Odds for Making the Olympic Team in Archery

Depending on how you evaluate archery as an Olympic sport it is considered the 8th hardest and the easiest. (1,2) I think I understand the range; archery is easy compared to some endurance sports but hard when it comes to being able to perform it well.

Archery is a precise sport.  If you are off millimeter boxing as you throw a punch it isn’t going to matter as much.  That punch is likely to land where intended or become blocked or missed because the opponent was able to dodge the punch.  In archery, it you are off aiming a millimeter at 70 meters away that arrow isn’t landing dead center.

On the other hand, archers need to be able to stand extremely still, remain calm during an Olympic competition, and work a process.  Despite it being easy and hard (1,2) for male athletes odds for making an Olympic Team as an archer are 1:162. (3) Making an Olympic basketball team has much tougher odds, 1:45,487. (3)

When we think of Olympians our minds see young athletes.  That isn’t 100% the case.  Some Olympic archers have been silver haired wonders. Galen Spenser, age 64, won Gold medal and Lida “Eliza” Pollock, age 63, two bronze medals in archery as Olympians. (4) Sure, that was last century, but their victories are relative to the sport.  More recently, Butch Johnson has been a not so young Olympic archer who last was on the US Team (his 5th time) at age 53. (5) As a matter of statistic analysis archery is the number one sport where a less young person can make an Olympic Team. (6)

Curious about these numbers I decided to take a look at my odds for making the 2024 Olympic Team in archery. Using a British sport prediction program I entered my personal data. (7) The data input was more specific to anatomy and physiology that many of the other sites I’d reviewed before seeing how I would fare.

Two of the best countries that seek Olympians based on finding the right fit for an individual and sport are the British and the Australians. Once I completed the UK data input I received an output that put me into which sport best matches my phenotype and mental ability. Number one is archer and number two is cycling.

I’ve done the cycling so I looked further into the Brit evaluation.  It suggested my best chances of making an Olympic Team in cycling were as a sprinter or mountain biking.  Thus is relevant since my 1980 aim was to make the Team as a sprinter.

I never did a lot of mountain biking but when I did race mountain bikes I won with one exception.  In fact, I entered one mountain bike race in the pro division and won it.  The one race I lost was in western Pennsylvania on a course that was foolishly technical.  I was 48 racing against 20 year olds who all seemed to have no fear or figured they would heal fast.  I was careful, finished without bleeding, and came in 3rd.

The archery ranking does seem to fit my phenotype.  So, I’ll apply the sport physiology and use scientific training methods and see where this leads. Doing some statistical analysis, at the moment, my odds to make the Olympic Team (today) would be 1:241. * Those odds are not as good as 1:162 but the numbers are specific to me where 1:162 is generalized. Even so, 1:241 odds aren’t bad.

Reference:

1.) https://www.thetoptens.com/hardest-olympic-sports/

2.) https://hypebeast.com/2016/8/easiest-gold-medals-to-win-at-olympics

3.) https://infographicjournal.com/chances-becoming-summer-olympic-athlete/

4) https://www.ijrc.org/en/News-results/These-7-Older-Athletes-Prove-It-s-Never-Too-Late-to-Be-an-Olympian.html

5) https://archeryboss.com/guides-info/olympics-age-limit

6).https://www.verywellfit.com/olympic-sports-youre-not-too-old-for-4075439

7) http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/olympisize_html/?state=7

  • Based on some wild and wide calculations. Even 1:162 doesn’t make the team.  Nor does 1:10.  Nope, it has to be 1:3. But, you have to start somewhere.

It is Still Raining

It has been raining off and on for days. Rain is good for the crops I’ve planted.  Crops may be a bit of an embellishment.  I have 18 vegetables beds, 18 fruit trees, grapes vines, and a row of blackberry bushes planted.  This is somewhat of an in-between time for produce. Most of the spring and summer plants are harvested and the fall plants are just beginning to sprout, in small containers or still seed.  Rain isn’t the best for an archer.

I’ve shot in tournaments during rain.  Occasionally, the rain has been so bad the event was halted.  Once, at an IBO World Championship it poured.  My group was first on the range.  The officials held all subsequent archers.  No one missed my group.  No horn was activated to let those archers, one group, on the course to know to stop.  Without the horn we kept shooting.

When is say it rained it poured.  Not one of our group remained upright as we tried to descend the steep slopes at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania.  It rained so hard we missed a turn (the signs with the directional arrows having been blown away) and had to search for the lanes.

During the search we began to hope the tournament had been halted.  None of us wanted to walk onto an active lane, under poor visibility with other archers trying to hit a target.  Eventually, we found a road and stood under a large oak tree until conditions improved.  By the time we began shooting again we were so far ahead we never saw another group of competitors.

Today, it is raining.  It was also a rainy night in Georgia.  There was a slight easing of the rain so I grabbed my bow and headed out to my range for morning practice.

The easing of the rain didn’t last.  I was there wet and figure practice in the rain, because I know I’ll get rained on again during a tournament.

The harder the rain became the less optimistic I felt that I might not need to sound my own horn and head for shelter.  What sent me in was my finger tab.

My finger tab is an inexpensive product.  I paid $14.99 for it ordered from Lancaster Archery Supply.  It is an Avalon Classic.  The leather that is connected to the pad consists of two layers. The double leather pads called me in from the rain when they began to slide back and forth as I drew my arrows.

I practiced through this for a while with arrows landing mostly in the red rings of a 3-spot at 18-meters.  I was hitting about 70% of the time in the red and 30% yellow.  Yesterday, afternoon the opposite had occurred (71% yellow and 29% red).

It wasn’t all that frustrating and just a little bit fun to play in the rain.  Fortunately, it wasn’t cold.  But, the soaked tab was a nuisance.

It was good to learn how this particular tab responds to being soaking wet.  I have no idea how a more expensive tab would respond the becoming as wet as my inexpensive tab; I’ve only ever shot my recurve using this Avalon Classic.

I’ll investigate the pricier tabs and see what I can learn.  At the least I’ll order a second Avalon to have on hand for rainy days.  If that happens I’d try to keep the both as dry as possible and perhaps rotate them in the manner footballs are rotated during rainy games.

Practicing archery in the rain might not be tops on your list of ideal training conditions.  It is, however, a great way to learn how you and you equipment will respond to being soaked.

Running & Raining & Training

There was a light rain falling.  Not bad enough to prevent running.  Bad enough for a rain jacket.  Jacket donned River, my Labrador running partner, and I headed to the trails behind my house just after daybreak.

Ten minutes later it was no longer raining lightly.  It was pouring.  The trails had turned into streams and River, she generally likes water, was bumping my leg to suggest we retreat.  I took her recommendation.

Reaching home I was glad to have worn the rain jacket.

Years ago I ran to race.  Not anymore.  I may enter a 5K for fun but not necessarily to race it.  It is hard not to race.  I remind myself I run for fitness to support archery.  In addition I ride a bike nearly everyday as well.

If you look over the USA Archery training plans for archery you’ll discover sections for fitness training.  A weekly training plan template is available for USA Archery Coaches.  The template does include ‘Cardio/Strength/Conditioning.’

A Level 4 coach and I were recently talking about Olympic archers.  We were on the topic of age and archery.  Archery isn’t as age dependent as other Olympic events such as anything in track and field.  I’d mentioned, now that I am shooting a recurve, that I’d like to make a run at the 2024 Olympic Team.

He didn’t laugh and wasn’t put off by my age.  All he said was, “If you do that, you’ll really have to be in shape.”  I will be 69 when the 2024 Olympics are held in Paris.  So, yes I will really have to be in good shape to make a run for the 2024 Team. The coach knew nothing about my training or past athletic endeavors.

When I look at other archers it is clear the younger archers appear leaner than the more mature archers.  Still, it is rare to notice an archer that one might mistake for a triathlete.  Rare but not absent.

Look at Olympic archers and you’ll find a larger group of fitter athletes.  Archery, however, isn’t a sport limited to the 20 – 30 year of age group. You can find that age isn’t nearly the detrimental factor for fit archers. (1) You can also see that archery has decent odds, 1:162, to make the team. (2)

The oldest archer to compete in the Olympic games was Thomas Scott. (3) He represented the USA in the 1904 games.  He was 71 years old at the time.  Archery has come a long way since 1904, but I’d say it is all relative.

So, who’s to say that staying fit and shooting a lot of arrows is a false hope for someone 65 years old?

The rain did finally pause and I was able to get in some morning archery practice.  At least until it started raining, again.  I do often practice in the rain – just not during the morning archery practice.  It didn’t rain during the afternoon’s practice.

References:

(1) https://www.verywellfit.com/olympic-sports-youre-not-too-old-for-4075439

(2) https://infographicjournal.com/chances-becoming-summer-olympic-athlete/

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Scott_(archer)

I Can Wait

When I look at the archery tournament schedule I can only stare and wish.  Yes, there is a tournament in August here in Georgia.  There is also an increase in the Covid-19 here in Georgia where we reached 104,000 cases or just about 10% of the population passing this bug around. (GA- DPH 6/11/21)

Clearly archers have been gathering on ranges and at tournaments here in the Peach State.  I know because they post there group pictures snapped by cell phone.  No masks and the six feet apart recommendation abandoned for the photo-op.

While I’d really enjoy a competition I’d rather wait and lower my risk of catching the virus.  A friend of ours from Florida wanted to come up for a visit.  We passed on that request even though we’d like to see him.  He pointed out that my wife and I are on good shape.  Was that supposed to mean that if we caught a virus that might travel up from Florida we’d probably only experience mild symptoms and most likely not die? I can wait to see him.

Practice still rolls on. Today I was an easy day and I enjoyed shooting 145 arrows in 90-degree weather.  All were close range as I am considering switching my distance up to 20 meters hoping that by the time indoor season rolls around we’ll have a vaccine.  For my part, I doubt I’ll be lining up close to a bunch of archers from around the State to shoot an outdoor event.  I don’t expect archers’ boxes to be placed six feet apart.

When it comes to shooting along with a pile of archers during a pandemic – I can wait.

Waiting for the Dust to Settle

I’ve not picked up a bow in weeks.  It has been a good time to accept an unplanned recovery.  It has also been time to repair targets and clean the range.

Keeping the lanes clear

I did a 3D tournament in June.  The Covid-19 social distancing wasn’t strictly followed.  I planned to continue competing but put that plan aside until the dust has settled a bit.

Over the Memorial Day weekend we didn’t head out into crowds of carefree people.  I predicted we’d see a spike post-Memorial Day and we did.  I expect the increases we continue to see are associated with Memorial Day and protests.

I’m 65 and in good health.  I expect if I get Covid-19 my symptoms would be mild.  In fact, I’d not be surprised to find I have the antibodies found among people that have been exposed to Covid-19 and not had more severe symptoms.  I don’t know because I’m not paying $300.00 to find out.

While I wait for less contagious times I continue to prepare.  There is a State Championship in August but that one might be a skip.  Still, I’ll restart practice in a few days in the event the August date appears safe – which I don’t expect.

The deer enjoy the range at night

I will mention this – running and cycling have been going really well.  And you can bet my range looks nice.

Taking a Pause from Competition

The photographs posted of archery tournaments indicate social distancing is merely a suggestion at these events.  At 65 years old I’d like to avoid that asymptotic 28-year-old shedding Covid-19 while standing next to me.

Sure, I can play the odds and expect to win by not getting sick.  Honestly, I suspect I’ve already had the bug.  At this point I simply don’t know whether or not I carry the antibody.

Here’s the thing, if I do catch the Covid-19 I run a greater risk of sharing it with family and friends all over 70 and none in excellent health.  When I suspected Brenda and I had contracted the virus we stayed clear of everyone.  Our symptoms were so mild it is impossible to know for certain without being tested – at this point for the antibody.

So, for now, I am taking a break from competition.

New State Qualifier and Getting Back Into a Groove

On Facebook at local group posted that in a few weeks they will be offering an ASA State 3D Championship Qualifier.  I’d nearly tossed in the towel on 3D for 2020 before I read the post.

After learning there would be no easy access qualifier for my area I canned 3D other than shooting on my range for fun.  Instead, I grabbed my target bow and began practice shooting dots at longer yardages.

The recent addition of the nearby qualifier had me pulling out my 3D hunting style rig for practice.

I’d shot well last weekend in a local 3D event and expected to pick up where I’d left off.  That didn’t exactly pan out.

In the morning I refreshed my memory with the 3D bow and shot paper focusing on yardage from 40 to 50 yards.  In the afternoon I went out to shoot faux animals at 40 yards then 35 yards.

The average yardage was 38.2.  If the 40-yard practices and the 35 yards practice shots had been equal the yardage would have been 37.5 for those of you wondering about the 38.2 yardage.  The actual yardage for the long shots was 40.3 and the short shots were 35.

Longer distances with pins are tough.  Using a scope 40 yards isn’t a bother.  Using a scope I’ve had to make 100-yard shots.  In 3D using a hunter division rig 40 yards is the maximum distance in that class.

That’s probably a good thing considering how I performed at 40 yards today.  My average arrow score was 6.2 at 40 yards. At five yards closer the average was 10 with one 12 and one 8.

Last week’s tournament had an average distance of 33.2 yards.  I ended up with four 8s and seven 12s.  The rest were 10s.  I do remember a couple of shots being long.  The last target, a wolf, was at 40 yards.  I also recall a turkey at 35 yards.  Overall, it was a fair course.

The problem is when I shoot 8s and 5s.  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that is every archer’s problem.  Shooting 12s and 10s isn’t a problem. Today was a mess with 5s (all at 40 or 41 yards). The single 8 at 35 yards landed in a javelina.

Hitting a 3D target well on close shots isn’t hard.  Still, you have to make the shot.  Getting comfortable at longer yardages is mandatory to finish well.

Some Things You Just Can’t Control

3D is likely done for 2020 for me.  That’s a shame. I enjoy 3D and will continue to practice on my range.  However, the one qualifier within my means turned out not to be a qualifier.  It is now time to switch gears and go back to dots.

Covid-19 resulted in several of the State’s qualifiers being canceled. 3D seems a good way to compete and kept some distance between each other. Admittedly, I considered the situation as it related to sports and 3D came up a winner.

American is big.  When we see the huge numbers of US  Covid-19 cases compared to other countries it seems alarming.  No one wants to get sick or get the virus and pass it along to someone else that may end up in worse shape thanks to the sharing. We’ve got a lot of cases in the US. We’ve got more than any other country.  This is where you can pause and consider the size of the other countries.

For example, Sweden has roughly the same population as Georgia.  The Covid-19 cases are also roughly the same. The Florida has roughly the same population as the Netherlands.  The Florida and the Netherlands have 40,982 and 42,788 cases of Covid-19, respectively.  The Netherlands does have more deaths associated with Covid-19 than does Florida. You get the point, the US is large and some states have populations that are country sized. Still we all want to be careful.

This is especially true for me at 65, my wife at 66 and my father-in-law, who we visit weekly who is 91. We don’t want to get Covid-19 and we don’t want to pass it around. 3D seems like a great way to get outdoors and have potentially less exposure to the virus than grocery shopping.

The Covid-19 put a huge hole in my archery plans.  I made adjustments to focus exclusive on 3D for the viral period of social distancing. I’d focus on the Georgia State ASA Championship.  During this Covid time a number of State ASA 3D Championship qualifiers were canceled. This began to make me a bit nervous.  Luckily the one I intended to shoot remained available.

Attending that qualifying event after weeks of practice I shot one of my better scores in the hunter division.  On the 19thtarget I learned this qualifier was officially no longer a qualifier despite the listing at the ASA webpage claiming otherwise.

Years ago I was competing at the Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point, Georgia in a USA Cycling State Championship.  I’d won the pursuit and the kilo.  After the races just prior to the awards one of the USA Cycling officials announced the Championships would not be awarded.  She claimed one the required forms remained un-submitted and everyone would need to return in a few weeks to do it all over.

All winners and medalist screamed suggesting she submit the form and then apply the results.  We’d all been under the impression throughout the day’s events we were competing in a Championship – as we’d been told. The official refused to live up to the spirit of the games.

I couldn’t come back in few weeks.  Instead, I was going to be competing at the USA Cycling National Championships in Fresno, Texas.  I got 8th at the Nationals in the pursuit and would have preferred the Gold Medal in Georgia. (I scratched the kilo being called to Washington for a meeting with the FDA) These were races where one second can separate 1st place from 8th place. They are hard to win.

The ASA State Qualifier felt the same way – disappointing.  I won the division by 11 points.  It didn’t matter much like the Georgia cycling event.  It became basically a fun shoot.

They ended up combining all hunter groups since I was probably the only Senior Hunter competing (those archers over 50). I ended up grouped with 11 other archers all who are quite good.

I copied and pasted the results. I X’ed out the other athletes names since I didn’t ask them if I could post their result even though they are posted online elsewhere.

I am pleased with my score from the event.  Hoping to find something else to shoot as a qualifier I checked the ASA website to see if there was another qualifier within my ‘day’ drive radius and the answer was no.  You can bet in the future I’ll be shooting the first qualifier within my drive radius in 2021.

I could haul the camper to the next event and spend the weekend there.  It remains a consideration.  It comes down to the budget.  It would be an extra expense outside my financial plans in the range of $300.00. ($271.00 approximately)

It must be hard for Olympians having to wait another year to compete at the Summer Games in Tokyo. That isn’t as bad as President Carter’s boycott of the Summer Games in Moscow in 1980.

Over the decades I’ve competed in 100s of sporting events.  I was even fortunate enough to represent the USA as a Team member during a World Championship.  However, it doesn’t matter to me if the event is a World Championship, the Olympics, or a State Championship when something occurs that means it is no longer possible to compete. It is a let down.

While competing at the USA Masters National Indoor Track and Field Championship I faulted out of an event I was about to win.  That didn’t bother me as much as it would have had some situation prevented me for competing.  In fact, I’ve competed globally and only in Georgia has some unforeseen occurrence held me back from winning or qualifying. Faulting out during competition is my error and it was an error I knew might be a problem for me.

(A taller running I was trying to pass kept swinging his elbow toward my nose. He’d already hit me a number of time. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was 3000 meters and we had less than 100 meters before the finish. The officials disapproved of my passing remedy.)

What I can do is make new plans for 2020 and look forward to outdoor target archery beginning in July.

The ASA State Qualifier that Wasn’t

The range at today’s Georgia ASA State 3D Championship qualifier was awesome.  On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the most realistic set this one would have been a 5.  Another bonus is the shoot was only 30 minutes from where I live.  In fact, I’d had it on my calendar for months.

There was some doubt about going because of the Covid-10 problem. I went anyway and did my very best to social distance.

When I checked it I wore a mask and gloves.  I signed in with my own pen. I had triple checked that the event hadn’t been canceled before I took the time and chance to compete. It remained, un-canceled, on the list of qualifiers at the ASA website the night before the event.

A number of qualifiers had already been canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I wrote the ASA asking if a waiver for people wanting to compete in the State Championship might be warranted for 2020.  I didn’t get a reply. So, it was this qualifier or more than likely I’d have to skip the 2020 ASA State Championship.

There are two other state qualifiers still available aside from today’s.  Each has problems connected with attending.  One means a long drive that goes through Atlanta to get to west Georgia the other a longer drive that means an overnight stay. No, the one remaining shoot for a qualification to compete at the State Championship was the one today.

In 2017 I won an IBO State 3D Championship. The IBO has an age group that more narrowly fits my age bracket. The following 2 years, competing in the Senior Hunter Division under ASA rules I’ve taken 2 third places finishes.  Under the ASA rules I compete with archers of a broader age category.  I compete against archers whose ages more closely match my adult children’s ages. I don’t really mind the only handicap I have is vision looking at dark targets in dark holes.  As we age our eyes don’t pick up light as well.

The Covid-19 problem encouraged me switch my focus to 3D because those events are outside and more easily controlled for social distancing. Practices going into today’s event have been good.  The actual competition went well, too.  I ended up at 10.3 points per arrow.  Not great and not bad.  An average of 10.3 generally lands an archer in the Senior Hunter division in the top 4 or 5 spots and maybe higher at the State level.  When I got home I took the distances, I’d written them down after each shot, and found that the average yardage was 33.2 yards.

Turns out it didn’t really matter.  The tournament, I learned as I was leaving the event, was no longer an ASA qualifier.  It was a tremendous let down.  Thankfully, it was a short drive.

Trying to Focus on 3D

The Governor has made it clear that Georgians can go outside and play so long as they social distance, wear a mask, and stay indoors if you are 65 years old or older or have an underlying health condition.  I fall into the 65 and older group that seems more susceptible to Covid-19.

Archery tournaments aren’t about to keep people 6 feet apart.  3D archery has a better chance that folks can remain 6 feet apart.

There’s a Georgia ASA State Championship qualifier minutes away from where I live in a week.  So, do I take a chance, go to the qualifier, qualify, catch Covid-19 and end up dead?  If I end up dead I won’t be able to compete in the Georgia ASA State Championship.  Dead people never get to compete in archery.

In the meantime, I have found a sliver lining – my current practice scores suck.  Today, at an average distance of 34.3 yards (range 25 yards to 40 yards) I scored 195 on the 20 targets. That’s 9.75 points per arrows.  With an average like that I might as well hang out in the back yard and practice.  Perhaps, when I can comfortably return to competitive archery I’ll have that average a tad higher.