It is raining again here in Good Hope, Georgia. The plants are loving it. For humans seeking outdoor fun the rain isn’t as welcome. On the bright side it wasn’t a hard rain when I went for a run then practiced archery.
If you are an athlete who competes you know that sooner or later you’ll be playing in the rain. It is easy to postpone outdoor training when it is raining. Unless the rain is simply unbearable I don’t let it stop me. This morning was one of those where I headed out and got wet.
Over the years I’ve raced bicycles, run races, done triathlons and shot in the rain. During the Tokyo Marathon a few years back it was both cold and pouring rain. It was miserable. But, there I was in Japan and there was no turning back.
In 2017 at the ASA in Augusta it rained, I shot poorly. The second day of the tournament the weather was fine and I shot great. After that decided to not let rain keep me away from archery practice.
If you can manage it, it is a good idea to practice under adverse conditions. You can’t control the weather, but you can learn how to deal with it. Raining falling on your bow while you’re trying to shoot can affect how you perform. Having experience in rain before a competition can help you understand the feel of your equipment when it’s wet and give you confidence knowing you’ve practiced this and are prepared.
I was at the range fifteen minutes before the start time. It was last year at the Virginia IBO State Championship where I’d last competed at 3D. Arriving early I hoped there would be other archers at the range with a similar plan. That plan was to get onto the course before too many other folks showed up and the pace slowed.
In North Carolina I shot with two friends that liked to shoot first, shoot pretty fast, finish and go home. If you’ve every spent 6 hours on a 20-target 3D course you understand the reasoning.
Being new to the area here I don’t have a group with whom to attend 3D events. In North Carolina when I began shooting there it was the same. Over time I developed friendships with a coupe of guys that like me wanted to not spend their entire day waiting to get through 20 targets. As it turned out, I waited the self-imposed maximum wait around time and when no one arrived I headed into the woods for a fun shoot.
Before I started I was told I could turn my scorecard in and that no one would care that I shot alone and scored my shots. That maybe the case but I wasn’t going to test those waters.
I don’t mind shooting alone. For ten bucks I got to practice on a course other than mine and at some targets I don’t own.
When it comes to 3D I prefer using a hunting rig. In the ASA format it seems that target or field rigs are the bow set-ups of choice. That’s fine and I have shot 3D using long stabilizers and a scope. I may do it again considering how 3D ranges are being laid out.
What I’ve noticed is that the designers of this 3D range (fancy way of presenting the people that go out and set up targets and stakes) leaned toward distance. That seems to be a trend.
For example, in the hunter class the maximum distance is 40 yards. Of the 20 targets up on Saturday for the hunter class I think two were under 30 yards, both around 27 yards. Many of the hunter stakes were next to the Open class stakes or within a few feet of those, which in theory, are the longer distance stakes. As you might guess, yesterday’s hunter class scores were on average significantly lower than the Open or Known 45 (shooting at the same distance as the Open Class) classes. It only makes sense that a group of archers using pins will have less accuracy than archers using a scope.
Yesterday’s archers in the known/open classes had an average score of around 198. At nearly the same distances, without knowing the distance, and using pins the hunter class had an average score of 163. My score is not included with the other hunter class archers’ scores. For the unofficial record I shot a 198, five 12s, 6 eights and nine 10s.
What I take an issue with on the course lay out was that “hard” shots translated to just long shots.
Being curious, I did a random number generation for 20 3D targets set up for hunter class versus Open. The results were an average distance of 31 yards for hunter class and 34 yards for the Open class. Not much difference. However, when I looked for average distances where archers claimed they’d shot an animal while hunting the average distance was 23 yards with a range of 6 yards to 37 yards. (1)
Personally, I don’t care whether the targets are stretched out or not. We all, in each class, shoot the same target. What I am saying is that having the hunter class so closely match the Open class in distance can be discouraging for archers competing in the hunter class.
Making the hunter class distances more realistic will improve the scores for that class. Shorter distances can be interesting when natural obstacles are used to arrange targets. For example having a foam animal partially obstructed by a tree.
I understand that setting up a range is a fair amount of work. I’ve done it many times. It is easier just to stick targets ‘out there’ and pound some stake into the ground. I also know that archers should come to a 3D event expecting to compete under similar conditions to hunting especially when competing in a hunting class. Shooting at a javelina at 40 yards, for me, will generally result in a 10 so long as I get the distance correct. But, in real life, if I were to shoot at a javelina, I’d probably skip a 40-yard attempt.
3D is more of a challenge for me that target shooting. That’s not to suggest that at either discipline there isn’t a great deal of hardship. Hitting the X ring whether it’s at 18 meters, 50 meters, 80 yards or hitting a 12 ring on a deer at 40 yards, each target offers unique requirements for a good shot. I don’t say a perfect shot. You don’t need a perfect shot to hit an X. A really good shot can hit the X. A perfect shot is a rare occurrence in my experience. So, to prepare for an upcoming 3D tournament I’ve been focused on foam animals.
Today, rather than practice on my targets I headed over to the Walton Public Dove and Field Archery Range near Social Circle, Georgia. There I could practice on targets I don’t own.
Because the targets are set up in a line, I started with a bison and worked my way down the line. Each target I shot at 40 yards. I shot each until all shots were in the 10 ring. The exception was the last target in the line, a turkey.
Shooting with pins and without magnification made the turkey a really tough bird.* I adjusted my practice for that target and shortened the distance to 35 yards. At 40 yards there was always at least one arrow in the 8 ring.
Of course, as part of my archery training, I did cardio as in running and riding. The morning trial run was uneventful. Riding brought me into close proximity with a dead deer and a feast on the dead.
*When it comes to 3D i prefer pins and a hunting rig.
The morning started as usual. River and I hitting the trails I’ve cut in our woods for a run. The plan for training and practice was pretty much the same as it is every Thursday with the exception of practicing 3D rather than shooting at paper targets.
During the run River took off in another direction for longer than usual. She gets to free range in the woods unless she’s out of sight to longer than I am comfortable not being able to see her or hear her.
When that happens I whistle and she returns. Today, when I whistled she returned with gusto. There was a big dog smile on her face. And for her, she was smiling with good reason, a reason she shared.
River had found something particularly smelly and nasty to roll in. She came barreling at me and slammed her chest against me thereby transferring some of good stink onto me. That, of course, meant we’d both get hosed off as soon as we returned home. It was exceptionally nasty.
River having a bath was kept off the 3D range after the run. It is a bit lonely without her but I wasn’t taking a chance that she’d return to whatever gross mess it was that she’d found earlier.
I’ve not shot in a 3D tournament since last year and am planning to compete in one this weekend. Yardage has been the focus of the past few days of practice. That and making shots interesting.
I’ve been shooting the same targets for a few years now and creating ways to keep them lively helps make practice enjoyable. For example, I’ll position myself so that there are narrow lanes or longer distances (50 yards is the max with my pins) can keep me on my toes during practice. Hopefully, this will pay dividends this weekend.
Being fit and healthy is a good way to extend your career as an archer. To be sure, archery is not a sport that is heavy on fitness requirements. However, if you find yourself carrying excess weight then long tournaments can become a physical strain.
There are a number of ways to improve your general health such as walking, running, and bicycling. The list of supplemental programs to improve your general health and fitness is tremendous.
Bicycling is one way to improve leg strength, shoulder and arm strength, and add cardio conditioning. It is also a fun way to enjoy the outdoors.
Riding a bike will burn around 800 calories per hour. An hour riding a bike passes quickly. When you were a kid you probably had a bicycle that was your ticket to freedom. Hop on a bike, take a spin, you may find that youthful feeling of freedom returns.
(Photographs were taken during yesterday’s bike ride near Good Hope, Georgia)
Routine is good for training and practice. Many of you focus on archery as your sole means of fitness training. You won’t get a lot of cardio using that approach. You may not want any cardio. Archery may be the only sport that you can find time to fit into your schedule. At least you’re out on a range walking about a mile a day. Well, you’re probably not getting in a mile of walking. You may be coming close.
It is good to have a routine for your training. In my routine I add running and cycling. If I cut out the running and riding I doubt I could get much more archery practice completed. I shoot several hours a day and physically that’s all I can handle.
For instance, yesterday I shoot 90 arrows in the morning. Thirty at 60 yards, thirty at 50 yards and thirty at 40 yards. That took an hour and forty-five minutes. During the afternoon I fired off another 60 arrows on the 3D range. I didn’t shoot at all my foam animals. Instead, I worked yardages and difficult shots.
By difficult I mean interesting. All shots are the same when it comes to difficulty. The interesting part was the complexity of judging yardage. Although I practice 3D often I have not competed in a 3D tournament since last summer. Soon I will compete in 3D and judging yardage is my greatest weakness.
Other than that I did run and ride my bike. Running is an early morning activity whereas I ride in the afternoon between 1 PM and 3 PM. The goal is to have a routine so that I can create training plans to fit a schedule. It is getting close and next week I’ll have specific training plans that agree with out recent move back to Georgia.
Routine and training don’t mean doing exactly the same thing over and over. Although, being able to do the same thing over and over is a requirement for archery. More about this later.
These are good days. They begin with a trail run with River, my Lab. That is followed by target archery practice. Then, some chores and errands are wrapped up. The outdoor activities finishing with a bike ride and time on the 3D range.
River is with me most of the time. She stayed home while Brenda, my wife, and I ran errands. River, also can’t come along on a bike ride. But, she’s back with me while we’re on the 3D range.
The morning trail run is so much nicer here in Georgia than it was in North Carolina. The trails are more interesting. In North Carolina, we lived on the coast, everything was flat. Here, in Georgia, we have rolling hills that makes for an interesting run.
The highlight here is cycling. Again, North Carolina was flat. Here there are rolling hills. There is a bonus of very little traffic.
(Okay, to took a little liberty from John Irving with that title. Mr. Irving, I’d have asked but didn’t know how to contact you. For those that don’t know, Mr. Irving wrote a book titled, “Last Night in Twisted River.” He’s a real writer.)
We sold our home in North Carolina. It was only a vacation home. It became our permanent home a few years ago. We’d never intended it to be more than a place to get away, relax, and enjoy the water.
The location was great. The views, water, wildlife and tranquility were amazing. But, after a few years we learned it was a bit too isolated, too far from family and best as a vacation home.
We decided to move back to Georgia. We, also, knew that we wouldn’t keep the River House; it was simply too far away to enjoy. So we sold it.
On the last night at the Little River there was nearly a full moon. It was beautiful. There have been many nights with an astounding moon and planets to view, followed by amazing sunrises.
I’ll miss those views and the sounds of the water. But, moving back to Georgia was the right thing.
When we moved here to Good Hope, Georgia a challenge we had was to convert an over grown forest into a Park-like recreation area. It is slowly coming along.
Two of the major elements included a 3D range and a target range. The 3D range has evolved and only two more foam-animals need a home. Well, one, a boar, is up as of yesterday. But, I’ve only cleared a lane to shoot the critter. The approach for pulling arrows is going to come from another approach. This way the natural ground between archer and target is undisturbed.
I had a deer up but moved it to make room for 55 – 70 yards. The deer was in the way. The deer will need to have just the right position.
Another nice element to the park is a running trail. River, my lab, runs with me. Running in a neighborhood, on public paths, or on sidewalks means she must be on a lease. We now have a trail run behind out house that is about a mile per loop. River can run untethered. A bonus is that I don’t need to worry with poop clean up.
Today, I started mulching some of the primary paths in the park. That is going to be a chore. I am also considering planting an apple tree to go with the five peach trees we’ve planted. (The peach trees are gifts from my father-in-law.)
The new park is already great for hikes. Brenda and our two dogs often do a “walk-around” in the park after dinner. Both dogs are free to run in our park. I’ll probably put a picnic table somewhere in the middle of the park.
It is a lot of work. But, being out in our woods is worth the effort.
Fifty meters is a fairly long shot. It includes a lot of walking back and forth. Twenty meters is a faster practice because of the shorter walk to reclaim arrows. Now, the walking isn’t a real endurance work out, it just slows things down. Having a 50-meter range behind my house is a bonus.
Being slow in archery isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rushing a shot is a bad thing. When I practice I’ll frequently set a timer and measure how many seconds remain following a six shot end.
During practice, I could fire off more than 6 arrows – I don’t. I try to make practice close to tournament conditions. That means: shoot 6 arrows, walk to the target, record my scores, pull the arrows and repeat. Practicing with a timer gives me confidence that I’ll get my arrows off with a routine buffer of time. I don’t want too much unused time. On the other hand I don’t want to be thinking about the clock during competition.
On average I have ample time left on the clock after six arrows. Between each shot I use an 8 count as I go through the shooting process. Using an eight count, I go through it 3 times. Each set of the 8 count associated with the shot process. Counting slows me down and clears my head. Since each set of eight has parts of the shooting process associated with the count it makes me aware of the steps to getting off a good feeling arrow. By the time I reach the third and final 8 I am ready to release the arrow. After the first 3 arrows, I make an effort to take a conscious pause before shooting the final three arrows.
When planning a practice I vary it to some degree. The practice may be two sessions a day at 84 arrows, 12 warm up and 72 for scoring or shorter sessions three times a day at 42 arrows, 6 warm-up and 36 for scoring. I almost always record my shots and make notes. I carry a pad in my quiver to making records. My notes and measurements are later transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. (Some days I’ll purposely not record anything and shoot for fun only)
There are also days where I’ll practice for 50-meters by shooting from 60, 65 or 70 yards. Fifty meters is roughy 55 yards. The extra yardage makes 50-meters feel easy when I return to that distance.
Everyday practice isn’t always possible. For instance, it stormed yesterday. Today, despite it being the middle of April it was cold. Cold does not prevent practice. Neither does wind and today it was windy. Even when it rains, other than down pours, I’ll be on the range. (It is important to note that everyday practice does include a recovery day. Taking a day for rest is an important element to any sport. That recovery day for me is on a 7-day and 10-day cycle)
Practice and shooting 50-meters presents outdoor challenges we don’t face during indoor competition and training. Space for a range is a problem for many archers. When we built our new house having enough land for archery was a must. Finding a local 50-meter range then getting to it does add another burden to long-range practice. (Not unlike finding a pool to practice swimming – they are available. It is nice when it is a simple walk to practice.) Fifty meters ranges are available, it sometimes takes a bit more effort but it can be done.