Taking a Look At Archery Phenotypes

Nearly anyone can pick up a bow practice and get to be pretty good.

At your next tournament look around at the competitors. They’ll look a lot like the spectators. You see folks that look; by look I mean phenotype, sort of like everyone else.

Everybody else means this for the US: Males weight on average 196 pounds and are 5 feet 9 inches tall. Females weight 168.5 pounds and are 5 feet 4 inches tall. That pretty close to how archers look in general.

Certainly, this isn’t everyone that picks up a bow. These are averages. My friend, Mike, is 6 feet 8 inches tall and weights 180 pounds. Mike is an outlier.

Consider the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the average US male and female using the numbers from above. You’d see both coming in as overweight.

Being overweight is, well, not good. But, archery is a sport where overall conditioning is often neglected. In fact, during a recent tournament when archers needed to move large outdoor targets a number of athletes couldn’t help because of their fitness level. One person said, “I can’t help, my doctor has told me not to lift more that 10 pounds.” Yet, there he was shooting and doing a pretty decent job of arrow placement. (Good not great)

Coaching tip

Archery is a sport where fitness isn’t a key factor for the average shooter. Just about anyone that wants to enjoy a sport that isn’t a major cardio activity can have fun with a bow and arrow. That’s fine. That’s not my philosophy when it comes to athletics.

When it comes to archery training I think athletes in this sport should incorporate fitness training. No, it is not a requirement to be a good shooter. However, taking your training to a higher level will provide strength and stamina to archery performance.

Taking a Break From Archery to Race

There were two choices, a bow hunter 3D tournament or a 5K race in Watkinsville. I selected the race.

I’d not raced a 5K in a while and felt I needed to run one. I’d just shot in a league shoot two nights ago that was pretty intense. Besides, I enjoy 5K races and this one was only 11 minutes from home.

The race was the 11th Butterfly Dream 5K. The race collects donations for a special needs adults and children. My wife, Brenda, had pointed out a sign near our local grocery store that aimed at getting more runners involved. The night before the race I chose to run rather than shoot. It would be a nice competitive break.

It didn’t bother setting an alarm to ensure I got up in time for the 8:00 AM race start. Eleven minutes away from home and two dogs with stomach breakfast timers would be enough to get me to registration with time to spare. I did have plenty of time the morning of the race. I found a good parking spot and was amazed at the numbers of cars and people that had showed up to huff, puff and pound pavement for 3.1 miles.

Runners crowding the start line

During registration I learned all the awards were custom with each one being uniquely hand painted by one of the children that are supported at Butterfly Dream Farms. I wanted one. Seeing the crowd of runners I recognized I was not alone in this desire.

Starting my race at the back of the pack

There are so many 5Ks around Athens that you expect packs of runner to be on the smaller side. Of the two 5Ks I’ve done this year that has not been the case. Today’s run had about 200 adult runners. What was another surprise was the herd’s age split. There seemed to be as many or more runners over 50 as under.

The course was very scenic for a short race

As runners were called to the line I headed to where I am most comfortable starting – in the back. The really fast runners crowd the line. I’ve been there. No longer do I feel the need to grab a few extra seconds or get in with a small fast group for pacing. Nope, get in the back, run my race and pass people. I am perfectly fine with reeling in other runners and keeping a pace that feels good.

There were two horses at the turn around. That was a first. I tried to get better pictures but I was running.

With a mile to go I felt I needed to push a bit and ran my fastest mile. It was in that mile that I passed the most other runners. My pace was just right to earn me a 3rd place finish.

A good new t-shirt and cool award for the morning’s work

When the race was over and times were posted it was evident that the winner of my age group was a serious runner having taken 3rd place overall. Athletes over 60 cranking out sub-20 minute 5Ks are in great shape. I’m okay with a more leisurely pace at this stage of my life.

Each award is different. Each was painted by a child. They were random in the order presented. I was happy with mine depicting the University of Georgia colors, two paw prints and Uga in the center.

While running I did think about the 3D tournament. I thought about driving over and shooting in it after the run. I’ve done that in the past. In that instance it was a 10K followed by a 3D competition both in Maryland. That, too, was a lot of fun.

When I flipped my award over it became more special because it was painted by a child named David.

Today, however, I decided to skip the 3D shoot altogether. I’ll practice a bit this afternoon on my range. That is after a nap and before the Georgia football game.

Overall Fitness – Bicycling

Being fit and healthy is a good way to extend your career as an archer. To be sure, archery is not a sport that is heavy on fitness requirements. However, if you find yourself carrying excess weight then long tournaments can become a physical strain.

There are a number of ways to improve your general health such as walking, running, and bicycling. The list of supplemental programs to improve your general health and fitness is tremendous.

Bicycling is one way to improve leg strength, shoulder and arm strength, and add cardio conditioning. It is also a fun way to enjoy the outdoors.

Riding a bike will burn around 800 calories per hour. An hour riding a bike passes quickly. When you were a kid you probably had a bicycle that was your ticket to freedom. Hop on a bike, take a spin, you may find that youthful feeling of freedom returns.

(Photographs were taken during yesterday’s bike ride near Good Hope, Georgia)

Getting the Dope On

I am not new to international sport competition. I have a medical background (PhD). I am fairly new to archery.

For decades I competed as a junior, senior and an age grouper in running, cycling and triathlon. I was pretty good on a local and regional level in the US. I’ve gotten on the podium a few times at National events and earned a place on the USA Team for the World Championship Long Course Duathlon.

I did okay racing in the smaller events in Europe. I have trained or raced in: England, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Israel, Australia, and Japan. Racing, however, is not the sole area my interest in sports and health.

I have published a good many peer-reviewed medical manuscripts most on medical aliments, some on sports physiology. I was on faculty at a major medical school where I did much of my research. I’ve also given medical presentations of my academic work in those same countries where I’ve trained or raced. After over four decades of sports competition and medical research I have gotten pretty good at spotting dopers. (I have never pointed anyone out I suspected. Although, some I suspected in cycling and triathlon did get caught.)

In age group competition, the doping is bad. In archery is seems worse than other sports among age groupers. I understand that banned substances may be necessary for the well being of many age groupers. However, it does give them, what I consider, an unfair edge in archery.

Being athletic is good. Shooting a bow isn’t all that phyically demanding compared to competing in an Ironman or running a marathon.  Archery requires a different kind of skill.  Still, archery practice combined with a program to improve physical fitness will benefit an athlete.

It isn’t easy to remain fit for a lifetime.  It is less easy to be an athlete.  It becomes increasing hard for amateur athletes and professionals where income from sport do not provide a living wage.  For them work gets in the middle of the day meaning training becomes more of a scheduling trick. It is possible.  Athletes that take on the extra effort to remain fit enough to reach a podium without banned supplements shouldn’t be, in addition to their work, put into a position where they must surpass other athletes unwilling or unable to adapt a total fitness program.

Some age group archers that are not physically fit yet practice consistently have an advantage over athletes who shoot and combine healthy life choices with competition. The poorly conditioned archery age grouper that is able to consistently practice shooting can have the competitive advantage of drugs used to compensate for high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.  Those drugs assist both the patient’s condition and shooter’s ability. As such they do not need to approach archery as a complete athletic process. Rather, they can practice with their bow, be in miserable overall fitness (non-athletic) and have the advantage during competition of their prescribed drugs.

Individuals that are on beta-blockers may be able to receive a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).  In many cases, beta-blocker use might be reduced or eliminated through healthy choices and exercise.

Dr. Sheps of the Mayo Clinic writes:

If you’re overweight, losing even 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) can lower your blood pressure. As you slim down, it may be possible to reduce your dose of blood pressure medication — or stop taking your blood pressure medication completely. Don’t make changes to your blood pressure medication on your own, however. Do so only after getting your doctor’s OK.

Remember, high blood pressure isn’t a problem you can treat and then ignore. Even if you’re able to stop taking blood pressure medication, it’s still important to maintain healthy habits. Here’s how:

  • Eat a healthy diet — the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an effective eating plan for lowering blood pressure.
  • Get 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your doctor to make sure you’re keeping your blood pressure in check. (1)

Being new to archery I have found it frustrating to train hard and enter an event on an unleveled playing field. Shooters are clean or they or not. If an age grouper is taking a beta-blocker at a minimum they should have a TUE. But, so long as USA Archery allows the unchecked use of beta-blockers by age-groupers during competitions it is not promoting the overall health of the sport.

I doubt that USA Archery is going to put much effort into screening age groupers using banned substances without a TUE.  For age groupers that are fitness focused they need to shoot well to win knowing that similarly trained unfit archers talking prescription drugs have an edge.

From USADA and applies to WADA:(2)

Substances Prohibited in Particular Sports

Some sports have additional rules about the use of beta-blockers. If participating in any of the following sports, please consult the current WADA Prohibited List or Global Drug Reference Online (GlobalDRO.com) before using beta-blockers.

P1. Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers (including, but not limited to atenolol, bisoprolol, carvedilol, esmolol, labetalol, metoprolol, propranolol, sotalol, and timolol) are prohibited for the following sports:

  • Prohibited At All Times (in-competition and out-of-competition): Archery, Shooting
  • Prohibited In-Competition Only: Automobile, Billiards, Darts, Golf, Skiing/Snowboarding in ski jumping, freestyle aerials/halfpipe and
  • snowboard halfpipe/big air, and Underwater Sports as specified.

References:

1.) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure-medication/faq-20058056

2.)

Athlete Guide to the 2018 Prohibited List

Working Hard and Looking Like a Model

We’re fix’in to move. Nearly everything I own is boxed packed and disassembled. Where are the movers? They’re not late; I’d hoped they’d be early. So, here I sit, bored with nothing to do other than waste brain cells scanning the Internet of anything at all of interest.

During that scan I uncovered a common theme among a select group of individuals. The more apparent it become the more comical is seemed. Collectively, I’ll judge and label them as Posers.

In cycling we have a similar group. In cycling we refer to them as “Freds”. A Fred is that cyclist that has all the gear; wears expensive Pro-team replica uniforms, has watched every Tour de France, and is eager to toss out self-worth at a moments notice. The only flaw with Fred is Fred can’t ride.

Sure, Fred can peddle a bicycle without crashing. That is unless Fred happens to be in a group of other riders and has not yet been dropped off the back of the pack. Fred in a bunch of riders is a serious hazard. Not that other riders worry for long, Fred is gone soon after the pace begins to climb.

In archery there is a counterpart to Fred. These are the individuals I refer to here as Posers.

As is scanned and scrolled over the Internet these Posers began to pop. Common threads began to catch my eye. The first suspicion was how often  these Posers had so many absolutely pristine photographs of themselves.

Admittedly, I am jealous. Online, in my case, the photographs are awful. Those I discovered of me reek from nerd or geek to sweaty, snotty nosed, and disheveled. How is it that any image of me seems totally without the composed grace of a Poser?

Taking a deeper dive into the Poser, I sought remedy to my shamed ego. Then, another clue surfaced. The Poser images seemed to have been professionally captured.

I confuss that professional photographers, mostly lining some race course, have taken a number of pictures of me. I have shamelessly posted them here and on social media. I am not without sin.

The difference is that, unlike the Poser, I was mostly unaware of the shot being taken. Occasionally, I’d see a photographer on a racecourse and I knew she was snapping pictures. Sadly, my awareness was often too late to “fix” myself up. I’d round a turn in a race and there’d sit someone with a fancy camera and ‘Press’ name tag. There I’d be with a grimace, snotty nose, and glazed eyes.

The Poser photographs are of people composed, clear-eyed, sporting perfect skin, and wide smiles with sprinkling teeth. Occasionally, they’re emitting a stern look almost philosophical in nature. It is as if the Poser is somehow trying to portray a spiritual appearance before or after something meaningful that is about to or has just occurred. Seeing such sincere expressions on other athletes made me glad I’ve only once been digitally frozen in time while taking a “natural break” on the side of a road. (Lake Placid Ironman, 2011 – urinating next to a bush. Posterior view only. Professional Photographer, Larry Ten Ecyk. Thanks, Larry.)

The final clue of the Poser that pushed me over the top of this ridiculous barrage of posing is make-up. Upon close inspection it was obvious many of the Posers are wearing make-up!

Wearing make-up to compete. Wearing make-up to shoot. Wearing make-up to hunt! (Women and men) Yes, we’ve seen those Olympic sprinters lining up for a 100-meter sprint wearing make-up. We’ve noticed their beauty and grace. We are aware they are wearing make-up. They are also being paid millions of dollars to run great and if they look good while doing so, fine. Pay me millions (even thousands) to shoot a bow, run or ride a bike, and someone can slap make-up on my face. (It won’t help; I’ll still sweat it off, grimace, blow snot and look bad in general.)

These Internet Posers aren’t Olympians. They seem to be individuals with more money and ego than necessary. They engage professional photographers and make-up artists to capture them posing as make believe athletes. Certainly, there are Posers that look good doing whatever it is they are trying to look good at while doing it. I remain apart from that group.

Two years ago a photographer was accompanying a newspaper reporter at an archery tournament where I was competing.  The reporter wanted a picture of me to use with his article and asked permission before setting his photographer loose upon me.  I agreed and the photographer followed me around doing gyrations with her camera while clicking away pictures.

That day the news duo showed me the picture they’d selected to run with the newspaper article.  The article ran, the paper’s editor had chosen to exclude the picture of me. Again, my fifteen minutes denied.

Perhaps, Posers think the image of them looking good doing something athletic will encourage Nike to send them a contract. It won’t. If you’re good enough Nike will find you. Should that happen you won’t need to worry about make-up or looking good. You’ll just need to be great at your sport.

Archery manufacturers don’t seem quite as discriminating as Nike. Hunting apparel companies, well… a nice face and body can lead to an income as a model. Heck, is many cases, when it comes to archery or hunting a beer belly is not a disadvantage.

In fact, Posers seem to be play-acting as models in hope of becoming an outdoor adventure model. Certainly for some it has worked. To them I say, “Good on you!” From what I’ve scanned online today, among Posers many aren’t seeing what I’ve seen. All of them, however, are better looking than me. At least, they are more photogenic. And overall, no sweat, dirt, grimace, or run away boogers.

Wind to My Back

The wind has been awful out here on the Little River. I can’t remember a day without white caps. It makes archery practice a challenge. Early in the mornings the wind is typically not so bad. That has not been the case for a while. Cycling is good in one direction.

Remember that feeling you had when you were a kid, riding your bicycle with a tailwind pushing you along. That how it was today on an out and back ride from home.

There was a cross wind as I pedaled down my road. Once I turned right there was a furious tail wind. Within minutes I was in my biggest gear pushing as hard as I could. It didn’t take long for that to taper into a nice tempo in a large gear cruising at 27 mph. It just felt so good.

Before too long I reached the turn around point, that is where things changed.

Chasing my shadow on the ride home.

Amazed, Dumbfounded and Thanks

The data I have on this website from my GoDaddy account, as far as I can figure, only stores for 12 months. On the 13th month, the earliest month of collected data is dropped. Thus, a 12-month loop.

I check my data at GoDaddy every month or so and am dumbfounded. Certainly, I am not a great writer and what I post is full of over-looked typos, poor grammar, fragments of sentences, and other mistakes that make expert writers shake their heads.

Nevertheless, and not withstanding the literary pain inflicted people that understand language better than I, I continue to crank out posts about this adventure in archery. What is amazing, a lot of people read those posts.

Over the previous 12 months, 160,713 people visited this site. Those visitors read 387,364 pages and the site had 1,218,128 hits.

Amazing and thanks.

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/

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.