2021 USA Archery Outdoor National Championship

When I signed up for the 2021 USA Archery Outdoor National Championship it was early.  I was worried that the Championship might reach capacity the way the 2021 Gator Cup attained its limit.

I also set a minimum average per arrow I’d need to shoot before I competed.  I’ve exceeded that pre-selected average a couple for times during practice sessions designed to record and monitor my points per arrow.  The bad thing is my average per arrow has not reached my goal.

It wasn’t close.  I missed by 0.5 points per arrow.  That is a lot of points over 144 arrows. It means my average score lands me in 8th place at the Nationals. (Based on past three years scores for the event.)

I’d nearly talked myself into going, having fun, and hoping for one of those zone days where I’d shoot closer to the better points per average of my curve.  On a really good day I might win or at least be in the top three.  My best area of my score curve suggests I could win by 12 points.  My personal best has me winning by 20 points.  My average has me finishing 8th.

In preparation I researched the scores over the past three years.  I checked scores on the archers entered.  And I looked at the cost benefit to competing when I’m not yet fully prepared.

The cost, to me, would have been $1285.00 for everything.  That seems like a lot of money to pay for 8th place.  That is, of course, me shooting my average and everyone else shooting within 2 standard deviations of their most recent scores.  Worse case, using the lower scores from my curve would land me in 10th place.  The cost benefit didn’t reach the point where going was worth the investment.  If I’d achieved my goal set for points per arrow average I’d have not withdrawn.

Moving on Back

Practicing archery, for me, is more fun than tournaments.  Tournaments are slow.  Practice moves at a livelier pace.  Still, there are times when flinging arrows for hours can become monotonous. That can be improved by adding training games to your practice.

If you practice solo there are ways to make your planned sessions exciting.  There are a number of games I use.  These are: the yellow game, the tournament game and the Move Back game – among others.  Of these I find the Move Back game the most challenging.

The yellow game is simple; shoot as many arrows in the yellow rings at any given distance.  Record the shots at aim for 100% of your arrows in the yellow. The tournament is where you work to duplicate the conditions of an actual tournament.

The Move Back game is where you select a starting yardage and don’t increase the distance until a set number of arrows hit the center ring.  For example, 30 out of 30.

Thirty out of thirty can be tough as distances increase.  To reduce frustrations make changes.  You can personalize any way your want based on your ability. A change I use is 10 center shots in a row starting at 30 yards.  I also move back using increments of 10 yards; some folks might rather use 5-yard increments.

For me, 30 yards is usually just 10 arrows.  Forty yards takes a few tries, fifty yards gets more difficult to get 10 center shots in a row, 70 yards – well that remains a frustration for me.

Generally, I stop shooting after 100 to 120 arrows.  At that point I take a break.  When I resume shooting I pick up where I left off.  That is I start at 60 yards if that is where I left off during the earlier practice.  (This is on the same day.)

The day after shooting a Move Back game I’ll not continue the game.  The Move Back game is tough so the next day I’ll plan something else.  Once I’ve taken a break from the Move Back game the next time I practice it I start short and work my way back.  Even if I am close to 70 yards when I shoot a Move Back practice session I’ll start at 30 yards after any break extending into another day.

That doesn’t mean I won’t practice at 70 between Move Back practices.  If I shoot a couple of 100 arrows at 70 the next Move Back might be easier.

The Move Back game is also a good way to verify your sight calibrations.

Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

Of the past three outdoor tournaments where I’ve competed it has rained during all of them.  One was soaking rain, another was paused due to lightening, and the remaining event was a drizzle.  Lately, practice has followed suit.

Today, I was debating taking a break.  I’ve not has a full day off in five days.  While I didn’t feel the build up of lots of arrows today really needed to be a recovery day.

I caved and went out to the range.

Not yet raining – it didn’t last

Mother nature seemed to know better and began pouring rain on top of me.  It rained on me yesterday and the day before.  On both days I shot through it. Today was different. I was getting soaked.

Taking the drenching as an omen I packed up and headed indoors.  Perhaps it will clear up this afternoon. Almost a half a day off seems okay at the moment.

2020 Georgia Games

I hadn’t competed in the Georgia Games in decades.  The last time I did it was in the sport of cycling. This time it was archery.

The Georgia Games archery was held at Quest Field in Kennesaw, Georgia.  During the prior Georgia Games we lived in Kennesaw.  We now live in Good Hope near Athens, Georgia. The drive from Good Hope to Kennesaw weighted on me. The past three trips to Kennesaw, an hour and 45 minutes, ended in a 4-hour return trip. Atlanta traffic sucks.

The Georgia Games was an International Round, meaning 30 arrows at 60 meters, 30 at 50 meters and 30 at 40 meters.  Training I shot 1000s are arrows at each distance. Each week I’d do a test, shooting the distances as exactly as possible to what might be event conditions.  Over weeks of training my test scores ranged from 775 to 846.

For statistical analysis I removed the 846 score and the average score for an International round is 783.  Not top tier but understandable with less than a year under my belt with a recurve bow.

The day of the event I felt just fine during the warm up.  I was surprised when we got to warm up at 60, 50 and 40 meters.  Usually, it is just the longest distance. That was good since it allows an archer to verify sight marks for a new range.  Throughout the warm up I never hit less than an 8.

Including that warm up we had two ends of 6 arrows at 60 meters for an official warm up.  All twelve of those pre-score arrows landed in the yellow  – either a nine or ten.

I wasn’t nervous, I felt good and for the first 30 arrows at 60 meters I shot the arrows everywhere on my target.  There were no groups.  The wind wasn’t an issue, the lighting excellent and nothing was amiss with my equipment.  Still, I barely broke 200 finishing with a 207.

It seemed a good idea to pack up, go home, then sale all my archery equipment.  I was losing badly.  Heck, on fellow I was shooting against shot one of his arrows into the wrong target and he was beating me.  (That happens and isn’t rare – it costs 10 points for that bit of excitement.  Archers shooting the wrong target have beaten me in the past.)

I didn’t quit. I thought about what someone like Tiger Woods might do in this situation.  I thought about his last Master’s win and something Jack Nicholas once said, “ I know I’m going to mess up, I won’t be perfect, nobody is – it is how you recover from your mistakes that matters.”

When I practice I do make mistakes.  Admittedly, I’ve never shot 30 arrows at 60 meters and shot as low as 207.  As far as mistakes go this was full of whoopers.

Three of the athletes shooting in my division are well known to me.  Anyone of them can be the winner on any day.  The other archers ahead of me I didn’t know.  I stood behind one for a bit and watched him pull away from everyone at 60 meters.  It seemed he’d likely be the winner. This event was rolling up to a great big bust. The most logical thing to do was head home and out of the Atlanta traffic before the afternoon traffic become it’s own nightmare.

But, I thought about Tiger Woods and Jack Nicholas and stayed. The worse case is it would be good practice. To win, being at the rock bottom, I’d need to shot some really decent scores for the final 60 arrows at 50 and 40 meters.

As we changed from 60 meters to 50 meters I went through my shot process and tried to review the poor shots at 60 meters.  What was I doing wrong.  A number of things stood out:  dropping my bow arm during my follow through, my grip had felt off and my back tension didn’t feel right – but why?

At 50 meters I don’t use a sighting scope between shots to view my arrows.  Lately, I rarely use it at 60 meters during practice.  At 60 meters when a shot feels off I check the arrow placement down range.  Typically, I find a shooting grove and stay in it.  On the day of the tournament I was checking ever shot.

The problem checking is that with multiple archers shooting the same target it is hard to spot your arrows especially if more than one of you shooting that target has the same color nocks.  I was spending too long trying to find my arrows and losing the feel for the shot. Plus, I was sharing a spotting scope.

I don’t mind sharing a spotting scope. Sharing a spotting scope helps keep the archers’ box clean. But this particular scope wasn’t as ergonomic as mine.  It was off.  Each glance into that scope meant leaning up and over to look down whereas mine has an eyepiece which rotates so that you simply tilt forward a little to see the target. With every shot I was returning to a slightly different position for the subsequent shot.

At fifty meters I skipped the using the spotting scope.  At that point I’d determined it was doing more harm than good.  I think that if you use a spotting scope you should use it on every shot so it becomes part of your process.  However, when the use of the spotting scopes gets your shot process timing off maybe you should trust your training and forget the scope. This is especially true if the scope you’re using isn’t yours and the use of it throws your timing off.

Fifty meters was a new game.  Then, forty meters was a slam-dunk.  For sixty meters, I’d scored an all time low.  At fifty and forty, while I didn’t achieve a personal best I came close. Not only had I dug myself out of a hole I ended up pulling into first place besting the 2019 winning score by 44 points.

Those 44 points isn’t what was turned in to the judges.  One of our scorekeepers received a call as he was scoring that amounted to an emergency.  The scores were quickly tallied and handed to the judges.  I didn’t double check, my concern related to the emergency over riding any score.

At home I double checked my scorecard and discovered my total was off by 9 points.  My official score, the one turned in, was 9 points lower than my actual score. Even with that my score was 38 points below my average for an International Round and 101 points below my personal best.

Honestly, I do not know what happened at 60 meters.  Skipping one-day post-Georgia Games for recovery I started practice warming up a 40 meters.  Everything seemed fine.  I shot 60 arrows at 40 meters and averaged 9.5 points per arrows.  Then, I moved back to 60 meters. There it wasn’t fine.  For whatever reason my average per arrow score at 60 meters has dropped 0.6 points.  I used my scope to view arrow placement and I was still off.

Must figure this out before the USA Outdoor Nationals in a few weeks.

Waste of Time – Facebook

A few people have sent me messages asking why I’m not on Facebook any longer.  I haven’t closed my Facebook account.  I just think it is a real waste of time.

Recently, I deleted over 2000 “Friends” hoping to learn what my real face to face known friends are doing.  That seemed to work for a very short time.  Then, I discovered I wasn’t seeing posts from those friends.

I counted, today, the first 100 posts on my Facebook account.  Of those I knew 32 of the people who’d posted something about their lives.  The remaining 68 posts were ads.

Waste of time.