In preparation for the Georgia State Field Archery and NFAA sections, coming in a few more weeks, I’ve been studying how to shoot a Field Archery Tournament. I’ve read the rules, watched a tutorial on how to shoot them and the scoring, and purchased the targets used for the event. It is a lot to remember.
I’ve already booked a campsite and signed up for the tournament. Too bad there aren’t any closer similar archery contests near me. I’d feel better having a more solid foundation with the venue.
In the meantime, all that can be done is to prepare as best as possible. Part of that preparation means having a bow on which everything works properly.
My target bow is still AWOL. It’s been gone, sent back to Elite, for months. I’m shooting an older back up bow. That bow needs a new rest. The QAD rest clicks and rubs and feels like it could enter a complete meltdown at any moment. I’ll give QAD a call for help tomorrow. They’ve been helpful with the problem in the past. It happened to me before.
The back up bow is a 2014 Elite 35. It has a lot of mileage and the limbs have been replaced once. I upgraded to the Elite 37X in 2018. That bow never did seem to shoot right. After a while I noticed cable guard pitting which clearly isn’t right. The bow was returned in March. Over two months later and Elite has the bow and the money.
I’ve also gotten my hands on an old Mathews Conquest Apex 7. It was my first bow and it was sold to get the Elite 35. The second owner returned to me that Mathews bow. I shot it for 3D last week and won competing in the Hunter class (ASA) at a local competition. I’m considering making that the bow for the Field Championship.
Before I retired, I’d have just gone and bought a new bow. Since retirement, seven years ago, I’ve become a bit tighter with my cash. But, the best bow out there is always the one in your hand.
Going into the next State Championship, everything is not ideal. There are still a few weeks to go and in the meantime, I’ll do all I can to get ready. And hope I’ll get in a group of friendly archers that won’t be put out having me tag along.
3D archery has pretty much fallen off the list for 2019. At the beginning of the year I had high hopes for the 2019 3D season. Sadly, a few months into the year I no longer had a 3D bow.
I do have a bow. But, that bow is configured for target archery. I tried shooting 3D with it using those skinny outdoor arrows and a lens. It simply didn’t feel right to me. In 3D I prefer using a hunting rig.
It wasn’t as if the skinny arrow arrangement barred me from shooting 3D. In my mind it subtracts from the spirit of 3D, a discipline developed to simulate hunting. I’d never hunt with a long stabilizer, scope and sight other than pins.
Of course, I could switch the bow over to a 3D rig and go back and forth with the gear arrangements before practices. I’ve done it in the past. But, it isn’t simple and if it isn’t simple it often times simply won’t get done.
I had two bows at the beginning of the year. One was returned to the manufacturer in hopes they’d either resolve the problem or exchange the bow. Since the bow was returned there’s been no reply. Oh, I’ve checked on it. The response has been silence.
Then, I discovered an old bow that shoots. It is an old Mathews Conquest Apex 7. It was my first bow, purchased the year before it was discontinued. I’d sold it. The person that bought it wasn’t shooting it. He told me I could “have it” when I asked to borrow it.
On the Friday before a local 3D competition I took the stripped bow to a local shot. There they added a PEEP (one I had in a tackle box) and I’d already added a pin sight, it still had a D-loop on the string, and I attached a short front stabilizer. I also had an arrow rest; the one removed from the long ago returned malfunctioning bow, and it bow was ready to shoot.
Before leaving the shop the bow was paper tuned and tested. It shot fine. During the afternoon I sighted the pins against known yardage so that the bow close to being ready to use in a tournament.
When I arrived at the local 3D shoot, Mathews Conquest Apex 7 in tow, the first words anyone spoke to me were from a PSE representative. He asked, “What is that you’ve got in your hand?” I explained the situation and he suggested I try on of his products. I’ve already tried that bow. It is nice. It doesn’t come for free. The Apex 7 came for free.
Now, I am certain that over the years since this Apex 7 was developed there have been advances in bow technology. I know marginal gains are available with advanced equipment. Since I’ve not been shooting 3D, it doesn’t matter. I was just looking to have some fun on a 3D range with the bow in my hand.
There’s always that awkward moment with I show up to shoot at a local 3D event. I’m new here – still – by archery group standards. As such, I have to do that milling about hoping to find a group with which to shoot. I really hate that part and miss the group I shot with in North Carolina. Before every 3D event we get in touch with each other the night before to make our plans for the tournament.
My first attempt to connect with a group failed, as did my second. I got lucky and group of two invited me to join with them. Having only shot about 30 arrows with the Mathews bow, where I was finding the pins and range intersections, I’d hoped to finish sighting the bow before I actually went to the range. I got 6 shots and was off. The group that offered the invitation was ready and as the leader put it, “I’ve got things to do today.” I appreciated her sentiment and invitation; beggars can’t be choosers.
The windage was off a bit and the first target was wide to the right. Wide enough to earn a 5. No one complained as when I made my only adjustment. A few cranks to the right and I’d do the best I could with the arrangement.
From target two until target eight there were no problems. The old bow has minimal let off so I had to really be in the shot. That helped and I was shooting par. Target 8 was a trick. A javelina sitting down a hill at 38 yards. As a rule that isn’t too difficult. But, today, I knew 38 yards was an in between two pins as best as I could guess. I guessed a bit off and shot another 5 – a tad high just off the eight ring. Beyond those two shots I ended up with all tens other than two 12s and two 8s finishing with a 190 in the senior hunter class. (20 targets no bonus target)
For the first time in years shooting a bow without a significant let off and shooting a bow for the first time of any merit I wasn’t too upset with the score. Now that I’ve got this bow maybe I’ll be able to finish the 3D season with a few more competitions. One thing for certain, the arrows float off the bow and there’s little room for yardage error.
In our USA Archery Level 3 NTS Coaches course we were given a ‘Weekly Training Plan’ template. It’s a basic template that provides coaches with a simple tool to plan an athlete’s weekly training activities. It is important to have a plan for training. Otherwise, you’re just shooting arrows.
You’ll improve by just shooting arrows. However, you’ll reach a point where you either decide to go to the next step or enjoy shooting arrows. The latter approach can make to a better archer, a formal plan might make you excel.
I use six weeks cycles for training. It is a method I’ve used for decades in other sports. The volume of work and type of training floats with the plan. The plan itself is a rotation of six-week intervals that incorporates a year or years.
The plans revolve around specific tournament goals. Those goals and tournament are further categorized into ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ events. Those events can change based on performance and other factors.
Performance changes might be based on how an archer is shooting. An event may be removed from the schedule and another added in its place. One ‘other’ factor, for me, can be shown in the example of the Gator Cup in Florida. That event was dropped due to the cost as well as my most recent performance at 50-meters. I won the tournament, but felt my score wasn’t competitive enough to spend the money on the Gator Cup.
Based on 2018 results, my recent 50-meter tournament’s score would have landed me in 5thfor the Gator Cup Qualification round and my elimination score would have earned me a 4thplace in the Masters 50 year old group. Spending over $1000.00 for not earning a top 3 finish isn’t worth the expense. So, the Gator Cup moved out of the 2019 rotation. Because there doesn’t seem to be a 60+, 70+ or higher age group, in order to keep the Gator Cup in the rotation for 2020, knowing if I go I’ll need to compete against archers potentially 15 years younger, I need to stay fit. My plan incorporates significant time for fitness.
A weekly training plan should include fitness training, strength training, and a general idea about nutrition. Nutrition is important in that learning to eat like an athlete supports athletic endeavors. (more on nutrition in the future)
My personal training plans are long range. There’s an ‘A’ tournament on the horizon, 6 weeks out. That plan includes others for 2019 and one tournament already in the queue for 2020 with specific goals.
Having a plan, not just in your head (that’s a dream), which is formal, on paper and reviewed daily will help you improve as an archer and athlete.
With the Georgia Cup behind me it is time to concentrate on the Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association’s (NFAA) State Field Championship being held in Savannah, Georgia. The event is about 6 weeks out as I write.
Having only once before competed in a NFAA style field tournament I’ve spent some time reading over the rules, scoring, targets and such. It is also the time to switch to a six-week cycle of training.
At a week before a tournament I don’t go to the gym to lift weights. Aside from that there are other modifications of time spent shooting and fitness training. At six weeks out I am in the gym.
The gym where I train never ceases to amaze me in that the vacuum cleaning is always underway when I arrive. Of the noises in the world the sound of a vacuum cleaner is one of the foulest in my opinion. It doesn’t matter if I am at the gym morning or afternoon, I’ve tried both, there’s some attendant pushing a vacuum. Worse is they always migrate to whatever weight station I’m using.
Sure as Southern Summers are hot, in the gym today, there was the attendant with his vacuum cleaner sucking up unseen particles within inches of me. Perhaps, unknown to me, I’m like Pigpen from the cartoon ‘Peanuts’, and when then gym’s employees see me coming they start up the vacuum preparing to follow me around.
It is rare to find food that is too spicy. The hotter the better. There have been times when food was served that were fireball hot. Still, for me, it didn’t go to waste. That is until the next day.
The day after eating particularly spicy food the results of digestion can attest to the degree of heat previously consumed. For some of us, jalapenos do not fall into the category of foods that lead to gastronomical second degree burning. The first degree being felt in the buccal cavity.
Recently, I spent a long day in outdoor competition where I didn’t bring enough food. By the time I was home I was hungry and tired. I wanted to go out for dinner and not cook or clean the kitchen. I further had a taste for spicy food. Brenda, my wife agreed to dinner on the town. We decided on Mexican food.
As a rule, Mexican food is delicious, hot and filling. Like I mentioned, I was hungry.
We didn’t order anything outlandish. The food was excellent. My mistake was fresh and pickled jalapenos. I got extra. Our salsa request was, “Bring us the hottest you have, please.” They were proud of their ability to satisfy.
On day 2 of the archery tournament announcements were being delivered throughout the morning. I missed at least half of them. One very fortunate geographical development is that where I was standing to shoot on day 2 was as close to the rest rooms as possible. Another really lucky thing is that I didn’t need to shoot for quite some time having two byes in the elimination rounds.
Most times spicy food and my lower G.I. system are extremely compatible. Spicy food divergence with an archery tournament intersection is a rough way to spend a morning on the range.
The weekend of the Georgia Cup in Conyers, Georgia was a hot one. The temperature was in the low 90s. It wasn’t the hottest outdoor archery tournament that I have shot in but it was near the top of the list.
The field of sweaty (soon to be sun burnt) archers was impressive considering the overlap with the ASA Pro/Am being held a few hours away near Augusta, GA. The tournament moved along as fast as possible in the heat. There were times when walking back from pulling arrows seemed to take longer than usual. No one was running wind sprints to return to the line. Of course, the slower people walked the hotter it became with the day bearing down on us. Shade was a precious commodity.
I show up at tournaments here in Georgia as a solo athlete so I don’t bring one of those nice pop-up canopies. Bringing a canopy for one person seems excessive. Thankfully, there is usually a group under a canopy that offers shade. At the Georgia Cup that shade was provided by a group of archers I’ve gotten to know over the past year shooting here. I was thankful.
The Georgia Cup is a two-day event put on by the Georgia Archery Association. Last year I lost to a friend from Savannah, Georgia who took first on the final few arrows. Paul, last year’s winner, got into a flow and just couldn’t miss the X. He was absent for the 2019 version.
Day one is the qualifying day. That is, for any that might not know, 72 arrows at 50-meters for bracketing on day 2 during the elimination rounds. Day two archers are paired into brackets based on qualifying score. Those pairs shoot against one another. Eventually, some lose and have to sit down; others shoot on until there is one archer that wins. If you score high enough on day one you may end up with a bye or two for the eliminations on day two.
Day one earned me a couple of byes. As such I didn’t have a competition round until two and a half hours after the eliminations began. That was a long hot wait. When I was finally up the first archer I had to shoot against, Buddy, has beaten me a number of times.
Typical of Buddy, on the first end he shot X, 10, 9 and typical of me I shot 10, 9,9. I like Buddy, it always a challenge shooting against him. At each tournament, we’ve already shot against one another at 3 in 2019, he always asks, “Have you been shooting?” I always rely, “Yes.” The he adds, “I haven’t picked up a bow since the last time I saw you.” Right.
He’s a State record holder and isn’t going to make too many mistakes. It was tight going into the third end when Buddy gave me a couple of points.
They way I look at it, in archery we all start with the maximum allowable number of points. In elimination round, during each head-to-head competition, each archer is given 150 points. You shoot to keep those points. To keep them all you need to do is put your arrow into the 10 ring. Every time you don’t do that you give away a point or more.
I gave Buddy a few points, he gave me a few points and by the time it was over I was less charitable with my points.
Making it into the final match for Gold or Silver there stood Jerry in the lane next to me. Jerry has been flinging arrows for over 30 years. Going into the second end I had one point on Jerry. With three more ends to shoot against an opponent with significantly more skill and training I needed to not let my mind drift over to the potential advantages Jerry has over me.
With his experience and skill Jerry’s earned a Mathews kit, a brand new Mathews bow and top-level arrows. Thirty years in the business of shooting arrows gets you top-level support. On any given day Jerry can beat me. But, I had this one point advantage and that pirate saying in my head, “Take what you can; give nothing back.”
Not really. There was no pirate mantra in my head. I was thinking, “Just shoot your game” and “Perfect form equals a perfect shot”, and “Don’t rush the shot” and “Paul is not here this year” and “stance, hook and grip, set-up, set…” and “Brenda (my wife) is going to not like this is I lose,” and “feel the Force,” and “see the arrow landing in the X,” and “the kids and grandkids are coming over to celebrate my birthday this afternoon” and “Mama will be proud if I win,” and “My father in law will be disappointed if I lose,” and, “please wind stop” and “man, it is hot,” and “is that a squirrel on the range,” and “I’m thirsty” and “silence your thoughts” (that one didn’t work).
When the final tally was complete Jerry had been too generous with his points. It was still hot.
When it comes to equipment, as athletes become better performers, their gear makes a difference. British Cycling has a team, the Secret Squirrel Club, that’s composed of engineers and designers. Their job is to make equipment best suited to provide marginal gains for elite cyclists. Small gains at an elite level can make a difference when thousandths of a second can mean the gap between a first place and second.
Archery is no different. As we improve our groups become tighter. The accuracy of shots becomes more repeatable. It is this way with all top archers. Equipment in archery is generally quite good. Searching for marginal gains through technologically superior equipment can provide the archer with marginal gains that can make the difference between a first place and second place.
I can’t recall how many times I’ve now lost a tournament by one point, a one point shoot off, the X count, or the inner X count (I do recall that one). Each of those close matches I know, whether or not the archer was simply one point better, that my opponent on that day used equipment at least more expense that mine. At times, most times, the archer shooting to victory held gear that has a retail sticker price of more than double of mine.
I asked a coach/sales person, “How can I buy more points with improved gear?” First off the bat were the arrows I was shooting for outdoor contests.
He suggested I switch to a more expensive arrow. The price of the arrows I shoot is $150.15 vanes and nocks included from Amazon. The tips are another $21.00 at Amazon. Total price is $171.15.
The arrows the coach/sales person suggested aren’t available at Amazon; they are from Lancaster Archery Supply. The shafts alone for those arrows are $239.99. Built and ready to shoot the price came to $407.99. The coach/sales person said he’d gone to those arrows and his score had improved by 10 points. Ten points is a lot.
Next he suggested a different arrow rest, the price for that suggestion is $248.00. The arrow rest on my bow is $127.00 on Amazon. His suggestion is not available on Amazon. He claimed his recommended arrow rest is the best on the market. He should know he is an ex-pro.
Sure, there are all sorts of “Pro” archers. He was a major professional and former “Cover Archer” among the marketing literature for one of the companies he represented. His opinion is the expensive rest would add 5 more points to my scores. I do believe he knows what his talking about.
At that point I was looking at an investment of $655.99 for an additional 15 points (potential). That’s a lot of cash. Then, there’s the bow.
Last year, I purchased a bona fide target bow. It shot great for a while. Then it began doing something that spread the groups. What I noticed was the cable guard was becoming pitted. The action of the slide on the cable guard appeared to be sticking and gouging small pits and creating ripples on the cable guard itself.
After nearly a year of complaining, calls, and bow tuning I finally got support from the manufacturer. The bow was returned. The bow remains AWOL but I do have a receipt. You can’t shoot a receipt. Even so, that bow remains among the least expensive target bows on the market.
There’s a point in all sport where excellent equipment can provide an advantage. One thing I did change which was a huge success was my release. Aside from that my equipment is generally fine for a good time shooting.
Marginal gains are real. These gains can be found through better gear. Considering the marginal gains projected around the $655.99 of upgraded gear, which I have not purchased, there might be as great as a 15-point gain. I may never know. What I can say for certain is that the best bow is the bow that is in your hand.
Recently, on Facebook, a group of archers were sharing a victory earned by a member of their clique. The celebrated archer had won an IBO State Championship. It surprised me to read that he’d never won a state championship.
Having shot with him I recognized he was talented as a 3D shooter. When we’d competed together I was newer to the sport than I am today. Today, I am less new to the sport having been at it for 5 years, 5 months and 7 days. (As if May 7th, 2019) Among those of you that have been competing in archery for 30 years of more my time in the sport is blip . Obviously, the shorter tenure as an archer means I’m still learning the parts of a bow.
The group that hailed the victor of the state championship is tight. Within their group are members that complete a normal set of athletes. Some of open and friendly offering advice, others know it all and their advice is best left behind, and a few are arrogant self-described elite performers. In that last class is one fellow that once told me, “You’ll never be as good as us.”
Mark Twain is a treasure. His literary works are some of the best American writing I’ve read. During his lifetime he’d often received manuscript, unsolicited, from people that felt they knew him. Those ‘friends’ wanted his opinion of their forwarded potential book.
Twain was polite, a Southern Gentleman, and didn’t particularity want to hurt the feelings of non-public figures. If you were in politics then you were fair game. He’d read the manuscript, sometimes, and mostly not reply to the sender. One proud individual being eager for Twain’s praise was determined to get a response.
When asked of Twain if he’d read the manuscript and what did he think, Twain responded, “Yes I have and much like it.”
The fellow that once told me, “You’ll never be as good as us,” in reference to his gang probably saw me as a weak beginner who simple didn’t have it. At that point, I’d agree with his assessment that I wasn’t very good. Today, I rarely miss targets.
Since I moved away from those closely knitted archers I’ve shot with a lot of other archers. Those fellows living hundreds of miles away still shoot together. They often post their scores. I read their scores. To those fellows I say, “I’ve shot with many that are just like you.”
The fellow that won his first state championship is a fine person. I’m glad he won a state championship. I remain surprised it is his first. Regarding the snappy ego-inflating comment, I look forward to a day when I might have a chance to see of the self-proclaimed elite was correct.
By the time you reach tournament play you should be ready. You should understand how you’ll perform and not expect miracles. You should be confident in your ability to execute at the level of your practice.
Before you enter a tournament you’ve practiced a lot. In addition you’ve added fitness training and stuck to your plan. It takes a lot of effort, time, and determination.
In archery it means lots of arrows, lots of targets, weight lifting and cardio work. Aside from being able to put an arrow in the center of a target you need to be fit enough and strong enough to maintain a center shot for dozens if not hundreds of arrows. Not everyone has mastered this skill set. In fact, perfect scores are rare events.
If your practice is basically heading to the range three or four times a week and shooting 30 to 60 arrows you can become accomplished, but you won’t reach the peak level of elite archers. You’ll have fun and be good at the sport of archery. But, you’ll not be on the podium at the major tournaments.
Practice is hard. Shooting arrows isn’t hard. Sure, your arms will fatigue and you’ll feel good about having shot a few dozen arrows. Practice on the other hand should have purpose.
For example, before a practice considers what it is you need to work on for that session. Say, your timing at the point of release isn’t perfect. Design a practice, or have your coach do so, that focuses on your release. Then, do the concentrated effort until you no longer get it wrong.
As you prepare keep a record of your performance. Prior to a tournament, plan to practice the tournament. Have a timer set to the allotted time allowed to shoot an end. Slow down between ends. This is going to keep you on the range longer but it will allow to create a mental image of the delay between ends at an actual event. Have music playing, such as they do at many events and record your scores.
You don’t need to do this everyday but add it to your practice. Overtime you’ll learn what to expect from your ability. In other words, if you average 570 points out of 600 it isn’t likely you’ll show up on the ‘big’ day and fire off a 600. If your statistical range of tournament practice is 560 – 580 during a tournament you’ll probably score around 558 – 588 or so depending on your standard deviations.
Doing your practices with a purpose, following a complete plan for archery fitness, and understanding where you are in your ability will help prepare you for a tournament. Doing the hard work before you show up will make competition feel easy and fun.
While cycling over the past few days I was daydreaming about racing. Recently, I’ve been looking at times (results) of cyclists and duathletes in my age group. Even though I’ve not raced a bike in a few years I think about racing. Man, the times for some of the results I’ve found are incredible.
If I did a bicycle race it would be a time-trial, an individual event, to reduce chances of crashing. Crashing hurts and could impact archery as well as my body.
The last purely cycling race I did was in North Carolina. It was a time-trial. I knew my expected time before going into the race and knew those practice times would be practically unbeatable. In the race, I held my time and still got beaten. It wasn’t even close. The fellow that won was a complete animal.
At a recent 5K, I did win that race; the second fastest time of the day came from a fellow nearly 10 years older than me (I’m 64 in a few weeks.) That was simply amazing. This old fellow smoked many high school track runners.
Thinking about racing I measured results of people in my age group at major events against my times. I did fine against those posted results until around the 4thplace. Then, the top finishers had faster times. Not at all events but at some I found results online of men in their 60s who were as fast as pros racing the Tour de France. Dang!
Well, not dang but dope.
Over the past couple of years the USADA has busted 56 cyclists for doping.(1) Fifty of them are in the Masters division with an average age of 50 years old. (1) By the way, 2 archers were also busted over that time frame. – they weren’t Masters. (1) Fifty Masters cyclists busted for doping! Why? It’s not as if Nike is looking for Masters athletes to give out huge sums of money.
The fellow that beat me cycling in North Carolina was doping. It was a regional race and no one was getting drug tested. I’ve done a lot of racing and seen a lot of cheaters; this guy was just about out of his skin he was so amped. I didn’t say anything – it wasn’t worth it.
It was discouraging to take a second place at that bike race. I’d worked hard to win, losing sucked. At that 5K with the old fellow running like a cheetah I was lucky in that he wasn’t in my age group. He, also, wasn’t around after the race. I think he was doping, training, and plans to stop doping before any major event, make sure he tests clean then compete. He wasn’t around for the podium glory post-race because he probably wasn’t interested in answering any questions. Heck, if that worked for the Russian and Germans it will work for him.
Knowing how often Masters athletes are doping is sort of a bummer when it comes to motivation. (2,3) I have decided to look for time-trials and other individual cycling events for fun. At nearly 64 years old fitness is a more important reason to train. Racing is simply a fun activity.
Archery, unlike cycling, is a more serious endeavor when it comes to competition for me. Archery is a test for me of talent transfer and finding a sport where an older person can be competitive longer. Like I said above when I looked over the list of athletes suspended for doping 2 archers were on the list.(1)
Many of the older archers I shoot against are taking beta-blockers.(4,5) Y’all keep taking your beta-blocker. Archery isn’t worth a stroke or worse. And like cycling Nike isn’t looking for older archers to hand out big checks.
I can recognize the individual likely to have high blood pressure and be taking a beta-blocker. For the most part these individuals are easy to spot and they’ll sooner or later fatigue during a competition, have a momentary loss of concentration, and despite the added advantage of the beta-blocker will give up a few points. (6-8) Not often, but often enough.
Doping in amateur sports, like cycling and archery, is a fact of life. Doping among athletes over 50 is common. (9) If you compete clean great. If you are over 50 and are competing clean great. If you’re doping because you have a medical need get a therapeutic use exemption. If you’re doping to get a $2.00 medal – you are an idiot.