Clearing woods and pitiful archery

Moving is more than simply having one house loaded, moved to the next, and then unloaded. Although, that is a major task, there are all sorts of landscaping that needs to be done on our property.

We have three acres of thick forest behind our backyard. Our “backyard” has now been fenced and sodded. But, the land beyond the fence is practically impenetrable it is so thick. There are a couple of old trails that pass across the land, but other than those passages navigation is a challenge.

The new 18-meter set-up

This land is where I want to put a 3D range. I’d, also, like a place for picnics and short hikes when the grandkids come to visit. To have that means clearing the land. After three days of hacking and chopping I was beat.

This patch wasn’t too bad
Targets waiting for a home on partially cleared land

On top of the clearing work I’ve been trying to run every morning, shoot after running, then hack, chop, and pull, eat lunch, get on my bike in the afternoon then chop some more and finally get in a second archery practice. Let me tell you, that kind of work and archery do not mix – at least for me.

Tools for the job

 

This section is starting to open up

By the end of the third day it was all I could do to lift my bow. That night I joined a local archery competition and shot horribly. The next day I hired a crew to help with the land clearing. I’d found my physical limit.

Wonder if any body is home?

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Looking out the window here at our new home in Good Hope, Georgia, there is an unusual sight. There is blue sky!

It has rained and rained since we move here a couple of weeks ago. The rain has hampered some of the work we’re still doing to the property here. Despite the bad weather things are moving along.

What is hurting the most is archery. Two days a week I can’t shoot at the indoor range located in Social Circle, Ga. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. Shooting outside is now possible, except when it’s raining.

Looking at the sky I now see the blue was only a tease. Maybe it won’t rain and just remain overcast.

Finding Space to Shoot at Home in Georgia

We fenced in part of our property here in Good Hope, Georgia. For the first time our dogs, River and Nixie need to live within the box. Both grew up on the Little River in North Carolina and have little experience with a fence. Their days of being free range dogs are behind them.

It’s not a small box, around 14,000 square feet, but it is still a box. And within that box I needed to set up an 18-meter stop for targets.

The first arrangement was nice and level. However, the sun was always in my face. The area within the fence has little to offer when it comes to level ground. But, the sun always directly in my eyes at the initial target placement meant finding the next best place to set my blocks.

Along the northeastern edge of the fence lays the second most level potential and didn’t need addition tree removal to shoot 18-meters. So, there is where the target now sits.

Shooting a bit downhill. More blocks of brick will fix this problem.

One of the things I’ll miss about our place in North Carolina is the shed where I stood while practicing against a 3-spot. No wind hitting me, level and best of all heat. That little space heater was a real treat even on the coldest of days.

Practice was a little rough. It has been weeks since I’ve been about to have a practice routine. You can see the metal fence we ran across the from of the house facing the road. In the woods I put up black vinyl coated chain link.

This is Georgia, so I am hoping for some warmer days coming soon. Before it gets too warm I’ll have the 50-meter range and 3D ranges in place. For now, with all these 18-meter tournaments on the calendar it’s all about short shots at little dots.

Moving and Practice Don’t Mix Well

We’re moved into our new home in Good Hope, Georgia. During the first seven days here we: unpacked, had a small barn build, had a fence (14,000 square feet of fencing) installed, had the pantry, laundry room, and master closets stripped and rebuilt, bought two TVs, installed one TV on a wall, got a new washer and dryer, got Dish TV set up, and finally got the internet. We, also, got our Georgia driver’s licenses. The house looks good and there are still more changes scheduled or being planned.

All of this moving activity has impacted archery practice. Pretty much eliminating practice. That’s not good considering Sunday is the Georgia State Indoor Championship. I’ll shoot it regardless of the lack of practice. The tournament is so close, 32 minutes away; it would be a crime to not show up.

I am looking forward to having everything in place here at the new house. That’s will lead the way to some order and routine. Until then, I’ll rely on my base preparation and hope to not miss a target.

38 Hours

We’re nearly all packed for our move to Georgia. The movers load our furniture and boxes on Friday. They can’t get our “stuff” to us until the 22nd through 24th of January. Really bad timing for archery.

We’d anticipated being in our new home by the end of December. Hurricane Irma put the builders behind schedule. The time infringement is now on archery practice and a few major archery tournaments coming up in February. Oh well, that’s how it goes.

We’re still in our house here in North Carolina for the next 38 hours or so. There’s not a dish unpacked. We’re eating off the china we in our Winnebago for camping. Today, 100% of my archery equipment was packed. I shot three arrows at 18-meters before I disassembled my bow – hit a 10 and two nines. Yesterday, when no one was noticing I slipped away for a decent practice. But, that’s it for a while.

Hopefully, I can get some practice in while we’re in Georgia waiting to moving into our new house. We’ll be staying with our daughter and her family until our “stuff” arrives. She’s only 10 miles away from the new place. And she’s close to Ace Archery in Social Circle. There may be a number of, “Has anyone seen David?” “No, and his truck is gone,” moments while we wait out the arrival of our possessions.  Then, there’s bond to be a, “Where have you been,” inquiry.

The house here still hasn’t sold. We had two offers this past week but both were too weak to accept. The second was close and we referred a counter offer to the potential buyer.

Until it sales, I plan to continue to come back and forth in the camper and enjoy some trips to the Little River and the Outer Banks. Who knows, if it isn’t too much of a burden to make the drive we may just keep North Carolina house as a vacation home. It is why we bought it in the first place.

In the meantime, I am anxious to get archery practice back on track.

 

Yes Sir, It Is Cold Outside

We started a road trip to Georgia on the 19th of December. We returned to North Carolina on the evening of January 2nd. January 3, we had to stock up on groceries and unpack from the road trip. January 4th there was Winter Storm Grayson to deal with. Over those 17 days it was only possible to practice archery four times. Typically, over the same duration there would have been 32 practice sessions.

At least the 50mph winds had died down

There is still snow on the ground from Grayson and the temperature  peaked around 27°F. Regardless, there was 18-meter archery practice. You might think, “Why not drive to a nearby indoor range?” Simply, nope, no way. The roads are covered with snow and ice. In this part of the country there are plows, but snowplows are a rarity.

It was so cold I had to place the pen used to record arrows and notes on the space heater to keep the ink flowing

When it comes to shooting in the cold there is a space heater in the shed where I stand. However, the doors to the shed must remain open during the shooting. The little space heater did all it could but the temperature in the shed didn’t go above 28°F. When it came to timing how long to stay in the cold, my “toes knows” when to stop. When they felt frozen I’d stop, go inside, thaw before heading back out.

I heated these boots before putting them on. They felt great for a few minutes.

Practice was awful. It’s hard to know if the sorry shooting was the lack of practice, the cold, all the clothes being worn to fight the cold, or the combination of all three. Regardless of the reason, the practice scores were two of the lowest three scores I’ve shot since USA Archery switched to the smaller 10 ring.

Snow covered toes.

This moving stuff

Getting a new house is exciting. Getting one that we don’t have to immediately renovate is nice. Here’s the thing, before we’ve set foot in the door we’ve changed ceilings, customized closets, had kitchen plans modified, added trim work everywhere inside the house, changed the driveway, and picking out everything from flooring to roofing. The past few days we’ve hired someone to build a custom shed on the property, found a fence guy, and met with a landscaper to work on the 3D range.

The landscaper was a lucky find. He’s also an archer. He’s not the landscaper that is currently doing our landscaping. Both are archers. The current guy is too busy. The new guy, Andy is our new next-door neighbor. As such, a lucky find.

The other landscaper guy told me he was so busy he had no idea when he might have time to help design my 3D range. However, he mentioned that there is a free 3D range just 15 minutes from our new house. Needing a break from spending money I decided to search for this free 3D range.

Certainly uninteresting shots but good for judging yardage.

I found it. In fact, it is only 15 minutes from my house. But, it is simply 3D targets set up on a range. It’s not 100% free. You need to have a Georgia DNR Hunting license. So, aside from that fee, which I pay anyway, I’m good to go on the DNR range.

Today wasn’t the day to test the free range. It was too cold and windy.  Still hoping to shoot my bow on the round trip home, I stopped at Ace Hardware Social Circle. Now where I wrote ‘home’ I am referring to my daughter’s house in Watkinsville. We’re staying with her while we add a few finishing touches to our house in progress.

Oh, I can’t wait to shoot this big fellow.

In Social Circle Ace is the Place to shoot indoors. It was nice to get some practice. On this trip, we left about 10 days ago; I’ve only gotten in three practice sessions. Today made the fourth. On a more positive note, running is above par and cycling is just below on my current training plan.

Trying to compensate for some loss of hours training, running and riding were on today’s agenda along with archery. Running and riding in the cold really takes it out of me. I’ve been asleep since I began writing this post.

Talent Transfer

It was not my intention to be competitive in archery. It was only suppose to be a backyard pastime. Then, I read, “Faster, Higher, Stronger: The New Science of Creating Superathletes, and How You Can Train Like Them” by Mark McClusky.

In his book McClusky writes there are two sports where an athlete over 50 can be an elite: shooting and archery. He further writes about talent transfer and the 10,000 rule. Looking into this with more depth archery became a sport wherein I decided to become competitive.

The first order of business, aside from getting a bow, some arrows, and such, was to determine if that 10,000 hour rule could be broken by a 59 year old cyclist/triathlete turned archer. There also needed to be a measure of where that might be properly evaluated.

The measure I selected as a goal was equivalency in cycling. At my best, as a cyclist I won State Road, time trial and sprint Championships in the same year. In 2017 in archery I won State Indoor, Outdoor and 3D Championships. It took less than 48 months to achieve those objectives in archery. It did not take 10,000 hours.

The 10,000 hour rule is based on what judges might say is a summary of the time it take anyone to became an elite performer. I do not have 10,000 hours of archery practice under my belt. Because I’ve some championships does that mean I’ve broken the 10,000 rule to become an elite performer in archer? Simply, no.

Look at three archers considered elite: Brandon Gillenthien, Jesse Broadwater, and Reo Wilde. Their last published scores for 120 arrows at 18-meters comes to an average score of 1183 or 1190, 1190, and 1170, respectively. My best score for 120 arrows at 18-meters in 1158 or 2.1% lower than the elites’ average over one event where they competed. While 2.1% doesn’t look like a lot it is a huge difference – 25 points. It is this variance that separates me from an elite based strictly on score.

Cadel Evans, mountain biker (photo from:http://www.treadmtb.co.za/cape-epic-2017-day-6-tread-notes-observations/)

The next question is how long will it take to close that 25-point gap? As a rule, I generally know how many arrows I shoot per year. I have not kept hours of practice logged but do have a rough estimate of 1250 hours per year. Along with the 10,000 rule this matches the eight-year rule. The eight-year rule says it takes eight years of deliberate practice to become an elite. At my current rate of practice I should reach the elite level in 2020. However, my improvement percentage change year on year has me reaching the scoring level for elite status late 2018 or early 2019.

Cadel Evans, Tour de France Champions (photo:http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/cadel-evans-the-legacy-of-australias-greatest-rider/)

What I have learned is that Talent Transfer from cycling, for example, to archery has only minor advantage. The main benefit is focus on training. In cycling there are a lot of long hours on the bike. In archery there are a lot of long hours on the range. Beyond that, the sports are so dissimilar that there is little crossover. It certainly isn’t like being a mountain bike rider that crosses over to road racing as in the case of Cadel Evans winner of the Tour de France (2011) and Olympic Mountain Bike racer (9th place Atlanta 1996).

Mountain Biking, Shooting and Ditching (Not in that order)

Ditching was first on the agenda. Not my agenda, River’s agenda. If you haven’t been a reader here you might not know who is River. River is my Labrador Retriever. I’ve not met a Lab that doesn’t love the water. River is crazy about water.

It rained hard here in Georgia yesterday. Every ditch and creek was brimming with water. River runs with me and this morning we headed out to run a trail we discovered yesterday. Knowing of a ditch that pools with water along the usual run I decided to avoid that direction. I was pretty sure we could get to the new trail a back way. It was an attempt to keep River out of the rain off ditch pool.

River has been smelling a bit ‘above bad’ having had a bath last week. It would be nice if she’d not stink when we’re visiting family. Were here in Georgia visiting family for Christmas. River doesn’t often have ‘nice’ wafting off of her coat. If she goes ditching (Ditching: jumping into a water filled earthy conduit and running as hard as possible) there is going to be stink.

It’s not that she’s naturally stinky. She works hard to reach an apex of olfactory funk. Rather than chance she’d jump into an overflowed ditch that forms such a tempting pool of water we headed in the opposite direction. That didn’t end up as planned.

The run put us at trails that simply called us forward. After nearly an hour of running it was becoming clear we were heading around a wide weaving circle. In the back of my mind a worry suggested we’d come out of the woods at a point where the pool would be between home and us. I considered turning back figuring that might add another 45 minutes to the run. That time would eat into archery practice. We remained on course. Plus, I wasn’t really up for nearly 2 hours of trail running.

It turned out my worry wasn’t unfounded. Once we cleared the woods my fragrant neutral dog hopes dimmed. Within two tenths of a mile there was the pool of rainwater. River was only 10 yards ahead, 30 yards from the water. She stopped as soon as she spotted her wet reward. Slowly she turned back toward me, gave dog grin and made a beeline for the ditch. I sprinted toward her and with increasing volume ordered her to stop. The louder I got the faster she sprinted.

River is a big girl at 105 pounds. She is all muscle. It always amazes me how much water she can displace at full tilt. There was no avoiding the bath to come. I did save time by not circling back only to lose it washing a dog.

Nevertheless, I got a decent ‘afternoon’ archery practice shooting at a 5-spot. The morning archery session was blown to washing River. I’d switched over from a 3-spot for a break. Since August 2  of this year every 5-spot practice has yielded a 300. But, if you shoot 5-spots a lot you know the X count is where the money waits. Only 47 X’s today. Frustrating.

The archery frustration was burnt off during an afternoon riding mountain bike. I wanted to follow the same trails we ran this morning only heading right rather than left (I already knew that was a wide circle) at a Y intersection.

At that point the trail begins to climb. Looking down at my Garmin I noted the mileage at the foot of the climb. That climb went on for one mile. The earlier rain made the path, having a base layer of red clay, one slippery exercise in staying upright and moving forward. Despite the greater than anticipated elevation in heart rate, to match the unforeseen length of the climb, it was a nice way to end the day. That and of course no broken bones or cuts.

Snipers, Zen, Fitness and Hitting the X – Response for Jack

A good friend of mine, Jack, frequently reads my posts here at Putting it on the Line. He has often sent me a comment after reading; he is kind enough to rarely make editorial comments. As a writer I know there is “No pain or passion that exceeds on man’s desire to edit another man’s manuscript.” (M. Twain) So, I am indebted to Jack’s restraint.

Jack may not be an endurance athlete, but he is a serious sailor.

A few weeks ago after reading “The Mental Game in Archery” he sent me a some note that got me to thinking. Jack has always made me think. Some folks can just think, I have to work at thinking.

So, here’s Jack’s note from November 16th :

“A very interesting perspective. I know absolutely NOTHING about endurance sports, and even less about archery. I understand quite clearly your well thought out self-analysis, and two questions come to mind. Both are multiple part questions.

  1. Roughly how many archers of your caliber are also endurance athletes? Since the disciplines between your two arenas of effort are so different, can you seek (or glean from casual conversation) advice from others like you?
  2. (Not really a question, just some thoughts) While you mention relaxing between shots, you describe more self-analysis than relaxation. Everything I have ever read about the top snipers describe that they enter a Zen like state to reduce any undue mental influences on their stillness and aim. Have you explored this path?
    I’m not one to advise you, but sometimes we are so close to an issue, a fresh perspective may help.

Just sayin.”

Regarding question number one – I don’t know. Probably not many. I do know of couple of archers that are endurance athletes. One is a triathlete and was once the Virginia State ASA 3D Champion. The other is an ultra-marathoner. She is an amazing runner and shoots bare bow. She is a better runner than archer. Neither successfully mingled the disciplines.  By success I mean both today have dropped either archery for exclusive running or doing a little of each as a past time.  Which is certainly fine and in itself is success depending on goals.

There is also Cameron Hanes who is an extremely fit athlete and professional bow hunter. Mr. Hanes has competed runs like the Boston Marathon and even 100-mile runs. But, Mr. Hanes is not a competitive archer. Although, I’d bet he’s making more money than 99% of all professional archers.

I don’t know other archers that might be considered fit enough to suggest they are endurance athletes. My guess is that the percentage is extremely low among the entire population of archers with that percentage dropping inversely with age.

As far as advice to archers that are not physically fit – find a fitness plan and use it. In the near future I’ll be adding one to my website. Only wish I was as smart as Cameron Hanes and could get paid for it.

Regarding your second question –  I do work toward being calm when I shoot. However, I remain a distance away from Zen-like calmness even when sleeping. As far as Zen goes and snipers, well I asked a sniper.

It just happens that we have a sniper in the family. (I am leaving his name out of this as a precaution) It took a few weeks to get to him because he has been deployed. He got home on Thanksgiving Day and heads back on December 17th.

Here’s what he said about his shots and Zen:

“Most of my shots were within a 100 meter range – half of which were quick, reactive engagements.  I was at Camp Shark Base in Ramadi with Chris Kyle in 2006, and this is when he began to transition away from much of the “sit and wait” type shots he had in Fallujah (2004) like in the movie. The scenario that most envision of a sniper spending days in a hide sight to shoot one shot from a mile away… I’ve never done that. “

“There was definitely no “zen like” moment.  Only on a couple of occasions would I have the luxury of deciding when the shot was going to take place, like if we needed to take out a sentry before moving closer.”

This may take some of the ‘glamour’ away from what most people think of snipers. Those comments are from a Ranger sniper. His work is like this:

“The scenario typically goes like this; we have a target, we either do an ‘offset infil’ a click away (so they don’t hear the birds), or we land right on top of it.  My spotter and I would usually set up on the “black side” (the back of the objective).  We usually get on a rooftop as close to the objective as possible.  We have an IR strobe on to identify us as friendlies.  Some time we even watch alternate breach points to neutralize maneuvering elements once the charge went off. “

My relative also added, “To be honest, a sniper in the ‘big Army’ usually has a lot more cool stories.  SOCOM (United States Special Operations Command)  has so many assets at their disposal that they rarely need snipers to kill people.  But if you talk to a sniper in the 3rd ID during 2005 – wow.  They did some shit.”

Regarding how much practice he got, I did want to know how many rounds he used in practice realizing that only 10% of the Army’s best shooters make it to sniper school. In other words, most snipers are good shots when they get there.

His response was, “I’d probably shoot 5,000 rounds through it. (‘it’ being a 6-month rotation D.L.) That’s just a rough figure though – of course you also have to spend time on your other weapons systems too, and there’s so much more than shooting.  In fact, shooting is only 10% of it – maybe less.”

Granted, a relaxed state, (Jack – alpha wave brain activity) is beneficial for excellent archery. Some folks equate that to a Zen-like meditative state. Certainly, I work to achieve a calm state of mind. I have that luxury compared to a sniper since no one wants to kill me.

Here the rub, in a tournament you have so many arrows to shoot in a very limited time. You must learn to be comfortable and confident with your shot in seconds. If you took a minute seeking a Zen-like state for each arrow you’d run out of time. So, you practice getting perfect shots within a limited time. I often use a stopwatch in the same manner a quarterback uses his 25 seconds to get off a play. You have to learn to feel the time since you can’t stare at the clock during a competition.

Did anyone see where that arrow landed?

Regardless, in order for that to work an archer must have years of practice. That is applicable in any sport. You can’t take a Zen monk, place a bow in his hand and expect him to shoot X after X after X. It’s not his frame of mind that creates flawed shots. A target bow is heavy. It takes a lot of conditioning to hold the bow, draw an arrow, hold it steady for about 8 seconds and release the arrow. All of this without swaying while you extend an eight-pound bow that’s resting on your hand (no not being gripped by the bow hand).

After looking into Jack’s questions, I think the most important factors in good archery are: confidence, attitude and practice.