Changing Bows Before a Big Tournament

Last year I purchased a bow specifically for target shooting.  During practices I’ve had some decent scores with the bow.  In tournaments, it has been another story.

Yesterday, during practice, using the target bow, I wasn’t shooting badly.  However, I wasn’t shooting what I felt was going to reach my average score.  I stopped shooting, took the sight, scope, and stabilizers off the target bow and out it on my 3D bow.

I’ve not shot the 3D bow too often since last year and it took a few ends to get the feel of it with the longer stabilizers.  After practice I compared the scores.  The non-target bow ended up scoring 5 points higher.  While that might not be statistically significant, it could be extremely important in an archery tournament.  I’ve lost more tournaments by a point than I care to think about. Heck, I’ve lost three with the same points as the winner. Twice I had the same X-count as the winner as well. Of those, I ended up losing by a one by a single arrow closest to the center shoot off. Another time I lost to the inner X count, and once to a one-arrow X margin.  Those were hard loses.

Thus far, in tournaments, I’ve never set a personal best. In other sports competition is where all my personal bests were established.  Adrenaline may help in running or cycling, but it isn’t a friend to the archer.  In archery, anything than can help to reduce excitement and calm the performer can be a benefit.  Maybe going with a different bow that feels a little trustworthier will help over the next two days.

I suppose I know pretty soon.

Another Tough Tournament Done

Coming into the Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association/NFAA Sectional I felt it would be a tight contest. I expected podium places would often come down to the X count and even the inner X.  I was right.

I heard the official talking as they were tallying the scores.  One commented that, “I think scores like this should be settled by a shoot-off rather than the inner X count.”

I’d gathered at two archers had scored the same points for a 1stplace finish and had the same number of Xs.  Choosing the winner was going to come down to the inner X count. Essentially, which archer’s Xs were, by a judgment call, closer to the center based on how a group counted the center or inner Xs. Little did I know.

For the second tournament in two weeks I’m busted down a level based on Xs.  Well, in this case, the inner Xs.  My score and the ultimate winner’s score were the same, our X count, the same and while the inner X score wasn’t posted, I must assume he had more inner Xs than me –it would have taken only one. (A measurement of less than a millimeter would do it). It is a hard way to lose.

No points separated the 1stand 2ndplace (or Xs) and only one point between that score and 3rd.  It was tight.

Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association / NFAA Sectionals

Day 1: Things where going really well.  Then, they weren’t.

If you are unfamiliar with an NFAA Indoor competition in archery, archers standing 20 yards away, shoot at 5 targets per end. In other words, archers shoot 5 arrows, stop, wait, score, wait some more, shoot 5 more arrows, and repeat until 60 arrows have been shot.  For two lines of archers that takes about three and a half hours. Oh, then all of it is repeated the next day.

This is what a 5-spot looks like. Well trained arrows should stick into the target in this manner.

The maximum score is 300 hundred points per day in this type of tournament. 300 isn’t an uncommon score. Winning typically comes down to the X count.  And, the X count is often divided into inner X versus outer X. The arrow landing inside the middle of the X ring and not touching the outer edge of the X ring counts as an inner X and is scored by putting a circle around the X on the scorecard. Sometimes, the scores are the same, the X count is the same and the winner is decided from the count of those inner Xs (The archer coming closest to the exact center more often than the opponent.)

I was rolling along heading for a 300 when this arrow seemingly decided to shoot itself.  Now, that happens a good bit with me and today was no different.  All the other times those independently acting arrows ended up in a good place. But, this one time, well the arrow being somewhat new remains untrained and I lost a point.  Believe me, 299 is not the score I was aiming for.

Of course, I had about 15 more arrows to shoot when the “event” occurred.  And sure enough everything was fine after that occurrence.  Yep, in archery one mistake can screw up your entire day.

Archery: 10% mental and 90% trying not to quit.

 

Another archery tournament, another road trip.  

Traveling to archery competitions can be rough when staying in a hotel.  Making the trip using a camper and staying at a State Park is significantly better. At the moment, I’m camped at the George L. Smith State Park in Twin City, Georgia.

The park is about 45 minutes from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia.  That’s where this weekend’s shoot is taking place. There was a tournament at GSU two weeks ago and I stayed at a hotel for that event.  The hotel was nice, one of the Hilton properties, but it was still a box.

The tournament tomorrow and Sunday is an indoor 5-spot State Championship and NFAA Sectional.  I know the folks I’ll be shooting against.  I expect any score outside of 300 per day will fail to make it to the top.  This tournament will likely come down to X count and maybe even inner Xs versus outer Xs.

Whether I finish on the podium or not, what I can say is this Georgia State Park makes the trip worthwhile.

Georgia State Indoor Championship

It started badly.  The first arrow – 7.

In all honestly, I can’t recall the last time I shot a seven.  That is, if I don’t think about last Sunday at the Georgia Southern University Sport Shooting Center. And there it was as big as life, arrow 1, end 1, points 7. (The next two arrows were fine)

Shooting one bad arrow doesn’t necessary mean you can’t manage a good finish in an archery tournament. Nope, now that I’ve written that sentence, no –if you shoot one bad arrow you’ll pretty much be done, at least against the boys I compete against.

If you shoot a bad shot, your only reprieve is hoping: 1) you don’t do it again, and 2) everyone else in our division returns the favor.  You really only have control over item number 1.

There are quite a few fellas here in Georgia I know will be stubborn with their points. We all get 600 point to start; it becomes a matter of how many you can keep.

Sure enough, neither did much to return my favor. On the line that morning there was one guy that I knew would be tough – Bob.

Sure enough, Bob was tough. He tried to help me a couple of times and we finished tied.  He beat me on the X count.  As we were turning our scores in he asked about the other shooters in our division. (Bob was looking at a Gold medal)

There was still a whole bunch more shooting before any victory could be claimed.  I answered Bob’s inquiry about the other archers, “There’s David from over in Atlanta,” I told him, “He could easily outscore us.”

I’ve been watching David at other tournament.  He’s hard to miss; he’s about six feet and seven inches tall.  The rumor is he was a competitive archer for 27 years, took a little time off, and started back training last year.  Or he was a competitive archer 27 years ago and has picked up the sport again.  Either way he can shoot a bow. Sure enough, he shot on the last line of the day and took the Gold.

I know David and Bob are great archers.  I’ve seen them shoot, looked at their past scores and realize that giving them any points isn’t smart.  Despite every other arrow I shot being either a nine or a ten, I ended up third.

Congratulations to David and Bob.

Doubling Up On Coaches

You know when you’ve taken your skill as an athlete as far as you can alone.  You are probably self-coached, like most athletes.  The top pros in most sports have coaches even though they are at the highest levels.

Last year, I was entirely self-coached.  Prior to that I’d retained a level 4 USA coach for help.  In hindsight he wasn’t much help. Personally, I think coaching physically challenged him.  He wasn’t in good health and I think he’s expired.

When we moved to Georgia, there has been no coach until now.  Now, I have two coaches. One coach is for archery the other is a mental coach.

I’ve got this friend that won the Ironman World Championship a number of times without a coach.  I know another Ironman World Champion that relied heavily on coaches.  I don’t really know any World Champion archers on the same level.  I’ve met some fellows that have won archery World Championships and have trained with one.  But, the acquaintances are all superficial.  As such, I don’t know if they use coaches although I’ve heard one of them had his coach move in with his family early in his career.

In fact, I am a coach. There’s a wide gap between being the athlete and being the coach.  In my head I understand what to do to hit an X.  In coaching practice I can watch an archer for a few minutes and have an idea of how they’ll perform.  But, I can’t see me.

As a result, I’ve gotten pretty good with a bow.  Still, I think I can be better, hence doubling up on coaches.  I’ll give this a year and see how it goes.

“On a warm summer’s eve……”

The ASA Super Senior Known class is where I wanted to compete in 3D during 2019.  That just ain’t going to happen.

For USA archery style competition I have a target bow.  Speed of arrows is not a major concern.  The distance is always known. Well pretty close depending on how meticulous the range is set.  In a sport where millimeters matter we all have elevation adjustments to compensate for slight variance in distance.

That target bow will be used throughout the 3D season during non-3D events.  The bow can be switched back and forth to manage skinny or wide arrows. But, practicing dots in the morning then 3D in the afternoon and making switches, tweaks, and turns multiple times a day is a waste of time.  Having two bows, one for 3D and one for dots is ideal.

The 3D bow used for competition in 2018 was set up for hunter class.  There is a short stabilizer and a pin sight on it.  In 2018 I competed in the Senior Hunter Class (archers mostly in their 50s. I never shot against anyone in 3D last year older than me.) Most of the archers in my age group seemed to be competing in the Super Senior class (60 – 69 years old.) I wanted to shoot with them in 2019.  After I considered the additional expense to convert my hunter class rig to match the equipment in the Super Senior class the idea was abandoned.

To compete against those archers would mean a new rest, stabilizers, weights, sight and a scope.  The good stuff could end up costing a heap of money. Once the price tag became visible the Senior Hunter Class summoned me home to a cost savings category.

Using what I’ve got on hand, a cost effective proposition, all I’d do is reset the old 3D bow for fatter non-hunting arrows and compete using the older bow in the Senior Hunter Class for 2019.  Sure, the arrows float off the rest when I release them.  The 3D bow isn’t exactly a fast 3D specific bow.  It is more of a one bow does most type of rig.  Part of the fun for others  shooting with me is being able to watch the arch of my arrow.  It is a rare sight from 20 yards to actually see the arrow’s arch.  At forty yards, people have photographed the flight of my arrow using their smart phones.

You think I’m joking – perhaps just a little.  However, I kid you not, this has been said to me during a 3D tournament, “I love watching you shoot, I can really see the arch of your arrows.” Yes, I am using a compound bow. But, after you’ve watched arrows zoom off at nearly 300 fps then you see a launch at 246 fps, the difference looks extreme. In my case, yardage judgement needs to be just right.  Otherwise, you’d see my arrows fly toward a target then appear to just drop out of the air.

It would be fun to compete in the Super Senior Division.  I could with a hunting rig but it would be a waste of entry fee money.  Super Seniors with target 3D rigs have a distinct advantage. While I’m pretty good at 3D, I’m no fool.  Shooting against the Super Seniors around here with a hunting rig would be like drag racing using my 2006 Ford F-150.  I’d get to the finish line but that would be about it.

Using that old 3D bow, today, I needed to set my elevation and windage for the arrows that I’ll use next weekend in my first 2019 Senior Hunter Class competition.  It was not a good day for precision work.

First of all it was really cold.  Cold doesn’t stop me.  Cold isn’t fun.  Plus, it is hard to be precise wearing every article of clothing you own all at once. For example, my right arm feels funny because I can’t fully draw being limited by short sleeve t-shirts, thermal t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirts, regular shirts, sweaters, vests, and a down filled jacket.  Along with the cold that has descended there’s a 40 mph wind which has joined the mix. Archery, precision, 26°F temperature and 40 mph wind is not a friendly combination. Still, I waddled out to the range moving like the Michelin Man.

The first pin to check was the 20 yards pin.  I started at 10 yards – just in case.  It wasn’t long before the song in my head went from “Eye of the Tiger” to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.

For the record, I lasted nearly an hour until I walked away:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

I’ll get the bow just right later in the week.  Until then, I’ll practice shooting dots on an indoor range.

Ranked Number 1

The Georgia Archery Association has published the ranking of archers for the State for 2018.  I finished in the top spot.

No, I was not the only athlete in my division. (I can sense sarcasm over the Internet)

There are a whole lot of Georgia archers in the 60 age group. Believe me, those guys that have been shooting for 40 or more years are not going to miss often. Great competition improves everyone’s game. I’m lucky to live in an area where there are so many top facilities, archers and coaches. Thanks, y’all!

Ranked #1

Distractions

Two scores – vastly different.  Each practice was against a Vegas style 3-spot scoring the inner ten.  There was a drop of 4.12% between the scores. One day resulted in 42 tens, the next 21 tens.  That’s huge drop. What happened?

Day one the good day – zero distractions to take away from archery.  Day two – music, a timer, and a break to play with dogs.  Although, the dogs aren’t much of a distraction, they’re good dogs and mostly remain quiet during shooting. The music and the timer, well that’s another matter.

During USA Archery tournaments there is music and a timer.  Without a doubt both can be distractions.  A good song comes over the air and it floats through your head.  You glance at the timer to see you first two shots took longer than usual or less time than usual.  It distracts.

Coaching tip

“Practice the way you compete,” says my coach Big John Chandler.  Adhering to that policy during many practices there will be music playing and a timer ticking. Both of these elements of competition are distractions until you learn that they’re not.

We know that there will be a distraction or two during competition.  If you don’t “Practice the way you compete” little things like a timer and music may impact competitive performance.

Dealing With a Poor Performance

In any sport athletes have good performances, better performances, and days they seem to be able to do nothing right.  Those poor performance days decrease as an athlete begins to excel in their sport. For the best athletes in any field a bad day can still seem amazing to most amateurs and fans.

It happens to everyone that toils away in hopes of perfection.  It happens across every disciple from sports to business.  Make a poor decision in business is can literally cost you.

One of my best friends is the CEO and President of a medical device company.  He has a personal policy that he never signs a contract when he is  sleepy, has had a drink or is angry.  It’s a good policy.  It helps avoid those bad day blunders.  He can hold off a bit signing a contract.  As an athlete, you’re not going to be able to push back a tournament, match, race or game because you may be sleepy or angry and certainly you’d not be competing with alcohol in your system.  But, sooner or later you’re going to mess up during competition.

Occasionally, we all find ourselves in a bind.  We’ve messed up a shot, botched a sprint, or struck out with bases loaded.  A friend of mine shared a lesson he learned from Jack Nicklaus, the golfer, of how he handles those moments where things don’t go as planned.

My friend, Tim Simpson, a senior golf pro that now plays the Champions Tour having aged though the PGF and other tours, shared what Nicklaus had said.

Tim at the 2009 Senior Pro Tour

Nicklaus was being interviewed by ESPN along with Simpson.  He said, “I know I’ll have an occasional bogey. What matters is how I play through it.”

Last year I watched a top archer do poorly on a 3D target during an important tournament.  It was a totally screwed up shot. Until that point he was leading.  After that target he’d dropped out of the money.

He moved on to the final six targets landing six 11s in a row. Another archer commented, “Man, that is the best recovery I’ve ever seen.”

The recovered archer didn’t win; the error had been too great among a strong field.  He ended up third by one point. But, that final run of perfection was amazing to witness.  Had the poor shot gotten deeply into his head, well he could have easily found himself off the podium.

Know that as an athlete you’ll have sporting moments that might be the equivalent of  “brain farts.”  There will also be times when you’ll come through an event golden.  Along the away, you’ll need to learn to work though those “brain farts”. As you improve you’ll see that those “farts” aren’t as smelly was they once were.