Prime Time Archery

In the US there are 4 million people that annually take part in triathlons (1).  The Ironman World Championship is televised on NBC Sports every year.  Triathlons are exciting to watch.  For the athletes they are punishing.  If you are unfamiliar an Ironman it is an endurance event where athletes swim 2.4 miles, complete a cycling time trial of 112 miles, then run a marathon (26.2 miles for those of you that don’t know the distance of a marathon).  The three endurance tests are completed in sequence without a pause.

There’s a time limit to complete the 140.6 of 15 hours.  If an athlete fails to complete the total 140.6 miles distance in 15 hours they are recorded as did not finish.  Each leg of an Ironman also has time limits.  If an athlete fails to make it out of the swim or off the bike under the time allotted for any segment they are pulled from the race.

There are shorter distances for triathlons.  For example a popular distance is the 1/2 Ironman where each segment is halved.  There are still time limits for the 70.3 miles.  There are other triathlons that have a 1200-meter swim, 40-kilometer cycling distance, and a 10 k run to finish it off.  Some athletes prefer sprint distances like a 500-yard swim, 12-mile bike and a 5K run which are available.  Any distance requires a lot of discipline, training, expensive equipment and pricey entry fees. If someone is willing to pay there is a match for him or her in triathlon.

Archery on the other hand isn’t televised on NBC.  There are bow hunting shows on some paid cable network that are generally sponsored by a bow manufacturer and other hunting gear companies.  There aren’t shows for the big archery tournaments on major networks.

You can find big archery tournaments on YouTube.  Unless you enjoy archery odds are you aren’t searching the Internet for folks flinging arrows. People seem more likely to select golf should you enjoy slow moving sports.

Archery is slow. Golf is slow.  Triathlons are not slow.  Despite being slow golf is entertaining to watch even if you don’t play golf.  Watching Tiger Woods win his last Masters was exciting.  Woods repeatedly walked around pretty landscaping in Augusta hitting a small ball into a small hole better than other folks who were all doing the same activity.

In archery we shoot arrows into small dots or nearly unseeable rings on a foam animal.  Archery is hard to do well.  In an Ironman the top professional men will soar over a course and finish the 140.6 miles in around 8 hours.  The professional women aren’t far behind. An Ironman is hard to do well. An Ironman is also hard to do not well.

Should you watch NBC’s Ironman World Championship show not only will you see the blazing professionals but also NBC will highlight those in misery struggling to come in under the cut off time.  You never see some duffer on a golf course at 20 over par.  No one wants to see that sort of embarrassment. But, if you’re in an Ironman, shuffling along in the dark during the final leg of the triathlon having snot running down you face you are fodder for a camera crew.  The crews have to do something; those top pros have finished the race and gone home.

Archery’s top professionals are a marvel to watch.  The announcers on events found via the Internet do a pretty good job of keeping viewers (other archers) interested in the competition.  Golf’s announcers have done the same for audiences. The stories told about the golfers are often similar to those being uttered in hushed reverence about archers.

In America 25 million people play golf. (2) That is about 8% of the population.  You can find golf on television pretty much year round.  There are even paid channels, if you subscribe, devoted to golf.  If you look around you can also find an ample supply of triathlons with watch.  Should you be on of the 1.9 million triathletes in America you know where to find them.

If you are among the 18.9 million American, over the age of 18 that participate in archery your viewing options for archery aren’t in the same ballpark as golf. (The triathlon figure includes all participate aged 6 and above)  (3,4) Yet, the numbers of participates for the two sports, golf and archery, are similar.

There are differences in the wealth backing the sports.  Golf in the US has an annual revenge of around $23 billion dollars while archery comes in around $363 million. (5,6) Triathlons, which is a smaller sport than archery, has annual revenue of around $3 billion dollars, (7) None of those are in the athlete footwear ballpark of $72 billion annually. (8) Archery doesn’t even come close to the annual revenue of bicycles of $7 billion. (9) But, the King of sport is the NFL, which took in over $15 billion last year from fans. (9) Yes, that’s $15 billion earned by the NFL from adoring fans. Major league baseball earned about $5.82 billion (10) (NFL and MLB revenue does not reflect gear/equipment sales)

Archery isn’t “big” business.  I think it could become bigger.  Like golf there are stories for broadcasters to quietly share during televised events. Archery would certainly be easier for film for camera crews than triathlons.  But, archery isn’t going to reach the living rooms of most Americans if it depends solely on hunting shows.

Hunting is a large segment of the bow manufactures earnings and one where customers will buy the newest gizmo that promises to improve their skill as a bow hunter.  Of course, more practice would be a better investment.

I believe the volume of people in archery, about that of golf, is enough to bring the sport into mainstream.  I just don’t think hunting shows are the conduit. The conduits, in my opinion, are field, 3D and target archery.  But, then no one is asking me.

Reference:

Georgia State Indoor Championship versus the Super Bowl

It shouldn’t even be a conflict  – an archery tournament versus the Super Bowl.  While I don’t play football I love the game and did play for six years. Had I not raced bicycles and made the choice to focus on racing when I was 18 I’d have played football longer.  I wouldn’t have played at one of the big colleges, but I’d have played.

I don’t regret the choice to stop playing football irrespective of being scouted and having talks with a few colleges during high school.  Cycling was my choice and it took me further in sport than football might have done.

Cycling took me to World Championships and made me a member of a USA Team.  I still ride.  But, my competitive ‘fix’ comes from archery.

Sometimes at archery tournaments or while practicing with others I find that should the topic of football arise there’s a smaller group of fans than one might find in a bar on a Saturday or Sunday during the football season.  So, it comes as little surprise to me that a major archery event in Georgia has been scheduled on top of the Super Bowl. Heck, the past two tournaments here have been held in conflict with UGA games.

During the University Georgia Football game overlaps with Georgia archery a couple of friends and I managed to get the tournaments in before rushing to a bar to watch the college game.  After the game we made it back to the tournaments in time for the awards.

The next archery State Champion, the one on February 2nd, is a minor problem.  Picking the morning (0900) shooting line I’ll have plenty of time to make the drive home before game time. Those poor souls that love football who travel further and pick the afternoon (1300) shooting line will miss the televised game, have to record it hoping they don’t hear the score before watching, or listen on the radio.  That is unless they stay in a hotel overnight.

Super Bowl Sunday is typically a full day event for my family.  This year I’ll have to hold back on the pre-game festivities at least until I’ve shot my 60 arrows from 18-meters.  As far as hanging around for any award I might earn – I’ll find it later in the event I place in the top 3.

Ranked #1 in Georgia Two Years in a Row

Results from the Georgia Archery Association’s State rankings show me finishing 1st (AG) for the second year in a row.  The Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association’s rankings have not been updated since June 19th.  In those, for some reason, I’m not listed.  I understand that data will soon be updated.

Finishing first in my age group in this State is a haul.  At any given tournament there are at least 4 other archers in my division that have beaten me at time or two.  The scores are always close. Then, there are outliers, fellows you don’t see often or don’t know who could show up and spoil it all.  At one event in 2020 the top three archers in my division all surpassed the prior State record.  In another the first and second place finishers just missed the National record.  I expect that record my fall in 2020 or 2021 to a Georgian.

It is tough to win here in Georgia.  The State’s archers are members of National Teams, the Para-Olympic Team and the 2020 Olympic Team.  It isn’t unheard of that during a tournament some record is broken whether it be a State, National or World record.

Georgia is a Mecca for archery.  At local ranges across the Peach State you’ll find walls papered with targets pounded with perfect scores.   My targets remain aloof where perfection is demonstrated – perhaps in 2020 I’ll be able to add one to some wall of honor.* It seems I’ll pretty much have to be able to reach that level just to hang in there with these Southern boys in my group. What is clear is that when ever an archer over 60 registers for a tournament here that archer has done so intending to win.

Reference:

https://www.gaarchery.org/state-rankings

  • I’ve come close.  There’s always that one untrained arrow.  Length of time trying: 6 years, 2 months, 4 days at this point.

2019 Bye Bye

Rolling into 2019 there was a high degree of optimism.  By January’s end,  a month into the year, it was obvious something was amiss.

Despite plenty of hours of training and practice following a decent plan scores just didn’t increase as they might have in my imagination.  In 2018 as I set the 2019 plan in place archery was going well.  As the year matured the curve of improvement frankly didn’t rise as planned and hoped.

Last year, I was able to compete in 14 tournaments.  The reduction in competition primarily being less 3D than in previous years – a factor of diminution associated with travel to and from State level events.

Of the 14 events 4 were local 3D shoots that were completed as paid practice.  By paid practice I mean, events in which I wasn’t sufficiently ready to compete, shot in a younger age group, or might have been in way over my head.

That leaves 10 events on the National, Regional or State Championships.  Even though I won four of them it was my individual scores that, for me, were less than satisfying.

Those 10 major events left me with four wins (2 State Championships, 1 National level Championship – Suwanee, GA USA Archery 18-meter, and a win at the Georgia Cup), the others were three-second place finishes, two 3rd place finishes and 4th (NFAA Regional).

Those 14 events (the 4 local 3D excluded from the summary above) don’t include league style competitions.  The losses were all very close.  No loss was greater than 3 points and one was a second based on inner 10 counts.

The win to loss ratio wasn’t the disappointment.  The failure was in my overall scores.  At some point it seemed I’d simply misplaced my developing form and slid backwards.  I still hit some sloppy tens but the feel was off.  For 2020, in hopes of finding a better rate of improvement, I’ve built a training plan and schedule to reboot performance.

On the other hand this website continues to grow with monthly visits up by 20.8% or over 24,000 visitors per month.  If I only knew how to make money here that would be nice.

A Christmas Miss

Locally, there was a Christmas indoor tournament over the weekend.  I’d heard the start time was 0900.  It was actually ay 1000.  There was no way around the extra hour and errands that needed to be completed.  Maybe I’d have made it home in time to have completed my assignments and maybe not.  So, I chose to miss the competition.

That was likely for the best considering the way I’ve been shooting.  For a while things were looking up.  Now, things are looking rather flat. Those things are scores.

Data is important to record.  If you’ve not collected your practice and performance data you really don’t have much information to establish way to manage your progress.

After the completion of the weekend’s errands following the abandoned Christmas shoot I looked over my 18-meter data.  It wasn’t inspirational regarding advances in performance.

The data reviewed includes just those post 18-meter inner 10 ring rule changes.  There was a linear slope upwards over time.  However, the log of those numbers showed a much flatter slope.

Scoress were moving in the right direction then did a nose dive

Nope, there weren’t any moments of insight regarding practice changes to improve the slope.  But, there were a number of little adjustments found in the notes associated with the score. Those notes may help refine my 2020 training plans and hopefully I can get back on the right track.

I missed the local Christmas shoot but ended up having a little extra time to take an in-depth dive into my 18-meter data.  That review may end up having been a better way to have used that time.

One Point Is All It Takes to Win

There are a lot of points scored over an archery tournament.  The last event I competed in, the Georgia 25-Meter State Championship had a maximum (Perfect) score of 600 possible points.  I lost, landing in second place, by a 1-point difference.

River seems less excited with the 2nd place medals

Excluding 3D (where I shot mostly for fun and the scores are hard to find) I looked over the events where I’d lost.  There were 3-second place finishes and one-third place. The third place was a fluke.  Here I define a fluke as poor shooting associated with a yet undiagnosed equipment problem.  The bow’s cam bearings had cracked which resulted in some funny shots.  The data remaining, the 3-second place finishes, were lost by an average of 1 point.

The last loss, the 25-meter event, was a surprise.  The surprise was not the person who won, Bob.  Bob beaten me three out of four times in 2019.  I beat him once with the same score, same X count and took the win by the 9 count.

Archery didn’t pan out – camping on the other hand was first class

Now Bob’s good.  A few weeks ago, during my only 2019 win against Bob, we shot in the Masters 50 age group.  There was no Masters 60 age group at that event.  This is when I won as the score came down to the nine count.  The fellow that won the 50-year-old group, Paul, took first place by two points.  The top three compound bow scores for that tournament where from Paul, myself and Bob, in order of finishing positions.  (Fall Classic, Georgia Southern University) All of us in the 50 year old group.

Great views camping for the tournament at the George L Smith State Park in Twin City, GA

Going into the last tournament, the 25-meter shoot, I honestly expected a score in the range of the US record, for my age group.  I’d been shooting that in practice.  I didn’t come close during the tournament.  But for one bad shot, Bob might have broken that record. Sadly, we’ll both have to wait until next year to give it another go for the record.

Ended up the only camper in the Park

In the meantime, I admit, I’d rather be on the winning side of those 1-point finishes.

It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

I’ve watched an archer blow a shot early in a tournament and mentally quit.  He’s an excellent archer who rarely misses.  But, for a while, when he did blow a shot he mentally shut down.

His coach was aware of the problem and worked with the archer until he learned to move past those moments of internal anger that were causing him to give up.  Oh, for clarification the miss that might have caused his mental collapse was a 9.

There’s another fellow that I’ve frequently shot against that will nearly always make a bad shot.  His error would make a 9 (a missed 10) seem minor (which it is).  He will make the error; laugh about it, then won’t make another mistake.

Shooting arrows leads to misses.  Shooting a perfect score against a vertical 3-spot (compound bow inner 10) at 18-meters remains uncommon, although it has occurred.  Imagine you are competing at 18-meters, you’ve shot 32 tens then you land a nine. *

Coaching tip

You can let that 9 ruin your day or you can blow it off and shoot 27 more tens.  Know that  everybody will make a mistake.  What will matter to you is how you recover from your mistake.   That archer next to you may be having a better day or not.  You don’t know and you can’t do anything about that athlete.  You can do something about you and remember it’s not over until it’s over.

*My guess is that if you’ve shot 32 tens in a row you already are at a point in your practice and competition where you knew all of what I just wrote.  For those of you who still throw out 8s or less, don’t worry about them.  Regroup and fire off some more 10s.

Southern Fall Classic at Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern University Shooting Sports Education Center

Georgia Southern University, in Statesboro, Georgia can be a day trip driving from our home near Athens, Georgia.  Making the drive of 170 miles one way isn’t too difficult.  Making the round trip of 340 miles is a tad less fun especially when there’s an archery tournament in the middle of the drive.

The Georgia Southern University Shooting Sports Education Center held an archery tournament in middle of that drive to Statesboro and back to Athens. The Southern Fall Classic was there on November 16th.   I entered but had no intention of a long haul on the road.  I’ve got a camper that is an ideal travel remedy for such events and distances.

Gotta watch for these guys during the warmer months

I didn’t haul the camper the entire distance stopping at Magnolia Springs State Park near Millen, Georgia for two overnight stays.  Similar to the other Georgia State Parks where we’ve camped Magnolia Springs provided plenty of space, things to do when not shooting arrows, and it was quiet.

Camping, while certainly an activity to have made the trip worthwhile, was the bonus to the archery main course.  Shooting at Georgia Southern is a nice and having once lived in Statesboro and taught at Southern it is nostalgic.

Being less nostalgic and more like Déjà vu was the competition at the tournament. Mainly that Déjà vu meant shooting with and against Paul and Bob.

There was no 60-year-old Masters division at the tournament meaning Bob and I, both past 60, would compete in a younger division where Paul shoots.  Moving down in age group is fine with me.  In fact, I nearly dropped down another age group to avoid shooting against Bob and Paul.  Alas, I stayed put.

Last three on the line, Bob in the red shirt, Paul in blue, and I’m the short guy on the end

The indoor tournament scored 30 arrows at 25 meters and 30 arrows at 18 meters.  Bob and Paul don’t too often make mistakes.  When they do both can brush it off and move forward unaffected. Paul made the fewest errors on this Saturday. In fact, I was leading by 2 points after the 25-meter portion of the competition. Bob made one “opps” shot at 25-meters and I made my fair share of missing it when we moved to 18-meters. Paul remained steady throughout the day.

25-meters

After all the arrows were shot the top 3 compound bow scores were from Paul, Bob and I.  Paul won by 3 points. Bob and I tied in score and 10 count (39 tens each).  As awards were called it was pointed out that our final placement came down to the 9 count. I was happy for it to have ended there.

Of course, Georgia Southern had their football games (reruns) showing overhead.

After the awards the three of us headed to a bar to watch the Georgia (not Georgia Southern) game against Auburn.  We stayed there until half time.

During half time, Paul and Bob headed back to their neck of the State, Savannah.  I headed back to Magnolia Springs where I finished watching the Georgia – Auburn game in the luxury of my camper. It was an exciting game; Georgia won and clinched the SEC East.

Even though it was second place, River was happy to wear the medal.

On Sunday I packed, hooked the camper to my F-150 and headed home.  I’m making the trip again in a few weeks for the Georgia 25-meter State Championship.  I won’t need to shoot against Paul.  But, Bob will be there.

Aside from Bob, David from Atlanta is likely to make the drive as will that fellow from Brunswick that won the State 5-spot in 2019. Buddy may show up, as might another dozen or so archers that could take the win in December.  All one can do is their best and hope everyone else screws up.

The Georgia Southern medals are pretty cool looking – even in silver.

That Was Fun?

At a recent archery tournament a fellow archer asked, “Are you having fun?” Well, I was enjoying myself – but fun?

First off the temperature was approaching a record high.  Secondly, the bathrooms had malfunctioned.  And third, there was the pressure of the tournament.

Temperature-wise it wasn’t the hottest tournament where I’d shot.  That misery belongs to an outdoor event in North Carolina where the temperature did break the state record for heat.  Now, the heat isn’t something that too often makes me suffer.  Still, it wasn’t a fun time to play outside.

You’d think that in the blazing heat the need to have a bio-break diminishes and it does, but I drink a lot in order to stay hydrated.  So, having somewhere to seek relief is a nice benefit. That bathroom failure was less fun.

The pressure to shoot well is a hard problem. All an archer can do is shoot the best possible, remain as relaxed as possible, and not worry about anyone else.  Some archers claim they only want to have fun, on the other hand some archer show up aiming to win. The added intensity of a tournament isn’t fun especially when you’re behind.

My wife and I went to a party last night.  It was, without doubt, fun. The recent archery tournament doesn’t really fall into that category of fun.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the tournament. It was a bonus to have won.

Like many people, I’m not alone, I am wired to compete.  If I wasn’t competing in archery it would be cycling, triathlon, duathlon, or running. There was a time when competing meant achieving academic goals.  That was later moved to research goals and publication goals.

There are situations where competing is not appropriate.  There’s no need to compete in friendship and marriage is certainly not a competition.  Sport is, by it’s design, competition.

I admit the tournament was fun.  Otherwise, I’d not compete in archery.  Perhaps, it is the way I’m wired and you’re wired if you are a competitive archer.  For me, I know, I must compete. I suppose that’s fun.

A Hoosier At A Bulldog Event

“I’m originally from Indiana, but have lived here for 25 years” he said then added, “I consider myself a Southerner.”  I simply looked at him for a few seconds and thought, “No, you’re not.” I didn’t say those words; I only thought them.  It might have been considered rude to have actually said them to the fellow. My Mama would disapprove of rude behavior.

If you were born and raised outside of the South your geographical upbringing is obvious to any Southerner.  It was apparent the fellow who’d adapted the South as his home is a transplant.  Many of his mannerisms could have clued a Southerner to his un-Southern heritage before he’d ever spoken a word.

The first give away was his Indianapolis Colts cap. Aside from his blue and white cap every other baseball style cap on the range sported at UGA logo. (If you don’t know what UGA stands for, well Bless your Heart!).  Had he’d chosen another cap other than a UGA cap, if he was a Southerner, that cap might have sported an Atlanta Braves logo or an Atlanta Falcons crest (often worn by diehard hopefuls). Another clue was that his foldable chair sported an Indianapolis 500 logo as opposed to an Atlanta Motor Speedway logo adorned foldable chair.

Certainly he is friendly enough.  He’d talk to anyone within three feet of him.  You needed to be careful because it could be difficult figuring out to whom exactly he is aiming his words.  By the end of the tournament he’d hit everyone on the range with at the minimum a monologue.

Another telltale sign he wasn’t a native was his ‘one-up’ when he compared hurricanes to tornadoes.  Hurricane Dorian had just passed the coast of Georgia.  The storm had led to evacuations along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Hurricane Dorian bringing some wind to Northeast Georgia

The tournament organizers were talking about moving the dates of the shoot so that it is less close to prime time hurricane season.   This year, 2019, is the 3rd year in row when archers were dealing with wind developed on the cusps of a tropical cyclone reaching more inland areas of the State. Among those inland areas sat the range for the tournament.

His ‘one-up’ was, “You know how much time you have as a warning for a tornado?” He then answered his own question, “Three minutes.”  He’s from Indiana – he should know!

His dead give away he isn’t truly an adopted son of the South was when he called a ‘Coke’ a ‘pop.’ If you’re from Georgia and hear someone call a Coke a pop, you just can’t erase the hearing.  It sticks with you for a while leaving a mild irritation. ‘Pop’ is the wrong sound for a true Georgia native – Coke being that native.

During a two-day archery tournament you meet all sorts.  I like the talkative Hoosier.  He was the big winner when it came to passing the time between ends.  And there’s common ground where we do understand one another’s positions on a matter.  That of being stuck behind a farm tractor while driving.