Cold and Wet

It was a miserable day of practice at least weather-wise.  Typically, on these types of days I drive to Social Circle and practice inside.  We’re down to one vehicle for transportation at the moment so I’m staying close to home.  Hence, no driving to Social Circle to practice.

Two things to deal with, a major tournament this weekend and a weather cold blast.  Skipping practice is not an option and neither is being warm.

You could feel the rain coming

To make matter worse or add insult to injury a light rain fell during the morning practice.  I considered stopping but didn’t.  The first 30 arrows were just so close and I could feel I was just off but couldn’t figure it out.  I decided to continue in the rain until I worked though whatever problem it was that had me missing.

During the next 30 arrows my shots improved. I stayed out, in the rain, because what had been missing felt like it had returned or at least was returning.  When I finished I was cold, wet, but seemed to have found a good spot.

Rain meant not heat

The afternoon, the rain had stopped and I switched to a 5-spot. There’s been enough yellow, red and blue staring at me from down range.  The blue and white was a nice break.  There’s another State Championship in two weeks and the 5-spot is the target.  So, aside from a visual break it was good to see how I’m shooting against the giant X ring.

The rain wasn’t to bad.

A day later, record cold temperatures are the rage with the weather people.  I’ve also emptied the propane tank on the outdoor heater. Yes, it is cold and windy. But, going out in the cold is better than sitting inside all day. Even if I go to an indoor range, I’ve spent time outside.  I’ll run outside nearly every morning.  I have gear for all weather.  Sure, sometimes it is cold and sometimes it is hot.  You simply deal with it.

You know, when it is freezing cold outside (or when it isn’t that warm), I’ve never needed the local weather person to explain how I should wear warm clothing when I go out.  I suppose when the weather person makes that recommendation they’re feeling as if they’re being either helpful or smart. I really don’t know if they’ve achieved either.

Staying Warm, Shooting Cold

I’d say it was freezing outside practicing at 18-meters this morning, but it wasn’t that warm.  I didn’t get all that cold, I’d worn multiple layer of clothing, had the outdoor propane space heater running, a glove on my bow hand, and pocket full of hand warmers. One bonus, the wind wasn’t blowing.

Nevertheless, my practice scores were not anything worth sharing.  It was a weak day.  It wasn’t a physical weakness, I felt pretty good coming off two days of rest.

Typically, one day is enough for a break.  The past few weeks have been intense so two days off was the prescription for recovery. I’d recovered.

It wasn’t even mental weakness.  My brain felt good. No sir, shooting while wearing enough clothes to stay warm changes things.

Distractions, A Stink Bug, and a Little Luck

Last week, on an indoor range, I was practicing at 18-meters.  There weren’t many other people there at that time.  Steve was there. Steve’s a coach and was working with a student.

I’m accustomed to practicing while coaching is happening around me.  I listen to what is being said between ends.  I’ve picked up more than one free tip from Steve while he’s coaching.

Anyway, I was working away at 18-meters. I’d been shooting pretty good. Then, on one shot I hit a 9.  Now a 9 isn’t bad but I’d been hitting 10s. Here’s what happened – Steve walks over to grab arrows from a ground quiver about 2 inches from me.  The distraction was all it took to miss the 10.

I laughed and said, “Thanks, Steve!  That 9 is on you.”  He, too, laughed and added, “You need to learn to block distraction.” Of course he’s right.  Who knows, I may have hit the 9 regardless of Steve nearly knocking me over.  (Yes, Steve that’s how I telling it) I mean, it wouldn’t have been my first 9.

Distractions happen. They really can’t be allowed to mess with your shooting.   The other day I had another distraction.  A stink bug.

This stink bug hopped off my bow after the shot. He stayed around for a photo opt.

Practicing at 18-meters on my outdoor range I was again doing pretty good.  At full draw, all focused, letting my brain relax, finding silence, being one with the arrow and channeling my inner Yoda, this stink bug lands on the lens of my scope. Yep, the arrow was off in the millisecond of bug to glass impact.

I heard the arrow hit the target.  I was expecting to find it some where in the white and glad it didn’t sail off into the woods.  I lifted my binoculars to find the arrow.  What I found was a real surprise.

100% luck

The shot turned out good. Sometimes luck is a good thing to have.

295 (Not the Loop around a city)

It is time to reset a goal. Over the five years that I’ve been shooting a bow I’ve set goals. Some are short term; there are mid-range, and long-term goals. Setting them brings an athlete out of a comfort zone.

The score of 290 out of 300, doing it twice in a row, to reach 580 as a final score against a USA Archery style 3-spot has to change. It seems tough to hit 290, but the data on practice says it is time to make a change.

In the past moving up was hard. I don’t expect 295 twice will be easy. Shooting a consistent 590 is a pretty good score. It isn’t perfect. It does mean fifty Xs and ten 9s. Certainly, I’d love to shoot 600, but for now 590 is the target, that is hitting 295 on the first 30 arrows and doing it a second time.

That’s an average. I could reach 590 with a 289 plus 291. Any way you do the math, it is a lofty goal. By breaking it up, 295 and 295, it doesn’t sound a difficult as scoring 590. It is also a reachable goal.

Hitting 580 or a personal best (in practice so far) of 588 you might wonder way not set the goal for 600. Six hundred is the ultimate goal.

Coaching Tip

Six hundred has only be achieved a few times. It is better to set an obtainable goal, for me anyway, of 590 (2 X 295). Once that becomes comfortable, then jump to the next level.

It Takes Time

November 1st  (2018) marked 5 years of shooting a bow for me. Sixty months isn’t such a long time. During these past sixty months USA archery changed the way we score a 3-spot. That is, we changed from scoring 10s and Xs to only the X ring equaling 10 points. The sport got tougher and it is taking longer to achieve a level of expertise than I’d initially guessed.

When I began shooting this would have scored as 30 points or X,X 10. Today it is X,X, 9 or 29 points.

The smaller ten ring (inner ten)  makes scoring a perfect 600 tougher. Heck, scoring a 600 using the old scoring method remains tough. I’ve not yet shot a 600 using either scoring method. I’ve come close scoring the old 10 ring. Last week I shot 599. It was going well until the last six arrows. With six arrows to go I shot 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10. On the old larger ten ring mind you.

Inner 10 scores over the past three years. (There are data like this in a 3D file, 50-meter file, 5-spot file, etc.)

The little ten or inner ten or X ring, whatever you want call it this dime sized 10 point ring remains the same in size. But, the outer ten is now only worth nine points. At 18-meters (20 yards) a dime is a small target. The thing is I thought I’d been shooting with a bit more accuracy after 5 years.

A steeper slope would have been nice

When I began shooting arrows I thought it would be pretty much like switching from cycling to duathlon. That was pretty easy. All I needed to do was start running. I could already ride a bike and had won all sorts of prizes racing bicycles in the US and Europe.

Run like you’re being chased

Sure enough duathlon moving along pretty rapidly and I earned a spot on the USA Team to the World Duathlon Championship about a year after I picked up running. When I added swimming, part of the plan to become a triathlete, I learned swimming was not a strong discipline for me.

A few years ago (@2011). This triathlon was in the fall in Cambridge, Maryland. The water was cold.

Still, I did well in shorter triathlons where I didn’t lose so much time during the swim. Eventually, I moved up in swimming from the slowest 25 percentile to the upper (faster) 25 percentile. I even brought my long distance, 2.4-mile swim (Ironman distance) down to around an hour.

2007 ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon

Transfer talent from cycling to triathlon wasn’t all that difficult particularly competing in my age group. Archery, however, is another matter. There are some elements of sport that do transfer such as determination and discipline. The mental focus is, in my opinion, different. Archery requires a mental effort unlike that of racing an Ironman.

By looking at a rolling average I can set goals. A goal was to average 290 points out of 300 or 580 out of six hundred. Now that I’ve hit that goal I reset the goal to 295 or 590.

Archery excellence or at least elite level performance based on scores and winning, is going to take time. Five years into this sport I’d hoped to be further along. It can be frustrating. Thankfully, I have data that shows progress, even though part of the progression included making the ten ring smaller.

 

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.