I Lost An Arrow

I’ve not lost an arrow during practice in a very long time. To me, losing an arrow is money down the drain. It was one of those things I didn’t see coming.

I’d been practicing at 80 yards. After 30 arrows I moved back to 90 yards.  That’s when it happened.

The range is bordered on either side by trees.  I keep their limbs trimmed to provide clearance for arrows.  The problem with trees and limbs is they continue to grow.

On the very first arrow at 90 yards I heard the slight snap as it intersected with a limb. I then thought I heard the arrow smack into the target.  When I walked up to pull the arrows there was one missing. Where is landed I may never know.  I searched to no avail.

Behind the target butts there’s a slight natural berm. It is covered with underbrush.  You probably couldn’t find a wallet in the ground cover there much less an arrow.  Still, I tried. The entire time I looked I was hoping not to find a rattlesnake or copperhead. Last year I shot an arrow at a rattlesnake there in the brush.  The snake twisted, squirmed, and slid deeper into the brush.  Then, there was silence. I didn’t verify the outcome deciding the arrow, which seemed to have passed through the snake was sacrificed.

I never found it. Money down the drain.

 

 

 

Trying a Target Rig at 3D

For those archers who focus on 3D here in Georgia the ASA tour your year is over.  Since we don’t have IBO in Georgia practically all 3D is rolling up for the season.  There’s one more relatively big 3D event in Georgia, the Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association’s (GBAA) State 3D championship.

3D wasn’t a major part of my competitive year for 2019.  Hopefully, 2020 will be better for 3D in that I’ll be able to shoot more of the faux animal events.  Missing so many 3D tournaments wasn’t a matter of timing or practice, the problem stemmed around equipment.  That situation may have a remedy soon.

There’s one more major outdoor tournament, non-3D,  here in Georgia in a few weeks.  Rather than change the attachments on my bow prior to every practice I’ll compete in the 3D tournament using skinny arrows, long stabilizers and scope – the outdoor target rig.  This means I’ll be shooting 3D in the Super Senior division.  The benefit is in timesavings.  Being able to practice 3D and long targets without switching the bow from a target rig to the hunter class rig speeds up practices.

Those 3D tournaments I shot this year had me competing in an age class one level below mine since there is no exclusive hunter class, in ASA,  for archers over 60.  I like shooting 3D using a hunter class rig, it is more like hunting.  But, it is a little aggravating changing the attachments on the bow everyday as I change the practice format.

Shooting a target set up in 3D isn’t a simple change.  It take some getting accustom to the scope and aiming at a foam animal.  In the woods there is much less light than on a field. There’s also glare to deal with on the lens of the scope.  Having nearly always used pins in 3D the transition feels awkward.

I’ll see how it goes this coming weekend over in Social Circle, Georgia at the GBAA State Championship.

Olympic Sport for Me (Or You)

On the Internet I found a sight that suggests an Olympic sport for people who enter certain requested data. (1) It wasn’t what I was looking to find on the electronic quest. Nevertheless, it got my attention the way a squirrel grabs a dog’s attention.  I had to chase it down.

I’ve often felt that everyone has an ideal sport they’d enjoy and perform better than other sports. Someone might enjoy basketball but not be successful because they are short.  On the other hand someone six feet seven inches tall might be physically suited for basketball but hate the game.  Then, there’s the six feet and seven inches individual that loves basketball and works at it for years.  There’s an increased likelihood that person has found a sport for which they are suited.

The ‘Olympize Me’ sight I visited is based in the United Kingdom.  The data it called for included metric system measurements.  If you’ll not literate in the metric system you’ll need to make some conversions to get your ideal sport recommendation if you decide to chase it down.

The data entry takes only a few minutes and doesn’t ask you questions that might reveal your identity, passwords, and locations to send you fake news.

Granted, this was a game for me.  Not like the video games people play, more like a brain game to see what the results yielded.  The suggestions that came from the sight were interesting.  Their results suggested the sports for me are: archery, cycling, kayaking, taekwondo, and fencing.

This wasn’t my first time trying an analysis similar to this one.  However, this one did ask a few more specific questions than the others. What is interesting is how it matched other similar questionnaires and exactly what it is I’ve done or still do in sports.

Growing up in Savannah from the mid-1950s until early 1970s many of the sports the sight suggested weren’t popular.  Cycling for example was not popular as a competitive sport in Georgia in the early 70s. Yet, I found a way, without the help of the Internet to become a cyclist.  In cycling I was a particularly good sprinter and the UK site recommended sprint style cycling 46 years after I’d won a major cycling sprint championship.

The British also thought I might like kayaking.  In fact, I kayak often and own six boats.  Additionally, decades ago I practiced and competed in taekwondo .  Although I’ve never done fencing a fellow that understood that sport once told me I was built for it.  On that call I believe at five foot eight inches tall my reach might be a limiting factor. Then, I know nothing about fencing.

What is somewhat reassuring is that archery continues to rank top or near the top on every survey.

When I think about an Olympic team I wonder about the missed opportunity to have gone as a cyclist. When I had a serious chance no one from the US went to the summer games because of a boycott.  Whether or not I’d have actually made it – the odds say no – I’ll never know.

What crawls in the back of my head is missing again any chance in archery because I shoot a compound bow.  Wait a minute, you’re 64, there’s no way. Perhaps.  I also took on of the surveys that suggested my real age is 36. (2)

Reference:

1.) http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/olympisize_html/?state=0

2.) https://www.age-test.com/gfsy3k

Paying to play and solo practice

When I practice, perhaps like many of you, I don’t often have company to share the practice session. When I trained for triathlons, cycling and running there was always a group or team which whom to train.  There is a group of archers that practices together near me. However, their practice sessions require a fee of $15.00 to play.

I understand the fee. The folks that put it on are not volunteers and it is a lot of work.  In addition, the practice includes a ‘pot’ ( from those $15.00 fees) where a percentage of your payment goes to the winner.

I practiced with them when I first moved home to Georgia.  But, paying to practice seemed a bit too rich for my pocketbook.  That and the fact I rarely left with any cash in my pocket.  Still the group is pleasant and the environment is nice.  Certainly, I’ll end up supplementing some ‘kids’ gas money in the future.

See many of the ‘kids’ that come to those practices are ranked top in their class in the Nation or the World.  A couple of them only ever shoot an X.  One of them I have never seen miss the X.

When I lived in Maryland there was a group that got together at least once a week to practice at no charge. Being invited I joined those practices whenever possible. These were younger folks and everyone was over 23 years of age.  The oldest is probably in his 40s. Among them one once shot professionally, one won an IBO World Championship, and the others have all been State Champions at one time or another.  However, they were exclusively 3D archers.

Tuesday night training rides – cycling. Near Atlanta, GA. (Count back 4 riders. That 4th rider is yours truly)

I’m frequently invited to run with groups here near Athens.  I’ve also been invited to ride (cycling) with groups several times near where I live .  Their schedules haven’t made joining possible without infringing on archery. Still I sometimes connect with other cyclists on the road.

In North Carolina there was a group that gathered to practice archery and I often shot with them.  They had a huge indoor range where they often held indoor 3D tournaments. The tournaments’ entry fee was $10.00. The practice cost zero dollars.

What’s up – you shooting your bow?
Shooting in Maryland

Racing bicycles was an activity that nearly always meant having others with whom to train. One group that trained together was coached by a high level USA Cycling coach who didn’t charge a fee. The coach also ran one of the bike shops in town, the “Yellow Jersey Cyclery” on Waters Ave in Savannah, Georgia. The “Yellow Jersey” was there for decades and is now gone.

The coach, Nestor Gernay, remains one of the more famous USA Cycling coaches and cyclists.

Nestor Gernay and me (wearing the red top) around 2002 after a training ride during the winter in Savannah.
This fellow ran up and down the tree between ends

 

You can’t see me

If setting up a practice costs the organizer then those practicing should provide some reimbursement to offset the cost.  Paper targets aren’t free and athletes should pay for their targets. So, paying to play in archery is a bit different than playing in other sports like cycling or running.

Golf on the other hand is going to cost you to practice.  So is swimming and nearly every other sport.

If an archery club organizes the practice dues can supplement against cost.  If a bow shop organizes the practice for their team, of course, some small fee can be paid for targets.  Aside from that in regard to shop supported practice, I consider the practice part of a marketing program to keep archers returning to make purchases. That’s how cycling shops support their riders.  The shop puts together rides at no cost to those participating. If the bike shop, for example, began requiring cyclists to pay to get together and ride, I expect those cyclists would find somewhere else to ride.

I’m not a biter

Now, I admit I am tight fisted when it comes to spending money.  I admit I do miss the fellowship of training or practices groups.  I’ve also, regardless of the sport, done a great deal of training alone so I can and will train alone.

Dude, you grass is pretty tasty – try some
Boring

Alone, specifically means no human companionship. Over the years of archery practice I’ve had numerous non-humans hanging out watching me shoot.  For example, River, my dog, loves to hang out while I practice.  She requires an occasional toss of stick but aside from that she’s no bother.

I’ll just wait right here while you pull those arrows

In North Carolina I had horses that seemed to enjoy coming over and watching practice.  They were very polite and although they stood nearby they never roamed between the target and me.

Don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me (Rabbit telepathy)
This frog got a little too close.

There have been rabbits and squirrels that have hung out and watched me shoot.  The squirrels are always bolder than the rabbits.

Cruising across the range at high speed
I’m your friend not a meal

Today, River didn’t join me for practice.  It has been really hot here so she remained indoors.  (not her choice) Still, I wasn’t alone even if the company was non-human.  Throughout practice one of my neighbors chickens followed me around.  Maybe the chicken hoped for some feed to come her way and maybe not.

There was also a fox on the range this morning. It didn’t pause for a photo.  I’m pretty sure it was hunting for chicken. Maybe the chicken was hoping I’d shoot the fox.

Having a group to practice with makes the time on a range nice.  Without a group (of humans) it can take a lot of self-discipline to remain at work though training. Every sport requires some time spent in solo training.  When doing so it is entertaining to be joined by non-humans that remain for the most part non-judgmental. (Squirrels can have an attitude.)

Despite the small fee I’ll pay to play with a group nearby I’ll soon be heading their way as the indoor season approaches.  Several of the top gun ‘kids’ are heading off to college.  Maybe this year I’ll break even.

There are different meanings to exercise and sport

We were at pizza joint with a group of my wife’s friends. They’re mostly her friends from yoga. Yoga folks are pretty cool and I enjoy hanging out with them.  As a rule they are all fit and health conscious. It never fails that one or two of them quiz me on the subject of my less passionate view of yoga. I don’t do yoga, but I stretch every morning for about half an hour plus or minus a few minutes here and there.

My daily run which begins in my backyard

Mixed in with the purest yoga students there are runners who practice yoga. While I never bring up the subject of running many of them know that I run or at least have completed many somewhat difficult runs. (Brenda told them) They are all younger and will at times ask for advice. (Often the advice relates to a medical concern. Brenda also told them of me medical background.)

Sooner to later, like the yoga inquiry, I get quizzed about my running, which is only about 2 miles a day.  That’s enough for me for the moment.

Trail running in North Georgia with River

When I mention 2 miles a day jaws may pop open as if I’ve uttered a severely unacceptable comment or committed some sacrilege. One fellow asked me if I missed it referring to running longer distances.  I said no, plainly and simply I don’t miss running long solo miles.  If I keep the mileage at three or less per run River, my nearly 9-year-old lab, is happy to run along with me.  Beyond 3 miles and she gets bored. At two miles she’s happy and I have company while running.

Another inquisitor asked me if I missed triathlons. (Brenda, again)  He’s training for a triathlon.  He’s heard I have completed lots of them.  As with running, “Nope,” I answered.  When I said “Nope” the yoga runners and yoga triathletes looked at me with saddened eyes as if I had nothing to live for.

“Look,” I said to the small audience watching to see if I was going to die on the spot, “I do a lot of exercise.”  I added, “ I stretch every morning, which is a lot like your yoga.  A number of the stretches are actually yoga moves.” The audience appear unimpressed.

Then, I pointed out that indeed I run only 2 miles a day. I also ride a bike by time rather than distance or some combination of time and distance everyday for an hour to 90 minutes.  So, I pointed out I get a lot of exercise. The additional cycling seemed to satisfy many that I was doing the correct amount of physical fitness training.

Some scenery is well worth the ride

I was going to mention that those exercise intervals are warm-ups sessions only.  That the 2 to 3 hours per day doing those workouts are, in fact, not my primary sport.  Further I didn’t mention that I head to the gym once or twice per week.  All of which are secondary activities to the 2 to 5 hours per day of archery practice.  It seemed to me, that in the setting of the conversation, bringing to light the nearly 8-hour day of work to be a decent archer would have been wasted breath.

Beyond our backyard fence is where 3D practice is the current primary focus
There’s always a dark target in a hole in 3D – gotta practice this shot

Everyone around Brenda and I eating pizza was a lot younger.  The top end age, outside of Brenda and I, was probably upper 30s to at most 42 years old. The majority of those in attendance were younger than our children. They all workout several times per week at yoga and a few do train to run or work toward completing an international distance triathlon. Most of them have jobs, not all, so working out or training  much more than they’re doing takes a certain frame of mind. The question becomes what it is you want and what are you willing to give up to get it.

What I learned is that what time most of them put toward exercise and fitness max’ed out at around 14 hours per week.  That’s good and overall for most people a lot of exercise.  None of them is working toward any specific sport goal beyond a completion of some target event.

Good to practice the shot, but it sucks to break an arrow

“I’m training to do a triathlon,” or “I’m training to run a 5K,” are great goals and eventual achievements. There is, however, a difference when your goals include breaking records, winning titles and championships, or  being ranked top in the world.  This difference in the meaning for the exercise or training in no way implies one set of priorities is more important than the other.  There’s just a difference.

Changing Gears

In cycling I change my gears a lot.  In archery changing gears is merely going from one discipline to another.  For instance, going from indoor archery to outdoor archery.  In this specific case it is going from shooting dots to 3D.

During 3D tournaments I gear down in yardage and equipment. I don’t have to make an 80-yard shot in 3D. But, I do need to make a 40-yard shot. Forty yards seems quaint after training at 80 yards.  It isn’t quaint.

First off shooting a 3D animal is never a give me. Even a 20 yard shot can end up wasting a whole day of competition.  The problem isn’t the distance, it is the target.  Sure 20 yards is a breeze when you can see the X.  A turkey hen is tough at twenty yards – you can’t see the X on a javelina at 40 yards. (X being the center 10 ring, you can forget the 12 rings)

Not the hen. This fellow can be practiced from multiple angles.

Secondly, during 3D I shoot the same set-up I’d use hunting – no scope, a short stabilizer and pins. I just don’t enjoy 3D as much using long stabilizers and a scope.  It feels a little like field archery only closer in some instances.

Three is the limit to save arrows. In this case, despite moving around, I still shot through on of these arrows. Money down the drain.

The third challenge I have is competing against much younger athletes.  Their physical fitness isn’t the advantage they have it is their eyesight. The darker the view the less effective the light gathering is with nearly 65-year-old eyes.  There’s simply nothing I can do about the decreased ability of my eyes to pick up light.

This old target is about 40% foam from a can.

Still the Georgia State ASA Championship is just a few weeks away and it is time to concentrate on 3D. Thus far in 2019 I’ve only shot in two 3D events.  In those I only averaged 9.5 points per target.  That’s isn’t good enough to win an ASA State Championship.  No, to win the average, against the folks that shoot 3D with a passion here in Georgia, I need to be averaging 10.4 points per target – and that might not cut it.

Yes, the younger 3D shooters in the hunter class here are tough.  I’d do better against them if the only gears I needed to change were in fact on a bicycle.

No Deal

Today, I received an email from a potential sport sponsor.  They invited me to be an “Ambassador.”  For that title all I had to do was purchase their gear at a discount of 35%.  I said no.  I like their gear.  I use it. But, I’m not going to market it for them at a cost to me.

The sport industry on the US is big. Annually, the 2019 estimate is for a gross of $73.5 billion US dollars. (1).  That’s a lot of money.  The company that contacted me has annual gross sales of $8.1 million US dollars. Let me be clear, I use their products everyday, but I won’t essentially pay to work for them.  Their employees earn an average of $54,000 per year. Their mid-level managers are earning around $81,000 per year.  So, why did they contact me?

Their “Ambassador” program, like those “Pro” staff programs are marketing and sales tools designed to generate growth by identifying athletes that have some merit who might help the company gain recognition in a specific market. Perhaps, the company that contacted me has seen that one of the largest markets in sport is people over 50 years of age.  In fact, it is a growing market. (2)

Archery is also growing at a rate decent rate. One report suggests archery is growing globally at 7.19%. (3) In the US the archery market grosses around $535 million US dollars per year. (4)

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to freely give my time and money to companies, even those I like, unless there’s a return.  In any arrangement, unless there’s benefit and detriment to both parties, there’s no deal as far as I’m concerned.  A 35% discount is not enough of a detriment on the company’s part or benefit to me to create a deal.

In archery, the overall largest segment of competitive athletes is those over 50 years old. (5) I’m glad to see that perhaps one company has identified that segment of a large industry.  If, indeed, it was my age that contributed to the company’s marketing contact. No matter the case, there’s no deal.

References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/darrenheitner/2015/10/19/sports-industry-to-reach-73-5-billion-by-2019/#42a47ac51b4b
  2. https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/05/art2full.pdf
  3. https://www.reportlinker.com/p03664240/Global-Archery-Equipment-Market.html
  4. https://archerytrade.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/understandingtheindustry.pdf
  5. hitting-the-bullseye-reel-girl-archers-inspire-real-girl-archers-full

 

 

Masters Athletes

If an archer over 60 is performs well, in his or her age group, unless they’ve got connections it seems unlikely any of the archery organizations or manufacturers are going to identify that individual as a potential athlete.  On the other hand is an archer is younger than 18 and shoots well that archer is more likely to attract support.

It is nice that the young people get support as athletes.  It is less of a compliment to the governing organizations and manufacturers that they reduce the support for the older population.  The support provided to older folks is feeble.  That’s  dumb  when in archery the largest segment of competitive archers are over 50!(1)

In a study, representative of USA archers, the investigators found that 25.5% of the archers in the US are under the age of 18, 30.4% are between 18 and 49 years old, and 35.2% are over 50. (1)

Now, the math is off. The total population should equal 100%. The total in their breakdown of age segments comes to 91.1% (opps). The researchers do point out that nearly 40% of the archers are over the age of 50, where their data shows that percentage is 35.2.  Arithmetic aside, the study suggests there are a lot of older archers.

USA Cycling and USA Triathlon put significant emphasis on older athletes.  The same is true with USA Track and Field.  Those organizations have figured out that the maturing population isn’t simply growing old and dying.  A huge amount of older folks are extremely active.

During my 50s I had corporate support to compete at the Ironman World Championship on Kona, HI. (2)   The same was true for the ITU World Duathlon Championships and the USA Masters Track Cycling Nationals. It really helped.   Perhaps, I was a better swimmer, runner and cyclist than I am an archer, but I wasn’t alone in having support in the other sports.

A fellow I used to train with in Atlanta was a professional triathlete in his 50s.  He wasn’t winning the major events.  He did well enough to continue to have corporate support as a age grouper.  Older athletes make up a market that corporations should be highlighting.  Being older and staying or becoming athletic is important for the general health of our population.

Todays 63 years olds – not the grandparents of the 1960s
“64 year old Grandaddy’s Pot Belly” Today’s seniors are often in better fitness than youngsters

Recently, I heard a news piece that suggested, with modern medicine, our bodies are out living our brains. Let me state, I do not believe it. The report cited the rising cases of dementia, Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment associated associated with aging.  I believe our modern sleep patterns, lack of restorative sleep, poor nutrition, poor use of cognitive function (watching television versus reading a book for example) and decline in physical exercise contributes to various dysfunction of the brain over time.  Essentially, as a population too many people seek easily available and instantly satisfying rewards rather than putting forth too much strain for an achievement.

Being active and staying cognitively engaged can improve fitness, health, decrease cognitive impairment and the risk of cognitive impairment. (2,3) To age well people need to stay both physically and cognitive active.  Archery is an ideal sport for that combination.  People seem to be figuring that out for themselves.

In the US there are 21.6 million people that participate in archery.  Nearly half of them, 46.6%, say they are competitive in the sport.(1) Serious practice is a lot of work.  Certainly, it isn’t as demanding from a cardiovascular standpoint as training for an Ironman, but you do not need to train for an Ironman to be physically fit.  There’s a lot of walking in archery and walking is good. Archery also helps with upper body strength, core strength and balance.

There’s also the mental element of the sport.  Archery is as much a mental discipline as a physical one. Of the 9.8 million people that claim to be competitive archers there are 3.5 million of them over 50.   Of those over 50 years old the majority are over 60. The combined health effects of archery, mental and physical, is a beneficial to this athletes.

The 50+ year old archers equal about half the total population of US athletes involved with triathlon. Believe me, if you are over 50 and winning triathlons in your age group, winning state and regional triathlons and ranking high nationally some sports corporation will notice.  In archery, not so much.

Charles Eugster, 96 years old, posing with his World Rowing Masters trophy. All photos courtesy of Charles Eugster

That’s too bad.  The older population can achieve both physical and cognitive benefits from archery.  It is a sport that is ideally suited for a more mature audience.  In fact, it is one of two sports where an athlete over 50 can become an elite – the other is shooting.

I think archery as a hole is missing the boat considering this segment of the population.  Nowhere do I find aggressive marketing or competitive assignments directed to the older archery population or the recruitment of older individuals to the sport.  Even at a recent  World Archery Championship for Masters the organizers limited the World Championship  award to the 50-year-old age group.  The 60 year olds would be shooting against the 50 year olds or for fun.  I know, I got an invitation to go last year. I considered entering until I read the fine print.  Similar with the Gator Cup – I could not find a 60+ class to enter.

Sister Madonna Buda – The Iron Nun
Sister Madonna Buda, 85 years old.

There was a time in Ironman events when there were no age groups for 75, 80 or 85 year olds. Sister Madonna Buda changed that.  Nike dubbed her, “The Iron Nun” and triathlon celebrates her for her unyielding success. Archery is a much older sport than triathlon.  When it comes to promoting the older athlete archery is way behind triathlon.

85 year old Ibone de Belausteguigoitia.

I am not alone in my assessment  regarding the lack of concentration on the older athlete by US corporations and organizations. “In the U.S., masters athletes receive little or no corporate, governmental or organizational support to attend competitions. This is not true in France, where Renault sponsors masters athletes, or in Germany, where Mercedes Benz offers support…..on a more mercenary level, I hope to get corporate America to recognize that it is good business to offer sponsorships to older athletes. Baby boomers do not buy products from 20-year-old spokespeople.” Rob Jerome.(4)

Ron Ortiz, 52 years old

I understand Jerome’s position, I don’t care what a 20-year-old spokesperson is trying to sale – especially in archery. I expect that 20 year old archer will be gone from the limelight as soon as he or she needs to earn a living.

Reference:

  1. hitting-the-bullseye-reel-girl-archers-inspire-real-girl-archers-full
  2. Karssemeijer EGA1,Aaronson JA2Bossers WJ3Smits T4Olde Rikkert MGM1Kessels RPC5. Positive effects of combined cognitive and physical exercise training on cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment or dementia: A meta-analysis. Ageing Res Rev.2017 Nov;40:75-83. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2017.09.003. Epub 2017 Sep 12.
  3. Wang C1Yu JT2Wang HF3Tan CC1Meng XF1Tan L2. Non-pharmacological interventions for patients with mild cognitive impairment: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of cognition-based and exercise J Alzheimers Dis.2014;42(2):663-78. doi: 10.3233/JAD-140660.
  4. https://www.asaging.org/blog/older-masters-athletes-just-do-it-shatter-stereotypes

Home in the nick of time

If you do a sport that’s an outdoor activity you have probably be caught in the rain. If you’ve been there, then you will understand:

Run looks pretty good. There are some clouds coming in, but seems okay
It appears to be getting darker rather than brighter as this morning runs progresses. Maybe its going to rain earlier than predicted
“River, here” – feels like a good point to start heading home
Barely a drop on me

Sure, some folks might have continued on their morning run.  I admit, I turned around shortening the run.

The Pro/Staff Sponsorship Facade

If you’ve read this website for long you may remember there was once a page for sponsors.  I took it down.  Before I removed it I politely said good-bye to those companies that had once supported me.  They were all good companies and I used their products.  But, overtime I became tired of their game. The products on this site, now, are mine.

The sponsorship game was essentially this:  I promoted their gear, I got a discount, I submitted quarterly updates, if the company had a booth at a tournament where I attended I was expected help at the booth, I’d only use the company’s gear, and I’d pay for the gear out of my pocket. There would be a discount on my purchase of 25% to 70% depending on the company.  To be fair one company never charged me for their products.  Nevertheless, I parted ways with them, too. Two of the companies were carry over sponsors form cycling and triathlon (those were the ones with the big discount and free goods.)

The whole archery deal felt off to me. Actually, the whole deal is a marketing program where those sports companies use amateur athletes to help promote their products.  I understand, I was in business most of my working life.

During that time of my life, before I retired, I did all sorts of business activities including product development, marketing, and was Vice President of Marketing.  I was also an Executive VP & Chief Medical Officer, and VP of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs.  I wore all sorts of hats.

I, too, ran marketing programs aimed at promoting my products.  One thing I always did was paid attention to the folks helping me with their expertise.  In my area the expertise wasn’t 100% an athletic skill it was mostly brain skills. Essentially, the academic/clinical environment was where my work and products were placed – for the most part.

There was a segment of my work that dealt with sports.  There I worked with professional and amateur athletes.  That work ranged from professional football players, track and field athletes (pro & am), triathletes, cyclist, runners, and event mountain climbers.  One of our key athletes was Jerry Rice who you may remember wearing a “Breathe Right” Nasal Strip.  Our segment of that market was medical but it was still cool to see Jerry Rice making amazing catches while wearing the “Breathe Right” Nasal Strip.  We even had a nearly life sized cardboard ‘standee’ of him in our boardroom.

With both venues, the brains and the brawn, one key function of our marketing department was to stay close to these thought leaders and athletes.  As a result we built a community or network of individuals that benefitted from our support and we benefitted from their support. The goal, of course, was to benefit people. I can honestly say we succeeded.  There are people alive today that might not be had it not been but for the work we all did.

Furthermore, that combined group had crossovers, brainy people can be athletes and athletes are smart, and those people worked together on projects.  It was a pulmonologist that inspired me to become a triathlete, Dr. Nick Hill a tremendous athlete. One of the toughest cyclists I ever trained with is an anesthesiologist, Dr. Chuck Law. Another close friend, a World Championship level cyclist, later became a toxicologist earning his degree from the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Howard Taylor. These are just a few examples that come immediately to mind as I type this post.

Sometimes our company supported a project for the scientists or athletes and other times we did not.  Those times we didn’t provide support, financial or equipment, we did provide our help, if only to bounce ideas around, when it was needed even if the project held nothing for our benefit beyond the friendships we developed.  Years after retiring (We sold the company, I took my piece of the pie and called it quits.) that network still functions as a social group where ideas are exchanged.

The sponsorship or “Pro-Staff” arrangements I’ve been associated with thus far in archery have been extremely one sided.  There does not seem to be a commitment on the part of sport industry to create long-term associations with athletes beyond the young and the few. Personally, I could care less which bow a 17 year old is shooting.  Odds are that 17 year will be putting his or her bow down during their freshmen year of college.  A very few will continue with their advancement in the sport.

If you are fortunate enough and good enough that you are at a minimum getting free gear in return for donning that factory archery shirt good for you. If you paid for the shirt and get a 25% discount on products that has a  70% margin – well that’s your choice. If you see me wearing a company logo, you can bet that the arrangement has both benefit and detriment for both sides. That and I believe their gear helps me perform better.