Grandkids – Common Denominators

Doing anything over and over becomes mind clearing if not mind numbing.  When I ride a bike my mind clears and I think of all sorts of things.  I’ve thought up inventions and written papers while riding a bicycle.  I also formed ideas or plans that were left on some road not making the trip home. The same is true with archery.  Those between ends times walking back and forth to pull arrows are intervals where ideas pop into my head.

Recently, while walking on my 3D range my grandkids popped into my thoughts.  All are under the age of 10. I began thinking about the common denominators among them.  This is what I came up with:

  • They are at full speed or eating,
  • Conflict is a reflex,
  • They’re not having fun until someone is bleeding.

If you have young grandkids, perhaps those three common denominators are applicable.

5K: Starts at 8:30AM

On Sunday, Brenda and I generally head to Clark Hill Lake and visit her dad. This Sunday was a little  different.  There was also a race on this morning. Most of the races I run are on Saturday. This race was on Sunday. Brenda questioned the timing.

“It’s only a 5K. It starts at 08:30. The drive is 28 minutes, I’ll be home by 09:30, ” I promised.  “Okay, but we need to leave by 10:00,”  I was warned. No problem.

I promised, I’d run, cross the finish line, keep running to my truck, hop in and drive directly home. It didn’t matter where I’d finish, top 3 or not, I’d skip a possible award. I just wanted to run a closed course, on trails, against other runners and hard.

The next few sentences in quotations are directly from the race information page:

“5K: Starts at 8:30AM

Shirts and Goodies: Shirts are guaranteed to those who register by 4/6/19.  Those who register after that date and on race day are not guaranteed a shirt or size.  There will be plenty of refreshments.  Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers. “

I made plans to arrive at the race by 08:00AM, be parked, have my race packet in hand, warmed-up, and on the race start line by 08:25AM.  At 08:25AM I was exactly where I’d planned to be and standing near dozens of other runners.

The race, advertised to start at 08:30AM was initially a little late. At 08:30AM the race’s master of ceremony began her speech.  There’s always a speech.  When she’d finished talking the crowd gathered for the run would get to hear another speech. The time was now 08:38AM.  The clock was ticking – still no problem getting home by 09:30AM.

Runners were starting to squeeze toward the start tape. Some were beginning to bounce in place.  I was eyeing a lane along the right of the crowd and beginning my inching forward. Minutes to go and we’d be off.

The next speaker was a local hero and executive with some organization.  I know he was an important local hero because the informed the crowd of his unparalleled greatness.  When he finished speaking he returned the microphone to the MC. She puffed up a bit more, not to be outdone by the guy who’d orated to his captive audience the magnitude of his position and sacrifice.  When she paused for a breath it was 08:50AM. I was thinking, if the race started right now I could still be on the road to the lake by 10:00AM.

The standing herd of human would be runners had been held in place behind the 5K start line now for 20 minutes.  For many of the standers it had been longer.  Quite a few standers began standing behind the 5K start line before 08:30AM, in fact, I believe 100% of them where behind the start line before 08:30AM. The standers mostly had supposed they’d turn into runners at 08:30AM.  So, far no one was running. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

The MC then shared sad news. There was a major set-back, the Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers were AWOL.  Certainly, everyone was assured, the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers’ would arrive soon. Once they reached the start line the Zumba  Crunch Fitness Trainers  would lead the runners in a 10-minute warm-up. Afterwards the race would be off.  (She, the MC, gave the crowd a “WooWhoo!” of encouragement. No one was smiling. There were no echoed “WooWhos”) I began an internal debate associated with timing.

In England, near Hertfordshire, I ran a 10K.  The race was scheduled to begin at 09:00AM.  There was a warm-up.  The formal group warm-up started at 08:30AM in order to have the race start time of 09:00AM  strictly obeyed.  Before that warm-up time, at 08:28AM, the woman in charge called over the loudspeaker to the milling about crowd, “Okay, Sarah (I don’t actually recall her name) is going to begin our warm up, everyone form UP.” The word UP being issued as a command.

The crowd of around 200 Brits created a military formation, squared, and stood  at parade rest in less than 2 minutes. It appeared the locals had trained for the maneuver.  It would have made any “Tommy” proud.

The British are the World’s masters of the queue. I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing an English crowd queue more than once.  It is truly impressive.  The warm up formation was even more complicated than a simple queue yet handled with ease and confidence. Such order will never be duplicated by us American cousins.  This is the home of the free and unruly – at least by standards of the Crown.

At 08:30AM, in England,  the warm-up began.  By 09:00AM the 10K was underway. Note: I was the one with the funny accent. Back in America, Southern accents and sweet tea are more common.

On this deadline crunched Sunday in Georgia there remained a notable absence of the ‘Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers.’ I hate  standing around waiting, especially when I have other plans and the wait is unwarranted. I, for one, could care less about the marketing of some Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers’ organization.  I promise I’ll not be joining.

At 08:55AM my plan was to have completed the 5K and be sitting in my truck preparing to put the key in the ignition. Instead, I was at the race registration desk. My internal debate finished I knew the 10:00AM departure from home to the Lake would be missed should I wait for the Zumba and Crunch Fitness Trainers.

I returned my race number and let the race’s official girls at the desk I was leaving because I could wait any longer.  Perhaps, it is more correct to call the desk officials young ladies.  For certain, they were young and female.

To them, those desk barricaded officials wearing matching t-shirts,  having iPhone focus, with their air of authority and youth, I explained I understood the race, the 5K,  “Starts at 8:30AM”. That the race had yet to begin and I needed to leave. I was returning my race number in the event post-race officials tallied numbers and might find one missing.  I didn’t want anyone to fear a runner was lost or worse on the course.

One official young lady at the desk looked at me, alarmed from her iPhone by the interruption.  Once again, I explained my need to withdraw from the 08:30AM race while pointing toward potential runners corralled at the start line. Gaining her connection with a live speaking person, gathering her thoughts, she  told me, “No, it is going to start at 09:00AM, after the warm-up.” It was minutes before 09:00AM and the ” Zumba warm up with Crunch Fitness Trainers” remained a broken promise.  It was time for me to depart before my thoughts began their exit from my mouth.

As I was driving my pick-up truck away from the race I looked over my shoulder toward the start line.  There an eager race crowd waited for Zumba.

Before writing this I triple checked the race time.  The official publication for the event reads, “5K: Starts at 8:30AM.”  I lifted the “5K: Starts at 8:30AM” directly from the official race registration form.

The race two weeks ago, another 5K, was cancelled.  I learned of that cancelation the morning of the race.  The race before that one, two weeks in advance of the cancelled event, did start nearly on time.

The entry fee for these events isn’t too costly, around $25.00 each.  The money often goes to some charity.  I know because there’s always someone bragging about his or her involvement in the charity and how important it is for everyone running be aware of race’s cause.

I suppose I’ve heard enough.  See, I no longer care about your cause, mission, crusade, or passion as associated with a race.  I just want to fork over my $25.00 and enjoy a run.  I’m glad the entry fee helps you and your soul’s work. I’ll gladly pay the fee to run.  I don’t want to hear your mission statement or your testimonial.  But, most of all I want to the race to start on time. Oh, and if you cancel your event, I want my money back. There’s another charity and self-important MC all too happy to accept it.

That has kind of hard

After a while shooting dots can become routine.  To keep it fresh changing targets helps.

Shooting at the larger outdoor target face for 50-meters is about the same as shooting at the target face used for 18-meters. The colors are the same, the size changes. It does become a tab repetitive firing arrows into the same color.

Trying something new I used pistol targets.  They’re black with a small orange center.  Sounds good – it wasn’t.

55 yards

The sun, for this practice session, was over my back. The sight I’m using is a small monofilament on a narrow stem.  You guessed it, the pin didn’t illuminate.  Aiming a black stem onto a black target is rough.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I used the set-up, anyway.  Might as well practice something a bit harder than it has to be in the event that one day I find myself in a similar situation during competition.

Pollen

Trudging back and forth to pull arrows I was staring at my feet.  To be exact I was staring at the boots on my feet.

It had already been a long day.  I’d skipped the morning archery practice in favor of a longer run and washing the truck. The truck needed washing badly. Running over trails is fun and I was craving a long haul. So I amended my training plans.

The truck has been doing a lot of hauling and was dirty inside and out.  As a bonus the car got washed as well.  So, during archery practice my head has hanging during those hikes to pull arrows.

What my hanging head noted was the color of my boots.  Pollen yellow boots.

That’s a bit of pollen

It is that time of year where pollen is everywhere and on everything here in Georgia.  If you’ve got allergies to pollen this is not a place for you.

Fixin’ Targets and the Range

Spring is time to make repairs to 3D targets.  It is also time to start trimming the growth on the 3D range.

Boar at 33 yards

Of course, before any of those chores started a little 3D practice was called for.

Can this old coyote make it another year?
Center out of my mountain lion

If I can find some local 3D events in which to compete, I’ll not be following with the original 2019 3D plan.  That plan was to use a bow set up for competing in the hunter class – pins and a short stabilizer.  Unfortunately, the target bow I’d been shooting is a bust and the backup bow, used for 3D, is now the primary and only bow.

This bear is empty on the inside

Because there are easy to find outdoor target events that backup bow is now set up with long stabilizers, a sight and scope, and set for skinny arrows.  Those skinny arrows will have to be the arrows used for 3D because I’m just not going to switch things around everyday to practice with skinny versus fat arrows.  So, 3D will be solely for fun being at a slight handicap on arrow diameter.

When I practiced 3D today the skinny arrows did miss a line or two leaving me with a 10 that might have been a 12 with a larger diameter arrow.  It would have been nice to have two bows – well I did have two bows – that is two bows that performed well.

You might think it is all me regarding the “nicer” bow that failed and is now banned from my range.  But, after a solid year of saying to anyone that would listen that the bow wasn’t right I let the numbers do the talking.  Keeping data on both bows revealed the backup bow out performed the ‘fancy’ bow when in my hands (7% better – 7% is a lot of points at 50 meters). For me, the backup bow is much better and that means one bow rather than two for the different archery disciplines.

Even so, shooting on the 3D range is a nice break from flinging arrows at dots.

Well, that was dumb!

During 3D I shoot, mostly, with pins.  More than once I’ve put the wrong pin on a target and messed up the shot.  You’d think this wasn’t too smart and you’d be right.

This morning, shooting from 55 yards, I put scrolled my sight in at 45 yards.  No matter how perfect your form might be it is not going to be a good shot.

Dial in at 45 yards then shot from 55 yards makes for one less arrow to carry around

Dumb things happen from time to time.  One of the dumbest is shooting at a target twenty yards away for your first shot of the day when you last shot of the day before was at 60 yards and not adjusting your sight. Do that and you’ll probably never find that arrow if you’re shooting outside.  I left a number of arrows in the woods near our old home in North Carolina having not learned my lesson the first time or two.

Dial in at 55 yards and shot from 55 yards is better. You can see where the 45 yards arrow stuck into the brick. Another 10 yards on the arrow and it would have been just fine.
River could have cared less. It’s hard to ignore a fresh bone.

When I do these dumb things I’m often glad no one is around to witness the mistake.  That doesn’t stop me from writing about those mental farts. The only witness to my practice screw-ups is typically a Labrador retriever, River.  If she’s gnawing on a bone she doesn’t even notice.

It’s You Not the Bow!

It’s you not the Bow! Well, we’ve all heard that one.

Last year I bought a new bow specifically for USA Archery and NFAA target shooting.  The old bow was fine.  The old bow is a catchall advertised to be useful for hunting, 3D and target shooting.  It is exactly as advertised.

I was at a point where my groups were tight; I’d won a number of tournaments with the one-bow-does-it-all and felt it was time to invest in equipment that might yield a few more points.  Specifically, a bow marketed exclusively for target shooting.

70 yard group with the old bow

This would mean a longer axil-to-axil for certain and perhaps a few other target specific alternations.  I bought a highly recommended target bow, which according to the salesman, “All the top pros are shooting this bow.”  I bought it.

With the new  bow I practiced and practiced.  At each tournament, new bow in hand, I lost and lost.

Notice the shotgun pattern formed with the newer bow. Now look at the three arrows that missed the target! I paused, took a bio-break, returned and the arrows all shot right. This is when I put the new target specific bow down and picked up the old bow, again.

The groups would be rather tight then there’d be a flyer.  The groups would widen and my scores would drop.  I just could not figure out the problem.  One day things would seem okay, the next arrows flying all over the place.

In the middle of 2018, after losing in a major event where I was up 6 points going into the final six arrows I put the bow down.  I loaded up the catchall bow, went to the next tournament and set a new State record. I figured it was a fluke. I grabbed the fancy target specific bow and started working with it, again. And again, I lost and lost.

I took the new bow to my local archery shop and they checked it out, made some adjustment and returned it.  It shot well for a while – then arrows began landing in shotgun patterns. I emailed the manufacturer and explained what was happened.  There was no response.

Most notably, when shooting at increasing distance, the windage needed to be adjusted. Those adjustments were not slight.  Arrows would land wider and wider as the distance increased. Oh, there was no wind and it was the same target.  I’d shoot at 30 yards and work my way out to 70 yards adjusting the windage every ten yards.  It felt like it wasn’t me and I began asking more questions. I even hired a coach to see if I’d gotten out of tune.

When it came to the problem of shooting the new bow there were all manner of answers and voodoo remedy: “You have to bend your bow arm with this bow,” “You need to keep your bow arm straighter,” “ You bend your bow arm and keep it straight at the same time,” “Keep your bow arm and back really extra tight, “ “If you’re too tight you’ll shoot your arrows right with this bow,” “This bow likes to be closer to the thumb of your bow hand,” “You need a new string,” “The string has stretched, “ “It is a little out of tune,” ”Your peep rotates,” “You’re too short for this bow,” and finally, “Maybe you just shoot the other bow better.” No doubt about the last comment. But, the question is, why? The other older bow isn’t a true target bow.  The flawed new bow is a true target bow.

Working with bow techs every manner of adjustment was tried and tested.  More weight, less weight, different release, different arrows, new angle on the front stabilizer, shorter rear stabilizer, etc. The course of less tight groups marched onward.

The ‘flawed’ term is what I’ve determined.  Over and over the new bow fails to shoot consistently.  You’d automatically want to blame the archer. The archer gave the bow a solid year of practice and over that time scores diminished with the new bow, while scores increased with the old entry level catchall bow.

Today, I shot 5% better with the catchall bow compared to the super target bow.  The comparison was over two days. I went back to the data on the two bows. Looking back over two years I averaged 10 points higher at 50-meters with the one bow does it all. In a final test, I took the catchall bow to an indoor range and shot a 5-spot.

Using the target bow I’d lost, taking second place, at the State NFAA 5-spot indoor championship missing the 5 three times.  I’d wanted to go to Cincinnati and compete at the NFAA Nationals.  In order to make the trip I set a minimum requirement for the State Championship.  That goal was 600 points over two days and 96 Xs.  I failed to reach that mark.  However, when testing the catchall bow, using skinny outdoor arrows, I shot a one-day total of 300 points and 52 Xs.  That was the final straw.

Yes, I know I need to get get my elbow around. This lands the arrow wide right. Even so, wide right is still in the white if not a 3 o’clock X.

I believe good equipment is paramount at a certain level of competition with any sport.  I also believe, in archery, shoot the bow you shoot best.  Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed in the bow purchased with the intent to improve my scores a little.  That new bow didn’t pan out. No, in this case, it is the bow. But, the question why remains unanswered.

Lots of Competition Among the Older Runners

Before I left the house on Saturday morning, aside from stretching and eating breakfast, I took River for a run. We ran a short mile.  I kept it short because I needed to get on the road. I had a 5K race at 0900.

The race was really a nice run.  Over half of it was off road.  There was a good crowd even if the weather was a little sketchy.

Interestingly, the collection of subsets of runners on this Saturday is becoming more defined by my observations. I’ve been noticing this evolution of the running collective over years. It breaks down something like this:

There’s the young crowd of local track team members.  Then, there are women and more mature men.  By mature men, I mean the population of men over 50.

Here’s the thing about this group of runners at the 5K, some male age groups were totally unrepresented. There were no male runners from 19 years old to 24 years old.  There were two male runners between the ages of 25 and 29 and zero male runners between 30 and 34.  The age groups didn’t get populated for men until the 45 years old group. From 45 years old to 75 years old the grey haired male runners were abundant. Not only were there plenty of mature male runners those in attendance were fast.  The second fastest time of the day came from the 70 – 75 year old male group with the old fellow pacing out sub-7 minute miles.

After the race when I read the times I wanted to meet the 70+ year old man that ran sub-7 minute miles. So did another runner or two and we searched for him looking for his bib number.  We didn’t find him.  Obviously, he’d won and headed home, back to Snellville.  We all assumed he ran home.

I won my age group and did well overall.  I’d noticed the medals and wanted one so I stayed for the award ceremony.  Sometimes I see the award medal decide it isn’t worth the wait then head home skipping the award ceremony. But, this medal was clearly unique and a fair amount of thought had gone into its design.  I wanted it so I waited.

The wait wasn’t long – they started with the higher age groups and I’m in the third from the oldest group for this race.  When they called my name I walked to the awards area.  They’d handed the 2ndand 3rdplace finishers the cool looking medal each with a bronze or silver finish.  I received a water bottle!

To be fair, it is a nice metal water bottle.  I’m sure it cost more that the medal.  The water bottle has nothing on it to represent the race.  It’s a water bottle with a local middle school logo – the school whose grounds were used to host the race.  I am disappointed.  If I’d known, I’d had held back for second.

What I do know is there seemed to be percentage-wise few young adult males in this race.  When I first began running, then racing, the male population was by far the largest percentage of a race.  Not too long ago at major marathon the women, for the first time in that race’s history, outnumbered the male runners. Since then, not knowing the exact count, I think the races I’ve entered have been at least even based to gender and if anything the higher number of runners appearing to be female.  Certainly, in this 5K the female population was greater in number than the male population.

Turing the heat down


A new target – nice

Slowly spring is coming. There was a bit of a struggle during the past few days and it was cold.  It has starting warming up, and– hopefully – the struggle is over.

Started off okay then went downhill
Maybe, just maybe, this little heater can remain off until October

Practicing at 60 yards in the cold sucks. As practice continued to grind the temperature slowly climbed.  As it warmed apparel was removed. The little outdoor heater was cranked off and the gloves came off.

It warmed up and the jackets came off

Despite the warming I still shot poorly.  Far too many 8s.  Still the outdoor season is young and the first 50-meter tournament is not until May.

River is happy regardless of the temperature

Oh, Nike, My Nike!

On this very site there was once a page dedicated to my “sponsors.” I liked and used their products. For several years I kept in touch with them, sent the required quarterly updates, had links from my website to their website. Some provided a small discount to me when I bought from them. A couple even gave me stuff at no cost other than using their products.  Over time I decided to drop my sponsors.  I got tired of putting together all those reports, emailing them, and then following up to see if my report had been received.  I supposed the marketing folks at those former sponsor companies had bigger fish to fry.

Nike!  If you want a great sponsor don’t even consider Nike.  They’re a great sponsor.  Nike isn’t interested in your request for sponsorship.  If you are good enough, they’ll find you. In cycling, decades ago, Nike was one of my sponsors. Nike probably had no idea I was one of their athletes.

I got free Nike apparel because I raced bicycles for Trek.  I had a contract to represent Trek as a member of their “Mid-Atlantic Factory Team.”

A lot of my “stuff” is still in the original packaging

Trek gave me all manner of free stuff including bicycles, bicycle parts and racing kits.  Those kits were adorned with the Nike swoosh. One of those free bicycles was the equivalent of getting seven top end Mathews or Hoyt compound target bows a year.  It beats the heck out of a 25% discount on a dozen arrows or bowstring. To make matters better I never had to send in a personalized summary of my races. Someone knew and kept track.

Never been opened. (Most of my Trek kits have been well used and are still in use.)

A Nike sponsorship would be nice.  I need new running shoes.  This year I’ve run through four pairs of running shoes.  The last pair on hand is disintegrating with every mile.  I have a race tomorrow and am hoping the shoes don’t fall apart during the run. If they do, it won’t be Nike’s fault.

Running shoes aren’t so expensive that a new pair will break the bank.  A new pair is around $134.00.  Call me cheap, but I hate buying new running shoes.

Nike never provided me with running shoes.  My loose connection with Nike didn’t go past the free kits from Trek.  Once, a representative from Nike did give me a free pair of Nike bicycle racing shoes.  I think he just wanted to get rid of them and they happened to be my size. I still have them – I can’t run a step wearing them.

When it comes to sponsors I miss the free stuff.  Buying new running shoes or a new bowstring pains me.  It is also a pain to pay entry fees and travel expenses.  There was a time those costs didn’t come out of my wallet either. But, for the most part we athletes have to pay to play. I suppose I’ll have to bite the bullet and fork out the cash, again, for a new pair of running shoes.  Then, I’ll need to do the same for arrows and a bowstring.