This Is How I Practice for 50 Meters

Fifty meters is a fairly long shot. It includes a lot of walking back and forth. Twenty meters is a faster practice because of the shorter walk to reclaim arrows. Now, the walking isn’t a real endurance work out, it just slows things down. Having a 50-meter range behind my house is a bonus.

50-meter practice, for this session, meant about a mile of walking and took nearly two hours.

Being slow in archery isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rushing a shot is a bad thing. When I practice I’ll frequently set a timer and measure how many seconds remain following a six shot end.

The thick lines are the trek back and forth pulling arrows

During practice, I could fire off more than 6 arrows – I don’t. I try to make practice close to tournament conditions. That means: shoot 6 arrows, walk to the target, record my scores, pull the arrows and repeat. Practicing with a timer gives me confidence that I’ll get my arrows off with a routine buffer of time. I don’t want too much unused time. On the other hand I don’t want to be thinking about the clock during competition.

On average I have ample time left on the clock after six arrows. Between each shot I use an 8 count as I go through the shooting process. Using an eight count, I go through it 3 times. Each set of the 8 count associated with the shot process. Counting slows me down and clears my head. Since each set of eight has parts of the shooting process associated with the count it makes me aware of the steps to getting off a good feeling arrow. By the time I reach the third and final 8 I am ready to release the arrow. After the first 3 arrows, I make an effort to take a conscious pause before shooting the final three arrows.

When planning a practice I vary it to some degree. The practice may be two sessions a day at 84 arrows, 12 warm up and 72 for scoring or shorter sessions three times a day at 42 arrows, 6 warm-up and 36 for scoring. I almost always record my shots and make notes. I carry a pad in my quiver to making records. My notes and measurements are later transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. (Some days I’ll purposely not record anything and shoot for fun only)

A spotting scope is a handy tool for longer distances. (This one an early birthday present from one of by daughters, her husband and one of my grandsons.)

There are also days where I’ll practice for 50-meters by shooting from 60, 65  or 70 yards.  Fifty meters is roughy 55 yards.  The extra yardage makes 50-meters feel easy when I return to that distance.

When it’s cold I wear a thin glove

Everyday practice isn’t always possible. For instance, it stormed yesterday. Today, despite it being the middle of April it was cold. Cold does not prevent practice. Neither does wind and today it was windy. Even when it rains, other than down pours, I’ll be on the range. (It is important to note that everyday practice does include a recovery day. Taking a day for rest is an important element to any sport. That recovery day for me is on a 7-day and 10-day cycle)

My bow setting at the 50-meter mark.

Practice and shooting 50-meters presents outdoor challenges we don’t face during indoor competition and training. Space for a range is a problem for many archers. When we built our new house having enough land for archery was a must. Finding a local 50-meter range then getting to it does add another burden to long-range practice. (Not unlike finding a pool to practice swimming – they are available.  It is nice when it is a simple walk to practice.) Fifty meters ranges are available, it sometimes takes a bit more effort but it can be done.

Blame it on John Pinette

John, today’s poor practice shooting was entirely your fault.

You may not know John. He was a failed accountant. He stopped practicing accounting shortly after receiving his degree from University of Massachusetts in Lowell. His friends talked him into giving up that career convincing him he’d do better as a comedian. They were correct.

John was a master comedian. He was also an actor and Broadway star. He died a few years ago. (2014 – he was only 50)

One of his comedy albums in on my phone. While practicing today I put on music. Occasionally, the phone would shuffle through songs and play John.

I should be able to remain clear headed and shoot somewhere near the center of the target regardless of what going on around me. Today it was impossible to do so while laughing. Even when I started skipping John (my phone seemed fixated with him), his lines would float through my head and I’d start laughing again.

John Pinette

If you want to work on centering yourself for archery, John Pinette is a good distraction. If you can get though listening to him while practicing and shoot well you’re probably ready for about anything.

Waiting for the Dust to Settle

2018 has been a blur of activity. We moved to Georgia. We added more construction to the property in Georgia. I’ve cleared, mostly, about 3 acres for a 3D range. I’ve added a target range for 50 meters and out to 80 meters.

I also completed a USA Archery Level 2 Coaching program. Competed in four tournaments and weekly league style shooting. Plus, I bought a new bow.

New Elite Victory 37

The new bow is another Elite. This one is the 2018 Elite 37. To be honest, my scores are pretty much exactly what they were with the 2015 Elite 35. In the long run I think the 37 will be worth the investment.

Another benefit to being here is the running and cycling. I can run in my neighborhood but must to laps to get in any serious miles. There are excellent trails to run all within a short drive.

Cycling is the best. The terrain here near Athens, Georgia is rolling hills. Rolling hills are my favorite type of road. Flat gets boring. Too steep becomes more of fight to go up and then coast down. That was pretty much how I trained when we lived in Pittsburgh. That too got old. When we lived in Kennesaw, Georgia the roads were rolling hills. From my experience, rolling hills are the most fun for training.

I am yet to get a decent long-term training program going. Typically, I run, shoot, rest, ride and shoot. I’ve gotten that in a number of times but the past 12 weeks have been a challenge.

Getting into the 3D of Things

The range is up. It is raining. I need to practice 3D.

This coyote is fun. The shot looks longer than it was, 38 yards.
Yep, that javelina is in that hole about 40 yards away

When rain seems to have stopped, I head out to practice. Twenty shots later it begins to rain. I head back indoors. Two hundred yards pass along the walk to cover and the rain stops. I turn around, shoot 10 arrows and it starts to rain, again. I head back, go 200 yards, and the rain stops. I gave up stayed outside and got wet.

Zoomed in a bit so you can see the target
Worst shot of the day. I thought I’d managed a center 12. Nope, that’s an 8.

Not everyday has been so much of a weather challenge. Yesterday was pretty good. It was cold and windy. Out in the woods the wind is subdued a tad. My main concern was a limb breaking free and landing on my head. No limb crashed onto my skull.

This is a tough turkey

Practice was by design interesting. Shooting the same targets day in and day out, you need to find training sessions to keep things interesting. This is especially true when you train alone.

Practice on this little target is always, shoot a center 12 and a 14. Don’t move on until the 12 and 14 are shot in sequence.

This day’s training was: the first arrow at an unknown yardage for scoring followed by four others for yardage training. The shortest distance was 18 yards (rabbit) and the longest was 45 yards (deer, bear, and mountain lion.)

This is only 27 yards, but the lane is cleared so the target can be worked out to 50 yards.

3D practice, time per arrow, is slower that 18-meters. Generally, you walk further which slows things down. Plus, it takes a little longer to judge yardage. I don’t find one disciple, 18-meter, 3D or 50-meter, more fun than the other. They are all about the same to me. The major difference is it rarely rains indoors.

This poor ole bear is beginning to wear out in the center.

Shooting 3D for the first time in a while.

Eighteen meters has been my focus for the past eight months. My goal was to score two day total of 1160 at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals.  Then to score a 600 with 110 Xs at the NFAA National Indoor Championship in Cincinnati.  By early December of 2017 I was feeling fairly confident that I’d come close or exceed those marks.

In the meantime, we’d built a new house. The foul fall and winter weather delayed the house’s completion.  This ended up generating a 580-mile move right on top of the end game for my eight months of practice.  By February of 2018 I was scoring lower than February of 2017.  It wasn’t just the move; it was a move, being unable to move right into the new property, then a solid month after the move in to complete construction.

This bear has one of the two ‘wide’ lanes and can be targeted out to 60 yards
She’s in a congested area and can be out up to 40 yards
The pine trees that line this shooting lane narrow as the distance increases. It’s a pretty cool shot the further back you get.

You’d think we move into a new ready to go house and we would have if the builder had been cooperative. He wouldn’t allow refinements to his building to occur until we’d closed on the property. As such, after closing, closets had to be redone, fencing put up, sheds constructed, sod to be installed and land cleared.  Oh, there was plenty of time to have had this done before closing but it wasn’t allowed.  This meant little to no archery practice in the month before the main indoor events for 2018.  I scored fewer point than usual and seemed to find a solid position in second place everywhere other than the NFAA Sectional where I earned a tight 4th and the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati.

This is an interesting shot.

I couldn’t decide if the trip from Georgia to Ohio was worth the investment considering the way I’d been shooting. By the time I made the decision to go for the experience I realized I’d let time get away from me and it was too late to make the drive.

On a brighter note I did get my 3D range up on the 3.25 acre plot behind our house selected for the targets. It isn’t a huge plot of land but it is idea for 20 targets.  I only have 12, but 8 more will fit nicely when I get them.

I am pleased, so far, with how the foam animals are arranged. The are no “give me” shots and all targets can be shot to at least a maximum of 40 yards with other out to sixty.  Sixty yards is more than I need other than for field archery.

Another wide lane for long shots without worrying about overhanging limbs

Last week was the first time in a long time I’ve shot 3D. For that practice I use a hunting rig with pins rather than long stabilizers and a scope.

I admit I was a bit off on a few shots, but no target was missed and there was only one 5. For the first full 3D practice, 3 hours and 63 shots, I averaged 9.3 points per shot.  The mean distance was 33 yards with a minimum of 18 (a rabbit) and a max of 45 (deer, mountain lion, and bear).  Needless to say 9.3 points per shot isn’t good.   This year seems to be all about getting back into the swing of things.  Maybe, that swing will come back in a hurry.

Nice shooting Mr. Lain and here’s your lunch…

I’ve been practicing archery with a new crowd. Well, they’re new to me. They all know one another. Each one seems to have a fairly easy time hitting Xs. This group practices at Ace Hardware in Social Circle, Ga. From what can be guessed most are still in high school.

There are a few veterans in the Social Circle mix. These old war horses smack X after X.  On the line you’ll hear them, “$5.00 on the last arrow closest to the X.”  Then, “Okay.” There will be six Xs .  The last arrow closet to the X, meaning dead center, wins $5.00. As yet, I remain apart from contributing $5.00.

I’ve been practicing with them on Tuesday and Thursday nights. It is a downright humbling experience. There’s generally at least one archer that will shoot a perfect score. The others will come close.

For me, a perfect score has yet to happen. There are occasional nice ends. Those are always acknowledged by the youngsters with, “Nice shooting, Mr. Lain.” Then, they skip off, laugh and giggle, and check their smart phones, before lining up to shoot three more Xs and repeat.

Reo Wilde in the Elite T-shirt. Winner of 9 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 bronze at various World Archery Championships. (1)

Then, there are those fellows that show up and shoot perhaps a hundred or more Xs in a row. Being around such good archers does help to raise the game to a higher level.

(1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reo_Wilde

Starting to Settle In

We’re so close to being completely into our new house. There are still several projects on the list.

The land behind the house still isn’t cleared enough to put out a 3D range. We’re waiting on a builder to put up a second shed for the lawn tractor and kayaks. These are the remaining two big projects.

River enjoying a deer antler while I practice. Practicing with a brand new Elite Victory 37.

Then, we still have things, including our RV, at our place in North Carolina. That means a trip to haul those things down to Georgia. In the meantime, I am trying to get in archery practice and maintain decent cardio workouts.

Finally, I do have a nice area to train for 18 meters. I will have a nice 50-meter range near my 3D range when the land clearing is completed. There is also a nice place to run, nice road cycling and really nice off-road biking right from my front door.

Still getting a feel for my new bow.

The road riding is great. Empty roads, little traffic, and rolling hills. There are dogs. Yesterday, one four legged sprinter gave me two informational gathering bites on my left foot. It wasn’t painful nor did the bites break skin. I was more worried about this little dog getting hung up in a wheel and knocking me down and his teeth. This was the first time a dog has ever bitten me.

I really think it was the dog trying to figure out was I was. The bites seemed not very aggressive. Dogs get a lot of information through taste. Stinky human foot took this microcelphalic a couple of tastes to learn I wasn’t a threat. On the return home I made certain I was carrying enough speed so that sprint as he might, the varmint of the Jack Russell variety couldn’t catch up.

All in all we’re starting to settle in at our new home in Good Hope.

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.