Circling the X

Before I start getting down to business during archery practice I take several warm up shots. These help get muscles ready and verify my pin sight is on track.

I shoot at paper in the morning since the wind coming off the Little River generally picks up in the afternoon. During the afternoon I practice 3D in the woods where the thick trees and foliage help to block the wind.

Typically I am pretty loose after a few shots. For the most part these are not my “wow” shots of the day. Today started with a number of duds.

While warming up I shoot for the same point. This lets me discover any obvious blemishes on my part. My first four shots missed the mark at each arrow. Clearly, two up to the left and two down to the right – it was me.

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Nope

The next couple moved a tad closer to the X but remained off target.

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Still no but closer

The final two hit the line around the X but both missed center. It was beginning to look as if I’d drill arrows in a circle around the center X. Not my intention.

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OK, on the line, I can start

Some days the arrows seem to flow and others it takes awhile to get into a groove. This morning it took about an hour before I gained focus and started hitting where I’d intended.

Starting a new week of training

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Start of a new day

Frequently I write about sports other than archery. Archery is an individual sport as are the other sports where I competed since my teens. Mark McClusky wrote in his book, Faster, Higher, Stronger that athletes who competed in individual where better at picking up other sports than those that played team sports.

That makes since because as a runner, cyclist, and swimmer I focused on my training and was free of the constrains of team requirements. As a newly minted archer I’ve applied many of the training rules, and made up a few, to reduce my learning curve.  At the moment I am studying marginal gains that can help me.

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Running the back roads of rural NC

Some of the small things I do as a percentage of the aggregate of marginal gains is maintain fitness. Because I have a foundation based on endurance sports, I continue to train, although with less intensity, in those areas that aid sustaining overall fitness: running, cycling, and swimming. It also happens I enjoy those sports too much to ever stop doing them.

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Catch up, River

Today, like other Mondays I am coming off of a weekend of shooting. It began with a run followed by shooting. This morning was one of those epic runs where everything felt good.

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Perfect cool down for a lab.

It is starting to warm up here in the South and I love running in the heat. River, my dog, doesn’t enjoy the higher temperatures and I keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not overheating.

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River, does – no matter the temperature – finish every run with a swim. In fact, today I might add a short swim at some point if for nothing else but fun. Whether or not I get a swim in today, it did start right with a decent run. My morning shooting was a bit off, but there’s always the afternoon to work out the glitches.

Fun Shooting with the Kingsboro Bowmen in Virginia

There’s a major archery tournament in London, Kentucky this weekend and I’m in North Carolina. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been traveling a lot; so missing a trip to Kentucky doesn’t feel so bad. However, I did enjoy a “Fun Shoot” at the Kingsboro Bowmen Archery Association in Suffolk, Virginia.

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The Kingsboro range is located in a pristine forest. The course is a bit hilly, which was a nice break from all the flat terrain I’ve lately encountered. Because this was a “Fun Shoot” I was eager to take aim at the furthest stake (50 yards max).

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The folks that set up the course weren’t afraid of trees, hills, dips, ticks, or thickets. Even though the group I shot with pointed out that, “The range was easy, today” and, “During a real competition they make it harder, “ I found their arrangements of targets was plenty tough.

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I got to shoot with Paula and Anthony who both are familiar with the range. I was glad they were along, the undergrowth and foliage was so thick and it would have been easy to have gotten off track, if only for a moment.

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Jonathan, Paula, and Anthony

In our quartet was a tradition archer, Jonathan. Granted, his stake is a bit closer to the target, and we weren’t really competing, but Jonathan was clearly out shooting us. Jonathan, it turned out is an exercise physiologist by college education. He attended college on a football scholarship where he earned that degree.

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Jonathan approaching a target to pull arrows – despite a sunny warm day, it was dark in the woods

Despite the shoot being a non-competitive event, the range filled up. Like most of the 3D shoots there was food back at the clubhouse and I was too eager to get one of their burgers. It was a tasty burger, but Clyde’s hamburgers at Mid-Del Archers in Delaware are still the best. (Not just best on an archery range, the best – period)

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91 degrees when I left the range

Kingsboro isn’t a long or difficult drive from my home in Hertford, only an hour and 22 minutes. They have a nice field archery set-up and I’m looking forward to doing more shooting in Suffolk. This was a good way to spend part of my day and I didn’t feel bad about not being in London, Kentucky.

83 Degrees, It’s Starting to Warm-Up

It’s 83°F here in Hertford. The temperature feels great. Not too hot and definitely not cold. This day, like most others, I’ve spent outside.

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The day started with coffee taken on my dock.  In the mornings the wind coming off the river usually isn’t bad. Morning is the time of day I run then shoot at paper targets set up in my yard. By afternoon, the wind has generally increased; the yard shooting migrates into the woods where I have several 3D targets for practice.

Even though 83°F isn’t terribly hot, spending all day outdoors; I did run out of “TriFuel” a few times. It’s important to get into the practice of drinking right as the temperature begins to increase. It is probably a good habit to, as you gather your gear for practice or a tournament, make sure you’ve got the right hydration solution and the right amount.

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Finding “The Archer’s Edge” During a 10 Day Trip

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View from our rental property

We just completed a 10-day road trip. Our youngest daughter, Candace, had her third baby on Mother’s Day. They live in Pittsburgh; we live in Hertford, NC and Easton, MD. We were in NC when she had the baby so we drove to Pennsylvania from our coastal home in Hertford.

For the Pennsylvania trip we rented a house, a 150-year-old place, in West Middletown, twenty-three miles from where our daughter lives. An advantage is that West Middletown is a small rural town so there was plenty of open space to run. If I’d had more time to plan I might have brought a target to shoot. As it turned out, I did find “The Archer’s Edge”, an archery shop that has a nice indoor range.

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Inside The Archer’s Edge in Oakdale, PA

The Archer’s Edge was only 8.5 miles from my daughter’s home. Still, Pittsburgh traffic makes it a tedious excursion. It was, however, worth the driving effort.

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Having the range all to myself

When I travel I am always looking for a tournament, race, or new place to shoot. Sadly, I’d missed a race, a 5K, that ran right past Candace’s house. I would also miss a number of great shoots, but I did get over to the Archer’s Edge twice during the week.

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Jeff Falconer, archer and USA Archery Coach

At the bow shop I had the range to myself once and once shared it. I also met Jeff Falconer a top archer and USA Archery Coach. He’s traveled with the USA team to places like China and Turkey. He is an interesting guy and it would have been nice to have spent more time talking with him. But, grandkids were waiting so I kept my time away to a respectable limit.

Back in Western Pennsylvania

We’re back in Pennsylvania for a week. We lived here, in Murrysville just east of Pittsburgh, for nearly five years. Our youngest daughter, Candace attended Chatham College in Pittsburgh where she earned her graduate and undergraduate degrees. While here she met her future husband and together they’ve given us three grandchildren, the most recent arrival bringing us back to the Keystone State.

On this trip we rented a house in West Middletown. The property is over 150 years old and where it lacks modern comforts it has a lot of basic charm. Plus, it accepts dogs.

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Naturally I brought my archery and running gear. Once we arrived at the rental property I regretted not bringing a bicycle. The roads, aside from West Middletown’s “Main Street”, were wide open, held limited traffic and while great for running would have been perfect for cycling. By that, I mean I could have covered more ground on a bike and seen more of the landscapes.

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Getting outdoors in western Pennsylvania has always, in my experience, been great. The terrain is quite different from coastal North Carolina. The Allegheny Mountains make running (and cycling) a challenge but it’s altogether worth the effort. A bonus is that I’ve found a nice place to practice archery and will be headed there soon.

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Walking and shooting

I’ve been curious how far I walked during a typical hour of archery practice. I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT to measure my runs. I’ve used it to record measurements during a 3D competition. Although I’d often thought about using the Garmin with its GPS to look at how far I’d walked during paper practice, I’d mostly thought about while I practiced.

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Today, following my run I was still wearing the Forerunner as I gathered my gear for morning archery practice. I’d finished the prior day shooting at 3D targets and first on today’s plan was shooting paper at know distances. Noticing the Garmin on my wrist I reset it to zero and recorded my shooting walk distance.

During an hour of shooting I walked 0.60 miles. I shot at 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 35, and 50 yards. At each interval I shot 5 arrows, I’d collected them and shot again sometimes at the same stake and at other times moving backward or forward as I felt necessary.IMG_3308

Tomorrow there’s a tournament in which I’ll compete so today is a relatively light practice – trying to save a few of the good shots for Saturday’s 3D event. It’s interesting to know my per hour walk rate and distance, it will help me with hydration and nutrition plans for future competition. Knowing a little about energy spent during competition (related to walking and shooting) and how that effects hydration and caloric needs will be valuable over the long haul.

A Wild Small 3D Practice Range

I have a small four-target 3D range set up on the property across the road from our house. The property is my neighbors and he’s allowed me its use to practice. He’s a bow hunter and will naturally have the range when he’s in town. The land across the road dense and wild.

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There’ve been times, in these woods, while shooting I thought having a broadhead equipped arrow would be smart. These woods are full of coyotes. Recently, a neighbor shot one in these woods – about 150 yards from my front door. There’s also a lot of deer. Furthermore, I’ve seen a turkey tracks and signs of pigs.

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During practice, my second session of the day, it was obvious something had enjoyed lunch on the range. The remains of which weren’t on the course during my morning practice.

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The blood on this wing was still wet

It’s nice to be able to walk into the wild and practice. Admittedly, at times, especially as the sun begins to fade this forest becomes just a little bit creepy. That when I wish I had more than a field tip equipped arrow.

Rest and Review

Thursday was an off day. I’ve been shooting a lot while trying to hit the target with my new bow. It has been a challenge – one that I’ve not yet surmounted.

Taking the day off is always stressful. If you’re competitive you may understand. It’s easy to fall into the thinking that more is better, when in fact a day off is a necessity.

Because I didn’t shoot on Thursday,  I had time to review my progress as an archer. Scores, form, sponsorship, financial breakdown and equipment maintenance are on the list of items I consider or look over when taking a break from the physical aspect of the sport.

My summary  made a few things clear: I’m going to need to add the long stabilizers and scope to compete for money. I need more sponsors. I need to win more and bigger events.