There’s about eight inches of snow on the ground. The wind is howling. The temperature with the wind chill is 18°F. My targets are frozen together and my bow is colder than ice. All in all pretty miserable.
I know some folks love the cold. Otherwise states like Montana and North Dakota would have populations less than a city like Atlanta. Oh wait; Montana and North Dakota do have populations less than Atlanta. Still between those two states there’s nearly two million people living in the cold. (That’s still less than the population of Georgia’s Capitol.)
To be honest, I have lived in cold places. I’ve lived in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I’ve also had my primary office in Boston and Mölnlycke (Sweden) where I spent an abundance of time. Right now it is warmer in Mölnlycke than here in New Hope, North Carolina. (34°F in Mölnlycke and 27°F without the wind chill that’s making it feel like 18°F.) Twice I’ve taken trips north of the Artic Circle. From those experiences I know I am not one to love the cold.
Fortunately, as we migrate future south the winters become milder and shorter. Yes, it is cold here at the moment; next week we’re expecting highs back into the lower 60s and upper 50s.
Despite the current conditions I did go outside. I didn’t shoot or run. I was going to shoot but the stack of three frozen together blocks took the steam out of that idea. Running on ice and snow is dumb. There was no running today. River ran she loves the snow. Then, she is built for cold. She ran and I walked.
Aside from a few escapes outdoors, I spent the day dealing with changes addresses for our upcoming move to Georgia, where it will be warmer still. My hometown of Savannah, Georgia got a little snow from this storm that hit many of us. My friends and family there are pretty excited by it. Then, it will be 65°F there with the next 72 hours. Heck, I expect the snow that arrived there a few hours ago is already gone.
Nope, having grown up in the deep South and not owning an overcoat until moving to Baltimore when I was 35 years old, I have no issue missing the cold and snow. (I do own several now)
Getting a new house is exciting. Getting one that we don’t have to immediately renovate is nice. Here’s the thing, before we’ve set foot in the door we’ve changed ceilings, customized closets, had kitchen plans modified, added trim work everywhere inside the house, changed the driveway, and picking out everything from flooring to roofing. The past few days we’ve hired someone to build a custom shed on the property, found a fence guy, and met with a landscaper to work on the 3D range.
The landscaper was a lucky find. He’s also an archer. He’s not the landscaper that is currently doing our landscaping. Both are archers. The current guy is too busy. The new guy, Andy is our new next-door neighbor. As such, a lucky find.
The other landscaper guy told me he was so busy he had no idea when he might have time to help design my 3D range. However, he mentioned that there is a free 3D range just 15 minutes from our new house. Needing a break from spending money I decided to search for this free 3D range.
I found it. In fact, it is only 15 minutes from my house. But, it is simply 3D targets set up on a range. It’s not 100% free. You need to have a Georgia DNR Hunting license. So, aside from that fee, which I pay anyway, I’m good to go on the DNR range.
Today wasn’t the day to test the free range. It was too cold and windy. Still hoping to shoot my bow on the round trip home, I stopped at Ace Hardware Social Circle. Now where I wrote ‘home’ I am referring to my daughter’s house in Watkinsville. We’re staying with her while we add a few finishing touches to our house in progress.
In Social Circle Ace is the Place to shoot indoors. It was nice to get some practice. On this trip, we left about 10 days ago; I’ve only gotten in three practice sessions. Today made the fourth. On a more positive note, running is above par and cycling is just below on my current training plan.
Trying to compensate for some loss of hours training, running and riding were on today’s agenda along with archery. Running and riding in the cold really takes it out of me. I’ve been asleep since I began writing this post.
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.
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 59 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. It took less than 48 months to achieve those objectives in archery. It did not take 10,000 hours.
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. Their last 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 cycling, for example, to archery has only minor advantage. The main benefit is focus on training. In cycling there are a lot of long hours on the bike. 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).
Ditching was first on the agenda. Not my agenda, River’s agenda. If you haven’t been a reader here you might not know who is River. River is my Labrador Retriever. I’ve not met a Lab that doesn’t love the water. River is crazy about water.
It rained hard here in Georgia yesterday. Every ditch and creek was brimming with water. River runs with me and this morning we headed out to run a trail we discovered yesterday. Knowing of a ditch that pools with water along the usual run I decided to avoid that direction. I was pretty sure we could get to the new trail a back way. It was an attempt to keep River out of the rain off ditch pool.
River has been smelling a bit ‘above bad’ having had a bath last week. It would be nice if she’d not stink when we’re visiting family. Were here in Georgia visiting family for Christmas. River doesn’t often have ‘nice’ wafting off of her coat. If she goes ditching (Ditching: jumping into a water filled earthy conduit and running as hard as possible) there is going to be stink.
It’s not that she’s naturally stinky. She works hard to reach an apex of olfactory funk. Rather than chance she’d jump into an overflowed ditch that forms such a tempting pool of water we headed in the opposite direction. That didn’t end up as planned.
The run put us at trails that simply called us forward. After nearly an hour of running it was becoming clear we were heading around a wide weaving circle. In the back of my mind a worry suggested we’d come out of the woods at a point where the pool would be between home and us. I considered turning back figuring that might add another 45 minutes to the run. That time would eat into archery practice. We remained on course. Plus, I wasn’t really up for nearly 2 hours of trail running.
It turned out my worry wasn’t unfounded. Once we cleared the woods my fragrant neutral dog hopes dimmed. Within two tenths of a mile there was the pool of rainwater. River was only 10 yards ahead, 30 yards from the water. She stopped as soon as she spotted her wet reward. Slowly she turned back toward me, gave dog grin and made a beeline for the ditch. I sprinted toward her and with increasing volume ordered her to stop. The louder I got the faster she sprinted.
River is a big girl at 105 pounds. She is all muscle. It always amazes me how much water she can displace at full tilt. There was no avoiding the bath to come. I did save time by not circling back only to lose it washing a dog.
Nevertheless, I got a decent ‘afternoon’ archery practice shooting at a 5-spot. The morning archery session was blown to washing River. I’d switched over from a 3-spot for a break. Since August 2 of this year every 5-spot practice has yielded a 300. But, if you shoot 5-spots a lot you know the X count is where the money waits. Only 47 X’s today. Frustrating.
The archery frustration was burnt off during an afternoon riding mountain bike. I wanted to follow the same trails we ran this morning only heading right rather than left (I already knew that was a wide circle) at a Y intersection.
At that point the trail begins to climb. Looking down at my Garmin I noted the mileage at the foot of the climb. That climb went on for one mile. The earlier rain made the path, having a base layer of red clay, one slippery exercise in staying upright and moving forward. Despite the greater than anticipated elevation in heart rate, to match the unforeseen length of the climb, it was a nice way to end the day. That and of course no broken bones or cuts.
We’re back in Tignal, Georgia for a few days before we had off to Athens for Christmas. River and I hit the road before it rained. Man, has it rained. Running was pretty nice. First of all there was no rain. Secondly, there were lots of trails and double track to cruise.
Running along the sides of country roads isn’t bad primarily because we have minimal traffic. Getting totally off road is even better.
After an hour of trail running it was looking more and more like rain. Needing to get some archery practice in, having missed yesterday when we drove to Georgia from North Carolina, it was a rush to stay ahead of the guaranteed downpour.
Both running and archery (at least the morning archery practice) were completed. Cycling and a second day’s archery practice now await cessation of rain.
This competitive year 2017 is done. An easy stat to look over from the years 2015 – 2017 is a 3-spot. I’ll crunch the 5-spot numbers as well as 3D scores. But, a 3-spot is a primary marker. It’s primary because it is controlled, unlike 3D, and more frequent as opposed to a 5-spot.
3D is harder to analyze because for variances of yardage, size of target, weather, distance, and whether or not the competition was ASA or IBO. Five-spots competition has simply not occurred for me since I moved from Maryland. Even then, those were league scores and the distance was 18- yards rather than 18-meters. I still shoot at a 5-spot fairly often, but not as frequently as a 3-spot.
Three-spot shooting is pretty well controlled and I have the scores recorded in competitive events as well as practice. I do have more 3D tournament scores in general and I’ll look over those next. No matter how it reasons out; 3-spot is an easy analysis as a starting point.
The results of the number crunching shows on average a 10-point improvement each year starting in 2015 though 2017. There’s a 1.75% increase in score per year. Not quite 2%.
Performance-wise I have a hopeful anticipation of a 3% increase in 2018 followed by a 1% to 2% increase in 2019. ( a 3% increase will put my average scores in the 590 range.)
Knowing how I finished out the 2017 archery season is an important marker for setting realistic 2018 goals.
A dozen arrows can last a good long time. My bow is three years old. My release was purchased four years ago. The quiver I wear is falling apart and is held together with rubber bands. Basically, these are sunk costs.
I’m not replacing the bow anytime soon. I have already had the limbs replaced through the manufacturer’s warranty. The release I shoot with isn’t even a tournament model. It’s made with hunting in mind. Sure, I have two others, but they are secondary products I use specially for training even though they were created with tournament shooting in mind. Both of them are hinge releases. I shoot better with a thumb release. As long as my arrows are straight, not cracked, and have vanes I’ll shoot them. I can get more vanes. Rubber bands are real cheap. I carry a supply in my quiver to replace those that eventually pop.
So, in archery, what is the ongoing expense? It is targets. Yes, they seem inexpensive at around $0.70 a piece in a pack of 20 from Amazon. Lancaster Archery has them (I just checked) for $0.75 to $1.45 each. On average that is $0.96 or around a buck with tax. Still it seems cheap. That is until you add it up.
I go through twelve of these a week. At the low end Amazon price that comes to $8.40 per week. In other words, $33.60 per month or $403.20 per year spent on paper to shoot up, wad up and throw away. The high-end $1.45 paper targets are $904.8 per year. That’s enough money to buy several dozen decent arrows or more than the price of many bows.
While everyone else in archery is trying to get a bow manufacturer to sponsor him or her to get that 20% discount on a product with an 80% margin I think I may turn my attention to Maple Leaf.
I’ll not even go down the path of blocks and 3D targets.
A good friend of mine, Jack, frequently reads my posts here at Putting it on the Line. He has often sent me a comment after reading; he is kind enough to rarely make editorial comments. As a writer I know there is “No pain or passion that exceeds on man’s desire to edit another man’s manuscript.” (M. Twain) So, I am indebted to Jack’s restraint.
A few weeks ago after reading “The Mental Game in Archery” he sent me a some note that got me to thinking. Jack has always made me think. Some folks can just think, I have to work at thinking.
So, here’s Jack’s note from November 16th :
“A very interesting perspective. I know absolutely NOTHING about endurance sports, and even less about archery. I understand quite clearly your well thought out self-analysis, and two questions come to mind. Both are multiple part questions.
Roughly how many archers of your caliber are also endurance athletes? Since the disciplines between your two arenas of effort are so different, can you seek (or glean from casual conversation) advice from others like you?
(Not really a question, just some thoughts) While you mention relaxing between shots, you describe more self-analysis than relaxation. Everything I have ever read about the top snipers describe that they enter a Zen like state to reduce any undue mental influences on their stillness and aim. Have you explored this path?
I’m not one to advise you, but sometimes we are so close to an issue, a fresh perspective may help.
Regarding question number one – I don’t know. Probably not many. I do know of couple of archers that are endurance athletes. One is a triathlete and was once the Virginia State ASA 3D Champion. The other is an ultra-marathoner. She is an amazing runner and shoots bare bow. She is a better runner than archer. Neither successfully mingled the disciplines. By success I mean both today have dropped either archery for exclusive running or doing a little of each as a past time. Which is certainly fine and in itself is success depending on goals.
There is also Cameron Hanes who is an extremely fit athlete and professional bow hunter. Mr. Hanes has competed runs like the Boston Marathon and even 100-mile runs. But, Mr. Hanes is not a competitive archer. Although, I’d bet he’s making more money than 99% of all professional archers.
I don’t know other archers that might be considered fit enough to suggest they are endurance athletes. My guess is that the percentage is extremely low among the entire population of archers with that percentage dropping inversely with age.
As far as advice to archers that are not physically fit – find a fitness plan and use it. In the near future I’ll be adding one to my website. Only wish I was as smart as Cameron Hanes and could get paid for it.
Regarding your second question – I do work toward being calm when I shoot. However, I remain a distance away from Zen-like calmness even when sleeping. As far as Zen goes and snipers, well I asked a sniper.
It just happens that we have a sniper in the family. (I am leaving his name out of this as a precaution) It took a few weeks to get to him because he has been deployed. He got home on Thanksgiving Day and heads back on December 17th.
Here’s what he said about his shots and Zen:
“Most of my shots were within a 100 meter range – half of which were quick, reactive engagements. I was at Camp Shark Base in Ramadi with Chris Kyle in 2006, and this is when he began to transition away from much of the “sit and wait” type shots he had in Fallujah (2004) like in the movie. The scenario that most envision of a sniper spending days in a hide sight to shoot one shot from a mile away… I’ve never done that. “
“There was definitely no “zen like” moment. Only on a couple of occasions would I have the luxury of deciding when the shot was going to take place, like if we needed to take out a sentry before moving closer.”
This may take some of the ‘glamour’ away from what most people think of snipers. Those comments are from a Ranger sniper. His work is like this:
“The scenario typically goes like this; we have a target, we either do an ‘offset infil’ a click away (so they don’t hear the birds), or we land right on top of it. My spotter and I would usually set up on the “black side” (the back of the objective). We usually get on a rooftop as close to the objective as possible. We have an IR strobe on to identify us as friendlies. Some time we even watch alternate breach points to neutralize maneuvering elements once the charge went off. “
My relative also added, “To be honest, a sniper in the ‘big Army’ usually has a lot more cool stories. SOCOM (United States Special Operations Command) has so many assets at their disposal that they rarely need snipers to kill people. But if you talk to a sniper in the 3rd ID during 2005 – wow. They did some shit.”
Regarding how much practice he got, I did want to know how many rounds he used in practice realizing that only 10% of the Army’s best shooters make it to sniper school. In other words, most snipers are good shots when they get there.
His response was, “I’d probably shoot 5,000 rounds through it. (‘it’ being a 6-month rotation D.L.) That’s just a rough figure though – of course you also have to spend time on your other weapons systems too, and there’s so much more than shooting. In fact, shooting is only 10% of it – maybe less.”
Granted, a relaxed state, (Jack – alpha wave brain activity) is beneficial for excellent archery. Some folks equate that to a Zen-like meditative state. Certainly, I work to achieve a calm state of mind. I have that luxury compared to a sniper since no one wants to kill me.
Here the rub, in a tournament you have so many arrows to shoot in a very limited time. You must learn to be comfortable and confident with your shot in seconds. If you took a minute seeking a Zen-like state for each arrow you’d run out of time. So, you practice getting perfect shots within a limited time. I often use a stopwatch in the same manner a quarterback uses his 25 seconds to get off a play. You have to learn to feel the time since you can’t stare at the clock during a competition.
Regardless, in order for that to work an archer must have years of practice. That is applicable in any sport. You can’t take a Zen monk, place a bow in his hand and expect him to shoot X after X after X. It’s not his frame of mind that creates flawed shots. A target bow is heavy. It takes a lot of conditioning to hold the bow, draw an arrow, hold it steady for about 8 seconds and release the arrow. All of this without swaying while you extend an eight-pound bow that’s resting on your hand (no not being gripped by the bow hand).
After looking into Jack’s questions, I think the most important factors in good archery are: confidence, attitude and practice.
Shooting the same target over and over can become a bit mind numbing. It’s probably a good thing to break up training plans to keep practice fresh. This morning the variation was a change from a 3-spot to a 5-spot. It was rough.
The weather, as previously promised, turned windy and cold. Despite the arctic blast that is upon us, early morning is time to get going around here.
The first run of the day wasn’t bad despite the sub-freezing temperature. It wasn’t bad because I didn’t run far. River, my Labrador retriever running partner, thrives in the cold. Vigilant efforts are required to keep her out of the water after a run. I don’t really mind that she’s been swimming. I just don’t want to dry her off after she’s had a dip. I am not always successful.
After the morning run, and following a general thawing of my face and hands, I headed to the shed from where I shoot. In the shed there is a small gas heater that helps on frigid days. Without this shed and the luxury of heat shooting on days like this are miserable.
Shooting 3D on similar days I wear everything I can and still shoot a bow. I keep a glove on my bow hand and hand warmers in my pocket for the other hand. Today, I didn’t have to deal with that type of practice.
Still, I wore plenty of garments in hope of staying reasonably comfortable. By the time I got to shooting, after the run, it had warmed up to 31°F (-0.5 C for those of you that use celsius) If the temperature wasn’t enough to deal with there was the wind. White caps kicking up on the Little River were visual confirmation of the wind chill that reduced conditions to 21°F (-6.1C).
I’d considered driving into Elizabeth City to practice indoors at PGF Archery. It’s a hike from here to there and I decided I’d rather be cold than make the drive.
The protection of the shed made some positive difference. At least the wind was off of me. The little heater did it’s best and kept me somewhat warmed. Still, I could see my breath. I’d shoot 5 arrows, pull the arrows, stand in front of the heater, thaw out, and shoot some more. It could have been worse and was if I add in my arrow placement.
While I did shoot a 300 (out of 300 for folks that don’t know archery) I only hit the X 40 times. At least there were no blueberries.
The weather was great, today. Sunny with very little wind and not too cold. It was a good day to train.
For the 2018 Duathlon National Championships I’m using a modified triathlon training plan. There’s no swimming in a duathlon so those workouts are replaced with more running. It’s no big deal since running is a daily activity pretty much regardless of a formal training plan. In other words, I’m not running too much. This is a modified plan that I’m following so there is flexibility.
There are lots of sport training plans available for purchase. There are an ever-growing number of coaches for hire through the Internet. What they offer are programs available to you sight unseen. Perhaps, if you are new to a sport an online coach you never see can provide a starting point. After decades of sports, in my opinion a face-to-face coach is a better investment. I’m making no investment. I took a plan I’d created years ago and adapted it for the upcoming race.
I’ve had some great coaches in cycling, football, and track. I’ve also spent decades studying sports physiology and feel fairly confident I can put together a plan that will get me across a finish line. Of course, there are the hours of work that need to be completed and today was ideal to add to those hours.
In an abridged overview my general training goes like this: Run, shoot, rest, shoot, cycle, and sometimes run again. It was hard not to do a second run today, the weather being so nice. It was the archery practice that pushed me away from a second run.
The second practice with a bow was going just fine. Well, good enough for second practice. That session was planned for 60 arrows at a 3-spot followed by 30 at a 5-spot. The morning was just 60 arrows into a 3-spot.
The afternoon 3-spot when okay with 32 Xs and 28 nines. Sure, Reo Wilde doesn’t need to be worried for the moment. But, not too bad. Then, I put up a 5-spot.
Man, those X rings looked huge on that blue and white paper. I shot 10 arrows and called it a day. As big as the X is on a 5-spot I was doing good to hit white. It was time to stop. While I didn’t feel tired, my arrow placement suggested otherwise. It also indicated I’d had enough exercise for the day, so not second run. Instead, a hike in the woods was perfect to wind things down.
Tomorrow the weather isn’t going to be so nice. I’ll have to go into Elizabeth City to shoot. I’m glad there is an indoor range within a 40-minute drive. Still, I am looking forward to moving to Georgia where on days like tomorrow promises to be, that drive becomes 15-minutes.