These old Newtons don’t owe me a dime.

Runners often get caught up in the latest shoe that is marketed to make them run faster. Personally, I like a shoe that feels good. I want shoes that have a wide toe box and won’t rub my toes wrong.

Time to say goodbye

Once, after a 1/2 marathon in Delaware, I took my shoes off to learn the more narrow toe box had chewed away a toe nail during the race.  Others followed after a few days of unsuccessfully trying to hang on. Since then, I’ve worn wider shoes.

The Newtons I wear seem just about perfect for my feet. Like must of us, my feet aren’t exactly the same. There not mismatched to the degree where one foot needs another size. Both feet are either 9.5 or 10.0 depending on the shoe. A little wider shoe compensates for the minor difference in my two feet.

Hello my new friends

I’ll run in a pair of shoes until they fall apart. Over time my shoes do fall apart. Those old Newtons (the red pair) had about a year of running in them before they gave up the ghost.

Morning 3D Practice

Mornings are typically used for target practice. The afternoons are set aside for 3D practice. The reason is I am more tired in the afternoon and my 3D bow, an Elite 35, is lighter than my target bow, an Elite Victory 37.

My Elite 35 set up for bow hunter shooting class

Usually, in the morning I practice for a few hours and shoot 100 to 150 arrows depending on the distance. I try to be on the range by 8:00 AM, after morning exercise. I’ll stop shooting between 10:30 and 11:00 AM. By then, I am ready for a break and lunch.

After a break and lunch (and a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes), I try to do whatever chores need to be done, ride a bike, and prepare for afternoon archery practice. Two days a week I head to the gym rather than do chores. Sometimes it is good to change things up a bit.

Deer, down this lane bordered by trees at 27 yards

Today, I planned a 3D simulation of a tournament, ASA style. My goal was to not miss a 10-ring and get 12’s when I could. Shooting a bow hunter rig, I planned to make the distances as realistic to what I’ve been seeing in local tournaments. My relocation to Georgia and kept me away from the major 3D tournaments for 2018. (Moving is a lot of work)

A mosquito is a tough shot at 20 yards, I count the center X as a 12 on this target

Locally, I’ve faced a lot of long shots. On my range I have a lot of smaller targets. On those, I didn’t go crazy and try to shoot a rabbit at 40 yards for this practice session. I shot it at 20, a realistic distance should a smaller target happen to be placed on a range at a local event. The exception was a javelina that I shot from 36 yards, a distance that isn’t unexpected for this smaller target.

Javelina at 36 yards

Out of curiosity, I wore a Garmin and recorded the distance I walked, it was 1.02 miles. That included walking while I warmed up. Warm-up was shooting six arrows at a bag from 20, 25, 30, and 35 yards. At 40 yards I shot 12 arrows for a total warm-up of 36 shots.

This “off-brand” less expensive bear shot from 38 yards

It took I hour and 45 minutes to finish the practice, less time than usual for the morning routine. But, it helped me see where I am weak.

I didn’t shoot par. I shot a three 8s and one 12 to finish with a 196 (twenty targets). The average distance for all targets was 29.5 yards. The eights were no surprise.

Another bear, this one at 35 yards

The first was a hen. She’s a tough target at 27 yards. The dark hole where she sits makes finding the small rings difficult. The second was a small pig at 32 yards and the third was the javelina at 36 yards. Both the small pig and javelina are positioned at angles to the stake. The up and down was fine, but in each case I shot a little wider than I should have. From this practice I know these targets need extra attention.

There’s a mountain lion at the end of this 40 yard long lane

It’s good to simulate a tournament to get an idea where you might need some extra work. Shooting ego-easy distances and targets won’t be much help when you’re faced with tough shots on an unknown range.

All Practices Are Not Equal

Coaching tip

When I raced bicycles there was a group I trained with. Among that group of cyclists were Olympians, World Champions, and State Champions. There were hard rides and harder rides. Yes, each rider had his or her recovery time based on his or her race calendar. But, when the group gathered for a training ride it was going to be a tough one.

Thi s wasn’t training, it was a race. It, too, hurt.

Being around and training with such a group of elite cyclists you either got better or got dropped. There were days when it hurt so badly it took every bit of effort not to get dropped. There were other days when you felt no pain.

Archery doesn’t cause the same physical pain. Still there are practice sessions where it seems all you can see is red; no arrow finding it’s way to yellow. There is also some pain. Mentally you are exhausted by your arrows circling the ten ring creating an outline on the red. Your arm, after about 60 arrows is beginning to feel the weight of the bow. By arrow 100 that arm is screaming. That is until you become comfortable handling 120 arrows during a single practice session.

Over and over and over, again

Still, you have to shoot through the missed marks. You become comfortable holding a bow and aiming at 200 arrows. Those wayward arrows that landed in the red are becoming less stubborn and finding yellow.

Then, you find that group of archers that as a rule have better shooters than you. Practicing with them you find that you have to improve or you get dropped.

 

 

Your Mental Game

On the range I overheard a fellow taking about motivational lectures. Another was saying that he could shoot 30 tens in a row (small X) if he could get his head into the game. Both were practicing. Both were off the mark.

I have a number of friends that have competed in the Olympics. A few of the have multiple Gold medals and others have Silver and Bronze. One has a Gold and Silver medal. I’ve also trained with World Champion triathletes and cyclists.

In each of their respected sport disciplines they all had one thing in common – years of hard work. Sure there are outliers that make an Olympic Team or make it to the World Championships with less work that others, but as a rule it takes time to develop as an athlete.

On the other hand I know folks that have read all the books, listened to the audio presentations, attended the seminars and done all manner of mental preparation for a sports event and failed to achieve the glory held in their head.

Certainly, there is a mental aspect to being the best in any sport. At some level all the top athletes are extremely well suited physically to win. This is easily observable during individual sport events.

Getting back to the two guys in the range. I watched them shoot and heard their excuses. During my practice they came in, shot, missed, shot some more, missed some more and left. Neither shot more than 30 arrows. Both were convinced their mind wasn’t on the game. Maybe.

I look at it like this, “If you want to shoot all X’s, you have to shoot all X’s” and that doesn’t come from 30 arrows in practice 4 to 5 times a week.

On the range, that day, there was a 3-spot target that had been shot and left pinned to the backstop. It had been shot 30 times. All but 6 arrows had hit the X, the 6 that missed where nines just off the line. I asked a friend who had shot that target. He told me and I’ve heard that archer say he shoots about 200 arrows a day (compound bow). That is a lot of physical practice.

Shooting a couple of hundred arrows per day takes a good bit of time. Not everyone has two to four hours free to shoot his or her bow everyday. Not everyone will end up as an Olympian or competitor at a World Championship.

You may believe that because you’ve read or heard a speaker claim it is your brain that controls everything and that limited physical practice can compensated by seeing yourself the victor. If you are a Jedi Knight, maybe. But, even Jedi Knights practice their art for decades before being able to pull off a bit of magic.

There is no magic to becoming a skilled archer. It takes practice and a lot of practice. If you put in the hours to earn the skill you can become one of the elite performers in this sport. At that point your mental game may be what separates you from the next elite on the line.

Time for new targets

It has just been four years, nine months and one day since I picked up a bow. Over that time I’ve shot a lot of targets. Of the sponsorship that would be nice a manufacturer that makes 3D animals would be good.

At 3D tournaments I typically get handed my lunch. Sure I win some of them. Mostly I don’t win. It isn’t because I don’t practice.

In 3D there is the practice associated with shooting and the practice associated with judging yardage. Where I get hosed is judging yardage. It is typically the ups and downs that score me an eight. When I’ve shot known yardage, well that’s another matter.

Three years ago it became clear that having a 3D range would be beneficial. So, I began putting together a foam menagerie. Most of my targets are on the small side. The big targets are bigger in price, hence the small targets.

Heck, even paper targets are pricey. Say a paper 3-spot is around a buck. Go through 40 of them in a month and you’ve shot away some cash. My recent package of twenty 3-spots from order off of Amazon cost $13.99, which was a pretty good deal. Either style, foam or paper, targets are’t cheap.

This poor coyote is just about to split in half. Time for repairs – again

My targets stay outside year around. There are covers you can purchase to protect 3D targets from the elements. My poor critters are naked to the elements.

Over time the poor 3D animals are taken a toll. A few of my faux-animals have been amateurishly repaired more than once. Many now need more corrective surgery.

I suppose I could order a new core. Maybe filling this hole with a commercial foam will buy me some more time.

Yes, a bow sponsor that lavished their latest and greatest on me would be nice. But, free 3D targets would be better.

Missing a short shot

Finally, there was a target that was at close range. All day our group had been plugging foam that was never close. Until this really close target the shortest distance shot had been 28 yards. Here in front of us was a javelina, on flat ground, at 24 yards. I called an upper twelve.

I needed another twelve to balance out a few eights. It was a tough range, but a fair range. Shooting pins at 40 yards isn’t hard if you’ve practiced and I felt confident. The few eights where quickly balancing with twelve’s. There it was the twelve I needed just 24 yards away.

I have a javelina on my range. I’ve shot it over 1000 times. I bought it out of necessity. Everywhere I’d been competing the little varmint was there. It would be sitting between 35 and 40 yards. So, I bought one and practiced.

My little friend

On this day the critter was only 24 yards out. I was practically laughing when I reached the stake. With confidence I called, “Upper 12.”

I took my time. Studied the shot. I got my feet perfect. Loaded and nocked an arrow. I raised my bow, drew my arrow, bending at the waist (better than dropping an arm) took aim, and landed a high 5.

I knew it before the arrow hit. Just before the shot I had a brain-fart, lost the target, and before I could stop and think to let down I’d shot the target – shot it high.

Sometime I watch golf. I see professionals on TV do things while putting I’d never do. They walk up to a close shot, sort of lean over on one foot and knock the ball into the pin. One day I’ll watch one of these guys brain-fart and miss the put.

There are no “gimme” shots in archery. Each shot counts. Sure, we all have an occasional brain-fart. But, the fewer the better. (I still finished good enough to win. But, below what I should have shot. And perhaps there was a little luck involved.)

The Week that Began and Ended in Social Circle, Georgia

It was a long week. Starting with an archery tournament and ending with another both in Social Circle. In the middle there was a big family gathering and one huge birthday party.

The start was a competition I nearly didn’t shoot. It wasn’t the difficulty of the shooting that created some pause, it was the hour. It tournament didn’t start until 7:30 PM. But, it was shooting near home, about 25 minutes away in Social Circle. Being so close it is hard to pass up archery contests such a short drive down the road. Heck, if it got too long I could always just go home.

Going home was a drive for others that came to the tournament. Archers from Atlanta, Decatur and Kennesaw were on the line. The line was at 50 meters and the lines were full.

Yes sir, it was a long tournament, but I didn’t leave even though this event went well past my bedtime. The crew from ACE Apache, led by USA Archery Level 4 Coach Big John Chandler, did a great job of organizing and running the show.

I did leave before the awards were presented. I’ll go out on a limb and say I won my age group (over 50). The chance projection is based on the semi-final Olympic Round where when I was finally eliminated – the other few remaining archers seemed no older than 30 years. I made it home at midnight. I was so keyed up that there was no sleeping until after 2:00 AM.

We camped for the “Party”

Even though I didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00 AM, our dogs insisted that I was up by 6:00 AM. Dogs have no mercy when it comes to human sleep requirements. It took three days to get over the break in my sleep pattern.

Little Roy and Lizzie playing

With that to endure there was no time to ease up. There was a birthday bash to follow. By birthday bash, I mean catering, a live blue grass band and a good percentage of the Town of Lincolnton, Georgia attending. This shindig was put together in part by his friends in Lincolnton and his family. It was Ray’s, my father-in-law, 90th birthday.

View from our campsite

Aside from lawn maintance my role was to smoke a ham, two large Boston Butts for pulled pork, and grill about 12 pounds of sausage.

After long days at Ray’s it was nice to get to a piece of quiet

At the end of a long week I got to pick up a bow and shoot another tournament, this time a 3D competition. What I can say about the crew at ACE Apache in Social Circle, the put together a 3D range that was perfect. I won that on as well.

Yes, this was nice

It was a long week. It was fun. I am tired.

Being a Fit Archer

Coaching tip

You and I may have never met. It is an easy assumption considering 15,000 readers come to this site every month. Chances are you are an archer. Odds are you may not be in the greatest shape of your life.

Nearly every week I see a lot of archers. A good many of them are better archers than me. (To be fair – not that many) Here’s the thing, some of you are a bit overweight.

Archery takes a lot of practice and many hours to gain the skill you have and need. Most of you have a full time job, or in school, maybe have a family to support, and must find time to practice with your bow. You’re lucky to get an hour’s worth of shooting in a few times a week. There’s no time to do cardio work that will help keep your fitness. Therein lays the problem.

Eagleman Ironman triathlon

Over years and years of archery practice 3 – 4 times a week, working all day, and skipping exercise adds to your health in that it takes a toll. You’ll one day end up that old geezer flinging arrows huffing and puffing while trying to walk the range. Overtime, your waist sort of ballooned, your blood pressure increased, and sleep is intermittent at best. You may already be there.

I know I’m describing some of you. I’ve shot with archers in their 20s and 30s that had to stop and rest between targets on a 3D range. More than once I have been in a group where we needed to wait while an archer sat down and caught his breath before we could continue.

Ironman World Championship, Kona, HI

It is common to see “chunky” archers. I mean archers need to not move to be good. Hence, our sport isn’t going to burn the calories the way a triathlon does. But, being fit can help you stand still when you need to and stay an archer longer.

If you are concerned that you may be headed down the road of obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, find help now.

There’s a pro archer I knew in Europe. Three years ago he said, “The only time you’ll see me running is if I’m being chased.” He may have tried to run, but he’d not have gotten very far. A year later, after some health issues, he rides a bike, takes walks, and has improved in diet. He has, at last count, lost 50 pounds. Has his shooting improve, no he’s still really good. However, his health has improved significantly.

Someone yelled, “Get him” and I ran. Yes, that is grey in my beard

He may get slightly better as an archer in that he’ll have improved stamina toward the end of those long, shoot-a-lot tournaments where he finds himself in a shoot down. The weight loss and physical conditioning is going help make those long days shooting feel a bit less taxing.

It is hard work to be fit. It is a lot easier to not worry about fitness, practice archery only, and roll on down a path that leads to health problems. Those problems, by the way, will reduce the time you have to enjoy archery.

I don’t shoot for Elite. That “E” was a coincidence.

If you aren’t taking a total fitness approach to archery consider it. Overall, it will be good for you.

Get Some Sleep

It is too easy to stay awake after a long day. Too many of us don’t want to miss a night out or a night watching a favorite show. While at the time your doing whatever it is that is keeping you away from the sack it won’t help your athletic performance.

Coaching Tip

As a species we’re becoming more sleep deprived. How many hours do you sleep per night? Six, seven, five? That generally is not enough if you are looking for peek sports performance.

There are e numbers of studies that suggest humans need from 7.5 to 8.1 hours of sleep per night. It is my opinion athletes are better off on the more is better end of time sleeping.

Dr. Cheri Mah, of UCSF, took a look at what happens to athletes with they get more sleep. In her study, the subjects (college basketball players) were averaging 6.5 hours of sleep per night. They increased their sleep time to an average of 8.5 hours of sleep per night. (1)

By the end of the study the basketball players had increased their free throw percentage by 11.4% and their 3-point shooting by 13.7%. (2)

Image what you could do with an 11-13% improvement in you shooting.

Reference:

You Gotta Know When to Hold ‘Em

Wednesday is hump day. On Wednesday, I was feeling it.

A typical day of training for me goes like this:

First thing in the morning I stretch. As we age we lose our flexibility. I stretch to help prolong my flexibility. It is also a nice way to start the morning. Then, I have breakfast.

After breakfast I run. All my current running is spent on the trails behind my house. River, my lab, joins me. It is about a half an hour of spending quality time with River and getting in cardio. River really seems to enjoy running in the woods.

By the time this is done it is around 0730. I gather my archery gear along with my plan for the morning’s practice. Depending on what is planned the practice can be anywhere between 60 and 120 arrow shot. This takes about two to two and a half hours.

Practice at 55 yards and 70 yards

Between 1030 and 1100 it is break time. From 1100 to 1200 I have write (as I’m doing now) and have lunch. After lunch I take a short nap.

Two days a week (Monday and Thursday) I go to the gym. By 1430 I am headed out for a bicycle ride – more cardio. The cycling is a practice that happens five days a week. I ride for an hour.

At around 1600 I am back on the range for another one to two hours. That’s a lot of arrows – the finish of this morning’s practice 1080 arrows had shot in practice. I stopped a little early on this Wednesday. I was feeling a bit fatigued.

You need to be able to recognize when your body is tired. There are times to push through fatigue. There are also times when you need to listen to your body and ease up a bit.

Taking a break when your body calls for it may reduce the risk of an injury or developing a habit that is poor form.