Outside in the country

As most often the case my day began with a run. It was followed by archery practice, lunch, a boat ride, more archery and finally grilling fish for dinner. When the weather is as nice as it was yesterday, it is nearly impossible to stay indoors.

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Beginning of a good day

In the morning, running with my dog River we have two agendas. I run for fitness as much for pleasure. For River running is all pleasure and is followed by a swim. Before she hit the water she was already soaked having run through every creek, puddle and ditch we passed.

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There is no keeping River out of water

My morning archery practice was devoted to a 5-spot at 20 yards. In that morning session I worked on form and mental relaxation. As the day warmed, I put down the bow and readied my boat for time on the water.

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My 5-spot for the morning

There was little wind so the river was very flat. Flat water is great in a Carolina Skiff. Rather than head out to the Albemarle Sound we, Brenda my wife and I,  took a cruise of the more swampy parts of Little River. The clear sky and bright sun gave us an inspirational view of nature in in North Carolina.

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Brenda at the helm

 

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My iPhone camera didn’t do this duck justice

The boat ride over I began my afternoon archery session, this time working at longer distances and odd angles. I didn’t shoot any further than 50 yards. Because my bow is slow (thanks in part to a short draw) it is as much fun waiting to hear the arrow strike the target, as it is shooting from further away. Because we live in such seclusion the main sound we hear are those of birds and animals. It isn’t difficult to hear the pop of an arrow at even 60 yards.

IMG_2908It was dark by the time we began dinner. Today it was grilled perch and striper, cheese grits and green beans. The fish was cooked slowly over lump coal and wood – pretty incredible.

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Living in the country is the best.

One Percentage Point

In the past, I’ve mentioned keeping records of my shooting. I keep scores, where I trained or competed, the bow, arrows, tips and other bits of data. The other data often includes physiological and nutritional data. The physiological and nutritional data remains a bit too sparse to draw conclusions. The equipment data is more enlightening.

One of the most frequent paper targets I shoot is a 5-spot. The data on this target spans twelve months, January 2014 until January 2015. The earlier data scores are lower than the scores recorded later in the year. There is a clear progression of improving scores. However, the improvement is not statically significant.

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Morning practice target

Statistical significant is important when determining whether or not a test method difference is meaningful. In sports, data that isn’t statistically significant doesn’t mean that something important has or has not occurred.

A great example are data that were collected during my cycling career. For months I repeated a 10-mile time trial to measure the effect of a training technique. The data wasn’t statistically significant. The improvement in time to complete the trial was a major improvement – about 2 minutes. Two minutes could be the difference between 1st place and 10th place.

In archery, the data collected revealed that over the course of the year I had a 6% improvement in my scores, which leveled out after a few months. What is interesting is that over the second half of the year, my average is a 1% below a consistent 300 (100%), or an average score of 298. Is it me, or is it the equipment?

Scoring a 300 every time I practice on a 5-spot isn’t likely. Still, improving my 5-spot average is possible. So, where do I make minor improvements that can defeat one or two poorly placed shots?

There are little adjustments that must be made in the physiological (form) of my shooting. These seem somewhat apparent when I lose form. In the meantime is there anything else missing?

In all sports, there is the equipment. In cycling there was a time I competed on a mid-level racing bike. Not the best bike and certainly not the worst. Then, I was given a bike that had been ridden by one of the professional cyclists in the Tour de France. Not a replica, the very same bike ridden by Rodolfo Massi before he was disqualified for using performance-enhancing drugs. When I rode the bike, it was nearly 3 pounds lighter than my previous one; it felt like I was cheating. I wasn’t taking performance-enhancing drugs, but in this case, the change in my equipment was significant, especially during climbs.

In archery very minor adjustments have an impact. My bow is a Mathews Apex 7, a bow with a good track record in tournaments. My sight is a top end Axcel with a high end SA Scope. My release is a Scott Pro Advantage. My arrow rest is a mid-range model that has raised eyebrows and earned questions.

Thus far I have been fairly pleased with the arrow rest barring a time or two when it didn’t drop and once when it broke. But, a bow technician asked way did I have such nice equipment and still used a mid-range rest. Does my rest account for a very slight variance in accuracy?

If it does, that occurrence might only happen less than 1% of the time. Maybe it is that 1% of time when a very slight “arrow rest” variance led to a less than perfect shot. If so, maybe it accounts for the 1% gap recorded from my average to perfection. (I do occasionally shot a 300)

In practice today, I used my mid-range arrow rest. I shot a 5-spot for training this morning. Later, today I’ll work on yardage. Later this week, I’ll investigate changing my arrow rest to a top end model. Today, I shot a 298. The lessor shots where entirely not the fault of the arrow rest.

Setting up the Axcel Achieve CX

During indoor competition I’ve used the Axcel Achieve CX for the past year. It is pretty simple to use when there is only one distance to shoot. For 3D tournaments, things become a bit more complex – at least for me.  With a 4X magnification on the sight it seemed likely that if I could use it properly it would be better than pins alone – this came home to me during the last two 3D tournaments.

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Axcel Achieve CX

In Georgia, I shot in the Open class with pins. Only once (or twice) did I seriously misjudge the distance. You can’t misjudge by 5 (or more) yards and expect to do well.

In Georgia, the others, in the Open Class, all had adjustable sights and magnification. The longest shot was only 47 yards and I hit it well. Nevertheless, there were many targets beyond 35 yards where magnification might have helped.

The next tournament was an indoor 3D competition where, in the bow hunter class, archers were prohibited the use of binoculars. The furthest foam animal was only out 34 yards, but the lighting led me to believe a 4X magnification would have helped.

The Axcel CX sight is fairly easy to set. First, take a couple of reference shots then match a yardage tape to the graduated scale on the sight. For this exercise I took numerous shots from 20 to 60 yards in 5-yard increments. (I have that kind of time.)

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Sight side with the graduated elevation scale

Next, choose the yardage tape that most matches the graduated scale values. My bow is slow (50 lbs, 26 inch draw – you can see the arch on my shots with ease) so the corresponding tape was the largest in the adhesive backed yardage scales included with the sight. It was a relief that the yardage on the tape matched so well with the graduations on the sight for all tested increments.

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Sight side with the corresponding yardage tape applied.

In practice using  the Axcel sight and 4X magnification has been fun. My pins are best at distances of 50 yards and less (really best at 35 or at least that is where I am best). Beyond 50 yards, with pins, it is as much instinct as skill because the center ring is impossible to visualize. (One reason we archers have the best ‘working memory’ around). While an eight or ten hit on an animal will kill it, those scores won’t win tournaments (especially when summed with the 5 that occasionally pops up).

The past few days practicing with the Axcel CX and 4X magnification were rather cool. The additional confidence, at known yardage, and clearly seeing the center of the target is a treat. I am looking forward to giving the rig a try in my next tournament.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

There was another short break in the rain here on the river. The ground is soaked and the wind continues to whip white caps across the water. It has warmed up to 35°F. There was a way to shoot!

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(IMG_2862 is a short clip of the rain – it might play if you click it)

We have two storage sheds on our property. Both are at the limit on capacity housing some of the furniture and other items moved into them for the on-going renovations underway on our home. Adjusting the contents of one of these sheds I’d be able to stand inside it and shoot out.

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The target was, from the cleared area of the shed, a modest 25 yards away. The benefit of the shed was being able to stand shielded from the wind and blowing mist.

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This wasn’t my opinion of the best practice range, but not bad considering the weather. Where there is a will there is a way.

 

Rainy night in Georgia

It has rained a lot here in Georgia. Rain is better than snow. You don’t see snow when the temperature is in the 50’s and 60’s. I spent last winter in the cold and snow. To Brenda I said, “This is the last winter I spend up north.” In my opinion, North Carolina is too cold. So, we’re hanging out in Georgia. Ray Charles’ cover song, “Rainy Night in Georgia” has frequently been on my mind.

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Shooting on the deck

Shooting in the rain is a mess. Still, I needed to shoot if for nothing more than to work on form. We have a pretty long deck here is I set up a new target at on end of the deck and shot from the other. The new target was a Christmas gift from my daughter, Heather.

My top pin is set to 20 yards; on the top deck I have only about 15 yards of cover. The close shots will help on those small short distance 3D varmints I come across from time to time.

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The rain finally eased up and I was able to head to my makeshift range. It was muddy and warm on the range. It certainly beats cold and snow.

Measurement and monitoring

Part of my adventure with archery is recording the events, tournaments, training, science, and personalities I meet along the way. Brenda, my wife, she suggested I publish them on the web. The result of her advice has been this website.

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Fred Bear understood measurement and monitoring. It was part of his company’s research, engineering and quality control.

“If it is not measured, it is not monitored,” is often attributed to Peter Drucker. In fact, the first record of this observation is by William Thomson, the Scottish physicist also known as Lord Kelvin. Writing and creating frequent posts for this website takes hours almost everyday, some days less time than others. GoDaddy and others measure the work I do here.1 They measure and I monitor. There is little point in making this public if no one is interested. So, I monitor and review the data.

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Alexa2 ranks this website 9,055,298 in the world according to the frequency of visits. Being number 9.055 million, at first, doesn’t seem so great. However, Internetlivestats’ data indicates there are 1,155,205,776 websites and growing (yes that is ‘billion’).3 Those numbers begin to sound interesting. But, it must be taken into account that 75% of websites aren’t active. That leaves 288,926,444 (25%) of websites as active. This means Puttingitontheline is in the top 3.1% of the world’s most read websites. (The big sites include: Google, Facebook, Youtube, Amazon)

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I look forward to 2015. It will be my first year shooting as a professional. On this journey I’ll continue to record and publish the adventure. There will be new discoveries, new science, more characters and escapades. I appreciate the support each of you has given me by reading. I enjoy your comments. I love that this project is global and so many of you relate on many levels. Thanks.

Reference:

  • https://www.godaddy.com
  • http://www.internetlivestats.com/total-number-of-websites/
  • Users in Alexa’s global data panel base Alexa’s Traffic Ranks on the traffic data provided over a rolling 3-month period. A site’s ranking is based on a combined measure of Unique Visitors and Pageviews. The number of unique Alexa users who visit a site on a given day determines unique Visitors. Pageviews are the total number of Alexa user URL requests for a site. However, multiple requests for the same URL on the same day by the same user are counted as a single Pageview. The site with the highest combination of unique visitors and pageviews is ranked #1. Additionally, Alexa employs data normalization to correct for biases that may occur in their data.

Lesson with Coach Sean

The rain finally eased up. It will be back, soon. Prior to the break in the rain our daughter, Heather and our grandson, Sean, drove over from Winder. We’ll be at their house for Christmas along with our son-in-law, Bill. Bill didn’t make the trip; he was occupied preparing for Santa Claus’ visit tomorrow. This meant I’d be getting a much-needed lesson in archery from Sean.

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Coach Sean suggesting I take a break from writing and shoot my bow

Sean, four years old, is an expert in many areas. Archery is one of his specialties. He recommended we go outside and shoot. A serious shooter, his equipment includes a bow with suction cup arrows that sticks to the wall. His other bow drives an arrow that, “If you shoot it hard enough it whistles,” according to the pint sized Robin Hood.

As Sean tells it, neither of his parents mind when he shoots at the walls. While I questioned the accuracy of his claim he remained firm in his position.

My last lesson with Sean was several months ago. To be accurate, my last lesson in archery. Since that lesson he has coached my running. A master coach in track his commands to, “Speed it, Granddaddy, speed it!” were relentless during that session. That exercise took place the night before a competition in Savannah, GA. My effort to comply, albeit fun at the time, left me a surprisingly sore on race day.

Today, Sean was available to provide his insight into archery. According to Sean shooting an arrow is a matter of, “Pulling it back, then letting it go.”

Our lesson, during the short cessation of rain, took place in the driveway. Sean selected a 3-spot from the collection of targets arranged on a golf cart. Getting to the golf cart is a challenge. The cart is crammed into a two-car garage that houses the cart, a Bad Boy Buggy, a Polaris Ranger, a John Deer Trail Boss, and a Polaris Magnum 325. There is little room to maneuver to reach the golf cart. Sean darted between and around the ATV’s with little effort in his retrieval of a paper target.

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The garage, a warehouse of ATVs

Using a plastic chair (a style we buy to put into hunting blinds) he instructed me to attach the 3-spot to a Block Black crossbow target. Following his approval of the target placement we backed-up to 20 yards for the action.

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Receiving instruction on my arrows

Sean described the best manner in which to hold my bow. The he provided a demonstration of arm placement where he modeled an exact archer’s form.

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Lecture on arrow placement

As I prepared to shoot, Sean standing behind me, being keen on safety, he loudly announced, “Fire in the hole” as I took aim. His demands to “Fire” were as vigorous as his pronouncement to encourage more speed from me during running sprints.

Coach finally decided I’d shot enough for one practice and that he needed to play with our dogs. With that, archery was finished for the moment and Sean’s laps through the family room, kitchen and dining room, while being chased by a dog were underway. Thankfully, the rain had re-started and I wasn’t required to do wind sprints.

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Sean and Nixie in a blur of speed

P.S.: During the above activities Brenda, my wife, and Heather, our daughter and Sean’s mother were making a quick trip to the grocery. Sean elected to stay behind with his Granddaddy, me, and Great Granddaddy, Ray.  The photo below is what happens with Mama and Grandmama return from shopping.

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No running in the house

 

Rain, rain, rain…..

A little rain isn’t bad, hard rain for days isn’t the optimal weather for hunting. The land here in Georgia has a lot of red clay. This red clay, when soaked after days of rain is a mess. Four-wheel trucks get stuck and ATVs bog down in the crimson mire. So, we’ve been stuck indoors. (click the video to get an idea of the rain)

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The rain is going to last for several more days. We’re here for another twelve days. As soon as the rain eases and some of the water runs off we’ll be headed back into the woods.

Until then, I’ll set up a target on the covered deck and practice shooting at 20 yards.

Another good day of eating, shooting, football and running.

We drove into Washington, Georgia for lunch today. In the afternoon, it was time to practice, watch football and run.

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One of the many fine old Southern homes in Washington

The Talk of the Town Café, in Washington, is one of our local favorites; they serve gourmet “sammiches”, burgers, soups, salads and more for lunch. They also have specialty coffees, wine and great desserts. Today, we piled in for the Sunday buffet, which is a feast of great Southern food. Sadly, one plate is all I can handle. I expect I am one of the few people that eat the buffet and the café makes money.

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Talk of the Town Cafe

When we returned to Tignall I napped through the first quarter of the Falcons versus the Saints.   Too bad the Falcons haven’t played they way they did today all year. If they had there’d likely be a lot of happier Atlanta fans.

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Since we’re hunting tomorrow I sighted and practiced with my Mathews ZXT. Man, that is one nice short bow. I am temped to use it in the 3D tournament on Jan 4th.

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I finished the day’s activities running with River. We headed down a dirt road then turned onto trails that led into the woods. As it got dark sooner (today being the shortest day of the year) we left the woods while we could safely run out.

Another good day of eating, shooting, football and running. Not bad, not bad at all.

In Georgia to: hunt, run, bike, kayak, and shoot 3D

Brenda and I made it to Tignall, GA. With us we brought two mountain bikes – we both ride and the land we hunt, 679 acres, has great trails for bikes. I brought two bows, my Mathews Apex 7 and Mathews ZXT, one for a tournament and one for hunting. Our two dogs, River and Nixie, of course made the trip.

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“Are we there, yet?”

Upon arrival, I unpacked, while Brenda helped her dad, Ray, prepare an early dinner. It was too late to shoot, and dark, so after dinner River and I headed out for a run.

Here the terrain is rolling hills. We’d not gone 100 yards when River tore out after deer. The deer are everywhere, here. But, my hunt objective is wild pigs. The pigs that run wild here are abundant. What I am hoping to get is a couple of small gilts, which I think are best for eating.

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Trail cam from October

The after dinner run felt great after being stuck in the truck for eight hours. A bonus was that it was not cold. A friend, Chris back in Maryland, who is an archer and runner had posted that the temperature was 28° F. It was 52°F when I ran this evening.

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We’re here for the next few weeks. I am looking forward to hunting, running, cycling and kayaking. The trip will be topped off spending Christmas with our oldest daughter and her family in Winder. Then off to Social Circle, Georgia for the Buckeye 3D tournament.