Moving on Back

Practicing archery, for me, is more fun than tournaments.  Tournaments are slow.  Practice moves at a livelier pace.  Still, there are times when flinging arrows for hours can become monotonous. That can be improved by adding training games to your practice.

If you practice solo there are ways to make your planned sessions exciting.  There are a number of games I use.  These are: the yellow game, the tournament game and the Move Back game – among others.  Of these I find the Move Back game the most challenging.

The yellow game is simple; shoot as many arrows in the yellow rings at any given distance.  Record the shots at aim for 100% of your arrows in the yellow. The tournament is where you work to duplicate the conditions of an actual tournament.

The Move Back game is where you select a starting yardage and don’t increase the distance until a set number of arrows hit the center ring.  For example, 30 out of 30.

Thirty out of thirty can be tough as distances increase.  To reduce frustrations make changes.  You can personalize any way your want based on your ability. A change I use is 10 center shots in a row starting at 30 yards.  I also move back using increments of 10 yards; some folks might rather use 5-yard increments.

For me, 30 yards is usually just 10 arrows.  Forty yards takes a few tries, fifty yards gets more difficult to get 10 center shots in a row, 70 yards – well that remains a frustration for me.

Generally, I stop shooting after 100 to 120 arrows.  At that point I take a break.  When I resume shooting I pick up where I left off.  That is I start at 60 yards if that is where I left off during the earlier practice.  (This is on the same day.)

The day after shooting a Move Back game I’ll not continue the game.  The Move Back game is tough so the next day I’ll plan something else.  Once I’ve taken a break from the Move Back game the next time I practice it I start short and work my way back.  Even if I am close to 70 yards when I shoot a Move Back practice session I’ll start at 30 yards after any break extending into another day.

That doesn’t mean I won’t practice at 70 between Move Back practices.  If I shoot a couple of 100 arrows at 70 the next Move Back might be easier.

The Move Back game is also a good way to verify your sight calibrations.

Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

Of the past three outdoor tournaments where I’ve competed it has rained during all of them.  One was soaking rain, another was paused due to lightening, and the remaining event was a drizzle.  Lately, practice has followed suit.

Today, I was debating taking a break.  I’ve not has a full day off in five days.  While I didn’t feel the build up of lots of arrows today really needed to be a recovery day.

I caved and went out to the range.

Not yet raining – it didn’t last

Mother nature seemed to know better and began pouring rain on top of me.  It rained on me yesterday and the day before.  On both days I shot through it. Today was different. I was getting soaked.

Taking the drenching as an omen I packed up and headed indoors.  Perhaps it will clear up this afternoon. Almost a half a day off seems okay at the moment.

It Is A Lot Of Work

To be successful you must first set a goal for success.  Once the goal is established there needs to be a plan to achieve that goal.

Years ago when I was a project manager I had to build plans for products.  Those plans included all sorts of staff, timelines, supplies, regulatory requirements, research, development, sales projects, marketing and budgets.  It was an ordeal.  When I eventually migrated to a level where I managed project managers it seemed easier.

Making a plan in sports is much the same.  Set a goal and build a project plan to achieve that goal.  Along the way there are milestones.  Along the way there is a lot of work.

When I switched to Olympic recurve I set a goal and prior to that goal milestones.  My next milestone is four weeks out. What I’ve been doing, through my training and competition plan, remains on schedule.  Today, I began the flexing of the training program to achieve the next milestone.

I’ve owned the Olympic recurve bow I’m shooting for 276 days.  Of those days I have not shot 100% of the days available.  I’ve allowed for 78 days to recover.  That means I’ve had 198 practice days.  During that time, in and out of competition, I’ve shot 25,790 arrows.  The maximum I can find for one day is 210 arrows.  Generally, I shoot 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon with variances for weather and tapering.  I also didn’t start out shooting 200 per day.  I started at 60 per day and worked up.

As yet I haven’t added a clicker to my bow.  That must be added soon.  I just upgraded the sight.  But, the riser and limbs remain inexpensive beginner level equipment. (Under $300 for the combo – the new sight cost more.)

The arrows aren’t special either.  They are inexpensive at $4.42 each.

What hasn’t got a price tag is practice.  Archery is one of those sports where anyone willing to work can earn a high degree of success.

Today, I didn’t pick up my bow.  It is a rest day having just won a tournament over the weekend.  In preparation for that tournament I practiced the distances by shooting 100 arrows in the morning at one distance then 100 in the afternoon at a different distance all at 25 to 65 yards (5 yard increments) until I had 400 shots at each of the 10 distances or 4000 arrows.  Outside of that count I did 4 practice rounds equal to the shots that would be fired in the event per week for four weeks. (Simulated tournament was 10 warm-up arrows and 60 for score or another 1120 arrows for 5120 arrows)  I won the event.

But, I did miss a goal of breaking the record for the tournament.  It was only a mental goal never written down for 2021.  It is written down for 2022.  It looks like the record for the State was set in 1993, but I am uncertain.  One clear high score, the one to beat I am more sure of was set 6 years ago.  I missed it by 14 points.  I lost 15 of those points on the last 3 targets.  It was one of those situations for which I prepared as best as I could be – dark shadows on black-faced targets aiming with a black dot.  On the last 3 targets I scored 10,10 and 10.  (4-3-3 each time)

I knew the black on black was going to be an issue and practiced as best as I had available to simulate what I might see.  I came close.  In each case the groups were tight just off low right on all targets.  Next year I’ll have a different aperture to compensate for the view. This year the aperture is back ordered.

But, had I not  practiced as close as possible to the projected conditions it could have been worse.

During the competition there was one ‘expert’ recurve shooter that felt he needed to advise me on my low cost gear.  I know what I paid for the equipment.  I knew his riser was more costly that my entire rig (riser, stabilizers, string, plunger, rest, limbs, sight at aperture).  I always felt the best bow on the range is the one in your hand.

While this ‘expert’s’ equipment certainly outweighed mine and his decades of archery are way beyond mine I expect he’s never had a goal or a plan.  He clearly loves the sport and is passionate about it he’ll never advance – which probably isn’t what he’s trying to achieve.  He’s more likely in the sport for social fun.

For me it is more than that. And it is a lot of work.  I will admit I enjoy the practice, even alone with the exception of my dog, River, more that the competitions.

River and I headed out to the range

Training for an International Round

Twenty yards to sixty-five yards at five-yard increments doesn’t sound to tough.  Go shoot these distances and you’d discover it is pretty tough.

What might become clear is:  You can drop points at 20 – 30 and gain points at 55 – 65 yards. Or you can drop points at every distance.  Or you can hit the center at every distance.  In other words – it is tougher than one might think.

Shooting set distances even 70 meters isn’t as complex as shooting multiple distances.  Seventy meters is a long shot (@ 77 yards) but you’re set and can make corrections should you be off a tad.

Shooting an international round you get three shots per distance and move to the next target.  So your sight must be spot on.

Say you shooting 55 yards and the arrow on your elevation scale looks like it is in the correct position.  The needle on the elevation block has a diameter and can cover your calibration mark and still be a few clicks high or low.  If either is askew despite a flawless shot execution the arrow will be off the mark.

Walking through a forest, on and off of fields, and through mixed shade will have an impact on lighting and center placement of a shot. Chances are it won’t be horrible but light can still impact aiming.

Then, there are, at times, the potential for a shift in target elevation.  When the angle becomes significant aiming at your usual center will float your arrow high whether shooting toward a downward set target or an uphill target.  Shooting a set distance, such as 50 meters (compound) or 70 meters (recurve) this isn’t an issue.

When preparing many archers focus on improving their long shots to the neglect of the shorter distances.  The result can be slight improvement at the long shot, over confidence at shorter distances and overall less than optimal scores.

To prepare build a training plan.  For example, practice twice a day once in the morning and one in the afternoon.  There are ten distances.  In the morning pick a short or long distance and shoot 100 arrows.  For the afternoon shoot another 100 arrows at the reciprocal distance.  Over 5 days you’ve shot 1000 arrows at 100 arrows per increment.  Then on one of the two remaining days do practice International Rounds – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. With warm-up shots this is going to put you in the range of 1200 arrows per week. (Your shot count can vary depending on your time available for practice)  The last day is reserved for recovery. Start your international practice as far in advance of an International Competition as feasible in consideration of your event schedule.  (If you’ve been shooting less than 100 arrows per day adjust your load to prevent an injury)

Weak and Tired

Rolling into a tournament tired isn’t good.  I’m tired. It showed my practice this morning. I compete in 3 days.

The fatigue isn’t from shooting.  It is from planting spring crops, running, cycling, building an extension on the chicken run, blowing leaves and pine straw, and power washing the back of our house.  All of this happening on my archery ‘recovery’ day.  I need a recovery day for my recovery day.

While shooting felt good this morning I looked at my arrow placement afterwards. I am practicing on a 5-spot.  Typically, 70% if my arrows on a 5-spot are Xs or 5s the reminder (out of 100) are 4s.  I do this twice a day.  This morning, 45% of my shots were 5s or Xs.  It was weak.

It was raining a bit and very dark at 0830 when I began practice.  But, I often shoot in similar conditions or worse.  I can’t blame it on the weather.  Nope, I blame it on a 17-year-old brain in a body that is nearly 70.

Taper

In nine days I’ll be heading to the Georgia State and USA Archery Indoor Championships. At the moment I am shooting like crap.

Over the past week or so my practice scores have been decreasing.  The volume of practice has been high.  Obviously, fatigue (hopefully) is a symptom of reaching a point of diminishing returns.

A friend of mine is an ex-pro golfer. He once said not to go into a tournament tired.

From past sport experience I understand that excessive fatigue can impact quality of performance.

With that in mind I’ve dropped my daily arrow count o 140 arrows broken into two practice sessions.  Still my scores aren’t competitive.  However, they are creeping up, again.

This afternoon during the 4th quarter of my practices my groups began getting tighter.  I’d jumped from 8.45 points per arrow to 8.8 points per arrow. Then, on the final five ends the average increased to 9.125, closer to where I expect to be shooting at this point with my recurve.

It was hard to stop shooting, but to continue deviated from the plan.  There’s nine days left before I hit the road for the tournaments.  That is a realistic taper.

Since I began shooting an Olympic recurve 186 days ago I’ve taken 49 days for compete recovery.  I understand that shooting a recurve isn’t something that can be picked up over night.  Still, I’ve managed, starting with a lower volume of arrows per day and working my way up, to shoot 16,728 arrows. That’s an overall average of 122 arrows per day.  I’d peaked at 1000 arrows per week but have now dropped to 700 (allow two days break per week at this point) per week.

It feels like a huge drop in volume.  I hope it works.

That Was Awful

It was 37°F when I practiced this morning.  Cold by my standards.  The cold was something the wind was something else.

The wind was blowing so bad, gusts up to 30 mph, that it blew out my ‘Mr. Heater’ outdoor propane heater, repeatedly.  I’d see arrows kick their fletched end when caught by a gust – at 18 meters!

For the afternoon practice it had warmed to 39°F.  To compensate with the warmth the wind picked up.

When I came inside from practice my wife felt my hands.  She then said, “You must have wanted to shoot pretty bad.”

Cold and Rainy Practice

I can take the cold or I can take the rain but the cold and the rain is hard to take. This morning’s practice was both cold and rainy.  Practice was still practice.

If you’ve done a few outdoor archery competitions you may have been caught in the rain. Shooting in the rain is a condition that will happen if you enter enough archery tournaments that take place outside.  Archery doesn’t stop for rain.

Archery does stop for lightening.  Running around with a lightening rod in your hand can lead to shocking outcomes.  If the rain isn’t a storm that causes the judges to call the event and you want to finish you have to shoot through the weather.

It is a good idea to practice in the rain.  Typically, the rain is associated with outdoor distances.  Practice at the moment, here, is 18-meters.  So, I could have skipped the rain since it is unlikely I’ll ever face rain during an indoor tournament.

Nevertheless, I shot through this morning’s rain.  It wasn’t stormy weather just a constant light rain.  It actually became kind of fun.  The temperature was around 40°F so even the cold wasn’t horrible.

Sometimes is can be fun to break a daily pattern by practicing in less than optimal conditions.  Despite the conditions this morning I admittedly enjoyed the session. This afternoon, according the local weather report, should be dry.

Another Winter Day

I was hard to shoot today.  The weather was the matter.  It was cold and windy.

I’ve got a nice outdoor propane heater I stand near while shooting in the cold. It doesn’t get used until the temperature is below 40.  At 40 with the right amount of clothing it isn’t bad without the heater.  However, that right amount of clothing makes archery difficult.

Today I wore nearly the right amount of clothing and used the heater to compensate.  Had it not been for the wind 18-meter practice would have been fine.

Days like this it is easier to stay indoors. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic with unrealized promises of a vaccine no doubt I’d have been practicing on an indoor range. Alas, I remain antibody free and susceptible.

So, that means practicing in the cold, wind and at times rain.

It is Cold, Again

Like last winter and the winter before this winter is cold.  Unlike the prior winters I am not headed to an indoor range to practice.  The ranges where I’ve practiced in the past are mask free at the peak of a pandemic.  It is easier to warm up after practice than it is to recover from lung disease.

With that in mind I head outside and stand next to an outdoor propane heater trying to stay warm while not setting my self on fire.  The colder it becomes the layers of clothes I wear.  The more clothes I wear the lower my scores become.

It is a balance to wear the right number of layer and still be able to clear my bowstring on the release.

3 O’Clock 10 followed by a 3 O’Clock 10

This is Georgia so I know warmer weather isn’t that far away.