A Great Day to Play

The weather was great, today. Sunny with very little wind and not too cold. It was a good day to train.

For the 2018 Duathlon National Championships I’m using a modified triathlon training plan. There’s no swimming in a duathlon so those workouts are replaced with more running. It’s no big deal since running is a daily activity pretty much regardless of a formal training plan. In other words, I’m not running too much.  This is a modified plan that I’m following so there is flexibility.

There are lots of sport training plans available for purchase. There are an ever-growing number of coaches for hire through the Internet. What they offer are programs available to you sight unseen. Perhaps, if you are new to a sport an online coach you never see can provide a starting point. After decades of sports, in my opinion a face-to-face coach is a better investment. I’m making no investment. I took a plan I’d created years ago and adapted it for the upcoming race.

I’ve had some great coaches in cycling, football, and track. I’ve also spent decades studying sports physiology and feel fairly confident I can put together a plan that will get me across a finish line. Of course, there are the hours of work that need to be completed and today was ideal to add to those hours.

In an abridged overview my general training goes like this: Run, shoot, rest, shoot, cycle, and sometimes run again. It was hard not to do a second run today, the weather being so nice. It was the archery practice that pushed me away from a second run.

The second practice with a bow was going just fine. Well, good enough for second practice. That session was planned for 60 arrows at a 3-spot followed by 30 at a 5-spot. The morning was just 60 arrows into a 3-spot.

The afternoon 3-spot when okay with 32 Xs and 28 nines. Sure, Reo Wilde doesn’t need to be worried for the moment. But, not too bad. Then, I put up a 5-spot.

Man, those X rings looked huge on that blue and white paper. I shot 10 arrows and called it a day. As big as the X is on a 5-spot I was doing good to hit white. It was time to stop. While I didn’t feel tired, my arrow placement suggested otherwise. It also indicated I’d had enough exercise for the day, so not second run. Instead, a hike in the woods was perfect to wind things down.

Tomorrow the weather isn’t going to be so nice. I’ll have to go into Elizabeth City to shoot. I’m glad there is an indoor range within a 40-minute drive. Still, I am looking forward to moving to Georgia where on days like tomorrow promises to be, that drive becomes 15-minutes.

A Little Running and Cycling to Go With Archery

Before archery practice I run then I ride. Running is as much for River, my lab, as for me. She really seems to enjoy it and acts eager to go every morning. When we get home from the run I head out for a bike ride. Not hard, not too far – between 10 and 25 miles. Then, I’ll head out to the range for archery.

I own several bikes and I rotate them for rides. The past few weeks I’ve been using either a Litespeed road bike or Cannondale mountain bike. Neither bike is new. The Litespeed is 21 years old. The Cannondale is twelve. Both are in excellent condition.

Some of my bikes

The Litespeed is one of my favorite machines. The only original component on the frame is the front derailleur. The frame, titanium, feels amazing.

Part of the training I do is for fitness. One day I may decide to do more triathlons, mountain bike racing or cycling time trials. Or maybe not. Either way, I believe being fit provides an advantage for me in archery.

Savannah Wheelmen at a race in Virginia – 1972 (Me in the middle with the light colored hat)

Certainly, I’ve shot against a lot of archers that I would say aren’t physically fit. There are a lot of good shooters that aren’t what I’d consider healthy. At least they’re doing something beyond watching television or playing video games. And many of them can really shoot a bow.

For me, I prefer being in better health. I don’t mind running or cycling. Of course, I swim –just not very fast.

Turn the TV Off, Stop that Video Game and Go Play Outside

I often write about stuff I do outside. That’s because I am outside a lot. We have a nice home but not so great as to keep me indoors. Outside, for me is where the action is.

I find it amazing when I look at the activities of others how it is that so much of those actions involve indoor play. The play is not so much the physical type unless finger movements are considered exercise. Playing a video game while sitting on a couch is not my idea of sport.

In the newspaper today there was an advertisement for a bed. The bed could be elevated at the head and the knees could be propped up. The newspaper ad promoted this comfortable position for binge television watching. A bed specifically marketed for people to remain in it for extended TV show viewing. Seriously?

How did the bed company come up with this market segment?  Did information gained from intensive focus group questioning reveal a significant segment of their potential customers are so lazy they’d rather not bother getting out of bed to watch TV?

It is no wonder that 2 out of 3 US adults are overweight or obese. Among children ages 6 to 19 one third are overweight or obese. (1,2)

Archery isn’t what I’d call a sport where cardiovascular fitness is rampant. Still, rather than sitting around for hours on end getting to a range an hour of more a day is a lot better than spending the same amount of time exercising fingers or watching TV.

Reference:

[1] Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US adults, 1999–2010. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012; 307(5):491–97. Available online: jama.jamanetwork.com/

[2] Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999–2010. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012; 307(5):483–90. Available online: jama.jamanetwork.com/

Considering Past Pain While Taking a Break

Over the past few days I’ve been taking a break. No doubt, I needed a rest. The past six months have been fairly intense. Days have been filled with fitness and archery training.

That training consisted of two to six hours a day of archery. The archery was supplemented with another 8 to 10 hours a week of running, cycling, swimming and weight lifting. Granted, there were small breaks, a day off every 7 to 10 days and time off for holidays. The target of those efforts was an indoor archery tournament held in Snellville, GA. Now, that it’s behind me, I’ll enjoy this break and move into my 3D season.

While on this break I’ve been thinking about some of the hardest sporting events where I competed. Archery and racing are very different disciplines. In sports, they are about as opposite as possible.

If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know it is not just heading out to take a leisurely run. Even if you’re not a fast runner, the miles take a toll. At the 2011 Tokyo Marathon I was prepared and very fit. Then, in Japan, on race day, the temperature plunged to freezing with pouring rain. The conditions became the force driving in every runners’ head urging them to drop out. At around mile 18 the rain stopped but it never did warm up. It was not the hardest sporting event ever for me.

Of the Ironman events I raced, not one of them reaches the peak of pain. At 2008 Ironman in Hawaii with around six miles left to run (the race is 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, and 26.2 run) I was pacing with an ex-professional athlete. But, not an ex-pro triathlete, he was Jeff Conine, member of two Baseball World Championship teams. The conversation was pleasant and baseball never came up although a camera crew in a convertible Ford drove slowly next to us asking related questions. It was quite cool.  Still, I mostly listened – I’d didn’t have enough breathe for a conversation. It’s amazing how much communication can come from grunts.  Still, not near the most difficult physical / mental effort of my life.

The most difficult was a race where everyone shared the pain. All runners watched out for one another. Everyone gave encouragement to his or her opponents. It even seemed the other athletes were far less the opponent. The opponent for us all was the racecourse. The race was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The run up to the peak of Mt. Evans, over 14,000 feet, was on North America’s highest paved road. We started the race in near 60°F temperature surrounded by trees and finished on a barren mountaintop being snowed upon at 26°F. It stands out as the most difficult sports event of my life. It was as much a physical strain as a mental strain. The higher we got, the lower our oxygen saturation.(1) The thought to stop never once entered my head. I thought I might die did, which would have been a good reason to have stopped running.

Archery is very different. There’s a massive degree of mental exercise along with the physical elements that makes the sport difficult to frustrating. One little mental error and that 10 becomes an 8. But, it’s not physically painful. Still, over months containing many long hours of practice it’s best broken by a bit if rest.

Reference:

(1) http://respiratory-care-sleep-medicine.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/High-Altitude-Respiratory-Distress-A-RTs-Personal-Experience.aspx

Needing Just 4% More for the Moment

The difference is 3 points.  That is over the past three months comparing 60 arrows shooting a 3-spot with a thumb versus a hinge release the slight advantage goes to the hinge still release.  The problem is the highest single score goes to the thumb and that score is 8 points higher than the highest using the hinge.

After 50 are so shots I’m down to a t-shirt to keep cool

It continues to be a frustrating activity searching for a few more points.  Percentage-wise both style releases are equal.  I am only looking for a 4% increase in my scores.  No, a 4% increase is not a perfect score.  I’d like to shoot a 600 every time, but that’s unrealistic for the moment.

Had to tack a target up to keep the sun out of my eyes

When I set a goal I try to make it achievable within the time frame I’ve established for reaching the goal.  In order to achieve the goal I practice a lot.  I measure then manage almost all shots.  For sure, there are days where I simply relax and shoot for fun.  But, most days it’s serious work.

Taking a break and jumping on the Computrainer for a little mind clearing

After this morning’s indoor practice I may have uncovered another small change I can make that may lead to another incremental gain in points. I’ll work on that for a awhile then practice and record some more.

Note: after making the changes things started off great for the first 30 arrows.  The second 30 were par. By then, I’d shot nearly 200 arrows.  I’ll rest tonight and start fresh in the morning.

Get Outside and Play

I write a lot about ‘playing’ outside.  It is my opinion that too many people are not giving themselves time to enjoy the outdoors.  There are times when I notice others outside and to my dismay I see them typing away on cell phones. That’s crazy!

View from my morning run

I own a cell phone.  It’s primary function is to take pictures and play audiobooks.  Nearly every picture on this site was taken with my cell phone.  I listen to audiobooks when I run.  I don’t always have audiobooks on while running.  But, for those long out and back runs it’s a good way to learn something new.  Most of the audiobooks I listen to pertain to sports, history or science.

But, I am outdoors everyday regardless of the weather.  I’ll spend hours practicing archery outside even on the days where I add an indoor session to my training.

A little snow and cold is not a barrier to being outside

No one can shoot all day.  When I take breaks, I find there are plenty of other activities that keep me outside.

Need a break, take a boat ride

When I worked, I found time to get outside.  Before work I ran or rode a bike.  Travel didn’t keep from fresh air.  I found a great way to experience a new city or country was to get outside and run.  I even have a Bike Friday that I traveled with so I could ride.

You know, an hour or so playing outside is a great way to refresh yourself. I’m fortunate in that my work paid off and I can spend a maximum of time doing outdoor activities.  But, you can find the time – so do it for yourself.

Out of Light and Range Finding

Wednesday, December 15th was a long day of training. First there was shooting, then swimming, weight lifting, running, (lunch and a nap), and finally more shooting.

The afternoon archery session began at 2:30 PM and lasted until  4:30 PM when the light faded.

There was still enough light to take a walk and practice guessing yardage on the 3D range. All other practice in archery today have been focused on 18-meters.

Maybe I am left eye dominate. That might explain things.

Just a few more months of short days. I’m already looking forward to more daylight.


 

 

A Typical Training Day

This is how it rolls:

Up at 0600. Cook or prepare breakfast. Today it was prepare (not a hot meal). The first meal of this November day was yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, maple syrup, coffee and orange juice. That eaten it is outside to run with River.

The first range time begins at 0730. This morning the practice is focused on paper targets shooting from 20 to 40 yards.

At 0930 it is time to leave for the YMCA. The workout there begins at 1000. That session begins with a swim, followed by weight lifting and running on the treadmill.

Home by 1230 and time for lunch. After lunch there’s a short nap from 1300 to 1335.

From 1335 until 1430 check emails. Let sponsors know I am still interested and will complete their paperwork soon.

Afternoon archery practice session number two begins at 1430 and runs until 1600.  The paper distance was 35 to 55 yards then shift to 3D. It ended early because it started to rain. Usually I shoot until it is too dark to see during the fall and winter months.

Finally, on the bike and ride the Computrainer – 1630 until 1730.

Dinner, news, write some for this webpage, watch a couple of episodes of some Netflix show, hit the hay, read (Moneyball by Michael Lewis), fall asleep around 2230.

And that’s a day.

Playing in the Back Woods

This morning Brenda, my wife, and I headed into Elizabeth City to workout at the YMCA. It’s a bit of a hike in from the country to the big city. Brenda had a couple of hours of gym time planned. My Y plan was less ambitious– I’d swim and lift weights. Then, while she continued her workout, I headed over to PGF Archery to shoot on their indoor range.

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Pool at the Y in Elizabeth City

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Swimming and lifting weights does take a toll on arms. Archery afterwards isn’t as smooth as on days where those two prior exercises aren’t on the menu.

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Nice to have a range so close

Fortunately, PGF Archery is essentially across the street from the Y. From the time I leave the range to walking through the front door of the Y about a minute has lapsed. The way we work our Tuesday and Thursday schedules is Brenda works out that extra hour while I shoot, then I pick her up, and we head out for lunch and home. Home, back into the sticks of rural coastal North Carolina. Here, we are sandwiched on one side by woods and the other by water.

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The water side of home. (Yes, the Carolina Skiff is not on the lift. We’re getting a new trolling motor. It’ll be home next week.)

Once home, today, my neighbor, Jimmy, a retired police officer, was sighting one of his rifles. Like many police officers, Jimmy is an excellent shot with a rifle and pistol. His practice range, like mine, is in his yard. He and Amy, his wife, are the other two permanent locals along our secluded one lane resident maintained gravel road.

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It was extremely windy here during the afternoon so I shot from the protection of my shed.
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The woods side of home

Coming home to shots being fired is not uncommon or bothersome.   Rather, it is a matter of course. Jimmy was once a competitive shooter. These days he shoots for fun. But, over time he has shared a number of shooting observations that have been applicable to archery. Whenever he talks about firearm shooting I listen and learn. Later, in the afternoon, while I was shooting arrows, Jimmy came down to talk about shooting.

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Jimmy, going me in my shed, showing tighter groups than I was shooting today.
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Running a mile or so from home.

It’s pretty cool living way back in the sticks. Just image young kids with nature at they’re doorstep. Being able to run and play outside in the woods. Pinging, safely, around with BB Guns or 22s. Or shooting a bow and arrow. Being on a river and able to fish, crab, ride around in boats, kayaks or on paddle boards, and go swimming. Able to hop on a bicycle and go for a ride with little to no risk of being hit by a car. Having their dogs to play with on their land without fence or leash. Or to grow a garden and harvest their own vegetables.

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River with her favorite toy playing in the yard.
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Close up of Jimmy’s shooting

Rather, image a couple of 60 plus year old guys doing the same things. Live the dream.

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Yep, a pretty nice place to hang outside and play.

The Cost of Competition and Attraction for Athletes to Compete

There is a post of mine that will follow a message posted in 2004 on ArcheryTalk and data from kaycircle.com posted in 2010.  I read both after I’d written my post then I added them along with this introduction.  The posts aren’t exactly the same but they are related in theme.  Here’s the ArcheryTalk message:

“Come on now guys!! there is a lot of money being thrown around in archery!! millions and millions of dollars are spent every year on archery equipment for hunting, 3D, Target ….” (1)

Now the Kaycircle.com post:

“How much does a Professional Archer make per Year? Average Annual Pro Olympic Archery Salary Range

Archery has started to become a more popular sport in recent times. While there are not many full-time professional archers, Olympic archery contestants can earn a lot of money. The general salary range for Olympic archers is between $36,000 and $97,000. Serious archers who win tournaments on a regular basis can take in between $10,000 and $75,000 depending on their skill. They may also be paid for endorsements, training, running shops, and working with archery companies to develop better products.” (2)

Here is my post:

Competitive events for athletes are pricey. Decades of paying for and competing in sports has given me a perspective on cost.  When I measure the price to shoot it comes across a bit high in my experience. That opinion is based on venue of the sport, athlete support, volunteer support, vendor support, athlete appreciation, and marketing efforts made by stake holding companies to promote the sport throughout all levels of athletic accomplishment.  I gave that some thought then considered what I pay for to enjoy different types of competitive events.

An Ironman 70.3 race is going to cost a lot, around $250.00 to race. A full Ironman costs around $700.00. That’s big bucks and I’ve paid that and more many times. That cost is one of the reasons I don’t race Ironman brand triathlons any longer.  I still train for them, albeit with less effort and mileage, and would have no difficulty doing a short triathlon tomorrow.  But, archery gives me my competitive ‘fix’ and is less expensive – well, maybe less expensive.

It can take years to prepare for an Ironman. By the time an athlete is ready, that person will have to fork out big cash to enroll and ‘tri’. A major archery tournament’s registration, as it turns out, can cost $300.00 to $500.00. Pretty much the same as an Ironman triathlon – but more expensive than most triathlons. It can take years of preparation to reach level where spending that kind of money to compete is a sound investment (questionable investment). There are similarities to a point between an Ironman and an archery tournament.  But, the differences between venue and athletic recognition is vast.

If you can afford the pricey archery tournaments, even if you are a top professional, take a pause.  Odds are you are not a (for example only – but applicable in other sporting venues) triathlete.  Now, go to Youtube and search for Ironman World Championship.  Of those athletes, in 2014, perhaps 200 were professionals.  The other 2000 were amateurs. At that event there were 2.27 volunteers per athlete (5000 volunteers in total).

Those volunteers (speaking from experience) make getting through a labyrinth of sign-in, document control, drug control, and generally getting to the starting point a breeze.  Overall, there is an air of athletic respect.  That respect was not limited to the top pros.  It spread equally across all ranks and age groups. We don’t get that level of support in archery and maybe we don’t need it.  Archery is a lot safer than a triathlon and that may reduce the need for volunteers.

Should you think that for some reason the ‘treatment’ of a triathlete is different due to some unknown, check out a marathon on Youtube. I’ve run marathons in the US and abroad, only as a amateur.

Once I  was invited to run the Tokyo Marathon.  There were 42,000 runners in the race. Let me be clear, I am a poor excuse for a marathoner and have plans to never run another. But, while in Japan, before, during and after the marathon the Japanese treated all runners with amazing respect. After the run, I was directed to my post-run gear to find everything laid out and organized for me near a shower.  Seriously, as an archer, check out the differences between a major archery event and a major marathon.

You might think that because so many people are involved in those other sports that it isn’t a fair comparison to archery. Such consideration could suggest that other sports have more participates than archery thus warrant more support money, athletic recognition, marketing and promotions associated with those other sports. If you thought that, you’d be off point: Certainly there are 60 million runners /joggers in the US. (3)  However, there are only 1.9 million triathletes and there are 18.9 million people in the US that participate in archery who over the age of 18.(4,5)  That’s a lot of people shooting arrows. All of those sports comes with a price to the athlete. Just some sports seem to glorify their athletes more so than others.

Then there’s the high cost of sporting events that keeps many average wage earners out of major competition. Shortly after I started shooting I was on a trip and stopped for a few days in south Georgia.  I found a local indoor range and I was there practicing. Another archer arrived, stood next to me on the line and began shooting nothing but Xs on a Vegas 3-spot. He was still shooting them when I left.  The shop that hosted the range explained the X-shooting archer was there everyday and never shot anything other than an X. It was like going for a jog with the local running club and finding a 2:06 marathoner that never ran other than the local club events.  The X-shooting archer, as explained, didn’t travel to compete because it cost too much and there was nothing in it worth winning.

Then there’s the price-tag of equipment. Gear for a triathlon can cost well over $10,000 (a good bike and wheels can cost over $10K). Archery gear is less expensive but not cheap. A ‘good’ bow, sights, rest, stabilizers, arrows, and release can easily be over $2000.00. There are certainly less costly way to compete. Still it is not cheap.

Running is a lot less expensive. Most running shoes last 6 months and cost around $100.00. Running attire, while expensive, lasts for years. And you don’t need the most expensive label to run. Wal-Mart or Target can set a runner up at a significant savings. Archery, however, is a bit irksome when is comes to cost to compete.

A local or regional 3D shoot can cost between $15.00 and $35.00. These are great social events and places to hone skills. Sure they’re fun, but $35.00 is a lot of money to shoot 20 targets. (My local price is less than $35.00 / 3D shoot. Regional 3D fees are higher) The major 3D tournaments are much higher when it comes to cost, but those events give archers a luxurious 40-target competition (more if you make the shoot off).

In a recent indoor tournament the registration fee was $40.00. Excluding the 6 warm up arrows we shot it was a 60-arrow tournament. That’s about $0.67 per shot or nearly a buck a shot. Other local or regional indoor contests might have a lower fee, like $20.00, and have 10 ends of 3 arrows. It works out to the same price per arrow to compete.

For perspective, I looked at the price of running events. Specifically, I went to Active.com and Down East Running then reviewed a list races and their registration fees. The average cost for 5K and 10K runs came to $30.42. You can see that is relative to the price of a local archery shoot. But, there are other significant differences. All of those shorter races provide swag and winners often receive awards worth displaying. Sway and thoughtful awards attracts runners. These small events aren’t going to have cash awards. The bigger runs will have cash awards. For amateurs, swag is nice.

Swag means gifts. Sway might contain t-shirts; discount cards, free food and water. In addition to swag and at times among the swag bootie,  there have been restaurant meals, frozen turkeys, and event short vacations.  You don’t get that in archery. In fact, you don’t your own bring food to a tournament you could end up premium at the event to eat.

Most archery competitive events I’ve attended have decent reasonably priced food, but some folks go over the top when trying to squeeze a buck from a hungry athlete. By they way, there are no 5-Star take out sandwiches regardless of the inflated price. Dry white bread, processed ham, and condiment packages are never worth $10.00.

To be fair, I’ve eaten some great burgers at archery tournaments. Particularly at Mid-Del Archers in Harrington, DE cooked by Clyde! Worth every penny! Heck, once Clyde even threw in a free burger for River, my dog. Clyde became one of River’s fast and great friends with the flip of a burger. And I’ve had fantastic barbeque at shoots in Madison, Ga.  Of course, I had to pay for it. On the other hand there is often free food at runs and triathlons. Not always great food, but frequently good free pizza, pasta, soft drinks, fruit and other foods. In those events, I’ve not gotten the impression that everyone connected to the race is trying to milk more cash out of me. Too often in archery it has seemed that too many people are trying dig a little deeper into my pocket.  It’s not so much I mind paying to get something I want, but I do mind feeling like I paid for more than I got.

My wife, Brenda, is not an archer.  She is an athlete.  She’s been around sports and was a professional in her field (at 62 she still practices between 1 and 4 hours per day 5 to 6 days per week. Yes, she is in better shape than you are. Yes, she made money in her field of sports. No she didn’t make money overnight -it took years).  She and I were talking about the differences between archery and other sports that we are familiar. I asked her, “Why is it, do you think, that archery seems to not get the recognition like, for example, triathlon?”  Her response surpassed me.

What she said is, “Look at triathlons, look at the athletes, now consider archery. Archery is not sexy. It is not exciting.” She went on to describe what she’s observed in archery compared to other sports.  What is apparent to her is that archers look and seem to match more closely to bowlers only not as fit.  (This is not a jab at bowlers – you bowlers are more fit than archers) Until archery can come up with a “Tiger Woods” or some other breakout elite it is not going to receive the marketing efforts by companies that promote other sports.

I understood and agreed adding it is a shame that in archery a major draw to the sport are fictious movie characters or comic book figures now appearing in TV shows.  Sure there are a handful of folks making a living in the sport of archery.  But, they are far from mainstream.  Their biggest audience are the fans that rush to buy whatever brand bow their hero is shooting today. (To be sure, anyone willing to pay me to shoot their bow has a ready archer – and that will be the best bow in my humble opinion.)

The companies that make that bows keep the prices of their top end models all very much relative to the other brands.  They’ve done their marking research and know your price points and their competitors price lists. They all seem to work toward enabling the fan archer to drop a grand or less every year or so for a unneeded new bow. (From my short time in this sport one of the biggest errors I’ve seen is archers replacing their equipment too often.  I’ve seen guys change their bow model 3 times in one season. Well, it’s not my money.)

In 2017 the cost to compete will be a major factor regarding when and where I shoot. Essentially, 2017 will come down to a cost benefit equation. The point is, to me, it seems that the general appreciation for the competitive archer is somewhat under valued. I make this conclusion on the cost, reward and marketing effort put forth to attract athletes to the sport.

Reference:

1.) http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=151647. WIHoyt. Nov. 2004.

2.) http://www.kaycircle.com/How-much-does-a-Professional-Archer-make-per-Year-Average-Annual-Pro-Olympic-Archery-Salary-Range

3.) http://www.statista.com/statistics/227423/number-of-joggers-and-runners-usa/

4.) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/triathlons-popularity-participant-all-time-high_n_3670543.html

5.) https://www.archerytrade.org/news/survey-says-18.9-million-archers-are-active-in-u.s