The Competition Has Gotten Tight

Georgia is a hub for great archers.  There’s an elite archer everywhere you turn in the Peach State. The result is intense local competition. In my neighborhood alone there are four archers (out of 15 homes) that I know of. Everyone here has 3 to 10 acres and it is easy to spot the archers – their targets being visible from the road. I’ve practiced with two of them.  The one that I’ve yet to shoot with is the most recent to the neighborhood and we’ve not yet met. (I’ve included myself in the count.)

The greater the competition the better for everyone competing.  In some areas there are only a few archers and winning is less of a challenge.  Not here.

In the division, where I compete, there are always four or five archers that can win on any given day.  Championships have been won by a point, by the X count, and even by the inner X count. (Me be the loser in that match up)

Many of the local Masters level archers don’t travel to the big tournaments. The younger archers do travel.  Among them are World Ranked, Nationally Ranked, USA Team members, and potential Olympians.  Among then a cadet recently set a new World Record for 50 meters (355).  Georgia is a rich environment for the sport.

The State has at least on level 5 USA Archery Coach, at least 4 level 4 coaches and a number of level 3 coaches.  The abundance of good coaching is another benefit to the Peach State athletes.

The level of athlete here and the quality of coaching makes for an excellent environment to shoot. It shows at every tournament.

A Hoosier At A Bulldog Event

“I’m originally from Indiana, but have lived here for 25 years” he said then added, “I consider myself a Southerner.”  I simply looked at him for a few seconds and thought, “No, you’re not.” I didn’t say those words; I only thought them.  It might have been considered rude to have actually said them to the fellow. My Mama would disapprove of rude behavior.

If you were born and raised outside of the South your geographical upbringing is obvious to any Southerner.  It was apparent the fellow who’d adapted the South as his home is a transplant.  Many of his mannerisms could have clued a Southerner to his un-Southern heritage before he’d ever spoken a word.

The first give away was his Indianapolis Colts cap. Aside from his blue and white cap every other baseball style cap on the range sported at UGA logo. (If you don’t know what UGA stands for, well Bless your Heart!).  Had he’d chosen another cap other than a UGA cap, if he was a Southerner, that cap might have sported an Atlanta Braves logo or an Atlanta Falcons crest (often worn by diehard hopefuls). Another clue was that his foldable chair sported an Indianapolis 500 logo as opposed to an Atlanta Motor Speedway logo adorned foldable chair.

Certainly he is friendly enough.  He’d talk to anyone within three feet of him.  You needed to be careful because it could be difficult figuring out to whom exactly he is aiming his words.  By the end of the tournament he’d hit everyone on the range with at the minimum a monologue.

Another telltale sign he wasn’t a native was his ‘one-up’ when he compared hurricanes to tornadoes.  Hurricane Dorian had just passed the coast of Georgia.  The storm had led to evacuations along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Hurricane Dorian bringing some wind to Northeast Georgia

The tournament organizers were talking about moving the dates of the shoot so that it is less close to prime time hurricane season.   This year, 2019, is the 3rd year in row when archers were dealing with wind developed on the cusps of a tropical cyclone reaching more inland areas of the State. Among those inland areas sat the range for the tournament.

His ‘one-up’ was, “You know how much time you have as a warning for a tornado?” He then answered his own question, “Three minutes.”  He’s from Indiana – he should know!

His dead give away he isn’t truly an adopted son of the South was when he called a ‘Coke’ a ‘pop.’ If you’re from Georgia and hear someone call a Coke a pop, you just can’t erase the hearing.  It sticks with you for a while leaving a mild irritation. ‘Pop’ is the wrong sound for a true Georgia native – Coke being that native.

During a two-day archery tournament you meet all sorts.  I like the talkative Hoosier.  He was the big winner when it came to passing the time between ends.  And there’s common ground where we do understand one another’s positions on a matter.  That of being stuck behind a farm tractor while driving.

Time for a Break

I’d planned a short break between the final outdoor tournament in indoor training.  The day after the last outdoor event I set my practice range up for 18-meters.  Once it was arranged, resistance was futile.

All week I’ve shot and shot. I’ve shot morning and afternoon.  Through record breaking temperatures I sweated and shot.  In addition, I stretched every morning, ran everyday, went cycling (during the hottest part of the day), mowed, cut, and trimmed property, planted 8 trees, and completed daily chores.

On Saturday (a week after the two-day outdoor tournament began), after stretching and running, I headed out to the range. Twenty-seven arrows later I was heading off the range. There was no doubt it is break time.

Give Me A Break Facebook Hero

She is very proud.  So, proud she’s posted on Facebook, “Why are the doctors and nurses so surprised when I tell them my resting heart rate is 38?”  Here’s why, they don’t believe you and neither do I.

Certainly, the writer of the post is fit.  Being fit is good.  She’s fit at an age when most of her friends are waiting to be called Grandmother. Not that she’s singular in her Masters level fitness.  There are a lot of Grandmothers that can smoke me in a marathon.  I know, it has happened. However, this athlete, to be polite as possible, is over 50 years old and she’s full of crap.

A disclaimer here: some people have a resting heart rate that is between 30 and 40 beats per minute.  I just don’t believe the person I’m writing about is in that group. There’s a simple reason, she’s been exercising for years – seems counterintuitive. You’d expect an athlete with decades of training to have a low resting heart rate. She probably does compared to non-athletes, just it isn’t 38 bpm (beats per minute).

“While the normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, conditioned athletes and other highly fit individuals might have normal resting heart rates of 40 to 60 beats per minute.”(1)

Why is it that every time I see a post by some athlete bragging about their low heart rate it is 38?  That’s because their heart rate isn’t 38.

It is like when I read in medical records containing a patient’s respiratory rate. It was almost always 16 breaths per minute as recorded by some caregiver.  No one’s respiratory rate is always 16.  That is especially true when the patient is in the back of an ambulance, in the emergency room, or asleep at night –for examples. Another common respiratory rate is written as 12.  In those cases, the patient was alive, so they were breathing (the two go together), and the person recording the number simple wrote done what seemed likely. I promise, they didn’t take the time to count respiratory rate.

Let’s look at 38 for a heart rate. Take your heart rate right now – I’ll wait.  What did you do?  Did you count your pulse for 15 seconds and multiple by 4? If you did you couldn’t get 38.  You could have counted your pulse for 30 seconds or a minute and gotten 38, but your heart rate wasn’t 38 unless you are one of those younger elite athletes or on a drug to lower your heart rate or have an bradycardia and living with a pacemaker.

If you’re an athlete, an older one, say over 50, and you have a heart rate that runs around 38 you might end up with a pacemaker. (2) “New research suggests that athletes with low resting heart rates may experience irregular heart patterns later in life.” (2,3) A number of my friends, all elite athletes ended up with heart problems.

These friends with heart conditions later in life included: One Olympian, two National Champions, and one winner of the Comrades Race in South Africa. (4) The Comrades athlete also held a World Record in endurance cycling. All are very close friends or were, one recently died from his heart problem.

The Facebook braggadocio seemed extreme. The author is a woman in her 50s. “Gender is another factor in resting heart rate norms because women at various fitness levels tend to have higher pulse rates on average than men of comparable fitness levels. For example, the average resting heart rate of an elite 30-year-old female athlete ranges from 54 to 59 beats per minute, while the resting heart rate for men of the same age and fitness level ranges from 49 to 54..”(1)

In a peer-review article, investigators looked at athletes near 50 (all men with a mean age of 48) and found, “Resting HR was significantly lower in athletes than in controls (62·8 ± 6·7 versus 74·0 ± 10·4 beats per minute (bpm), respectively; P<0·001).” That is a resting heart rate of 62.8 in male athletes – women run slightly faster when it comes to heart rate. (5)

Furthermore, the author with the low heart rate claims to be a life-long athlete.  That actually creates the opposite of what she’s claimed. “Long-term sport practice at a world class level causes an increase in resting heart rate, diastolic and mean blood pressure, and decrease of the parasympathetic dominance and this may result from decreasing adjustment to large training load.” (6)

Being fit is great.  Making statements about fitness that are scientifically invalid are wrong. The 38 beats per minute athlete runs one of those self-employed fitness programs where she’s the head (and only) coach. Her claim, the 38 thing, was a marketing piece to share with her followers suggesting how well her program works for her and hoping perspective clients will suppose they’ll get similar results.  Her claim is false.

I contacted a friend who is an ex-college cross country runner. She’s maintained an elite level of fitness now that she’s out of college.  I asked her,”Sarah, what is your resting heart rate?” She replied, “In the 50s.”

Reference:

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.”

That’s about the size of it.  Dr. Suess couldn’t have said it any better had he been a spectator at an archery tournament.

Archers are not the most fit of athletes.  Oh sure, archers can stand real still.  That alone is a skill.  But, as a long tournament wears on that standing still part becomes less still. Being fit can help you sustain the still focus you need for archery.

USA Archery sent out the first edition of the Athletes Development Model.  In it the authors break down age groups.  When the model reaches the 15 – 17 year old age group the instructions includes: Training will include mental, strength, cardiovascular and coordination training.  They further suggest strength training along with nutrition training.

That remains a theme for athletes until the age of 60 where they drop the strength, cardiovascular and change it to – May include light strength and coordination training.

Here me now and believe me later, if you are over 50 and are not doing any resistance training like lifting weights you are going to lose muscle mass.  If you’re over 60 and have neglected cardiovascular training you’ll be in for a surprise should you start.

You don’t need to be a lean cardio machine to be good at archery. However, being fit at a young age and hanging onto that fitness can pay dividends as you age. 
Even if you’ve never held onto any general fitness working to improve your health through fitness training is a good thing.

Time to Start Indoor Practice

The last of the  Georgia outdoor contests is a part of 2019 archery history.  Perhaps, those events where I competed won’t make their presence known on Wikipedia. Locally, there’re a lot of folks looking forward to practicing in a climate-controlled environment.

Shooting indoors is a nice break from shooting outside if you can afford the range fees and have time to travel back and forth. Many of us are content to practice 18 meters in backyard nature-controlled conditions.

It is still hot here in Georgia with the high today expected to reach 98°F (37°C for most of the world).* So, 18-meter practice for me begins hot and moves indoor during December though February.  Along with that move goes $180.00 for the three months ($60.00 per month for anyone without a calculator or cell phone).  It is pay the price or freeze; north Georgia feels cold to me during the winter so I’ll fork out the bucks.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the indoor season. I know by the time we’re done with it I’ll be hankering to shoot outside.

  • Note:  The temperature reached 99 degrees breaking the old record high temperature of 95 degree!

The 2019 Georgia State Outdoor Championship – Hot!

Another hard fought tournament was held in Conyers, Georgia over the weekend of September 7thand 8th. It was sunny, hot, and extremely competitive. There was some simply amazing archery equipment in the hands of almost everyone. If you mess up a shot it will cost you in this crowd, hence some of the best gear money can buy was on the line.

The State Championship, for me meant shooting from 70 meters, 60 meters, 50 meters and 30 meters – 36 arrows at each distance. All distances feel about the same to me.  There wasn’t much difference between my scores at those distances. I shot the same score at 70 meters and 60 meters, two points higher at 50 meters, then 9 points higher when I moved up to 30 meters. Same deal with 10s and 9s over the final count.  Each distance pretty much scored like the prior distance.

Conyers is only 27 miles from our home so the drive is decent. During the afternoon’s return trip there’s always a chance that parts of the drive will be overwhelmed by Atlanta traffic.  That happened in 2018, but not so in 2019.

Food I brought. That sandwich was great. I also carried: 3 bottles of water, 2 Gatorades, and 2 small Cokes.

Conyers is located so the commute to compete brings in a good crowd.  The rumor was that the number of archers was less in 2019 than in 2018. If that is true it wasn’t obvious.

Like 2018 it was hot.  The heat didn’t seem to impact all the shooters.  One archer set an unofficial world record at 50 meters. The winner of the men’s recurve division is currently in second place in the USA Olympic Archery trials. Wherever you look during archery competitions anywhere in Georgia there stands some sort of archery hero. (Real and self proclaimed)

Heading home around 2PM. It cooled down to around 96 after a few more miles

Even among the group where I competed nearly everyone had decades of experience, loads of wins, and all types of gift giving sponsorship. Two of these athletes were comparing notes on how many dozens of free arrows they’re provided from those sponsors. Admittedly, I am envious of free arrows especially at the price point of their free products.

I even overheard exchanges describing bowstrings, free or discounted, bows, free or discounted, and all manner of ancillary equipment from bow shops heavily discounted or free.

I wish I had such deals.  I tried the sponsor battle and all I every earned associated with archery ‘stuff’ were half-assed discounts.  Heck, in most cases it was less expensive to buy the exact same product on Amazon, eBay or waiting for a local shop to run any sort of special. Those local shop specials didn’t follow me from North Carolina to Georgia. But, I have gave up on the “ProStaff” sponsorship when the benefit / detriment ratio seemed unbalanced.

Nope, no deals for me.  In fact, I can’t even get new Elite limbs ( at full price) for a Victory 37X. Elite, per the bow shop,  is backordered on the limbs.  When I mentioned this to one of the swag-enriched archers in my division he acted shocked! “I got these new limbs in 3 weeks,” he said pointing out his high end Mathews product. I need the limbs to make the bow work for me.

The bow, a purchase that seems to be a never ending problem was totally foolish on my part. My mistake entirely.  I let myself get talked into buying a 50 – 60 pound bow that needs to be shot at 48 pounds.  I’ve since learned how risky it is to shoot a bow rigged in this fashion from experts and manufacturers. [ Safety Precaution: Be careful that you do not unscrew the limb bolts passed the bow’s lowest weight setting. If the limb bolts are unscrewed too much, the limb bolt’s threads can come out of the riser and cause damage to the bow and injure the mechanic. (1) In addition it leaves the bowstring too loose and the limbs no longer reproduce the proper flex. (2)] In the meantime I just roll with it have hope it doesn’t break.

It didn’t matter the bow isn’t working as the engineers designed and the product assurance department required (as it is set for me), it flung my inexpensive arrows down range. By inexpensive I mean $144.00 a dozen via Amazon. (3)

Those $12.00 arrows, vanes included, are a whole lot less pricey compared to some the $35.00, no vanes shafts only arrows being shot. (4) In fact, I overheard those $35.00 each arrow shafts are now better and cost $41.00 each.  That is the price of the shaft, no vanes, no nocks, no bushings, and no points. Those parts needed to complete the arrow are probably another $10.00 per arrow.  Some of those men and women have forked out about $51.00 per arrow or $612.00 for a dozen. That is about the price of my bow without the attachments (stabilizer, scope, etc.).

Seeing all the beautifully engineered precision gear on the range over the weekend made me envious. Overhearing how many of the archers got that gear free or paid an extreme discount was amazing. Good for them!

It wasn’t just the younger archers with seemingly incredible money saving arrangements.  The Masters group was filled with shooters riding the sweet sway wagon. I am glad to see manufacturers and bow shops recognizing Masters level athletes by providing gear, discounts and support.

Still, there were lot of guys paying full price (or more) for whatever is available and doing the best they can with it. A Masters recurve archer laughed at what he was shooting compared to the gear of more pampered athletes.  I understood and told him, “The best bow out here is the one in your hand.”

There was even a proud four legged friend

Having excellent equipment wasn’t much help when it came to reducing the heat.  It was plain old Georgia summer hot the entire time. The host, Archery Learning Center, provided free cold bottled water, which was a treat.

The outdoor environmental furnace didn’t send most folks running toward air conditioning as soon as the last arrow flew. The awards ceremony was well attended.  There were loads of proud parents, spouses, and loved ones as the smiling winners received their medals and headed home.

And this ends the outdoor archery season for me. (Winter is coming!)

Reference:

(1)https://shootingtime.com/archery/adjust-draw-weight/

(2) As explained by a world class level bow expert.

(3) https://www.amazon.com/Victory-Archery-Elite-Shafts-Black/dp/B00TP82ZWO/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2ESTU3LF15800&keywords=victory+vap+500&qid=1567976174&s=gateway&sprefix=Victory+VAP+500%2Caps%2C229&sr=8-1

(4)https://www.lancasterarchery.com/nsearch/?q=easton+arrow+shafts

Hope No One Throws Anything At Me

“I’m fixin’ to go for a ride,” I called to my wife, Brenda.  “Take your phone,” was her instruction.  She wasn’t looking at me her attention on some word game played on an iPad.  “I hope no one throws anything at me,” I added.

It has happened.  Once while riding in Maryland someone tossed a full can of Mountain Dew at me and missed.  The can landed in soft bushes and didn’t rupture.  I picked it up, took it home and drank it later.

Another time, during a hot summer ride, a lady’s bathing suit top was flung toward me.  It happened while cycling toward Savannah, Georgia on Highway 80 leading away from Tybee Island, Georgia. The lady who tossed the top was a passenger. There was no doubt it was her top. Aside from those two times spanning 36 years nothing else has flown my way aside from bugs.

“I hope no one throws anything at you either,” said Brenda still not looking.  So, I asked her, “Look at what I’m wearing.”  She looked then seriously warned, “Oh, be careful.”

Where we live is essentially Athens, Georgia.  The SEC is a near religion and the University of Georgia Bulldogs practical deities.

I am a Graduate of the University of Tennessee among other schools.  There I studied art and earned a ‘Professional Certificate’ in Cartooning – really. There is no ‘degree’ in cartooning.  Although, many degrees are jokes. (The last sentence is a gift for proofreaders.)

I drew this for a soap company.

The cartoon program was completed decades ago. I don’t believe the program remains in operation. It wasn’t likely to have been a moneymaker for the University. It was a fun program. There’s more money to be made teaching art and illustration pricing it out over 4 years with loads of electives and fees.  It was a simpler time when cartooning was meant to be fun.

I painted these and eventually threw them away. They hung at our place in North Carolina. There was no room for them when we moved to Georgia. They were practice pieces for a larger painting.

The ride was event free. Go Dawgs!

Give a Dog a Bone

River has a serious problem leaving me alone while I’m trying to practice archery. She’d much rather I played stick, chase, or run with her.  So, self-centered. If she is given a bone, I am entirely forgotten. Until the bone is gone.

Oh, River is gong to run
You can see the yellow signs now posted on either side of this trail

It isn’t like she’s been ignored all day.  After breakfast we run for a few miles.  We avoid busy roads running mostly over trails in the woods we own and along the easement of nearby property.  Until recently we cut through undeveloped land filled with trails. Those paths are now unavailable because a couple of guys think they’ll shoot deer on that land.

This truly sucks – but alternate paths remain available

During archery practice, River needs to stay calm.  She’s not too bad so long as I toss a stick between ends.  If I fail to comply all barking will break loose. Sticks do the trick for a bit.  A bone is better.

During practice I play music using my phone to help simulate the noise at a tournament

Running is part of my archery training.  Being in as good of condition as I can I believe helps during long tournaments.  If you compete you know you’ll be on your feet for hours. There’s a lot of walking involved.

At 50 meters and 30 meters I practice on two targets to save arrows. The orange flags are distances measured using a tape measure rather than a range finder. These are set at 5 yard increments from 20 to 100 yards.

The tournament this weekend is one where my age group will shoot: 70 meters, 60, meters, 50 meters and 30 meters.  At each distance there are 36 arrows shot in 6 arrow ends. This works out to a total of 1.75 miles of walking back and forth.  Here’s how I got that it:

Overall fitness is a bonus for archers

70 meters is @ 77 yards.  Round trip to the target is 154 yards.  There are 6 ends and 2 “Official” warm up ends.  That means 8 round trips of 154 yards or 1232 yards.  At 60 meters, or 66 yards, the total is 792 (6 ends only – no practice, same for the other two distances), 50 meters, 55 yards or 660 yards, and finally 30 meters, 33 yards, for 396 a total of 3080.  The sum of the distances in miles is 1.75.

That isn’t all  –  you’ll end up adding another 800+ yards per day walking to and from the car, to registration, visiting friends and firing off “unofficial” practice arrows.  The total walked is going to be closer to 2.66 miles.  Not far to walk unless you never walk a lot. This can be especially taxing when the temperature is expected to reach the upper 90’s while you’re walking back and forth and trying to hit a target with an arrow in between the hiking. Running can help reduce the impact of being unconditioned in such a situation. So, River and I run.

Putting 6 arrows in the center of an 80 cm target will ruin them. It has to be done in competition, at practice using multiple targets can save vanes, nocks, and arrows that are occasionally Robin Hooded
Give that dog a bone

River is a great running partner.  Afterwards, during archery practice she’s often times less than an idea spectator. Give that dog a bone.

“You have received a green light from the third party background screening vendor”

USA Archery coaches must have a background screening completed every couple of years.  The coaches, of course, must pay for the check.  Mine came due a few weeks ago.  I paid my fee, someone checked me out and from USA Archery sent this email:  “We are pleased to inform you that your background screening has been successfully processed. You have received a green light from the third party background screening vendor, SSCI.”

I suppose the other coaches involved with sports under the USOC guidelines must do the same, but I don’t know.

Coaches also have to take and complete all sorts of courses aimed at keeping athletes safe.  Those too, for me, came due.  I spent an afternoon completing the courses and taking the exams.  It is part of the “Safe Sport” program.  There is no fee associated with those courses.

The background screening and “Safe Sport” programs are necessary to stay active as a coach.  I’m a level 3 NTS coach.  There’s a level 4 being taught in Statesboro, Georgia.  For that I’m on the wait list.  Another Level 4 is open, but it is in California.

When I started this archery experiment it was based in part on talent transfer.  One of the goals was to achieve a specific level of skill comparable to cycling or triathlon.  I have reached that point. There are four other goals: One to win a National Championship, two win a World Championship and three to earn a pre-set amount of money through the sport.

There are three areas where I’d like to achieve a pre-set financial target through archery are: Shooting, coaching, and this website.  If I wasn’t retired from my prior career this would definitely have been put in a holding pattern or more likely have never gotten off the ground. Fortunately, I’m in a position where I can continue the experiment. Along the way I’ll have to move forward with the coaching potential, keep writing, and continue to practice.