Grandkids – Common Denominators

Doing anything over and over becomes mind clearing if not mind numbing.  When I ride a bike my mind clears and I think of all sorts of things.  I’ve thought up inventions and written papers while riding a bicycle.  I also formed ideas or plans that were left on some road not making the trip home. The same is true with archery.  Those between ends times walking back and forth to pull arrows are intervals where ideas pop into my head.

Recently, while walking on my 3D range my grandkids popped into my thoughts.  All are under the age of 10. I began thinking about the common denominators among them.  This is what I came up with:

  • They are at full speed or eating,
  • Conflict is a reflex,
  • They’re not having fun until someone is bleeding.

If you have young grandkids, perhaps those three common denominators are applicable.

Range Time

In any sport training needs variety to keep the athlete fresh.  Archery is probably the least exciting when it comes to practice of any sport I’ve done.  Football was always exciting.  Practice typically meant some form of hitting.  Same with karate. Cycling, running and swimming can become routine. There are plenty of new trails and roads to keep cycling and running fresh, as does changing intensity and training solo or with a group.  Swimming can be mind numbing especially when your goal is some long swim, only.

But, archery is in a class of its own.  Archers frequently practice alone often in their backyards.  Shoot over 100 arrows a day for years at 20 yards and you’ll understand routine. You’ll also be really good at 20 yards.

Fortunately, I’ve had and still have a range.  In fact, I have two, one for 3D and one for dots.  Everyday I practice on those ranges.  To mix it up I lay out specific practice goals. Believe me that helps.

Archers that live in cities and rely on indoor ranges, public outdoor ranges at parks, and backyard ranges have grit.  They have discipline and often a little extra cash for range fees. For those archers that live in the country and have enough property to create our own ranges count your lucky stars.

 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

It Started Off Great

Fresh paper for a new day

It started off great; it didn’t last.

That felt pretty good
That felt even better. (Note that is a backstop in place)

Once again, hoping for a personal best, judging from the first 6 arrows, things  – like accuracy – began to diminish.

Alas, it didn’t last long

To be fair, the wind, which at the onset of practice had been non-existent, picked up. It picked up enough to blow my back stop over.  I finished the practice 13 points below my personal best.

Wind is no friend to archers or cyclists. You can see the back stop is on the ground.

That has kind of hard

After a while shooting dots can become routine.  To keep it fresh changing targets helps.

Shooting at the larger outdoor target face for 50-meters is about the same as shooting at the target face used for 18-meters. The colors are the same, the size changes. It does become a tab repetitive firing arrows into the same color.

Trying something new I used pistol targets.  They’re black with a small orange center.  Sounds good – it wasn’t.

55 yards

The sun, for this practice session, was over my back. The sight I’m using is a small monofilament on a narrow stem.  You guessed it, the pin didn’t illuminate.  Aiming a black stem onto a black target is rough.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I used the set-up, anyway.  Might as well practice something a bit harder than it has to be in the event that one day I find myself in a similar situation during competition.

Pollen

Trudging back and forth to pull arrows I was staring at my feet.  To be exact I was staring at the boots on my feet.

It had already been a long day.  I’d skipped the morning archery practice in favor of a longer run and washing the truck. The truck needed washing badly. Running over trails is fun and I was craving a long haul. So I amended my training plans.

The truck has been doing a lot of hauling and was dirty inside and out.  As a bonus the car got washed as well.  So, during archery practice my head has hanging during those hikes to pull arrows.

What my hanging head noted was the color of my boots.  Pollen yellow boots.

That’s a bit of pollen

It is that time of year where pollen is everywhere and on everything here in Georgia.  If you’ve got allergies to pollen this is not a place for you.

Fixin’ Targets and the Range

Spring is time to make repairs to 3D targets.  It is also time to start trimming the growth on the 3D range.

Boar at 33 yards

Of course, before any of those chores started a little 3D practice was called for.

Can this old coyote make it another year?
Center out of my mountain lion

If I can find some local 3D events in which to compete, I’ll not be following with the original 2019 3D plan.  That plan was to use a bow set up for competing in the hunter class – pins and a short stabilizer.  Unfortunately, the target bow I’d been shooting is a bust and the backup bow, used for 3D, is now the primary and only bow.

This bear is empty on the inside

Because there are easy to find outdoor target events that backup bow is now set up with long stabilizers, a sight and scope, and set for skinny arrows.  Those skinny arrows will have to be the arrows used for 3D because I’m just not going to switch things around everyday to practice with skinny versus fat arrows.  So, 3D will be solely for fun being at a slight handicap on arrow diameter.

When I practiced 3D today the skinny arrows did miss a line or two leaving me with a 10 that might have been a 12 with a larger diameter arrow.  It would have been nice to have two bows – well I did have two bows – that is two bows that performed well.

You might think it is all me regarding the “nicer” bow that failed and is now banned from my range.  But, after a solid year of saying to anyone that would listen that the bow wasn’t right I let the numbers do the talking.  Keeping data on both bows revealed the backup bow out performed the ‘fancy’ bow when in my hands (7% better – 7% is a lot of points at 50 meters). For me, the backup bow is much better and that means one bow rather than two for the different archery disciplines.

Even so, shooting on the 3D range is a nice break from flinging arrows at dots.

Again at Hester’s Ferry

We’re at another campground, an old favorite, Hester’s Ferry near Lincolnton, Georgia.  Here we have all the toys: bikes, running shoes, archery equipment, kayaks and a pontoon boat. Plus, we’ve been spending time with the grandkids. Well, three out of four of them.

View from our campsite
Nice running trails

 

These trails also work for cycling
Plenty of time for archery
Those targets at 45 yards, the chair is at 35 yards

 

This old bike is steel – man steel is so nice. (Reynold 841 tubing)

 

Well, that works

 

Yep, that works, too.
Night at the campsite
Had to get a tire plugged. This sign was in the shop.

Nice thing is there are all sorts of ways to play. No time to write.

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.

Well, that was dumb!

During 3D I shoot, mostly, with pins.  More than once I’ve put the wrong pin on a target and messed up the shot.  You’d think this wasn’t too smart and you’d be right.

This morning, shooting from 55 yards, I put scrolled my sight in at 45 yards.  No matter how perfect your form might be it is not going to be a good shot.

Dial in at 45 yards then shot from 55 yards makes for one less arrow to carry around

Dumb things happen from time to time.  One of the dumbest is shooting at a target twenty yards away for your first shot of the day when you last shot of the day before was at 60 yards and not adjusting your sight. Do that and you’ll probably never find that arrow if you’re shooting outside.  I left a number of arrows in the woods near our old home in North Carolina having not learned my lesson the first time or two.

Dial in at 55 yards and shot from 55 yards is better. You can see where the 45 yards arrow stuck into the brick. Another 10 yards on the arrow and it would have been just fine.
River could have cared less. It’s hard to ignore a fresh bone.

When I do these dumb things I’m often glad no one is around to witness the mistake.  That doesn’t stop me from writing about those mental farts. The only witness to my practice screw-ups is typically a Labrador retriever, River.  If she’s gnawing on a bone she doesn’t even notice.