That Picture from the Event

Throughout my sporting activities there have been loads of pictures taken of the events where I competed. In running and triathlon races they’re always a pile of photographers snapping shots in hopes those digitalized athletes will exchange money for the memory.

I good friend of mine was a professional photographer and he’s often come to races where I’d entered and take pictures. Some of them were of me.

At the IBO World Championships, one year, I’m pretty sure photographers where on the ranges snapping up images they sold. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure.

During that tournament, I looked over the photographs available to review at a booth with a computer at the ready to search for pictures of yourself. My search proved empty. I moved on without further inquiry.

There are a few pictures of me on this website, mostly taken by my wife unless the image is of me is some race. In that case, I probably bought the ego-enriching photo.

What I can say about archery is that I rarely make the cut for a picture unless my wife takes it. I did, however, finally make to cut at the Georgia Archery Association 25-Meter Indoor Championship, this past weekend in Statesboro, Georgia.

The tournament had around 152 archers competing. At the Facebook page where the organizers said we could find our pictures that I checked.  I discovered there are 257 pictures of the event. That’s nearly a 2:1 picture per archer ratio. It seemed the odds of finding myself at full draw, looking determined and dashing were pretty good.

Scanning the 257 pictures it was clear that whoever captured them knew what they were doing with a camera. There were some excellent shots. In one the fellow shooting directly to my front was shown a full draw in perfect form. In another the lady behind me, a bare bow archer, is seen, bow in hand, gazing downrange, in silent contemplation.

Alas, there is no glorious close up of me with bow in hand projecting an air of professional athleticism. On the other hand, neither is there a ruined image of me with a finger up my nose. However, there is one picture where I made the cut. (See below)

Look closely, at the end of the line, under the letter ‘n’ in the word ‘center’ you’ll notice a sleeveless elbow. That’s me.

Georgia State 25-meter Championship

It feels like a long time between major archery tournaments. The last one was an outdoor championship in September – the 15th and 16th to be exact. Since then there have been a few league shoots. This weekend, finally, there is a major tournament in the State.

Georgia Southern University

The Georgia State 25-meter Championships is today at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. I’ve never shot a 25-meter tournament. So, this is pretty cool. A bonus is that the competition is being held at the Georgia Southern University Shooting Center.

Georgia Southern’s Shooting center

There are 149 archers competing as of December 6th. So, when I say major tournament, I am speaking on a State level. This tournament isn’t like a National Championship or a Vegas sized competition.

Most hotel rooms remind me of a box

I drove from our home near Athens, Georgia for this Statesboro, Georgia shoot a day before the Championship. On this trip I didn’t travel with my RV. The weather forecast is for rain, ice and a little snow. Not the idea conditions for pulling an RV. It will mean two nights in a hotel.

Regardless the outcome, and despite the hotel stay, competing at 25-meters seems like it will be a lot of fun.

Well, it is the bow.

There seemed to be something off during my last competition. In fact, my arrow placement has been dropping. It was so bad during last week’s tournament I shot two eights at 18 meters.The last tournament was scored with the inner ten equaling 11 points. Despite a recent slump I was optimistic.  Before long it was apparent something was clearly amuck.

Things started pretty good but didn’t last. Before I’d shot nine arrows I knew the monkey was on my back. My arrows were flying all over the place. My first thought was that I’d hit rock bottom. My second thought was that something was wrong with my equipment.

The equipment should be fine. It had been checked out in the previous week. Still, when I got home I took my stabilizers and scope off my Elite Victory X and put them on my Elite Energy 35. Low and behold – the arrows were landing more or less where I wanted them to land.

The arrows are Easton 2018s. The Victory X is a 60lb bow set up for around 54 lbs. The Elite Energy is a 50 lbs. bow giving me 52 lbs. I’d shot 2014s with the bows in the past and moved over to a stiffer arrow few weeks ago. With the Victory things had been looking good. Then, things didn’t look so good.

At last year’s Georgia 50 meter State Championship, I was training with the Victory. Prior to the Championship I went back to the Energy and won the event setting a new State record. I did the same for the next outdoor tournament and again set a new record* using the Energy. When shooting the Victory the arrows just seem to shift. I’d have to adjust windage when there was no wind.

Following that I took the Victory to the local bow shop where I’d purchased the bow explaining that something seemed off with the bow. I also contacted Elite looking for help. Elite didn’t respond.

Indeed, the limbs had somehow loosened and one was no longer matching the other. Corrections were taken and the bow performed well. Well, for a short while.

This latest problem was soon chased back to the bow. The Victory, set at 54 lbs. was tested and found to have a draw weight of 46 lbs. Forty-six pounds from a bow that has a maximum draw weight of 60 is seriously out of whack. At the Indoor Nationals last year (the tournament for which I’d bought the bow) during bow check in I discovered the bow had dropped the poundage. I’d assumed it was a variance between measuring devices.

The Victory X is a nice bow. Mine is nine months and 5 days old. I shoot about 100 arrows a day on average. My Victory X seems to have some issue with staying tight.

The recent discovered change in draw weight isn’t the first time – it is now the third. The first, I blamed it on variance of measuring devices. The second time, well no fault was assigned. This third time, well it is the bow. The third time is also the charm.

Today, while practicing, I had to pause and tighten the locking screws that are on the sides of the limb pockets. At this point I have no idea why this bow gets loose. But, I do hope it can hold together long enough to compete this weekend.

*Unofficial record. No higher score can be found online and I have contacted the State officials to verify – they’ve not yet responded.

 

Something has clearly gone afoul

Heading out early on Saturday morning I was on the way to practice at Ace Hardware’s Indoor Archery range in Social Circle, GA. The weather has been sort of tough for practicing outside. So, I’d purchased a month’s supply of practice time on the range. The temperature wasn’t bad on this morning; it was the downpour of rain that herded me inside. (The forecast was for 3-5 inches over the next several hours)

Arriving at the range I was surprised to discover the parking lot nearly full. It isn’t too much of a surprise; Ace’s archery pro-shop is often really busy, especially on the weekend.

Collecting my gear, heading into the building, it was pretty much packed with people. Seriously, there was minimal space to simply walk. A voice called out in my direction, “What are you doing here?” asked a friend. “I came to practice,” was my reply.

It turned out there was a tournament underway. Warm-up was just started and I figured I’d sign up if there was room. Seemed like a great form of practice and I got the last unassigned lane.

I got assigned a great spot to shoot from, 8D. There was a lefty in 7D – ideal. As an aside that lefty is ranked number one in the world. He’d just returned from competing in Argentina. I was pleased to be able to compare my shooting to his.

Ace is a great place to shoot and just down the road.

Well, I was pleased for the comparison at the beginning. What started off to be a decent performance soon dropped into the depth of near embarrassment. To be fair, I wasn’t bouncing arrows off the floor or sticking them into the ceiling. But, I did fire off two eights and a boatload of nines. There was a fair share of X’s and 10s at the beginning, but those shots migrated to the lower scoring rings after short time.

After a few days of trying to figure out what went wrong, I remain at a loss. The day after the failure to win, I took a critical look at form and equipment. I did discover the lens of my scope had rattled loose and my rear stabilizer had shifted a tad. Neither of those minor conditions should have led to an eight, much less two eights. What I do know is that my average scores have dropped from around 290 (small ten ring, 30 arrows) to around 280 over the past 10 days. Ten days ago I’d moved my 30-arrow goal to 295, now I’m messing around with 280s. What is just as concerning is that over the last 1000 arrows I’ve shot three eights. Something has clearly gone afoul.

The day after the poorly executed tournament I took a critical look at my equipment. It seemed okay, but I’m not 100% certain there isn’t an issue with the limbs of my target bow. That concern will need to be addressed by a professional bow technician.

At any rate, there is one more practice league competition, and one more major practice session before heading out to Statesboro, Georgia for the State 25-meter championship at Georgia Southern University. There are also two easy practices and on rest day scheduled for the week. After that, I’ll have to be as ready as I’ll be for Saturday’s big event.

Archery Fans’ Signs

In my current issue of Runner’s World magazine they had an article that pictured lots of signs held by fans lining marathon courses. Marathons were never my favorite distance. I only ran them to train for Ironman races where we had to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112 miles. A single event like a marathon was essentially a fun way to train.

All marathons are different. The distance remains the same but each race is unique. The distance isn’t the only constant; there are always thousands, if not tens of thousands of fans watching the race. At the Tokyo marathon a few years ago (yes Japan) the course was literally packed with fans. The noise was incredible. Like all the other marathons I’ve run Japan had another constant of the race – fans with signs.

I couldn’t read the Japanese signs. For the most part I couldn’t understand what was being said around me. I had the same problem racing or training in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. Usually, I’d find someone that spoke English and that person was a prize. But, in every race, no matter where, there were signs.

I love that about sports, that fans come out and watch us suffer while often providing a bit of humor is wonderful. That is except for archery.

I did a search for signs by fans of archery. I found one. Apparently the Koreans are less inhibited than other fans and produced signs in support of their champion Park. (I can’t show it. The sign, while available in the public domain, came with a copyright warning.  Typical.)

Signs for runners aren’t necessarily going to support a champion, at least in the sense of the race winner. They support runners in general or a runner in specific. My wife, Brenda, at the Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii, drew me a sign on the road with chalk. I hadn’t known she’d done it but I saw it. It was a small thing in the grand scheme of a lifetime together but I haven’t forgotten the gesture.

There may be a sign or two at major archery tournaments, but they have eluded my search. I think fans with signs supporting their favorite archer is a good thing and it is sad we don’t see them. I think it is great when fans of a sport make and hold up signs that are non-athlete specific and are meant to support everyone.

Some signs I read along a racecourse have stuck with me and I was thankful to have read them. Of course, archery judges or more stoic observers of the sport might not welcome some of the signs held up by rabid running or triathlon fans should similar signs migrate to archery.

Still, I remain in favor of fans enjoying archery even if enthusiastic ones held signs over their heads that might be a distracting to serious minded, stone faced, fans, competitors and officials of the sport. For me, the signs have always been refreshing and welcomed.

Time to Give the Senior Division a Shot?

As 2019 approaches and tournaments begin to open there is the matter of which division to shoot. A goal, when I started shooting a bow, was to migrate from the Masters division to the Senior. That move would be based on my scores. (In archery Senior is the group between 21 and 49 years old.  Masters are over 50 years old.)

Archery is one of two sports where age isn’t a tremendous factor. For example, if I were training for a triathlon the consideration to compete against a 25 year old would be out of the question. In archery I compete against opponents less than half my age all the time. However, I’ve not yet made the shift to a younger group in any major event.

At the moment I am preparing for the USA National Indoor Championship. I’ve not yet entered – entry for my area isn’t available at the moment. In the meantime we have a 25-meter State Championship in ten days time. I’ve entered that as a Master.

My rolling average is creeping toward 600

The internal debate of Senior versus Master Division is a matter of confidence. I suppose it can’t be truly earned by simply comparing scores. It will come from head to head competition and a bit of guts.

It Takes Time

November 1st  (2018) marked 5 years of shooting a bow for me. Sixty months isn’t such a long time. During these past sixty months USA archery changed the way we score a 3-spot. That is, we changed from scoring 10s and Xs to only the X ring equaling 10 points. The sport got tougher and it is taking longer to achieve a level of expertise than I’d initially guessed.

When I began shooting this would have scored as 30 points or X,X 10. Today it is X,X, 9 or 29 points.

The smaller ten ring (inner ten)  makes scoring a perfect 600 tougher. Heck, scoring a 600 using the old scoring method remains tough. I’ve not yet shot a 600 using either scoring method. I’ve come close scoring the old 10 ring. Last week I shot 599. It was going well until the last six arrows. With six arrows to go I shot 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10. On the old larger ten ring mind you.

Inner 10 scores over the past three years. (There are data like this in a 3D file, 50-meter file, 5-spot file, etc.)

The little ten or inner ten or X ring, whatever you want call it this dime sized 10 point ring remains the same in size. But, the outer ten is now only worth nine points. At 18-meters (20 yards) a dime is a small target. The thing is I thought I’d been shooting with a bit more accuracy after 5 years.

A steeper slope would have been nice

When I began shooting arrows I thought it would be pretty much like switching from cycling to duathlon. That was pretty easy. All I needed to do was start running. I could already ride a bike and had won all sorts of prizes racing bicycles in the US and Europe.

Run like you’re being chased

Sure enough duathlon moving along pretty rapidly and I earned a spot on the USA Team to the World Duathlon Championship about a year after I picked up running. When I added swimming, part of the plan to become a triathlete, I learned swimming was not a strong discipline for me.

A few years ago (@2011). This triathlon was in the fall in Cambridge, Maryland. The water was cold.

Still, I did well in shorter triathlons where I didn’t lose so much time during the swim. Eventually, I moved up in swimming from the slowest 25 percentile to the upper (faster) 25 percentile. I even brought my long distance, 2.4-mile swim (Ironman distance) down to around an hour.

2007 ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon

Transfer talent from cycling to triathlon wasn’t all that difficult particularly competing in my age group. Archery, however, is another matter. There are some elements of sport that do transfer such as determination and discipline. The mental focus is, in my opinion, different. Archery requires a mental effort unlike that of racing an Ironman.

By looking at a rolling average I can set goals. A goal was to average 290 points out of 300 or 580 out of six hundred. Now that I’ve hit that goal I reset the goal to 295 or 590.

Archery excellence or at least elite level performance based on scores and winning, is going to take time. Five years into this sport I’d hoped to be further along. It can be frustrating. Thankfully, I have data that shows progress, even though part of the progression included making the ten ring smaller.

 

Another State Record – Maybe

A couple of months ago I won an outdoor archery tournament. I shot it in my age group. I did well and won. I’d been practicing the distances required for the tournament, 70 meters, 60 meters, 50 meters and 30 meters for weeks. I finished 101 points over the 2nd place finisher.

The event was a state championship. I looked over the results from prior years. It seemed I’d broken the old record. That is unofficial since I was only searching for scores on the Internet. But, from the scores available it seemed like a new record.

I asked the organizers, via email, whether my score was a new record a few times. I never received a reply. In a previous outdoor event at 50 meters I did set a new record. I decided then that where I set records I’d compete in the subsequent year in the senior division.

I don’t know if my score was an official record – well it isn’t since no one from the organization that ran the event notified me of a record. But, next year I will shoot in the senior division.

You’re Never Going to Beat Us

Decades ago I had a decent triathlete give me a slam. I was out of shape having not raced in years. I’d spent a lot of time after I finished racing bicycles to finish my college education. I wasn’t in horrible shape; I was certainly not as fit as the group I was training with on that day.

The comment really pissed me off. I got my racing form back in short order. Afterwards, when I trained with that group I did my best to repay the insult.

Riding a bicycle I used that slight to push me harder when training with those riders. Oddly, in archery, a few months after I picked up a bow I was practicing 3D with a group of close friends. I was an outsider. I wasn’t doing very well; it had been only a few months since I’d picked up archery.

One of the archers said to me, “Just shoot you own game, you’ll never beat us.” I remember that comment. It was loud enough that anyone nearby could have overheard. I considered it rude. I held my tongue knowing that nothing I might say would make any difference.

I don’t see those fellows any longer. Most were fine men. The guy that made the rude comment was nice even if a bit arrogant. I may never see them again. So, I’ll never really know whether the comment was accurate. Well, maybe.

Those guys compete exclusively in IBO fashion 3D. I wondered, what were their recent scores at major IBO events. I checked.

These guys are certainly good shooters. Overall, their average score is 9.32 points per arrow from 35 yards maximum distance. Individually, they scored on average: 9.52, 9.56, 9.22 and 8.98 points per arrow. Like I said, these guys aren’t bad. They’re just not great.

Then, I checked my 3D scores. I excluded the few IBO scores I have since those where just too low and I was truly a beginner. I was interested in the past two years. That allowed me some time to learn to shoot a bow – two years.

Another factor I can’t control for is distance; I have been shooting ASA style. Using the classes where a rangefinder was not allowed I shot at a maximum distance of either 40 or 45 yards. My average score is 9.89. Not bad, but certainly not great.

I have no doubt I can beat those guys today. But, unlike the cycling, I don’t care nearly so much as I did after the triathletes comment.

Daylight Saving Time and Archery Practice

Try this once you’ve gotten your body accustom to daylight saving time: Go to bed one hour later than usual. Wake up at your usual time. Go to bed at your usual time. Wake up an hour earlier. (Yes, of course not on the same night.)

Which one makes your feel more sluggish? If you’re like most folk the latter of the two sleep pattern disruptions makes you more sluggish. That’s why we often feel out of sorts when we switch to daylight saving time. It is also way falling back often seems harder than springing forward. (Aside from the bonus hour in the spring)

Last night we made the switch and fell back. I was optimistic that it might not be as awful this year as all of those in the past. Nope, I felt like crap.

Getting through morning archery practice was pretty miserable. I considered ditching the workout. I didn’t, I trudged through it.

There will be archery tournaments that may require you to shoot without having a perfect night’s sleep. It is good practice to continue your training when you’ve simply had a poor night’s rest. You’ll gather information on how you’ll perform and be able to consider techniques that will aid you making corrections.

Coaching tip

For example, when your shooting is off because of poor sleep, you may make shots where your form is sloppy. Understanding that you’re not physically worn out, rather you are shooting while a bit sleep deprived can help you pause and figure out what to do. In this case, slow down, work through the shot process and trust your training. You’ll need to dig deep to focus on the shot process and not get lazy.

It’s easy to make sloppy shots when you’ve missed some sleep before a practice. You don’t have the tournament adrenaline rush to boost you up. Still, lack of sleep not withstanding, do your practice, concentrate on each arrow and mentally override that momentary disruption in sleep pattern.

Professional athletes who travel  learn to make this mental adjustment needed to deal with disrupted sleep. Think of yourself as a professional who is continually competing in different time zones. When that day comes and you need to have this skill you’ll be glad you practiced it.