Five Years of 3-Spots Data Review and Projections.

During the past 5 years I have improved. Five years ago I was hammering a 3-spot racking up scores below 500. Five years, well four years, eleven months and 29 days, later I’m seeking that elusive 600.

My first record of a 3-spot score earned me a mammoth 447 points. That  was at a time when the big ten was still a ten. Today, the inner ten is the only mark that earns an archer 10 points under the USA Archery 3-spot scoring system. Archery has gotten more difficult. Scoring  applying the old-fashioned, ego stroking, outer 10 ring method, today I’d have shot a 598.

There’s a coaching tip in here

Even having shot a 598 against the outer ten ring, I missed the center inner ten enough times to earn a 580. That’s a lot of near misses. It can be frustrating.

Target number two for this morning’s practice.

Scores on the inner ten in my database show that there is improvement. From scoring around 550 (on average when the little ring became the only 10 ring) to 574 for a recent average. My best thus far is 584 which I managed a time or two. That’s not a bad score and if I kept this up over a two-day indoor competition that would land me at 1168.

An 1168 could put me in first place at the USA Indoor Nationals in my age group based on the 2017 scores. That year 1155 won the gold in the Master’s 60-year-old division. But, I can’t depend on my best scores to win. I look to my average for the last month or after I’ve incorporated a major change, like a new bow, new release or new arrows as a baseline score to get an understanding of how I’m shooting. Considering an average, which allows for good days and better days, at the moment I fall in with an 1148, good enough for fourth at the 2017 indoor Nationals. I actually finished 13th place in 2017, taking 1st at the regional.

Very first archery competition

My current goal for training is to average 590. That score would place me tied with Reo Wilde in sixth place among the Men’s’ Senior Division in 2017. To have a 590 average there will be scores above 590 and below. It will need to be relatively tight groups to achieve that level of performance.

Performance in a sport like archery requires a lot of practice. During practice I set out with a specific goal in mind. Developing a process that incorporates goals is an optimal method for carrying out training. Today, for example, the goal was to shoot all arrows in the outer ten ring. I failed by 2. The failures were still both nines but a failure nonetheless. The mid-range goal, average 590.

By keeping detail records of performance I am able to review my work. I know what arrows I used, the bow, the poundage, the release, the weather conditions if practice was outside, and the indoor lighting and range distractions if I’m on a fancy  “you-gotta-pay-for-it” range. Those details and graphs let me know how my improvement is proceeding and whether I need to make a change and if I’ve changed something I can’t see.

Becoming an elite in any sport takes time. Having data can help you see progress. It can alert you to problems. It can also be a stroke to your ego as you monitor your advancement. You can further predict your rate of change in order to set realistic goals.

So Close, Yet So Far

Out of 600 possible points I shot a sad 564.  It was a rough morning. It was a bit cold and windy. Windy enough that the chilling breeze had my eyes watering at times.  The wasn’t horrible, it was just cold. The wind wasn’t blowing arrows off their paths.  And it wasn’t like I was missing the X by landing arrows all over the target face.

No, it was like this – X, 9,9 with the nines missing the inner ten and landing on the line of the outer ten. Or X,X, 9 with an outer 10.

This has been my burden for the past few days

After shooting up the remains of yesterday afternoon practice target I thought a new face might have been beneficial to my accuracy – nope.

If I’d been aiming for the large ten it would been more pleasing.  Still, an arrow did find its way to a nine against the larger ten ring missing the outer ten.

New paper, same result

So close, yet as far away in score as if I’d landed arrows on the line between the yellow and the red.

A Couple of Sights During a Morning Run

We’re dialing back to Daylight Savings Time in a week. You know, Fall Back, Spring Ahead. Those runs where we head out the door in the dark may become less dark in a week.

Reflection of River’s eyes and her little red flashing light that is connected to her collar

Running though the woods in the dark using a headlamp is fun. I wouldn’t try a dark lightless run. I doubt I could make it very far without some sort of injury.

A spider to avoid

If you’re not a runner, that fine. If you are and have an opportunity give trail running at night or before sunrise a try if you haven’t. It really is fun.

You certainly don’t want this crawling around on you in the dark.

Going to Miss That Little Heater

In North Carolina, at our old place on the Little River, I had a shed with a heater. From inside that shed, during he winter months, I could practice 18 meters and stay relatively warm. There would be snow on the ground and I was fine. We no longer live in North Carolina.

My little heater in North Carolina

We moved to our home state, Georgia, last January. The house was ready per the builder plans. His plans didn’t match with our plans. So, as soon as we closed on the house, we began remodeling. The entire process took several months.

By the time I had a practice range for 18 meters it was Spring and I wasn’t cold when I practiced outside. Although I have a shed, it isn’t heated and not near my range.

Today, during practice it wasn’t all that cold, it was in the upper 40s. It was a little windy, but not all that windy. Still the combination of a little cold and a little windy was enough to get me pretty chilled during practice.

By the time I was at my last three ends I was ready to get inside. The last three ends were three nines, and six Xs. When I started I felt I was on my way to at least a 590. As my body cooled my accuracy cooled. I finished the morning with 44 Xs and 16 nines. I’d felt better and warmer at the beginning of practice.

Shooting outside in the cold isn’t the most fun activity. Driving to an indoor range, a hour round trip, and paying 10 bucks to practice 6 days a week isn’t cheap in time or money. Doing that would eat up $240.00 per week. At that price I’ll be cold.

Leaving where we do in Georgia is great. There is always something to do that is nearby. There are archery competitions and leagues shoots all within a short distance. There’s running and mountain biking, fishing and hunting. Living around Athens, Georgia (Go Dawgs) is just about perfect. The only thing that could make it any better is a little heater to keep me warm while practicing archery in the winter.

Some Days I Get the Range Pretty Much to Myself

Typically, I practice archery at home. I’ve got a really nice range. The archery butts are a mess. But, a short walk versus and 30 minute drive to shoot at an indoor 18-meter range is a real pleasure.

When it is raining I’ll still shoot at home unless it is just too much. With Hurricane Michael bringing wind and rain I decided to make the drive to stay dry.

The range,at Social Circle Ace Hardware, is nice, has good lighting, the butts are in pretty good shape and arrows are easy to pull. There’s always a bit of friendly conversation from the pro-staff. It is a bit of a drive but the atmosphere makes up for the hour round trip loss of time.

All arrows shot from the same position.

It is usual to find a few other shooters at the range. The past two days, I’ve pretty much had the place to myself. Other archers came in, shot a few arrows and left. I don’t think anyone came in and practiced more than 15 minutes. They seemed to be simply checking out their equipment for hunting.

No matter, I was there for a good long time and got my money’s worth. Oh, that’s the other thing; at home I don’t have to pay an extra fee to practice. (It isn’t too pricey)

The Big Dot Versus the Little Dot

The big ten on a 3-spot has been a nine for a while. The little dot, which was once an X is now just a ten. Shooting an ego friendly 300 or 600 isn’t what it once was. In fact, it is gone.

I admit, I am as yet to feel the satisfaction of a 60X or even a big dot perfect score. But, Lord, I have come close on the old big ring ten. Through the first 10 ends this afternoon I’d dropped two. By the final arrow I’d dropped six, all by just a hair.

Against the small dot X, now just a ten, I finished the day with a 576. So many were so close. My goals are to shot on average 590 aiming at the small dot and 600 on the old big ten.  The misses are just so close.

Another Day More of the Same

Each morning I wake up and stretch. As we age we can lose flexibility. If you don’t stretch you range of motion will deteriorate.

My wife, daughters and mother do yoga. Yoga is outside of my physical aptitude. I still stretch in the morning. Then, I eat, run, and shoot. During the afternoon I ride a bike and shoot some more. A couple of times a week I head to the gym to lift weight. There are days where I might not run, ride or shoot. There are scheduled recovery days in my program. But, stretching is done nearly every day.

All this exercise has, as a good friend once said, given me the metabolism of a hummingbird. I eat a lot. I eat throughout the day. With all this eating comes the byproducts of metabolism.

Typically, by the time I’m on the range in the morning, all dawn necessities have been eliminated. Sometimes, there’s a stubbornly timed clearance that arrives during archery practice. This is inconvenient.

First 3 shots of the day before a biological warning alarm

Maybe you’ve been in a similar position. You find yourself on the range and the urge strikes you. Don’t you just hate that?  Your warm-up is moving along great and you need to make an unrelated movement.

“Hey, where you going? We just started”

For me, that means taking a hike back to civilization and the luxury of the house. Sure, there are woods all about and I could manage things more primitively. In conditions of dire pressure, when shooting seems more important, I’ve learned that despite all efforts to have the brain override basic physiology the more primal elements will be victorious. Before there’s clear indication of a failure of control, there will be a dash home.

Only another 100 yards or so

Once, during a marathon in Delaware, less than a mile from the start, I saw a poor runner that had mis-judged her morning.  Rather than pause and seek shelter she let nature take it’s course while running.  That was, no doubt, repulsive. At most big races there are well placed portable stations posted along to course to provide privacy.  Sadly, she’d missed her opportunity before the start.

A well-timed hike off the range will lead to greater comfort, a brief moment to relax with a magazine, and better focus while shooting. Thankfully, in archery we have better resources at our disposal than sports like running, cycling, and triathlon.

If you’re involved with sports and do a lot of training, you know your body well.  You know your daily routine. Having a practice routine can, most times, help you not need to make a mad rush or get embarrassed. There’s value, at times, of doing the same things day in and day out.

Every Had One of Those Days

Ever had one of those days where everything seems to go right. In sport we say we’re in a zone. In the case of archery every shot feels great and every arrow lands in a 10 ring. You know, that day on the range where others stop shooting just to watch you place arrow after arrow in the exact same hole in the center of the X. Well, today for me it was not that day.

I’d started the morning practice fresh off of a scheduled rest day. Going into the break I’d been shooting well and was aiming for a personal best. Instead, I shot on par with scores from two years ago. Needless to say, when I enter this morning’s work into my 3-spot database it isn’t going to help with averages.

Looking forward to this afternoon’s practice

As bad as practice was this morning perhaps optimistic is how I’ll go into the afternoon practice.

Day Two of Short Shots

Short shot practice remains the order of the day.  Starting yesterday I began at 7 yards and worked to 12 yards.  I made it past the 12-yard increment with 60Xs. Fifteen yards was the start of a new day. “Big” John Chandler said, “There will be a point where you begin to drop more points.” He was right. At 15-yards I had more initial misses.

The first goal of each session was to establish good form. Then, I wanted to have excellent follow through. Getting that correct on every shot remains illusive.

After warming up my first three arrows scored two tens and a nine. By the finish of the first 30 arrows I’d dropped 5. On the second 30 arrows I dropped 4. Along the way, with 5 ends remaining, I discovered my rear stabilizer had loosened and shifted its position.

If you look closely, you can see the orange flag at 20 yards.

There is no way to know if the shift had been significant enough so that I could lay blame on missing 9 times. It probably wasn’t. On the shots where I’d missed I knew it was going to be a missed shot immediately. Plus, I scored a lot of decent shots with the stabilizer out of position.

I’ll repeat 15-yards during my next practice. When I get it right I’ll move to 18-yards. This is a slow process.

Working the Short Shot

In archery moving from 70 meters to 7 meters is quite a change in distance. A 70-meter shot is exciting. A 7-meter shot is practically grabbing an arrow out of your quiver, leaning forward and poking it into the target. But, a new distance is in the forecast and a new training plan means practice shots have changed.

Outdoor archery season is done for 2018. The next tournament is an indoor competition being held at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. That is the Georgia Archery Association’s State 25-meter championship being held on December 8th. Following the 25-meter shoot comes the USA Archery National Indoor tournament in February 2019. This means shooting at tiny dime sized dots from 18-meters.

I’m shooting well. My current 18-meter average is better than how I scored in 2018. With our move back to Georgia behind us I’ve been able to get back to a routine and my scores have returned to an ascending slope on my data graphs. I am not, however, where I need to be for 2019. Last night, on the Ace Apache range located in Social Circle, Georgia conjoined with Ace Hardware I got a tip on how to make improvements.

Big John Chandler, a USA Archery Level 4 NTS Coach, Steve, Robbie and I were practicing at 18-meters on the Ace indoor range. In fact, all four of us are archery coaches.  But, when I am around them I am all ears. In this pack I am a rookie coach and primarily a student.

I was already in for 120 arrows from my morning’s practice. I didn’t feel weak but was fatigued. Between the two practices I’d cut another loop through the woods behind my house adding to my trail running course.

I find when I’m a bit fatigued I can get sloppy with a bow. I, mean it wasn’t like I was shooting 8s but I was finding more nines than I’d located earlier in the day. “Big John” pointed out I was relaxing my follow through. As he put it, “You’re not following through.”   When I paid attention to what I was doing arrows would land in the 10. A little mental drift and nine was the prize. And so the evening practice went.

Before leaving I said my goodbyes to Robbie and Steve. John was in his office working and I stepped in to let him know I was done for the day. Before I could offer a goodbye he had coaching tips coming my way.

“You can’t shoot a perfect score at 18-meters if you can’t do it from 5-meters” where about the first words out of his mouth. No argument from me on that point.

What he told me to do was to go home and practice at 5 to 7 meters. “Don’t move any further back until you score 60x at that distance” explained John. When you shoot 60X at that distance, move back 3 to 4 meters then do it  again. Keep that up until you are at 18-meters.

I knew the drill but honestly had never done it. The idea is, as John explained, to train your brain to see the x and put the arrow into it with each shot. This morning’s practice was done according to the prescription.

Starting at 7-meters I landed 60x using the first 60 arrows. That is after I adjusted the elevation on my sight. During those 60, elevation corrected arrows, it began to rain. Shooting in the rain isn’t bad and it was only a light rain. The thing about rain is that paper targets are allergic to it. I shot about 120 arrows during the practice and ended up needing 6 targets. Usually I can get through a day using two targets before the center is gone.  I buy them in bulk; still that’s a lot of money getting shot to pieces – 6 was making my eyes spin in dollar signs. Back to the short distance practice..

After the 7-meter distance I moved to 12 meters. On ends 18 and 19, at 12-meters, I scored two tens and a nine for each. John said, “If you miss a ten, finish all your shots before you start over.” In other words, had the misses been on ends 11 and 12 I’d have continued through to the last end. The final score would still have been a 598, but I’d have to repeat the 12-meter distance until I had a 600.  This afternoon, when I practice, I’ll pick-up at 12 meters and stay there until I score 600.

This type of practice is tedious. It is deliberate practice, which means it isn’t necessary fun.  It is kind of like practicing scales on a musical instrument for hours before ever moving to composed music. The composed music is more fun, but mastering scales helps create masterful music.