Caveat emptor

Learn all you can about a product before you rely on a salesperson’s honesty to give you sound advice on your purchase.  Otherwise, you are setting yourself up to be burned.  Get burned enough times and you will learn the hard way. Well, maybe.

Racing bicycles, for me, began in my teens.  I knew nothing about bicycles other than how to ride one.  My first racing bicycle was a beautiful machine. The frame was too large for me.  I didn’t know better.

The mistake I’d made was thinking the salesman at the bike shop was my friend. I was a child, I didn’t know better.

The bicycle was the most expensive in the shop.  Expensive and non-fitting aren’t an ideal combination.

Overtime I did learn about bikes.  Eventually, I reached a point where I was specific in what I wanted from crank length to handle bar width.  In between I wasted a lot of hard earned cash.

Six years, seven months and 30 days ago I purchased a compound bow. I was older than I was when I spent my money on a racing bicycle by 42 years.  Sadly, I remain trusting and dumb.

The bow was the most expensive available from the bow show.  I paid top dollar.  The bow was discontinued 6 weeks later.  I didn’t know six weeks earlier that the bow would be off the market in less than two months.  What I know today is there was ample cause for the discontinuation.  My mistake – I hadn’t researched the bow and thought the salesman was a friend.  In my defense I only knew bow and arrow about archery.

I’ve wasted enough money by trusting salespeople I’ve gotten to know and considered friends.  They may seem friendly but it is all about the money.

If you are lucky enough to have a solid friendship with a salesperson to aid you in selecting sports gear good for you and good for that salesperson.  Still it never hurts to learn all you can about the gear you’ll aim to use in competition.

All athletes run. 

You may be an archer and as such don’t necessarily find value in running.  If this is your position on running you are probably in the majority of archers.  To my knowledge there’s no official poll that provides information related to archers that use running as part of their training.  From purely informal observation of archers it seems many have allergies to running.

I’m a runner.  I run nearly every day.  Part of my running includes a day off per week – a part of a more formal program associated with archery.  Even before I ever picked up a bow I ran.

As children we run for the pleasure of running.  Today, I run with my grand children.  Racing Granddaddy is great sport.  Believe me these races are serious wind sprints.  One of them is an amazing runner. Her speed is shocking.  At 7 years old she asked to be timed and she was timed.  That’s how we discovered she really is fast.

Getting older many of us ran as part of some sport we played.  Others of us ran because we raced as runners or multi-sport athletes.  Archers on the other hand don’t run.

It wasn’t also so. Bows and arrows were originally tools for hunting and warfare.  Hunters often had to run to catch prey or get away from angry arrow poked prey.  In combat archers would empty their quivers on a field.  Once that happened pissed off cavalry would begin to chase the arrowless archers.  Those archers could run or at least those who fought in future battles were good runners. Archers on horseback, such as the Mongols, had an advantage in that they carried swords to apply to their trade once the arrows were gone.

Runner’s World, a magazine, comes to me without charge.  You may get hunting magazines for free – I get those as well.  That isn’t because you and I are great hunters.  No we get these free magazines thanks to the vendors that offset magazine’s cost with advertising. The vendors are hoping you’ll read their ads and buy their stuff.

I read Runner’s World, RW, and occasionally an article in one of the hunting rags.  RW often has ‘experts’ write for them whose work cracks me up.  This current issue did have a 5K training plan that I thought was excellent if you wanted to run 5K in less that 30 minutes.  That isn’t fast.  But, it is a good point for runners new to the sport that are seeking fitness and speed.  What cracked me up about this issue was the cover.

On the cover they’ve pictured a runner.  He’s running over rocks situated in the Barton Creek on the Greenbelt Trail in Austin, Texas.  When I pulled this RW from the mailbox and looked at the cover I laughed out loud.  The runner, PJ, photographed by Faith (her first name) is in mid flight gliding from wet boulder to wet boulder.

Immediately, I though “PJ you should be wearing a helmet.”  There is no way to consistently perform this acrobatic feat without falling.  If you slip on wet boulders, and you will, it is going to hurt.

I supposed Faith wanted a cool picture and talked PJ into taking the leap.  I hope PJ didn’t get hurt.

Athletes do run or should run.  If you do consider running trails are fun.  Running will make you more fit which can be an advantage in archery.  Trail running and trying to run across wet rocks in a creek isn’t smart. You will slip and fall. (Nope it has never happened to me.  I can fall on trails without the addition of wet boulders sitting in a creek to navigate.)

Building a training plan and self-coaching

Shooting arrows is fun. It is easy to grab your bow, head to the range, and fling arrows.  You will improve by flinging arrows.  However, it isn’t really a training plan.

Having a plan with specific goals will help you improve and probably get better end results than ad libitum shooting.

If you’ve never followed a training plan it can seem somewhat over the top to create a plan and follow your plan.  There are plenty of archers whose plan is to shoot their bow 3 to 5 times a week.  One archer explained his training plan consisted of shooting 30 arrows 5 times a week. Perhaps, for him, that was perfect.

If you go online you can quickly find training plans for running, cycling, and triathlon. Along with those plans you’ll be invited to sign up for online coaching.  A top online coaching program is offered by Carmichael Training Systems.  These programs are great if you have the discipline to follow the program.

Online training systems are available for archery.  Archery is more difficult since form is so critical for high-level performance.  All sport coaching can be optimized when a skilled coach is available to watch the athlete.

Many athletes are self-coached. Finding a coach, making schedules and forking out coaching fees are all factors in athletes self-coaching.  It isn’t just amateur athletes that self-coach.  Chrissie Wellington, multiple winner of the Ironman World Championship, and undefeated at the Ironman distance dropped her coaches and continued to win – self-coached.

Self-coaching can work but not without a plan.  Certainly, shooting arrow after arrow will help you improve to a point.  Beyond that, if you are going to self-coach you need to make a plan as if you are the coach and the athlete, in your case, is you.

The Beat Goes On

The Covid-19 pandemic has kept me away from archery groups since June.  There have been no tournaments for me since early June and no going to any range other than those of mine where I hold solo practice.  It has been a good time to work on specific issues that have been plaguing me for months.

Despite warnings from everyone in the medical field many, too many, carefree – it won’t get me – people have been piling together to shoot arrows.  A number of the older folks, my age who I know, in the sport have been avoiding the ongoing tournaments.  We didn’t get old being stupid.

I have noticed, because they’ve posted pictures, a great many younger people all up in each other’s faces shooting arrows.  While the evidence suggests younger people are less likely to exhibit severe symptoms when they catch Covid-19 they can still share it with their older friends and relatives who are more likely to exhibit severe symptoms.

If you think social distancing and masks don’t make any difference take a look at New Zealand and Sweden’s Covid-19 numbers.  Personally, I was hoping Sweden was onto something positive, alas their experiment failed.

You might look and come to the conclusion that New Zealand and Sweden are small compared to America.  They both do have much smaller population than America.  They are each more like a US State in size. So, compare the population where you live to those two countries and draw your own conclusion.

Some of you might suggest the Covid-19 in the US is the result of Democrats trying to make President Trump look bad.  I think you’d have a hard time trying to use this rationale with the Italians, French, British, Brazilians, and even the Russians and Chinese.  In fact, the World seeing the US Democrats as the purveyors of a global hoax a bit far-fetched.

Despite remaining socially distant practice and training remain a routine.  Having just competed a 6-week training cycle I am writing the plan for the following six-weeks.  The prior 6-week plan was 100% about changing the way I’ve been shooting.  The new plan won’t start for a week and the time in-between is being spent shooting strictly for fun during this off week.  The upcoming plan will be refinement of the last 6-week plan.

Essentially, a fun week is a seven-day stretch that includes 2 days of total recover, Wednesday and Sunday. The other five days when I pick up a bow and walk out to my range then I decide what it is I am going to shoot.

For example, today I shot 110 arrows are various yardages before moving over to a 3D black bear shooting it at various yardages without using a range finder.  I kept no data other than the number of arrows shot.  I do limit these sessions to 150 arrows.

Another change made during the prior 6-week was an increase in fitness training.  Granted, I ran and bicycled before the pandemic.  What I did was increase the mileage for both.  Admittedly, I felt the increase more than I expected.

My time stuck home has been used constructively.  Just because I can’t go out and play with others, since I am doing my part in trying not to contribute to the spread of Covid-19, doesn’t mean binge watching TV.

I Can Wait

When I look at the archery tournament schedule I can only stare and wish.  Yes, there is a tournament in August here in Georgia.  There is also an increase in the Covid-19 here in Georgia where we reached 104,000 cases or just about 10% of the population passing this bug around. (GA- DPH 6/11/21)

Clearly archers have been gathering on ranges and at tournaments here in the Peach State.  I know because they post there group pictures snapped by cell phone.  No masks and the six feet apart recommendation abandoned for the photo-op.

While I’d really enjoy a competition I’d rather wait and lower my risk of catching the virus.  A friend of ours from Florida wanted to come up for a visit.  We passed on that request even though we’d like to see him.  He pointed out that my wife and I are on good shape.  Was that supposed to mean that if we caught a virus that might travel up from Florida we’d probably only experience mild symptoms and most likely not die? I can wait to see him.

Practice still rolls on. Today I was an easy day and I enjoyed shooting 145 arrows in 90-degree weather.  All were close range as I am considering switching my distance up to 20 meters hoping that by the time indoor season rolls around we’ll have a vaccine.  For my part, I doubt I’ll be lining up close to a bunch of archers from around the State to shoot an outdoor event.  I don’t expect archers’ boxes to be placed six feet apart.

When it comes to shooting along with a pile of archers during a pandemic – I can wait.