Cold and Wet

It was a miserable day of practice at least weather-wise.  Typically, on these types of days I drive to Social Circle and practice inside.  We’re down to one vehicle for transportation at the moment so I’m staying close to home.  Hence, no driving to Social Circle to practice.

Two things to deal with, a major tournament this weekend and a weather cold blast.  Skipping practice is not an option and neither is being warm.

You could feel the rain coming

To make matter worse or add insult to injury a light rain fell during the morning practice.  I considered stopping but didn’t.  The first 30 arrows were just so close and I could feel I was just off but couldn’t figure it out.  I decided to continue in the rain until I worked though whatever problem it was that had me missing.

During the next 30 arrows my shots improved. I stayed out, in the rain, because what had been missing felt like it had returned or at least was returning.  When I finished I was cold, wet, but seemed to have found a good spot.

Rain meant not heat

The afternoon, the rain had stopped and I switched to a 5-spot. There’s been enough yellow, red and blue staring at me from down range.  The blue and white was a nice break.  There’s another State Championship in two weeks and the 5-spot is the target.  So, aside from a visual break it was good to see how I’m shooting against the giant X ring.

The rain wasn’t to bad.

A day later, record cold temperatures are the rage with the weather people.  I’ve also emptied the propane tank on the outdoor heater. Yes, it is cold and windy. But, going out in the cold is better than sitting inside all day. Even if I go to an indoor range, I’ve spent time outside.  I’ll run outside nearly every morning.  I have gear for all weather.  Sure, sometimes it is cold and sometimes it is hot.  You simply deal with it.

You know, when it is freezing cold outside (or when it isn’t that warm), I’ve never needed the local weather person to explain how I should wear warm clothing when I go out.  I suppose when the weather person makes that recommendation they’re feeling as if they’re being either helpful or smart. I really don’t know if they’ve achieved either.

Staying Warm, Shooting Cold

I’d say it was freezing outside practicing at 18-meters this morning, but it wasn’t that warm.  I didn’t get all that cold, I’d worn multiple layer of clothing, had the outdoor propane space heater running, a glove on my bow hand, and pocket full of hand warmers. One bonus, the wind wasn’t blowing.

Nevertheless, my practice scores were not anything worth sharing.  It was a weak day.  It wasn’t a physical weakness, I felt pretty good coming off two days of rest.

Typically, one day is enough for a break.  The past few weeks have been intense so two days off was the prescription for recovery. I’d recovered.

It wasn’t even mental weakness.  My brain felt good. No sir, shooting while wearing enough clothes to stay warm changes things.

Getting Lost

This was a time-trial I had in the bag.  A time-trial on a bicycle is where each cyclist races individually against the clock over a set distance.  The distance for this race was 40 kilometers.

I’d started 3rdfrom the last, a good position.  Typically, cyclists are placed in the race line-up based on prior times. The faster cyclists start near the bottom of the order.

There was a light rain when the race started.  The rain increased and was coming down pretty good by the time I was off.  Many of the riders ahead of me were being cautious to protect against crashing on the wet roads.  Because I’d trained and raced often in rain I was more comfortable and it wasn’t long before I was passing other riders.

During a race on the roads there are often arrows spray painted on the pavement to alert riders that a turn is ahead.  This race was no different.

Continuing to work my way past the line of other cyclists that had started before me I’d spot one, overtake him, and move to the next.  Then, I ran out of other riders to catch.  It was, by now, pouring rain.

Approaching an intersection, which I felt was near the finish; I looked for the arrows on the pavement to know where to turn. The rain had either washed them away or they were covered by water.  I made the wrong turn.

I got lost for a while. I lost the race finishing so far behind that the officials were preparing to come search for me when I came to the finish line from the opposite direction.

At the IBO World Championship several years ago it poured rain.  Being in the first group out we had no idea that the tournament has been postponed until the storm passed. There was no horn that sounded. Apparently, the officials had forgotten our group was on the range.  We got turned around because the storm had blown away trail markers. You never want to find yourself walking out of the woods between a stake and a target.

I’ve been lost on training rides, runs, once in a race, and briefly during an archery tournament. Think it’s hard to get lost on a bicycle?  Go ride 100 miles and see how winding roads over unfamiliar ground seems then think again. Or do a 20 mile run in an unfamiliar city.  That can be especially nerve racking where English isn’t the local language.  Believe me, completing a 120 kilometer bicycle race in Italy and afterwards being unable to find the way to your hotel is extremely frustrating.  Heck, I had to ask for directions here in Georgia just a few weeks ago when a road construction site put me off my planned route.

Getting outside and doing things can sometimes present a directional challenge. You can find yourself having a little unplanned adventure.  But, in the end, you’ll probably find your way home.

Ageless Guidance for Athletes

Of all the athletics I’d done in my life, the training part has always been the hardest and the most fun. Training and practicing with a team was wonderful.  From high school football to cycling being part of a group was an experience that helped mold me.  Sharing the experience and the path teaches athletes selflessness.

Coaching tips shared a long time ago (1,2)

As life begins to creep in sport can become a more solitary activity.  There isn’t always time to meet the schedule mandated for team activities. Running, cycling, duathlon, triathlons and archery can all be practiced alone.

Training or practicing solo helps clear your mind.  There is a peacefulness that comes from training discipline that has been recognized for centuries. (1) As we improve in our chosen sport we seek a peacefulness that can assist our advancement and in cases of competition help find that zone which leads to our best efforts.

As an athlete you may learn that training is a time where you too reach a certain quiet or mental silence.  During those moments you’ll get a feel of what you want to carry into competition.

In competition there will be times when you’ll be the victor. Victory is not as important as the process or how you reveal yourself as a winner.  To win someone must lose.

The true winner is that champion who is able to remain humble.  Know that when you are a champion others will look toward you as an example.  It is nice to win, but winning isn’t as much the goal as the disciplined process that brings you to the podium.

As a champion, remember to care about those that finished out of the top place.  Your ambition isn’t to win out of selfishness, but to win because you followed a path that can be shared by others. (2)

Reference:

  • Hebrews 12:11
  • Philippians 2:3
  • (Yes, these references are correct, hence this post’s title)

Doubling Up On Coaches

You know when you’ve taken your skill as an athlete as far as you can alone.  You are probably self-coached, like most athletes.  The top pros in most sports have coaches even though they are at the highest levels.

Last year, I was entirely self-coached.  Prior to that I’d retained a level 4 USA coach for help.  In hindsight he wasn’t much help. Personally, I think coaching physically challenged him.  He wasn’t in good health and I think he’s expired.

When we moved to Georgia, there has been no coach until now.  Now, I have two coaches. One coach is for archery the other is a mental coach.

I’ve got this friend that won the Ironman World Championship a number of times without a coach.  I know another Ironman World Champion that relied heavily on coaches.  I don’t really know any World Champion archers on the same level.  I’ve met some fellows that have won archery World Championships and have trained with one.  But, the acquaintances are all superficial.  As such, I don’t know if they use coaches although I’ve heard one of them had his coach move in with his family early in his career.

In fact, I am a coach. There’s a wide gap between being the athlete and being the coach.  In my head I understand what to do to hit an X.  In coaching practice I can watch an archer for a few minutes and have an idea of how they’ll perform.  But, I can’t see me.

As a result, I’ve gotten pretty good with a bow.  Still, I think I can be better, hence doubling up on coaches.  I’ll give this a year and see how it goes.

Notes Mental On Peak Performance

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Confidence” is you number one mental factor needed for peak performance.(1)

Coaching Tips

Achieving a state where you feel the confidence takes some work.  You train and train.  When you train, build some matrix to monitor your progress.  Set a goal that relates to your matrix.  If you don’t monitor your work you can’t manage it.

Concentration is another important factor in archery performance.  Being able to stay on task is a must for accuracy.  If you’re at full draw and your mind drifts to the conversation behind you from the non-shooting line, well you’ll more likely put an arrow into the red than the yellow.

The mental factors that impact archery are more than confidence and concentration. Archers must have emotional control.  That nine you just shot can’t be the value that prevents the next arrow from landing in the ten ring.  If you’ve been having a tough time off the range in non-archery related matters, thoughts on those matters need to wait outside until you’ve finished shooting.

Throughout it all you need to remain positive.  You’re shooting reach your best, not someone else’s best.  Stay positive; find ways to delight in your experience and you’ll end up achieving your optimal scores.

Oh, and don’t worry about the score – the score will take care of itself.(2)

Reference:

1.)Kim HB, Kim SH, So WY: The relative importance of performance factors in Korean archery. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 May;29(5):1211-9

2.) Coach Bill Walsh, NFL Head Coach*

* I met Coach Walsh once. We were speaking in Chicago at the same hotel but to different audiences.  It was a totally unexpected meeting.  When we learned we’d both been invited to lecture we decided to exchange brief comments to each other about our talks.  His talk was essentially motivational mine was physiology.  Among the things I recall was the Coach’s interest in the physiology and how focused he was on learning what he could during my explanations.

Life, or a Service Disconnect Box, Gets in the Way

The morning practice went as planned.  Two hours on the range being coached for an hour of it.  Being coached is harder than regular practice.  As lunchtime approached it was time for a break.  My brain was full.

The plan was to get home, eat, wait for the HVAC guys to come and check my furnace.  Then practice again in the afternoon. Things had seemed off with our heating system and it needed to be checked. Things were off – in fact when I got home from practice there was no heat.

The HVAC repairman showed up right on schedule.  (Imagine that!)  He begins checking things in the attic. Rather than using a screwdriver or some other tool to initiate his deliberations he starts sniffing. Sniffing?  (Is his nose running?)

His nose knows.  He opened the service disconnect box to discover the thing has burnt slap up!  (Can’t say enough good about the smoke detectors in our house.)

Luckily, we didn’t catch fire here.  Even luckier, the electricians that cover our warranty were here within a few minutes after I called.  (Wouldn’t you be if you’d installed something is a house that caught fire.)

Repairs were made at no charge.  But, the afternoon practice when up in a blast of electrical components.

(When the electricians were leaving I showed one of them my target bow.  He didn’t have it in his hand 3 second before he rears back on the string and draws the bow.  Nope, no arrow.  Yep, I was yelling, “No, no, no..”  Thankfully, my alarm suggested caution and he eased back on the bow string.  This is the last time anyone touches my bow other than a bow tech)

Some Baggy Pants

It was time to break up practice.  That meant, morning dots and the afternoon 3D.  I’ve been shooting a lot of dots. The difference between dots and 3D is like bicycle road racing compared to mountain bike racing. Or running on the streets versus trail running.  Either way it is all fun.

This new replacement coyote is more like a cocker spaniel

The break was refreshing and will gradually work into a spring training program. The old 3D targets on my range are really beginning to need replacing.  There’s this old coyote that gets shot on his hind end because the original chest area is completely split.  His days of repair are long gone.

This cinnamon bear needs a new center.

There’s a trail camera on the range.  It is on a line with this javelina. This little tayassu tajacuis set so that it can be shot out to around 45 yards.  You know that varmint will show up at all your 3D competitions in 2019 setting at your maximum distance.  Count on it.

At 41 yards, this mountain lion is a fun shot

Anyway, this camera snapped a picture or two of me as I was working back to take aim on the javelina at 75 yards (no I think it was 37 yards.)

I’d ordered some work pants off of Amazon.  They seemed fine to me.  They felt durable enough.  Naturally, they were too long so I had them hemmed.  After bringing the home I wore them the next day.  Everything seemed fine to me. Then, Brenda, my wife looked at me wearing those new work pants.

I didn’t see anything amiss.  Belt was on, no tags left on the pants, both legs matched in length, and the zipper was in proper placement.  I’d not sat in anything nasty or unknowingly ripped the seat.  What could be so funny?

Okay these pants are baggy

Brenda finally pointed out that it looked line my legs were in tubes. Whatever did that mean?

You can bet, no more wearing in public

The trail camera on the 3D range – well, now I know.  Yes, these are some dumb looking pants.  I am embarrassed to admit, I’ve worn them in public.

“On a warm summer’s eve……”

The ASA Super Senior Known class is where I wanted to compete in 3D during 2019.  That just ain’t going to happen.

For USA archery style competition I have a target bow.  Speed of arrows is not a major concern.  The distance is always known. Well pretty close depending on how meticulous the range is set.  In a sport where millimeters matter we all have elevation adjustments to compensate for slight variance in distance.

That target bow will be used throughout the 3D season during non-3D events.  The bow can be switched back and forth to manage skinny or wide arrows. But, practicing dots in the morning then 3D in the afternoon and making switches, tweaks, and turns multiple times a day is a waste of time.  Having two bows, one for 3D and one for dots is ideal.

The 3D bow used for competition in 2018 was set up for hunter class.  There is a short stabilizer and a pin sight on it.  In 2018 I competed in the Senior Hunter Class (archers mostly in their 50s. I never shot against anyone in 3D last year older than me.) Most of the archers in my age group seemed to be competing in the Super Senior class (60 – 69 years old.) I wanted to shoot with them in 2019.  After I considered the additional expense to convert my hunter class rig to match the equipment in the Super Senior class the idea was abandoned.

To compete against those archers would mean a new rest, stabilizers, weights, sight and a scope.  The good stuff could end up costing a heap of money. Once the price tag became visible the Senior Hunter Class summoned me home to a cost savings category.

Using what I’ve got on hand, a cost effective proposition, all I’d do is reset the old 3D bow for fatter non-hunting arrows and compete using the older bow in the Senior Hunter Class for 2019.  Sure, the arrows float off the rest when I release them.  The 3D bow isn’t exactly a fast 3D specific bow.  It is more of a one bow does most type of rig.  Part of the fun for others  shooting with me is being able to watch the arch of my arrow.  It is a rare sight from 20 yards to actually see the arrow’s arch.  At forty yards, people have photographed the flight of my arrow using their smart phones.

You think I’m joking – perhaps just a little.  However, I kid you not, this has been said to me during a 3D tournament, “I love watching you shoot, I can really see the arch of your arrows.” Yes, I am using a compound bow. But, after you’ve watched arrows zoom off at nearly 300 fps then you see a launch at 246 fps, the difference looks extreme. In my case, yardage judgement needs to be just right.  Otherwise, you’d see my arrows fly toward a target then appear to just drop out of the air.

It would be fun to compete in the Super Senior Division.  I could with a hunting rig but it would be a waste of entry fee money.  Super Seniors with target 3D rigs have a distinct advantage. While I’m pretty good at 3D, I’m no fool.  Shooting against the Super Seniors around here with a hunting rig would be like drag racing using my 2006 Ford F-150.  I’d get to the finish line but that would be about it.

Using that old 3D bow, today, I needed to set my elevation and windage for the arrows that I’ll use next weekend in my first 2019 Senior Hunter Class competition.  It was not a good day for precision work.

First of all it was really cold.  Cold doesn’t stop me.  Cold isn’t fun.  Plus, it is hard to be precise wearing every article of clothing you own all at once. For example, my right arm feels funny because I can’t fully draw being limited by short sleeve t-shirts, thermal t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirts, regular shirts, sweaters, vests, and a down filled jacket.  Along with the cold that has descended there’s a 40 mph wind which has joined the mix. Archery, precision, 26°F temperature and 40 mph wind is not a friendly combination. Still, I waddled out to the range moving like the Michelin Man.

The first pin to check was the 20 yards pin.  I started at 10 yards – just in case.  It wasn’t long before the song in my head went from “Eye of the Tiger” to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.

For the record, I lasted nearly an hour until I walked away:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

I’ll get the bow just right later in the week.  Until then, I’ll practice shooting dots on an indoor range.

It Is a Rule to Follow

You are familiar with the rule.  You may even try to follow that rule.  If there were only one rule that you should this would be that rule.

It is not a new rule. It was practiced in ancient Egypt (c 2040 – 1650 BCE).  Confucius encouraged people to follow it (551-479 BC) and it is in the Code of Hammurabi (1789 BCE).  It is in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:34 ‘Great Commandment” and at Leviticus 19:18). In the New Testament both Matthew and Luke acknowledge this universal rule (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). In Islam, Muhammad did not neglect it (Qur’an Surah 2, 16, 23 and 83). In fact, all religions seem to have captured it in some fashion:

The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one’s self would wish to be treated.

It is simple, good and easy to practice. In sport you might think that’s a difficult rule to follow – that is until you look around during practice, training or competition.

It was 2008 and Chrissie Wellington was racing in another 140.6 mile Ironman.  This one was the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. During the bike segment of the race she had a flat. In that event athletes can receive no outside help. Everyone carries a small repair kit in order to replace a flat tire.  Wellington was no different.

She changed her flat tube. When she went to inflate it with a CO2 cartridge she messed up.  All of her CO2 escaped into the atmosphere none of the CO2 making it into the tire. She was out of the race. She was helpless on the side of the road as her rivals passed her.

That is until word got out that Chrissie had a flat and no CO2.  In the Ironman other racers can help another athlete.  That is not considered outside help. A triathlete, a competitor, while riding her bike, grabbed the CO2 she carried.  As she passed Wellington, she handed off the CO2. This time Wellington successfully inflated her tire.  Back on her bike, she passed everyone to have a lead that she held throughout the remainder of the race, again winning the Ironman World Championship. Who knows, if the other rider had not given up her CO2 perhaps Wellington would have been out and the Good Samaritan racer might have been the victor. (The triathlete that provided the CO2 was capable of winning)

(There’s a video of this attached.  If you watch it you will see other riders passing Wellington.  It isn’t that they were withholding help.  At the speed people ride, there’s almost no time as you pass someone on the side of the road to know exactly what’s going on.  Word is passed backwards until some can react.)

We see similar gestures, as athletes, everyday. On the range in archery athletes help athletes. Someone misses a target in 3D and everything is on pause while a group searches for a missing arrow.  A bow malfunctions or a stabilizer slips and every archer within a 10-yard radius is transformed into archery’s version of Inspector Gadget.

Sport is a tremendous equalizer.  No matter how good an athlete becomes, no athlete started off good.  We were all pretty poor performers when we started. Everyone knows the effort, humiliation, and trials that lead to finding the courage to put one’s self on the line. Since we’ve all shared in the particular aspects of the sport we’ve chosen, we all understand what each of us is going through.  That mutual connection and the shared understanding helps make following the Great Commandant as innate to athletes as it is to religion.