It Is A Lot Of Work

To be successful you must first set a goal for success.  Once the goal is established there needs to be a plan to achieve that goal.

Years ago when I was a project manager I had to build plans for products.  Those plans included all sorts of staff, timelines, supplies, regulatory requirements, research, development, sales projects, marketing and budgets.  It was an ordeal.  When I eventually migrated to a level where I managed project managers it seemed easier.

Making a plan in sports is much the same.  Set a goal and build a project plan to achieve that goal.  Along the way there are milestones.  Along the way there is a lot of work.

When I switched to Olympic recurve I set a goal and prior to that goal milestones.  My next milestone is four weeks out. What I’ve been doing, through my training and competition plan, remains on schedule.  Today, I began the flexing of the training program to achieve the next milestone.

I’ve owned the Olympic recurve bow I’m shooting for 276 days.  Of those days I have not shot 100% of the days available.  I’ve allowed for 78 days to recover.  That means I’ve had 198 practice days.  During that time, in and out of competition, I’ve shot 25,790 arrows.  The maximum I can find for one day is 210 arrows.  Generally, I shoot 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon with variances for weather and tapering.  I also didn’t start out shooting 200 per day.  I started at 60 per day and worked up.

As yet I haven’t added a clicker to my bow.  That must be added soon.  I just upgraded the sight.  But, the riser and limbs remain inexpensive beginner level equipment. (Under $300 for the combo – the new sight cost more.)

The arrows aren’t special either.  They are inexpensive at $4.42 each.

What hasn’t got a price tag is practice.  Archery is one of those sports where anyone willing to work can earn a high degree of success.

Today, I didn’t pick up my bow.  It is a rest day having just won a tournament over the weekend.  In preparation for that tournament I practiced the distances by shooting 100 arrows in the morning at one distance then 100 in the afternoon at a different distance all at 25 to 65 yards (5 yard increments) until I had 400 shots at each of the 10 distances or 4000 arrows.  Outside of that count I did 4 practice rounds equal to the shots that would be fired in the event per week for four weeks. (Simulated tournament was 10 warm-up arrows and 60 for score or another 1120 arrows for 5120 arrows)  I won the event.

But, I did miss a goal of breaking the record for the tournament.  It was only a mental goal never written down for 2021.  It is written down for 2022.  It looks like the record for the State was set in 1993, but I am uncertain.  One clear high score, the one to beat I am more sure of was set 6 years ago.  I missed it by 14 points.  I lost 15 of those points on the last 3 targets.  It was one of those situations for which I prepared as best as I could be – dark shadows on black-faced targets aiming with a black dot.  On the last 3 targets I scored 10,10 and 10.  (4-3-3 each time)

I knew the black on black was going to be an issue and practiced as best as I had available to simulate what I might see.  I came close.  In each case the groups were tight just off low right on all targets.  Next year I’ll have a different aperture to compensate for the view. This year the aperture is back ordered.

But, had I not  practiced as close as possible to the projected conditions it could have been worse.

During the competition there was one ‘expert’ recurve shooter that felt he needed to advise me on my low cost gear.  I know what I paid for the equipment.  I knew his riser was more costly that my entire rig (riser, stabilizers, string, plunger, rest, limbs, sight at aperture).  I always felt the best bow on the range is the one in your hand.

While this ‘expert’s’ equipment certainly outweighed mine and his decades of archery are way beyond mine I expect he’s never had a goal or a plan.  He clearly loves the sport and is passionate about it he’ll never advance – which probably isn’t what he’s trying to achieve.  He’s more likely in the sport for social fun.

For me it is more than that. And it is a lot of work.  I will admit I enjoy the practice, even alone with the exception of my dog, River, more that the competitions.

River and I headed out to the range

26,011 Is All It Had

When I switched to an Olympic Recurve I did it at a remarkably low price.  Everything from stabilizers, tab, stand, limbs, sight – everything for $460.00.  The riser and limbs set me back $249.98.  A riser purchased for $149.99 bucks and limbs for $99.99.  I was pleased.

There seemed to be no point in playing top dollar to try something of which I had very little exposure.  Heck, my arrows cost $4.42 each.

Sadly, my low-end riser reached its limit – 26,011 arrows.  It was at that point the little red Galaxy Tourch gave up.

The inexpensive bow did a good job for 200 days of shooting.  Then, it broke in two on arrow number 26,011.  It had given all it had. Even the last arrow, launched from an exploding riser,  hit the target.

I really enjoyed that little bow and am sad to see if go.

I figured I call Lancaster Archery and let them know hoping the bow was under warranty.  This happened late in the day so; again, I figured I call the next day.

When I got to this computer the next morning I had a message waiting from Lancaster Archery’s Supply’s (LAS) Southern sales representative.  He wanted me to call him when I got a chance. Okay.

When the riser broke I was shooting with George Ryals, IV.  He’s the USA Archery Head Coach for the Paralympics Archery Team.  He took a picture of the broken riser.  Apparently, some of the folks at Lancaster Archery follow Coach Ryals on social media and they saw the picture online.

Before I called the LAS sales representative, it was too early in the morning,  I checked my email.  There was an email from LAS informing me that a new riser had been shipped to me.  It was less than 18 hours since the ole riser had failed.

Once the morning had worn on a bit I called the LAS sales representative, Tony.  I know Tony from archery here in Georgia. He wanted me to know that the riser, which had busted was out of stock and that LAS had shipped me an upgrade.  They also included a t-shirt, pouch and hat in the shipment.

Admittedly, I was surprised.  That really is unparalleled customer service.

Four out of five

This past week I won an archery tournament shooting an Olympic style recurve bow.  I’ve won four out of five times shooting a recurve bow. This time it was particularly difficult.

The tournament was an outdoor event, an International Round target competition. In this event the target faces are black with the white center ring.  The aperture on my sight has a black dot.

As the day progressed the shadows casting on the targets increased the difficulty.

I’d wanted to change the aperture before the contest but what I needed was and remains on back order.  It is one of those expensive apertures with the light gathering monofilament.

Alas, I was forced to compete with the black on black.  Certainly, I’d practiced shooting the black-faced targets.  It isn’t impossible but it is uncomfortable.

I didn’t shot poorly even though I have shot similar distances against a white-faced target and scored higher.  But, you can only shoot with what you have in your hand.

Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight

When I started shooting an Olympic recurve bow 266 days ago I did so with minimal investment. The entire rig was under $460.00.  That included everything from sight to bow stand.   The arrows I am using, an upgrade from the initial arrows, are priced at $4.42 each.

Two of the items were replaced within weeks:  the bowstring and finger tab. The first string price was $19.99 and it didn’t last long. The tab was worn through just as soon.

I replaced the string with a 60X that I replaced after 24, 431 shots to another similar 60X string.  The finger tab was upgraded to a Fairweather – worth every penny.

The most recent up grade was the sight.  I’d already gone through two Cartel inexpensive sights. They bow did the job for the level I shoot.

Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight

A coach suggested early on getting a good sight.  I sold two older but well maintained kayaks then used the cash to buy an Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight with a 9 inch extension.  It wasn’t cheap, $358.44 tax included.

On the very first shot the difference was apparent.  The very first shoot was stunning – the bow was amazingly quiet. No loud rattling from a lesser quality sight. The new sight was worn every penny.

The elevation and windage dials are so much more precise than the lower priced sight’s dials.  Being able to dial in the dot in the aperture is a new experience. Before sight was “close enough.”

The thought the sight put into my head was to wonder how a really nice riser, limbs and stabilizers might perform?  To answer than I suppose I’ll need to sell something else.

Under Recovery

This morning the plan was 100 arrows at 45 yards.  I stopped at 70 arrows.  I was exhausted.

The fatigue I am feeling was obvious during the pre-archery workouts of stretching and cardio.  While running I slowed my pace but made the distance.  When it was time to shoot I didn’t have that usual spark. In fact, over the past week or so I’ve been tired.

Furthermore, and to my dismay, my groups have been expanding and my ‘test’ tournament scores have dropped. Something is up.

A friend of mine, a ex-pro PGA golfer, Tim Simpson, once told me, “You don’t want to be tired going into a tournament.”  I am 11 days out from a Georgia State Target Championship (International Round).

Going into the event my training has been 100 arrows per distance per week with a practice tournament on Saturday and recovery on Sunday.  The distance interval practice means 1000 arrows over 5 days.  The practice tournament (all distances arranged via a random number generator for those 5 yard increments) with warm-up is 80 arrows (60 for the scoring 20 warm-up).  That comes to 1080 per week.  Not overwhelming.

When it comes to any delayed onset muscle soreness and arms feel good.  When running or cycling I admit some ache.  Overall, the fatigue seems greater than the exercise input. So, physiologically it comes down to inadequate recovery. (1)

Not all physical effort is limited to an athlete-training plan.  Outside my plan I do a lot of other physical activity.  For instance, this week I’ve dug holes and planted 10 moderate sized trees. That included carrying 50-pound bags of soil around my property.  In itself not exhausting.

While shooting field distances there is a lot more walking versus winter training for 20 and 25 meters.  The walking, by itself, not an issue.

Cycling has been slightly harder since everyday there has been more wind that usual.  Again, by itself, not an issue.

Combined, there is an increased workload.

The way out is a slight reduction for a few days regarding the overall workload.  Evaluate my nutrition, hydration and sleep.

The first problem that comes to mind is sleep.  The inadvertent increase in workload probably pushed me to the edge and has led to sleep disruptions.  A key indicator for me in this regard is a lowering of my concentration.  That is easily picked up for me while shooting and playing music.

Playing music is a standard for me when it comes to concentration.  While I am playing and reading the sheet music and not know where I am it is a sign of mental fatigue I’ve associated with poor sleep.

I also expect my caloric intake has been low.  There was a time when I recorded it, when I was racing, because it was hugely important.  It is important in archery as well but I have taken a more relaxed tracking of my input and output.

At this point I feel my hydration isn’t a problem.

I also have had exercise-induced anemia in the past that is controlled by iron.  This is been just a low does of iron supplement until the sinking has passed.  Although I’ve not checked by hemoglobin I’ll get that done.

Hopefully, I can get through this in a few days.

Reference:

(1) https://sportmedbc.com/news/tired-athlete-issue-underrecovery

Listening to your body

Today I am exhausted.  Outside it is storming, it is Monday and all the local indoor ranges are closed.  The plan for today was 200 arrows, 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon.  My scheduled recover day was Wednesday.  The training plan will need some refinement to reach my weekly goal of 1200 arrows. (1200 at this phase of my training plan)

I am glad for the rain.  We’ve just returned from a week’s vacation where there was no archery.  There was a lot of cycling on vacation.  Since the return my arrow could has gradually reach 200 per day.  After a week off it was had to stop at 100.  But, lowered the daily count to give my body time to get back into archery form.

The archery and conditioning training isn’t what has caused the fatigue.  It was been planting trees or rather digging holes.  We’re talking 10 trees, fairly larges trees, digging holes through Georgia clay using a Maddox and a shovel.

The initial thought on the trees was to hire someone to dig the holes and plant the trees.  The lowest price for the holes was $175.00 per hole. (That’s $1750.00 for those that are math adverse)  I can dig a hole.

It felt good while digging the holes.  It has caught up with me.  I am glad for this storm. Equally glad to have not hired anyone to have dug the holes.

Building a Training Plan

USA archery coaches have access to general training plans for archers.  These plans are generally good.  If you work with a coach that coach might make changes on such a plan to meet the specific needs of an archer.  It is good to have a plan.

Among an archer’s training plan a coach might include activities for fitness.  Those activities may include cardio workouts and weight training.  Both are excellent for archery. Another element of a training plan may include stretching.  The focus is, of course, on archery.

Plans should include periodization.  That means a cycle based on workloads prior to specific tournaments, base training, and recovery.  The cycle might include exercises that cover volume and intensity.  They can also focus on unique points for technique improvement.

One simple measure of training is going to be arrow count.  It takes a lot of arrows to ‘get good’ even more to become ‘great.’

Starting new to recurve it is important not to overdo it from the beginning. Throughout the training there are periods of several days in a row where there is no shooting.  Becoming an excellent archer takes time.  No one gets there overnight.  A plan can reduce wasted time and provide a foundation for growth in the sport.