Who Says This Stuff?

I’d been off a bike for several years.  In fact, I didn’t even own one.  I ridden most of my life but graduate school, law school and work created a time-induced pause on cycling.  But, I knew I would ride again if for nothing else fun.

When I finished law school (the last of my ‘big’ degrees, but not the least) I bought a second hand bike.  It was strictly for fun and fitness.  That lasted about 8 weeks before moving up to a better used bike.  That bike became one of three bikes, once I bought the third and I’d found a group to ride with.

The group was filled with State Champions, National Champions, and World Champions.  It was a mix of about 50:50 pure cyclist and triathlete.  A few were professional athletes.  Occasionally Olympians would train with us.  It was an amazing group of athletes.

On my first ride with the group a fellow said to me, “We’re not even on our outer chains rings, it is going to get hard now.”  It wasn’t shared to be friendly.  He was taunting me.  It pissed me off. I might have responded if I’d had enough breath at the time.

Years later, when I was representing the USA as a Team member at the ITU World Championships in the Long Course Duathlon I thought about that jerk.

In early 2014, I’d been shooting a bow for less than a year; I was struggling during a 3D event.  This fellow said to me, “You’re never going to beat us.”  I had plenty of breath but I held my tongue. No point debating a fellow with a weapon in his hand.

I think about that comment nearly as often as I think about the cyclist rudeness.  Neither is any sort of motivator for me to work harder.  Both comments are mysteries of rudeness that simply would never be uttered by me.  I wonder what kind of a person thinks of such to say.

The cyclist that made the comment remained with our training group, as did I.  After a few months I began to reclaim old form and the rude rider never made another nasty comment.  Or at least not one I ever heard.

That group of archers that ‘I’d never beat’ well I haven’t seen them in years. Most of them are really decent archers.  Could I beat them now if our paths crossed in some tournament?  No doubt in my mind.  In fact, the last time I saw them they were shooting in a 3D IBO World Qualifier were I was getting my ticket.  I didn’t shoot against any of them.  As I recall, their max distance was 35 yards and mine was 50 yards.

We were all shooting the hunter class the distance typically is max at 35 yards for the amateur divisions.  I was shooting 50 yards because I was qualifying for the Pro Hunter division.  I won the qualifier and had the highest score for the day overall.

No one from the group, especially the fellow who’d mocked me months earlier said anything rude toward me.  What I’ve never understood is why make a stupid comment to begin with?

I don’t expect to see any of these fellows again.  We shoot in different circles these days. If our paths were to cross – well, I’d be pleased to see any of them.

Yellow Game Another Rainy Day

It wasn’t all that rainy, but it did drizzle.  Not nearly as intense of a rain as during practice a few days ago.  The rain didn’t stop the yellow game.

As I’ve mentioned the yellow games is scoring the percentage of time an archer’s arrows land in the yellow.  I find it a fun way to move though a practice session.

Having changed to a recurve bow 35 days ago the yellow game is a fun challenge. The goal is to keep all the arrows in the yellow.

My recurve is not equipped with a clicker.  I think a clicker may help improve my yellow game percentages.  Still, repeating each shot as exactly as possible without a clicker is probably a fair way to train for now.

Today’s wet percentage was 52.5%.  That was after 10 ends of 8 arrows shooting a vertical 3-spot at 18 meters. The non-yellow strikes were primarily 8s with a couple of 7s and a couple of 6s.

I am already looking forward this afternoon when I repeat the game.

Moving Back

I’ve not shot the new Olympic recurve beyond 20 yards until today.  Today, I added yardage in five-yard increments out to 45 yards.  It wasn’t horrible.

The target was a 40-centimeter single spot.  Nearly all the arrows landed in the yellow, red or blue.  A couple of first shots, as I adjusted the sight, landed in the 4 or 3 ring.  A few clicks up or down remedied that error.

Moving back

To be sure, at this point Brady Ellison need not miss sleep.  By now, since I’ve been shooting a recurve rather than my compound, Reo Wilde has been sleeping easily.

Even though I wasn’t really feeling it, I stopped after 80 arrows.  I’ll pick up where I left off during the next 80-arrow practice.

I didn’t want to stop; it felt good to move back.

The Yellow Game

No, this isn’t a game about cowardice or micturition.  It is a fun practice challenge to land all arrows into the yellow of a target.

For some you work to land all arrows in the X circle of the yellow.  I’ve played that game with my compound bow.  I’ve never won. I have come close, but there was always an eight or two (red ring) to ruin it.

Thirty-four days ago I switched to an Olympic recurve.  Hitting the target seemed like a good place to start.

As my groups got tight, all in the target, I moved from the barn wall to a single spot 40 cm paper target. Next, I moved to a 3-spot to reduce the stress on my arrows.

The arrows are inexpensive.  They are truly beginner arrows, Easton Vector 1000, which you can purchase from your local archery shop for $70.00 per dozen or from Amazon for $66.00 per dozen.  Still, breaking these arrows is fairly easy.  Pop a nock and you’ll likely find a cracked shaft.

My Easton Vector 1000 arrows are a tad weak for my poundage.  I didn’t know that at the time I bought them.  I trusted without verifying.  I’ve done it before; I’ll do it again.  They’re pretty close and for a beginner learning I am not too disappointed.  If shoot three to four of these inexpensive arrows at the same target I don’t cry when one breaks.

That target right is the yellow of the vertical 3-spot.  Right now I am limiting the number of arrows per day to 70 in the morning and 70 in the afternoon.  I’d started at 50 in the morning and 50 in the afternoon and have been working my way up at weekly or so increase depending on how things feel.  It is easy to over do it and end up with an injury.

The yellow game is hard at present.  On August 20th, 28 days after receiving the Olympic recurve, I switched to a 3-spot.  It really isn’t any harder to hit than the larger single spot.  It is just as hard keeping all the arrows in the yellow rings.

It isn’t a game unless I’ve shot the quota of arrows scheduled for the practice session. In other words, if I shot 9 out of 10 on the first end and quit, that 90% doesn’t count.  I did once get chased inside because a rainstorm became too fierce after 40 arrows and those arrows didn’t apply.  No the full count of planned arrows must be achieved.  There’s no stopping early to prevent fatigue from lowering percentages.

Since the beginning of the game, now in its 14th day my average is only 48.2%.  So, out of 1104 arrows fired during the game 530 have hit yellow.  Not even half.

If you’re a numbers person you might think 1104 is not many arrows over that amount of time.  Those are only the Yellow Game arrows.  Over the month, thus far, the arrow count is 3355.  I play other games; the Yellow Game isn’t the only one. There’s the tournament game.  That game is for another for a future story.

Even so, simply looking at 3355 arrows for the 34 days I’ve owned a recurve you might think, “David’s not shooting a lot.”  Maybe you’re right.  But, over those 34 days 9 recovery days, a ½ day lost to routine dentistry and one full day lost so that I could get 15 sutures put into a slice on my right shoulder.  Fortunately, those stitches didn’t seem to bother me.  Well, at least my scores don’t seem to have been hampered.  At this point it is hard to tell.

On my worst day I shot only 31% of the arrows into the yellow at 20 yards, my best day was 71% or 50 out of 70 arrows.  I’ve not shot 10 arrows in a row into the yellow; the best has been 9 out of 10.

I try not to rush the practice but don’t want too much time spent walking back and forth to the target to pull arrows.  So, each end is 10 arrows. I’ve got plenty of targets to save arrows. It is a game, after all.

It is Still Raining

It has been raining off and on for days. Rain is good for the crops I’ve planted.  Crops may be a bit of an embellishment.  I have 18 vegetables beds, 18 fruit trees, grapes vines, and a row of blackberry bushes planted.  This is somewhat of an in-between time for produce. Most of the spring and summer plants are harvested and the fall plants are just beginning to sprout, in small containers or still seed.  Rain isn’t the best for an archer.

I’ve shot in tournaments during rain.  Occasionally, the rain has been so bad the event was halted.  Once, at an IBO World Championship it poured.  My group was first on the range.  The officials held all subsequent archers.  No one missed my group.  No horn was activated to let those archers, one group, on the course to know to stop.  Without the horn we kept shooting.

When is say it rained it poured.  Not one of our group remained upright as we tried to descend the steep slopes at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania.  It rained so hard we missed a turn (the signs with the directional arrows having been blown away) and had to search for the lanes.

During the search we began to hope the tournament had been halted.  None of us wanted to walk onto an active lane, under poor visibility with other archers trying to hit a target.  Eventually, we found a road and stood under a large oak tree until conditions improved.  By the time we began shooting again we were so far ahead we never saw another group of competitors.

Today, it is raining.  It was also a rainy night in Georgia.  There was a slight easing of the rain so I grabbed my bow and headed out to my range for morning practice.

The easing of the rain didn’t last.  I was there wet and figure practice in the rain, because I know I’ll get rained on again during a tournament.

The harder the rain became the less optimistic I felt that I might not need to sound my own horn and head for shelter.  What sent me in was my finger tab.

My finger tab is an inexpensive product.  I paid $14.99 for it ordered from Lancaster Archery Supply.  It is an Avalon Classic.  The leather that is connected to the pad consists of two layers. The double leather pads called me in from the rain when they began to slide back and forth as I drew my arrows.

I practiced through this for a while with arrows landing mostly in the red rings of a 3-spot at 18-meters.  I was hitting about 70% of the time in the red and 30% yellow.  Yesterday, afternoon the opposite had occurred (71% yellow and 29% red).

It wasn’t all that frustrating and just a little bit fun to play in the rain.  Fortunately, it wasn’t cold.  But, the soaked tab was a nuisance.

It was good to learn how this particular tab responds to being soaking wet.  I have no idea how a more expensive tab would respond the becoming as wet as my inexpensive tab; I’ve only ever shot my recurve using this Avalon Classic.

I’ll investigate the pricier tabs and see what I can learn.  At the least I’ll order a second Avalon to have on hand for rainy days.  If that happens I’d try to keep the both as dry as possible and perhaps rotate them in the manner footballs are rotated during rainy games.

Practicing archery in the rain might not be tops on your list of ideal training conditions.  It is, however, a great way to learn how you and you equipment will respond to being soaked.

Running & Raining & Training

There was a light rain falling.  Not bad enough to prevent running.  Bad enough for a rain jacket.  Jacket donned River, my Labrador running partner, and I headed to the trails behind my house just after daybreak.

Ten minutes later it was no longer raining lightly.  It was pouring.  The trails had turned into streams and River, she generally likes water, was bumping my leg to suggest we retreat.  I took her recommendation.

Reaching home I was glad to have worn the rain jacket.

Years ago I ran to race.  Not anymore.  I may enter a 5K for fun but not necessarily to race it.  It is hard not to race.  I remind myself I run for fitness to support archery.  In addition I ride a bike nearly everyday as well.

If you look over the USA Archery training plans for archery you’ll discover sections for fitness training.  A weekly training plan template is available for USA Archery Coaches.  The template does include ‘Cardio/Strength/Conditioning.’

A Level 4 coach and I were recently talking about Olympic archers.  We were on the topic of age and archery.  Archery isn’t as age dependent as other Olympic events such as anything in track and field.  I’d mentioned, now that I am shooting a recurve, that I’d like to make a run at the 2024 Olympic Team.

He didn’t laugh and wasn’t put off by my age.  All he said was, “If you do that, you’ll really have to be in shape.”  I will be 69 when the 2024 Olympics are held in Paris.  So, yes I will really have to be in good shape to make a run for the 2024 Team. The coach knew nothing about my training or past athletic endeavors.

When I look at other archers it is clear the younger archers appear leaner than the more mature archers.  Still, it is rare to notice an archer that one might mistake for a triathlete.  Rare but not absent.

Look at Olympic archers and you’ll find a larger group of fitter athletes.  Archery, however, isn’t a sport limited to the 20 – 30 year of age group. You can find that age isn’t nearly the detrimental factor for fit archers. (1) You can also see that archery has decent odds, 1:162, to make the team. (2)

The oldest archer to compete in the Olympic games was Thomas Scott. (3) He represented the USA in the 1904 games.  He was 71 years old at the time.  Archery has come a long way since 1904, but I’d say it is all relative.

So, who’s to say that staying fit and shooting a lot of arrows is a false hope for someone 65 years old?

The rain did finally pause and I was able to get in some morning archery practice.  At least until it started raining, again.  I do often practice in the rain – just not during the morning archery practice.  It didn’t rain during the afternoon’s practice.

References:

(1) https://www.verywellfit.com/olympic-sports-youre-not-too-old-for-4075439

(2) https://infographicjournal.com/chances-becoming-summer-olympic-athlete/

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Scott_(archer)

Sailing Around the World

In the 21st century there have been 21 crews or solo sailors to sail the circumference of the world. There have been four other circumference voyages by powered ships included one solar powered vessel for 25 trips. (1) Cruising around the world isn’t a trip taken frequently.

Sailing around the world is risky.  Sailors risk boom injuries, broken masts, tsunamis, falling over board, whales (yes whales really have been known to attack sailboats), floating containers, collisions with freighters, storms, squalls, heavy weather, waves, lightening and sinking. (2)

Those risks may attribute to the infrequency of the trip.  A close friend, Linda, was sailing around the world when, during a severe storm while attempting to reach a port her boat sunk. Linda was rescued but her sailing home was gone.

Another friend, Stuart, has flown around the world.  He had meetings in Japan followed by more meetings in Paris.  He booked his flight path from Baltimore, to Los Angels, Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, then Paris and finally back to BWI. That trip is less hazardous than by sailing around the world.

Sailing around the world is a significant sporting challenge.  It requires a certain athletic discipline both physical and mental.  It also takes a fair amount of money.

Recently, I heard from a childhood friend.  She is one of a pile of kids in the same family I grew up with on Isle of Hope near Savannah, GA.  Currently, she’s stuck, “due to the current situation” (which I assumed to mean the pandemic) outside of Cebu, Philippines. I expect she’s bored, digging around on Facebook with a new account looking of old friends.  She found me and sent a friend request.

I was pleased to hear from her.  It has been decades.  I’ve stayed in touch with her brothers but not her or her sisters.  In total there were 6 siblings among this solid Catholic family.  I was at their home so often you could have added me as a 7th kid.

During our electronic conversation Julia explained she was sailing around the world. I was not at all that surprised.  Everyone in her family became high achievers in sports.  Three raced bicycles; one danced for the New York City Ballet and one is a marathoner.  And Julia, aside from now a sailor, was a competitive swimmer in her youth.

Like so many new people on Facebook she has a number of old memories and meaningful achievements posted.  What was surprising, even though she’s sailing around the world, her posts on the sailing adventure are limited.  Then, I considered the effort involved in sailing around the world and the amount of time she’s not going to get a signal via her smartphone hot spot.

What also caught my attention was a post of her youthful swimming days.  On her boat she has pictured a few of her medals and ribbons she won for swimming when she was a kid.

There’s a photo of her at a swim meet in her star and stripes swim suit from decades ago.  Then, in another post she is wearing the same swimsuit on her boat just off the Philippines.

It is great that she still fits into her high school aged swimsuit.  I thought about this and it occurred to me how proud she is of her days as a swimmer.  Then, I thought, “Julia, you’re sailing around the world!”

It is funny how the sports we participate in as kids leaves an impact.  Here is a woman doing something that extremely few people ever consider attempting much less completing.  I suppose at the time some folks are completing some amazing adventure, when there is a pause, there are moments to reflect.  For Julia, the posting of a medal won in a swim meet decades ago represents a happy memory in sport.

Perhaps there are those of us that need to push ourselves to extreme levels.  Clearing circumnavigating the world on a sailboat would meet anyone’s assessment of an extreme sport.  Maybe going from swimmer to sailor isn’t a too unexpected stroke.  Both do involve water. Both require physical and mental toughness. And the root of such an adventure as sailing around the world may have been seeded from youthful involvement is sports.

Reference:

3-Spot Upgrade

Shooting a recurve for the first time it seemed smart to use a single 40 cm target.  It was a good place to begin.  Over the past 28 days groups are getting tighter. So tight that arrows are beginning to break.

River suggesting I change targets

It has only been two arrows.  Three is you count a broken nock which was replaced using the good nock off a cracked arrow.  The cracked arrow earned its retirement after an intersection with another arrow. Most of the time the clearance between arrows is fine.  But, two arrows are still two arrows even if these beginner recurve shafts are $5.83 each (tax excluded).  Break two of these relatively inexpensive arrows and there goes $11.66.

These beginner arrows are too weak.  They’re good up to 30 pounds.  I’m shooting using 35 pound limbs for now.  Still they are what I have until I feel ready for an upgrade.  Not waiting to get new arrows just yet I am doing what I can to protect the 10 I have left.

So, I upgraded to a 3-spot.  Now, there is plenty of room.

You can see the top and bottom arrows may have been damaged if shot on the same target.

Learning to shoot an Olympic Recurve

On July 22, 2020 the Olympic recurve I ordered from Lancaster Archery Supply in Pennsylvania arrived.  Today is August 19, 2020.  I’ve shot 2251 arrows using the new recurve bow. It has been tough not shooting more arrows.  It is fun.

Knowing things can get overdone I’ve limited the number of arrows to shoot per day.  This is to allow the new style of shooting to gradually take hold.  It isn’t as if I having been shooting.  But, shooting a compound bow and shooting a recurve does create a change when it comes to how an archer applies work to muscles.  It isn’t entirely like starting fresh, but the two styles are not a 100% match when it comes to all elements of the shot process and biomechanical function. It seemed wise to limit how many arrows per day in order to avoid a potential injury.

I have slowly increased the number of arrows per day on a weekly basis, increasing by twenty arrows per week.  Currently, I am at 140 arrows per day.  Those are broken into two sessions one in the morning one in the afternoon, seventy arrows per session.

I’m not just heading out and flinging arrows.  I’ve been trying to work on specific objectives associated with recurve form.  As I’ve gotten stronger holding the form has improved.

Of course, I didn’t just pick up the bow and start hitting Xs.  Neither have I missed the target.  For the first 1000 arrows I didn’t even care where the arrows landed.  I did want them to hit the target so that I might not misplace in arrow.

After about 1000 arrows I made a game where I try to get all the arrows to end up in yellow from 18 meters.  At this point, 18 meters is as far as I’ve shot the recurve.  That little game, the Yellow Game, does make things interesting.

The Yellow Game’s goal is 100% of the arrows in yellow.  At present 51% are in yellow.  Still a long way to go to reach 100%.

I’m also enforcing a strict recovery plan.  I don’t shoot on Wednesday or Sunday for the moment.  That will change, as I get stronger.  In the meantime, the Yellow Game is a way to help focus on the process and I’m trying to be patient.