Dang Rain

Rain, rain go away, come again – at night

It rains, it stops. I grab my bow; shoot a few arrows and it rains again. It’s probably time to call it quits for the day.

The new string required some adjustment to the elevation

It’s not easy to not shoot. There’s a new string on the bow. I’d droven to PGF Archery in Elizabeth City, NC with my new string and bow stripped of sight and stabilizers – prepared to leave there. It turned out, even though the shop was packed and busy, Jay, a competitive archer and expert bow technician, was able to expertly change the string while I waited. I was eager to get home and test the bow. Alas, the rain has chased me in, again. Of course, now that I’m typing, the rain has stopped. (Nope, here it comes, again.)

Our local archery supply shop in Elizabeth City.

Cutting it Short

Work wears you down. It wears me down, maybe not you. But, I know when to take a break. This morning it was time to give it a rest.

I wasn’t shooting poorly, I was shooting tired. The fatigue and tiredness were not solely from shooting. It was a combination of shooting four -five hours per day, running and cycling every day, and in between doing a massive amount of lawn work.

Lawn work includes about 7 miles of mowing. Yes, I measured it with a GPS, it is 7-miles. Those miles are just the ones covered on a John Deere LA 105. It does not include the miles of weed whacking, handling a push mower to get the areas where the tractor doesn’t reach and going over it all with a backpack leaf blower. See the lawn includes my 3D range, so it is a lot of work. Today, it caught up with me.

The morning archery practice started after skipping a run. It went okay, not great. Using a 5-spot, hoping a change in targets would be refreshing; I ended up 300 and 50X. Not getting 60X on a 5-spot was a warning.

It was time to take a break. I might skip practice this afternoon.

Wind, Wind and More Wind

Wind chopping up the river

It has been windy the past couple of days. The wind is not a friend to cyclists or archers. Practicing 18-meters outdoors is tough when it blowing. At least on a bike there is usually a tailwind.

Today, not only was it windy, again, but cool. While out for a morning run, I wore a sweatshirt during the 60°F workout. The temperature felt really nice for the archery practice, but man the wind was a hassle.

These numbers could be better

Hopefully, I can blame the low X count on the wind. Well, I can place blame there whether or not is was the offense to shooting.

Practice, Beach, Practice

Usually, mid-day break is lunch a nap then more practice. We decided to break the routine when Brenda, my wife, suggested, “Let’s go to the beach.” And we did.

Virginia Beach, VA

We left home right after I showered from morning training. It’s still hot and archery can be a sweaty business when practiced outside. We left with plans for lunch at Virginia Beach. Afterwards we’d spend some time on the boardwalk.

Brenda

Virginia Beach is nice. If you’ve never been there and can plan a trip, do so. It is different compared to the Outer Banks. They’re both about the same distance, around an hour drive, from our home on the Little River at the Albemarle Sound.

We didn’t go to the beach to get into the water. The water a few steps away from my front door is enough for me and it is a lot warmer than the Atlantic at this latitude. But, the waves off the ocean made me wish I’d brought my surfboard. Believe me, I’d have worn a wet suit if I’d gone into the water with a board. Alas, the board was at home next to a wetsuit.

Statue of the Greek God Poseidon

After hiking about 5 miles on the beach we headed home – back by 3:45 PM. Time enough to get a full afternoon archery practice completed. Not bad at all!

Time to Put 18-Meters on Pause

In one day I’ll be moving away from 18 meters for about 3 months. I like 18 meters. You shoot three arrows, take a short repetitive walk of 36 meters then shoot three more arrows. Lately, using my iPhone connected to speakers, I’ve been playing music in the background while I practice. It is my understanding that all the USA Archery indoor events will forever more be playing non-stop music. At first I found it annoying. Now it helps pass the time spent walking back and forth.

I don’t even mind the walk. It’s a rather enjoyable few minutes to reflect. For example, today I considered how it was that I kept shooting around the X and just missing. From 18 meters away it seemed I was hitting the X. Up close the truth was revealed and I was hitting the nine about as often as the X.

If I’d tried to do this, I’d have failed
If either of those top two shots had been to the right that little fellow might have been squashed.

On another trip I was pondering over a bug. This insect seemed fearless. It landed on a target and stayed put for arrow after arrow. Maybe he was trying to impress another insect or was there on a dare. Perhaps not a super hero of bug bravery because it kept to the blue ring. I didn’t image the fly knew the color blue but just maybe could somehow sense a safe distance. It was there so long I had time to decide a photograph would make for solid evidence of its courage. On the next 36-meter trek I brought my iPhone, disconnected from the speakers, and there half way into the walk, it was waiting for a cover.

Eventually, I began to fatigue. My shots less centered and my mind no longer in the game. It had been hot, 87°F. Shooting from inside my shed the temperature felt closer to 97°F. I’d already shot up three sheets of targets and was on my fourth when an 8 announced it was time to wind down for the day.

Yep, time to call it a day

Eighteen meters is fun. The NC Outdoor State Championship is in July. So, with than on the horizon it’s time to add more steps to my walking. I’ll be back at 18 meters before it gets too distance from memory.

The Weather Dealing with Me

This past few days the weather has been on and off as far as outdoor archery goes. For example, morning practice seemed like it was going to be ideal for shooting 20 yard 3-spot. No wind, slightly overcast (meaning the sun wasn’t going to be a problem) and a decent temperature.

Finally, I could move out of my shed and shoot entirely under the sky. I disassembled my tower of targets, old shot up blocks supported by cement blocks balancing a fairly intact block at its apex, from in front of the shed to parallel with the driveway.

Within minutes of that maneuver the wind picked up and was pushing white caps across the river toward my position. The tower of targets was deconstructed and remanded to its prior placement.

The Tower of Targets

Shooting out of the shed is not a bad arrangement. But, the thousands of times I walk back and forth over the same lane on the lawn is beginning to make a trail. Walking over the driveway leaves no evidence of back and forth hiking.

Sure, I do vary the shed to target lane passage; still the wear and tear of my feet are taking a toll on the grass. Here I apply a liberal use of ‘grass’ since much of my lawn is weed. Mowed low and with causal observation, the lawn is green and for me satisfying. A bald lawn is less gratifying.

Wearing a path in the lawn

In the afternoon, when the wind typically is more forceful than mornings, I head over to woods and practice 3D. Today was just fine. Yesterday, not so fine.

It looked like the overcast morning had progressed into what could be rain. As I headed to the shed to grab my bow there was not a drop falling.

This bear is beginning to show the rain

Entering the 3D range a very light sprinkle began to fall. Not enough to drive me to cover. Ten minutes into shooting I was headed for cover. Approaching the shed, the rain stopped -I headed back to the range. A few shots fired and again I was in retreat. As I approached the safety of a roof, the rain subsided.

I repeated this game of chase with the weather a bit longer. I lost.

Time to Ease Off a Little

A few too high, a few too low, some just right. Looking for the “just right” shots this coming weekend at the USA Indoor Nationals.

First few warm up shot

Practice was hard today! Over the past 8 days I’ve shot in four competitions. Additionally, I’ve put in a lot of practice. Even though I’ve only ridden by bicycle once and run three times over the past 7 days, trying to spend as much time as possible shooting, I admit I am beat.

Today, I practiced on a vertical three spot. I used a stopwatch to time my work. I averaged one arrow every 26 seconds. That meant of the two minutes for shooting there was 42 seconds remaining. This is par over the past few months. It’s also probably too fast. The good thing is my scores are creeping higher.

A few months ago I was shooting on average 556. The past few weeks, with the exception of the NC State Championship, that average has moved up to 570 with 30 tens and 30 nines. Practice ended with a score of 566. Yesterday, after the 3D tournament I shot a 570. That score would have landed me 8th at the Nationals in 2016. My two top scores over two days, it is a two-day event, during the past several weeks would have landed me in 1st by 3 points.

Until next weekend I think I’ll focus on some easy practice, active recovery, and a get little more rest.

Letting the Numbers Decide – Maybe

Over the past two years I’ve kept data on the various targets I’ve practiced on or shot during competition. By January of 2014 I had been shooting a bow for four months. Initially, I didn’t keep the data.  Initially, I wasn’t certain I be shooting a bow for very long.  By most standards, I still have not been shooting a bow very long. Throughout this ongoing collecting of data,  3-spots remain dominate – I mean I have the most data on 3-spots. The past month I’ve shot twice in competitions where 5-spots were the target. Saturday was one of those days.

Going into Saturday’s event I was expecting to shoot a 300. I dropped seven. Four of the shots were simply off. Minutes before we shot my stablizers slipped and had to be tightened. The side bar was not exactly right and I shot a few arrows a little wide to the left, still 5’s, before recognizing the problem.

It took a few more scoring shots to find the problem and adjust. I shot one 4 while preparing to let down. I was shocked I hit the four. Another four came when someone’s arrow smacked into the back wall which was a surprise. The bang caused just me to twitch and that was all it took to release the hinge.

This and other 5-spots are recorded and entered into an Excel Spreadsheet.  I am working toward finding the right choices for me between a Mathews Apex 7 and Elite Energy 35 using a thumb versus hinge release. The data collected during this 5-spot tournament were, of course, entered.

Reviewing the data I can see my average score with the Elite is 298 versus 293 with the Apex 7. The data further reveals that the average thumb release score is 296 compared to 294 with the hinge.

Today I shot with the Apex 7 and a Scott Pro Advantage hinge. I ended up with a 293, average. The prior time I shot I used the Elite and a TruFire thumb release. Then I scored a 294, below average for the Elite. Both were in competitions.

Line graph of 5-spot scores from Jan 2015 through Jan 2017

Statistically (the math part only) there is not a significant interaction among the bow/release variances. But, in competitions where one point can separate 1st from 2nd place it means a lot.

I’ll keep on with the Mathews for a few weeks along with the hinge. I feel like that might be a better combination in the long run. But, I’ll be objective and let the numbers decide.

 

Frozen Feet

It is still real cold here for coastal North Carolina. The high today was 27 degree F. Aside from cold it is wet and there’s plenty of ice with a little snow on the ground. It was a little rough outside on my feet.

On a bright side – the wind wasn’t blowing

With these conditions I wore rubber boots during archery practice. I shot until I could no longer feel my toes. Then, I headed inside to thaw them out.

Kept my bow near the heat. It was so cold I thought my hand might stick to it.

Once I can wiggle my toes, I’ll go out for some more practice.

Even had to heat up my release

So, It’s Cold – Happens Every Winter

A good friend of mine is nearby on a business trip. He’s just up the road in Virginia Beach. It is a quick work trip so there isn’t time for us to meet. But, is nice to have heard from him. He’s also here when we’re being affected by an Arctic blast of extra cold weather.

The cold doesn’t force me inside and off of archery practice. Sure, I could drive into Elizabeth City and practice on the indoor range at PGF Outdoors and Archery. The drive takes a total of an hour. That’s an hour wasted when I can practice at home.

The Indoor range at PGF Outdoors and Archery in Elizabeth City.

Last year, I converted a storage shed into a nice room for training on a bike connected to a Computrainer. The shed is now has carpet, paneled walls, heat and air conditioning, and the walls are insulted. It stays toasty warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is ideal for archery as well.

Staying warm

For 18-meter archery practice I open one door. Move my target closer to the shed. Turn on the heat and practice shooting from inside the shed toward the target 18-meters away. Today it was just fine.

The Arctic cold that has descended upon North Carolina is frigid. The low temperature was 18°F and our high may have reached 30°F. The heater in shed kept me comfortable even with the door opened.

The glacial cold impacted the US States in the North with a greater severity than our Southern States. My friend on his business trip in Virginia is from Norwich, Vermont. In his home State the low temperature last night was 4°F and they expect about a foot of snow over the next few hours. At the moment in his home town it’s gotten worse –  the temperature is 3°F.

In front of my friend’s house in Vermont.

He did mention to me the cold we’re experiencing here in Virginia Beach and near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He commented, “I’m glad I brought a sweater.”

When my friend returns home he can expect the temperature to have risen to perhaps 25°F. That should be suitable for shoveling snow. By then, I anticipate wearing short pants and shooting outside with a predicted temperature of 77°F on Sunday. I won’t need a sweater. In the meantime, I’m glad to have the shed.