Well, this sucks

Two major tournaments in two weeks.  Going into both events I’d been shooting well.  Practice was moving in the right direction. Then it all fell apart.

I understand that in sports we all have good days and bad days.  I track practice and do intermittent practice that simulates tournaments.  I record all the shots and scores.  Those results are added to a spreadsheet.  From that I can see my progression.  I can further look at statistics.  Those give me high and low scores, mean scores and clusters of low, medium and high averages.

18-meter 3-spot scores since picking up a recurve 18 months ago. The dip at the end of the line represents the USA Indoor Nationals and Georgia Indoor Championships

Generally, I have a good idea of how I’ll shoot going into a tournament.  In the case of the USA Archery Indoor Nationals and the Georgia State Indoor Championship I shot outliers that were significantly away on the wrong side of the bell curve.

When this happens whether in practice or competition I work to find the root cause.  At the National Championship I felt the root cause was warped limbs. I knew I had them going into the tournament.  They were all I had so I went with it. There, despite feeling good I landed my lowest scores.

Prior to the Georgia State Indoor Championship new limbs arrived.  In practice all was well.  During the three ends warm-up, at the tournament, all was well. All nine arrows landed as 9s or 10s.

That’s as long as it lasted.

An archery tournament is a bad time to have eye-floaters.  I get them occasionally.  Everyone has them.  Our brain is able to see past them – most of the time. As we age eye-floaters can increase, usually we see an increase between 50 and 75. (I’m 67 soon)

In this case the floaters were particularly bothersome.  The floaters were right inline with the target and floating about in direct sight with aiming.

Never during a tournament have I missed the target.  At the Georgia State indoor championship I did it twice.  I simply could not get a bead on the target.

In this case pathophysiology trumps preparation.

 

 

Messed Up Fun at the USA Indoor Nationals

After 18 months of recurve archery I felt ready for a major tournament.  My average scores during training at 18 meters were on track.  The poundage increase was at a holding point.  Then it fell apart.

The first indicator was the placement of my arrows.  The groupings were less consistent.  At times I’d catch sight of an arrow in flight with a cockeyed path.  When I pulled arrows they’d often have a variety of angles as they poked into the target.

It wasn’t awful.  I blamed it on hand placement. I was mistaken.

The mistake was bent limbs.  These weren’t expensive limbs.  They were 42# limbs retailing for $149.00.  I’d moved up in poundage from 32#, 36#, 40# then 42# over 18 months.  The latest upgrade, to 42# was new.  I was at 8000 or so arrows when my scores began to decrease.  An expert bow tech pointed out, as I was leaving the range after practice, the limbs seemed warped.

He doubled checked the limbs.  His associate verified is claim.  It isn’t like they were working towards a sale of limbs.  That particular shop doesn’t offer ILF limbs.

To triple check I drove to another town with a bow shop where they do have IFL limbs, World Champion archers train there, and their bow tech are some of the best in the work. The bow tech there when I arrived is well known around the world.  One look and he confirmed the 42# limbs were bend.  At this point it is two weeks away from the USA Indoor Nationals where I’d registered to compete.

Of course, it was the weekend, late Saturday afternoon and closing time for most archery shops.  On Monday I called Lancaster Archer to let them the under warranty limbs had been confirmed warped.  When I told them who verified the malfunction they didn’t even question me.  They gave me a return authorization.  As soon as they received the limbs I’d have a full credit toward an exchange.  The limbs left for Pennsylvania on Tuesday.  They would arrive at LAS on Thursday February 10th. (9 days before the Nationals)

In the meantime I only had 40# set $149.00 limbs to use for practice.  Going down 2# felt light.  Sadly, my scores didn’t improve.  In fact, they got worse. We, the local bow techs and I, noticed the 40# limbs warped worse than the 42# limbs.

While the warped limb potential remedy was under discussion an ex-pro golfer (top 10 PGA earning golfer, Tim Simpson) and bare bow archer had dropped in and was listening.  He noticed the $149.00 limbs and said, “I was pretty good at golf, but I couldn’t have won shit with clubs from Wal-Mart.”

Yeah, I get it.  I knew my gear was entry level.  I’m entry level. There’s no point in buying expensive gear until you are ready for expensive gear.

The remedy turned out to be a Galaxy Solstice IFL riser and the same 40# WNS limbs. The thinking here is that the PSE riser was the root cause of the limb problem.

This set up didn’t do much.  The bow felt very light.  The serious problem was the arrow rest.  On Thursday February 17th, two days before the Nationals I noticed the plastic Hoyt rest was cracking.  No one anywhere near had another arrow rest available.

An archery coach at the shop told me if the little plastic arm breaks off the arrow would still sit in the rest. “Just make sure you don’t let it fall off before you shoot,” he added.  Well, Easton X7 (the arrows I shot for indoor) arrows have a larger diameter than X10 and that whole ‘don’t let the arrow fall off the rest’ wasn’t confidence booster. It was easily foreseeable the plastic Hoyt rest would fail soon.

That afternoon, February 17th, the PSE riser returned to action.  It has a nice arrow rest. Before it was tested I’d tweaked the bow in every imaginable way possible.  This led to the bowstring at least lining up into the string grooves.  Looking at the bow during full draw it was plan to see the letter ‘S’ produced.

Friday February 18th I left for Newberry, Florida and the Easton Sport Complex. I’d paid; I’d rented an Airbnb, and was going compete for the experience. That’s when things really feel apart.

The Airbnb I rented was advertised an old quiet Southern home located in the charming city of High Springs.  The house was old.  Down stairs was a store.  Next-door there was a construction site on one side and a pizza joint on the other.  Directly across was a nightclub all on a busy intersection.  I knew this wasn’t realistic relating to quiet.

I pointed out the noise and the ‘Host’ offered to go buy me some earplugs.  She claimed success sleeping using earplugs.  I thanked her and told her I had earplugs with me. I needed them – they didn’t do much good.

I searched for anywhere else to stay. My wife searched online from home. We came up short.  My wife suggested I simply come home. I was stuck. A nightly live band outside across the street that can shake a building or house is beyond the 32 dB earplug comfort zone.

To make matters worse the upstairs of the old Southern house had no heat. The bed only had a sheet and spread.  By early Sunday morning there was no electricity. The temperature at night was in the 30s.  I used everything I could find: towels and clothes to pile on top of me at night for warmth while I lay awake listening to a band and being shaken by their drums and bass.  I could literally hear the words being belted out. Under different conditions I’d have enjoyed it. The band was good. They were not conducive for sleeping.

The first day of the tournament I honesty tried. By the second day I truly could have cared less where my arrows landed.  I used the event for practice.

When I got home my wife’s brothers came over for dinner.  One of them asked me, “So what ‘life lesson’ did you learn?” He was referring to the Nationals.  For a few minutes I simply stared at him.

Nothing that wasn’t foreseeable occurred.  I took a chance on an Airbnb, which I’d expected might not be great.  It wasn’t, it was as awful as everything I’d imagined.  My archery equipment did as well as possible considering the warped limbs.  I shot consistently on the low side of my scoring bell curve.  I shot the same as I’d been doing since the limb problem started.

I found the question both arrogant and condescending. He is, however, my wife’s brother so I kept my initial response to myself and said, “Never stay at an Airbnb that is a room in a stranger’s home and the best pizza ever is at The Steak Out in High Springs, FL.”

Big Bang

Over a decade ago we were living in Easton, Maryland.  For those of you that don’t know Easton, it is in Talbot County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Eastern Shore isn’t a proper name, still in Maryland it is commonly started with capital letters while the western shore remains lower case.

During that time, at home, I had finished practicing music, playing my trumpet, and was walking downstairs. Brenda, my wife, heard me coming.  She was laughing and said to me, “You’ve got to watch this.”

It was a television show. Coming down the stairs I replied, “I’m not watching a TV show.”  Passing the television the show was being aired.  I heard some of the lines from the actors.  I stopped and listened for a few seconds.  Then, I said to Brenda, “I know these guys, what is this?”

Brenda just laughed as I sat down to watch the ‘Big Bang Theory.’

The ‘Big Bang Theory’ is now longer being produced.  I never did watch Big Bang while it was being aired.  I did, however, purchase the first three seasons and watched those.  That, too, ended at the beginning of season four.  I decided to wait until the show ended and start over.  I didn’t expect it would last twelve seasons.

Currently, Brenda and I are at season twelve episode ten.  As infrequently as we watch TV this has taken months to reach the end. ‘Big Bang’ is drawing to a close. I am primarily watching to see the quest appearances.  ‘Big Bang’ has had amazing quests such as Stephen Hawking and several Nobel Prize winners.

I am amazed at the lines of science the actors have been able to learn and speak with such ease.  I learned that all the equations displayed in the show are actual and not gibberish.  Although, once the character Amy was looking at a white board and commented on the “delta t” when there was no ‘delta t ‘ I could find. It may have been somewhere and I didn’t care enough to continue the hunt for the change she referenced. However, it seemed the dialogue and equations didn’t match.

What is most amazing is I  know the characters.

Not the fictional characters on ‘Big Bang’ or the actors portraying them.  I know the cast from the real life characters from which the fictional ones were created.  Again, not the exact characters but characters similar to the people being played on the show.

A lot of my friends are scientists.  Unlike the scientists on ‘Big Bang’ nearly all of my friends are or were very athletic.  Aside from that major difference many of my friends were or remain socially awkward.

There are many athletes that are scientists today. My close group of friends includes MDs and PhDs that have competed at National Championships, International competitions, World Championships and Olympics.

Off the top of my head I know of 6 Olympic Golds and 2 silvers in that group.  One silver medalist was a high jumper.  She and I worked together for years as Respiratory Therapists. There’s a PhD that remains one of my closest friends.  We raced bicycles to together for years before we both moved on to the Medical College of Georgia.  One Olympian (Gold and Silver medalist) and I worked hard to create a sports research center.

Last week someone asked me what compelled me to compete.  I’ve been giving that thought. I know that when my cycling career seemed over my wife encouraged me to, “Get a real job.”

I did.  I started with an Associates of Science on Respiratory Therapy.  Completing my education (while working) took on all the competitive drive replacing sports.  I didn’t slow down until I’d earned a PhD, Masters, and a Juris Doctor. (That’s 2 doctorates and a Masters degree – same as Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s academic credentials) Whatever the drive had been in sports I felt it in academics.

I don’t yet has a grasp on what it is that makes athletes or academics compete.  The scientists represented in ‘Big Bang’ were portrayed as competitors in their fields.  Albeit, somewhat less so in athletics.

Compound Bows In the Olympics

It isn’t going to happen.

Shooting a compound bow is fun. There are loads of competitive venues. Loads of people shoot compound bows.   Why on Earth aren’t compound bows in the Olympic games?

An upper level archery coach told me, “Oh, compound bows will be in the Olympics.”  He added that compound bow competitions would be part of the Winter Games and would be contested at 18 meters. It sounded good a the time.

The coach sounded as if he had insider knowledge.  Thus far his prediction hasn’t come true.  It won’t.

Experts in archery as well as those folks on the International Olympic Committees (IOC) have pointed out that compound bow archery isn’t mainstream in all countries. There isn’t the same merchandise available globally and this would place some countries at a disadvantage.  That was a rationale years ago.  This isn’t a solid argument today or is it? (It is a reliable fall back.)  That isn’t the only reason why compound bows aren’t in the Olympics.

Here are some of the reasons we won’t see compound bows in the Olympics:

Too many perfect scores is the problem.  What – that’s crazy you say.  Nope it’s real for 18 meters and would bust the Winter Olympic 18-meter potential.

Take a look at the 2022 Vegas shoot.  There you can watch some of the best ‘recurve’ archers in the world with ‘a’ recurve archer scoring a 300 on the opening day (Brady Ellison). (1)  On the same day 3 young adult compound bow archers scored a 300 and a total of 85 compound bow archers scored a 300. (1)

How would the IOC even develop qualifying levels for a sport where so many athletes achieve a perfect score? Where is the drama of the competition for viewers not familiar with the sport?  Sure there are methods for checking closest to the ‘X’. And while judges pull out calipers, flashlights and magnifying glasses television viewers are changing channels or clicking over to stream snowboarding.  Tight measurements might be exciting a time or two but the non-archer Olympic game viewer, the one that needs to get a new cell phone, new truck, buy some beer, requires legal help, or needs to control their medical ailment with the latest big-pharma release, is going to miss the commercials instructing them to buy here. They’ve changed the channel instead of waiting for the judges to perform their duties. Watch a downhill skier crash means sitting through those commercials to learn the gruesome outcome.

Nope, indoor 18-meter as a potential venue for compound bow in the Olympics isn’t going to happen.

Then there’s compound bows competing at 50-meters.  Why would the IOC care to have compound bows shooting at 50-meters when they already have recurve bows competing from 70-meters.  Sure the compound bow target’s diameter is smaller than the recurve’s but that isn’t enough to make it worth an IOC change.

The idea of compound bow archery at 50-meters is further dashed when you take a look at the scores of compound bow archers at 50 meters.  For example consider the 2021 USA Archery Outdoor Nationals. Specifically review the qualifying scores for compound at 50- meters versus recurve at 70-meters. (2)

The average score of the top four male archers shooting compound bows was 1410 points out of 1440.  They achieved 98% of a perfect score.  The top four recurve archers, which included three Olympians at 70-meters achieved 94% toward a perfect score with an average of 1350 out of 1440.  Nope, the IOC isn’t going add a sport where perfection is already close at hand and there’s no risk of a spectacular crash to engage the viewer. A compound bow archer makes a mistake then scores a 9, a ski jumper screws up and that’s a broken leg. Everyone is talking about the accident the next day at work. That night after work viewers are tuned in – waiting for the next Olympic emergency. In this case the IOC would fall back on the argument that the compound bow advantage will fall towards western European and US athletes.

What about 3-D?  I think that would work for compound archers especially if rangefinders are not allowed, the maximum distance is 45 meters and hunting style bow configuration is the standard. In other words no long stabilizers and sight pins only.   Archers in the “IBO” Pro-Hunter Division do this from 45 yards rather than 45 meters. If I recall when the IBO (International Bowhunters Organization) opened this class the maximum distance was 50 yards (roughly 45 meters).Whether the distance is 45 yards or 50 yards the measure would be meters so folks outside the US would understand. However, the western European US advantage argument still applies. This objection also applies to field archery using compound bows.

There is also the logistics of adding another sport that requires a large field of play for an outdoor activity.  Adding a 3-D range or field archery range for compound bows is possible but in too many cases it may limit the countries and their cities from trying to win an Olympic Game.

Both 3-D and field archery would mean fitting them into the Summer Games.  Imagine trying to compete in 3-D or field archery during February in Salt Lake City, Nagano or Beijing. (As I write this it is 31° F or-0.5° C in Yankton, SD, the same as in Athens, GA)

The pool of athletes is another consideration.  Certainly there are some expert compound bow archers outside the US.  The US has a population of 335 million. Of the US population 18.9 million people over the age of 18 are active in archery. (3)  That is more people that make up the populations 70% of the world’s countries. (4) Four US States have a greater population than 70% of the world’s countries! (5)

And the US has by far the best companies manufacturing compound bows. Plus we are the 13th wealthiest country per capita. (6) Can you image the money our country could put into archery if compound bows were in the Olympics?

If the IOC permitted compound archery in the Olympics the US would dominate the sport to a greater degree than swimming, track and field or even basketball. It simply isn’t going to happen.

Reference:

1.) https://www.thevegasshoot.com/post/86-shoot-perfect-scores-on-day-one-at-the-vegas-shoot

2.) https://www.usarchery.org/events/results

3.) https://www.archerytrade.org/news/survey-says-18.9-million-archers-are-active-in-u.s

4.) https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/population-by-country.htm

5.) https://www.infoplease.com/us/states/state-population-by-rank

6.) https://www.infoplease.com/us/states/state-population-by-rank