Arrows, Arrows and More Arrows

In a video a former Olympic archery shared how many arrows he shot per year.  He had an average of 226 arrows per day.  That doesn’t seem too bad.

I shoot a lot.  I don’t average 226 arrows per day.  My average is 130 arrows per day.  Some days there are less other days more.  I’m taking my time.

Over doing it from the start can lead to injuries.  Since I’m 67 years old I am perhaps more careful.  Well, I know I’m more careful today than I might have been if I’d started shooting an Olympic recurve at 17 years old.

60 meters

It hasn’t been 24 months since I picked up an Olympic recurve.  At 60 meters and 18 meters I’ve improved 0.5% per month since I began.  In few weeks I’ll do a lot more practice at 70 meters.  There’s minimal difference in my practice average points per arrow between 60 and 70 meters.

70 meters

I’ll also be gradually increasing my arrow count.

Throughout this process I have maintained 25% recovery time compared to training time.  After longer days I ice my hands, forearms and shoulders.  The goal being to prevent a long-term injury.

Georgia Cup

Arrow count isn’t a goal it is part of a process.

Am I The Only One Tired

Last night with had dinner with friends.  Everyone attending is a natural athlete with the possible exception of me. Honestly, these people are amazingly fit.

The group was mixed regarding sports.  The group contained a rock climber, a cyclist, two runners, a yoga instructor and me. All of these athletes are older that 62 years of age. Everyone had trained before dinner.  I think I was the only person there who was tired.

I do train hard.  At least it is hard for me.  Unless I’d taking a day specifically allocated as a recover day I shoot my Olympic recurve ((43.6# draw weight) two to six hours a day.  The six-hour days are rare as are the two-hour days. When I’m shooting I burn about 320 calories per hour.  Less than half of what I’d burn riding a bicycle or running.

I run and ride nearly everyday.  I break that up into two sessions.  I run in the morning after a 30-minute stretch and ride for 30 – 60 minutes in the mid-afternoon before my second practice shooting a bow.  It is rare to miss the 30-minute stretch and rare not to run. Some days I do miss cycling despite it being part of my training play. That typically occurs when some ‘can’t be put off any longer’ chore infringes on the time. I also lift weights two to three days per week.  To wear me out even more I train with a speed rope four time per week doing so after running.

With all that effort you’d think I might be tired from time to time. You would be correct.  But, the people at this dinner party didn’t seem phased by their athletic efforts.

The 63-year-old rock climber looked as if he could start climbing a wall without breaking a sweat.  The yoga instructor and cyclist seemed full of energy.  The runner looked as if she could head out for a marathon after dessert.  The other runner gave me frequent looks of understanding and pity. I felt like a nap would be nice.

To make is worse I wasn’t even the oldest in the crowd.  Two of these athletes are older than me.  One fellow in the mid 70’s probably has a 4% fat content and could run circles around me.  I have a 12% body fat content. When I raced I was down to 6%.  Thanks, archery.

I shouldn’t blame archery.  I blame the reduction in the level of cardio training I now do.  But, 12% body fat is considered athletic.  I don’t feel athletic, I feel tried.

In order to get the correct amount of the right caloric intake per day I record everything I eat and drink as input and all exercise is recorded as output.  Nothing every changes.

The athletes eating dinner I expect eat what they want and as much as they want.  Heck, the rock climber consumed more than double my portions.

Over the last 9.5 days of training I averaged 190 arrows per day.  This morning the schedule was for 90 arrows.  I stopped at 52.  I was too tired and my average score per arrow was awful.  I consider working through the fatigue then threw in the towel. I has been four days since my last full recover day.

During dinner I didn’t have much to say.  I was too tired to talk.  There was plenty of conversation around me so I politely smiled and provided approving monosyllable grunts. All the while being envious of the energy I didn’t have to share.

I writing this now because I cut the morning practice short. Once I’m done I’ll have lunch and that nap.

 

Move That Sight

At the 2016 NC ASA State Championship, in Mt. Airy, shooting a compound bow my arrows were all shooting to the left.  In my group was the eventual winner of the division.  He’s won a lot of tournaments, been a National Champion, Shooter of the Year, and has a stack of other championships.  In fact, I competed with and against him numerous times.  He offered me some simple advice, “Move your sight.”  I didn’t listen.

I figured the off-shots were me and that I’d gain control then begin hitting 10s and 12s rather than 10s and 8s and any moment.  I never did and walked away 5th. If I’d only listened.

During that NC ASA State Championship I was still very new to archery. I’d been shooting for 32 months.  I wasn’t at all comfortable fidgeting with my sight during a tournament. Today, that is different.

Time to twist a knob

I’ve also put down my compound bow for an Olympic recurve bow. Using that bow I’ll twist the sight knobs without a qualm.

That’s better

Adjusting your sight isn’t something that needs to be done on every shot.  If you fling a bad arrow it really might be you not the sight.  But, shoot enough and you’ll feel when it is you versus the need to make an adjustment.

Measure and Manage

On a weekly basis I use one day to replicate an archery tournament. For example, the next event on my calendar is the Georgia Cup.  I’ll shoot that tournament in the 50-year-old division at a distance of 60 meters.  That’s the practice tournament done this week – 60 meters.

During the week I’ll shoot hundreds of arrows ranging on a daily basis from 60 arrows to 200 arrows.  The maximum will eventually work up to 300 arrows per day.  The most I’ve shot in a day is 400 and I may go for a 500-arrow day this year.  For now, however 200 is my daily maximum.

Flinging arrows is good for stamina and control.  It aids in working on specific matters of form.  The practice tournament is a way to measure progress. The outcome further helps in determining adjustments for the subsequent week’s training plan.

Aside from recording the score I record the time remaining on the shot clock.  Reviewing those times versus the end’s score is important to ensure relaxed shooting during an event.  It eliminates needing to watch the clock.  It is much like an NFL quarterback who knows there is 25 seconds to receive the hike. It is a method of comparing time versus score.

If I add calories, such as a sport drink or some solid calories I record that as well.

Having a solid understand of performance during a mock-tournament will help during the real thing.

New Target

122 cm targets aren’t cheap.  Used ones, those used in a tournament and not too badly holed, sell for $5.00 each.  New 122 cm vinyl targets run $10.00 to $12.00.  The fancy 122 cm targets with a pocketed ring to fit it snuggly on a target butt run around $20.00.  All of them wear out fast.

It is nice to replace them.  By the time a new target is up the old one is literally shot to pieces.

Here goes another $20.00.

Your Brain and Fitness

During my working career I did lots of interesting things.   All of my work was cognitive. I used to say, “I think, therefore I get paid.” I did of lot of thinking, figuring things out.  So, my brain has been and remains an important tool for me.

Aging is an area where I have an interest and I’ve done a little research. As a result I have a fair grasp of what to expect as I age and how I’ll perform in sports.

I stay is pretty good overall fitness as much for my physical abilities as for my brain. I like my brain – it entertains me. It turns out that fitness does a lot to help my brain. It can help your brain, too.

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When you consider archery, there is a lot of brainwork going on to make a good shot. Primarily, you need to have an active brain that converts to a meditative brain (alpha waves –described here in an earlier post) to get that great shot time after time. In order to accomplish the brain process, a healthy brain is a significant advantage over an unhealthy one. And it turn out that exercise, not archery exercise, helps make the brain healthy.

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In a systematic review a group of scientists concluded that a sedentary lifestyle led to impaired cognitive function. In their conclusion they wrote, “Our systematic review provides evidence that limiting sedentary time and concomitantly engaging in regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity may best promote healthy cognitive aging.”

I would not rank archery as moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In fact, the less vigorous we are when we shoot the better. But, to be really calm, it may be beneficial to be fit and healthy. Being unfit and in poor health would make it hard to for the brain to relax – an important component to making a good shot.

Archery is one of the two sports where an athlete over 50 can be or become an elite. Making it to over 50 in good health takes a bit, not much – you don’t need to be an Ironman or marathoner – of exercise. I highly recommend a routine and somewhat structure plan for exercise. If you’ve never done any exercise, it is not going to be easy at first. Heck, there are times when it is never “easy”. Easy is a sedentary life style. Over the decades an easy lifestyle will catch up with you. So, do a bit of exercise, in the long haul you’ll benefit from the effort.

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A bonus is, you get to keep your brain operating at a high capacity. Which in turn will help you with your archery.

Reference:

1.) Falck RS, Davis JC, Liu-Ambrose T. What is the association between sedentary behavior and cognitive function? A systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2016 May 6. pii: bjsports-2015-095551. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095551. [Epub ahead of print]

An Unexpected Spectator

I get all sorts of critters hanging out on the range. In North Carolina my least favorite were moccasins and copperheads.  Here in Georgia it is timber back rattlesnakes and copperheads.

Sometimes I do see deer moving though the woods.  There are always squirrels. Rabbits frequently hop past and hawks fly around looking for something to eat.

I keep my spotting scope in my range.  I used to haul it in and out every day. Now I just cover it and it stays outside year round.

The other day when I pulled the cover from the sight I was greeted by a little green tree frog. I didn’t flick him off.  I figured he would move when he was ready.  He did move.

 

Setting Yardage

Sighting for distances is boring to me.  I almost feel like I am wasting time. Still, it has to be done.

New limbs with new poundage mean changing elevation graduation on the sight to match distance.  When I do this I start at 20 yards and work back to 80 yards.  I do this in five-yard increments. It takes a long time.

A little low, still too low, finally pretty good

At each distance I shot 10 arrows knowing many of the ‘off’ shots are caused by me and not the bow. Once he sight graduations have been recorded I do it again.

First try at 60 yards

If only one distance is involved, like 18 meters or 70 meters, it is less time consuming.  This year I’d like to try a few 3D tournaments with my Olympic recurve.  So, the yardage marks need to be more numerous.

Shooting to my left.

It is slow work.

 

Time to Move Outdoors – Finally


By the time indoor season began I was ready to move out of the cooler weather.  It was starting to get cold as winter approached. It’s been about five months since I began training predominantly indoors.  I am ready to get outside.

This past weekend held the last indoor tournament for me of 2022.  Those amounted to four events: Georgia 25 meter Indoor championship, USA Archery Indoor, Georgia USA Archery State Indoor, and the NFAA Georgia State Indoor/Sectional.

My last indoor tournament for 2022
Once again shooting next to the biggest fellow on the line. This giant is Chris why shoots barebow.

 

 

Those indoor events didn’t all go to plan.  I won two (GA-25 Meter, NFAA GA State Indoor) both in the senior division.  I shot Nationals with the 50-year-old fellows and finished 10th using warped limbs.  The GA USA Indoor was a bust finishing 2nd in my age group.  Those up and down finishes happen in archery.

 

I am eager to begin flinging arrows for longer distances.

New Target – seems heavy duty. Getting started with the longer shots

 

 

Well, this sucks

Two major tournaments in two weeks.  Going into both events I’d been shooting well.  Practice was moving in the right direction. Then it all fell apart.

I understand that in sports we all have good days and bad days.  I track practice and do intermittent practice that simulates tournaments.  I record all the shots and scores.  Those results are added to a spreadsheet.  From that I can see my progression.  I can further look at statistics.  Those give me high and low scores, mean scores and clusters of low, medium and high averages.

18-meter 3-spot scores since picking up a recurve 18 months ago. The dip at the end of the line represents the USA Indoor Nationals and Georgia Indoor Championships

Generally, I have a good idea of how I’ll shoot going into a tournament.  In the case of the USA Archery Indoor Nationals and the Georgia State Indoor Championship I shot outliers that were significantly away on the wrong side of the bell curve.

When this happens whether in practice or competition I work to find the root cause.  At the National Championship I felt the root cause was warped limbs. I knew I had them going into the tournament.  They were all I had so I went with it. There, despite feeling good I landed my lowest scores.

Prior to the Georgia State Indoor Championship new limbs arrived.  In practice all was well.  During the three ends warm-up, at the tournament, all was well. All nine arrows landed as 9s or 10s.

That’s as long as it lasted.

An archery tournament is a bad time to have eye-floaters.  I get them occasionally.  Everyone has them.  Our brain is able to see past them – most of the time. As we age eye-floaters can increase, usually we see an increase between 50 and 75. (I’m 67 soon)

In this case the floaters were particularly bothersome.  The floaters were right inline with the target and floating about in direct sight with aiming.

Never during a tournament have I missed the target.  At the Georgia State indoor championship I did it twice.  I simply could not get a bead on the target.

In this case pathophysiology trumps preparation.