A Cone of Warmth

Last month I paid $60.00 for unlimited use of a local indoor archery range. It was a good deal. In North Carolina the same deal was $30.00, a better deal. I made the purchase of the archery pass because the weather during the past month has been cold and rainy. The problem with the $60.00 deal is the drive.

The $60.00 range is excellent, the time spend going back and forth is in my opinion is wasted time. The round trip takes an hour. An hour might not seem like a lot but it does impact training. While an hour on the road might not be spent in direct physical activity it does impact how I recover from a morning practice period before entering an afternoon practice period. To make this matter better I got a gift from my son-in-law, an outdoor gas heater.

Glowing red this little heater does a decent job of keeping a limited area warmer.

The little heater makes a big difference. While it doesn’t match an indoor climate controlled environment it does provide an ever-escaping cone of warmth. It uses propane, which is selling for $0.76 a gallon. The gas heater operating on the lowest setting is all the heat needed at around 38°F along with a few layers of clothes. Hopefully, this will help save some cash and time.

Well, that was fun!

It was a pretty exciting day. It was cold and it started with stretching an indoor activity. It wasn’t long before River, my lab, and I hit the trails to run. By then, it had warmed to a toasty 28°F.

There are some big mushrooms in these woods. (My shoe is a size 10 for reference)

For sure, I’ve run when it has been colder. When I lived in Cleveland during the winter temperature around 0°F wasn’t uncommon. Still, I got up and ran.

Lake Erie in the winter

Running here, back home in Georgia, temperatures are as rough in the winter. Heading out on single track or animal trails through the woods is plain fun.

But, archery outside in 28°F isn’t a lot of fun. You just don’t work up enough internal combustion to stay warm. Wearing everything you own to stay warm while practicing is too cumbersome for me. The other night, after league shooting, a fellow and I were heading to our vehicles. It was around 8:20 PM and already getting cold. He bragged about the temperature not being cold to he – being from Boston and all.

For seven years I had an office in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I worked for extended periods of the winters in Sweden. In all of those places, I ran in the morning before work. I understand cold. Spend a winter or two in Uppsala, Sweden and Boston winters seems cute.

Uppsala, Sweden

After running it was off to Ace Hardware is Social Circle, Georgia to use their indoor range. Yep, Ace has an archery pro shop and very nice indoor range. They are also the major sponsor for an archery club, where I am a member, in this area.

Mornings at the hardware store archery range often mean the early risers can have their choice of lane to use. I try to get to the shop as soon as possible. I’m never entirely alone, other shooters come in, fling some arrows, and leave. As a rule, I do have a solid place to practice away from the cold.

Perfect for winter practice

On this morning I used a new target after the first 50 or so arrows. I moved it higher on their archery butt to take some time shooting the top target with a bit more elevation. On my second end on this new target I screwed up.

My shoulders were all wrong, my anchor felt off, my peep had rotated, so I needed to let down and start over. As I was becoming aware to let down I blinked. It seemed that something hit me in the eye. Naturally, with my eyes closed and my braining thinking, “Ouch” the arrow launched away.

All I could do was wait to here the arrow crash into the wall above the target. But, that’s not the sound I heard. I was lucky I heard the arrow hit the archer butt.

Looking for a five at best I didn’t immediately notice the arrow. Looking off the target entirely I still couldn’t find the arrow. Then, no, that is too lucky – the arrow hit the X. Not only hitting the X but it couldn’t have landed more perfectly. It was probably a one in a million shot.

The top arrow, eyes closed, the arrow got away, but seems like a well trained arrow

The weather “person” promised rising afternoon temperatures. So, after the morning at 18-meters I hoped to practice at 25-meters in the forecasted warmth. Sure enough, after a short cold afternoon bike ride, the temperature peaked into the 40s. On top of that, my new target arrived.

The sad, old, poorly repaired, block targets on my range could no longer do their jobs. Sure arrows slowed down, but there was no stopping them. I’d resorted to shooting a bag, which isn’t a great butt for a 3-spot. On the bag I use a vertical 3-spot is too long and the Vegas style target has only on sort of flat target. It was time for a new butt.

Target are expensive. It is one of the items on which I hate spending money. I know that before long the purchase by using it will end up wasted. You can shoot a bow over and over, you can use arrows over and over, but anything you shoot an arrow into eventually is gone.

What I’d been looking at for a replacement cost over $300. The same item was available on Amazon for $260. Amazon also had another brand that was a little smaller, a few inches, but a third the price. I figured for around $100 I’d take a chance.

In this case, that chance paid off. The target is very high quality as good as or better than the more expense products. The bonus is that it arrived about 30 minutes before I was planning to practice 25-meters.

Found on Amazon for around $100. It is heavy, 70 pounds.

During 25-meter practice daylight began to fade. The range is on a cleared area in the woods behind our house. In those woods, off not too far, I could hear coyotes howling. Usually, I’ll carry at least a pistol with me on the range; particularly in the summer as defense against rattlesnakes and copperhead. During winter months I don’t always bring a pistol. Those coyotes were too close for comfort even though I had a bow.

The coyotes marked the end of a fun day. There was running and riding and shooting. Granted, it was all part of training to do well in archery, which is sort of like a fun job.

Leveling the Playing Field

Backyard archery isn’t as controlled as shooting indoors. Shooting outside is great and ideal for 3D practice or long shot archery. Its fortunate that I’ve got room for long shots, up to 100 yards, and practicing 3D. But, those short shot practice sessions, when conducting the work outside, can be a bit of a challenge.

A major part of the problem is a level archer’s box. My property slopes and rises. That’s great for 3D. It isn’t so great for shooting dots.

At intervals from the target I have little flags stuck in the ground for distance. Each flag, in 5-yard increments out to 80 yards (at the moment no flags from 80 to 100 yards). Every flag drops in elevation from the target. At all of the flagged positions my left leg lands a little higher than my right, which makes for some lope-sided shooting.

25-meter spot

In order to remedy the awkward stance I use a hoe and level the field. That makes for better shooting and less frustration.

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.

 

Frozen

When I finished practice this morning the temperature had climbed to 44°F from 37°F. Half way through practice I stopped, hiked back to the house, went inside, thawed, added more and thicker clothes and headed back out. The temperature had risen a little and was outmatched by the increase in wind. Convective heat loss is heartless.

I know some of you archers who live north of the Mason-Dixon line laugh at a windy 37°F. You’ll be outdoors at that temperature taking selfies to post of fresh snow while barefoot, wearing short pants and a tee shirt. I applaud your grit and wish you speedy recovery from your pneumonia.

By the time I finished practice I felt like the Michelin Man. I was wearing many puffy layers. Five layers up top to be exact: short sleeved undershirt, long sleeved undershirt, running insulated top, down filled vest and a jacket. The bottom half, an error in thermoregulation, consisted of jeans, socks and boots. Tomorrow morning I’ll be sporting long johns.

For my head and ears I done right. An Elmer Fudd hunting hat – flaps down. Hands are another matter. I’d ordered hand warmers from Amazon. They hadn’t arrived. When I mentioned the warmly anticipated order to my wife, Brenda, she corrected me. Turns out I never ordered them. I’d put them in the cart and forgotten to click order. (I placed the order after coming in from yesterday’s morning practice. I suppose my brain was still in a hypothermic state.) No, I’d not clicked the order and Brenda cleared the cart.

I can wear a glove on my bow hand, which I did. It is thin and doesn’t provide much insulation. The hand that holds my release just freezes.

Yesterday, during the Georgia versus Auburn football game my son-in-law showed me his outdoor propane portable heater. With it running I stood next to it. It was pretty good. When I return to Amazon today to actually order those hand warmers that propane heater will also make it to the cart. Just have to remember to click the order.

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Stretching and Flexibility

Slow and easy, that’s how I go when it comes to stretching. I stretch as part of my morning routine. That is, as soon as I roll out of bed. To some, they’ll say, “Whoa, that’s not good, you could hurt yourself stretching when you’re cold.”

Well, I go slowly. It feels great. I look forward to it.

There was a time when I was extremely flexible. I studied karate for years and I stretched a lot. Cycling took place of karate and it wasn’t long before I lost most of that flexibility. I still ride a bike. I am no longer as limber as I was during my karate phase. But, I realized that flexibility was an importance adjunct to overall fitness.

Coaching Tip

“Flexibility exercise is one of the four types of exercise along with strengthbalance and endurance. Ideally, all four types of exercise would be included in a healthy workout routine and AHA provides easy-to-follow guidelines for endurance and strength-training in its Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.”1

As we age it is easy to neglect flexibly. Well, so are strength, balance, and endurance fitness programs. It is easiest to do zero exercise. You know this is true of most folks as suggested by the current state of obesity in America. For you, an archer, all four types of exercise are more important that you may think – especially if archery is your primary (only) form of fitness training.

As an archer it is a good idea to have a plan that includes flexibility along with your balance, strength and endurance adjuncts to shooting.

A stretching routine need not take a long time. I get all main muscle groups in about 30 minutes. Since I do this first thing in the morning I move slowly and feel tightness slipping away.

There are a number of sights online where you can find more about flexibility and stretching. As this site develops I’ll add my routine if you’d like to follow it.

Reference:

1.) http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/staying-motivated/stretches-for-exercise-and-flexibility

 

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Daylight Saving Time and Archery Practice

Try this once you’ve gotten your body accustom to daylight saving time: Go to bed one hour later than usual. Wake up at your usual time. Go to bed at your usual time. Wake up an hour earlier. (Yes, of course not on the same night.)

Which one makes your feel more sluggish? If you’re like most folk the latter of the two sleep pattern disruptions makes you more sluggish. That’s why we often feel out of sorts when we switch to daylight saving time. It is also way falling back often seems harder than springing forward. (Aside from the bonus hour in the spring)

Last night we made the switch and fell back. I was optimistic that it might not be as awful this year as all of those in the past. Nope, I felt like crap.

Getting through morning archery practice was pretty miserable. I considered ditching the workout. I didn’t, I trudged through it.

There will be archery tournaments that may require you to shoot without having a perfect night’s sleep. It is good practice to continue your training when you’ve simply had a poor night’s rest. You’ll gather information on how you’ll perform and be able to consider techniques that will aid you making corrections.

Coaching tip

For example, when your shooting is off because of poor sleep, you may make shots where your form is sloppy. Understanding that you’re not physically worn out, rather you are shooting while a bit sleep deprived can help you pause and figure out what to do. In this case, slow down, work through the shot process and trust your training. You’ll need to dig deep to focus on the shot process and not get lazy.

It’s easy to make sloppy shots when you’ve missed some sleep before a practice. You don’t have the tournament adrenaline rush to boost you up. Still, lack of sleep not withstanding, do your practice, concentrate on each arrow and mentally override that momentary disruption in sleep pattern.

Professional athletes who travel  learn to make this mental adjustment needed to deal with disrupted sleep. Think of yourself as a professional who is continually competing in different time zones. When that day comes and you need to have this skill you’ll be glad you practiced it.

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.

Tips for running in the dark

Lately, most of my running has been done in the dark. I am usually cruising through the woods before sunrise.  That may change when we switch to daylight saving time.

I like running trails in the dark. I like running trails in the light. Either way, trail running is more appealing to me than pounding pavement.

There are a few things to do when running in the dark that are less significant issues when running over trails in the daylight. You need to be aware of how you plant your feet. You need to lift and plant a bit more slowly. Otherwise, you could snag a foot and trip. If the trail is tight don’t run into a tree. You aren’t big enough or fast enough to run through a tree. You are not The Flash. Trees will stop you.

Wear glasses with clear lenses so you don’t poke an eye out on a low limb. You should have a good outdoor bearing for direction. Trails coming and going don’t always look the same in the dark. Have a good headlamp and fresh batteries. Bring a spare flashlight just in case.

During hunting season light yourself up. More than one light isn’t a bad idea. If you are running with a dog, put a red light on her collar. Try to run where you know no one is hunting. You don’t want to get shot because some idiot thought your dog’s red light was Rudolph’s red nose.

Coaching tip

If you are a hunter or 3D archer running though the woods is another way to enjoy the outdoors without a bow in your hand.  It is also a good method for getting you archery fitness on track.