Stuck at Home

Only a few holes and free

I have to wonder how many tournaments we’ll get to enjoy during 2020.  I see four, thus far, on my calendar that did not happen.  This break from competition gives time for me to figure the best combinations of bows with gear for when tournaments re-start.

Even though I replaced this target it still had a little life remaining. Yes there are holes everywhere including some in the blue. The ranges were from 10 yards to 15 yards. (No these holes come from a bit further out)
Working from 50 meters
Sitting at 65 yard with plenty of room to increase the distance. I expect some limbs will need to be trimmed as I get out to 75 + yards. At 70 yards no limbs to intersect with the arch of an arrow.

Currently, I am working at longer distances. I am also shooting lots of holes in paper.  Here’s a really lucky thing – last year I picked up several used targets after an outdoor event.  These targets were going to be thrown away! I wish I’d grabbed more but felt a little embarrassed digging from the pile of trash on the ground.  I was assured I could take as many used targets as I wanted.  I didn’t want to seem selfish so I grabbed a few.  I took a limited share leaving an abundance for other people – unlike the toilet paper grab that seems for the moment to be universal.

This happens every once and a while (50 meters)

I know this shelter at home is harder for people living in cities.  If you are an archer and live in Chicago or Atlanta I am sorry for you.  Hang in there!

I Wanted to Go Shopping

My scores in archery have too often reflected the fluctuations in the stock market.  President Trump can stop blaming Obama and aim his Tweets at me.

I had a brief spike and my practice was excellent.  The stock market spiked the same day.  My wife pointed out that it was just a “dead cat bouncing.”

A few days later I am about to buy a pile of cruise line stocks.  Seriously, I was thinking bargain prices.  Sure, a lot of folks remain investing their money into toilet paper.  I was also wanted to take a swipe at Proctor and Gamble.  You bet their stock is up. Cruise lines on the other hand are a deal.

The gamble is that the travel company has enough reserve to float this temporary sinking of prices.  I was on a web page looking at financial reports and had picked a prize.  Then, I got vetoed.

‘No, we need to save our money,” was the order.  I pleaded, “In six months our investment could nearly double.”

There have been times when Brenda, my wife, wanted to pour more money into stocks and I held.  Today, she held the purchases.  Life is a balance.  My prior veto worked out well.

What is happening at the moment, investors reeling in good buys, may be another dead cat bounce.  I suspect I’ll wish we taken this bounce for a ride.  In know because my archery practice was good today.

Just Because I Know Doesn’t Mine I’ll Get it Right

Weeks ago my arrows began landing all over the target.  During the State 18-meter indoor championship I shot my lowest score ‘ever’ when scoring the inner 10 ring.  In the USA Archery Indoor National Championship I earned my lowest score ever at that level of competition.

It all began at the State 25-meter championship.  Throughout the tournament my groups expanded.  From there it has been all downhill.  Sort of reminds me of the recent drop in a coronavirus stock market retreat.  Like the money that is sliding away from my retirement reserves – easy come easy go.

Unlike financial matters where all my eggs aren’t in one basket, in an archery tournament there aren’t any cushions.  With a missed shot in archery there’s no coming back – those points are gone forever.

In an archery tournament, for example a 3-spot with a maximum score of 600 for a day, everyone starts out with 600 points.  Each miss and points are lost.  If an investor has 600 bucks in the stock market and it drops 3% that 600 bucks becomes 582 bucks.  That investor might be able to wait a while and that 3% drop could become a 5% gain or up to 611 bucks.  No such luck in archery.

Or you could consider everyone begins an archery tournament with zero points (which is how it is done) and the better capitalists on the line end up with more points.  Those points are earned with a cool head and wise shot placement investments.   In any of the scenarios my maximal yields have been hurting.

On the second day of the USA Indoor Nationals my score plummeted into the abyss and a crappy performance reigned supreme.  Then, I felt a little something and thought “Oh?”  It wasn’t quite  clear what I felt hence the “Oh?’.  Not pain, good Lord at 65 I don’t want an old geezer orthopedic collapse.  The “Oh” was a general familiarization of malformed form.  I couldn’t see it or identify the problem.  But it was there.

I’d like to report that there was divine intervention and from the ‘Oh’ moment forward I landed all tens.  Alas, that is a report I can’t honestly deliver.

The other day at practice “Big John” one of the coaches at Ace declared as I dropped another shot that it was, “A lazy old man shot.”  Then Steve, another coach at ACE, a day or so later, pointed out the same error.  Being a slow learner it has taken weeks to discover what that ‘Oh’ meant.  Big John and Steve both recognized the error immediately. Now I know.  I knew before.  I did it anyway. Heck, if I’d been coaching me and not being me shooting I’d have seen it as well. What was happening in my head was not translating to my body.

I didn’t make the error as often while practicing today at Ace in Social Circle. Today the arrows landed mostly in the center of the target.  I made a effort to listen and do what both coaches had offered. The practice ended up producing my 4th highest X count on a 5-spot.  It felt good.  Now, I just need to remember to do what the coaches have coached.  Much easier said than done.

The 2020 USA Archery Indoor National Championship

In Suwanee, Georgia the range for the 2020 USA Archery National Championship was packed.  Every line was filled.  There were so many archers an additional Friday line was added to help accommodate the athletes.

I’d signed up early to help ascertain I ended up with 1:00 PM times over Saturday and Sunday.  Suwanee isn’t too far from Good Hope.  Suwanee is on the cusps of Atlanta which means travel to the event can be tricky. One mishap by a driver hoping to get into ATL can screw up precision travel times. I got the 1:00 PM times. Picking 1:00 PM gives me a travel buffer.

The traffic was innocent over both days.  Oh, there was a lot of it despite being the weekend but everyone was on good behavior.

During the Saturday shoot I was on the same bale as three women from a college team. Their manners were excellent.  These women, however, were not about to slip off a very competition edge and there was minimal talking.  Being stuck on an archery range in silence for four hours is punishment as far as I’m concerned. Fortunately, friends were in abundance on adjacent bales so company wasn’t lacking.

The Sunday bale was a whole lot chattier.  One of the archers was a woman from the same college.  In this case we knew one another and she’s fast to smile and laugh.  Prior to the start we discussed when either of us hits three 10s on the same end the archer achieving the 30 points would do a celebratory dance similar to those performed by NFL players following a touch down.  She struck first.  Before she danced, and yes she danced, she wanted me to loudly call her score.

I complied yelling out her 10 – 10 – 10 score.  She did a jig.  We thought it was fun as did most of the folks nearby.  A few seemed dissatisfied with the performance.  When she hit 10 – 10 – 10 again I yelled again and she danced again. This happened a lot. (She only dropped about 9 point) Day two went by faster than day one.

The Sunday bale also had representation from Georgia Tech making me the only non-colligate archer on my bales over the weekend.  When Tech showed up I was holding the clip to manually total the scores.  I looked at the Tech logo and handed over the clip board saying, “You’re an engineering student, you can do the math.”  He seemed puzzled asking, “I am an engineering student how did you know?” I pointed out it was a guess based on his Georgia Tech kit. He got 100% on his addition all done without touching his cell phone calculator for help.

Looking around over the two days noticed the athletes seemed more youthful than the past few years.  I over heard one ex-collegiate archer lecturing to a group from Emmanuel College, “This is great now.  But when you get out of school and have to get a job things will change.”  He was referring to the time he’d had to practice in college prior to getting a job. The current students will, of course, cross that bridge when they get there.

The number one element of enjoyment during the Suwanee version of the Nationals, of course, was mingling with so many of the folks I don’t get to see outside of tournaments.  Our conversations became infected with smiles and laughter.  Shooting in competition is fun, practice is more fun, and hanging out with good people is the most fun.

Getting Ready for Nothing Much in the Rain

It has been raining a lot here in north Georgia.  When it rains I’ll typically drive to Social Circle and practice on the indoor range at Ace Hardware.  If there’s no rain and the temperature is above freezing I’ll stay home and shoot on my range.

Two days ago there was a nice break, several hours, from the rain.  This saved me a drive into Social Circle. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy practicing at the Ace in Social Circle.  I enjoy visiting the folks that work at the archery pro shop at Ace. I also enjoy simply walking out back to practice.

Practice at home often includes spectators.  Two days ago they were the girls from next door.  It is fun when they come over to watch.

The practice is prep for the USA Archery National Indoor Championships.  Today I read the local (regional) awards are not being presented after the events.  Rather, everyone must wait for the finish of all sections, the results submitted to USA Archery , results verified, and USA Archery will mail awards.

Personally, I like getting a cheap medal for finishing in the top 3.  That trinket is the period on a sentence.  Waiting months to find final results is less enjoyable.  If I’d known they were going to switch this up (learned about it the day before the event) I’d have skipped the indoor nationals and would have headed to Alabama to shoot the ASA tournament being held there.

Here’s the update regarding awards:

Awards
National awards will be mailed from the USA Archery national office after final results from all locations are verified and combined. No location medals will be awarded.”

The thought of spending two days competing after a whole lot of preparation knowing the results will be months away isn’t inspirational.

To add insult to injury the update includes information regarding parking.  For the first time athletes, in my experience, who have paid to compete must pay a fee to park or take a hike.

From today’s event information (one day before the event):

Parking….
SSA has paid and unpaid options for parking. There is a $5 fee to park on site in the paved lot. There is additional free parking in the gravel lot across the street at the church. SSA also has additional free parking across McGinnis Ferry Rd. There is a trail from that lot to SSA. Do not try to cross McGinnis Ferry Rd directly. The City of Suwanee Police will ticket for jay walking! Please use the trail to cross safely!”

Honestly, I cannot recall every event where I’ve competed.  I can recall the last 140 or so events.  Those events covered triathlons, runs, cycling and archery.  They ranged from local to international.  This USA Archery event is the only one where an athlete, having paid to compete, now must pay $5.00 to park near the venue.  ($10.00 over the two days on top of the $80.00 entry fee)

For comparison, I parked downtown Athens a few nights ago.  I was parked in a parking garage.  I was there for several hours.  I’d expected to pay.  It cost me $2.00. To park and shoot at the upcoming archery tournament the cost, excluding food, gas, lodging (for some) is now $90.00.  Parking is 11.1% of that fee! Of course off site parking is free.  Families with kids shooting that might find the extra money harsh will end up the most disadvantaged.

Sure there may be other instances where athletes might need to pay to park once they arrive at the competition.  I’m saying have not experienced the requirement to pay a parking fee at over 140 events beginning in 2006 where I was a competitor.

You might not consider this a big deal.  I do, it is wrong.  The athletes are what fuel the sport.  The fees we already pay are enough.  Last year, there was no parking fee at the same venue.  This year someone decided to stick it to athletes to gain a few extra dollars.  Oh, there is free parking available – nearby.  For free parking athletes and their families are going to need to walk a way with all their gear.  I’m not opposed to a hike.  Heck, I ran for nearly an hour this morning.  It is the principle.

The trails, during this morning’s run, had plenty of spots where rain water hadn’t yet drained.

If there is a specific need for revenue ask for help.  Athletes will frequently do things outside of training or competing to support their sport.  But, grabbing a bit of last minute cash by adding a new parking fee is low.

I’m reminded of an archer that didn’t compete.  I watched him a lot and never once did he miss the X on a vertical 3-spot.  I asked if he competed.  He said, “Only local events.”  He added, “I’m not going to travel and pay to compete at a bigger ones – they’re a rip off.”

Sometimes, it is just more fun to practice in front of the girls.

Three of the girls for next door who’d dropped by to watch practice

 

Well, That Sucked

It was really bad. Two years ago, in Hertford, North Carolina, in 10° F, with snow on the ground, shooting while standing in a shed I shot better by 2 points than I did in the 2020 Georgia 18-meter State Championship.  In 2016, when I first scored using the inner 10 ring as 10 and the remainder of the yellow as 9 points I shot one point better than this past weekend.  In fact, I was 28 points below my average this past weekend.

A buddy of mine, who is a Level 4 USA Archery Coach, suggested I wasn’t bringing the elbow on my release arm around.  He didn’t know for certain as he was competing and shooting his bow on the same line at the same time as I. He knows that sometimes I fail in that regard – I’ll occasionally not have everything lined up.  I’ll land a fat nine to the right of the X when I make that mistake.  Fat nines were not my problem.  Those eights, sevens and even a six, those were the problems.

I don’t need to reach back too far to recall a five I’d landed.  I did that a few days ago.  It was during a team competition where my teammate and I rallied to finish shooting for the win.  I shot two tens and a five.  It was awful and I tossed it up to pressure – even though I didn’t notice all that much pressure.  Truth is at that point I was unaware we were shooting for the win.

Over the next two days, Friday and Saturday, I shot a few eights and let it go figuring those eights are rare even if they and that five from earlier where clustered.  There did seem to be a feel that those wild shots were coming at me with a bit more frequency.

On Sunday, the Georgia State Indoor 18-meter championship my arrows were everywhere. There were absolutely no groups on any target to suggest tweaking my sight.   I’d have a few decent arrows, those that landed pretty much where I’d expected they’d land, then arrows would be sailing out like discount birdshot.

It was another full house for archery in Georgia

Throughout it all I kept thinking that my shooting would recover and I’d land some tens.  That never really happened.  The final score was the lowest I’ve ever shot aiming at a vertical 3 spot scoring inner tens during competition or practice.

I’m the short fellow

My friend who coaches top archers added to his earlier suggestion, “I think you just wanted this too much and were holding your shots too long.”  Maybe.

I am still working though what happened that lead me to such a poor performance.  Regardless of the potential finding I admit that this past weekend sucked when it comes to archery. For any of you that might ask, “But, you had fun – right?” For the record – No, it was not fun.

(I did enjoy seeing lots of good people.  That, on the other hand, was fun.)

Prime Time Archery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference:

Georgia State Indoor Championship versus the Super Bowl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ranked #1 in Georgia Two Years in a Row

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

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

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

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

Reference:

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

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

2019 Bye Bye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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