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.

Taking a Break from Hunting to Practice

Hunting, spending hours each day in the woods, eats into practice time. Getting two practice sessions per day wasn’t a top priority. Hunting was the top priority, at least for the moment. Actually, a couple of days, I didn’t go over to the range. Today was another matter.

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River decided she’s come along to watch.

Eager to shoot and well stocked with venison, I took time to practice. Shooting dots is fun, but after a 100 or so shots I needed to mix it up. I started practice in the morning. I took a break for lunch and a short rest before headed back to the 20-yard Vegas style three spot.

The three spot had been a vertical three spot. To make the vertical targets fit on the blocks to which it was pinned I set one block on top of another. That failed on the first shot. The bottom arrow shot through the lower block. The block was less robust than it first appeared.

So, I cut one of the three vertical spots off, turned the other two sideways and tacked the freed spot above them making a Vegas style three spot. The for real excitement, I turned the makeshift target upside down.

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I’ve worn a trail walking back and forth

When I was done for the day, the change in target perspective made no difference to my shooting performance, but it was kind of fun.

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Ray’s tractor

60X Purchases Proline Bowstrings

My bow strings are 60X – very nice products. Today the company published this press release.

“Locally owned 60X Custom Strings LLC is proud to announce today that it has purchased Ohio-based ProLine Bowstrings LLC. 60X Custom Strings officials expect this acquisition to improve customer confidence and widen its customer base for both companies.
The acquisition will permit both 60X and Proline to operate from the current Pennsylvania facility yet remain separate entities. By sharing knowledge and technologies both companies will be able to offer unmatched quality and service.
When asked about the acquisition, company president Brad Patsy, “It will be great to have both companies under one roof. With the wealth of bowstring knowledge that each bring to the table will be able to do great things in the bowstring industry.”

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Congratulations – 60X

Rain, Wind, and More Rain and Wind

Shooting outside has been a challenge over the past week or so. Everyday the wind has been a factor, as has the rain. Last year, here in Hertford, this kind of weather would have been extremely frustrating. This year, things have improved.

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Stephen in from of this Archery and Tackle shop

In Elizabeth City there is a new bow shop that has an indoor range. Since I don’t have a ‘real job’ I try to get to the “Cutting Edge” to practice inside about once a week.

The weather we’ve been having, lots of rain and lots of wind, (sometimes singularly, at other time as a set) has made me really appreciate an indoor place to shoot. It’s especially nice because I’m practicing when most other archers are working. Granted, it is a bit selfish for me to write that, but I do recall trying to practice on ranges where other archers didn’t have a clue regarding proper range etiquette.

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As a rule most archers have excellent manners on the range. There were times, however, when I simply left the range calling it a day because I’d reached my limit of stupid behavior input. Shooting solo the only stupid things I see are those occasional shots I make that aren’t par. The 586 I shot today was a perfect example and one practice session I was glad not to share in real time.

I dropped 14 points shooting inside compared to shooting outside in the wind yesterday. Perhaps the pristine conditions turned me a bit soft.

More Busted Arrows

There was a time when I considered a Robin Hood and rare and cool event. Now, they are not so cool and expensive. In fact, I shoot to avoid them. The greatest risk of hitting one arrow with another, for me, is when I’m adjusting my sight.

When I’m aligning my sight I’ll shoot an arrow. If it misses the X I give my sight a twist or two and take another shot. Typically a second or third shot is all it takes. The risk here is I am aiming for the same X.

The arrows I am currently shooting are not the ones I’d requested. The ones I requested had nice little pin nocks and a nice solid stem in the bushing onto which the nock is placed. When I hit one of those, thus fair, all I’ve lost is the nock. But, when I picked up my new – expensive – arrows the builder had used a standard nock. I wasn’t happy, didn’t want the arrows, knowing that the nock and bushing might one day lead to a Robin Hood. Being in a hurry I accepted the arrows even with the wrong fletching, bushings, and nock. It was inevitable one day I’d bust one or more of those arrows.

Today was that day. I only needed a centimeter or so for a dead center shot. My first shoot was in the 10 ring  but wanted to be a tad closer to the center. I got lazy and didn’t retrieve the arrow. I thought I could slide the second arrow in next to the first. Nope.

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There goes $25.00.

I knew better but still took a short cut. It ended up costing me two arrows. Seriously, the cool is gone.

 

Diet

The most frequent questions I get related to fitness revolves around diet. Here’s an example I from my Facebook account, “Hey there. I was wondering if you stick to a special / strict diet at all?” (Thanks, Cathy)

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Ironman Eagleman in Cambridge, MD (me on the bike, not me walking wearing the red shirt)

Here is my answer to her, “Not strict. I limit fat intake and junk food. Although, I love junk food. I drink very few cokes or similar product. Finally, I try to limit my daily caloric intake to 2200 cal. To compensate for the slightly high intake I make sure my daily caloric burn exceeds 2200 cal. Occasionally, I miss, but in the long run I have a fair balance. I also monitor my % body fat, more so that my BMI. If my body fat reaches 9% I back off on everything, reducing my caloric intake until I’m below 9%. I’ve intentionally dropped to 6%, but that hurt. Currently, I’m rethinking my triathlon/cycling/running race mix. The result may mean I need to go back to 6% body fat. It isn’t easy. When I get serious, I track all intake and output (energy in and out) on a spreadsheet to make sure I have a 800 Cal daily deficient until I reach my goal.”

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What I didn’t mention is Brenda, my wife, and I cook 90% of our meals. When we do eat out, we don’t go crazy on high fat foods.  That’s not to say we don’t enjoy a burger, but we enjoy them infrequently.

Being lean isn’t  a major factor in archery performance. While archery is my sports focus, other sports where I compete are best performed at a lower weight. So, while keeping in shape for those sports I’ve come to recognize small gains in archery. For example, I don’t get as winded on a hilly 3D course as others I’ve noticed. This is an advantage especially if I’m shooting against a person that’s first at the stake and is sucking wind. On long indoor tournaments, I may be less fatigued on the second day compared to other archers with less fitness. Many still out score me, but that is changing.

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The primary thing I’ve seen is that to be good in archery, you need to be good in archery. Phenotype has less of an impact on shooting than what’s needed to do well in a triathlon, cycling, or running. Another thing I’ve learned – never underestimate the potential athletic performance of a big person.

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Run Hines Run

On another note, if you are big, never ignore what is going on with you heart and your likelihood of having sleep breathing disorders. If you are overweight, unless you are a lineman in the NFL, excess weight is not your friend. (Even Hines Ward, a very fit guy, needed to lose 35 pounds to complete an Ironman, but Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t worry about his weight when shooting a bow)

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He just looks like a NFL lineman

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On the other hand, if you are out of shape,  get winded walking, still able to shoot pretty well and you might be shooting against me in 2016 – ignore the above, rest and eat up.