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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is Georgia so I know warmer weather isn’t that far away.
I was an innocent question, “So, do you train 3 to 4 times per week?”
I honestly didn’t want to answer the question and tried to side step it. However, our friend, a yoga student of my wife’s, was persistent. I provided the short version:
I train everyday. If there is a day off it is part of a plan for recovery. Generally, this is how it works:
When I wake up in the morning I spend 26 minutes stretching. I eat breakfast then run for 30 to 40 minutes. When I finish the run of skip rope using a speed rope for 5 minutes. Then, I shoot my bow for an hour to an hour and a half. Next I eat lunch followed by a short nap taken on the floor so I don’t get too comfortable.
From there I get up and have a snack. After the snack I ride a bike for 30 minutes to an hour. This is also the time when I’ll write something for this webpage or one of the books I am writing. Then, I shoot my bow for another hour to an hour and a half. The last part of my training is to play my trumpet for 30 minute to an hour (brain training). Playing music, I believe, helps with concentrations and seeing ahead. By seeing ahead, I mean having the notes written on sheets of music in my head before I play them. For me, this is like seeing (and feeling) where an arrow is going to land before it is released.
After dinner I watch something on the television, usually something on Netflix, Amazon or the BBC. Sometimes it is YouTube where I watch archery videos. That lasts between and hour and forty-minutes and two hours. I am never in front of a screen until 7 to 7:30 pm aside from this computer. Then I go to bed and read for a short time before I fall asleep.
Essentially, that’s it. It doesn’t explain the training plan, shooting reviews, practice objectives, etc. That detail would have certainly put an inquiring mind into a deep sleep. It is a six days a week occupation.
It happens every winter – the outside temperatures drop. Today was rough. The temperature was in the upper 30s so not horrible. The wind on the other hand just cut through me.
Even the cold and the wind aren’t awful shooting a compound bow. But, the string on my fingers in the cold is another story.
The cold makes the calluses on the middle finger of my drawing hand crack. Then, it bleeds. It is tender but I can shoot through it. Every once and a while the release is a hair off and the cut gets stung. It wakes me up.
I shortened the morning practice since the cold wasn’t abated using the outdoor heater. The little propane heater couldn’t keep up with the wind. It will warm up into the 40’s my mid-day and I’ll lengthen the afternoon practice.