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.


The Big Dot Versus the Little Dot

The big ten on a 3-spot has been a nine for a while. The little dot, which was once an X is now just a ten. Shooting an ego friendly 300 or 600 isn’t what it once was. In fact, it is gone.

I admit, I am as yet to feel the satisfaction of a 60X or even a big dot perfect score. But, Lord, I have come close on the old big ring ten. Through the first 10 ends this afternoon I’d dropped two. By the final arrow I’d dropped six, all by just a hair.

Against the small dot X, now just a ten, I finished the day with a 576. So many were so close. My goals are to shot on average 590 aiming at the small dot and 600 on the old big ten.  The misses are just so close.

A Year of Improvement

This competitive year 2017 is done. An easy stat to look over from the years 2015 – 2017 is a 3-spot. I’ll crunch the 5-spot numbers as well as 3D scores. But, a 3-spot is a primary marker. It’s primary because it is controlled, unlike 3D, and more frequent as opposed to a 5-spot.

3D is harder to analyze because for variances of yardage, size of target, weather, distance, and whether or not the competition was ASA or IBO. Five-spots competition has simply not occurred for me since I moved from Maryland. Even then, those were league scores and the distance was 18- yards rather than 18-meters. I still shoot at a 5-spot fairly often, but not as frequently as a 3-spot.

Three-spot shooting is pretty well controlled and I have the scores recorded in competitive events as well as practice. I do have more 3D tournament scores in general and I’ll look over those next. No matter how it reasons out; 3-spot is an easy analysis as a starting point.

The results of the number crunching  shows on average a 10-point improvement each year starting in 2015 though 2017. There’s a 1.75% increase in score per year. Not quite 2%.

Performance-wise I have a hopeful anticipation of a 3% increase in 2018 followed by a 1% to 2% increase in 2019. ( a 3% increase will put my average scores in the 590 range.)

Knowing how I finished out the 2017 archery season is an important marker for setting realistic 2018 goals.

Fitness and thinking about 2018

My fitness program is not exactly what I’d call an archery fitness program. It is different because I still consider endurance sports and try to stay in minimal shape to perhaps compete in other events. Of course, once I make a decision I’ll make a plan. This is the time of year I begin planning for the next year’s events.

What should we do next year?

In that plan will be a weight loss program. I am not overweight but since my last triathlon in 2013 my body fat percentage has increased from 4% to 11%. That is not racing weight. 2013 was a hard year of racing for me. I raced 12 times in 2013 and that wasn’t a big deal. From 2006 until 2013 I raced at least 12 times a year. However, in 2013  two of the races were Ironman events and one was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The Mt. Evans Ascent was one of the hardest races of my life. Here’s what the race’s website says about that race:

Although the air will be noticeably thin at the starting line, Echo Lake’s 10,600 feet of elevation is just the beginning. The climb totals nearly 4,000 vertical feet – much of it above tree line – as you make your way 14.5 miles to the finish line located at the summit of one of the most recognizable peaks on Denver’s mountain skyline – 14,264 foot Mt. Evans.

For a guy that has lived most of his life at sea level – that race was a bear! To make it tougher a week prior to the Mt. Evans Ascent I raced in the Ironman Eagleman. The day after I raced in Boulder, but it was only a 5K.  It was actually on that week in Colorado that I became interested in archery.

I was in a sporting good store and noticed some bows in the shop.  I was killing time so I asked a salesperson about the bows.  It all sounded pretty interesting. A couple of months later I bought a compound bow. I’d never planned to compete at any level in archery. That changed.

I like running events, triathlons, cycling (time-trials only – no need to risk a crash because of some squirrelly rider) and duathlons. I’ve pretty much ruled out another triathlon anytime soon. Archery, running and riding are about all I can fit into my schedule. There’s no time to swim.

Not my best discipline

Running is easy. I do that nearly every day. Running races are also easy. They’re inexpensive and can be short or long. A 5K is a breeze. A marathon is a bit more effort. I have no idea how many 5Ks I’ve run. I also can’t recall how many 10Ks or half-marathons I’ve done. Half-marathons are nice because you can pace yourself and still not feel totally wasted after a race. A 10K hurts the entire race and a 5K hurts a lot and then its over.

I do remember exactly how many marathons I’ve run. They all hurt in a different way. After my 7th marathon I figured it was enough, but perhaps not.

Running – you can do it anywhere (I just replaced to blue Nikes I’m wearing in this photo) This raced was a 1/2 marathon in Maryland.

I also ride a bike nearly every day. I run in the morning and ride in the afternoon. But, archery practice twice a day eats away at time needed to drive to a pool. An hour in the pool means another hour of travel.

Aside from specific archery goals for 2018 I am considering some endurance sports competition. In that regard, off-road duathlons keep popping into my thoughts.

A New Matrix

Three spots at 18-meters remains a tough call for me. Scoring a 600 shooting the inner ten continues to elude me. Nevertheless, things are improving. My goals for 18-meters have not changed. Currently, the intermediate goal is to shoot a constant 580 to 590. Once I land on 590 the goal will change.

Five-spot is another matter. I closed 2016 shooting an average of 296. In 2016 I was aiming for a 300. That changed once I began practicing on a 5-spot in 2017. Since 5-spot training began (for 2017) 300 is the only score. The problem is not 300 it is 60X. In practice, 50X has been common. You know, 50X, even with a 300 total, is an unlikely winner.

It’s not so much a problem; 60X is an attained objective. I’ve adjusted my data analysis to more closely monitor those 60X’s and what happens when I drop a few of them. It’s the new 5-spot matrix.

Know Your Numbers

When I was a competitive cyclist I knew, as well as all my competition did, my numbers and the numbers of the guys I’d be racing against. For example, I knew how long it took me to ride 40 kilometers. I also knew how long it took others to go the same distance on their bikes.

We were all pretty close, within seconds. Ten seconds over 40-kilometers is a significant margin. Those seconds could be decreased through training or simple equipment changes. On race day, there would be little additional one could do to improve.

In archery, a few people have told me, “Don’t worry about your numbers.” First, worry isn’t going to help. Knowing your numbers will help.

On nearly every practice I go out with a plan. I’ve laid out a training plan. It is used for a specific practice and during that practice I record every shot. Sure, there are days, rare ones, where I simply go out a shoot for fun. Those are nice breaks. They are what I label as active recovery. So, in fact, they are part of a larger training cycle.

From of the numbers trends emerge.  I also know that against a perfect score at 18-meters I am currently averaging 95% and at 50-meters I’ll shoot around 94%. Certainly, some days are better than others.

The top archers in the world are going to shoot around 100% at 18-meters and 98% at 50-meters. In both cases, I need to improve by around 5% to be in their league. It doesn’t seem like a lot but 5% is a huge number. It, also, provide me with goals.

Here’s the thing about a 5% goal – it will not happen overnight. Absolutely, I’m going to have that day where I end up shooting closer to 704, say 696 – been there done that; once. Still, there are a lot of points between 696 and 720. This is were patience is a virtue.

With 3D my matrix is a little difference. I look at points per arrow. The reasons being that targets are different, terrain is different and the yardage is different. In that shooting style I measure points per arrow to set goals.

Back to the comment, “Don’t worry about the score.” Well, no don’t worry about the score. There is nothing you can do about another archer’s score. Knowing your score, however, will help create training plans and set goals. Without knowing where you stand, you’re left guessing.

Short Term Goals


Setting goals is important. Setting achievable goals requires a little common sense. Sure, someone might say, “My goal is to shoot a perfect 600.” A 600 is certainly achievable especially if the archer is currently scoring in the 590+ range. Even if she’s scoring 483, sticking with it a 600 can become a reality. But, it could be a long unrewarding haul as she works toward perfection. I think it is better to set attainable goals in a timely fashion and then moving goals to the next level.

There is a goal posted on the edge of a shelf in my Red Barn. The barn is where I stand to practice 18-meters. I see that slip of paper with the number 570 on it before and after every end of arrows. The goal is only a number. It’s a total score for 18-meter 3-spots and it is not 600. Currently, the value is 570.

I’ve scored higher than 570 five times in 2017. I know when I shoot a 3-spot at 18-meter I’ll score, on average, between 560 and 569 at home. During a tournament, I’ll bounce around those numbers. But, my current goal is to know I’ll score between 570 and 579 every time I shoot 18-meters before I reset the goal. Once I am consistent at 570 the target goal will become 580. Once at 580 the goal moves to 590. These are short-term goals.

There are also timelines for achieve the goals, each is set at 4-weeks. That changes in November where the score bar is set at 595 – only a 5 point increase. Why set a smaller point increment near the top of the scoring range? Because it seems like gains, even marginal, at the upper echelon will be harder to achieve.

Sure, I could go ahead a set a goal of 60X on a 3-spot. Eventually, I’d achieve that mark. But, I think it is better to set incremental goals that work toward a longer-term goal.

(Since posting this a few hours ago, I’ve moved my goal to 580)

Revising and Finishing the Plan for 2017

The 2017 Indoor Archery season is done, at least for me. There is a National 5-spot tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio in a few weeks. Five-spot targets are fun – the X ring is huge! But, it was not on my 2017 plan and as tempting as it is I am sticking with the plan. The plan now moves to 3D.

At the moment, however, it is a scheduled break and recovery period. My bow is sitting a few yards away and targets are not much further away. I’d like t go shoot, but I’m sticking with the plan. Tomorrow starts a little active recovery – kayaking followed by fishing. Then, this coming weekend I’ll pick up a bow and head out to shoot in a 3D contest totally unprepared. By that I mean having not shot a bow in six days prior to the tournament.

It’s not my first 3D tournament of 2017. Thus far, I’ve shot in two with minimal preparation and using a back-up bow. They were on the plan and considered exclusively for fun events. For the past few months, practice has been intensely 18-meters.

Looking at the 3D season and the goals for 2017 I’ve had to make adjustments. Specific tournaments, when the schedule finally appeared, fell during times where Brenda, my wife, and I planned family outings. To make adjustments I found other similar events to take the place of the original. The past four hours have been spent working on scheduling and registrations.

The 2017 plan, now revised, is complete through August. August was tough. There’s the ASA Classic the first weekend and the IBO World Championship the next weekend. That’s a lot of traveling to shoot at both. The IBO is closer to home. I chose the IBO.