Marginal Gains

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.

Winning Results

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.

Practice is harder than tournaments.

Coaching Tip

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.

 If you’re doping to get a $2.00 medal – you are an idiot.

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.

Reference:

  1. https://www.usada.org/testing/results/sanctions/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/01/dope-and-glory-the-rise-of-cheating-in-amateur-sport
  3. http://jumping-the-gun.com/?p=2641
  4. https://www.rxlist.com/high_blood_pressure_hypertension_medications/drugs-condition.htm
  5. https://healthfully.com/athletes-would-use-beta-blockers-5622585.html
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181843/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/173068.php
  8. https://healthunlocked.com/bhf/posts/136191614/beta-blockers-confusion-loss-on-concentration-side-effects…slightly-anxious-has-anyone-felt-this
  9. https://www.narcononuk.org.uk/blog/the-problem-of-amateur-sports-doping.html

Fitness Minded

I often mention the number of archers that I compete against that appear, in my expert opinion, to be taking beta-blockers. They’re taking the drug, a PED in archery, to manage their hypertension.

I spent a solid decade studying hypertension and methods of treating it.  During that period I published research, sponsored the research of others, and helped develop methods to improve the health of people that have hypertension.

One of the best ways to combat the typical hypertension I see is through diet and exercise.  I worry about hypertension and the impact it could have on me.  Personally, a stroke would seriously limit my activity.

With that in mind, I exercise a lot.  The exercise aids in keeping my weight down – I do enjoy a good meal.  I admit I have exercised a lot all my life.

Picking up archery later (at 58 years old) than most archers being fit has not hurt me.  If I stopped shooting a bow tomorrow I’d still run and ride a bike.  In fact, I run almost everyday and ride a bike at least 4 times a week.

Wear these once then wash them. Fives days worth this week

I used to ride more when I raced bicycles.  When I picked up duathlons and triathlons cycling became another element of the sport. Of all the sports I’ve done cycling is my favorite (no offense to archers).  Actually, football is my second favorite sport and had it not been for cycling I’d have played in college.

Lots of nice open roads here in rural Georgia to enjoy cycling

In my junior year of high school I’d been scouted by a few college teams.  My high school coach had all but guaranteed my parents I’d get a chance to play in college. To them that meant college tuition they’d not have worry about.

But, I got hooked on cycling and thought I’d give it a ride to see if I’d make an Olympic Team.  It is impossible to keep weight on while racing bicycles.  So, my football opportunities dropped as fast as the weight.

Cycling didn’t pan out either.  Just out of high school I did have a chance to race in Europe but passed and gradually migrated my attention to academics then a day job.  Through out it all I stayed on a bike. And I eventually raced in Europe.

ITU Long Course Duathlon, World Championship – 2007

Decades of fitness are paying off now that I’m in my mid-60s.  I take no prescription drugs.  My blood pressure runs around 117/68 and my percentage of body fat is in the single digits.

Where fitness pays other dividends is in archery.  Over a long two-day tournament I am far more bored than fatigued.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get him!.” So I ran like I stole something.

The hardest thing for me in archery is to remain in the game.  During a 4-hour 100-mile bicycle race or a 5-hour 70.3-mile ½ Ironman, I can stay focused.  (The young professionals are much faster than those times.) During a marathon or ½ marathon focus isn’t an issue.  During a long archery tournament my mind becomes numb.

That lack of focus might be assisted by a PED.  Certainly, those early end jitters would be reduced.  But, it is better to be fit and get through an event without the aid of a hypertension support medication. It is even better not to have high blood pressure.

Want to get fit? Check with your doc before you run around the block.

Changing the 2019 Event Calendar

When I completed my 2019 goals and event calendar I made certain conditions.  Those conditions are associated with the more expensive archery tournaments.  For example, in order to put out the money to compete at the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio, I needed to shoot a pre-determined score at the NFAA regionals.

It wasn’t a difficult task. I needed to shoot two 300s at the regionals.

When I shoot a 5-spot, the target for both events, I shoot a 300 83% of the time.  Sometimes, I mess up a shoot a 299 or 298. Those scores are essentially meaningless at the Nationals.  No, at the NFAA Nationals you win by having the high X count.

My highest X-count is 104 out of 120 arrows.  That’s not a winning score.  But, it would be a fine score, yielding 600 total points and 104 Xs, and worth the trip. At the regionals I didn’t come close.  I ended up with a 597 and I don’t recall the X count.  With shooting like that there’s no point in spending big bucks for a trip to Cincinnati – at least for me.

This change opened up my weekend calendar.  In fact, as far as archery is concerned, I found a significant gap between competitions. I had to fill that gap.

I run nearly every day. I ride a bike often in the winter and nearly every day once the weather improves.  Once, I raced triathlons.  Could a triathlon fill that gap?

Ironman World Championship – seems so long ago.

No, I’ve not swum a stroke in over a year.  If you don’t train for swimming, you can die in a triathlon. It has happened. Even if you finish the swim, without proper training you could fail to met the cut off times and be pulled from the race.

I could, however, race in a duathlon.  There are two duathlons within 45 minutes of where I live.  I prefer duathlons to triathlons.  I decided to add both of those races to my calendar.

Swimming – it is always cold to me.

To start, I’ll race some 5Ks and 10s.  I do run often, I don’t run fast.  My daily runs are purely for pleasure and health management.  When I’m on a bike, I’ll sometimes crank it up.  Running is another matter and I’ve just not been going fast.  I’ve been exclusively running trails with River, a Labrador retriever. She stops a lot to sniff I have to slow down and wait. If I don’t she might cut to a chase or roll in something foul. I can change that without much thought.

Pushing into a head wind.

Archery is fun.  It is a whole lot less expensive than a duathlon. But, if there aren’t enough easy to access archery events I’ll pay a bit more to register for a duathlon and save on travel expenses.

Nice Thing to Say

If folks have said nice things about me, well I don’t really recall any.  I mean, who says nice things to someone’s face other than a loved one. Honestly, when I have received a compliment in public what I recall is that it made me feel awkward.

There was a time in my career where I was often called upon to give talks.  During those times someone would introduce me and say lots of flowery things about my accomplishments and education.  I didn’t like those, either.  In fact, it got pretty old and I eventually gave whoever was introducing me a written introduction to read.  It was prepared, short, and not so ingratiating.

Last week, during an archery tournament, I was shooting with three kids.  There were enough older archers competing that I’d been bumped down the line and was on a target with kids younger than my children.  Two of them were in college and one was still in high school.

Archery is a big equalizer among sport disciplines.  Age isn’t a major factor when it comes to skill.  I mean, if I’d been competing against similarly skilled athletes in, say running a mile, a high school aged track star and two college track runners they would smoke me.  But, in archery it is another matter.

At that tournament, at 3-spot, a professional shot 118 Xs out of 120 arrows. His was the top score. (He’s younger, at 41, than my oldest daughter.) The next best score came from a 15 year-old clearing 116 Xs.  Back to my target.

Of the four of us, the high school student was shooting the best.  I’d changed bows the day before and had finally gotten it sighted and was shooting Xs.  On one end I shot two Xs and a nine.  The next end was three Xs.  Then, I repeated the sequence.

That’s when the high school student said to the college students, “That’s how an old pro does it!” He wasn’t saying it to me directly, he was providing evidence to the other two students.  It cracked me up. (I laughed on the inside rather that risk embarrassing anyone and said nothing.)

I don’t know if the speaker had intended me to overhear.  It wasn’t spoken loudly; more told in a tilted head conspirator softness. But, I heard it.  The speaker may have figured because I’m old my hearing isn’t so good.

At first, the word that grabbed me was “old.”  But, compared to them, I’m old.  Generally, it was a compliment.  And as I said, it cracked me up.

The ASA’s Doping Announcement

It was 1973 when Howard Taylor, a teammate and friend, and I were at the US World Cycling Trials in California.  Our chance to make the team would come in an event on the Velodrome in San Jose.  If we made the team our next official race would be in Munich, Germany.

Howard and I were fast.  At any race we’d finish 1st or 2nd with each of us often fighting it out for the top position.  While we were just about even Howard beat me more times than I beat him. Before heading to the west coast from our homes in Savannah, Georgia we figured we’d make the team.  We knew whom we were up against and we knew how we’d do racing against them.

In California our dream didn’t end up as we’d imaged, at least for me.  All the races were fast, everyone was fast.  But, there was a group that seemed to have jumped ahead of the rest of us. The day of my chance to qualify, I was a bit under the weather, and didn’t even race.*

The bronchitis I was suffering was just an excuse.  I knew there was no way I could match the times coming from a small group of cyclists.  Prior to going to California I’d figured on a second to third place finish, at the worst and one spot behind Howard.  The times I was watching would at best land me in sixth place – not on the team.  I decided to save my legs for the regional and state champions.  Howard raced and earned the only remaining spot on the team.

That was 46 years ago.  I still remember the shock of seeing guys shave significant times off their prior finishes.  It seemed impossible.

Decades later, I learned those advances in performance had been assisted by doping.  Their coach and the riders all admitted they’d been doping.  At the time, the blood doping they used and other performance enhancing drugs weren’t yet banned.

In those days I knew nothing about doping.  Our coach never mentioned doping to us.  Thirty years later while I was visiting my former coach we talked about those trials.  He knew the other cyclists had doped.  Doping for our coach was cheating and he never even explained it.  It simply didn’t exist for any of his teams.

Yesterday, while at archery practice, a group of coaches was talking about a recent announcement by the ASA.  The ASA announced they would start drug testing.

Their conversation revolved around other archers, winning tournaments that take beta-blockers for their high blood pressure.  One archer, a top finisher at a recent major event, had explained he was upset by the ASA’s announcement.  He’d stated that he’d just gotten his blood pressure regulated with the correct dosing of his new beta-blockers. He also commented that the ASA’s announcement hadn’t come in time for him to get a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) before the next Pro/Am event.

The ASA has had an anti-doping policy for years.  They’ve just not been implementing it.  The complaining top archer knew that his beta-blockers are banned in archery. Yet, until the ASA’s announcement, they are going to begin testing,  he’d never bothered to submit a TUE.

A fellow I raced and trained with during the years I spent doing triathlons is a doper.  He was a professional.  He was really good at the sport of triathlon.  He eventually got caught doping.

In his defense he claimed he had a prescription. He’d never submitted a TUE.  To bad, said the USADA, you’re banned for two-years.

Would that triathlete have been as good without the banned substance – no he would not have.  He’d been good, only not as good.

What about the archer that has been using a beta-blocker because he has a prescription and has not submitted a TUE? Would he be as good without the beta-blocker? Is it honest to compete using a banned substance, when you know it is banned, and not disclose your use of the drug?

In archery:

“Beta-blockers are prohibited both Out of Competition and In-Competition. Beta-blockers are used by athletes who require a steady hand, increased focus and a relaxed state of mind to perform at the highest level. Beta-blockers are banned because they block the effect of adrenaline and help the heart work more efficiently thereby reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tremors and even anxiety. Examples of beta blockers that are used illegally are Propanolol which is used to steady the hands and increase the ability to focus, metoprolol with its extended release formula and atenolol which helps athletes control symptoms of performance anxiety.”1

I don’t know about you, but during a tournament I get excited.  My heart rate is up, my adrenaline is pumping, and I expect my blood pressure (BP) may be a bit elevated.  My resting BP is 117/68. My resting heart rate (HR) is around 57 (taken sitting here typing while under the influence of Red Bull). I’ve never taken my BP before a tournament.  While I’ve not checked my HR during archery competition, I know it is up.  I can feel my heart pounding away.  Sometimes I don’t calm down until 20 arrows have been shot.  If I’m going to fire off a poor shot, it is going to happen near the onset of a competition.

I’ve never set a personal best during a tournament. Would a beta-blocker help with those performance related symptoms of heart rate and adrenaline?  Yes, it would help.

If I had high blood pressure would I take a beta-blocker? Yes. Archery is fun, strokes are not fun. If I had high blood pressure and needed a prescription of a banned drug would I apply for a TUE? Yes. Otherwise, I’d be cheating.

More to the point, have I ever competed against archers using banned substances? Frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever competed at a major event where other archers weren’t taking beta-blockers.

Do I think archers should be allowed to receive a TUE for the use of a beta-blocker to compete in archery? No, I do not. If I needed a beta-blocker I’d submit a TUE.  I’d also expect it to be rejected.

When applying for a TUE the USADA has stated:

In these cases, despite undisputed medical indications for the therapeutic use of beta-blockers, the TUE applications were rejected because the athletes could not demonstrate the absence of an enhancing effect on their individual performance. 2

Archery is a sport.  As an archer, you are an athlete.  Athletes are fit. For most of us there are ways to reduce blood pressure without using drugs. 3.   The Mayo Clinic’s first two methods listed to reduce BP: exercise and diet. 3

If your dream is the be an athlete and your waist is over 40 inches for a man and 35 for a women, you probably need to take some action to reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Then, work on being an athlete.  You can’t be an athlete if you’re dead.

If you’re not going to put in the work and you are on beta-blockers, still shoot.  Only, compete in the “Fun” category until you’ve either gotten healthy enough to compete clean or can show that the banned substance you take doesn’t improve your performance as an archer.

*Years later, I did earn a spot on a USA Team to represent the USA at the World Championship in the Long Course Duathlon. And, yes I have been tested for performance enhancing drugs.

References:

1.)        http://www.greygoosearchery.co.uk/drugs-archery/

2.) https://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/TUE_guidance-cardiovascular-conditions.pdf

3.) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974

 

“Your goal should be to have fun.”

Just before the start of the second day of shooting during the USA Indoor National Championships in Suwanee, Georgia a friend of mine said, “Your goal should be to have fun.” That wasn’t my goal.

My goals also weren’t to shoot a specific score. I had only two goals.  One was to “Shoot every arrow right.”

By that, I mean to go through a perfect process for each shot.  When I get it right the arrow lands in the X.  When I’m off the arrow lands in the nine ring.  When the process is out of control – all bets are off.

As far as having fun, that’s an activity that can occur between ends.  Essentially, it amounts to good conversation while waiting to shoot. It helps pass the time of a three and a half hours long tournament.  But, it isn’t why I go to tournaments.

No, I don’t go to archery tournaments to have fun.  I go to compete against other archers.  Oh sure, you’ll say, “You’re there to compete against yourself.”  Well, you can do that at home and save the entry fee expense and whatever other costs you incur to compete.

I go to tournaments to compete.  Tournaments add a competitive layer of archery I don’t get shooting alone.  Yes, I do enjoy it.  I also enjoy the friendly conversation with people I know and ones I don’t know during a tournament.  It is a great way to make friends. Which comes to my second goal, “To make new friend.”

Where my goals are concerned for that last tournament, I feel I was more successful with the second. As far as having fun, tournaments are a lot more fun when you’re winning. In that regard, this last tournament was fun.

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.