Not Enough Apparel for 41°F

It was 41°F for my US friends and 5°C for just about everyone else in the world. Either way it was cold when I started my morning 18-meter archery practice outside. My bow had spent the night in my 2006 Ford 150 and it proved just how well it absorbs the cold. Cold or not it was time to practice.

I thought I’d dressed just right. I thought I’d stay warm. I was wrong. Certainly, I could have gone back inside and added my layers. Call it stubbornness or laziness, but I didn’t want to take the time or hike back to the house. I was on the range and I was going to stay.

I had a simple goal before practice, that was to shoot 60 tens in the outer 10 ring and no less than 40 arrows in the inner ten ring of a Vegas style 3-spot.

This target

I planned to take my time, go through the shot process, don’t rush and make every shot count.

That plan held up though warm-up (that’s only an expression – it was never warm) and the first 30 arrows. By then, the ‘taking my time’ element had shivered out of my plan. I still shot well until the last arrow. With snot dripping from my nose I put too much heel in my bow hand lifting an arrow slightly out of the big 10 ring. I might have been able to prevent it if I could have felt my hand.

The temperature will increase by 23°F by this afternoon. (Sorry my Celsius friends your on your own.) I should have thawed by then and am looking forward to another run at 60 arrows in the big 10.

Personal Walk of Shame

On Facebook, an archer whose is one of those, Robin Hood shootin, Pro-Staffer, big game huntin’, Bull’s Eye hitting, experts posted his latest heroics. He’d grabbed his bow, a newly acquired hunting rig, stood at 18-meters, faced a vertical 3-spot, and landed a perfect 30X 300.

30X – Take that you whimps

On his Facebook update describing the shooting wonder he thanked his many ‘sponsors’ by hash tagging everyone and attributed to them his success. (I am not sure how those hash tags work. Because I’ve no organization with which to accredit my archery performances I’m not worried about the hash tag.) He further acknowledged his many blessings (in this case 30 of them in the X), thanked heaven, offered an Amen then called for others to blanket the Internet with an Amen rally as proof of their worth.

His devotees rallied to this glory – Amen. In unison they begged him, using that new out-of-the-box hunting bow, to take on the hot dot shooters at the next major tournament and to walk away with all their cash taken via stunning and absolute defeat. To the dismay of his fans he humbly replied he’d stick with 3D in 2019, barely being able to wait, and salvage the embarrassment of the world’s best 3-spot archers. In the meantime, he was going hunting with plans to take down “Ole Buckster” the monster and elusive trophy deer seen on his trail cam, now that he was equipped with the new bow.

This trail cam monster is going down

His peeps gnashed their teeth and wrung their hands with sorrow.   If only, if only, their king would take on those lesser archers at Vegas, Lancaster, or any World Cup event. Going though my head was, if I could just land a solid 300 on the big ten that might be good. Clearly, my thoughts were far from the ones that led to hugging replies for the semi-famous 30X hitting ubiquitous Pro-Staffer.

I come close nearly every day to matching Mr. Pro-Staff. Close, that is by measurement, to a 300 or 600 shooting the big 10. But, 300 and 600 remain goals. Additionally I remain committed to shooting an occasional 8.

Today, I once again came close to a 300 and even a 600. I was low – missing the mark. My all time new low, during this practice, was to walk away from my target, return to the orange flagged 18-meter dirt spot out back that represents my archer’s box, reach down to grab an arrow and discover the arrows weren’t in my quiver. Yes, you guessed it; I had left them lodged in the butt.

Thankfully, this was an error made in private. Although, I am compelled to share it with thousands of you here. I share this because it seems fair. This is a way to balance the extreme elite performance of a fellow archer, Mr. Pro-Staffer, who can pick up a bow, rigged for hunting, march onto an indoor range and shoot 30 perfect Xs and share his magnificence.

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.

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.

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.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Looking out the window here at our new home in Good Hope, Georgia, there is an unusual sight. There is blue sky!

It has rained and rained since we move here a couple of weeks ago. The rain has hampered some of the work we’re still doing to the property here. Despite the bad weather things are moving along.

What is hurting the most is archery. Two days a week I can’t shoot at the indoor range located in Social Circle, Ga. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. Shooting outside is now possible, except when it’s raining.

Looking at the sky I now see the blue was only a tease. Maybe it won’t rain and just remain overcast.