Decisions, decisions.

Each year for the past several decades or so I have made a training and competition plan for the subsequent year. Before that, those plans were made by my cycling coach. Typically, it was done in December. Before December I would begin thinking about what events I wanted to complete for the next year. This year I am doing the same.

Before there was archery I raced bicycles, ran, and competed in duathlons and triathlons. Since I began shooting a bow, those events have dropped off the planning and competing list of activities to some degree. I continue to run and ride a bike, so it if impossible to not think about racing.

Marathons and Ironman events are floating through my head and dissolving pretty rapidly. I’ve run seven marathons. Four we just plan old marathons: Las Vegas, The Outer Banks, ING Miami and Tokyo. The other three we the final leg of Ironman events: IM Louisville, IM Lake Placid, and IM World Championship. They were all fun but a bit outside the zone where I raced best.

My best distances for a running race are 5Ks and for longer run a half marathon. I honesty have no idea how many of those I completed. To guess dozens would be an under-estimate. I could easily surpass a dozen of those in a single year.

It is hard to train for both running and shooting. It is harder still to practice to run, ride a bike, swim and shoot. Archery practices eats up about 3.5 to 5 hours per day. I still have time to run and ride, but I simply can’t add swimming to the mix. So, another triathlon is probably out of the picture for 2019. That is with the exception of a sprint. I have no doubt I will always be able to swim well enough to get through a sprint distance swim with minimal training. Sure, I’d lose some time during the swim, I always did lose time swimming, but I’d make it up on the ride and hold on during the run. No one wins a triathlon with the swim. That strategy served me well in the shorter triathlons.

Duathons, running and cycling, is something I might be able to add to my 2019 schedule. At the moment, duathlon remains only a thought. The primary focus is on archery.

When I am planning, expenses and travel is a matter of interest. Essentially, which tournaments are the best bangs for the buck? Two tournaments that are likely not to make the final cut are Lancaster and Las Vegas. Both will be costly and neither offers me much more than excitement. I’d need to be certain of a win before I made the investment to compete in either of those tournaments.

The USA Archery National Indoor and Outdoor Championships will more than likely make the cut. So will the NFAA Indoor Nationals. The Gator Cup is also likely to be an event I’ll want to enjoy. As far as the local events, such as State Championships, I’ll hit all those I can manage. The drive is usually decent and it will be a camping activity.

3D remains an outlier for perhaps another year. The ASA in Augusta is a strong probability and from there I’d consider another major 3D event. If there were IBO tournaments nearby I’d switch my 3D focus to IBO. But, IBO isn’t a big deal here in the Deep South having the Kennesaw, Georgia based ASA and a bigger local promoter of competitions.

Coaching tip

During the course of their career athletes need to set long-term, mid-term, and short term objectives. Developing an annual plan is essential in the growth of any athlete. By having an annual plan the athlete can establish goals for the next year that can be worked into training plans. Those goals can be associated with events and matched to practice sessions.

 

A Beta-Blocker and Pot Use Bust at Vegas

Chris Perkins has been named 2018 Champion of the Vegas shoot. The 2018 Vegas shoot has long passed. The prior champion was busted for using a beta-blocker during competition and the USADA found THC in his tested samples.

THC, the active ingredient is marijuana is legal in some states. But, you can’t smoke dope and legally compete in WADA sports. At the first Olympics where snowboarding was introduced the men’s gold medalist was stripped of his award because he tested positive for pot. Looking back at that situation it comes as no surprise.

Pot is legal in 9 states and legal for medical us in another 30. In other states it is decriminalized or illegal. I don’t know where the busted Vegas ex-winner lives, but perhaps his home is in a puff free zone. Either way, smoking a joint isn’t going to improve shooting a bow. I think the THC ban by WADA and the USADA is a bit puritan, but don’t really care enough to make a big deal about it.

What I do care about is the use of beta-blockers. Beta-blockers can improve shooting. I’ve fussed about beta-blockers on this site in the past. For archers with conditions that require use of beta-blockers they can apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). For the archer that simply wants an edge beta-blockers are easily within grasp.

When I raced bicycles I can say with complete confidence I have trained with and raced against dopers. Sadly, in archery I can say with conditional confidence (no testing done to prove or disprove) I have competed against archers using a beta-blocker without a TUE.

https://www.thevegasshoot.com/news/perkins-named-2018-vegas-champion-following-disqualification-of-eyler

 

Taking a Look At Archery Phenotypes

Nearly anyone can pick up a bow practice and get to be pretty good.

At your next tournament look around at the competitors. They’ll look a lot like the spectators. You see folks that look; by look I mean phenotype, sort of like everyone else.

Everybody else means this for the US: Males weight on average 196 pounds and are 5 feet 9 inches tall. Females weight 168.5 pounds and are 5 feet 4 inches tall. That pretty close to how archers look in general.

Certainly, this isn’t everyone that picks up a bow. These are averages. My friend, Mike, is 6 feet 8 inches tall and weights 180 pounds. Mike is an outlier.

Consider the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the average US male and female using the numbers from above. You’d see both coming in as overweight.

Being overweight is, well, not good. But, archery is a sport where overall conditioning is often neglected. In fact, during a recent tournament when archers needed to move large outdoor targets a number of athletes couldn’t help because of their fitness level. One person said, “I can’t help, my doctor has told me not to lift more that 10 pounds.” Yet, there he was shooting and doing a pretty decent job of arrow placement. (Good not great)

Coaching tip

Archery is a sport where fitness isn’t a key factor for the average shooter. Just about anyone that wants to enjoy a sport that isn’t a major cardio activity can have fun with a bow and arrow. That’s fine. That’s not my philosophy when it comes to athletics.

When it comes to archery training I think athletes in this sport should incorporate fitness training. No, it is not a requirement to be a good shooter. However, taking your training to a higher level will provide strength and stamina to archery performance.

Practice Should Be a Challenge

“Are you practicing to practice or are you practicing to win?”

I do not know who originally asked that question. It is one that I think about a lot. I consider it before nearly every practice. I consider it when I am working on training plans. It makes a difference to ask the question before training.

Training and practice should not be easy. Whether you are preparing for a bicycle race or an archery tournament the question applies.

Archers often practice by shooting arrow after arrow. That can work. But, does shooting a bunch of arrows in practice prepare an archer to win?

Coaching Tip

There’s an excellent archer. In practice he typically out shoots everyone on the range. The practice is calm, controlled and comfortable. He stands in his favorite lane at 18 meters. He’s surrounded by his friends all of them not yet at his level. His confidence is high. He’s been here countless times and like the many times before he does better in practice than his peers in the room.

He practices a lot. He claims to shoot two hundred arrows a day. That’s a lot of practice. Yet, his performance during a tournament, while good, is only good. He’s not alone.

Watching archers I see mistakes that I’ve seen in other sports particularly in cycling. When I raced bicycles I expected to win every race I entered. I didn’t; no one ever does win every race they enter. If I didn’t win it was not because I wasn’t prepared to win.

My coach, Nester Gernay, trained members of our team to win races. We used to joke we were looking forward to a race to have an easy day. See, our training schedules were grueling. We rarely raced where the event was more difficult that our tough days of training.

Those years of training were not day in and day out ride as hard and fast as possible. Coach Gernay broke up practice. He created cycles of training that were decades ahead of what is now common cycling knowledge. (This was the early 70’s)

In archery, there are also excellent training plans to us in practice. I image there are coaches that have it figured out how to create practice to teach an archer to win. That sort of practice is not simply shooting arrow after arrow. It is hard.

The archer that piqued my interest in writing this practices to practice. I don’t see him practicing to win. Practice is where you learn to improve. To do this you must find ways to make flinging arrows a period outside of your comfort zone. Here are a few examples:

In a tournament you are going to be crowded (unless it is a 3D or other event where the archer is alone at the stake). In practice there aren’t always people to your right and left. What I’ve done on a range when possible and on my range is to place stools closer to me than people stand. It is awkward. During a tournament, the archers next to me aren’t even noticed.

This is a situation where you don’t want to be outside the box

On my range I’ll often practice with a timer – the timer sitting on one of the stools. I record the time left over after I’ve finished an end. If I find I have too much time left over I practice slowing down. This can really help if for some reason you get out of rhythm. I’ve also practiced after the timer has started and run for 30 seconds to create an end where for some unknown reason I am late to the line or can’t shoot immediately. This has been helpful outdoors when during a 4-minute end I have to wait for wind gusts to slow or stop.

Looking for another stool

At USA Archery tournaments there is going to be music playing non-stop. At first that really bothered me so I now practice with music in the background on my range.

I also do things that make me uncomfortable, like changing my release from a thumb to a hinge. I am more comfortable with a thumb but the hinge really makes me focus on form.

Look for different places to practice. Go to various league competitions where you know no one. I promise, at first you will feel uncomfortable. There will be little groups of buddies that eyeball you. There’s the “hot dog” fellow that usually wins the league. You’ll probably spot him as he struts around. After a while you will become comfortable walking in and taking their money.

Another thing is to have a coach. Listen to what she says; be coachable. Know that you cannot see yourself shooting. Believe me, if you already ‘know’ everything you can’t be coached.

These are only a few steps that can be beneficial. Finding ways to create challenging practice can make tournaments feel easy.

Wind, Rain, Archery and Fake News

Hurricane Florence didn’t have much of an affect on Georgia. But, she did have enough of an influence on the weather to impact archers shooting at the Georgia Archery Association State (GAA) FITA Outdoor Championship.

Saturday started out pretty good weather-wise (Photo from the GAA FaceBook page)

It has been nine months since we moved back to Georgia. This is our home State and we’d made the move from our vacation home turned permanent residence in North Carolina.

The NC home was great. Off our front deck the distance to the bulkhead was just 18 yards. The bulkhead separated our property from Little River, which feeds into the Albemarle Sound. The views and water access were amazing. Our pier and dock led us at our boatlift 50 yards from shore. It was wonderful, except for the hurricanes.

Every year we’d have some storm spinning up our river. Most years there were multiple storms. Rarely, did we have a huge amount of damage. Always there was some damage and a general clean up. Sometimes there was a real post-storm mess. As with all storms we either rode them out or we headed to the hills. It depended on the category.

Don’t recall which storm this was, but early on the rain is moving sideways and waves are starting to roll in.

Florence didn’t do much to our old place in North Carolina. Of course, we sold it in May of this year so it wouldn’t have been our problem should there have been damage. Nevertheless, we loved that place and keep tabs on the storms that might intersect with our old home. We still have friends living on the Little River and we stay in touch.

What Florence gave to the Peach State was a rainy windy day for the second half of the Georgia State Outdoor Championship. For me, it meant I wouldn’t surpass my personal best score of the 1440 possible points that could be earned over two days shooting 144 arrows. Despite the second day’s wind and rain I exceeded my lowest score finishing 8 points below my average practice score. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for when the pre-storm weather forecast suggested warm clear days and 5 mph winds. That forecast didn’t hold.

The first day was rainless and the winds were around 7 to 10 mph – not bad. Day two of the weekend tournament brought rain and wind at 8 – 14 mph with gusts up to 22 mph.

Compared to what our Tarheel friends were going through the less than ideal conditions for archery was not very meaningful. It is a coastal North Carolina fact of life that hurricanes are going to happen and they’ll often bring real damage and suffering.

During one storm when we stayed to face it, a Category 1 Hurricane that have been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, I needed to head out during the storm to save boards on my dock and pier. The water had risen to near level with the dock and pier, about four to five feet higher than normal maximum. As the waves crashed into the boards they were eventually breaking lose. Trying to stave off a loss of boards I grabbed a battery operated drill a box of deck screws donned foul weather gear and went into the tempest hopefully to save parts of my pier and dock they seemed to be fighting to escape. Walking toward the pier I thought of Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump” during a hurricane yelling to Heaven, “You call this a storm?”

After a storm with the tide and water still elevated

On the pier and dock I played a wet version of Whack-a-Mole trying to drill boards back down or pulling them free to reduce the pressure on the structure. The winds were high, waves often crested over me when I knelt to secure a board, but I didn’t lose a single board or my drill, and only a few deck screws found their way to Davey Jones’ locker. The hat I’d been wearing didn’t make it back; sadly it was a favorite that been given to me by one of my daughters. (If both of you are reading this think Christmas 2018 for a replacement.)

During Hurriance Florence as I watched some weather guy rocking back and forth being punished by unyielding wind I thought about that dock and pier. I also wonder what the weekend weather would do for the Georgia Archery Associations tournament. Still watching the reporter and wondering  I pointed out to my wife, while seeing this poor fellow on the television reporting live, that he sure seemed to be having a tough time keeping his footing. It seemed a bit exaggerated.

Archers got some  wind while shooting in that GAA tournament over the weekend. The storm was certainly a point of conversation. The weather guy’s rocking and rolling in the wind was a hot topic. Many viewers of the weather reporting had reach the conclusion that the guy was faking it.

The reporter’s performance had been inadvertently spoiled by a couple of guys calmly and easily walking around behind him oblivious to the wind impacting the reporter.

The reporter says, “It’s like being in a war zone” describing his current situation. A few yards behind him those guys seem to be in another zone.

While he is on camera there is another tale-tell sign of the actual wind speed. It was being displayed live on the upper left of the television screen. The sustained wind was 29 mph and the maximum was 42 mph.

The reporter claims the wind is at 60 mph. He’s off by 31 mph. To be fair the gusts were hitting 42 mph.

Storms have hit many people over the years. When one comes along families have to worry, leave home and pray that everything turns out for the best. For some those prayers aren’t answered in a manner they’d hoped. For others everything turns out fine. For a few that stay put to ride it out the storm becomes their last ride. Amid the real news of the impact of such storms as Florence, there is no room for make believe.

Reference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpSgdOGWOYQ

Weatherman Fakes Hurricane Conditions, Watch The Guys Behind Him!

 

Your Score Takes Care Of Itself

Among elite athletes you’d find that many of them know their competition. They understand who they compete against and their opponents’ skill level. Many of them compete against one another numerous times during one season. They all know what to expect from a competitor.

You can’t control the person you’re competing against. You can manage your scores.

When I train I like to have goals in mind. Often times one of those goals relates to points earned during a practice that simulates a competition. It allows me to do a few things.

I learn how I typically score. If I am scoring low I look for what it is I am doing incorrectly. From this I’ve learned my biggest two errors are too much heel in my grip and rushing shots.

This also trains me to read the score and forget about it. In a tournament you will see you score after every end. If you get the habit of seeing frequently seeing your score it becomes less of a mental burden. You learn to read it and release it.

Coaching tip

I do like to know how my opponents are shooting. If, for example, they are way ahead of me in the scores I have a more aggressive goal. With that in mind I might make training plans that could help me find the X more often during a specific type of shooting.

Certainly, we all want to shoot a perfect score. It is one of my current goals on a 3-spot. But, I know that it won’t come over night. I record all of my practices and view my scoring data graphically. When I complete a practice where I was simulating a 3-spot event I go back and review how I did against my previous practices.

Ideally, I’ll become so comfortable with my numbers they have minimal impact on my performance. The numbers will take care of themselves. This hit home when I was searching scores of the archers I’ll be shooting against in a few weeks.

In an outdoor competition I was shooting in a younger group – that is against archers a decade or more younger then me. I’d won 2nd place, but had no idea how far back I was before the OR. When I saw the brackets I was surprised. While I’d made it through the QR I really didn’t know how far back I was compared to the others. It didn’t matter.

Started near the bottom and finished near the top (2nd)

You will see your score during a tournament. You can’t let it get into your head. Shoot each shot using your process and trust your training. Your score will take care of itself.

Breaking Up Practice

Seventy meters is a pretty long shot. The next “A” tournament for me will have 36 of the 144 arrows fired from 70 meters. I could shoot senior rather than masters and get to shoot from 90 meters. I don’t have a lane cut through my property to accommodate 90-meter practice. I also don’t think 90-meters is a distance I’d want to shoot at a target that I’d not practiced often. So, I’ll practice at 70 meters and compete as a master.

In designing a training plan for developing comfort at 70 meters I used a 40 cm indoor target. The center ten ring is dime sized on that paper. It’s a small target. In fact, my scope’s dot covers the yellow rings when aiming at it from 70 meters.

After shooting about 1500 arrows at that small target I rolled out the big boy, 122 cm and practiced against it. The yellow ring seems large on that monster.

70 meters is a haul

Shooting 70 meters takes longer than practicing at 20 meters. It takes longer for the arrows to reach the target and longer to retrieve them before the next end. After a few days of this I decided to break up the routine.

What I did was move to 20 meters. I didn’t change from outdoor arrows to indoor. The diameter difference would mean I’d need to adjust my arrow rest to use indoor arrows. I didn’t want to fool with all of those mechanics. I did want to know how I’d score using skinny arrows at 20 meters and compare it to last year’s indoor scores using wide body arrows.

I’d done this last week at an evening indoor league shoot. For the same reasons mentioned above I didn’t switch arrows – laziness. I didn’t shoot all that well. The excuse I’m offering is that I was fatigued from the two previous practices of the day. I also wanted to see if that excuse held water. If it did, perhaps I’ll use it again.

The excuse didn’t hold a lot of water. I did shoot better during the practice at the 20-meter distance using the skinny arrows at home. The score was 12 points in favor of the less fatigued effort. Hey, 12 points is a lot at indoor distances, so maybe a little water is retained. The watered down excuse has been cataloged for future application.

The “little” target (pinned to the bag) is what I’ve been shooting for 70 meter practice. The 3-spot verticals where left-over targets I had in my garage and used for 20 meters. The big boy is the 70 meter sized target.

The bonus is that by breaking up the long distance practice I created a fun game for myself. Practicing archery alone two times a day, for 1 to 4 hours per session takes perseverance. Breaking up those sessions, while remaining focused on the next major event, can help keep the mind fresh.

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.

Georgia ASA State Championship

I camped for this tournament at Hamburg State Park

Alas, life is full of disappointment. Among them, for me at least, was this past week’s Georgia State ASA Championship. One thing that was not remotely close to disappointing is the Po Boy’s Archery 3D range near Mitchell, Georgia.

On the road to Po Boys Archery

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from my campsite

The Po Boy’s 3D range is one of the finest I’ve seen in my nearly five years (4 years, 8 months) of archery. It was such a nice range I wanted to ask if I could shoot it again for fun. I didn’t, the range was full of archers, young and mature, giving clinics on how to shoot 3D.

Smacked with two 12s and two 10s at 40 yards

The competition was so strong that if you messed up on a single shot you’d more than likely be out of the run for a first place award. That was me, only I managed it on a few shots. But, there was only one that was strictly unrecoverable – a big hog.

I have a couple pigs on my 3D practice range. The hog on range ‘A’ was honestly one of the easier targets. It was a giant of a pig at least 3 times the size of my largest and my downfall. It was sitting behind two trees which bordered it.  It was a great target. It looked so close.

I misjudged that hog by 10 yards. I knew it in the millisecond before my arrow released. And there flew any chance for a descent finish. You know, a giant hog at 38 yards looks a lot like a small pig at 28 yards – at least it did for me. Despite a very solid second round, on range ‘D,’ my tournament was over on range ‘A’ target 10. Unless there would be others that might botch a shot.

On range ‘D’, the second of the two ranges I’d been assigned, I hit seven upper 12s. I knew I’d hit them before I shot. I never called them. The fear was that if I called them I’d shoot an eight and I needed to be conservative and finish with all 10s. The hope being that the other archers in my class (Senior Hunter) would screw up. They did not provide me any help. I finished a sad third place.

These “Po Boys” put on one excellent tournament on a spectacular range

My plan going into the tournament was to finish even. Shoot for tens and maybe pull out a 12 here and there. It seemed that 2 to 4 up would win the day in the Senior Hunter class. Shooting even might even bring home a fancy belt buckle.* If I could have stuck with the plan it would have worked. If I’d shot range ‘A’ like range ‘D’ it would have worked. If I’d just shot range ‘A’ a bit tighter. If only, if only….

Yes sir, you can expect to find this little fellow somewhere between 32 yards and 38 yards these days. Our little buddy here was at 36 yards.

Believe me, these archers in Georgia aren’t going to cut anyone any slack. The average (eyeball measurement from Facebook posted scores) winning score was 8.7 up with a couple division winners hitting plus 28. If you shoot yourself into a hole there is little opportunity to dig back out.

Mike, another archer, also camped at Hamburg State Park. We met as we were leaving.

Once again, there’s next year.

I’ll return to Hamburg State Park
  • As it turned out shooting even would have won the Senior Hunter division.  It is a tough class with a 40 yard maximum yardage, using a hunting rig, and at unknown distances. The winner took the prize at 8 down.