Shorter Days and a Little Rain

After a day off, a rest day, I was eager to train. It rained. Nevertheless, River and I headed out the door at around 0630 for a run. Fortunately, it was a light rain. But even a light rain is a burden when shooting 18-meters outside.

With a tournament this weekend, and having that worry about the other archers that didn’t take a break day, I needed to shoot. So, it was off to PGF Archery in Elizabeth City to use their indoor range. For $6.00 I had the range to myself.

Four of my arrows ready to be picked up from PFG Archery

During this practice, I used a timer and played music. The last time, a few days ago, when I timed my shots I ended up having an average of 23 seconds remaining of my two minutes for three arrows. Today, I had on average 26 seconds remaining or about a second faster per arrow. That can probably be attributed to becoming more comfortable with my new Spot-Hogg arrow rest. The music, which I didn’t like a whole lot when I was first introduced to it, is something I practice with all the time indoors when I’m alone. It has taken a while to get used to music in the background.

Darrell, a World Class shooter

While shooting at PGF Archery a friend showed up unexpectedly. He’s an elite shooter and has won more titles shooting than I can image. In fact, he was just in the local paper, again, for winning another major tournament. In his case he does it with a shotgun. He was there on an errand for his brother.

As I left the range, the rain had stopped. It was still cloudy and cold. Those conditions didn’t stop a nice bike ride in the afternoon before my second archery practice.

Shoot three arrows, stand by the heater, warm-up, shoot three more.

Despite the lack of sunlight I shot better in the afternoon. These shorter days do put a damper on being outside.

It’s hard to find the dot when there is no light

A Day Off

Talking a rest day is sometimes more difficult than training. Today is a scheduled rest day. It is a complete rest day meaning, no riding, running, archery or exercise beyond walking. Being accustom to five or six hours of exercise per day makes sitting still days incredibly hard.

Taking scheduled rest days to recover is as important as the effort it takes to earn those days of leisure. Here’s the rub, it’s easy to worry about that other athlete getting in a few more miles running, more hours on a bike or shooting more arrows while you’re sitting around resting.  The psychology of it makes athletes want to train more rather than less. Sometimes less is better.

Over-training can lead to poor performance. Finding the right balance of practice and recovery is a bit of a trick. So, today, as badly as I want to exercise, I am listening to my body, sticking to a plan and taking a break.

Time those shots

Two minutes seems like plenty of time to shoot three arrows. Really, it is more than enough time most of the time. Still, on a line in a tournament there will be the occasional archer that screws up and loses ten points to the clock.

Last year, I came close to being that guy. After archers were called to the line the judges failed to blow the start whistle and had started the clock. The clock running without a whistle was making the line get antsy. Finally, someone figured it out, but the judges didn’t blow the whistle, they just yelled to start shooting.

Once everyone got the message and began flinging arrows, I joined along with less than a minute on the clock. Talk about taking away the mental game.

I nocked my first arrow with 58 seconds on the clock. Rounding up to 60 seconds that’s about 20 seconds per arrow. On the final shot of the end I was the last archer on the line. There was a crowd watching and they began a count down, “10, 9, 8,7…”

With a room full of people counting down I flung my final shot at the target as the audience paused between 2 and 1 and scored a nine. It was exciting, but an excitement I can do without.

However, I do want to use as much of my two-minutes as I need and not rush. So, at times I practice using a timer. To amplify my  need to rehearse my shooting times, I changed my arrow rest. What I have now is one of those fixed blade tournament style rests. It is requiring some practice to keep the arrow on that rest while I am drawing.  The result is I am drawing much more slowly. That eats up a few seconds on every shot.

Several times a year while practicing I will use a stopwatch to monitor my shooting time. The new arrow rest encouraged me to check out my times this week. The data I collected showed that I am shooting more slowly by an average of ten seconds per arrow. Using the old rest I had an average of 33 seconds remaining on the clock after my last arrow. Using the new rest the average time remaining is 23 seconds.

There’s not a lot of time left over after shooting three arrows off the new rest. Still 23 seconds ought to be a nice cushion. By taking the time to check my shooting time and know what I have to work with it reduces tournament anxiety over not knowing.

Fitness and thinking about 2018

My fitness program is not exactly what I’d call an archery fitness program. It is different because I still consider endurance sports and try to stay in minimal shape to perhaps compete in other events. Of course, once I make a decision I’ll make a plan. This is the time of year I begin planning for the next year’s events.

What should we do next year?

In that plan will be a weight loss program. I am not overweight but since my last triathlon in 2013 my body fat percentage has increased from 4% to 11%. That is not racing weight. 2013 was a hard year of racing for me. I raced 12 times in 2013 and that wasn’t a big deal. From 2006 until 2013 I raced at least 12 times a year. However, in 2013  two of the races were Ironman events and one was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The Mt. Evans Ascent was one of the hardest races of my life. Here’s what the race’s website says about that race:

Although the air will be noticeably thin at the starting line, Echo Lake’s 10,600 feet of elevation is just the beginning. The climb totals nearly 4,000 vertical feet – much of it above tree line – as you make your way 14.5 miles to the finish line located at the summit of one of the most recognizable peaks on Denver’s mountain skyline – 14,264 foot Mt. Evans.

For a guy that has lived most of his life at sea level – that race was a bear! To make it tougher a week prior to the Mt. Evans Ascent I raced in the Ironman Eagleman. The day after I raced in Boulder, but it was only a 5K.  It was actually on that week in Colorado that I became interested in archery.

I was in a sporting good store and noticed some bows in the shop.  I was killing time so I asked a salesperson about the bows.  It all sounded pretty interesting. A couple of months later I bought a compound bow. I’d never planned to compete at any level in archery. That changed.

I like running events, triathlons, cycling (time-trials only – no need to risk a crash because of some squirrelly rider) and duathlons. I’ve pretty much ruled out another triathlon anytime soon. Archery, running and riding are about all I can fit into my schedule. There’s no time to swim.

Not my best discipline

Running is easy. I do that nearly every day. Running races are also easy. They’re inexpensive and can be short or long. A 5K is a breeze. A marathon is a bit more effort. I have no idea how many 5Ks I’ve run. I also can’t recall how many 10Ks or half-marathons I’ve done. Half-marathons are nice because you can pace yourself and still not feel totally wasted after a race. A 10K hurts the entire race and a 5K hurts a lot and then its over.

I do remember exactly how many marathons I’ve run. They all hurt in a different way. After my 7th marathon I figured it was enough, but perhaps not.

Running – you can do it anywhere (I just replaced to blue Nikes I’m wearing in this photo) This raced was a 1/2 marathon in Maryland.

I also ride a bike nearly every day. I run in the morning and ride in the afternoon. But, archery practice twice a day eats away at time needed to drive to a pool. An hour in the pool means another hour of travel.

Aside from specific archery goals for 2018 I am considering some endurance sports competition. In that regard, off-road duathlons keep popping into my thoughts.

It’s cold and raining – happens every year

Training in the cold and rain is not on the top of my list for enjoyment. I can take the cold or I can take the rain, but cold and rain sucks. Despite the less than wonderful training conditions most of the time I will train though it. Sure, if the weather is seriously bad I stay inside, but unless it’s truly awful I work to get outdoors.

Today the temperature was 49°F while I was running. Not at all bad for running. By the time I was shooting it was still 49°F and was beginning to drizzle. Since I was standing in a shed and shooting out toward the target the rain wasn’t a real burden. The wind, however, was a real hassle. Not so much the wind pushing me, but it was strong enough to impact arrows even at 18-meters. Such is training in the fall here on the coast of North Carolina. We are going to get wind, rain, and cold.

I have to admit, I am glad to have this shed where I can stand. Without it, I’d be driving into Elizabeth City to shoot indoors and get totally out of the weather. The rain has gotten worse, so this afternoon I may need to take a pass on archery.  But, I can hop on a bike and ride the CompuTrainer.

PS.: The rain actually lightened up a bit for the afternoon shooting.

Dealing with Light and the Lack of It.

Previously, I’ve written about light absorption, how our eyes gather light, and archery. Occasionally, I end up on an indoor range where I can’t see a thing. This is a reality and it is going to continue to happen.

I often wear shooting glasses. Mostly I wear them for outdoor shooting, well exclusively for outdoor shooting. But, some articles I’ve read suggest the correctly tinted lens might be helpful regarding light absorption.

I don’t wear shooting glasses on every shot, primarily when the sun is a problem. I’d like to wear them all the time, but the light on every shoot is not always the same.  Even though I have multiple shades of lens, I can’t worry with changing them to match every level of illumination. It’s too much to worry with in competition. So, I keep the dark shades installed.

Outdoors they have saved me more than once. Indoors is another matter.

Many of the indoor tournaments where I shot the lighting has been good. Some are better than others. Lately, all my practice has been outside. I went indoors this week and was shocked.

I know I need to practice on the range where I trained yesterday simply because of the poor lighting. The targets are arranged beyond the overhead lights and they have a bit of shadow cast upon them. I can’t see squat in there. It good training for the day I end up in competition and the lights are poorly situated. But, it is frustrating.

As we age we have a disadvantage in that our eyes don’t gather light as well as they did in our youth. I understand that some tinted lenses can help with light gathering. I think I’ll begin experimenting with the tinted lenses I own to see of it helps.

Running: That Was Gross

It was time to break down and purchase a new pair of running shoes. Generally, I keep a half dozen on hand and I rotate them. Plus, when they get really beaten down, they feel better to me. The rotating isn’t so much to prolong the life of the shoe as it is to prevent stink.  In addition, running in the morning my feet frequently get wet.  Wet shoes suck.

That’s probably not how you should treat shoes. That is, running the tread off. Shoe manufactures have all sorts of recommendations on the wear of the sole of a shoe and when to replace them. Those recommendations have not taken hold on me.

Once, back in the ‘80s I had a pair of Nike Pegasus that fell apart after about six weeks. I called Nike and complained. The product manager I spoke with asked how many miles I was running a week. When I told him he laughed and said be was surprised they lasted that long. The laughter was my only reward for the complaint. (I don’t run that much any longer)

Getting new running shoes is a treat. These new shoes are Newtons. I’ve been running in them as well as Nike, Asics and Zoots. To add to that list I have a pair of the Five-Finger running by Vibram. All of them are pretty much pounded to pulp. Hence, new shoes.

I selected the replacement pair, the Newtons, because I think they idea for archery. Whether they are or not is only a guess. But the toe box cushion on the shoe does, seemingly, help me feel my feet as I am preparing to shoot. Too much heel and I feel like I’m rocking backwards. But, as far as that goes, I’ve got work boots that seem to feel just as good.

At any rate, this rant isn’t so much about footwear and shooting. It’s about what happened while running this morning.

Running down the road, Coco (a Labrador retriever that joins the run nearly every morning) was headed out the door. Her owner was saying good morning to me and I was calling back the greeting. As such, I was not watching the road. While calling to Coco’s owner and waving I stepped on something. It felt unfamiliar.

Now, I run a good bit and do so nearly every day. As such, I’ve stepped into a lot of crap. (Crap in general, not necessarily specific, but that too is true) This foot contact was unusual and unknown.

When I looked back to see what it was I’d stepped on – it was a snake. My stepping on the snake had not immediately killed it; certainly it didn’t improve its health.

What are the odds? Thankfully, it was not poisonous and only about a foot long. But – damn.

Dot-less in NC

Among my problems, specific to shooting a bow, is a lack if vision. No, not the sports psychology commandment to visualize yourself as a 60X Champion. Nope, it’s a matter of not being able to line up the pin I use for aiming under low-light conditions.

Outside a single pin using ambient light absorption to illuminate a monofilament is fine. In 3D, should ambient light fail battery operated light is an excellent back up. But, for 18-meter indoor under, as I understand the USA Archery rules, supplemental light is barred from competition.

At times, for me too many times, indoor ranges where I’ve shot are poorly lighted. Many times, the targets are walled up distal to the overhead fluorescent bulbs humming above leaving them dimly luminous. The result for me is that my aiming pin is a mere shadow. For an experiment, I decided to go back to a dot and see how that worked.

All my dots are orange. I have no idea why I ordered orange. The black dots I once owned have been swallowed into the abyss of missing archery, cycling, running and swimming gear. There’s also a pile of nice sunglasses in that void. I wanted black dots.

During my last trip to Georgia, Steve, the bow technician at Social Circle’s Ace hardware had me shoot one of his bows. His scope was equipped with black dots. Those dots seemed very crisp. The range also had great lighting. Hence, I wanted to try block dots on my scope.

I ordered a package of Precision Archery Scope dots from Lancaster Archery Supply. These are the same brand I’d used in the past. In this package, however, I received dots that refused to adhere to the lens. So, it was back to the single pin and praying for a little luck with light.

(New Black Dots are in the mail!)

Releases

I shoot with three difference releases. Using those releases my anchor point has nearly limitless possibilities. Therein lays a multitude of problems.

Whether I’m shooting a hinge or thumb trigger makes no difference in my scoring. Where I anchor does make a difference. To complicate that variance the shifts in scoring advantage of specific anchor points is inconsistent. It isn’t so much the anchor point rather it seems to be the angle of my hand at that point.

Some archers shoot with their hand nearly vertical palm out against their anchor point. Others shoot at a somewhat 45° angle while some choose a nearly level hand position. I’ve played around with all of those angles and many in between.

With a thumb I am slightly more consistent when my hand is at a 45°. Shooting a hinge the more vertical aspect seems to produce more consistent shots. What I find most comfortable is a thumb release. Plainly it is easier to draw, hold, aim and release the arrow using the thumb release I own. The problem with the thumb release I own is the travel before it triggers. Both of my hinge releases are free of that issue.

In searching for a new more target archery specific thumb release I landed on a TruBall product that seems a more representative device to answer my needs. Then, there’s the price.

Tru-Ball Blade Pro

I continue to pull up the TruBall Blade for an online purchase. When I consider the price that is where I can’t pull the trigger.