In any sport training needs variety to keep the athlete fresh. Archery is probably the least exciting when it comes to practice of any sport I’ve done. Football was always exciting. Practice typically meant some form of hitting. Same with karate. Cycling, running and swimming can become routine. There are plenty of new trails and roads to keep cycling and running fresh, as does changing intensity and training solo or with a group. Swimming can be mind numbing especially when your goal is some long swim, only.
But, archery is in a class of its own. Archers frequently practice alone often in their backyards. Shoot over 100 arrows a day for years at 20 yards and you’ll understand routine. You’ll also be really good at 20 yards.
Fortunately, I’ve had and still have a range. In fact, I have two, one for 3D and one for dots. Everyday I practice on those ranges. To mix it up I lay out specific practice goals. Believe me that helps.
Archers that live in cities and rely on indoor ranges, public outdoor ranges at parks, and backyard ranges have grit. They have discipline and often a little extra cash for range fees. For those archers that live in the country and have enough property to create our own ranges count your lucky stars.
After a while shooting dots can become routine. To keep it fresh changing targets helps.
Shooting at the larger outdoor target face for 50-meters is about the same as shooting at the target face used for 18-meters. The colors are the same, the size changes. It does become a tab repetitive firing arrows into the same color.
Trying something new I used pistol targets. They’re black with a small orange center. Sounds good – it wasn’t.
The sun, for this practice session, was over my back. The sight I’m using is a small monofilament on a narrow stem. You guessed it, the pin didn’t illuminate. Aiming a black stem onto a black target is rough.
I used the set-up, anyway. Might as well practice something a bit harder than it has to be in the event that one day I find myself in a similar situation during competition.
Trudging back and forth to pull arrows I was staring at my feet. To be exact I was staring at the boots on my feet.
It had already been a long day. I’d skipped the morning archery practice in favor of a longer run and washing the truck. The truck needed washing badly. Running over trails is fun and I was craving a long haul. So I amended my training plans.
The truck has been doing a lot of hauling and was dirty inside and out. As a bonus the car got washed as well. So, during archery practice my head has hanging during those hikes to pull arrows.
What my hanging head noted was the color of my boots. Pollen yellow boots.
It is that time of year where pollen is everywhere and on everything here in Georgia. If you’ve got allergies to pollen this is not a place for you.
Spring is time to make repairs to 3D targets. It is also time to start trimming the growth on the 3D range.
Of course, before any of those chores started a little 3D practice was called for.
If I can find some local 3D events in which to compete, I’ll not be following with the original 2019 3D plan. That plan was to use a bow set up for competing in the hunter class – pins and a short stabilizer. Unfortunately, the target bow I’d been shooting is a bust and the backup bow, used for 3D, is now the primary and only bow.
Because there are easy to find outdoor target events that backup bow is now set up with long stabilizers, a sight and scope, and set for skinny arrows. Those skinny arrows will have to be the arrows used for 3D because I’m just not going to switch things around everyday to practice with skinny versus fat arrows. So, 3D will be solely for fun being at a slight handicap on arrow diameter.
When I practiced 3D today the skinny arrows did miss a line or two leaving me with a 10 that might have been a 12 with a larger diameter arrow. It would have been nice to have two bows – well I did have two bows – that is two bows that performed well.
You might think it is all me regarding the “nicer” bow that failed and is now banned from my range. But, after a solid year of saying to anyone that would listen that the bow wasn’t right I let the numbers do the talking. Keeping data on both bows revealed the backup bow out performed the ‘fancy’ bow when in my hands (7% better – 7% is a lot of points at 50 meters). For me, the backup bow is much better and that means one bow rather than two for the different archery disciplines.
Even so, shooting on the 3D range is a nice break from flinging arrows at dots.
I often mention the number of archers that I compete against that appear, in my expert opinion, to be taking beta-blockers. They’re taking the drug, a PED in archery, to manage their hypertension.
I spent a solid decade studying hypertension and methods of treating it. During that period I published research, sponsored the research of others, and helped develop methods to improve the health of people that have hypertension.
One of the best ways to combat the typical hypertension I see is through diet and exercise. I worry about hypertension and the impact it could have on me. Personally, a stroke would seriously limit my activity.
With that in mind, I exercise a lot. The exercise aids in keeping my weight down – I do enjoy a good meal. I admit I have exercised a lot all my life.
Picking up archery later (at 58 years old) than most archers being fit has not hurt me. If I stopped shooting a bow tomorrow I’d still run and ride a bike. In fact, I run almost everyday and ride a bike at least 4 times a week.
I used to ride more when I raced bicycles. When I picked up duathlons and triathlons cycling became another element of the sport. Of all the sports I’ve done cycling is my favorite (no offense to archers). Actually, football is my second favorite sport and had it not been for cycling I’d have played in college.
In my junior year of high school I’d been scouted by a few college teams. My high school coach had all but guaranteed my parents I’d get a chance to play in college. To them that meant college tuition they’d not have worry about.
But, I got hooked on cycling and thought I’d give it a ride to see if I’d make an Olympic Team. It is impossible to keep weight on while racing bicycles. So, my football opportunities dropped as fast as the weight.
Cycling didn’t pan out either. Just out of high school I did have a chance to race in Europe but passed and gradually migrated my attention to academics then a day job. Through out it all I stayed on a bike. And I eventually raced in Europe.
Decades of fitness are paying off now that I’m in my mid-60s. I take no prescription drugs. My blood pressure runs around 117/68 and my percentage of body fat is in the single digits.
Where fitness pays other dividends is in archery. Over a long two-day tournament I am far more bored than fatigued.
The hardest thing for me in archery is to remain in the game. During a 4-hour 100-mile bicycle race or a 5-hour 70.3-mile ½ Ironman, I can stay focused. (The young professionals are much faster than those times.) During a marathon or ½ marathon focus isn’t an issue. During a long archery tournament my mind becomes numb.
That lack of focus might be assisted by a PED. Certainly, those early end jitters would be reduced. But, it is better to be fit and get through an event without the aid of a hypertension support medication. It is even better not to have high blood pressure.
Want to get fit? Check with your doc before you run around the block.
During 3D I shoot, mostly, with pins. More than once I’ve put the wrong pin on a target and messed up the shot. You’d think this wasn’t too smart and you’d be right.
This morning, shooting from 55 yards, I put scrolled my sight in at 45 yards. No matter how perfect your form might be it is not going to be a good shot.
Dumb things happen from time to time. One of the dumbest is shooting at a target twenty yards away for your first shot of the day when you last shot of the day before was at 60 yards and not adjusting your sight. Do that and you’ll probably never find that arrow if you’re shooting outside. I left a number of arrows in the woods near our old home in North Carolina having not learned my lesson the first time or two.
When I do these dumb things I’m often glad no one is around to witness the mistake. That doesn’t stop me from writing about those mental farts. The only witness to my practice screw-ups is typically a Labrador retriever, River. If she’s gnawing on a bone she doesn’t even notice.
Slowly spring is coming. There was a bit of a struggle during the past few days and it was cold. It has starting warming up, and– hopefully – the struggle is over.
Practicing at 60 yards in the cold sucks. As practice continued to grind the temperature slowly climbed. As it warmed apparel was removed. The little outdoor heater was cranked off and the gloves came off.
Despite the warming I still shot poorly. Far too many 8s. Still the outdoor season is young and the first 50-meter tournament is not until May.
Before archery practice this morning, like nearly every morning, I ran. On the trails where I run there are some enormous pine trees. I’ve been trying to remember to carry a camera to take a picture so you can see. Here is one of them:
For comparison, you can see the regular tall pine trees next to this larger pine tree.
Of course, after running, I practiced archery. For the past couple of days outdoor archery has been rough.
I put on every article of clothing I own to stay warm, use an outdoor propane heater and get through it just fine.
What really hurts, is heading out on a bicycle when the temperature is still in the 30s and the wind is howling.
After shooting at 20 meters for months it is refreshing to start 50-meter practice. The next competition for me is not until May. In May that event is the Georgia Cup.
There are other tournament, like the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Arizona Cup, but I’ll skip those events. They both represent a huge expense for little reward.
There are 3D shoots but 3D probably isn’t going to be a major discipline for me in 2019. Certainly, 3D is enjoyable and I was looking forward to at a minimum the Georgia ASA State Championship. Being bow poor, having one for skinny arrows only, it seems like a waste of time to train then compete against fat arrows. Additionally, I’ve e heard that in Georgia archers who compete in the State Championship must complete two qualifiers. Georgia is a big State and getting to qualifiers can be expensive.
Still there’s a pull to shoot in some 3D competitions. I’ve got an old Mathews Conquest Apex 3 stored in a case; maybe I could bring that out and shoot it for 3D. I’d sold the bow once and the fellow that bought it gave it back to me. He said, “Keep this bow and keep the money.” It is suppose to have been a good bow.
Something may pop-up between now and May, I hope so. I need to feed my urge to compete. Worse case, I run a lot of 5ks.