“Who’s Ready for some 3D?”

A fellow I know posted on his Facebook page, “Who’s Ready for some 3D?”

He’d purchased his annual new bow and new arrows.  He signed with an archery equipment company as a “Pro Staff” member and made a public, Facebook, announcement of his elevated status. He’d posted a competitive schedule and pointed out he’d be traveling to compete on a specific tour. He is a top dog.

Shortly afterward he showed up at the local  indoor range and exclaimed excitedly his eagerness for upcoming 3D season to everyone within hearing distance.  He’s loud so the audible parameter was large.

While standing at the 18-meter line of the range someone took a smart phone picture of him for Facebook application. Within hours of his departure that photo would land on Facebook with a caption announcing his newly acquired gear was launching arrows to perfection.

While on the range his new bow and arrows in hand he began flinging arrows 18 meters down range. He’s chosen a vertical three spot to destroy.  He was wearing out the eight rings.

After thirty minutes he’d shot about 24 arrows.  (6 ends of 3 arrows) He collected his shinny gear and departed the range. Eager to post about his superior equipment.

Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D?” isn’t really a top dog.  In fact, I don’t recall him winning any of the local 3D events.  He spends a lot of money at the shop and the workers there treat him like royalty.

Pro Staff doesn’t mean professional archer.  Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D,” is a perfect example.  He wears a pro staff shirt but is far from a professional level archer.  The archery shop is allocated a number of positions to fill with local archers as promotional marketing plan for the manufacturer’s gear.  The shop selects archers that are loyal, spend money and will promote the shop to complete those “Pro Staff” allocations.  Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D?” is well liked spends an abundance of money at the shop and wins an allocation.  Don’t be fooled, Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D?” isn’t a pro.  If you paid for your manufacturer’s kit and gear neither are you.

To be a true top dog it takes a lot of commitment. Practice is a focal point in your life. Training is always ongoing. A hundred arrows per week won’t cut it. Practicing on the weekends won’t work. Do the work and win.  Then, the manufactures will come looking for you.

In 3D where you only have 20 to 30 targets you can get through the shots with minimal practice.  But, with all the variance in targets getting through them is the best to hope for.  Getting great at 3D means knowing the variance in target view at all the potential distance you will see for that target.  It takes a lot of time and thousands of arrows to become excellent at finding those 12(ASA) or 11 (IBO) circles with an arrow.

If you are practicing a little bit for a few months out of the year you are not really ready for some 3D and you should plan on digging around for that lost arrow on the range at your next event. Still, it is fun to be out with your friends.  Heck, consider golf.  You can put in the same amount of effort only with golf you can drink beer with your buddies while you play.

Increasing Poundage on a Recurve Bow

Shooting an Olympic recurve is demanding.  Unlike a compound bow there is no let off when the archer reaches their draw length.  The archer has to hold the poundage at full draw.  Increasing poundage can be useful and finding an ideal limb weight takes time.

Adult beginners can typically begin and enjoy shooting a recurve bow at lower poundage.  As they improve they’ll often want to increase their draw weight.  Younger archers take time to develop and their draw weight increases as they mature.

Initially an adult who begins at 25 pounds may see a rapid changes in poundage.  Many people can jump from 25 to 35 in 2 to 4 pound increments fairly fast.  Fairly fast is months versus years. Even so there will be people more comfortable remaining at lower poundage for much longer if not indefinitely.

Higher poundage does have some advantage.  At longer distances an arrow launched at 32 pounds will travel more slowly and with more arch than the same arrow launched at 42 pounds.  (Yes, I know the spine is different for 32 versus 42 pounds – this is an example for illustration) The faster arrow and flatter trajectory is affected less by wind.  With a higher weight many archers see an improved release.

Moving up in poundage is not simple.  An increase from 28 pounds to 30 pounds may feel easy where moving from 40 to 42 can feel exponentially more difficult.  If the archer shoots using a clicker the archer may notice the clicker is more difficult to trigger.

The clicker and anchor point are note solely impacted by the increase demand to draw to bow there is additional compressibility of the soft tissue between joints.  When changing limb weight the archer may find their clicker needs a slight adjustment of a millimeter to a few millimeters.

If you are considering increasing the poundage of your limbs and shoot a couple of hundred arrows per day don’t stay at that same volume with you increase weight.  Decease by half or more until you can control your bow.  This will aid to maintain form and reduce the risk of an injury.

Another 12 Months Passed Shooting an Olympic Recurve

Switching from compound bow to Olympic recurve has been challenging.  Seventeen months ago doesn’t seem so long a time. Lots of practice and training has been augmented by a degree of talent transfer.  There remains a long way to go.

Over the last twelve months I competed in 11 tournaments. The bigger events were skipped because of the Covid.  I won 10 of the 11 competitions. Of those I entered 4 were in the Masters division, either the 50 – 70 or 65 – 69.

There were mixed reasons for competing my age group.  Most often it was because I hadn’t been able to practice at the distance of the younger division.  I don’t have a 90-meter range and for a long time a downed tree blocked my 70-meter range.  One other event I could only compete in my age group.

In the 6 tournaments where I competed against the younger division I won all but one where I took 3rd.  That was the USA Archery Georgia State 18-Meter Indoor tournament.  The others: Georgia NFAA Indoor, Georgia USAA Field, Georgia USAA Target, Georgia USAA 25-Meter Indoor and Southern Fall Shootout I won.

Over the course of the switch I’ve shot 43,730 arrows, broke a riser in two, increased poundage from 32 to 42 and added a clicker.  I can attest it has been a lot of work.

Vacation Can Be Tough

Vacation is fun or so they say.  However, it you are a competitive athlete time off can be tough.

It doesn’t matter what the sport is when athletes pause for recovery it can be difficult.  There is a feeling that time is wasting and opponents are getting better while you are relaxing.   That really isn’t the case. By that the case being that an opponent is getting better while the vacationing athlete is losing form.   Breaks are necessary.  It allows the body to recover and the mental stress to abate.  Non-stop training leads to injury and burnout.

Too many breaks is another matter. Pretty much that means, when you are taking lots of breaks, you are an enthusiast. Being an enthusiast is fine.  Most athletes fall into this class. The sport is more of a hobby.  Some folks call these individuals weekend warriors.  Again, this is the class of athlete that is the foundation of sport.

Top athletes are different.  Not simply that they train differently often times they are genetically different.  In football those professional athletes are bigger, faster stronger and have an ability to see rapidly moving patterns on a field. In baseball their speed and reflex ability is breathtaking.  In archery the top athletes can shoot hundreds to thousands of arrows (weekly) without damaging shoulder joints and have a keen sense of feeling a target and loosing an arrow. All of those top athletes still need to plan for recovery.

Jerry Rice the greatest of all time at his position was not the most gifted player of that position. He did however plan specific times for recovery and had a very specific off-season training plan.  Archery can be done year round.  As archers, we really don’t have much of a down season.  Once indoor season ends outdoor season begins.

This essentially non-stop sport requires scheduled period to recover.  In your yearly training plan you do need to have select periods where you don’t pick up a bow.  It is hard to do but it will help you recover and last as a competitive archer.

Sleep and Archery

Archery isn’t a sport requiring high level of cardiopulmonary fitness.  It does require an elevated degree of neurocognition.  Archery demands a physically repeated action that does stress upper body muscles and skeletal structure.  It also necessitates the ability to balance with minimal sway placing additional demands on an athlete’s core and lower body support. Sleep reinforces sport recovery and improves performance.(1)

The disciple required to excel in sport is enormous.  The daily activities during training, travel and competition all can decrease the ability to train properly, focus and compete.

Training along with poor restorative sleep can lead injury.  Overtraining is associated with injury and lower performance levels.  Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality does reduce performance and leads to injury.

One of the easiest, albeit infrequently considered, ways to improve performances is understanding that quality sleep supports develop as an athlete. Then, taking the steps to improve sleep.

This is true for archery.  In a convenient sample of training scores, simulated tournaments over 30 days sleep quality was recorded along with performance levels.

Nights where sleep was poor were documented, as were the higher quality sleep cycles.  These were based on hours of sleep, good sleep being greater than seven hours, and poor sleep less than seven hours. (Personal data n=1)

The mean number of hours slept for a quality scores was 7.8 hours versus 6.3 hours for poor quality sleep. Those nights with better sleep yielded a mean score of (vertical 3 sport 18 or 25 meters Olympic recurve bow for both conditions) 549 versus 532, quality sleep vs. poor quality sleep, respectively.  The difference of 17 points is significant (3.09%). A high score of 568 was achieved at both 18 and 25 meters for quality sleep nights. Those higher scores had a range of 568 to 540 points.  The poor quality sleep had a high score of 540 (at 25 and 18 meters) and a low score of 527 (25 meters) was revealed.

Sleep has been shown to improve performance of skilled athletes. (2) In this data set archery is not an exception.

Reference:

(1) Simpson NS, Gibbs EL, Metheson GO: Optimizing sleep to maximize performance: implications and recommendations for elite athletes. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2017 Mar; 27(3): 266-274

(2) Cheri D Mah, Kenneth E MahEric J KezirianWilliam C Dement.The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep 2011 Jul 1; 34(7): 943-50

The Georgia Golden Olympics

The 2021 Georgia Golden Olympics were held in Warner-Robins, Georgia. I entered for two reasons: Qualify for the 2022 National Senior Games and visit my sister who lives in Warner-Robins.

The highlight of the trip was seeing my sister.  It is always a pleasure to visit her.

The tournament was a mess.  It had rained the night before and the field was a bit swampy.  That really wasn’t an issue.  I’d expected the rain and had waterproof boots to wear.

The problem was the organizers had expected the event a week later.  All the archers arrived and there wasn’t a target in sight.

When it was clear there was a miscommunication a few of the archers found some target butts and targets.  There were on 6 butts and thirty archers.

We made due at 60 yards by cramming five archers per target.  Not a problem at 60 yards. At 50 yards it wasn’t going to work.  Every one shooting was so good that there wasn’t room in the yellow rings to hold all the arrows without breaking many of them. In addition, as tight as the arrows were at 60 yards, scoring – following each arrow from nock to pile was more difficult that you’d think.  Thirty arrows squeezed into a 12.5 cm ring is a lot.

We ended up having to run a line where the arrows would be shot then pulled then run the next line and pull the arrows.  Arrows had to be pulled after each end. IT made for a long and hungry day.

I’d brought enough food for a four-hour tournament.  Roughly 800 calories worth of solid food and four drinks for another 1000 calories.  It ran out sooner than expected.  It was rough.  It is hard to focus when you are hungry.

A friend gave me a breakfast bar and it was enough.  At least it didn’t rain on us.

It Is Going to Rain – Again!

Shooting an Olympic recurve started for me 398 days ago.  Eighty-one days after starting I shot an outdoor event, in October 2020 where it didn’t rain. In 2021 I’ve competed in 7 tournaments using a recurve bow.  Of those four of them were outdoors. Once there was a light rain that wasn’t much bother.  During the other three outdoor tournaments it stormed.

Those storms caused extended delays as archers, spectators and judges took shelter. The last event ended hours behind schedule due to lightening delays.

Tomorrow I am headed out of town to compete in an outdoor event in two days. Right now it is raining. Tomorrow’s forecast is for rain.  The day of the tournament the forecast is calling for thunderstorms.

Frequently it rains when I am practicing outdoors.  I continue to practice in rain unless it really becomes a storm.  Practicing in those conditions has been beneficial considering every competitive outdoor event in 2021 has been rainy.  Those practices helped me a little to understand how my bow and in particular bowstring reacts to being wet.

If I had a choice I’d rather not shoot in the rain.  It looks like in two days, however, I’ll be in the rain.

There’s one more outdoor event in October.  I am hoping for clear skies. By November we’ll be shooting indoor events.  There will be a few months to dry out before heading back outside.

Range Work and Repair

When we decided to move home to Georgia one of the requirements was land.  Land for privacy, quiet, and archery.  Initially, the target amount of land was 5 to 10 acres.  We settled for less.

This issue regarding acreage wasn’t price so much as it was construction and location.  While we find many wonderful old Southern homes with plenty of land all needed rehab.  Securing a construction company that we could rely upon to upgrade these old homes seemed less and less likely.

We ended up with building a house on a little over 3 acres in a small development on the cusps of Athens. Although we didn’t end up with the amount of land we wanted we did land in a good location. The building of the house from start to finish was only 6 months.

The three plus acres has turned out to be just enough if not just right.  More land would have been better.  The property we do have serves me pretty well with archery.  It isn’t prefect but I can make do.

There’s now a 70-yard lane to practice targets and 18 3-D targets sitting on the back part of the lot that is wooded.  If I need to shoot further I must step over the line to a neighbors property for which he’s given me permission.

This is important when practicing 70 meters or roughly 77 years.  I did have 75 yards bit lost five yards when I put a backstop behind my target butts.  This was necessary when the property next to us sold.  The new owner was afraid I’d miss the target and an arrow might land in her woods.  Granted, the target is over 100 yards from her house and sitting so that an errant arrow would land in the nature berm between the two lots.  Anyway, to keep the peace I built the backstop and lost 5 yards.

Backstop that ate some yardage and the butt to be repaired

To practice all I need to do is walk out from my back yard, through the fence and onto my range.  I get to do a lot of shooting.  As a result my targets take a beating.

Targets don’t last.  I have to plug holes every few months.  Today I needed to repair my 48 inch round butt I use for 122 cm targets.  Because I have multiple butts I only need to repair them two to three times a year.

There is a material I could purchase to cover the 48 inches that costs $240.00 a sheet.  Since most of my arrows land in or near the same spot the $240.00 for a large sheet seemed expensive.  Instead I plug the holes with installation foam, after wrapping the butt and using a cut out from a yoga mat to cover the center of the target.  It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish to make the repair and it is good for several months.  The material for the repair per repair runs less than $10 each time.

The yoga mat I am currently using is a cheapo.  It can be cut with scissors, costs less than 10 bucks and adds life to repair.

This morning was a recovery day from shooting so it was repair day.  I’ve found that the installation foam takes a little longer to dry because for the packing wrap that covers the butt.  After pulling an arrow out of a repaired target that only have 24 hours drying to find goop on it I now wait a couple of days. While one target is drying to practice on another.

Hole is filled now waiting everything to dry.

Even though I’d hoped to have a 100-yard lane for practice I make due worth the shorter lane.  I don’t need to make many shots over 80 yards and can avoid the 100 yards shots by not shooting in the class that requires a 100 yard shot.

Photo taken at 70 yards

Having access to targets whenever I want is great.  Keeping up with repairs and range maintenance is worth the effort.

“THESE ARROWS COST $47.00 A PIECE!”

I’ve bought a lot of gear from Lancaster Archery. When we lived in Easton, Maryland, where I started shooting a compound bow in November 2013, someone mentioned to me Lancaster Archery.  Until that moment I had no idea they existed.

There isn’t any reason I might have heard of Lancaster Archery Supply.  I’d never been involved with archery so why would I have heard of LAS?

Naturally, I looked LAS up on the Internet.  Those where the days when I lived in a fancy town with actual Internet service.  The year was 2014; I’d been trying to shoot a compound bow, a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 for several months.

Easton is only 110 miles away from LAS.  I’d decided to make a pilgrimage to LAS so my wife and I headed to Lancaster, PA. She wanted to see if there might be some Amish goods to acquire in the area.

What I wanted from LAS was a target sight and scope along with those long stabilizers the other archers all had on their bows.  Up until that point I had a hunting sight and a Trophy Ridge hunting stabilizers on the Apex 7.  I ‘knew’ the fancy gear would improve my shooting and was willing to pay for it. Or at a minimum I’d look the part of an archer taking aim at targets.

With a couple of months experience in archery I entered LAS pretty much not having a clue.  LAS felt like archery Mecca. Within a few minutes my glassy eyed expression signaled for help.

The salesman was extremely patient. He sold me a pile of gear.  I still use the sight and scope on my compound bow.  Well, they are still on my compound bow but I’ve not picked it up since I switched to recurve in 2020. I did change the front stabilizer on the bow after a few years of using it.

While I was in LAS there were other archers milling about. One fellow in particular I’m unlikely to forget.  He wasn’t milling about admiring treasures. They fellow strutted around as if his genital was engorged hoping, perhaps, he’d be admired.

Accompanying him was his recurve bow, quiver lashed to his waist loaded with the skinniest arrows I’d ever sent.  Admittedly, I was curious about the arrows. I wanted to know about the arrows but was afraid to risk speaking to the man for fear he’d erupt on himself he was so puffed up.

When a salesman spoke to him it took a little puff out of the archery gear decorated peacock so I took courage and asked him about the arrows.

At my question the little fellow froze. He was shorter than me and I’m under 5 feet 8 inches tall.  Once, I was taller. Gravity is winning. There was a pause in his existence.  He literally was frozen where he’d stood.  He eyed me with either a look of suspicion or viewed me as prey.  Either way it was awkward. His suspended stance appeared to be a sign that anyone within a five-foot radius of the human figurine should consider moving further away.

Backing away without turning my back on the motionless archer it could be seen that the fellow was beginning to vibrate. The arrows in his quiver starting to rattle like maracas as his face became a dark crimson.

Then, he blurted out, “THESE ARROWS COST $47.00 A PIECE!”

Well, okay I thought to myself as we both walked away from one another. That was a close as I got to the $47.00 arrows.

I have no idea who the little fellow was and still don’t.  Nor do I care.  What amazes me and something I won’t forget was his puffery.

One day I expect I’ll shoot expensive arrows.  Right now I’m flinging arrows THAT COST $4.90 A PIECE.  Those cheap arrows have won six out of seven tournaments in the men’s senior or masters’ divisions.  I don’t know if that says something about me or those archers flinging the high-end arrows. What I can say is that the archers with the expensive arrows always look the part.

Nice Arrows

When I switched to Olympic Recurve I did so on a budget.  There seemed no point in buying the top level gear having never shot an Olympic recurve bow. Using that philosophy I started with very inexpensive arrows.

Over the year of shooting Olympic recurve I’ve had to purchase an expensive riser.  The initial $149.00 riser snapped in half after 26,011 arrows.  In addition, I moved up to a high-end sight.  The original sight was fine to start, but it’s screws kept falling out.

The bow’s limbs increased from $99.00 products to $149.00 products as my poundage increased.  One group of items that remain basement bargains is my arrows.

My current arrows cost $4.90 each.  I’d moved up to a $6.00 arrow but the spine was wrong despite what the manufacturer had published on their website.  I returned to the $4.90 arrows and those are much better.

I understand there are much more expensive arrows.  Next year I may make a move toward the high-end arrow.  Those range from $32.35 to $52.00 each.

I’ve held one of the $52.00 arrows.  I’ve never shot one.  One sales person told me that a dozen, $625.00 before tax, would buy me 10 points over the course of an outdoor tournament.  Another sales person told me more likely the expensive arrows would only provide a few extra points.

The 10 points advantage works out to $62.50 per point.

No doubt in 2022 I’ll buy more expensive arrows.  I doubt they’ll end up being the most expensive.  I’ll likely get the $32.35 each arrow.