More 3D Practice and Analysis

Learning how to shoot 3D using a scope and adjusting for the yardage is more difficult than I’d anticipated. Last year I shot with pins. Over the 2015 season my average score per arrow was 9.61 in 3D. During the first half of 2016 my scores were lower, 8.3 points per arrow.

During the winter I stopped using pins to practice 3D. I was shooting a lot of 3-spots preparing for Lancaster and the USA Indoor National Championships. It was a slight pain to switch my equipment from pins to a scope each time I switched target styles So, I kept the scope and long stabilizers on the bow.

Using pins, I’d learned to estimate yardages for 3D. If I felt the 30-yard pin was the one to use, I used it. Then I’d aim a little high or low between pins to hit at 27 yards or 32 yards. There was a sort of feel for the yardage.

There is point with my scope where at 30 yards, I hit 30 yards. The same for 20, 40, 50, 60 etc. It’s calibrated down to the yard. The problem is with 3D I need to set the yards. If I am off, well I’m off. And I am off, but not by much, most of the time. I am getting a slight feel for moving my aim a little up or down to compensate for a yard or two after I have set my scope. But, lately, there has been that one shot where I am way off.

The way off shot last week was misjudged by 10 yards. Major brain fart. So, this morning I went out on the 3D practice range for practice and post-practice analysis.

I shot 20 targets. I took a range finder to measure the yardage after I shot. My estimate of yardage for all targets was 34.45. The range finder indicated the average yardage was 34.25. OK, close.

There were 11 shots greater than 35 yards with an average distance of 41.1 yards and 8 shots less than 35 at an average distance of 26.3 yards. The targets were at 24 yards to 46 yards. I shot a 167 and missed, undershot, one target at 40 yards (my estimate, 42 yards per the range finder.) I scored, per arrow 8.35, my average for all of 2016. There had to have been a major brain fart somewhere on the missed shot. There were also two 5s, one on a badger at 37 yards, the other on a mosquito at 24 yards.

This afternoon, I’ll give practice some more.

Athletic Compression Socks for Archery

th-1An archer on the range asked, “What kind of socks are those?” I explain, “They are compression socks for athletes.” That answer usually induces glazed over eyes.

Compression socks for athletes aren’t those white garments that your grandparents wore with the idea that the socks might help their circulation. Sure, athlete can get the white color, along with black, blue, red, green, yellow – you name it.

Yes, sports compression socks are often longer and reach to just below the knee. Other styles are mid-calf length still others come to just above the ankle. I’ve used them in endurance sports primarily for recovery. The socks made me feel better so I wore them.

I became interested when I noticed many of the top professional triathletes wearing compression socks during races. What I thought when I saw the socks, “That looks dumb.”

Runner-in-Compression-Socks

th

What’s more, I didn’t buy my first pair of the tightly fitting socks for sports. I bought them to see if they would stay up when I wear boots. Boots eat socks. What I discovered is they felt good and they stayed up.

Today there are lots of compression garments available to athletes. I limit my use to socks. Lately, I’ve added them to archery. Why?

It started with sore legs. I run nearly every day. Along with running I ride a bike nearly everyday. Most days I do both. Not as hard or fast as I once trained, but both activities are hard enough and fast enough. Or as the case may be slow enough and easy enough. Nevertheless, my legs, when adding weight lifting and swimming to the mix, left sore while I was training for archery.

Archery adds another, on the average, 3 miles of walking and standing around shooting on my legs. A standard 20 shot 3D practice on my range is a walk of 1.69 miles. I’ll typically practice twice a day. The athletic compression socks made my legs feel better.

The other reason I began wearing them during 3D practice was bugs. Bug spray seems to alert insects that the feast has arrived. It is too hot for long pants so the higher socks help a little. The heartier bugs still bite through the socks, maybe a few are discouraged.

The experience of wearing the compression socks was a good one. So, I wear them daily.

The socks do seem to promote some recovery.1 And I am not alone in subjectively thinking they feel better.2 Can they help me shoot better – probably not although in some exercises they can improve performance.3

What I can say is that athletic compression socks feel great. Archery tournaments require a lot of standing still, standing around waiting, standing while officials to talk, standing while arrows are pulled and scores debated, standing for the sake of standing (the hotter the longer) and walking at a slow pace. The compression socks doubtless feel better than regular socks. Can felling a little better improve shooting?

In study where subjects were made mentally less anxious they performed better. If, my guess, I feel more comfortable that is one degree of anxiety that is removed and as such perhaps less clutter in my head that could negatively influence performance. 4

Athletic compression gear manufacturers are making a pitch at archers.  There was an add in a magazine for bow hunters that promoted compression under shirts and under pants. All I felt I needed were socks and wanted to see if I could find a sponsor to help with the price. Turns out I got a compression sock sponsor – Swiftwick.

swiftwick-weblogo

Swiftwick is a relatively new company, founded in 2008 and are located in Brentwood, Tennessee. You can find them on the Internet and in stores. Give them a try.

Reference:

1.) Goto K1, Morishima T. 1Compression garment promotes muscular strength recovery after resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Dec;46(12):2265-70. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000359.

2.) Ali A1, Creasy RH, Edge JA. 2Physiological effects of wearing graduated compression stockings during running. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Aug;109(6):1017-25. doi: 10.1007/s00421-010-1447-1. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

3.) Mizuno S1, Morii I1, Tsuchiya Y1, Goto K2. Wearing Compression Garment after Endurance Exercise Promotes Recovery of Exercise Performance. Int J Sports Med. 2016 Jul 25. [Epub ahead of print]

4.) Stern C1, Cole S, Gollwitzer PM, Oettingen G, Balcetis E. Effects of implementation intentions on anxiety, perceived proximity, and motor performance. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2013 May;39(5):623-35. doi: 10.1177/0146167213479612. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

The Game Teaches the Game

 

1425928397846

John Kessel, of USA Volley Ball, said, “ The game teaches the game.” That is a bit of coaching advice that’s I’ve taken to heart. It seems too true in 3D.

images

2016 has been a year of changes for me. A new bow, shooting with a long stabilizer, using a scope versus pins, and adding a side stabilizer. These equipment changes, aside rom the bow, weren’t totally new, I’d used that set up for indoor tournaments. Shooting with this rig for 3D is altogether another story.

target-cards

Honestly, I didn’t think it would be so difficult to judge yardage and set a scope/sight to the corresponding mental measurement. I was wrong. With pins, there seems to me a bit of flex. I could float a pin or float between pins to get the yardage. I haven’t yet got the knack of a single pin and dialing the yardage on a sight.

New skills in sports are often taught through repetition. 3D isn’t like shooting a set distance into a dot. A lot of variables come into hitting the X on a foam animal. These variables include: terrain, target size, distance, placement of the X on the target, light, target color, etc. These all must be considered when training for 3D. Another element of training is how to practice.

Going out a shooting a 2D target at 20 – 50 yards will improve your skill. But, adding sessions that simulate a 3D event can be a great method of training to augment your practice.

The tactic for 3D training should include making some sessions resemble as much as possible a 3D tournament.

After Practicing for 50 Meters – Getting Back to 3D

I finished 8 down in practice. It was a day of longer shots. I selected a range of numbers to generate 20 values from 30 to 50 yards. The average distance was 37.8 yards – nearly 9 yards further per target than my previous practice at 3D. On that occasion the yardage range was from 20 to 40 yards.  For the longer 20 targets I averaged 9.6 points per shot for a total of 192.

IMG_5338
50 yards – yes there is a deer down range

It’s hard to figure out where the target distances might be set during a 3D shoot. The best we can do is to shoot all sorts of distances. Aside from the abilities to judge distance and shoot well, in 3D, with all the uneven footing, an archer must be able to adjust his/her form to accommodate the ground in order to shoot uphill and downhill.

IMG_5335
50 yards – it doesn’t take being off much to lose an arrow

Here, in New Hope, North Carolina (on the cusps of Hertford) the ground is pretty much level. On my practice range, I have no variances in elevation. The best I can do for elevation is shoot off porches and decks. Those allow for changes in elevation, but the footing remains level.

Some people have suggested standing on blocks or making ramps, similar to skateboard ramps, to stand on while practicing. The theory is that those  ramps and blocks will provide unstable, not level footing. Those techniques remain untested.

IMG_5336
I can’t make changes in elevation, but I can find ways to make shots difficult

There is nothing to be down for the uphill shots as far as local practice goes here on the coast on North Carolina. What I do most is work on things I have at my disposal – yardages and complicated shots.

IMG_5334
Yep, this bear was one of those difficult shot series

Over the early summer I practiced primarily for 50 meters. Yes, there were a lot of 3D tournaments on the weekends. However, my focus was 50 meters. That effort may have cost me during 3D competitions. Over the past few weeks I’ve dropped the 50-meter sessions.  I still shoot from 50-meters, now at foam animals. But, by making my practice at 3D deliberate and difficult, my scores are over the past two tournaments are creeping up a bit.

Talent Transfer and the 10,000 Hour Rule (1,2)

It is popular to believe it takes about 10,000 hours to become an elite athlete in most sports. There are exceptions, that seem to have clear explanations. Those exceptions are few and far between. Furthermore, a close examination of those exceptions reveals some associated phenotype or uniqueness to an endeavor that complimented the sport. Essentially, those exceptions are based on talent transfer.

For example, in the UK, female athletes were selected to train for rowing based on height and weight regardless of having ever rowed. Rowers are ideally shaped if the are tall and light. Their height gives them leverage on the oars. Being light is a speed benefit while in the boat. In rowing, physical size plays a major roll.

The UK placed ads in the press seeking female athletes of a certain height. Those meeting the requirements were physiologically tested for sports performance. From there a group passing the grade were trained as rowers. It worked and the UK earned a gold medal during the Olympics by a pair of rowers with relatively few years (4*) of training and experience. (*Helen Glover, 2012 Gold Medalist – Olympics)1

800px-Helen_Glover_with_2012_Olypic_Gold_medal
Helen Glover with her Gold Medal (photo from Wikipedia)

Helen Glover, the Gold Medalist, had no experience rowing just 48 months prior to winning Gold. She was, however, already an accomplished athlete at the country level playing field hockey on a second-tier English national team.2 UK Sports, following a search based on specific phenotype criteria and testing, transferred Glover’s physical talent to rowing.

Years of practice aren’t the same as quality of practice. Each of your practice sessions needs a design and a goal. Every competition should have plan for the engagement. After shooting, practice and competition, it’s good to log notes that include range, type of competition, score, what went well and what did not go as planned. This will aid you in creating  training sessions.

images-5
Participating in a charity event for the Special Olympics wearing my Team USA gear (made the team for the long course duathlon World Championship in 2007 – seems like yesterday)

I reviewed data one of the top archers in the world. He first picked up a bow at 12 then put it down until he was 18. Nineteen years later, and by my estimate 12,950 hours of practice he quit his day job to shoot full time. Note: he was approximately 2,950 hours beyond the 10,000-hour mark some suggest is needed to reach an elite level.

Most working people easily fit in 400 hours of training a year. Some do more, other less. Top amateurs practice, by my estimation, 750 hours per year. The bulk of that training is on the weekend. The fellows I shoot with, as gathered through causal conversation, have an average of 25 years shooting experience and are at the 10,000-hour mark regarding practice time. (Based on 400 hours of training per year.) They’re a tough bunch to shoot against.

Of the folks I shoot with and compete against, none is at a professional level that allows them to earn a living exclusively from archery.  Yes, they all seem to have passed the 10,000 mark to have reached an elite level.  Many of them are elite archers.  Several have been world champions a few of them more than once.

575610_166997716808598_1127222037_n
For certain I’ve got well over 10,000 hours of training on a bike.

10,000 hours (or sometimes equated to 10 years of training) is a long time.  Many archers, in fact, have 10,000 or more of practice.  Obviously, not all them or even most of them are elite archers.  To muddy this a bit more, there are archers competing in all types of archery event at the elite level with far fewer hours of practice than 10,000.

IMG_2129
How much training can I transfer to archery or is it good enough to simply look this cool (Yes, I know this isn’t cool. Once a geek, always a geek)

The difference may be the talent transfer.  An athlete that was good or pretty good in one sport can occasionally excel in another. Glover is just one example. There’s another matter, that of deliberate or highly focused training.

An archer that goes to the range, shoots 20 to 30 arrows without a plan isn’t accomplishing much. If that effort takes an hour, the practice is done four times during the weekdays and that training augmented by another four hours on the weekend, it comes to 10,000 hours (allowing for holidays) after 25-years of practice.  You might imagine, that archer, while pretty good, and regardless of having achieved the 10,000 hour mark, is in most likelihood not an elite archer.

Then, in archery there is Crystal Gauvin who, after one year of archery experience, dropped everything to turn professional.  Something I consider important is that she had been a serious athlete prior to finding her place in archery – talent transfer and way less than 10,000 of archer practice.

It doesn’t take 10,000 of practice for everyone to reach an elite level.  It does take practice.  Archers with 10,000 or more hours of practice may never reach the elite level. The practice isn’t enough without specific practice goals.  Individuals that do succeed in archery by what appears to be a fast-track, are often those that switched or transferred athletic talent into archery.

Reference:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Glover_(rower)
  • McClusky: Faster, Higher Stronger: The New Science of Creating Superathletes, and How You Can Train Like Them. Chapter 5, The Fast Track to Greatness, Talent Transfer and the 10,000 Hours Rule, pp 78-81 PLUME NY, NY 2015

It Takes Practice

A level four-archery coach said to me, “Archery is all mental.” Granted, in archery as other sports the brain controls athletic performance to a large degree. Chess is all mental except for the sitting and moving of pieces. Chess can be exhausting, nearly as tiring as the physical exertion of some similarly timed sports events. I was on a chess team in college. Some practices and matches left me drained. Chess isn’t a physical activity – archery is a physical activity. Both require mental efforts, both can be exhausting.

Unknown

While archery isn’t all that physically demanding compared to other sports, like: running, swimming, and cycling –  archery is a sport where practice and fitness are paramount. In chess physical fitness isn’t much of a factor. Chess and archery take thousands of hours of practice to reach an elite level. Even so, not all make it to the elite level.

Archery is to a large degree mental. So is doing a full distance Ironman, a marathon, or any other sport. But, don’t fool yourself; a mental attitude alone isn’t going to have you running 6-minute miles for 26.2 miles after cycling 112 miles and swimming 2.4 miles. You have to train to get there.  Neither will mental focus have you shooting perfect scores if you are practicing two to three hours a week.

IMG_4556

Becoming great in any sport takes time. It takes a lot of practice. With practice comes skill and confidence. There’s a point when some reach a level where mental focus takes control – not before form and skill are developed.

IMG_4805

While I appreciated the coach’s unsolicited remark and I think I got the gest of it, I didn’t agree 100% with him. Sure, the mind controls, but the body responds. If the body’s form is off and skill has not been developed and there’s a goal of a perfect score – well that’s just mental fantasy.

Down East Archery Coalition Gets Their Shoot in Elizabeth City

Finally, the 3D range for member club, Soul Hunters, of the Down East Archery Coalitions gets their tournament. It’s not their first and they’ve held others. But, the last two had to be cancel due to the weather – the rain.

coalition_logo_last2

The postponing rain wasn’t light and had been bad enough to pretty much ensure somebody was going to get his or her truck or car stuck in the range’s parking area. Hey, what can you do – cancel, it’s the safest course.

The Soul Hunters, located in Elizabeth City, are the newest members of the Coalition, which includes clubs from: Kinston, Greenville, Ernul, Jacksonville, Plymouth, and Washington (all in North Carolina).

428832_260114227395686_1410974459_n

I felt bad for the Soul Hunters after their cancelations. I was pleased that I’d gotten back to Hertford, following my 22-day camping/archery road trip, to come out and support the local group.

On top of everything else, the club’s 3D range had recently moved to this new location with the potentially boggy parking lot. So, a bonus was getting to shoot at the new 3D course.

Their new range is tough. It’s also well manicured and it’s easy to walk around between targets. The course is thickly forested and dark making black animals an even harder target to properly hit. To complicate the shooting, at least from my stakes, the Soul Hunters proudly used all their real estate.

IMG_5314
It appears long, but was really only around 40 yards.

Long shots through narrow dark lanes can be a challenge.

IMG_5312
There’s a badger at the end of this lane.
IMG_5313
One tough critter to see in the dark

It was good to see so many of the archers that had to make a longer drive to get to Elizabeth City competing. Some competitors drove nearly two hours away to shoot in EC. Others may have driven further, but I can’t say.

It’s a quick drive for me and I was on the range right at 10:00 AM. I was teamed up with Steve, from Winfall, North Carolina, and a friend of his, Bart, who was visiting from West Virginia.

Bart, a mountain man, was impressed with the flatness of the coast. The terrain change, from his hilly ranges, played a trick or two on him and he did end up over shooting one target. He wasn’t alone – a number of folks mentioned to me they’d over shot targets.

IMG_5311
Another difficult shot at only 36 yards

To be fair, flat courses are not necessarily easy especially when actually seeing the target is a challenge. Covered by thick foliage sitting along narrow lanes make some targets those shot with extra hope.

IMG_5310
Yep, hard to see

Despite the current heat wave, 115°F with the heat index for this tournament, there was a large crowd of archers at the event. Along the course where numerous water stations and people weren’t passing them without taking free hydration. The water was a nice supplement to the bottle of Tri-Fuel I carried. Overall, a very successful day on a wonderful new range.

Random Numbers 3D

Judging yardage expertly is a weak point for me. Shooting at a dot on a piece of paper over a known distance, like a lot of folks, is easier than shooting at various sized animals over unknown distances. So, I am working on judging yardage.

images
Judging yardage is easy – here’s the math

This isn’t a new exercise for me. I have several yardage training plans. The one on queue for today was a random numbers exercise.

What I do is apply a random numbers generator to provide 20 values. These were selected within a boundary of 20 to 45 yards, inclusive. From that 20 values were generated and those become the distances. The value is then applied sequentially beginning at 3D target number one.

On the range there are 10 foam animals: a bear, coyote, badger, turkey, two deer, bobcat, pig, mosquito, and a mountain lion. The pig can be shot from three distinct angles, each one offering a new view. The turkey can be shot from the front or the side. The side shot on the turkey is the more difficult thanks to obstacles and trees. The mountain lion has two views both challenging and can be shot out to 48 yards. The two deer are positioned so that ambient light varies and they can be hot out to 65 yards, one out to 100 yards if I desired to chance a lost arrow.

IMG_3918
This lane allows for a very long shot

For this exercise I approached each target in sequence and stopped when I reached the randomly generated distance. No range finder was employed to verify. From that position I aimed and took the shot.

The distances averaged 30.3 yards with a minimum distance of 20 yards and a maximum of 43. Today’s exercise resulted in a slightly higher score than yesterday morning’s test. This may be attributed to a slightly, 3 yards, closer average distance to the target.

Judging yardage is a weakness for me. To improve I look a practice design than makes me focus on yardage. This was a pretty good exercise. I’ll repeat this method this afternoon and narrow the values generated to 30 through 50.

Deliberate Practice – Yardage Repeats

Most of my practice sessions have a goal, a specific aim for the time spent on a range. Granted, sometimes I simply go out and shoot for fun. Since I shoot a lot I give myself periods of recreational archery.

Because I started archery late in life, less than 3 years ago, and I take it more seriously than a fun hobby, I need to do things that will rapidly improve my performance. As I’ve mentioned in the past there are only two sports where someone over 50 years old can become an elite: shooting and archery.

Some data suggests the process of becoming an elite athlete in any sport can take a decade. Other data indicates that’s not necessary true citing examples of athletes earning Gold Medals at the Olympics after only a few years of training at a specific new sport. Currently, I’m reading a book about a fellow, Rich Roll, an unfit 40 year old that became a World Champion at an Ultra distance triathlon at age 42. That does seem rare and extreme.  In sports, I think there is a practical and achievable middle ground to achieve excellent – that is it is not 10 years and not 2 years for the most part. My best guess is that it takes 4 – 6 years for a novice archer (never have shot a bow) to reach a level of elite status (depending on the archer’s age and physical fitness) if sound training and some science is applied to performance development.

Going out and shooting at targets can make a novice shooter better. It is unlikely that technique is going to turn a novice into a bono fide professional level archer. In order to reach the highest level of archery, aside from good coaching and lots of practice, having a training regime is critical.

At times, as part of a customized training schedule, deliberate practice can be a bit boring. Today’s morning practice fit the criteria for being a tad on the dull side of shooting.

IMG_5308
Four arrows shot from 45 yards. Yes, the group is tight, but it’s easier to group them when I’ve been working at 5-yard increments.

Here’s how it went (specific for 3D in this case): First, 30-arrow warm-up on paper from 20 to 40 yards. Next, shoot small 3D targets (badger, bobcat and a turkey). Start at 20 yards and shoot 4 arrows, repeat at 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 yards. Finally repeat that sequence on larger 3D targets (a bear and a deer). In total that’s 170 shots.

What this does, for me, is to provide a feel for the distances I come across in 3D tournaments. This afternoon, I shot only about 40 arrows, 30 at paper to check my sight followed by 10 more shots, one arrow per 3D animal target.  I’ll finish with 3D and having a light workout in the afternoon.  This will allow time for recovery prior to tomorrow’s competition.  It also leaves me with the last targets I’ve seen being 3D.

The key objective for this practice day was working on yardage. I finished the day with over 200 arrows shot.  I don’t always set an arrow count as a goal.  Some of my practice days there is a specific quantity of arrows I’ll shoot. Other days, the practice is based on time.  But, today the focus was on yardage.

2nd Quarter 2016 Results

A version of this was sent to my sponsors:

This quarter has been a frustration – no wins. I competed in 8 events. Six in archery and two were bicycle races.

Yes, doing a bicycle race was a bit risky. A crash could wreck an archery season. Both bike races were time trials so odds of a crash were low. The cycling races yielded two-second place finishes.

Unknown-1
This can mess up archery

Archery produced 3-second place finishes, including 2nd place at the Maryland IBO State Championship. There were also 2 third place finishes and one where I ended up out of the top 10.  (we all have those weekends.)

The Maryland State Championship was also the IBO World Championship Qualifier. My 2nd place qualified me to compete at the IBO World Championship.

Two archery events I’d planned were canceled because of storms. The NFAA Sectionals messed me up for the Xterra Triathlon. I was competing in the sectional that ran long infringing on the triathlon – both were on the same day. The archery in the morning followed by the triathlon in the afternoon. An afternoon triathlon – an Xterra – would have been very cool. As it turned out I had to be satisfied with the 3rd place finish after the 2-day sectional competition in archery.

I’ve been on the road a lot having traveled 2490 miles this quarter to compete. I am looking forward to some time back home before heading out to the IBO World’s.

The website, Puttingitontheline.com, where I post remains strong. During Q2 it had 32,860 visitors in Q2 who read 84,567 pages. It also has a new logo.

IMG_5145

To reduce costs (based on a three year ROI) we bought a Winnebago. For example, the past 25 nights on the road cost $592.00 using the Winnebago (lodging only) whereas hotel and kennel fees would have been $4,520.00.

That’s pretty much it for Q2.