for two-days is 1150, one point above the 2017 3rdplace finisher.  But, when I delete scores associated with a new release, new arrows, changes in stabilizers the average score is 1156. 1156 isn’t the best score; it is an average without variables that impact performance. It also places me one point up over the prior winning score.

You might think that 1150 is the likely finishing point puts me outside of a first place finish. You’d be correct.  The lowest two-day scores of 1130 knock me way down the line. That would place me in 9thplace.

Here’s the thing, a goal must be established.  The overall goal of winning it all is then broken down to achieve specifics in form, training cycles, and 30 arrow quantitative scores.  In each of those elements I am currently below my 2019 goal.  Now begins the cycle to work toward achieving each element of each goal.  When I do that, well I’ll win.

Done with 2018

The 2018 competitive season is over for archery. 2019 is just around the corner.

I didn’t get to compete as often or where I’d planned when I’d first laid out the 2018 season on paper.  But, I did achieve one major goal – I finally made it back home to Georgia.

2018 turned into a hodge-podge of events.  There were constant adjustments to practice and competition to meet the requirement of our relocation. I competed is all sorts of tournaments in age groups from the Senior (21-49), Master (50 – 59) and Master (60-69).  I ended up winning six, taking second five times, and got a third and forth place finish.  I set one state record and earned, for the first time, a bunch of USA Archery pins (I hadn’t done the USA Archery pin thing before 2018)

Those events were in  just about everything from 18-meter indoor, 50-meter outdoor, 3D and FITA Target. As entertaining 2018 was it was a bit chaotic trying to figure out how to prepare for the variety of events. Still, it turned out okay.

Oh,  I ran through three pair of running shoes in 2018.  These Newtons (in the photo below) are the last to go on December 28th. (I only did two races in 2018, both 5Ks.  I won one and got third in the other.)

So long old friends

Putting It On The Line

When I began this website it was a chronicle of what I’d go through when I began shooting a bow in November 2013.  I remember the date, November 1st, because my father died the same day. It was a bit if a surprise he died.  But, dad was 86 and he was no longer a young man.  Dad never did see me shoot a bow.

When I made the decision to take up archery and retire from a prior career it wasn’t one of those moments. You know, one of those: your father dies and you decide to make a life altering change.  Nope, I was ready to retire.

I could have continued in my profession.  I could still be working in the medical or legal fields.  But, I’d had enough and saved enough.  I was 57 years old.  I’d been working since I was 14, not including earning money cutting lawns around my neighborhood before I turned 14.

I started a real job using a child labor work permit at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. I worked in the lab.  Memorial has since changed it name, but it will always be Memorial to me.  I essentially grew up at MMC.

I’d go to school, junior high school, now called middle school, go to whatever sport practice I had after school, my mom would pick me up and take me to work at Memorial.  Over time that part time job became a full time job.

The school, academic sports, and work routine stayed pretty constant until I finished high school. Then, in college the routine of work took priority over school since I needed the money to pay for school.  I dropped a lot of classes to accommodate work. Sport continued to be a major part of my life.

There was a brief time when it appeared I could have a job as a professional cyclist.  I was invited to Europe by a team in 1973 and offered a small salary and place to live.  I turned it down – a good choice in hindsight.  I turned it down because I feared the move would be too much.  Basically, I chickened out.   Eventually putting more focus into education and less on sport was a way to compensate for being to afraid to move to Europe at 18 years old.

Education became my competitive driver.  Each degree I completed meant it was a point to extend the education.  I thought I was done when I earned a doctorate.  That lasted six years then I went after a law degree. Law school fried my brain for a while.

Instead of seeking other degrees after the Juris Doctor, I enrolled in graduate programs and professional development courses.  Those where very satisfying.  Then, I felt I needed more and took a fellowship in sleep medicine.  After that point, I decided that each year I’d pick a new academic project to immerse myself for the next 12 months. In 2019 it will be Georgia History.

Throughout it all sport remained a passion. I raced bikes, ran races, and did duathlons and triathlons. Just competing wasn’t enough.  I went to Nationals in Cycling, Track and Field, and World Championships in cycling, duathlon and triathlon.  I did sports science research publishing papers based on that research.  But, I’d never hit the big time in sport as an athlete.  I was good, just never the best. Then, came archery.

Never would I have thought I’d be an archer.  I stumbled onto the sport by reading that archery and shooting are the two sports where someone over 50 can become an elite.  I am not an elite. But, I am trying to become one.

I figured I’d be near the top of the sport between 5 – 8 years.  I decided archery was an area where I could transfer talent to shorten the learning curve.  Sadly, this sport is so different from the others I’d done that I see very little advantage from decades of training and competition.

The website, Puttingitontheline.com, is where I keep my form of an archery training journal minus all the data. There is a lot of other stuff, not always here, from coaching to science that collectively amount to what has come to pass to reach this point in this archery adventure.

I have no idea what my father would have thought about all of this.  It’s more likely he’d have never read any of it. What does surprise me is that over 26,000 of you are now reading about this adventure every month and the number is climbing.  Perhaps, there is a pearl or two of archery wisdom you find every so often that helps you in some fashion.  I hope so.

Thank y’all for reading and landing this website in the top 1.6% of all active websites.

The Other Dog

River doing her thing

You know, if you’re a frequent reader here, that I have a Labrador retriever, River.  She’s with me a lot, most of the time actually.  But, you may not know we have a little buddy, Nixie.

Nixie returning on command. A rare skill among dachshunds.

Nixie is a wire-haired dachshund. She’s a bit to low to the ground and short legged to keep up with River and I when we run.  She never gets the stick that’s been tossed for River, but she never gives up trying. Nixie will even jump off docks to swim after sticks tossed for the big dog.

Checking to be certain River is following

In the evenings when we take a walk through the woods it is a highlight of the wiener dog’s day. She comes along and for a short while she’s a big dog.  Well, in her mind she’s always a big dog.

Christmas Morning Run

I try to run every morning. It is rare I miss it.  Christmas was no exception – I ran.

Running the backroads

We, Brenda and I, were in Tignall, Georgia for a Christmas celebration with Ray, my father-in-law and Wade, my brother-in-law. All the kids and grandkids where out to town either at Disney World or visiting in-laws in Pittsburgh. (Girls, should you read this and if given the option include Brenda and I next year in Pittsburgh. Just kidding – Disney World will be fine.)

Whether at home, on the road, in Pittsburgh or Orlando I’d run.  Many times I run and ride a bike.  And, if you’re a frequent reader and an archer – I do have a bow with me and Ray has a range here in Tignall.

Coaching tip – athletes run (even archers)

Running is the simplest way for me to exercise aside from stretching.  It is inexpensive, you can move along at your own pace, and running is fun.

This morning as the sun was rising I able to run near to and on the shore of Lake Strom Thurmond – Clark Hill for Georgians.  No cars, no dogs (other than River, my lab and constant running partner) and had a wonderful run.

End point of this Christmas morning run

Aging and Exercise

In a recent paper sport champions and athletes were asked what they thought it took to become a champion.  The group had a large sub-set of Olympians (medal winners and participants), world Champions, State and Regional Champions as well as a sub-set of “chronic” athletes that had, at the time of the survey, not earned a Championship.  The group had spent a significant portion of the lives competing and training.    This of course makes sense because achieving a sport level of performance to reach a major championship takes years of preparation.1

The group seemed in general especially bright mentally as noted by their responses to the survey.  This wasn’t too surprising because the mean of the group is 53.8 years with a range of 26 to 78 years of age.1Nevertheless; there was an air of vitality among these athletes.

The survey was not done face-to-face with the athletes.  However, a large percentage of the athletes were seen face-to-face as part of typical social interactions.  In addition, after the survey a number of the athletes felt compelled to discuss the work by phone.  At times one or more of them were present at different gatherings.  Among those surveyed there remained a competitive presence as well as a high degree of verbal and body language mild posturing that could be considered friendly yet slightly aggressive regardless of age. The overall impression a bystander might of noted is that these people appeared extremely healthy and engaged. Certainly, the group is physically fit regardless of age.

An important observation is the general health of the group.  At a mean age of nearly 54 they are generally not overweight.  A few are overweight.  An archer is obese (but currently on a strict diet to drop the weight), there’s an overweight ex-football lineman (thought not obese) and in that category there is a PGA golf pro, and one ex-major league pitcher who are heavier than during their playing days.  In general, the group was not overweight. This may be attributed to; overall the group continues to exercise to a large degree.

Coaching Tip

Exercise is a relatively easy why to remain in good health both mentally and physically. 2,3As we age we can hope to die young at a very old age. In that vein exercise can be an adjunct to prolonged health and mental compacity.4Aside from clearly obvious physical attributes associated with aging and exercise, exercise decreases the degradation of our brains.5

Being physically active isn’t the sole method to engage our brains as we age. One study showed that individuals who played chess were cognitively engaged and had better health than a control group.6The same study, which compared the chess players to master level track and field athletes, revealed the athletes had more injuries than the chess players.6For those injuries the athletes gained a lower prevalence of chronic disease.6However, the chess players and athletes had a lower incidence of chronic disease compared to a control group.6

As we age, exercise can be modified to account for slower recovery times.7, 8Even with modification exercise among the senior population can improve quality of life and independent living.9As a measure of successful aging, exercising among the older population may be a model to support concepts of best health over longer durations as exercise works to protect the body including the brain.10, 11

Through active engagement in sport and exercise we can prolong better physical health and mental health. This becomes clear to an observer in the presence of chronic athletes.11By adding a regime of exercise to activities of daily living we can improve our quality of life.9

References:

  1. Lain,D C; What it takes to be a Champion.In review, NFAA Publication, Archery, Nov. 2018
  2. Trapp, S:Master athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Dec;11 Suppl:S196-207.
  3. Zhao E,Tranovich MJDeAngelo RKontos APWright VJ: Phys Sportsmed. Chronic exercise preserves brain function in master athletes when compared to sedentary counterparts. 2016;44(1):8-13. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2016.1103641. Epub 2015 Oct 29.
  4. Geard D,Reaburn PRJ, Rebar AL, Dionigi RA.: Masters Athletes: Exemplars of Successful Aging. J Aging Phys Act. 2017 Jul;25(3):490-500. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0050. Epub 2017 Jun 28.
  5. Tseng BY1,Uh J, Rossetti HC, Cullum CM, Diaz-Arrastia RF, Levine BD, Lu H, Zhang R.: Masters athletes exhibit larger regional brain volume and better cognitive performance than sedentary older adults. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Nov;38(5):1169-76. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24085. Epub 2013 Mar 21.
  6. Patelia S, Stone RC,El-Bakri R, Adli M,Baker J.: Masters or pawns? Examining injury and chronic disease in male Master Athletes and chess players compared to population norms from the Canadian Community Health Survery. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2018 Nov 30;15:15. doi: 10.1186/s11556-018-0204-z. eCollection 2018.
  7. Foster C, Wright G, Battista RA, Porcari JP. : Training in the aging athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep.2007 Jun;6(3):200-6.
  8. Soto-Quijano DA.: The Competitive Senior Athlete. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am.2017 Nov;28(4):767-776. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2017.06.009.
  9. Spirduso WW1,Cronin DL.: Exercise dose-response effects on quality of life and independent living in older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6 Suppl):S598-608; discussion S609-10.
  10. Geard D, Rebar AL, Reaburn P, Dionigi RA.: Testing a Model of Succesfult Again in a Cohart of Masters Swimmers. J Aging Phys Act.2018 Apr 1;26(2):183-193. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0357. Epub 2018 Mar 24.
  11. Tseng BY,Gundapuneedi T,Khan MA, Diaz-Arrastia R, Levine BD, Lu H, Huang H, Zhang R.: White matter integrity in physically fit older adults. Neuroimage. 2013 Nov 15;82:510-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.06.011. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

When Competition Becomes a Learning Exercise

It was a local fundraiser.  The drive to the indoor 3-spot tournament was less than 30 minutes from our home in Good Hope, Georgia.  It was held in one of my favorite towns, Madison, Georgia. The ‘turn out’ was excellent and the range was filled with archers.  My bow seemed to be back in order after a new string, re-tuning and checked for every possible malady. My last practice had been a good one.  It seemed the planets were aligned for a good score.

One of the many restored antebellum homes
Morgan County Court House in Madison, GA

Madison, Georgia is a beautiful historic Southern town.  It is one of the major historic attractions in the Peach State with around 100 antebellum homes that have been restored.  When we moved back to Georgia it is one of the towns we searched for a home.  In fact we found one, however it was in the city limits and there is a law against shooting a bow within city limits.  Had that not been the case, we’d have likely ended up living in a restored home.  We didn’t and archers will understand the decision not to settle there. Madison is close enough to where we ended up building that we can visit on the spur of the moment.

Downtown

The tournament was held in the new Morgan County High School gymnasium. Arriving an hour early I was lucky to have gotten a parking place that wasn’t a half of a mile away. At first I thought I’d gotten my information wrong – there seemed to be too many cars. But, no the morning line was packed full, as were the bleachers.

Ready for Christmas

The Morgan County high school gym in no way compared to my high school’s gym.  This modern gym was more like what I’d experienced in college.  Not all the bleachers were open. The upper bleachers behind the line were packed with friends and family that had come to watch the tournament.

Obviously, the bleachers down range are empty

The target of the day was a 3-spot.  I’ve been practicing against a 3-spot for over a month.  While my scores have been mimicking the Stock Market, my more recent practices had diverged and begun to rise. I knew I’d be shooting against some good archers in the 21-49 year old age group.  I felt ready, and I was for a while.

My first twelve arrows had all been smack in the center.  Number 13 followed suit, as did arrow 14.  At full draw on the third arrow of the end, with 40 seconds on the clock the whistle sounded. Three blows of the whistle.  It wasn’t time to pull arrows.  Did something happen and the next two blasts got halted due to some injury?  No one knew.  We all stopped shooting.

Looking down the line at the judge he made no comment of gesture.  Everyone waited.  Then, we waited some more.  The clock was down to 26 seconds, 25, 24, 23 – people began shooting.

Not me. I was worried.  Whatever had happened something was wrong or had gone wrong. Ten seconds.  I looked toward a friend on the line and he  shrugged and said, “Just shoot.” Eight seconds.  I shot with 1 second remaining.  Eight.

I knew I was now out of it.  An eight against these archers meant I was now on the range for practice.  For a flash I considered packing my gear and heading home I was so disappointed.  I didn’t, I stayed and worked though the 8.

I don’t know if the whistle hadn’t have incorrectly sounded whether or not the day would have gone better.  I expect it would have been better.  What it did do was provide a teaching moment, albeit a rare one.  Still, having a major distraction and getting through it was good practice.

Coaching tip

In any competition things outside of your control can happen. An athlete needs to be prepared to deal with the distraction, block it and move forward. I doubt I’ll have this sort of mistake happen a second time.  If it does, I’ll be better prepared.

Running in the Dark

Often you’ll read at this website that I post articles about fitness.  Many of those posts include stories about running.  While cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t essential to pick up a bow and shoot it, it does improve one’s health and ability to maintain an athletic posture during long archery tournaments.

During hunting season I wear orange every time I run trails

Among the exercises I do as part of my training regime, running is a major element.  One manufacturer of running shoes once had an advertisement that read, “Athletes Run.”  Whether or not archery is part of my life, I believe running will always be a part of it.

One of the running pleasures I find most appealing is trail running in the dark.  In the winter months running in the dark is easy – it’s dark when I get up to run. In the warmer months this isn’t the case.

A head lamp is a must for running in the dark. River, my lab, has a little read clip-on light on her collar.

For some, the thought of running through the woods in the dark might bring to mind some scene from a horror movie. Not the case for me.  I do run with a light – getting smacked by a tree or limb isn’t on my bucket list.

Some mornings we finish running just after sunrise

Running in the dark is peaceful in my mind.  The woods are quiet and calm.  Occasionally, I run in the direction of some critter and that can be startling, but never horrifying.  I do run with my dog, River, who’s a big girl who provides a sense of ease when I cross paths with an unexpected animal.

Find this at night and you’ll wake right up

There’s a 1.3-mile loop behind my house that cuts a perfect trail to travel whether running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll run it in the morning and hike it in the afternoon.  I try to cover a few laps each time, more laps when running.

I understand not everyone that reads this site runs beyond being chased.  If you do run and have access to trails try running in the dark it is an entirely new experience compared to running during the day light. Oh, carry a light, bring your dog, and watch how you plant your feet. Also, let someone know where you’ll be running and when to expect you home. Plus, carry your cell phone just in case.  Before you run a trail in the dark run it several times during the lighted part of the day to learn the trail.  If you happen to get off the trail it isn’t difficult to get turned around.  If you happen to get lost, wait where you are until the sun comes up to regain your bearings.  Clear lens running eye glasses are ideal for not getting an eye poked out by a low hanging pointy limb. Now that I think about, maybe you shouldn’t run in the dark – you’d probably get hurt.

An Impressive Younger Crowd of Archers

When I compete or practice in a group I am generally the oldest person in the crowd.  This is especially true during indoor practice or league shoots. Heck, while practicing at the local indoor range, I’m older than the parents that have driven their children to train.

At large events there will be people my age and older. During an outdoor competition last summer there were a couple of archers in the 70’s. Excluding league events where there are no age divisions, I’ve shot in 12 tournaments so far this year.  Of those I competed in my age group six times and in younger divisions six times.

In the senior division (the younger group), I won 3 times, got two second places, and one third.  In the masters (my age group) I won twice, got three seconds and a fourth. You’d think I had a slight edge against the younger fellas but the bulk of the loses came during the time we were moving and my practice wasn’t great.

Being the oldest person in a crowd is a bit weird.  There’s very little common ground for conversation.  Most of the people I routinely see on the range are more concerned with getting a drivers license, turning 18 so they can move out of their parents’ home, or where they’ve applied to college.  On the other hand, I worry about my portfolio, trade wars, and what my grandchildren are going to break next. (Either bone or property, I never know)

What strikes me most of the youngest sub-section of the group I see most often and shoot against on a weekly basics is the overall high degree of good manners and respectfulness of others they exhibit. There average age is 17 with a range of 15 to 22 years old. Each of them would make their parents proud.

They also make their coach proud.*  As a group they have a 70% win rate at tournaments.  Not just the local events, but national and international competitions. While taking a break on the range yesterday I was flipping though an archery magazine and there on the pages was one of the archers, highlighted for winning at a World Championship.

Here’s the competitive frustration about shooting with and against them – missing one X takes you out of the money on league nights.  A nine among this crowd doesn’t cut it.

It’s fun to shoot with this group.  But, I wonder, after some of them leave for college, get roommates, cars, and jobs will their performance falter.  For a few yes, the writing is already on the wall.  For others, will their future hold decades of shooting that provides an income to exceed that of those that sought a more traditional route to self sustainment? Probably.

  • There coach, Big John Chandler is a USA Level 4 NTS Coach.

Searching for the Root Cause

A few weeks ago I increased my 30 arrows, inner ring X, goal to reach an average of 295.I’d been pretty steady at 290 and felt it was time to most up a bit.

In practice, I warm-up with 6 to 12 arrows, shoot 30 and record the score, pause, then shoot another 30 when I’m preparing for indoor 18-meter events. I repeat this practice during the afternoon.

Along the way I may change the focus of the practice. Some days I shoot for timing, other days I spend looking for improvements in form, there are times I change releases from a thumb to a hinge. Throughout it all I record how I did on each arrow minus the warm-up.

A 295 for 30 is half of the total count for a 60-arrow competition, or a final score of 590. I’d managed the 580 – 588 range, a 290+ thirty arrow score, enough times that it was clearly time to move the goal. Then, things began to fall apart.

Obviously, the primary consideration is the archer. After about a week I took a look at the equipment. That’s where I discovered that my 60-pound max bow was firing arrows at 46 pounds. Corrections ensued and the scores remained lower that the prior 290 thirty arrow goal. The cause seemed to be  the archer. The scores were better but still below the earlier average.

Paper tears where shot, adjustments taken and repeated. Arrows finally flew straight, but I could not get comfortable. The first few arrows would be fine then shots began to drift. Once again, the poundage was checked and this time measured around 58 pounds. For me, that is too high. A turn was taken off the limbs and the score drifted up a little. In 25-meter tournament last weekend I shot the first 30 better than the second, a revise of how I typically perform. Today, once again, arrow placement started off good then drifted.

My data shows that I shoot best at 50 pounds. So, I took another crank of the limb screw for my second 30 arrows this morning. The bow immediately felt better. The arrows immediately grouped tighter and the score improved by 9 points. Still below average.

When I bought this bow a few months ago my gut told me not to purchase a 60 pound bow and rely or cranking the limbs out to achieve the maximum variance allowed for the bow at 50 pounds.  It has been a matter of tinkering to keep the bow at a steady poundage.

In an all out rehab, the bow, less than one year old, was restrung, timing adjusted, poundage checked, and paper tears verified.  The the rear stabilizer was replaced moving from a 15-inch to a 12-inch and the bow was balanced.

Getting a bow tuned for the archer and arrow spine is a key element in performance. A few pounds one-way to the other can have a detrimental impact. The root cause of this recent score fluctuation remains uncertain.  What I did discover, is while the bow in question was undergoing it’s rehab I shot my old supposedly lesser model and scored higher. (Both bows by the same manufacturer)

I haven’t given up on the new bow, yet.