Checking Web Stats – Who’s Reading

Periodically, I check this site. The areas covered in the check include reader stats, Alexa ranking, safety (verifying the site hasn’t been hacked by some nefarious individual or organization) and other reviews available via a search.

Looks safe

Studying the stats about readers is easy – provides that data. Other data requires some hunting.

Puttingitontheline is primarily about archery. Drilling down, it is about a retired medical professional making a run at a new sport.

This places in the top 3% of all ‘active’ websites

The number one activity among retired men relates to sports. The bulk of those men “watch” sports as a pastime. Still others concentrate on their golf game, fishing, hunting, running, cycling, triathlon or other activity. I have one friend that retired early. He was not an athlete. After retirement he started running. The last time I spoke to him he’d run 53 marathons including, New York, Chicago and Boston.

Archery is a growth sport – it is growing thanks to lots of popular movies that have super hero archers. Women seem to be a major growth section of archery. There also seems to be a lot of younger people in the sport thanks to programs like JOAD and 4H.

I know of 16 and 17 year old archers, certainly greater shooters, which have already signed deals with major archery manufacturers. This is a bit like Nike signing a high school runner without the shoes or money.

The younger archers really aren’t my demographic. Certainly, archers younger than 50 read the postings here. But, the bulk of the readers are not youngsters.

According to data on this site it is popular. The readers aren’t younger they’re older. This suggests a lot of older that may be new to the sport coming here for information and stories. It suggests to me there is a market segment of archers over 50 that I believe aren’t getting the same degree of attention by archery manufacturers as the youth.

There are some great archers over 50 that do have a high level of industry support. Many of them have had that support for years. When it comes to newly minted “Pro” jersey wearing master archers, the few I spoken to have paid for that jersey.

Most of them compete as a pastime and aren’t earning much if any money shooting. There seems to be a lot of them.

Stats from April 1 – April 7, 2018. It takes about three minutes to read a post and look around this site a bit.

I think there is an untapped market among the Masters archers. Archery is a sport where age is a relatively independent factor. That is, someone over 50, in my opinion, can become an elite archer. Within the readership of this website, I believe more than a few of those future elites are out there.

USA Archery Level 2

This was a bit of effort. Classes, classroom tests, online courses with more tests and a background check.  Glad to have this complete.

If you live in the Athens, Georgia area and are looking to try archery or are already into the sport and would like some help give me a call.

This Is How I Practice for 50 Meters

Fifty meters is a fairly long shot. It includes a lot of walking back and forth. Twenty meters is a faster practice because of the shorter walk to reclaim arrows. Now, the walking isn’t a real endurance work out, it just slows things down. Having a 50-meter range behind my house is a bonus.

50-meter practice, for this session, meant about a mile of walking and took nearly two hours.

Being slow in archery isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rushing a shot is a bad thing. When I practice I’ll frequently set a timer and measure how many seconds remain following a six shot end.

The thick lines are the trek back and forth pulling arrows

During practice, I could fire off more than 6 arrows – I don’t. I try to make practice close to tournament conditions. That means: shoot 6 arrows, walk to the target, record my scores, pull the arrows and repeat. Practicing with a timer gives me confidence that I’ll get my arrows off with a routine buffer of time. I don’t want too much unused time. On the other hand I don’t want to be thinking about the clock during competition.

On average I have ample time left on the clock after six arrows. Between each shot I use an 8 count as I go through the shooting process. Using an eight count, I go through it 3 times. Each set of the 8 count associated with the shot process. Counting slows me down and clears my head. Since each set of eight has parts of the shooting process associated with the count it makes me aware of the steps to getting off a good feeling arrow. By the time I reach the third and final 8 I am ready to release the arrow. After the first 3 arrows, I make an effort to take a conscious pause before shooting the final three arrows.

When planning a practice I vary it to some degree. The practice may be two sessions a day at 84 arrows, 12 warm up and 72 for scoring or shorter sessions three times a day at 42 arrows, 6 warm-up and 36 for scoring. I almost always record my shots and make notes. I carry a pad in my quiver to making records. My notes and measurements are later transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. (Some days I’ll purposely not record anything and shoot for fun only)

A spotting scope is a handy tool for longer distances. (This one an early birthday present from one of by daughters, her husband and one of my grandsons.)

There are also days where I’ll practice for 50-meters by shooting from 60, 65  or 70 yards.  Fifty meters is roughy 55 yards.  The extra yardage makes 50-meters feel easy when I return to that distance.

When it’s cold I wear a thin glove

Everyday practice isn’t always possible. For instance, it stormed yesterday. Today, despite it being the middle of April it was cold. Cold does not prevent practice. Neither does wind and today it was windy. Even when it rains, other than down pours, I’ll be on the range. (It is important to note that everyday practice does include a recovery day. Taking a day for rest is an important element to any sport. That recovery day for me is on a 7-day and 10-day cycle)

My bow setting at the 50-meter mark.

Practice and shooting 50-meters presents outdoor challenges we don’t face during indoor competition and training. Space for a range is a problem for many archers. When we built our new house having enough land for archery was a must. Finding a local 50-meter range then getting to it does add another burden to long-range practice. (Not unlike finding a pool to practice swimming – they are available.  It is nice when it is a simple walk to practice.) Fifty meters ranges are available, it sometimes takes a bit more effort but it can be done.

Just under a mile

One of my 3D targets

I’ve gotten some nice trails cut though my property here in Good Hope, Ga. The original intent was to create a nice 3D range. That turned out pretty good. The second reason was to clear so paths so that I might avoid stepping on snakes. Next is to spread the piles of mulch, a result of clearing trees.

Photo taken from 50 meters

It is still pretty thick in the forest behind my house. But, I’ve ended up with a 70-yard target range, a 3D range and as it turned out a running loop that is just under a mile.

Nice trail for running

I’d rather to loops in the woods than out and backs next to a road. River likes this better as well – she can run free range.

Blame it on John Pinette

John, today’s poor practice shooting was entirely your fault.

You may not know John. He was a failed accountant. He stopped practicing accounting shortly after receiving his degree from University of Massachusetts in Lowell. His friends talked him into giving up that career convincing him he’d do better as a comedian. They were correct.

John was a master comedian. He was also an actor and Broadway star. He died a few years ago. (2014 – he was only 50)

One of his comedy albums in on my phone. While practicing today I put on music. Occasionally, the phone would shuffle through songs and play John.

I should be able to remain clear headed and shoot somewhere near the center of the target regardless of what going on around me. Today it was impossible to do so while laughing. Even when I started skipping John (my phone seemed fixated with him), his lines would float through my head and I’d start laughing again.

John Pinette

If you want to work on centering yourself for archery, John Pinette is a good distraction. If you can get though listening to him while practicing and shoot well you’re probably ready for about anything.

USA Archery Coaching Program

Over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend (March 17th and 18th), rather than celebrate, I attended a USA Archery Level 1 and Level 2 NTS Coaching class. The class was tough.  It was to prepare student to become instructors.  I passed the two-day workshop.

In order to complete the program I took and passed a number of required “Safe Sport” courses. I had my background check completed and submitted before I took the two-day workshop.

The results of the workshop on coaching are at USA Archery. This I know because they confirmed they had the results.

I was issued a range pass on March 25th. After checking I was unable to find any indication I’d completed the coaching program. I sent an email on March 30th and got a response on April 5th. The response indicated that USA Archery had my results and I might expect a notice of completion in a matter of days. Today, April 10th, there has been no acknowledgment that I completed the program.

Let me just state that the early enthusiasm for the program is diminished.

Talent Transfer: ‘n’ = 1

In November of 2013 it was not my intention to be competitive in archery. It was only suppose to be a backyard pastime. Then, I read, “Faster, Higher, Stronger: The New Science of Creating Superathletes, and How You Can Train Like Them” by Mark McClusky.

In his book McClusky writes there are two sports where an athlete over 50 can be an elite: shooting and archery. He further writes about talent transfer and the 10,000 rule. Looking into this with more depth archery became a sport wherein I decided to become competitive.

At that point, I was 58 years old and looking to extend my competitive life. Honestly, I cannot not tell you how many running races, cycling races, duathlons and triathlons I’ve completed. I do know that I was not interested in being that old guy in Lycra hanging onto the back of a pack of cyclists. Certainly, I still run nearly every day and ride a bike 3-5 times per week. I may enter an occasional race for fun, but that’s probably the limit. It is too late for me to be an elite in endurance sports even if I could be an elite age grouper*. So, I picked a new sport – archery.

The first order of business, aside from getting a bow, some arrows, and such, was to determine if that 10,000 hour rule could be broken by a 58 year old cyclist/triathlete turned archer. There also needed to be a measure of where that might be properly evaluated.

The measure I selected as a goal was equivalency in cycling. At my best, as a cyclist I won State Road, time trial and sprint Championships in the same year. In 2017 in archery I won State Indoor, Outdoor and 3D Championships. I also won at the USA National Indoor Championship held in Snellville, GA in 2017 – I got second in 2018 (in my age group)

It took less than 48 months to achieve those objectives in archery. It did not take 10,000 hours. I competed in my age group so it is a loose measure of equivalency.

The 10,000 hour rule is based on what judges might say is a summary of the time it take anyone to became an elite performer. I do not have 10,000 hours of archery practice under my belt. Because I’ve some championships does that mean I’ve broken the 10,000 rule to become an elite performer in archer? Simply, no.

Look at three archers considered elite: Brandon Gillenthien, Jesse Broadwater, and Reo Wilde. Some of their recent (2018) published scores for 120 arrows at 18-meters comes to an average score of 1183 or 1190, 1190 and 1170, respectively. My best score for 120 arrows at 18-meters in 1158 or 2.1% lower than the elites’ average over one event where they competed. While 2.1% doesn’t look like a lot it is a huge difference – 25 points. It is this variance that separates me from an elite based strictly on score.

The next question is how long will it take to close that 25-point gap? As a rule, I generally know how many arrows I shoot per year. I have not kept hours of practice logged but do have a rough estimate of 1250 hours per year. Along with the 10,000 rule this matches the eight-year rule. The eight-year rule says it takes eight years of deliberate practice to become an elite. At my current rate of practice I should reach the elite level in 2020. However, my improvement percentage change year on year has me reaching the scoring level for elite status late 2018 or early 2019.

What I have learned is that Talent Transfer from endurance sports to archery has only minor advantage. The main benefit is focus on training. In endurance sports there are a lot of long hours of training – much of it alone. In archery there are a lot of long hours on the range. Beyond that, the sports are so dissimilar that there is little crossover. It certainly isn’t like being a mountain bike rider that crosses over to road racing as in the case of Cadel Evans winner of the Tour de France (2011) and Olympic Mountain Bike racer (9th place Atlanta 1996).

But, there is some advantage to adjusting from endurance sports to archery. The mental edge and ability to focus on a sport is the primary transferred edge. In any event, I’ll continue to plug away at shooting and see where it leads.

*As an age grouper I did earn a spot on the USA Team to the 2007 World Championship Long Course Duathlon.  I repeated that in 2012 but declined the spot on the Team due to other commitments. My spot then rolled down to the next fastest duathlete. (Duathlon is Run – Bike – Run, long course distance is similar or longer than: 10K run, 100K bike and 15K run).  But, nothing in sports I have done compares to the 2008 Ironman World Championship on the Big Island if Hawaii where I raced in 2008.

Waiting for the Dust to Settle

2018 has been a blur of activity. We moved to Georgia. We added more construction to the property in Georgia. I’ve cleared, mostly, about 3 acres for a 3D range. I’ve added a target range for 50 meters and out to 80 meters.

I also completed a USA Archery Level 2 Coaching program. Competed in four tournaments and weekly league style shooting. Plus, I bought a new bow.

New Elite Victory 37

The new bow is another Elite. This one is the 2018 Elite 37. To be honest, my scores are pretty much exactly what they were with the 2015 Elite 35. In the long run I think the 37 will be worth the investment.

Another benefit to being here is the running and cycling. I can run in my neighborhood but must to laps to get in any serious miles. There are excellent trails to run all within a short drive.

Cycling is the best. The terrain here near Athens, Georgia is rolling hills. Rolling hills are my favorite type of road. Flat gets boring. Too steep becomes more of fight to go up and then coast down. That was pretty much how I trained when we lived in Pittsburgh. That too got old. When we lived in Kennesaw, Georgia the roads were rolling hills. From my experience, rolling hills are the most fun for training.

I am yet to get a decent long-term training program going. Typically, I run, shoot, rest, ride and shoot. I’ve gotten that in a number of times but the past 12 weeks have been a challenge.

Getting into the 3D of Things

The range is up. It is raining. I need to practice 3D.

This coyote is fun. The shot looks longer than it was, 38 yards.
Yep, that javelina is in that hole about 40 yards away

When rain seems to have stopped, I head out to practice. Twenty shots later it begins to rain. I head back indoors. Two hundred yards pass along the walk to cover and the rain stops. I turn around, shoot 10 arrows and it starts to rain, again. I head back, go 200 yards, and the rain stops. I gave up stayed outside and got wet.

Zoomed in a bit so you can see the target
Worst shot of the day. I thought I’d managed a center 12. Nope, that’s an 8.

Not everyday has been so much of a weather challenge. Yesterday was pretty good. It was cold and windy. Out in the woods the wind is subdued a tad. My main concern was a limb breaking free and landing on my head. No limb crashed onto my skull.

This is a tough turkey

Practice was by design interesting. Shooting the same targets day in and day out, you need to find training sessions to keep things interesting. This is especially true when you train alone.

Practice on this little target is always, shoot a center 12 and a 14. Don’t move on until the 12 and 14 are shot in sequence.

This day’s training was: the first arrow at an unknown yardage for scoring followed by four others for yardage training. The shortest distance was 18 yards (rabbit) and the longest was 45 yards (deer, bear, and mountain lion.)

This is only 27 yards, but the lane is cleared so the target can be worked out to 50 yards.

3D practice, time per arrow, is slower that 18-meters. Generally, you walk further which slows things down. Plus, it takes a little longer to judge yardage. I don’t find one disciple, 18-meter, 3D or 50-meter, more fun than the other. They are all about the same to me. The major difference is it rarely rains indoors.

This poor ole bear is beginning to wear out in the center.