2015 – In the Books

In the final quarter of 2015, archery tournaments left the 3D arena and moved indoors. There were two events in archery where I was able to compete an indoor 3D tournament in Elizabeth City, NC and the 2nd Annual EAC 18-M Indoor Tournament in Madison, GA. In both events I competed in the Men’s Open (not in the senior age group) and finished 6th and 9th, respectively. Neither offered a professional class (Pros shot in the Open class) I was also able to compete in four 5K races, winning 3 and finishing 4th in one, all running in my age group.

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In November I hunted in Georgia and left with enough venison (3 deer total) to stock our freezer until next year. If you follow my website or Facebook page you will note I never post photographs of me standing over a bloody dead animal. Personally, I’ve always found that a bit disrespectful to the animal, even though I have at times have posted photographs of how much meat (after processing and packaging) was harvested.   Of those deer, I donated a portion of a church group here that helps feed needy families.

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During 2015, for archery tournaments only, I traveled approximately 13451 miles (excluding in town travel once I arrived at the destination). I shot in seven states: GA, NC, VA, DE, NY, and PA. I shot in 21 events earning: 1st Place 5, 2nd Place, 2, 3rd Place 3, 4th Place 5, 5th Place 2, 6th Place, 3, 9th Place 1, 13th Place 1, 15th Place 1. This includes 1st Place USA National Indoor South (Snellville, GA.) and 13th IBO Pro Hunter Class (Ellicottville, NY). A decent showing considering I had never shot a compound bow until 28 months ago. I had shot a bow as a child and did enjoy the blue suction cup tips on my arrows until my mother took it away due to a difference of opinion related to acceptable targets.

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I might have been able to compete in more events barring our permanent move to NC along with the selling of one of our houses that consumed a number of weekends. I will miss the archers on Delmarva but the cost of maintaining the Maryland home was unwarranted.

As 2016 approaches I am working on my competitive/training plan. That includes: archery training and competition, as well and other sports such as cycling, running and triathlon.

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My website, Puttingitontheline.com, remains popular even though I am pushing it less through social media. The decrease in pushing the post is to measure the readership without social media notification. What I’ve learned is that with a minimal push the range of monthly visits is from 8410 to 10,102 visitors per month. The range when I push it hard is approximately the same, meaning readers have learned where to find my site and continue to visit on a regular basis. The average length of stay is about 2 minutes, the time it takes to read a post. However, 5% of the visitors stay on the site from 5 minutes to over an hour. (GoDaddy data)

In 2016, I hope to improve the site with professional support. I want more feature articles, those about a specific person or company.

Thanks for reading and following my adventure in sports and archery

David Lain

144 River Cove Lane

Hertford, NC 27944

 

 

The Mid-day Nap – Highly Recommended

I just finished reading Greg Moriaties book The Zero Athlete. I read a lot of books. Many are non-fiction and among I occasionally pick up one that might have a pearl or two in it that might help me become a better athlete. Many of them are so much of the same but every now and again there’s a tidbit of something I haven’t heard or read. I picked up a couple of ideas from Moriates’ book. There was one theme that has been common in a number of books, take a nap if you can.

Taking a nap is nothing new for me. When I trained exclusively in cycling we’d often ride 60 miles in the morning and another 60 in the afternoon. We’d get in about 20,000 miles a year. It was a lot of riding. Our coach used to preach to us, when we weren’t on the bike, “Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down.” During the mid-day, the team would often be laying down, taking a nap before the afternoon training session.

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Afternoon ride, racing the rain home

I’m no longer hoping to earn a spot as a cyclist on an Olympic Team. That dream died in 1980. Following the mess with the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow and getting hit by a car during a training ride, my wife, Brenda, suggested I get a real job. That meant finishing college and that meant no more racing or at least at the level I’d been prepared to race. Some things, however, didn’t change, and one of those was the mid-day nap.

My body had become so accustom to taking a nap after lunch it was often a struggle to stay awake in class and at work. I eventually learned that if I didn’t eat very much for lunch my circadian dip wasn’t as severe – so I managed.

Today, I have different goals set than I did in 1980. My career and work goals accomplished, I set new goals around athletics. Certainly, I’m not going to race bikes or do a triathlon competing against 20 and 30 year olds. There are only two sports where a 60 year old can compete, pretty much equally, with a 20 or 30 year old athlete: shooting and archery.

Because I love to compete, I decided, in August 2013 to buy a compound bow and learn how to shoot it. I’m still learning. I’m also still riding a bike, running, swimming, and lifting weights. All of this exercise is demanding. It’s also a lot of fun. One thing I now have the luxury of is the mid-day nap. I do my best not to miss it.

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I don’t nap long, rarely over 20 minutes. I don’t get in the bed or lay on the couch. I lay down on the floor. I don’t want to be too comfortable and slip into a full sleep cycle. So, the floor is fine, as is Stage 1 sleep. It’s a light nap I take between morning training and my afternoon training. And everyday, I share the time with my dogs.

 

Time to change routine

I like having a schedule. I know when to train, what my plan is, and where I’d going to do it. It is important to make a plan and stick with it. There are times, however, when small changes can help improve athletic development.

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Using a regular interval I measure my progress. The measurements I take include scores, targets, distance judging, and equipment. I don’t do this during every practice or everyday – still I do this every often. Some sessions I just go out and shoot for fun.

By monitoring my training sessions I can see when the data begins to plateau. When that occurs, I change up my shooting plan. Typically, that means a minor change, but it means some change. I’ll go to a different range, move targets around, or change my shooting positions. When results become flat, it is time for a change.

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Too extreme of a change for me

At other times, I become bored with shooting the same target, at the same time, day in and day out. It is important to keep times fresh and I’ll switch the paper targets I’m aiming at to different styles. That keeps me motivated and the new target becomes a new challenge.

It is easy to get hooked shooting. The mental aspects, for me, are often clarifying and nearly meditative. There is a physical element to this sport and even though the brain may want to continue, the arms and shoulders need time to recover. I shoot a lot of arrows and I try to be careful to keep practice time according to my plan in order to allow for recovery. I’ve blown that more than once and the outcome wasn’t good.

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Planned rest is good

From the other sports where I’ve competed, I take lessons learned and apply them to archery. When I see results level out, begin to feel bored, or get that burn in my arms that is different that usual I pause and evaluate, then often I will adjust my routine.

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Good day for shooting

This morning, another spectacular sunrise over the water, River, my Lab, and I took a short run before I practiced shooting a 3-spot. During the afternoon, I headed onto the 3-D range. Neither practice resulted in perfect scores, although there were more than a few decent shots.

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Shooting paper at 20 yards is a great way to start the day. Actually, a run starts my training for the day that is followed by shooting. Mornings are best to shoot because the wind is usually least during that time.

Even though it’s December, the temperature reached into the low 70’s and before the day was out I was in short pants. My kind of winter.

The morning session wasn’t my best and I ended up with a 581, using the new USA Archery scoring system. I’m struggling to get the release point just right on my hinge release. Adjustment after adjustment still it seems either too light or too heavy.

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A tough angle for a 10
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You can image the glare on my scope. There’s a deer 47 yards away.

While shooting 3-D in the afternoon, I switched to a thumb release. I feel more comfortable with a thumb release, but my data is beginning to suggest I shoot a few points higher using a hinge style. The difference isn’t statistically significant, but statistical interactions aren’t necessarily indicative of finishing places.

3-D was pretty good despite I haven’t been spending as much time on that range as on indoors or aiming at paper targets. Because it was early afternoon and the sun was getting low a few shoots were very tough – it was hard to see the target. Nevertheless, it was a good practice. Ended up with a 206. (20 targets)

Bowstrings

When it comes to tires on my vehicles, well I am fanatical about monitoring the thread, wear, and tire pressure. Many folks aren’t so careful and that’s a shame. The tires are where your vehicle meets the road and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In archery, I feel similarly when it comes to my bowstring. I check my bowstring every morning before I shoot. Bowstrings should last between 3000 and 5000 shots (about a year for most people). I don’t keep a record of how many arrows I shoot in a day, but it is a lot. When I practice I have specific goals in mind, which are not always associated with the number of arrows I’ll fire. But, I know the approximate number of times I’ve shot and sometimes the exact number.

Because I do shoot so much, I am extra careful with my bowstring. This is where the arrow meets the bow. As a string wears it can get thin is spots and stretch. Because this happens over thousands of shots, it’s hard to notice. Another telltale indication a string may need to be replaced is peep rotation. When I notice my peep is beginning to twist I consider a new bowstring.

Over the past 28 months I gone through 8 bowstrings, excluding those that were on bows I owned for only a few months before selling. Including the first compound bow I bought and kept for about 4 months before I replaced the bow, that is 9 different bowstrings over 28 months. And finally, adding in the Bear Authority I owned for a few months, I’ll say I’ve had useful life out of 9.5 bowstrings.

It turns out that 9.5 bowstrings over 28 months is roughly 3 months per string. It’s also roughly 4770 shots per bowstring. That’s at the top end of the expected life of a bowstring (3000-5000 shots). I’d expect that since I shoot a 50-pound weight.

Finding a good bowstring isn’t hard; there are plenty of good strings from which to choose. Finding a really good one is another matter. The strings that came on my bows when I bought them seemed to stretch the soonest. One purchased locally in Maryland was a middle of the ground product.

The strings that appear to hold up best are those from 60X. Granted, they are going to wear out and need to be replaced but one major difference I’ve noted is that as the string thins, I don’t get peep rotation. That impressed me, so I went to the 60X website and dug around.

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This is what I found on their blog, “60X Custom Strings warrants each 452X, 8190 and X set against peep rotation, serving separation, creep, manufacturing defects in materials, craftsmanship and design for a period of one (1) year from the delivery date.”

Granted, I change strings faster than once  a year, then again, I shoot nearly 20,000 arrows per year. Even at that pace, I have not observed any peep rotation with 60X strings.

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New string arrived in the mail, yesterday.

When it comes to bowstrings, they are where the arrows meet the bow. I give them plenty of performance evaluation and expect them to hold up to a lot of work. Like the tires on my vehicles, the bowstring provides a measure of safety and performance.

296 – UGH!

I practiced on a 5-spot this morning. The weather was a crisp fall 47°F. There was no wind; it was going to be perfect for a perfect practice. It didn’t turn out the way I’d imagined when I pinned up the target.

Most of my shots were good – there were four strays. Shooting a 300 is still not a given for me, but I am beginning to expect a 300 when shot a 5-spot. This morning, well what can I say, it happens.

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Dang-it! X 4

I recorded each poor shot so I’ll know what I did wrong. There were no surprises with my errors, the same ones I am working to correct that I make too often.

This afternoon, I’ll see if I can’t improve on this morning’s performance. Until then, off the lift weights, run,  buy a Christmas tree, and put up more outdoor lights.

Back on the 3D Range

Over the past month I’ve focused on shooting dots. Primarily because I had an indoor tournament in Georgia and another two in January, one in North Carolina the other in Pennsylvania. Which reminds me, I need to make hotel reservations for Lancaster. What I’ve missed is shooting 3D.

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This pig between trees is a fun shot
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Especially when the shot hits the X

During the past several weeks I have shot live animals, but no fake ones. In both cases precision is critical – more so with live animals. In either situation practice is imperative.

Today for my second practice, rather that shooting more dots (I am starting to see them in my sleep) I headed onto the 3D range. I’d gone out earlier to put out a trail camera. The brief time in the woods was all it took for me to grab my bow and head back out.

One of my concerns is getting “cold” at judging distance. Sitting in a blind or tree stand I always prepare by using a range finder and learning distance where I anticipate a deer (for example) to pass. In all my hunting shots, where a deer appeared I knew the range before I aimed.

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On the 3D course, I work to make each shot a different distance from the last time I worked a specific target. Because I was “cold”, having not judged distance in a month I carried a range finder. I estimated the range, and then verified it before I shot. Often I’ll verify after the shot, today I was being cautious.

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Going for this badger at 32 yards. With the leaves down you can see my turkey on the left.
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Just cut the center ring

When I practice I bring paper to make notes about my shooting. I record my distance, the range finder’s distance, the type of target and the score. When I get back from shooting I record these notes on a spreadsheet then evaluate that practice against prior training. I was happy to see that the difference between my range and the electronic range was only 0.6 yards. (Clearly, home field advantage)

I did manage to shoot a few 8’s but the distance was good. Those 8’s were pulled to the left, my error – I knew it as soon as the arrow released. In each case it was poor follow through, a bad habit I am working to correct.

I ended up the day with an even 200 (20 targets). My 8’s were evenly countered by 12’s.

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The center on this “Big Buck” is about gone after 10 months. The arrow nearly passed through.

Shooting in a Fog

Rain and fog complicate outdoor archery practice. So far, this week that is about the extent of the weather we’ve had here on the coast in North Carolina.

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The fog is beginning to lift

It rained off and on all day yesterday. During breaks in the precipitation I was able to work in a couple of practice sessions. Overnight, it has warmed considerably bringing with it fog. Fog isn’t really a problem when aiming at a spot 20 yards away.

We’re expecting more rain later this evening. So, I’ll shoot through the mist until the rain begins.

Back To A Routine

Seventeen days of competition and hunting can break a routine. It is good to have breaks. It is also nice to have a routine.

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Back on home turf

For me that routine is a formal exercise program that meets competitive goals. Those 2015 goals meant a number of faster 5K wins. I only missed one win. Going long is fun, however during the past decade I’ve done a lot of long distance racing. This past year I wanted to practice going faster and over shorter distances. In itself, it was a break from routine.

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The chase is on

I also have a formal archery-training program. That program is not as refined as my running, swimming or cycling. However, there are overlaps. Swimming, in particular, is an excellent way to maintain fitness and strengthen muscles used in archery.

C-Man Swim

Shooting remains at two or three sessions a day. Typically, I shoot twice a day. There are days where I practice for shorter time periods and adding a session accounting for the three session practice days. Recently, my focus has been exclusively aiming at paper. Form has been a key element as well as coming to some conclusion with my release. As yet, I still bounce back and forth attempting to judge which style release is best for me: the thumb style or a hinge style.

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Yesterday, I shot entirely with a thumb, this morning exclusively the hinge. Still seems to be six of one, half a dozen of the other. In either case, and in general, being home means moving into my daily schedule of working on my performance.

Winter is on the way

It is cold and rainy here today in New Hope.  Tomorrow, it will be back in the 70s.  Not too long before running or riding with layers of protective apparel will be a necessity.  Shooting outdoors isn’t immune to the cold.  This morning I wore several layers and a pair of thin gloves. Even though the gloves are thin, and don’t offer a lot of warmth, they’re better than nothing even if they effect my anchor point. Thicker gloves really throw things off.

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No more fun in the sun for awhile.

Tomorrow, as I mentioned, we’ll have nicer weather.  But, there’s no stopping the winter.  It shows up on an annual basis. Until then, I enjoy the last few warm days of fall.