2019 Bye Bye

Rolling into 2019 there was a high degree of optimism.  By January’s end,  a month into the year, it was obvious something was amiss.

Despite plenty of hours of training and practice following a decent plan scores just didn’t increase as they might have in my imagination.  In 2018 as I set the 2019 plan in place archery was going well.  As the year matured the curve of improvement frankly didn’t rise as planned and hoped.

Last year, I was able to compete in 14 tournaments.  The reduction in competition primarily being less 3D than in previous years – a factor of diminution associated with travel to and from State level events.

Of the 14 events 4 were local 3D shoots that were completed as paid practice.  By paid practice I mean, events in which I wasn’t sufficiently ready to compete, shot in a younger age group, or might have been in way over my head.

That leaves 10 events on the National, Regional or State Championships.  Even though I won four of them it was my individual scores that, for me, were less than satisfying.

Those 10 major events left me with four wins (2 State Championships, 1 National level Championship – Suwanee, GA USA Archery 18-meter, and a win at the Georgia Cup), the others were three-second place finishes, two 3rd place finishes and 4th (NFAA Regional).

Those 14 events (the 4 local 3D excluded from the summary above) don’t include league style competitions.  The losses were all very close.  No loss was greater than 3 points and one was a second based on inner 10 counts.

The win to loss ratio wasn’t the disappointment.  The failure was in my overall scores.  At some point it seemed I’d simply misplaced my developing form and slid backwards.  I still hit some sloppy tens but the feel was off.  For 2020, in hopes of finding a better rate of improvement, I’ve built a training plan and schedule to reboot performance.

On the other hand this website continues to grow with monthly visits up by 20.8% or over 24,000 visitors per month.  If I only knew how to make money here that would be nice.

Sometimes You Just Grin and Bare It

This past summer we got very little rain here in Athens, Georgia.  We seem to be catching up now that the weather has cooled down.  It has been raining non-stop for the past few days.  It has also been cold.  I can take the rain or I can take the cold but rain with cold is a whole other agony.

Yesterday was a wash – literally.  Running wasn’t missed.  Archery and cycling were scheduled rest days so it worked out.  This morning we awoke to more rain.  Running on trails does provide some slight cover, less so now that the leaves are mostly on the ground.  There are plenty of large evergreen pine trees and the trails are dense but running still leaves one human and one dog wet.   On top of the rain and cold the wind pitched in to support sub-optimal conditions.

River, my lab and running partner doesn’t mind the rain.  In fact, puddles provide opportunities to crash through water at full speed.  She comes home a happy mess.  I come home wet and cold. Still, it is more fun to run than not to run.

The weather forecast suggested there would be a short break in the rain.  The forecast was accurate.  The break meant at least an hour of archery practice could be attempted.

We got a short pause from the rain

As soon as the rain paused I headed out to the range.  Today’s practiced was a focus on form; an effort to reclaim the accuracy I had a year ago.  Since November of 2018 my scores have been slowly sliding into an abyss.  Recent training has all been about regrouping.

The rain on pause, the temperature into the 40s, it was go or miss the day.  Rain was predicted to return after a short breather.  The wind on the other hand was in full form.  In fact, in our woods we’ve had four pine trees blown down during the past few days.

That’s a full tank of propane that remained useless.
The wind was so bad I couldn’t even hang the targets straight

The wind was harsh enough to prevent my outdoor propane heater from staying ignited. It would fire up and fade out.  But, it was just going to be an hour or so of shooting so all that could be done was grin and bare it.

Conditions remained windy without rain for the hour and a half I got to practice.  It wasn’t so bad temperature-wise.  The wind did get me a couple of times but I kept everything in the yellow. Certainly practicing outdoors was more fun that staying indoors, maybe less pleasant that practicing at an indoor range. (The indoor ranges were all closed)

Re-hanging the right target and finishing. The last 6 arrows of 75.

A Christmas Miss

Locally, there was a Christmas indoor tournament over the weekend.  I’d heard the start time was 0900.  It was actually ay 1000.  There was no way around the extra hour and errands that needed to be completed.  Maybe I’d have made it home in time to have completed my assignments and maybe not.  So, I chose to miss the competition.

That was likely for the best considering the way I’ve been shooting.  For a while things were looking up.  Now, things are looking rather flat. Those things are scores.

Data is important to record.  If you’ve not collected your practice and performance data you really don’t have much information to establish way to manage your progress.

After the completion of the weekend’s errands following the abandoned Christmas shoot I looked over my 18-meter data.  It wasn’t inspirational regarding advances in performance.

The data reviewed includes just those post 18-meter inner 10 ring rule changes.  There was a linear slope upwards over time.  However, the log of those numbers showed a much flatter slope.

Scoress were moving in the right direction then did a nose dive

Nope, there weren’t any moments of insight regarding practice changes to improve the slope.  But, there were a number of little adjustments found in the notes associated with the score. Those notes may help refine my 2020 training plans and hopefully I can get back on the right track.

I missed the local Christmas shoot but ended up having a little extra time to take an in-depth dive into my 18-meter data.  That review may end up having been a better way to have used that time.

One Point Is All It Takes to Win

There are a lot of points scored over an archery tournament.  The last event I competed in, the Georgia 25-Meter State Championship had a maximum (Perfect) score of 600 possible points.  I lost, landing in second place, by a 1-point difference.

River seems less excited with the 2nd place medals

Excluding 3D (where I shot mostly for fun and the scores are hard to find) I looked over the events where I’d lost.  There were 3-second place finishes and one-third place. The third place was a fluke.  Here I define a fluke as poor shooting associated with a yet undiagnosed equipment problem.  The bow’s cam bearings had cracked which resulted in some funny shots.  The data remaining, the 3-second place finishes, were lost by an average of 1 point.

The last loss, the 25-meter event, was a surprise.  The surprise was not the person who won, Bob.  Bob beaten me three out of four times in 2019.  I beat him once with the same score, same X count and took the win by the 9 count.

Archery didn’t pan out – camping on the other hand was first class

Now Bob’s good.  A few weeks ago, during my only 2019 win against Bob, we shot in the Masters 50 age group.  There was no Masters 60 age group at that event.  This is when I won as the score came down to the nine count.  The fellow that won the 50-year-old group, Paul, took first place by two points.  The top three compound bow scores for that tournament where from Paul, myself and Bob, in order of finishing positions.  (Fall Classic, Georgia Southern University) All of us in the 50 year old group.

Great views camping for the tournament at the George L Smith State Park in Twin City, GA

Going into the last tournament, the 25-meter shoot, I honestly expected a score in the range of the US record, for my age group.  I’d been shooting that in practice.  I didn’t come close during the tournament.  But for one bad shot, Bob might have broken that record. Sadly, we’ll both have to wait until next year to give it another go for the record.

Ended up the only camper in the Park

In the meantime, I admit, I’d rather be on the winning side of those 1-point finishes.

It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

I’ve watched an archer blow a shot early in a tournament and mentally quit.  He’s an excellent archer who rarely misses.  But, for a while, when he did blow a shot he mentally shut down.

His coach was aware of the problem and worked with the archer until he learned to move past those moments of internal anger that were causing him to give up.  Oh, for clarification the miss that might have caused his mental collapse was a 9.

There’s another fellow that I’ve frequently shot against that will nearly always make a bad shot.  His error would make a 9 (a missed 10) seem minor (which it is).  He will make the error; laugh about it, then won’t make another mistake.

Shooting arrows leads to misses.  Shooting a perfect score against a vertical 3-spot (compound bow inner 10) at 18-meters remains uncommon, although it has occurred.  Imagine you are competing at 18-meters, you’ve shot 32 tens then you land a nine. *

Coaching tip

You can let that 9 ruin your day or you can blow it off and shoot 27 more tens.  Know that  everybody will make a mistake.  What will matter to you is how you recover from your mistake.   That archer next to you may be having a better day or not.  You don’t know and you can’t do anything about that athlete.  You can do something about you and remember it’s not over until it’s over.

*My guess is that if you’ve shot 32 tens in a row you already are at a point in your practice and competition where you knew all of what I just wrote.  For those of you who still throw out 8s or less, don’t worry about them.  Regroup and fire off some more 10s.

Dang, that was cold! It’s been colder.

Yes, it is snowing up north and the temperatures are low.  In Boston it is 30°F.  It is 32°F in Pittsburgh.  I picked these two examples because I’ve lived and worked in those two cities. In Cleveland, Ohio, another northern city I am acquainted with it is 35°F.  All those cities currently have cold temperatures.  It isn’t that cold here near Athens, Georgia.

It is chilly enough here near Athens.  The high today was 43°F.  Not too bad compared to those northern towns.  Of course, the wind is blowing here.  The wind is always blowing here or so it seems. The breeze is flowing at 11 mph with gusts up to 22 mph.  The final leaves, those last dried up survivors of fall, are now few and far between – excluding my lawn, which is blanketed.

Fifteen years ago in Cleveland I was outside before and after work.  I’d run in morning and ride in the evening.  I lived downtown at 12th and Euclid Street in the Theater district.  I’d run before the migration of workers from the suburbs arrived and bicycle once the herd departed.  Downtown Cleveland was pretty empty outside of normal working hours other than around the medical centers. During the winter Cleveland is really cold.  I don’t care where you live the North Coast is cold in the winter by anyone’s standards.

I’d put every piece of clothing I owned before heading out in January and February there on the shores of Lake Eire.  I’d stay comfortable enough to enjoy the fresh frigid air.  By frigid I do mean those blasts from the Canadian territories.

By those standards 43°F seems mild.  Even adding the wind chill here in Georgia it was still above freezing at 37°F.  In fact, the weather was just fine while trail running this morning.  It was less fine while practicing archery.

Doing archery it is awkward to shoot while wearing 30 pounds of layered apparel. For the hour or so spent shooting outside I wore only long pants, a short sleeved t-shirt, a long sleeved t-shirt, a fleece sleeveless vest, and of course socks, shoes, at hat, etc.  I also stood next to an outdoor propane heater and stuffed my pockets with hand warmers.  It really wasn’t too bad.  I didn’t shoot all that well; neither did I embarrass myself in front of dogs or squirrels – spectators who seemed oblivious to the lower temperatures.

Cycling, after archery, too wasn’t all that bad.  It was bad enough.  Lycra is a poor insulator and half way into the ride I sensed my error in layers.  (Too few –for those who are not fond of guessing)

Training in any sport isn’t always easy.  Well, for me it is rarely easy.  There is work involved.  There will be times with the elements, the weather specifically, isn’t ideal.  The weather isn’t always going the idea during competition.  But, hey, it least here today it wasn’t as bad as the weather during the San Francisco 49’ers and Baltimore Ravens played in this past weekend.  We have pretty much the same conditions here today as yesterday in Baltimore except it wasn’t raining.  I mention that since I lived in Baltimore for 5 years as well.