Seems I Paid More Than I Might Have Needed

A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to purchase a target bow. I’d been shooting an Elite 35, a one size fits all bow when it comes to 3D, target, and hunting. What I felt like I needed was a longer axle-to-axle length for target competition.

There are a number of bows that fit the axle-to-axle requirements I thought I needed. There are three I was interested in trying and buying one of them. After my due diligence into the bows I labeled them A, B and C based on the order they’d finished in my review. The final decision would be based on price.

For me price is a major consideration. I am retired and live on a fixed income. I have a budget and that does allow for purchases like a new bow. Still, I am not going to spend money where I don’t need to spend money.

The ‘A’ bow was the second most expensive. The bow that was selected, a nice bow even if it is not the manufacturer’s top of the line, was chosen based on, among other things, price.

I am not a bow manufacturer’s “Pro” staff member. Being on someone’s “Pro” staff could mean a discounted or free bow. I’m a “Full Price” archer when it comes to bows. It turns out, I might not have had to have been a “Full Price” bow customer when it came to this recent acquisition. .

At a social event I ran into a friend that happens to be a bow manufacturer’s regional representative. He’s a very pleasant man that I’d met years before he was working for a bow company. During our conservation I mentioned I’d ended up selecting a new bow based on it meeting my specifications and price. It was not one of his company’s products (The ‘A’ bow). I added that the acquired bow has a twitch in that for me any slight bow arm error pulls my shots to the left. Not by much and certainly how insurmountable, it’s just an issue I’ve not had to the same degree with different bow.

To my surprise, he seemed surprised that I’d not mentioned I was considering his bow to the staff at the shop where I’d made my selection. He added he’d have gotten me the ‘A’ bow though the shop bow program. Indeed, I had mentioned the bow and shot a demo of the ‘A’ bow there at the shop where I made the eventual purchase. His bow was just to pricey.

Well, needless to say, I was disappointed. Whether or not the unattained bow might have brought me an extra point or two during the recent tournament I cannot say. What I looking for with equipment upgrades is a point or two.

What I can say is I remain a “Full Price” archer when it comes to bows.

 

So, you got old, but they’re making you shoot with the youngsters.

None of us are as young as we once were and we’re getting older. Those of us that have been involved in sports deal with aging in whatever ways are best for ourselves. Some athletes turn to coaching. Others quit being competitive. Some take up a new perhaps less demanding sport as a pastime.

All sports that I am aware of have age groups wherein an athlete can compete against their peers. Archery provides the same arrangement. Archery does one thing I’ve not experienced in other sports. If an archer is in an age group that doesn’t have enough competitors, in archery, they’ll bump that athlete down to a younger and perhaps more competitive age group.

I don’t think this occurs at a major tournament. For example, if a 90 year old found that she was the only competitor at a USA Archery event I don’t think they’d bracket her into the 50-year-old division. She can voluntarily move down to a younger class.

However, at smaller tournaments, local events, archers in their 50’s might discover their group is light. That, too, has not been my experience, there seems to be an ample supply of archers shooting into their 50s. There does appear to be a thinning, not just of hairlines, of archers in the 60+ classes. (I’m in my 60’s if you didn’t know, for even care.)

The result of the limited number of archers over 60 means that I more often than not am competing either in the Senior or Master 50 age classes. In fact, I compete in my age class only 13% of the time.

Shooting against younger archers can’t become a problem for me. For some maturing athletes competing in classes they’ve already passed through is a problem. If it becomes a problem for you, you could end up with a defeatist attitude before letting your first arrow fly. Be assured, archery is one of the few sports where older competitors are pitted against younger ones. If you livelong enough it will happen to you –  find your way to deal with it.

In triathlon, for example, I think it would be tough to place if I raced against a 45 year old triathlete. And just because an athlete “ages-up” that does not mean they get to race a shorter distance. An Ironman race is an Ironman, you can either do it or you can’t. Plus, there are cut off times for each discipline. That means you can’t be a great cyclist and awful swimmer and still make the cut. In archery, the tournaments sometimes decrease the distance Masters’ archers need to shoot to hit the target. Thus, they make it easier for the older folks to hit the target. That is not the case in triathlon or running. I mean, a 10K is a 10K no matter what your age.

She’s racing the same distance under the same time restrictions as the Professionals

For me, I still like competing at the senior level. For me, if I do another Ironman, I’ll be racing the same distance as the Pros and be subject to the same cut off times. Two weeks ago, when I raced a 5K, I ran the same course and distance as the University track star that won the event. (I won my age group and was not the only runner in the class)

If it bothered me compete against archers younger than me I’d have trouble every time I shot with other people. I am almost always the oldest archer in the crowd.

If you are lucky enough to have the problem of being forced into a class that you passed though, because you’ve out-lived your opponents, consider yourself fortunate. Shooting with younger people will help keep you sharp. And know this, at the major championships; there will be enough old people to go around.

Checking Web Stats – Who’s Reading

Periodically, I check this site. The areas covered in the check include reader stats, Alexa ranking, safety (verifying the site hasn’t been hacked by some nefarious individual or organization) and other reviews available via a search.

Looks safe

Studying the stats about readers is easy – GoDaddy.com provides that data. Other data requires some hunting.

Puttingitontheline is primarily about archery. Drilling down, it is about a retired medical professional making a run at a new sport.

This places Puttingitontheline.com in the top 3% of all ‘active’ websites

The number one activity among retired men relates to sports. The bulk of those men “watch” sports as a pastime. Still others concentrate on their golf game, fishing, hunting, running, cycling, triathlon or other activity. I have one friend that retired early. He was not an athlete. After retirement he started running. The last time I spoke to him he’d run 53 marathons including, New York, Chicago and Boston.

Archery is a growth sport – it is growing thanks to lots of popular movies that have super hero archers. Women seem to be a major growth section of archery. There also seems to be a lot of younger people in the sport thanks to programs like JOAD and 4H.

I know of 16 and 17 year old archers, certainly greater shooters, which have already signed deals with major archery manufacturers. This is a bit like Nike signing a high school runner without the shoes or money.

The younger archers really aren’t my demographic. Certainly, archers younger than 50 read the postings here. But, the bulk of the readers are not youngsters.

According to data on this site it is popular. The readers aren’t younger they’re older. This suggests a lot of older that may be new to the sport coming here for information and stories. It suggests to me there is a market segment of archers over 50 that I believe aren’t getting the same degree of attention by archery manufacturers as the youth.

There are some great archers over 50 that do have a high level of industry support. Many of them have had that support for years. When it comes to newly minted “Pro” jersey wearing master archers, the few I spoken to have paid for that jersey.

Most of them compete as a pastime and aren’t earning much if any money shooting. There seems to be a lot of them.

Stats from April 1 – April 7, 2018. It takes about three minutes to read a post and look around this site a bit.

I think there is an untapped market among the Masters archers. Archery is a sport where age is a relatively independent factor. That is, someone over 50, in my opinion, can become an elite archer. Within the readership of this website, I believe more than a few of those future elites are out there.

This Is How I Practice for 50 Meters

Fifty meters is a fairly long shot. It includes a lot of walking back and forth. Twenty meters is a faster practice because of the shorter walk to reclaim arrows. Now, the walking isn’t a real endurance work out, it just slows things down. Having a 50-meter range behind my house is a bonus.

50-meter practice, for this session, meant about a mile of walking and took nearly two hours.

Being slow in archery isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rushing a shot is a bad thing. When I practice I’ll frequently set a timer and measure how many seconds remain following a six shot end.

The thick lines are the trek back and forth pulling arrows

During practice, I could fire off more than 6 arrows – I don’t. I try to make practice close to tournament conditions. That means: shoot 6 arrows, walk to the target, record my scores, pull the arrows and repeat. Practicing with a timer gives me confidence that I’ll get my arrows off with a routine buffer of time. I don’t want too much unused time. On the other hand I don’t want to be thinking about the clock during competition.

On average I have ample time left on the clock after six arrows. Between each shot I use an 8 count as I go through the shooting process. Using an eight count, I go through it 3 times. Each set of the 8 count associated with the shot process. Counting slows me down and clears my head. Since each set of eight has parts of the shooting process associated with the count it makes me aware of the steps to getting off a good feeling arrow. By the time I reach the third and final 8 I am ready to release the arrow. After the first 3 arrows, I make an effort to take a conscious pause before shooting the final three arrows.

When planning a practice I vary it to some degree. The practice may be two sessions a day at 84 arrows, 12 warm up and 72 for scoring or shorter sessions three times a day at 42 arrows, 6 warm-up and 36 for scoring. I almost always record my shots and make notes. I carry a pad in my quiver to making records. My notes and measurements are later transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. (Some days I’ll purposely not record anything and shoot for fun only)

A spotting scope is a handy tool for longer distances. (This one an early birthday present from one of by daughters, her husband and one of my grandsons.)

There are also days where I’ll practice for 50-meters by shooting from 60, 65  or 70 yards.  Fifty meters is roughy 55 yards.  The extra yardage makes 50-meters feel easy when I return to that distance.

When it’s cold I wear a thin glove

Everyday practice isn’t always possible. For instance, it stormed yesterday. Today, despite it being the middle of April it was cold. Cold does not prevent practice. Neither does wind and today it was windy. Even when it rains, other than down pours, I’ll be on the range. (It is important to note that everyday practice does include a recovery day. Taking a day for rest is an important element to any sport. That recovery day for me is on a 7-day and 10-day cycle)

My bow setting at the 50-meter mark.

Practice and shooting 50-meters presents outdoor challenges we don’t face during indoor competition and training. Space for a range is a problem for many archers. When we built our new house having enough land for archery was a must. Finding a local 50-meter range then getting to it does add another burden to long-range practice. (Not unlike finding a pool to practice swimming – they are available.  It is nice when it is a simple walk to practice.) Fifty meters ranges are available, it sometimes takes a bit more effort but it can be done.

Blame it on John Pinette

John, today’s poor practice shooting was entirely your fault.

You may not know John. He was a failed accountant. He stopped practicing accounting shortly after receiving his degree from University of Massachusetts in Lowell. His friends talked him into giving up that career convincing him he’d do better as a comedian. They were correct.

John was a master comedian. He was also an actor and Broadway star. He died a few years ago. (2014 – he was only 50)

One of his comedy albums in on my phone. While practicing today I put on music. Occasionally, the phone would shuffle through songs and play John.

I should be able to remain clear headed and shoot somewhere near the center of the target regardless of what going on around me. Today it was impossible to do so while laughing. Even when I started skipping John (my phone seemed fixated with him), his lines would float through my head and I’d start laughing again.

John Pinette

If you want to work on centering yourself for archery, John Pinette is a good distraction. If you can get though listening to him while practicing and shoot well you’re probably ready for about anything.

Getting into the 3D of Things

The range is up. It is raining. I need to practice 3D.

This coyote is fun. The shot looks longer than it was, 38 yards.
Yep, that javelina is in that hole about 40 yards away

When rain seems to have stopped, I head out to practice. Twenty shots later it begins to rain. I head back indoors. Two hundred yards pass along the walk to cover and the rain stops. I turn around, shoot 10 arrows and it starts to rain, again. I head back, go 200 yards, and the rain stops. I gave up stayed outside and got wet.

Zoomed in a bit so you can see the target
Worst shot of the day. I thought I’d managed a center 12. Nope, that’s an 8.

Not everyday has been so much of a weather challenge. Yesterday was pretty good. It was cold and windy. Out in the woods the wind is subdued a tad. My main concern was a limb breaking free and landing on my head. No limb crashed onto my skull.

This is a tough turkey

Practice was by design interesting. Shooting the same targets day in and day out, you need to find training sessions to keep things interesting. This is especially true when you train alone.

Practice on this little target is always, shoot a center 12 and a 14. Don’t move on until the 12 and 14 are shot in sequence.

This day’s training was: the first arrow at an unknown yardage for scoring followed by four others for yardage training. The shortest distance was 18 yards (rabbit) and the longest was 45 yards (deer, bear, and mountain lion.)

This is only 27 yards, but the lane is cleared so the target can be worked out to 50 yards.

3D practice, time per arrow, is slower that 18-meters. Generally, you walk further which slows things down. Plus, it takes a little longer to judge yardage. I don’t find one disciple, 18-meter, 3D or 50-meter, more fun than the other. They are all about the same to me. The major difference is it rarely rains indoors.

This poor ole bear is beginning to wear out in the center.

What is a “Professional Archer?”

What is a ”Professional Archer?” That was the question that recently circulated among people that subscribe to ArcheryTalk. I read a few of the responses. The question wasn’t novel. Every so often someone tosses that question out. Each time similar reactions occur. That is, a bunch of folks response with a bunch of opinions.

Being more long winded and having my own website I decide to put in my opinion here. It has no more value or greater clarity and the other opinions offered at ArcheryTalk. It may be less important to you than your own opinion.

First, to compete in a pro division, for the most part, all that is required is to pay a more expensive entry fee. That’s right, the Pro divisions cost more than the non-pro divisions should you want to shoot against the best. You know if you’re ready to make that investment. You know because you know your scores.

Say, you want to shoot in the Pro class at a 3-spot indoor event. You generally score a 600 with 55 to 59 Xs. By all means you are ready, pay up and shoot your best. Does this make you a pro? Nope.

I haven’t checked, but I heard that the NFAA now requires an archer to shoot a 300/48X minimum to enter the pro class during one of their 5-spot indoor events. Even if you can just do that, keep your money. A 300/48X in the senior men’s pro division will not land you in the top 10 by a long shot. Should you wait until you always score 300/60X?  No, but wait until you are nearly there and mostly there. What I mean, by that is a 300/60X is not a rare score for you.

3D seems to have a lot of archers that compete in Pro divisions. Most are adding their entry fee to the pot to support the winners. Will you improve your shooting by competing in the pro divisions? No, you’ll improve your shooting by practicing. Really, you should know before you show up at an event pretty much how you’ll place. If you are a Professional you will know.

Certainty, things can happen that might cause your score on any given day to fluctuate a percentage point to two. Professionals know that range as well as their average score and X count. This knowledge does not make one a professional.

Professionals often know a lot more about their shooting, training, and tournament performance than amateurs. However, some amateurs know just as much about their abilities. Still, this knowledge does not make one a professional.

It is my opinion, despite all the professionalism displayed in the Pro divisions, is that unless you are earning a living wage as a Professional Archer, the sport is a past time. There are professional archers. They make a living wage competing. Their competition earnings along with sponsors that pay them and endorsements do provide the athlete with a good annual income.

I pointed out that Professionals are “paid” by a sponsor. Having a “Pro-Staff” shirt that you paid to wear and shooting a company’s equipment you bought with a 25% “Pro-Staff” discount does not make you a professional. It makes you a marketing asset. Nothing wrong with that as it is, in this sport, a first step on a pathway to earning a living wage for many archers.

On that pathway there is a lot of practice and training. If you can shoot about 30 arrows a day four to five days a week enjoy your dream but keep that day job.

If you are not earning a living wage as an archer but earning a good bit of money on the side shooting that’s great. Is archery you’re full time job that provides a living wage? No, well you are still not a professional archer.

There are very few professional archers in this sport. There are very few professional basketball players. There are very few professional athletes. You see that point – right? It is rare to be a professional athlete.

There are a whole lot of really great archers. Many are just as good or are very close to performing as well as the top elite professional archers. But most know there are better ways to earn more money. Those professional level archers enjoy the sport, get the ego stroking cash prize from time to time and support their families with their day job.

Most of all, whether you are a professional, consider yourself a professional or are a weekend warrior, remember why it is that you have chosen archery as your primary sport.

Shooting 3D for the first time in a while.

Eighteen meters has been my focus for the past eight months. My goal was to score two day total of 1160 at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals.  Then to score a 600 with 110 Xs at the NFAA National Indoor Championship in Cincinnati.  By early December of 2017 I was feeling fairly confident that I’d come close or exceed those marks.

In the meantime, we’d built a new house. The foul fall and winter weather delayed the house’s completion.  This ended up generating a 580-mile move right on top of the end game for my eight months of practice.  By February of 2018 I was scoring lower than February of 2017.  It wasn’t just the move; it was a move, being unable to move right into the new property, then a solid month after the move in to complete construction.

This bear has one of the two ‘wide’ lanes and can be targeted out to 60 yards
She’s in a congested area and can be out up to 40 yards
The pine trees that line this shooting lane narrow as the distance increases. It’s a pretty cool shot the further back you get.

You’d think we move into a new ready to go house and we would have if the builder had been cooperative. He wouldn’t allow refinements to his building to occur until we’d closed on the property. As such, after closing, closets had to be redone, fencing put up, sheds constructed, sod to be installed and land cleared.  Oh, there was plenty of time to have had this done before closing but it wasn’t allowed.  This meant little to no archery practice in the month before the main indoor events for 2018.  I scored fewer point than usual and seemed to find a solid position in second place everywhere other than the NFAA Sectional where I earned a tight 4th and the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati.

This is an interesting shot.

I couldn’t decide if the trip from Georgia to Ohio was worth the investment considering the way I’d been shooting. By the time I made the decision to go for the experience I realized I’d let time get away from me and it was too late to make the drive.

On a brighter note I did get my 3D range up on the 3.25 acre plot behind our house selected for the targets. It isn’t a huge plot of land but it is idea for 20 targets.  I only have 12, but 8 more will fit nicely when I get them.

I am pleased, so far, with how the foam animals are arranged. The are no “give me” shots and all targets can be shot to at least a maximum of 40 yards with other out to sixty.  Sixty yards is more than I need other than for field archery.

Another wide lane for long shots without worrying about overhanging limbs

Last week was the first time in a long time I’ve shot 3D. For that practice I use a hunting rig with pins rather than long stabilizers and a scope.

I admit I was a bit off on a few shots, but no target was missed and there was only one 5. For the first full 3D practice, 3 hours and 63 shots, I averaged 9.3 points per shot.  The mean distance was 33 yards with a minimum of 18 (a rabbit) and a max of 45 (deer, mountain lion, and bear).  Needless to say 9.3 points per shot isn’t good.   This year seems to be all about getting back into the swing of things.  Maybe, that swing will come back in a hurry.

New 3D Range Nearly Complete

After nearly 5 weeks of waiting by the fence my foam menagerie of 3D critters have a new home. Several already have lanes cleared well enough to shoot. Most are in place and need some small trees and limbs cut down to get a shot.

These 3D targets are no longer hanging out next to the fence

This new 3D range is nice. It is significantly tighter than the old one in North Carolina. There are two that have fairly wide lanes for shots over 50 yards. Nearly all have been arranged so that each target can be practiced on out to 50 yards.

It is too late in the day for photographs but I’ll share some soon.

The GBAA and NFAA Section in Statesboro

In Georgia, I have lived in these cities and towns: Savannah, Isle of Hope, Tybee Island, Thunderbolt, Statesboro, Augusta, Lincolnton, Columbus, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Kennesaw, and now Good Hope.   This past weekend, I drove from Good Hope to Statesboro to shoot in the GBAA State Championship and NFAA Indoor Sectional. Driving though the State, passing so many familiar places was nostalgic.

Much has changed during the past eighteen years when we’d not lived in Georgia. Augusta and Statesboro have grown. So has every other town I passed though during the trip.

We lived in Statesboro in the early 1980’s. I’d not been back to Statesboro in decades. It has really changed. Georgia Southern University seems to have moved up the polished University ladder. The GSU campus was impressive. The archery tournament took place on the GSU campus at their Sports Education Shooting Center.

Georgia State University, Shooting Sports Education Center

Over the past 51 months of shooting a bow I’ve seen some nice and not so nice ranges. The GSU Shooting Center is a whole level above the other ranges. There was ample  storage room, space and chairs for archers to sit down when not shooting, spectators had bleachers, and there easy access to clean rest rooms. All shooting lines were either full or close and it did not feel cramped. Before the tournament some folks had warned me the lighting wasn’t great, it seemed just fine to me.

Another bit of information I’ve been noticing since returning to Georgia, overall everybody seems to shoot “real good.”  From Cub level to Pro 300 for one day and 600 two-day total score was common. Inside-out X count was a necessary tiebreaker for many classes.

That’s me standing next to the giant.

For me, I lost again by one point. Still, things are improving following the transition for North Carolina to Georgia. Something I am not getting over is how nice it is to be back home.