Dealing with Light and the Lack of It.

Previously, I’ve written about light absorption, how our eyes gather light, and archery. Occasionally, I end up on an indoor range where I can’t see a thing. This is a reality and it is going to continue to happen.

I often wear shooting glasses. Mostly I wear them for outdoor shooting, well exclusively for outdoor shooting. But, some articles I’ve read suggest the correctly tinted lens might be helpful regarding light absorption.

I don’t wear shooting glasses on every shot, primarily when the sun is a problem. I’d like to wear them all the time, but the light on every shoot is not always the same.  Even though I have multiple shades of lens, I can’t worry with changing them to match every level of illumination. It’s too much to worry with in competition. So, I keep the dark shades installed.

Outdoors they have saved me more than once. Indoors is another matter.

Many of the indoor tournaments where I shot the lighting has been good. Some are better than others. Lately, all my practice has been outside. I went indoors this week and was shocked.

I know I need to practice on the range where I trained yesterday simply because of the poor lighting. The targets are arranged beyond the overhead lights and they have a bit of shadow cast upon them. I can’t see squat in there. It good training for the day I end up in competition and the lights are poorly situated. But, it is frustrating.

As we age we have a disadvantage in that our eyes don’t gather light as well as they did in our youth. I understand that some tinted lenses can help with light gathering. I think I’ll begin experimenting with the tinted lenses I own to see of it helps.

Dot-less in NC

Among my problems, specific to shooting a bow, is a lack if vision. No, not the sports psychology commandment to visualize yourself as a 60X Champion. Nope, it’s a matter of not being able to line up the pin I use for aiming under low-light conditions.

Outside a single pin using ambient light absorption to illuminate a monofilament is fine. In 3D, should ambient light fail battery operated light is an excellent back up. But, for 18-meter indoor under, as I understand the USA Archery rules, supplemental light is barred from competition.

At times, for me too many times, indoor ranges where I’ve shot are poorly lighted. Many times, the targets are walled up distal to the overhead fluorescent bulbs humming above leaving them dimly luminous. The result for me is that my aiming pin is a mere shadow. For an experiment, I decided to go back to a dot and see how that worked.

All my dots are orange. I have no idea why I ordered orange. The black dots I once owned have been swallowed into the abyss of missing archery, cycling, running and swimming gear. There’s also a pile of nice sunglasses in that void. I wanted black dots.

During my last trip to Georgia, Steve, the bow technician at Social Circle’s Ace hardware had me shoot one of his bows. His scope was equipped with black dots. Those dots seemed very crisp. The range also had great lighting. Hence, I wanted to try block dots on my scope.

I ordered a package of Precision Archery Scope dots from Lancaster Archery Supply. These are the same brand I’d used in the past. In this package, however, I received dots that refused to adhere to the lens. So, it was back to the single pin and praying for a little luck with light.

(New Black Dots are in the mail!)

Releases

I shoot with three difference releases. Using those releases my anchor point has nearly limitless possibilities. Therein lays a multitude of problems.

Whether I’m shooting a hinge or thumb trigger makes no difference in my scoring. Where I anchor does make a difference. To complicate that variance the shifts in scoring advantage of specific anchor points is inconsistent. It isn’t so much the anchor point rather it seems to be the angle of my hand at that point.

Some archers shoot with their hand nearly vertical palm out against their anchor point. Others shoot at a somewhat 45° angle while some choose a nearly level hand position. I’ve played around with all of those angles and many in between.

With a thumb I am slightly more consistent when my hand is at a 45°. Shooting a hinge the more vertical aspect seems to produce more consistent shots. What I find most comfortable is a thumb release. Plainly it is easier to draw, hold, aim and release the arrow using the thumb release I own. The problem with the thumb release I own is the travel before it triggers. Both of my hinge releases are free of that issue.

In searching for a new more target archery specific thumb release I landed on a TruBall product that seems a more representative device to answer my needs. Then, there’s the price.

Tru-Ball Blade Pro

I continue to pull up the TruBall Blade for an online purchase. When I consider the price that is where I can’t pull the trigger.

Frustrated

Since September my average score at 18-meters is 562. The high score within this data is 580 with a low of 548. The average X count for that 562 is 22 with a high of 40 and a low of 14. A year ago my average score was 560. My low was 542 and high was 570 with an average X count of 21. That’s not much improvement.

Should I continue to advance scores at the current rate, 2 points per year, I’ll hit 600 at age 81. These scores are based on a 3-spot targeting the inner 10. Eighteen months ago my average was 554. So, that’s an eight-point improvement over eighteen months. During the first several months of shooting a 3-spot, with the outer ten counting for ten ring (for non-archers the 10 ring got smaller by about half) my average was 469.

So, another way to look at this is that I’ve improved my average, since I began, by 93 points in about 48 months or about 17% improvement while reducing the size of the primary target.

A score of 560 is 93% of a perfect score. It’s the final 7% that is killing me. Sure, a 580 is a decent score, but thus far I’ve hit that mark the one time. Still 580 is a long haul from 600. The world’s top archers are scoring in the high 590 range.

Compared to 2016 my misses are closer to the ten ring. In other words, my nines are tighter and closer to the ten ring than a year ago. The large yellow ringed nine means that a miss off the ten by a millimeter or an inch count the same.

Needless to say, despite what I perceive as improvement, I remain frustrated.

Oh, That Made a Difference! For a Minute.

Two nights ago, I searched YouTube for insight regarding what has happened to y scores. Most of what I watched wasn’t very helpful. A few left me with that WTF thought. Then, there was one that made me think, “Maybe I should give that a try.” Heck, I’ve tried everything else.

The video was of Niamh Jones. You might not know her. She’s Australian and shoot for Mathews. She was in need of a new thumb release.

( Here’s the link – blob:https://www.youtube.com/05e9655d-6895-4f67-8535-3ca4e364890b)

She competes with a thumb release. Using that style release she won the 2016 Ladies Indoor National Championship. Further, she uses a hinge release as a training tool, yet competes with a thumb. Okay, that sounds pretty much like what I’ve been doing for years.

The YouTube video wasn’t about training. She needed a new thumb release. She pointed out that after several years her old release wasn’t operating as smoothly as it did new. Wait a minute! My thumb release is four years old. So, was the one that Ms. Jones was replacing. I have a brand new exact duplicate of the old thumb release I shoot. Maybe, just maybe I ought to give that a try.

Occasionally, my old thumb release feels soft as I activate the trigger. It sometimes feels like it is snagging the D-loop. I’d figured it was just me – what if it isn’t?

Of everything I’d tried to get out of this hole, I’d not tried the duplicate thumb release I already own.  I gave it a try. To be sure, I did not shoot a 600. I did, however, end up with 40 tens and 20 nines.

After shooting a 580 I wanted to see if it might have been the release or was it all in my head. I took releases and put them into a pouch. Then, I juggled the pouch before reaching in and withdrawing a release without looking. I put the release into my pocket still without looking at the release. Looking I can see the differences between the two releases.  The old one is more scuffed and worn.

After I nocked an arrow, grabbed the release and shot three arrows I sate the release aside. I then looked at the release and scored the arrows. I repeated this four times until I had two ends for each release.

This morning’s 580 is about where I thought I’d be a couple of weeks ago.

With the new release, I shot six tens. With the old release I shot two tens, three nines and an eight. So, just maybe that was the issue.  Now, I need to see if this holds and find those remaining 20 tens.

PS: Alas, the momentary improvement didn’t stick. In subsequent practice I dropped back to a 562 then a 556. Today, it is raining. So, tomorrow back to the salt mine.

Where Did My Mojo Go?

Six weeks ago my average on 3-spot had been 564. During the past six weeks it has dropped rather than increase. My current average is 556.

I predicted by now I’d be approaching a higher average. Out of desperation I changed over to a hinge release thinking that might help. It didn’t.

I’ve added more weight to my bow and had it balanced. No improvement.

I changed my sight from a 4X to a 6X. Nope, still the same.

For the most part the nines are not wild. They’re just not tens.

Out of 180 arrows today, less than half were tens – 60 tens. There were four eights and all others were nines. This count excludes 18 unscored arrows used as warm-up shots between practice sessions.

On the positive side, I shot my best on the last 60 arrows – 562. But, I needed to go back to a thumb release to hit that score. Still a long way from where I am aiming.

Time to Head Home

We’re leaving Georgia in the morning to head back to North Carolina. It has been a very nice trip. On this visit to our home State, Brenda and I stayed with our oldest daughter and her family for a few days. There we enjoyed an early Halloween party that was the best ever.

I, also, got to visit my friend Big John Chandler at his archery shop attached to the Ace Hardware in Social Circle, Georgia. It is always good to see John.

After leaving our daughter’s home, in Watkinsville, GA, we drove to Tignall, GA to stay with Brenda’s father for a few more days. There, River and I ran trails and gravel roads. She helped me practice archery by slowing me down between ends. River was adamant about the between shots stick game.

18-meter practice

It became obvious; I didn’t leave an adequate supply of paper targets here in Georgia. There were only two remaining in the garage. I’ll need to bring a fresh supply when we head back in November.

The last target

One thing for sure, we ate well while we were here!

Lots of Changes

There are a number of changes I am working through at the moment. Mechanically the major process change is how I’ve been drawing and loading. My friend, Big John Chandler, a USA Archery Level 4 Coach, worked with me at his location in Social Circle, Georgia this past week, and made a few recommendations on my mechanics.

Big John working with one of his students at the indoor range located in the Ace Hardware, Social Circle, GA.

Among the earlier changes I’ve, once again, switched from a thumb to hinge. The hinge I’m am practicing with is an old Scott Black Hole Three. I’ve used it as my primary release before changing to a thumb on the suggestion of a coach. His belief was that the advances in a thumb release surpassed the current state of development with hinge releases. I have no idea which release is best, I shoot about the same scores with either release – most of the time. There are days where one release seems to be working for me better than the other.

What Big John noticed was how I worked my scapula into its final position. So, I am modifying my draw and loading sequences based on his recommendations.

John also noticed my bow was out of balance. It had been balanced using the hit or miss technique and never placed into an official balancing scale. Balancing included adding another 8.2 ounces of weights. In addition, I increased the lens strength on my scope from a 4X to a 6X.

Those changes are a lot to work on all at once. It seems I was pretty far off on having me gear and technique on a proper path.

Starting Over Sucks

For years I’ve shot a certain way. Each shot I tried to improve my form, reach a point where every shot is the same and have every arrow land in the X. Now, to be clear, when I write that I’ve been doing this for years, while that’s true, it hasn’t been too many years. Years practicing a sport are often measured in decades. My years are limited to four.

Archery is an experiment whereby using a population of one (me) I am working to see how long it takes to become an “elite” archer. Part of the program is to determine whether “talent-transfer” from other sports might assist with archery. The other sports in the case here are cycling and triathlon. Both are individual sports, cycling is at times a team sport. Archery’s, also an individual sport, skill sets are vastly different from more vigorous athletics. Honestly, I thought I’d be further along than I am at this point.

There are plateaus that all athletes pass over. It would be easy to think, if a specific level was high enough to satisfy the individual, that some plateau might be associated with physical limits. In some sports such bars may be related to physical limits. Those limits could be imposed on an athlete because of genetics. For example, a five foot six inch male high jumper in high school will reach a vertical limit that might impinge his success while competing against six foot five inch jumpers in college. Sure, you might suggest there’s some springy-legged short fellow out there in a super hero costume that is an anomaly, but barring any Marvel-magic, the short guy loses to the giant in high jump competition.

Archery is a sporting equalizer. Size isn’t as relevant to the success of an archer as basketball player. Still, in every sport, archery included, athletes have occasional plateaus.

To surpass a specific level and improve, sometimes, there has to be significant changes. Those changes can lead to a momentary degradation in performance. Hopefully, sticking with sound coaching advice, the changes evolve into segmental improvement.

Which is where I currently find myself and waiting for the leap forward.