A Small Victory

The Georgia State / USA Archery Indoor 18-meter Championship where I competed, at Georgia Southern University, wasn’t too bad.  I didn’t win.  I ended in 3rd Place among the Senior Men’s category shooting an Olympic Recurve.

For those that don’t follow archery, men’s senior is 21 – 49 years of age.  If I’d entered using my age group allowance I’d been in the Master’s 60+ class. I’ve competed in both age groups shooting compound bow.

At Georgia Southern everyone inside the Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center is required to wear a mask, a precaution against spreading the Covid-19 virus.  Since I am approaching 66 years old, a high risk group, shooting where masks are being worn seemed a better choice that the other location in Georgia where the competition was being held.

Some archers feel that a mask interferes with that shooting.  I don’t think wearing a mask is much of a problem.  Catching Covid-19 has a greater risk of being a problem and dropping a few points in archery because the mask got hung up in a bowstring.

Taking a 3rd place during a pandemic is just fine by me.  I am happy to be able to fine a safe environment where I can go play.

Cold and Rainy Practice

I can take the cold or I can take the rain but the cold and the rain is hard to take. This morning’s practice was both cold and rainy.  Practice was still practice.

If you’ve done a few outdoor archery competitions you may have been caught in the rain. Shooting in the rain is a condition that will happen if you enter enough archery tournaments that take place outside.  Archery doesn’t stop for rain.

Archery does stop for lightening.  Running around with a lightening rod in your hand can lead to shocking outcomes.  If the rain isn’t a storm that causes the judges to call the event and you want to finish you have to shoot through the weather.

It is a good idea to practice in the rain.  Typically, the rain is associated with outdoor distances.  Practice at the moment, here, is 18-meters.  So, I could have skipped the rain since it is unlikely I’ll ever face rain during an indoor tournament.

Nevertheless, I shot through this morning’s rain.  It wasn’t stormy weather just a constant light rain.  It actually became kind of fun.  The temperature was around 40°F so even the cold wasn’t horrible.

Sometimes is can be fun to break a daily pattern by practicing in less than optimal conditions.  Despite the conditions this morning I admittedly enjoyed the session. This afternoon, according the local weather report, should be dry.

Another Winter Day

I was hard to shoot today.  The weather was the matter.  It was cold and windy.

I’ve got a nice outdoor propane heater I stand near while shooting in the cold. It doesn’t get used until the temperature is below 40.  At 40 with the right amount of clothing it isn’t bad without the heater.  However, that right amount of clothing makes archery difficult.

Today I wore nearly the right amount of clothing and used the heater to compensate.  Had it not been for the wind 18-meter practice would have been fine.

Days like this it is easier to stay indoors. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic with unrealized promises of a vaccine no doubt I’d have been practicing on an indoor range. Alas, I remain antibody free and susceptible.

So, that means practicing in the cold, wind and at times rain.

It is Cold, Again

Like last winter and the winter before this winter is cold.  Unlike the prior winters I am not headed to an indoor range to practice.  The ranges where I’ve practiced in the past are mask free at the peak of a pandemic.  It is easier to warm up after practice than it is to recover from lung disease.

With that in mind I head outside and stand next to an outdoor propane heater trying to stay warm while not setting my self on fire.  The colder it becomes the layers of clothes I wear.  The more clothes I wear the lower my scores become.

It is a balance to wear the right number of layer and still be able to clear my bowstring on the release.

3 O’Clock 10 followed by a 3 O’Clock 10

This is Georgia so I know warmer weather isn’t that far away.

Cold!

While running the trails this morning it was cold, 24°F.  By the time I was outside shooting it had warmed up to 27°F.  When I finished shooting it had warmed to freezing.

I’d worn all the clothing possible and still be able to draw my bow.  The apparel wasn’t enough to stay remotely close to warm and too much for decent arrow placement.

An hour of cold was enough for the morning practice.

Arrows, Arrows, Arrows….

It didn’t seem like a wise use of money to fork out big bucks for high-end equipment when switching to an Olympic recurve from compound bows.  (145 days ago) Why do that when the compound bows were in the $800.00 range purchased new. It wasn’t as if prior archery gear had been high-end.

When it came to high-end gear the nicest pieces of equipment associated with the compound bows had been the sight and release.  Those were high quality Axcel/TruBall products.

The arrows shot using the compound bows had been purchased and prepared by folks that, at the time, seemed to know better.  Two out of three times their suggestions were correct.  For the remaining third the arrows are too stiff.

Some ‘expert’ on YouTube presented a video suggesting that spine calibration is a myth so long as the arrows shot are fletched.  The video he posted was an experiment where he fired off sets of arrows of various spine strength using fletched and bare shaft arrows.  He was shooting a recurve bow. I repeated his experiment.  My results yielded an opposing result.

I’d hoped for similar results.  I’ve got some nice arrows, those among the good 2/3 of my moderately priced arrows and wanted to upgrade the Easton 1000 arrows I’ve been shooting with the Olympic recurve.  What I found is that the stiffer more expensive arrows didn’t bend properly and the tail end of those arrows hit my riser.  The flex between nodes simply wasn’t flexing properly. I was hoping to save some money by avoiding the purchase of new arrows.

The Easton 1000s are excellent beginner’s arrows.  I’ve won two State Championships using a $249.00 Olympic recurve in the Men’s Senior Division shooting those $5.00 arrows.  However, I know the $5.00 arrows are holding me back when it comes to a few extra points. (For now there is nothing wrong with the inexpensive bow)

The tip of the Easton 1000s comes included along with fletching for the five bucks.  The tip is 65 grain, which is okay.  The fletching is a bit tall again okay for indoor tournaments.  Okay is not great in competition.  The set up does mean being just a hair off on form and the shot will be completely uncompensated.  In words too often associated with archery gear – these arrows are not very forgiving.

Part of the lack of forgiveness is that the spine of an Easton 1000 peaks at around 29 pounds.  As I’ve improved I’m pulling 34 pounds. On a 3-spot with the gear at hand I’m averaging 9 points per arrows without a clicker (I don’t have one yet). I believe with a stiffer spine and more weight on the tip I’d get my average per arrow up a little.  The current fletching is dragging on my rest and that too can be improved by shooting a smaller profile vane.

If I cut the 1000s a bit that would stiffen the spine. But, adding a heavier pile weakens the spine.  Changing the fletching isn’t an issue aside from I know it needs to be done and simply haven’t done it.

The best bet is to purchase new arrows with the correct spine, cut them to the correct length, add the correct pile weight to compensate for the cut and have low profile vanes.

Victory Archery, a maker of arrows, does have a moderately priced arrow that, per their spine calculators, meets the spec for my current shooting. Lancaster Archery does have them on clearance (the 2019 version).  Even so, spine, nocks, vanes will still run around $250.00.

My estimate of points per arrows gain for the $250.00 investment is 0.18 points per arrow against a vertical 3-spot.* It seems like just a little but it really is a lot of gain.  I just hate spending the money right now. (It also might help to adjust the tiller to positive versus neutral)

* calculation based on distance from center, 60 shots, measured in the yellow only. (45 our of 60 arrows. 15 red arrows attributed to form errors and dropped) Distance mean variance on average times spine weakness estimated percentage.  (1.6 X 0.11 = 0.176 rounded up) 3-spot, outdoor, no wind – when it is windy all bets are off.

So, do you train 3 to 4 times per week?

I was an innocent question, “So, do you train 3 to 4 times per week?”

I honestly didn’t want to answer the question and tried to side step it. However, our friend, a yoga student of my wife’s, was persistent.  I provided the short version:

I train everyday.  If there is a day off it is part of a plan for recovery.  Generally, this is how it works:

When I wake up in the morning I spend 26 minutes stretching. I eat breakfast then run for 30 to 40 minutes. When I finish the run of skip rope using a speed rope for 5 minutes.  Then, I shoot my bow for an hour to an hour and a half.  Next I eat lunch followed by a short nap taken on the floor so I don’t get too comfortable.

From there I get up and have a snack.  After the snack I ride a bike for 30 minutes to an hour.  This is also the time when I’ll write something for this webpage or one of the books I am writing. Then, I shoot my bow for another hour to an hour and a half. The last part of my training is to play my trumpet for 30 minute to an hour (brain training). Playing music, I believe, helps with concentrations and seeing ahead.  By seeing ahead, I mean having the notes written on sheets of music in my head before I play them. For me, this is like seeing (and feeling) where an arrow is going to land before it is released.

After dinner I watch something on the television, usually something on Netflix, Amazon or the BBC. Sometimes it is YouTube where I watch archery videos. That lasts between and hour and forty-minutes and two hours.  I am never in front of a screen until 7 to 7:30 pm aside from this computer. Then I go to bed and read for a short time before I fall asleep.

Essentially, that’s it.  It doesn’t explain the training plan, shooting reviews, practice objectives, etc.  That detail would have certainly put an inquiring mind into a deep sleep. It is a six days a week occupation.

Dang that was too rough

It happens every winter – the outside temperatures drop. Today was rough.  The temperature was in the upper 30s so not horrible.  The wind on the other hand just cut through me.

Even the cold and the wind aren’t awful shooting a compound bow.  But, the string on my fingers in the cold is another story.

The cold makes the calluses on the middle finger of my drawing hand crack. Then, it bleeds.  It is tender but I can shoot through it.  Every once and a while the release is a hair off and the cut gets stung.  It wakes me up.

I shortened the morning practice since the cold wasn’t abated using the outdoor heater.  The little propane heater couldn’t keep up with the wind.  It will warm up into the 40’s my mid-day and I’ll lengthen the afternoon practice.

Dang! That’s a lot of money. Oh, he’s blessed!

I don’t often look at Facebook.  The propaganda spewing unchecked is too awful.  I tried to delete my page and failed.  So, once in a while I look.  It is like looking at some circus sideshow freakishness.  Yesterday, I looked.  I was rewarded.

My reward was a post written by Mr. Archer.  You may know him.  He’s the fellow that is blessed with the latest gear provided by the most pious supplier and whose archery performance remains superior because of his unparalleled support from God.

God has provided Mr. Archer has some extremely expensive gear.  Excluding his stabilizers I looked up the price of his bow, sight, scope and arrows.  The package price: $2588.98.  The bow, a compound, is the 2021 edition.  Along with the bow he’s “blessed” to now have a new sight, scope and arrows.

Mr. Archer posted one if his practice session’s results.  No doubt it was excellent! Not perfect but pretty close using Vegas scoring and relating it to USA Archery scoring on a 3-spot.  Nevertheless, pretty impressive.

Mr. Archery is, also, a “Pro” archer with a number of sponsors! Perhaps, this guy is really good.  So, I checked.  You know finding results of archery performances are not difficult.  What turned out to be amazing is that he was a rare find and a winless one at that!  It seems his “Pro” sponsorships are based on his potential and perhaps God’s recommendation.

Mr. Archery is indeed blessed not with one $1549.99 bow but two.  He has one for target archery and one for 3D.  Obviously, I attend the wrong church.  Clearly, neither God nor Jesus has been so inclined to provide me with cash or sponsorships to subsidize $3099.98 in brand new 2021 bows.  Heck, it was all I could do to get permission from my wife to purchase a $249.99 Olympic recurve bow.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Archery and God, I admit I do have two compound bows.  Their combined price was $1398.00 spread over six years.  Both are similar models made by the same manufacturer.  Neither, the Shaker 5000 or the Decelerate remains on the market.

The Shaker 5000 was notorious for rattling limbs so hard they would crack and the Decelerate lost parts every few thousand arrows.  Both were introductory bows and I expect the maker never expected anyone purchasing those bows would shoot over 3000 arrows per year.

I understand, from Mr. Archer’s posts on Facebook, his new bows are very forgiving. I’ve never really understood how a bow can forgive an archer.  I expect my current $249.99 bow is simply shy and quiet around those big money bows.  If it had emotions or empathy enough to forgive it likely feels a little dejected next to all those prouder more forgiving bows.

Now, Mr. Archer does offer advice beyond how one makes the best sublimation to God via Facebook in order to get the most bang for your prayers (and as such become Blessed).  He further points out that it is currently time to get ready for the indoor archery season.  In fact, he makes this recommendation a full six days before his first announced indoor competition.

On Facebook he reveals to all that might read his post that he has spent a couple of hours practicing to get ready.  I can only suppose with God and Jesus on his side that is ample practice.  His sponsors are fortunate to have such a hard working athlete to inspire others to run out and purchase their forgiving bow.

I’ve often wondered how an individual athlete seeks heavenly support for victory.  Would a prayer be like, “Oh Lord, give me the strength and skill to vanquish my competition?”  Or, “Dear God, help the beat everyone here today.”  Or, “Sweet Jesus, help me performance my best in order to win.” Maybe it is good enough to type “Amen” and forward Mr. Archer’s prayer on Facebook. I haven’t tried that, yet.

No such prayers would ever be in my thoughts and being blessed with two new bows remains absent for me.  I remain simpler, “Lord, help me be a good example and let me help others where it is needed and help me to treat folks with kindness.”  That prayer too often fails.  I miss a lot and not just when it comes to shooting arrows.

That Was Awful

It wasn’t horribly cold this morning. The temperature was in the low 40s.  It wasn’t bad during my morning run.  I didn’t even notice the wind during the run. Archery was another matter.

Heading out to the range to practice 25 meters I needed to make an about face.  The apparel I was wearing for practice was inadequate for the temperature.  The more I wear the warmer.  The down side is the bulky warmth inhibits accuracy when shooting.

Even with the extra layers for protection against the cold the wind seemed to breeze right through.  After 30 arrows I was miserable.  In addition to being cold the down filled puffy outer vest was snagging my bowstring.  The cold and wind were only adding insult to injury when considering the frustration of warmth versus satisfying shots.

Today’s practice was supposed to be a 25-meter tournament game.  That is a game where I work to duplicate the timing of a tournament. As such, I was shooting a vertical 3-spot the same size as those for a 25-meter event.

By the time I’d competed my ‘warm-up’ shots it was clear I wasn’t warm. Nevertheless, the show was going on.

My first three arrows were a 9, 7, and then 6.  I recognized the problem with the puffy vest and tried to compensate.  The next three shots, 10, 10, and a 7.  Then, 10, 9, 9. Those were followed by a 10, 10, 9.

With only four ends completed it was apparent today wasn’t going to be a highlight of my week’s work.  The colder I got the less accurate I became.

The wind didn’t ease throughout the practice.  I because less careful with the puffy vest.  In fact, my goal for the practice changed.

Initially, I head in mind a specific goal of every arrow in the yellow.  The colder I became the more relaxed the goal – eventually, don’t miss the target face seemed enough.  At both levels, I failed.

It was a miserable 516 kind of day.