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.

Two Points

Two points is the difference between shooting my Black Eagle Challenger arrows and Carbon Express arrows. One point can be the difference between first place and second in a 3D tournament. At this weekend’s upcoming ASA Georgia State 3D Championship; I’ll not be able to fire off my Black Eagle arrows.

I’ve got plenty of the Black Eagle arrows. Some are only the shafts; others have busted nocks and ripped vanes. Two weeks ago I dropped off seven of these arrows or shafts to have them readied for the upcoming shoot and ordered a package of extra nocks. I kept five for practice while I traveled.

By the time I finished my travel those five Black Eagles that made the trip didn’t completely survive the practices. None of the shafts got busted but I lost three nocks and the vane off of one of the other arrows. That left me one intact arrow. No problem, I had seven more to pick up that should have been perfect. Those arrows along with a package of extra nocks would me sitting just right.

When I arrived at the shop to pick up my arrows is where I learned they weren’t ready. They were also not going to be ready before I left town for the 3D championship.

The Carbon Express arrows are old. I bought them three years ago in Pittsburgh. I’d had a dozen and have eight remaining. They’d have to work.

The Carbon Express is not fat (23) like the Black Eagle. Typically, I don’t get too many line cutters. The arrow is either on or off the mark. Still, I’ll end up getting a few extra points thanks to a wider diameter arrow.

Yesterday, in practice, there was one shot where a slightly wider arrow would have made a two-point difference. I guess I’ll need to be on this weekend.

Trying to Get a Handle 3D

9.5, that’s my average for the two 3D competitions I’ve entered in 2018. 9.5 is not a great average. I’ve been shooting in the senior hunter class aiming at unknown distances.  The Georgia ASA State Championship is in a few weeks. I have no idea how my average score compares the other 15 qualified seniors (50 year old group) are performing here in the Peach State.

There are lots of people who say don’t worry about the score. Certainly, there is no need to worry. You go out and do your best. “The score will take care of itself,” to quote Coach Pete Carroll of the Seahawks.

Still, is good to have some idea of how the people you’ll be against against are performing whether it is archery or professional football. You then know what to expect and it provides you a scoring goal. Yes, you’ll try to shoot all 12s. I won’t. There will be times I’ll not risk going for a 12. There will, also, be times I’ll shoot an eight and hopefully not have any fives.

Having no idea what to expect at the upcoming State Championship I reviewed the top three scores from all the ASA Pro/Am tournaments for 2018 among the Senior Hunters. It is 10.1. My average score wouldn’t have landed me in the top 10 among this year’s ASA Pro/Am events.

A few variables I don’t know might make a difference. Those are the terrain and distance. I’ve shot the ASA Pro/Am in Augusta and know that course is mostly flat. It seems the distances weren’t outrageously long. This far for 2018 it seems the local events are rolling hills and lavish use of real estate. As best as I’ve recorded the mean distance for local hunter targets has been between 31 and 33 yards.

I don’t like going into a tournament cold, meaning not having a clue how the other guys are shooting. Coach Carroll may advocate not worrying about the score, but I bet he is real clear on how his team, the Seattle Seahawks, matches up against their opponents on any given game day.

 

3D in Shady Dale

There were only two shots out of twenty under 30 yards. One target at 22 yards and the other at 26 yards. They were my worst two shots of the day. Aside from those two shots, ones I wanted back immediately, it was a long day. By long I don’t mean time spent shooting.

In a recent post I noted that in the bowhunter class 3D targets seem to be stretched. My comments didn’t sit well with some folks that seemed to feel affronted by my review of that particular range. Of course, no offense was intended. Like mama taught me,”It is not what you say, it is how you said it.” Perhaps I wrote the prior summary without the correct finesse. In that post I’d noted that faux animals in the bowhunter class seem to be getting further away from the stakes.

I’ve competed in the Pro Bowhunter Division at an IBO World Championship. The equipment in that class was limited to pins, short stabilizer, and no magnification on the sight. The maximum distance was 50 yards. Essentially, what I’m saying is that I am not afraid of long shots. The absence of fear doesn’t equate to accuracy of an arrow.

To be fair I’ve shot 3D using a target bow rig with all the fancy thingamajigs allowed on a bow. But, last year I switched back to pins and a hunting rig to shoot 3D. Why? Because that’s how I hunt with a bow. I thought it might be fun to shoot 3D with a hunting bow set up for hunting. And it is. I got to test the rig again on Saturday in Shady Dale, Georgia at an ASA State Qualifier.

Met a new friend on the range

I got lucky and was able to hitch a range ride in a group where I knew everyone. There were three excellent shooters using target bows from known distances, Steve, Butch, and Austin. Butch’s son Luke was in the group and he was using a bowhunter rig.

Easy prey at 37 yards

Luke may be all of eight years old. He was tearing it up on the range. His bow doesn’t have a whole lot of speed or power but he was smacking mostly tens with a few twelves and a few eights. For a little guy he did have a quick wit.

On one shot his arrow hit high and bounced off the target. We all saw the shot and knew his score for that target. However, when one of the scorekeepers, Steve, asked, “What was it” referring to the score, it was Luke who spoke up first. As straight-faced and serious sounding as he’d been all day, he replied, “Oh, that was a twelve.” He knew as we all did it wasn’t a twelve. The entire group caught the intended humor. “Yep, “ someone replied, “he’s an archer.”

The most impressive shooting of the day was by a 15 year old in our group, Austin. With one target to go he was 20 up shooting from known 45. On the last target he scored a 10 and it was the highest score on that 26-yard target.

This was 38 yards for the fellows shooting known 45. For me is was a very reachable 32 yards. (Steve here at the stake)

That target was a hyena sitting in a completely dark hole and simply could not be seen. Of the adults we scored a 10, an 8 and two 5s (including Austin as an adult – he had the 10). It was a difficult shot simply because it was too dark to see the target and one I’d have never taken hunting. I was uncomfortable shooting it on the range.

There’s an old rule that for me is hard to ignore, “Never shoot at anything you can’t see.”

There’s a hyena in that bamboo thicket

Aside from that one target all others were well placed even if no real estate remained left behind. I think I’ll finish the year with a bowhunter rig and change back to a target bow and shoot some known yardage for 2019.  Seems that’s where everyone is shooting.

A Little Tapering

Tomorrow is there’s a Georgia ASA State Qualifier about 38 miles away. I’ll shoot that hoping to qualify for the State Championship. The past week or so I’ve been cranking out arrows concentrating on 3D. (I’m a little behind in that discipline.)

In addition to archery practice I maintain a rigorous overall fitness program. It’s part of my training for archery and just in case there’s a race I’d like to try. There is a duathlon nearby in August and I am considering it.

At a recent tournament I overheard a “Pro” archer talking about his training schedule. He said he shoots for two hours a day and adds running and weight lifting to his workouts. That is an excellent way to go.

Aside from archery I run nearly every morning. I ride a bike almost every afternoon and I’m in the gym at least two days a week. Unlike that young professional archer I can’t recover as fast as I did when I was in my 50’s, 40’s, 30’s 20’s and teens. So, today after running I practiced archery for just an hour. I consider that sort of practice active recovery.

This afternoon I’ll ride a bike, but it will not be as intense a ride as yesterday’s. I may fling a few more arrows, but for the sports part of my day I’ll take it easy and save some for tomorrow. Sunday is a nearly total break while we go fishing. (I’m still on the hook today for several hours of yard and range work.)

A Few Pearls You Already Know

Don’t Blow It

You’ve practiced, you’re ready, but during 3D competition you blow it. Here are a few pearls that may help you to not blow it.

We’ve all been there. That place where we botch a shot. From time to time I revisit ‘there.’ So, rather than return to ‘there’ more often than necessary set up practices to find the mistakes that could that lead you back ‘there.’

For those of you that left ‘there’ and never returned my hat is off to you. Some of us make mistakes when shooting 3D that result in lost points or lost arrows.

About losing arrows – don’t be afraid to lose them during practice. While practicing it isn’t a bad idea to push your limits. Doing so is going to cause a miss. Better to miss while in practice than during competition. When you do find a particular shot that is off course do it over and over until you get it. Then, do it some more.

Working long shots. Practicing at 50 yards (known) may help me do better at 40 yards.

Aside from judging yardage, which is another matter, there are things than you can do to help make that shot. For baseline, we’ll pretend you always judge yardage smack on. We’ll also agree that you are a practiced and proficient archer that on occasion messes up a little.

Practicing from 50 yards then moving up to 40 yards. (Known distance practice)

Here are a few pearls that are simple things to remember that can help you 3D competition.

First, unless you’re one of those top gun archery celebrities, almost no one is watching you shoot. Sure, you’re at the stake standing isolated at the stake for everyone to see, but they are either watching the target, eating a Little Debbie snack, talking, daydreaming, or worrying about their own score. Relax and don’t let your egocentric imagination go wild. Stay calm, relax and shoot an arrow.

When you’re not shooting take that time to study the shot. Before you reach the stake have a mental plan of how to solve the shot. Say, for example, your target is half of a javelina exposed from behind a tree at 40 yards. Of course, the center shot for a 10 (ASA scoring) is inches away from the tree.

First off the tree is a bonus. It provides a linear boarder. Aim so that the tree provides a black line, the part of the javelina exposed, between the tree and the X. The shoot the X.

Next, make certain you don’t screw up your shot. If you push or pull and arrow, depending on whether you are right or left handed you are going to hit the tree next to that javelina.

To avoid that catastrophe remain clam, take you time (you of plenty) and do what so many neglect, follow through with the shot. You’d be surprised at how often archers get rushed and don’t follow through. Heck, don’t take your aim off the target until you hear your arrow hit and then hold some. If you got the yardage right you’ll be fine. If your elevation is good but your arrow landed right or left, well you messed up your shot. You probably didn’t follow though or rushed the shot and pushed your arrow. (Assuming your form is good most of the time and your not torqueing your bow and punching your release. Oh, you can punch a hinge. Just try snapping your wrist back to activate the hinge.)

Don’t rush. Take your allotted time. That doesn’t mean walk up to the stake and fire up a cigarette (I’ve seen it). Start taking time before you approach the target. Take time to judge yardage. Notice where the other arrows have hit (if you are not the first shooter) and see if the other arrows are going to highlight the point where you want to place your shot. In archery, slow is good.

This is an easy pearl for archers – eat. So much of archery is governed by the brain that keeping it supplied with energy is critical for a long tournament. The brain’s primary source of energy is carbohydrates. Take sometime to eat, beef jerky is not a carbohydrates, to provide the carbs your brain wants and stay hydrated. (I have nearly bonked during long tournaments. I know on those times I lost points by not paying attention on my calorie needs. Archery has demands other than those experienced in long distance running, cycling or triathlon. Nevertheless, if you get hungry during a tournament your shooting will suffer.)

The ‘lesser’ practice range at the lake.

None of these little pearls should be new to you. You know them and sometimes you (and I) forget them. When you practice pay attention to these little pearls and your scores will reflect the effort you made to improve your shooting.

New State Record

Copied from the Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association email. It refers to the GBAA State Target Championship. It was nice to win and now to officially receive notification of setting a new State record (by 29 points)

“The following new GBAA Records were set (10 * total):

Rhonda Ryals            AFFS

Christopher Willard    AMBB

Tiffany Slaton            AFFSLR

David Lain                 SSMRLS

Austin Allen              YAMFS

Anna Lentz               YAFBHFS

Madison Steinau       YAFFSLR

Caitlin Willard           YFBB

Brodie Hicks             CMFS

Ally Baughn              CFBB”