Building Your Training Program

Each of you has a level of training, or a workload, that will maximize your performance.  Finding it is a trick.

There’s an excellent archer, multi-time World Champion, who practices archery for an hour per day.  Another famous archer, a great 3D shooter, says he shoots 30 arrows per day. He claims he shoots 30 perfect shots a day and puts his bow down.  I suppose that can work in 3D were 30 arrows per day might be physically enough.  However, that might not be enough if you need to shoot over 100 arrows a day.  There’s another top dog archer that says you can’t practice enough.  For each of them, their training seems to work.  They’ve won a lot of tournaments.

For the remainder of us we might need a more formal approach.  An hour a day, 30 arrows a day or shoot all day isn’t, in general, a set of rules to train by.

Most archers are not making a living as a professional athlete.  A few are and only a few.  This is true for most sports and most athletes.  The bulk of athletes have a day job – including most “Professional” archers. As such, your time is limited and valuable.  So, your training needs to be planned.

Showing up at a range whenever you get a chance is fun.  It is unlikely to land you on many podiums.  If your goal is a good time you can achieve that goal.  If your goal is to be a State, National or World Champion your training will require more than having a break in your schedule to go shoot.  The question will ultimately be how bad do you want it and what are you willing to give up to get it.

You may be able to create your own training plan.  Many if not most amateur athletes are self-coached.  Even if you are a ‘pro’ you may be self-coached. Should you find yourself struggling let me help.  No – my help is not Pro Bono and not for everyone. There’s also a limit to how many I can coach.

If you are in need of help forming a personalized and physiologically founded training program for archery send me an email at: Dlain117@yahoo.com.

Beginning to Consider 2020 and Costs

About this time, each year, I begin thinking about the upcoming archery season. There are only two more tournaments on my calendar for 2019.  As I begin planning for 2020 I review the results of tournaments where I competed and where I didn’t shoot in 2019.  The data of other athletes are can be important to review.  No team in the NFL would go to a game without reviewing film on their opponent. Why go into any other sports competition being clueless regarding your opponents.

The tournaments are expensive.  There’s the entry fee to consider along with food, gas and lodging. If the data shows I’d wind up outside the top three then that contest is put on a second tier for consideration. A top three position and the event is on the ‘A’ list.

Just because a tournament makes the list doesn’t mean I’d enter.  For example, while I won the USA Indoor 18-meter National Championship in Suwanee, Georgia it is basically a regional event not a true National Championship.  The scores are eventually complied from all the regions in the US and even though I won in Georgia eight other archers scored higher than I did across the country.  If my chance to compete had been in St. Louis rather than Suwanee I wouldn’t have made the drive.

Last year I considered going to the NFAA Indoor 18-meter. Looking over my numbers, there was an 80% chance I’d score 600 with 97 Xs.  That would have earned me a 4thplace finish in the Silver Senior division.  There was also a variance on the low end of my performance curve.  Considering that section of the curve I’d have shot 595 with 81 Xs – not worth the trip for that score. The NFAA winner scored, in the Sliver Senior division, won with 600 with 109 Xs.

Still the 2020 NFAA Tournament is currently on the list.  The drive to the 2020 shoot is 476 miles, two days hauling a camper each way.  The total cost (gas, camping, food, entry fee) for the event would cost me $921.00.

First place money for my age group is $3000.00, second is $1500.00 and third is $1000.00.  Right now there’s an 80% chance the event would cost me $921.00.  My stats also suggest that using trend lines there is a 98.5% chance, if the trends remain constant, I’d win which means the event would end up in the positive side of cash flow by $2079.00.  So, the NFAA Indoor Nationals remains a consideration.

There’s very little potential for income in sport for an athlete over 40. Archery isn’t great money maker for professionals of any age. Sport, in general,  isn’t a career many athletes can bank on.

“The general salary range for Olympic archers is between $36,000 and $97,000. Serious archers who win tournaments on a regular basis can take in between $10,000 and $75,000 depending on their skill. They may also be paid for endorsements, training, running shops, and working with archery companies to develop better products.”(1)

Archery isn’t the most expensive sport and the total cost (entry fee, food, lodging, gas) for something like the NFAA Indoor Nationals just covers the entry fee for a major Ironman event.  If I’d not had the help of a sponsor the Ironman World Championship would have cost me $10,000 at a minimum.

In 2011 I qualified for a second USA World Championship Team in the Long Course Duathlon.  The race was being held in Switzerland and the event would again have been in the $10,000 range.  I declined my spot on the team unsure of how I’d finance the trip.

Athletes, the professionals, don’t all make the big bucks.  Archery isn’t alone when it comes to being tight fisted regarding supporting its players. (2) Many seasonal professional athletes maintain a ‘day job’ in order to make ends meet. (3)

As an athlete, you might expect the archery industry to help pick up your tab. That is unlikely to happen unless you become one of the very best.  As a whole the archery industry grosses not that much than some of the top paid athletes in the world. (4)

Lionell Messi earned 1/3 the total revenue of that which the US archery industry grossed 2018. (4,5) Messi, however, isn’t even in Floyd Mayweather’s league or just barely when you’re talking $111 million versus $275 million US dollars. (4,6)

For most athletes, the dream of earning a living wage in their sport remains a dream.  In some sports even the top athletes need a ‘day job’.  Archery, for the most part falls into the ‘day job’ athlete category.

Once, I watched an archer shooting at his local range.  He was firing arrow after arrow into the X on a vertical 3-spot. One of the employees at the range said, “He never misses.”  In fact, I didn’t see him miss.

Later, I asked him way he didn’t compete at the major events.  He replied, “I can’t afford it.”

Looking forward to 2020 I’ll continue to do the math (I’m enjoy math.) If the statistics suggest a break even or positive cash I’ll probably go to an event.  Certainly, I dream of winning the big tournaments but reality keeps money in my pocket.

Reference:

1.) http://www.kaycircle.com/How-much-does-a-Professional-Archer-make-per-Year-Average-Annual-Pro-Olympic-Archery-Salary-Range

2.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2014/10/29/so-you-want-to-be-a-pro-athlete-you-might-not-get-paid-well/?noredirect=on

3.) http://mentalfloss.com/article/84792/11-things-you-might-not-know-about-athlete-salaries

4.) https://www.statista.com/statistics/258571/archery-sports-equipment-wholesale-sales-in-the-us/

5.)https://www.yardbarker.com/all_sports/articles/the_25_highest_paid_athletes_of_2018/s1__27894155#slide_1

6.) https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2018/06/06/floyd-mayweather-leads-forbes-highest-paid-athletes-list/676948002/

Designing Practice and Training

In our USA Archery Level 3 NTS Coaches course we were given a ‘Weekly Training Plan’ template.  It’s a basic template that provides coaches with a simple tool to plan an athlete’s weekly training activities.  It is important to have a plan for training. Otherwise, you’re just shooting arrows.

You’ll improve by just shooting arrows.  However, you’ll reach a point where you either decide to go to the next step or enjoy shooting arrows. The latter approach can make to a better archer,  a formal plan might make you excel.

Beginning a new practice plan

I use six weeks cycles for training. It is a method I’ve used for decades in other sports.  The volume of work and type of training floats with the plan. The plan itself is a rotation of six-week intervals that incorporates a year or years.

The plans revolve around specific tournament goals.  Those goals and tournament are further categorized into ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ events. Those events can change based on performance and other factors.

Performance changes might be based on how an archer is shooting.  An event may be removed from the schedule and another added in its place. One ‘other’ factor, for me, can be shown in the example of the Gator Cup in Florida.  That event was dropped due to the cost as well as my most recent performance at 50-meters. I won the tournament, but felt my score wasn’t competitive enough to spend the money on the Gator Cup.

Based on 2018 results, my recent 50-meter tournament’s score would have landed me in 5thfor the Gator Cup Qualification round and my elimination score would have earned me a 4thplace in the Masters 50 year old group. Spending over $1000.00 for not earning a top 3 finish isn’t worth the expense.  So, the Gator Cup moved out of the 2019 rotation.  Because there doesn’t seem to be a 60+, 70+ or higher age group, in order to keep the Gator Cup in the rotation for 2020, knowing if I go I’ll need to compete against archers potentially 15 years younger, I need to stay fit. My plan incorporates significant time for fitness.

These don’t come about without a plan. (Ironman Lake Placid, Louisville and World Championships on Kona, HI)

A weekly training plan should include fitness training, strength training, and a general idea about nutrition.  Nutrition is important in that learning to eat like an athlete supports athletic endeavors. (more on nutrition in the future)

Some of the archery hardware collected over the past 5 years using a specific plan

My personal training plans are long range.  There’s an ‘A’ tournament on the horizon, 6 weeks out.  That plan includes others for 2019 and one tournament already in the queue for 2020 with specific goals.

Having a plan, not just in your head (that’s a dream), which is formal, on paper and reviewed daily will help you improve as an archer and athlete.

Win It All – At Least Knowing The Numbers Creates a Goal to Win it All

18-meter practice over the past eight weeks has been an up and down business. It feels mostly down because I hit a peak early on in a six-weeks cycle.  Naturally, going into the final two indoor tournaments of 2018 I was rolling around in the mire of a down turn in performance.  Still I won one of them.  The second, competing against the 21-49 year old men, it was all I could do not to embarrass myself.  Nevertheless, I finished respectably and used the tournament for an “educational” session.

For 2019 I am still working out in which tournaments to compete and the goals for those events and the year.  I keep coming up with an all-encompassing goal of ‘win everything.’  While it might sound brash the data suggests it might be possible.  So, why not have the foremost goal for 2019 to win everything.

2019 has major tournaments early in the year with two state championships in February.  In 2018 January and February were moving months.  For eight weeks I barely got in any practice.  The lack of training showed up with three consecutive second places.  Once I got back to practice things improved and I won the next three State Championships setting a record in one.  Then, I took a second place, at the Georgia Cup, competing against a younger crowd (thanks, Paul – he knows what I’m writing about).  Few more wins and a few more seconds, the younger guys still knocking me down after the Georgia Cup.

So, why would I have a goal to win everything?  It is because my data suggests that’s possible.

Here’s an explanation for 18-meters: In 2017 the top two places in my age group for the indoor Nationals finished with scores of 1155 and 1154.  Over the past eight weeks my lowest two scores totaled 1130 – not so good.  My highest two-day score is 1183 – a winning combination.  During this eight weeks cycle my average score for two-days is 1150, one point above the 2017 3rdplace finisher.  But, when I delete scores associated with a new release, new arrows, changes in stabilizers the average score is 1156. 1156 isn’t the best score; it is an average without variables that impact performance. It also places me one point up over the prior winning score.

You might think that 1150 is the likely finishing point puts me outside of a first place finish. You’d be correct.  The lowest two-day scores of 1130 knock me way down the line. That would place me in 9thplace.

Here’s the thing, a goal must be established.  The overall goal of winning it all is then broken down to achieve specifics in form, training cycles, and 30 arrow quantitative scores.  In each of those elements I am currently below my 2019 goal.  Now begins the cycle to work toward achieving each element of each goal.  When I do that, well I’ll win.

Like the Stock Market, this Down Turn Will Head Up

There’s a lot of data on my archery spreadsheets.  Five years, one month and 18 days worth of data is a lot.  Over time the data shows a graphic of how scores have improved. It further covers equipment, environmental conditions and how I felt.

Over the past several weeks the steady rise in 3-spot performance I’d been so proud of has dropped. The drop was nearly instantaneous. I reviewed my shooting and went through deliberate practice sessions hoping to reset my form.  I did discover a few bow issues and perhaps those problems contributed to the falling scores.

Those drops may, as I noticed in the past, have matched the Stock Market.  When it drops, I worry.  I worry about the interest rate climbing (again), the trade war, and political unrest in Washington.  I can’t do a thing to change those variables, but I do not like millionaires and billionaires screwing around with the market based on their power struggles – especially when it negatively impacts me.

Or, the drop in scores may be over practice.  It is easy to fall into a pattern of worrying that the other guy is practicing more and practice more. There is a point where the return isn’t worth the wear.

The failure to move up to an average score of 590 for 60 arrows on the inner ten 3-spot may also be mental.  That’s a good score. I’ve surpassed it having shot a 593 a few weeks ago.  But, when X’s begin falling into place it is easy to think that it is a fluke.

The 593 told me I could shoot a 600.  Today, during the morning’s practice I shot a 568.  Nowhere near to where I’d been shooting.  Thing is this has happened before and it will happen again. Whatever the root cause of the dip, I know I’m missing the ten.  Not by much but enough to become frustrating.

Certainly, like the Stock Market, there’s no call for alarm.  Simply handle any potential cause, make any correction available, and continue to push for that 600. And like the Stock Market, the yield will improve over time.

(The day after I wrote this post the Market improved – as did my 3-spot score.)

 

Time to Give the Senior Division a Shot?

As 2019 approaches and tournaments begin to open there is the matter of which division to shoot. A goal, when I started shooting a bow, was to migrate from the Masters division to the Senior. That move would be based on my scores. (In archery Senior is the group between 21 and 49 years old.  Masters are over 50 years old.)

Archery is one of two sports where age isn’t a tremendous factor. For example, if I were training for a triathlon the consideration to compete against a 25 year old would be out of the question. In archery I compete against opponents less than half my age all the time. However, I’ve not yet made the shift to a younger group in any major event.

At the moment I am preparing for the USA National Indoor Championship. I’ve not yet entered – entry for my area isn’t available at the moment. In the meantime we have a 25-meter State Championship in ten days time. I’ve entered that as a Master.

My rolling average is creeping toward 600

The internal debate of Senior versus Master Division is a matter of confidence. I suppose it can’t be truly earned by simply comparing scores. It will come from head to head competition and a bit of guts.

295 (Not the Loop around a city)

It is time to reset a goal. Over the five years that I’ve been shooting a bow I’ve set goals. Some are short term; there are mid-range, and long-term goals. Setting them brings an athlete out of a comfort zone.

The score of 290 out of 300, doing it twice in a row, to reach 580 as a final score against a USA Archery style 3-spot has to change. It seems tough to hit 290, but the data on practice says it is time to make a change.

In the past moving up was hard. I don’t expect 295 twice will be easy. Shooting a consistent 590 is a pretty good score. It isn’t perfect. It does mean fifty Xs and ten 9s. Certainly, I’d love to shoot 600, but for now 590 is the target, that is hitting 295 on the first 30 arrows and doing it a second time.

That’s an average. I could reach 590 with a 289 plus 291. Any way you do the math, it is a lofty goal. By breaking it up, 295 and 295, it doesn’t sound a difficult as scoring 590. It is also a reachable goal.

Hitting 580 or a personal best (in practice so far) of 588 you might wonder way not set the goal for 600. Six hundred is the ultimate goal.

Coaching Tip

Six hundred has only be achieved a few times. It is better to set an obtainable goal, for me anyway, of 590 (2 X 295). Once that becomes comfortable, then jump to the next level.

It Takes Time

November 1st  (2018) marked 5 years of shooting a bow for me. Sixty months isn’t such a long time. During these past sixty months USA archery changed the way we score a 3-spot. That is, we changed from scoring 10s and Xs to only the X ring equaling 10 points. The sport got tougher and it is taking longer to achieve a level of expertise than I’d initially guessed.

When I began shooting this would have scored as 30 points or X,X 10. Today it is X,X, 9 or 29 points.

The smaller ten ring (inner ten)  makes scoring a perfect 600 tougher. Heck, scoring a 600 using the old scoring method remains tough. I’ve not yet shot a 600 using either scoring method. I’ve come close scoring the old 10 ring. Last week I shot 599. It was going well until the last six arrows. With six arrows to go I shot 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10. On the old larger ten ring mind you.

Inner 10 scores over the past three years. (There are data like this in a 3D file, 50-meter file, 5-spot file, etc.)

The little ten or inner ten or X ring, whatever you want call it this dime sized 10 point ring remains the same in size. But, the outer ten is now only worth nine points. At 18-meters (20 yards) a dime is a small target. The thing is I thought I’d been shooting with a bit more accuracy after 5 years.

A steeper slope would have been nice

When I began shooting arrows I thought it would be pretty much like switching from cycling to duathlon. That was pretty easy. All I needed to do was start running. I could already ride a bike and had won all sorts of prizes racing bicycles in the US and Europe.

Run like you’re being chased

Sure enough duathlon moving along pretty rapidly and I earned a spot on the USA Team to the World Duathlon Championship about a year after I picked up running. When I added swimming, part of the plan to become a triathlete, I learned swimming was not a strong discipline for me.

A few years ago (@2011). This triathlon was in the fall in Cambridge, Maryland. The water was cold.

Still, I did well in shorter triathlons where I didn’t lose so much time during the swim. Eventually, I moved up in swimming from the slowest 25 percentile to the upper (faster) 25 percentile. I even brought my long distance, 2.4-mile swim (Ironman distance) down to around an hour.

2007 ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon

Transfer talent from cycling to triathlon wasn’t all that difficult particularly competing in my age group. Archery, however, is another matter. There are some elements of sport that do transfer such as determination and discipline. The mental focus is, in my opinion, different. Archery requires a mental effort unlike that of racing an Ironman.

By looking at a rolling average I can set goals. A goal was to average 290 points out of 300 or 580 out of six hundred. Now that I’ve hit that goal I reset the goal to 295 or 590.

Archery excellence or at least elite level performance based on scores and winning, is going to take time. Five years into this sport I’d hoped to be further along. It can be frustrating. Thankfully, I have data that shows progress, even though part of the progression included making the ten ring smaller.

 

Five Years of 3-Spots Data Review and Projections.

During the past 5 years I have improved. Five years ago I was hammering a 3-spot racking up scores below 500. Five years, well four years, eleven months and 29 days, later I’m seeking that elusive 600.

My first record of a 3-spot score earned me a mammoth 447 points. That  was at a time when the big ten was still a ten. Today, the inner ten is the only mark that earns an archer 10 points under the USA Archery 3-spot scoring system. Archery has gotten more difficult. Scoring  applying the old-fashioned, ego stroking, outer 10 ring method, today I’d have shot a 598.

There’s a coaching tip in here

Even having shot a 598 against the outer ten ring, I missed the center inner ten enough times to earn a 580. That’s a lot of near misses. It can be frustrating.

Target number two for this morning’s practice.

Scores on the inner ten in my database show that there is improvement. From scoring around 550 (on average when the little ring became the only 10 ring) to 574 for a recent average. My best thus far is 584 which I managed a time or two. That’s not a bad score and if I kept this up over a two-day indoor competition that would land me at 1168.

An 1168 could put me in first place at the USA Indoor Nationals in my age group based on the 2017 scores. That year 1155 won the gold in the Master’s 60-year-old division. But, I can’t depend on my best scores to win. I look to my average for the last month or after I’ve incorporated a major change, like a new bow, new release or new arrows as a baseline score to get an understanding of how I’m shooting. Considering an average, which allows for good days and better days, at the moment I fall in with an 1148, good enough for fourth at the 2017 indoor Nationals. I actually finished 13th place in 2017, taking 1st at the regional.

Very first archery competition

My current goal for training is to average 590. That score would place me tied with Reo Wilde in sixth place among the Men’s’ Senior Division in 2017. To have a 590 average there will be scores above 590 and below. It will need to be relatively tight groups to achieve that level of performance.

Performance in a sport like archery requires a lot of practice. During practice I set out with a specific goal in mind. Developing a process that incorporates goals is an optimal method for carrying out training. Today, for example, the goal was to shoot all arrows in the outer ten ring. I failed by 2. The failures were still both nines but a failure nonetheless. The mid-range goal, average 590.

By keeping detail records of performance I am able to review my work. I know what arrows I used, the bow, the poundage, the release, the weather conditions if practice was outside, and the indoor lighting and range distractions if I’m on a fancy  “you-gotta-pay-for-it” range. Those details and graphs let me know how my improvement is proceeding and whether I need to make a change and if I’ve changed something I can’t see.

Becoming an elite in any sport takes time. Having data can help you see progress. It can alert you to problems. It can also be a stroke to your ego as you monitor your advancement. You can further predict your rate of change in order to set realistic goals.

Hump Day

It’s Wednesday. Sunday was a recovery day. Since then I have an hour and a half of running, an hour of stretching, three hours of cycling, a trip to the gym, and nine and a half hours of archery practice under my belt.

Big Sky over a bicycle ride near Athens, GA

This morning we, River my lab, and I were practicing. Well, I was practicing and entertaining my canine companion between ends, which is mostly tossing sticks as I walk the 18-meters back and forth to pull arrows. River seemed to have more spring in her step than me.

River runs with me in the morning. She’s almost 9 and still has plenty of spring in her step.

Working toward an athletic goal is demanding. At times it can be grueling. The long-term effort needs to have breaks. Those breaks are periods for recovery. On Thursday we go on vacation. On this break I am not bringing a bow. I will, however, bring a mountain bike and running shoes.

The sun is coming up later as winter approaches and the air is cooler at 8:00 am in the morning.

The cycling will be easy active recovery rides. Running may turn out to be walking. For sure, after archery practice this afternoon I won’t pick up a bow for a week. If I carried one on the trip I would no doubt be tempted. But, I also know that rest is too important to take for granted. So, the bow will be left behind.

There’s a coaching tip in this post.