Back on the 3D Range and Shooting at Birds

Since the IBO World Championships I’ve been shooting paper. For the most part, the 3D season is over and during the next several months I’ll be shooting indoors. Shooting 3D is good practice for hunting and there’s another 3D tournament where I’ll be competing in a few weeks. So, this morning I shot some 3D.

I’ve also changed my rig so that it has a scope and adjustable sight. I changed the center dot on the lens to a vertical pin. It’s great with the only issue – getting the yardage tape set. The tape is off a couple yards on the short side. A new tape and things should be right.

Being off a bit for a know distance, like 20 meters indoors, isn’t a big deal. Rather than setting the site to 20, I set it to 22. Not a problem. Shooting 3D with unknown yardage tape variance is more of a problem. Errors on the sight and off on the yardage estimate could combine to make a really bad shot. Not my problem today.

Today, most of my shots were fine, that is I was fitting a lot of 10s with a few 8s and a few Xs. The real screw up came when shooting a deer from 48 yards. Now, these are my targets and I know the range rather well. I mix it up and do a variety of practice exercise so I don’t become compliant with simple shots that I’ve repeatedly done.

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Deer that I sailed an arrow over

But, when I shot at this deer from 48 yards I heard my arrow go popping and snapping through the woods. Naturally, I first thought was “What The F…!” I immediately hiked into the brush behind the deer and after a short search found the arrow. That was lucky.

Still, I had no idea how I’d missed so badly. Nothing was amuck with bow. Actually, the set up prior to the shot and the release felt good. I double checked the sight and herein was the heart of the matter. Twisting a sight to 58 yards, when shooting 48 yards is never a good thing. Unless you are, in fact, shooting at birds and you’re really lucky.

Why Wear Shooting Glasses in Archery?

During pistol and gun shooting competition many of the athletes wear shooting glasses. That isn’t the case in archery. A few archers use them. I do for a number of reasons.

My first reason is safety. While I don’t fret about an exploding arrow (I check mine religiously) or a snapping cable (I check and replace strings often) there are other ways to mess up your eyes in archery.

One of the biggest problems is getting smacked in the eye by debris or branches during 3D tournaments. Granted, most courses have been well manicured there is still that wild branch which can snap back then hit an eye.

Bugs and other airborne matter are other problems when shooting outside. Shooting glasses can help improve the chance that the gnat aiming for your cornea misses.

My second reason is the changes in light – going from light to dark on any given stake. Tinted lenses help take the strain off my eyes when I hike from a brightly illuminated trail to a target so dark it can barely be seen. By wearing shooting glasses it takes less time for my eyes to adjust to the changes in light. (Personal observation)

My third reason is light gathering. I have multiple lenses and can change them based on the conditions of light. In low light yellow lenses seem to be best for improving illumination. The medium orange lenses work best  earlier in the morning to provide contrast.

High quality lenses are critical. If you use an eye prescription the top companies can fill that for you in the lens colors you order. If you haven’t tried shooting glasses – give them a test and see what you think.  Some archery shops have them and might let you test them out on their indoor range if they have one available.

Here’s My Training for a Week

Many people don’t actually practice what they preach. I’m not one of them. When I write about fitness, I’m serious about it. I find sports and competition a lot of fun. So, here’s what I do in a typical week.

Sunday – I generally use this day for long runs or long bike rides. I consider a long run anything over an hour and a long bike ride anything 50 miles or longer. When I was purely a completive cyclist I’d ride much further. But, that was many years ago. On top of this I’ll typically shoot 2 to 3 hours.

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Monday – This is a swim day. I don’t swim as far as when I was training for an Ironman. However, I swim shorter distances at a faster pace. I do about a kilometer. Once I’ve completed the swim, I’ll lift weights. I lift to preserve muscle mass. At 60, I know that weight lifting is important for my long-term health. Next, I take a short run that is primarily intervals in nature. Before swimming I shoot for an hour. This morning session ends around lunch. After lunch I’ll shoot again and train on my Computrainer (cycling apparatus)

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Tuesday – Generally a lighter day. I do an easy run in the morning then shoot. In the afternoon I shoot again, and do another session on my Computrainer or ride outside. I’ll also do speed rope work.

Wednesday – This is exactly like Monday. It is a long day.

Thursday – I’ll only shoot once and have an active recovery day on the bike.

Friday – I may only shoot, or take the day off entirely. If I shoot, then it will be a short session.

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Saturday – This is either an archery tournament, race day, or day where I duplicate the activity if I can’t find a formal event to enter. It is essentially an easy day since I try to train harder that I compete.

I can do all of this because I’m retired. When I worked I wasn’t involved in archery. Still, my training for triathlon was very similar to what I’m doing now – only longer. One other advantage I have is that my wife is an athlete.  She understands the work I put into fitness since she is similar in her activities.

There is also room for flexibility with my training. Travel can alter my plans as can a specific competition where I need more focus.  For example, I have a 5K race soon.  It is a short and fast event, but one where I’d like to do well.  Therefore more interval  and speed work versus long slow runs.

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I also listen to my body.  I don’t want to be on of those 60+ athletes that drops dead because they’ve over done it with their heart.  In addition it takes longer for me to recover at 60- than it did at 25.  I allow for it, which means I might skip a workout or lighten my load.

More About Fitness for Archers

There is a fair amount for work written regarding fitness for archery.  For the most part, the teachings of others regarding fitness for archers leaves me a bit cold. 

 What most sports writers will suggest is that archery isn’t a highly cardio sport.  I agree, to some degree.  That degree of agreement relates to indoor or outdoor shooting where hiking or climbing hills isn’t a factor.  During some 3D tournaments, fitness is more critical.

At this year’s IBO World Championship, while the course wasn’t a workout equivalent to running the Leadville 100, much of the terrain was steep and many targets were not easy to reach.  In fact, the group in which I shot, on more than one occasion, needed to stop can catch their breath before continuing.  Some of the guys needed to wait before stepping up to a stake because they were too winded to shoot.  In these conditions cardio fitness can be an important factor in scoring good shots. 

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Minutes before a 2 kilo swim

Stretching is often suggested as being benedifical to archers.  Here I diverge from the opinion that stretching is useful.  In fact, static stretching has been shown to reduce power and a short-duration static stretching warm-up has no effect on power outcomes. 1, 2 If you want to warm-up prior to shooting, do dynamic exercises. Once you feel ready, take warm-up practice shots.

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Some shots, despite being in decent shape, miss the mark. (Now where did that arrow hit?)

That isn’t to say resistance training isn’t beneficial.  By resistance training I mean lifting weights.  Some others have written against lifting weights. What I’m not suggesting is that becoming a body builder is necessary or even helpful for archery.  However, lighter weights and more repetition is good especially as you age. 

Overall, doing cardio (running, cycling or swimming) is good for you.  Lifting weight, not body building, is good for overall muscle health and may reduce the loss of muscle mass. Remember, you are an archer, not a weight lifter.  Nevertheless, we all loose muscle mass as we age.  But, will any of this make you a better archer?

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Trail running is a great form of exercise

Look around at your next tournament.  Notice the body types of the other archers.  You’ll quickly notice, as a group, we stand apart from many other athletes.  There are a lot of big people among us. You’ll also notice, they shoot very well.

 Our closest sports kin are shooters.  These two sports require athlete be able to remain very still and focus.  Slow is often times better.  As a result, archery has a lot of people that shoot very well without great physical fitness.  The bottom line is that you don’t have to be in great shape to be a great archer.

However, being in great shape, will help your overall well-being.  It is unlikely that being in great physical shape is going to help your heart rate become so low that that pounding chest is not going to be a factor.  (Which has been ‘suggested’ by others.  My resting heart rate is low, but calming myself mentally is the best way I have to attempt to reduce the pounding in my chest.)

If you are out of shape, you will fatigue sooner during a long tournament.  Having poor fitness and poor health may limit the time you can shoot, practice and effectively compete. 

Here’s my advice:  If you want to improve in archery, practice more archery. If you are out of shape, get into a program to improve your fitness.   Prior to beginning any fitness program get a check-up and advice from a physician. Then, get on a formal program, and set some fitness goals. 

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Cycling is one of my favorite forms of exercise

Will you become a better archer?  Probably – not certainly. As you know, someone has likely beaten you in really poor physical fitness. But, image that you have the fitness to shoot a lot. That means being on a range and practicing for hours.  The better condition you’re in the more likely it is that your ability to sustain a long practice session will improve.  You’ll become less weary during practice.  As your point to exhaustion lengthens your mental focus improves during the duration of the practice.  With proper practice and a focused training plan it would be hard not to improve.

Reference:

1.) McCrary JM, Ackermann BJ, Halaki M. A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. Br J Sports Med. 2015 Jul;49(14):935-42. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094228. Epub 2015 Feb 18.

2.) Knapik JJ The Importance of Physical Fitness for Injury Prevention: Part 2. J Spec Oper Med. 2015 Summer;15(2):112-5.

Last post about stats for a bit

Aside from running, swimming, weight lifting, and shooting, today I checked some of the stats regarding this website recorded by GoDaddy.

In the eighteen months that I’ve been writing about this adventure in archery and fitness on this site it has had 1.3 million hits, there’ve 248,661 pages read, and 102,122 visitors.

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Wow that sounds like a lot – can I have a cookie

My next post won’t be about stats.

Me versus the Power Washer

A few weeks before the IBO World Championships I decided to get my house power washed. Living on a river in the country means that bugs and spiders cover every outdoor surface. We had a lot of surface area that needed cleaning.

When we weren’t living full time in NC and had a nice cash flow we’d hired someone for the job. That job was always the same price: $500.00 for any specific surface. For example: power wash the house, $500.00, power wash the decks, $500.00, power wash the pier and dock, you guessed it – $500.00.

Since we do now live in the Tarheel State full time and no longer have cash flowing in (a matter of retirement) I decided to buy a nice power washer and do the cleaning myself. I found a nice one on sale at nearly ½ price – $500.00.

I’ll admit I’ve had some experience with a power washer. I’d borrowed one from my father-in-law that actually belonged to my brother-in-law. It wasn’t hard to operate and it didn’t do a great job. There wasn’t anything wrong with the device and it worked to specifications. The issue was that this borrowed power washer was an entry-level product with a low PSI and low GPM output. The one I purchased was double the output capacity of the one used on loan.

The force of the new power washer was dramatic. The wrong nozzle and it would peel paint from a house or etch wood. It did get the bugs, spider webs, dirt and environmental grime off the house and deck.

Power washing is addictive. Once the spray begins turning a dingy surface new it is hard to stop cleaning. I power washed for a week straight. The house and decking were good as new. The pier and dock looked like they’d just been built. All the outdoor furniture seemed as if it had just arrived from the assemble line. Heck, I power washed the kayaks, my Carolina Skiff, three vehicles, my tractor, and where I could reach the bulkhead.

What I learned is that a serious power washer is a beast to handle. The force and vibration will shake your teeth loose. It didn’t matter; I took the punishment for the sake of cleanliness. Man, everything looked great.

But, there was an unexpected price. What I noticed following a very satisfying few days of power washing was an ache in my elbow. The ache got worse. By the end of my power-washing extravaganza I could hardly bend my arm. To make things more serious, I could barely lift my bow.

It was with this condition I arrived in Ellicottsville for the IBO World Championships. I nearly skipped the tournament – frankly I couldn’t draw my bow without intense pain around my elbow. Once I had an arrow drawn the pain wasn’t as intense, so I decided to go to NY for the experience.

I got through the tournament knowing I’d need at a minimum of a couple of weeks to recover from what is commonly know as “tennis elbow.” In this case, brought on from a power washing frenzy.

Tennis elbow affects 1% to 3% of the population and as many as 50% of tennis players during their careers. Less than 5% of all tennis elbow diagnoses are related to actually playing tennis.1 In my case, I fell into the group of “scrubbers” that end up with the affliction.

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Since shooting in NY I’ve rested that arm until two days ago. It is hard not to shoot. An incentive to rest was the inability to lift the bow – the pain was much worse after the tournament. Two weeks of rest seems to have helped. The elbow still hurts but now the pain is dull and seems to be receding.

I had less success keeping away from the breast of a power washer. The addiction was too great and my wood burning grill too tempting. I did crank up the monster and cleaned that grill – it hurt. But, the grill looks practically new.

Reference:

1) www.webmd.com/ostearthritis/guide/tennis-elbow.

 

 

Tinkering with gear

Some folks seem to really enjoy tinkering with gear. Any sort of gear works for the tinkerer. Some people tinker with fishing gear, others with guns, some with cars, still more with archery equipment.

When I was a child my buddies tinkered with the standard items I listed above. Not me. On the first Christmas that I can remember making a gift request I asked for a microscope. I got it along with a few pre-made slides, blank slides and a chemistry set.

Those gifts were my first steps toward a career in medicine that lasted 43 years. Granted, along that path I enjoyed sports, which included fishing, hunting, cycling, running and swimming. But, I never tinkered with the gear used in those sports.

Two years ago I took up archery. To my dismay, it required I tinker. Primarily, I am obligated to fiddle around with my scope and sight. To be very honest, I do not enjoy messing with either.

Unlike my run this morning, where I gathered my gear – shoes, shorts, t-shirt. hat and pace dog  – today’s archery practice was a tedious process. That tedium brought on because I  switched my gear from a hunter class rig to that with a sight/scope and long stabilizers. To compound the effort of sighting I’d purchased a new bow since I last used my sight and scope.

The twenty-yard mark for the new bow was where the taped mark for the 40-yard graduation was from the old bow (not even close). That meant the process of calibrating two marks and matching the yardage tape had to be repeated. Plus, the windage had to be adjusted to find the center.

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The 3rd target meant I could stop tinkering for the day.

Personally, I prefer to shoot. Sadly, the tinkering had to be completed in order to shoot with accuracy. Today, I tinkered for 2 hours adjusting the sight and scope. It was a tad frustrating; later I’ll go ride a bike (without any tinkering required) to burn off some steam.

The world needs people that tinker with gear. Happily for me, it also needed people in the medical field during my working days. If I’d needed to earn a living tinkering I expect I’d have starved.

Score Analysis Heading into the IBO World Championships and Post Tournament

Prior to the IBO World Championship, I paused to evaluate my scores for the year in 3D. The distance I have been shooting in competition was a maximum of 45 yards while using a bow with fixed pins and a short stabilizer. That bow set up meets the requirements for the IBO Professional Hunter Class.

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Since the 2015 3D season began I’ve averaged 9.1 points per target. The score per shot improved as the season progressed with the ‘better’ scores averaging 10.35 points per target. The worst performance (the first 3D tournament of the year) the average was 7.65 points per target, which included a miss and a mess of fives.

It takes a lot of numbers to make a good database. The sample set used here isn’t large enough to be definitive. But, it did give me an idea of my likely score at the tournament in New York. That score should have been around 364 which would have landed me in 12th position.  In fact, I shot worse, ending up 13th place. The distance didn’t turn out to be my major downfall, it was my lack of experience shooting at steep uphill and downhill angles.

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This sort of analysis is beneficial to help determine areas of weakness and topics for shooting improvement.

IBO World Championships – Vendors

Following the 2014 IBO World Championships my only complaint was related to the poor quality of manufactures’ representatives on hand to support their booths. This year, vendor representatives remained rather sad. If you were in NY, perhaps, you too noticed that the sales people often seemed dull and unresponsive or basically full of their self importance.

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For decades I was in business practice at an executive level. The last business I was associated with I was an executive VP and Chief Medical Officer. You might think, “Well, you were over the science and medical group, you don’t really understand business.” You’d be wrong; I also have a law degree and completed an accounting program. Of the things where I have an expertise, business (sales and marketing) is an area where I am very strong. This is why I could retire at 57 and can shoot a bow full time.

The manner in which many of sales representatives spoke to customers (archers) at the IBO was appalling. The vendor representatives were often arrogant to rude or both. Many seemed uninterested and worked to cut conversations short.

During my working career (not that shooting isn’t work when you do it 6 days a week and travel nearly every week to compete) our sales and marketing team did things differently. Our booth representatives had goals to achieve, products to highlight, results to share, individuals to meet and new relationships to cultivate. I’m not certain I witnessed a lot of that sort of activity at the tournament. I’m am certain I watched a lot of rudeness from company reps directed to customers (archers).

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Well, you might think that the IBO World Championship isn’t exactly a business trade show like the ATA.  OK, let’s grant that train of thought.  I’ll match the IBO vendors with Ironman vendors.  At the  Ironman World Championship there were probably 10 times as many vendors compared to the IBO on the Big Island of Hawaii.  At every booth athletes (customers) were treated with great respect.  The sales people went out of their way to see that every competitor was treated like a champion.  Too many of the vendors at the IBO acted like they were doing athletes a favor to get off their butts and answer a question.  In fact, many didn’t bother getting off their butts.

Granted, there were some great company reps at several of the booths. Still, there were a surprising number of booths staffed by people that made me ‘not’ want to purchase that manufacturers products.  To be sure,  I remained smiling and pleasant regardless of how poorly good manners were reciprocated. What was more difficult was keeping my mouth shut when I witnessed rudeness to others.

There are plenty of archery vendors. Some are better than others when it comes to the treatment of the athletes that compete in this sport. Seriously, though, there were some very bad company representatives at this major tournament.

Travel Pains

When I left the medical/business world I was happy to leave the traveling behind.  Then, I traveled every week and one weekend per month.  These weren’t short trips.  I had an office in Boston and in Jerusalem – as in Israel. I lived in Easton, Maryland at the time.

During the last two decades where I’ve conducted business or been part of a medical congress I traveled to nearly every country in Europe, as well as many countries in Asia-Pacific, Australia and the middle east. I’ve also traveled to every State in America except Alaska – I did fly over it often. I’ve been to Canada and parts of South America as well as the Caribbean. Some places where better than others.  All meant stays in hotels – frequently long stays in hotels.

When we sold the business, a medical company (Oridion Medical), I thought my traveling days were behind me. Then, I took up archery.

I wrote this from a hotel room in Olean, NY.  It was August 6th and by car I have traveled 12,138 miles to compete in archery tournaments.  The travel still is about the same, the income is vastly different. Fortunately, I can afford the expense (thanks in part to my prior travel). What is bad is being away from my wife, my dogs, and my home on the water.

We’ve been considering buying an RV for 2016 so we can all travel together. That might be an adventure. Then, maybe it would be a headache in the long run.  Looking forward to 2016, I can foresee a lot more travel.