The weather here in North Carolina is warming up for a few days. It will turn cold again, but spring is just around the corner. My morning began early with a run and then archery practice. The warmth was great for running, but there was a bit of wind to frustrate me while shooting.
The run was wonderful with temperatures in the mid 40’s. River, my canine running partner, remained committed to sprinting through standing water and filled ditches that remain topped up because of the recent rains. We did pause while I tried to photograph swans in their flying pattern as they passed above us.
After running I shot for an hour then stopped when the wind became too much. I suppose the rapid warming of the air has brought with it the wind. Still, it wasn’t a bad morning for running and shooting.
The weather is a factor when practicing and training outdoors. This morning the forecasters seemed to have gotten it right. It was cold and turning colder. Shortly after breakfast the wind was howling. The combination of the cold and wind will keep me off my range for a while. But, I did get in a nice run.
One of the most difficult days of training is the rest day. Today is a rest day. Yesterday was an active recovery day that tapered into a day of complete rest from archery and running.
Having a number of tournaments and a marathon on my near calendar sitting still makes me anxious. To make matters worse, the weather is perfect for shooting and running.
I choked and shot a few arrows. One out of every five or six missed the X. My arms and shoulders are tired and sore. This is when injuries occur – I know that from cycling, running, and swimming.
Over the past ten days I’ve followed my training plan. After 15 arrows, I knew I had messed up. Missing an X on a 5-spot at 20 yards with no wind is in part due to fatigue. Even though I wanted to continue I cold feel the soreness.
Days like this it’s hard not to work out. But, I know better and decided to put down my bow and take it easy.
Today training was a 6.2-mile run and an easy day of shooting. Neither session was difficult and would have been simple minus the cold and wind. The temperature during my run wasn’t that horrendous. At 30° F (-1° C) while wearing warm clothes this is not a difficult run. In the afternoon I’d have a short workout with my bow. Both sessions, would not have been a problem except for the wind.
All day we had white caps coming off the river. After running all I wanted was a hot tub in which to thaw. The wind had cut through my running apparel as if it weren’t there giving my convective heat loss a very personal impression.
Along the run, River, my dog heedless to the cold broke through iced covered creeks in order to play in the water. Following the run she even jumped into the river. I suppose it is a Labrador thing.
Shooting was another matter. I’d only be shooting for only 15 to 20 minutes. Like all sports, archery needs recover time. For this workout I’d be shooting from unknown distances into a foam deer. It also meant I’d have the house to help block the wind.
Despite the house’s blockade the wind was a chilling factor. Unlike my home in Maryland I don’t have access to an indoor range here in North Carolina. There is an advantage to being able to step outside and shoot. On cold and windy days – well I take the good with the bad.
During my business career I wrote a lot. That writing included more than 120 medical and scientific papers, two books, and a number of monographs. I also participated in writing patents, preparing regulatory affairs documents, contracts, business reports, and all manner of marketing papers.
Today I still write a lot. On this website I’ve published hundreds of posts and articles. I have two archery manuscripts “in print” meaning they will be published in a magazine soon. None of this would be possible without my ever diligent and hard working support team.
Shooting, like other sports, requires practice. Practice isn’t simply heading to a range and firing away at the target. For each session there should be specific goals, physical as well as mental. Then, there are those days where mental breakdown leads to really dumb shots. When that happens, it is best done during practice not in a tournament.
Last summer, in a 3D tournament, I had a momentary lapse in brain. Seriously, my brain seemed to have been totally elsewhere. I’d approached a target. It was a shot I felt, I knew I had the 12 (it was an ASA tournament), and my confidence was overwhelming. I went through my form, alignment, drew, aimed, and then dry fired by bow. I’d never in my life dry fired my bow. I didn’t even know what had happened until my brain returned.
Yesterday, I had a very specific mental exercise I’d planned for practice. I was excited to give this technique, as explained by sports psychologist Gary Mack, a try. I’d gathered my bow, the target was set, quiver and arrows on my hip, binoculars hanging over my neck, baseball cap on, and my Rudy Project shooting glasses donned. I looked the part and felt the part.
Setting up for the shot, I worked through establishing my form, added the mental bit from Mack’s lecture, found the X and fired. The arrow went high. Not a little high – HIGH. It sailed over the target. Obviously, something was wrong. I repeated the process with another arrow. Exactly as before the arrow went high. Again, not a little high but over the entire target. It was like deja-vu all over again. Then, my brain caught up with my body.
The day before, I’d been shooting longer distances. My last round was at 50 yards. The two high shots were from 20 yards. My brain decided let me know I’d not adjusted the sight for 20 yards and had been aiming for a 50-yard distance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It 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.
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.
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.
The weather has played havoc with my training. The cold, wind and rain have been relentless. Today, I wasn’t able to shoot outside. My friends that have an indoor range had other matters that keep them from shooting so I had no where to shoot. Alas, I’d run despite the adverse climatic conditions.
Lately, I’ve been competing in shorter events, 5K runs. Five kilometers is quick, the pain is over shortly after starting and they don’t take all day. But, I am running in a longer event, a ½ marathon, in April so it is time to increase my mileage.
The rain decreased to a light misty drizzle so I took that as my chance to run. The run was only a 10K. The wind was coming off the river and for the first 5K I’d have the wind to my back.
Heading out, that first half of the run felt great. With the wind to my back and wearing plenty of clothing to stay warm, I worked up a sweat. Then, I turned for the 5K-leg home. Sweat gets cold fast.
Some people enjoy the cold. I expect many of my friends in more northern latitudes would have made the 31°F run in shorts and a light jacket. Not me, I wore several shirts, a super heavy jacket, gloves, a thick cap, and dense long cycling tights.
The wind would have felt worse on a bike. In fact, I’d considered cycling, but my training plan called for a run. Still, the gale force wind did its best to stop me in my tracks.
I’ll admit it was great to get outside. An hour back from the run I was taking a nap. I never did get around to shooting. I didn’t thaw until around 4 PM. My toes are just coming around.
Tomorrow doesn’t look much better. Nevertheless, I’ll be out there – running.