It’s Cold Outside

A fellow I’ve shot with posted a picture of his practice on Facebook.  He’s got a nice indoor range at his home.  I was envious.  My range is outside and it is cold.

Nice to have this in your basement

My old range for indoor distances began in a shed where I stood next to a heater.  It was cold but not in the wind and it was warmer than outside standing in the shed.  My new range at my home in Georgia is entirely outside.

It is a nice range.  I can practice out to 90 meters and have a 3D range with 18 animals on it.  I’ve also put an outdoor propane heater on the target range.  I stand next to it when I shoot.  It isn’t all that bad.  It isn’t as nice as this friend’s indoor range.

He’s an elite archer and built his house to accommodate a range in the basement.  That is pretty awesome.  He doesn’t shoot 3D so he doesn’t need a large area for foam animals.  He does have a nice outdoor 70-meter range.

The temperature here when I practiced today was 37°F.  The average for this day is 60°F.  I know this cold won’t last and the mild winters we have here will return.  Even so, I got out and shot.

I’d put up new targets so I had to shot them

Yesterday, there was a misty light rain and it wasn’t much warmer.  I ended up with 180 arrows shot before I was frozen.  I didn’t try to ignite the propane heater in the rain.

Despite the cold and damp weather going outside to practice archery beats staying indoors.

Dang! That’s a lot of money. Oh, he’s blessed!

I don’t often look at Facebook.  The propaganda spewing unchecked is too awful.  I tried to delete my page and failed.  So, once in a while I look.  It is like looking at some circus sideshow freakishness.  Yesterday, I looked.  I was rewarded.

My reward was a post written by Mr. Archer.  You may know him.  He’s the fellow that is blessed with the latest gear provided by the most pious supplier and whose archery performance remains superior because of his unparalleled support from God.

God has provided Mr. Archer has some extremely expensive gear.  Excluding his stabilizers I looked up the price of his bow, sight, scope and arrows.  The package price: $2588.98.  The bow, a compound, is the 2021 edition.  Along with the bow he’s “blessed” to now have a new sight, scope and arrows.

Mr. Archer posted one if his practice session’s results.  No doubt it was excellent! Not perfect but pretty close using Vegas scoring and relating it to USA Archery scoring on a 3-spot.  Nevertheless, pretty impressive.

Mr. Archery is, also, a “Pro” archer with a number of sponsors! Perhaps, this guy is really good.  So, I checked.  You know finding results of archery performances are not difficult.  What turned out to be amazing is that he was a rare find and a winless one at that!  It seems his “Pro” sponsorships are based on his potential and perhaps God’s recommendation.

Mr. Archery is indeed blessed not with one $1549.99 bow but two.  He has one for target archery and one for 3D.  Obviously, I attend the wrong church.  Clearly, neither God nor Jesus has been so inclined to provide me with cash or sponsorships to subsidize $3099.98 in brand new 2021 bows.  Heck, it was all I could do to get permission from my wife to purchase a $249.99 Olympic recurve bow.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Archery and God, I admit I do have two compound bows.  Their combined price was $1398.00 spread over six years.  Both are similar models made by the same manufacturer.  Neither, the Shaker 5000 or the Decelerate remains on the market.

The Shaker 5000 was notorious for rattling limbs so hard they would crack and the Decelerate lost parts every few thousand arrows.  Both were introductory bows and I expect the maker never expected anyone purchasing those bows would shoot over 3000 arrows per year.

I understand, from Mr. Archer’s posts on Facebook, his new bows are very forgiving. I’ve never really understood how a bow can forgive an archer.  I expect my current $249.99 bow is simply shy and quiet around those big money bows.  If it had emotions or empathy enough to forgive it likely feels a little dejected next to all those prouder more forgiving bows.

Now, Mr. Archer does offer advice beyond how one makes the best sublimation to God via Facebook in order to get the most bang for your prayers (and as such become Blessed).  He further points out that it is currently time to get ready for the indoor archery season.  In fact, he makes this recommendation a full six days before his first announced indoor competition.

On Facebook he reveals to all that might read his post that he has spent a couple of hours practicing to get ready.  I can only suppose with God and Jesus on his side that is ample practice.  His sponsors are fortunate to have such a hard working athlete to inspire others to run out and purchase their forgiving bow.

I’ve often wondered how an individual athlete seeks heavenly support for victory.  Would a prayer be like, “Oh Lord, give me the strength and skill to vanquish my competition?”  Or, “Dear God, help the beat everyone here today.”  Or, “Sweet Jesus, help me performance my best in order to win.” Maybe it is good enough to type “Amen” and forward Mr. Archer’s prayer on Facebook. I haven’t tried that, yet.

No such prayers would ever be in my thoughts and being blessed with two new bows remains absent for me.  I remain simpler, “Lord, help me be a good example and let me help others where it is needed and help me to treat folks with kindness.”  That prayer too often fails.  I miss a lot and not just when it comes to shooting arrows.

Georgia 25-meter Indoor Championship Coming Soon

The Georgia 25-meter Indoor Championship is about three weeks away.  It is being held that the Georgia Southern Shooting Education Center in Statesboro, Georgia. Aside from poor lighting, fluorescent bulbs high above the floor, it is a nice facility.

This year is a bit different.  First only 24 archers are allowed to compete during any of the three times offered. Spectators are not allowed in the building.  Archers must wear a mask at all times and temperature checks will be taken before competitors are allowed inside the building.  All of this is understandable considering the current state of this pandemic.

While I have no issue with the conditions, I admit shooting while wearing a mask is a challenge.  I’ve been testing masks to see how it goes during practice.  It doesn’t go well. Wearing a mask my average score at 25-meters drops 26 points!

On a poor day shooting my average will fluctuate about 10 points.  Ten points is my worst drop off from my average.  That is unless I am wearing a mask. The difference from my high score at 25-meters and low score is 27 without a mask.  The difference with a mask is 49 points. The low score without a mask was shoot over a month ago and was my first attempt at 25-meters.  It was also the 69th day of shooting a recurve bow.  Even that score is higher than any score I’ve achieved wearing a mask.

Obviously, more practice is needed while wearing a mask to bring up my score when wearing a mask.

 

 

Shooting while wearing a mask

In a few weeks Georgia Southern University is hosting the Georgia State 25 meter Championship. Over the past two years, since moving home to Georgia, I competed in that event in the Masters 60 Age Group using a compound bow.  I won it once and took a second place (losing by 1 point).

This year is different.  First, I switched to Olympic Recurve, second I am shooting in the Seniors Division, and third archers must wear a mask at all times during the 2020 25-meter event even while shooting.

The first two differences, the recurve and competing as a senior (the younger group) versus the masters (the 60-69 year old division) aren’t issues.  The mask on the other hand is a problem.

I practiced while wearing a mask a few days ago.  It was awful.  I shot 54 points lower than my mask free 25-meter average.  I tried again today and landed 43 points lower than I scored while not wear a mask on the same day.

I have no concrete idea what is the problem.

How Many Arrows Per Week?

There was an article written by an archery coach.  In the article he wrote that in order to achieve a National Championship an archer needed to shoot 120 arrows per day.  That seems reasonable to me.  Or so I thought. But, the coaches count for success seemed vague to me.  Still, it was a number and a place for me to start.  With that number in mind I worked to shoot around 120 arrows per day when I was competing in the compound bow division.

The results I earned using that count as a compound bow archer were fine.  I won a lot of tournaments in the Masters division.  I did well on a National level despite having a very limited exposure to archery.  In less than 18 months I was winning on the State level and doing respectably in National Indoor events.

Then, I heard a quote from Reo Wilde that he practices about an hour per day.  It seemed too short to me for 120 arrows.  Certainly, Wilde has been shooting much longer than I have and I figured his base was adequate to maintain a high degree of excellence in archery with fewer arrows per day.

When Covid hit us archery slowed down for everyone.  It did take some wind out of my sails.  It also provided a pause for me to evaluate my activities in archery.

I’d always wanted to shot recurve.  So, after 6 years and 8 months of flinging arrows using a compound bow I bought a $249.99 recurve bow – riser and limbs.  I added a full kit and had an Olympic Recurve from stabilizers to stand for $460.00.

I started slowly learning to hit the target.  During the first 12 weeks of practice I shot 688 arrows per week.  Excluding recovery days from those weeks the daily count of arrows shot with the Olympic recurve is 138 arrows per day.

At that level I won my first tournament using the $249.99 Olympic recurve bow, the Georgia Field Archery Championship.  I competed in the Men’s Senior division, not as a Masters archer.  The coach’s number of 120 arrows per day seemed applicable.

While looking at Olympic recurve archers in Youtube I watched an interview with Brady Ellision.  He was being interviewed after winning an early season competition.  In it he said he was out of shape and only shooting about 100 arrows per day. He added he’d begin ramping his training up to 200 – 300 arrows per day.  It seemed like a lot of arrows.

I decided to look more closely into the quantity of arrows shot by some of the world’s top archers on a weekly basis.

I found interviews of some of the world’s top archers, 52 % men and 48% women. Twenty-two of them were Olympic recurve shooters and eight shoot compound bows.  Twenty-five of them provided a weekly arrow count. Five of them didn’t count their weekly total arrow count.

As a group these elite archers average 1088 arrows per week or 181.3 arrows per day over a 6-day week with one day for recovery. When I broke out the recurve versus compound bow archers the numbers changed.  Recurve archers claimed to shoot 1332 arrows per week while compound bow archers say they shoot 646 arrows per week.  The recurve archer claim to shoot more than twice the number of arrows compared to the compound bow archers.

The range was larger than I expected to find.  The low number of arrows shot per week was a compound bow archer who claimed to shoot 300 arrows per week.  She shoots at a very high level.  The high number on the range is 3000 arrows per week by a recurve shooter.

At first I called foul on the 3000 arrows per week.  The archer also reported the number of hours per day he trained.  I checked his arrow count versus the hours spend in training that he reported.  Over the hours he claimed to train it is possible to shoot 3000 arrows per week with one day of recover per week.  However, the hours to arrow intersection is 8 hours and 32 minutes per day.  I think this is an exaggeration.

On the other hand the 300 arrows per week is easily achievable.  I believe this is an under count.  Perhaps some can be tops in the world of archery with relaxed practice, but 50 arrows per day (one day recovery) seems low.

Admittedly, I’ve increased my weekly average as I gotten stronger.  My count is still lower than 1332 per week.  I’m in the 930 arrows per week.  I take 2 days off per week, which means I am averaging 186 arrows per day.  To get to the 1332 arrows per week I need to increase my count to 266.4 arrows per day (5 days per week training 2 days recovery).  Using two-practice session a reasonable number.

Now, I just don’t go out to the range and shoot for the sake of an arrow count.  I approach each practice with a specific goal for that practice.  There are variables that, at this point of recurve shooting, influence the arrow count.

Arrow count is important but it shouldn’t be the primary objective of practice. If arrow count where the exclusive factor for archers all contests could be determined beforehand by having each competitor submit their practice logs.  The athlete with the highest count could be declared the champion.  It just doesn’t work that way.

There’s a snake on my butt

I’ve had all manner of critter intersect with my target during practice.  There have been rabbits, squirrels, owls, hawks, dogs, cats, horses, raccoons, turkey, chipmunks, chickens, turtles, mice, frogs, lizards and snakes.  Several of them have hung around long enough to sit for a photograph.  Some of those pictures I’ve posted here.

I find it odd that so many and such a variety of animal has taken time out of its day to pause near where I am shooting arrows.  Only one has reached an accidental end. A tree frog was unseen and too close to an arrow.  The arrow was the last thing that went through its mind.

 

If snakes such as moccasins or copperhead slithered past they were always greeting with an unfriendly welcome.  If one of those passed within range of the pistol I carry for just such encounters it would eventually be shot.  That is so long as it held still long enough.  Copperheads being stubborn have been the easiest to reach with a bullet.

Today, I was using one of my target butts as a desk to record shots.  On it I laid a pad and pen.  After each end I’d record the results.

On the last end as I was recording the shots I noticed out of the corner of my eye the target butt edge was moving. Looking in the direction of the motion there crawled a black snake.

I have no idea how long it had been there.  Using an arrow I scooted it away.  Believe me I was pleased it wasn’t a rattlesnake.

Dang, that was windy

I’d planned to start at 70 yards (not meters).  Then work out to 70 meters. It was cool with the temperature around 51°F. That would have felt pretty good except for the wind. Morning practice was going to be a challenge.

It was windy. The wind was blowing steady at 12 mph with gusts up to 28 mph.  I can shoot through that – I thought.

The problem was the gusts blew my target over twice.  On the second crash, one of those gusts, which felt like more than 28 mph, I moved to a heavier target.

The heavier target is smaller and without the overhang clearance of the larger less wind adaptable target. I have lots of trees along the range lanes and some still need to be trimmed.  So, I moved closer.  It was still frustrating.

My light introductory level recurve arrows, Easton Vector 1000s, aren’t ideally suited for gusts of wind.  Trying to time a steady wind with the intermittent gusts was good practice should I, or rather when I, find myself competing is such conditions. Before any major tournament I imagine I’ll need an arrow upgrade.

I got in 70 arrows before I had to move on.  I’d lost some time setting up a blown over target twice so I didn’t get the 90-arrow practice completed.  This afternoon the wind is forecast to drop to 6 mph.  That should be a more humane practice.

Total Recovery

Sunday is supposed to be a complete recovery day.  The past 53 days have included a fair number of days to take a break.  In fact, there have been 12 days off from practice and training.

This works out to 41 days of work.  That work has been serious.  Archery-wise, shooting recurve bows exclusively, I’ve shot 5026 arrows for an average of 122.58 shots per day.   Not every day yielded 122.58 arrows.  Some days there were low counts other days the quantity was high.

This upcoming week is a recovery week.  There will be less shooting before practice ramps up though mid-October.  At present, this schedule is focused on base and form.

Mid-October holds a point where archery plans will get a major edit.  It will be the end of a quarter of shooting recurve.  It will be time for a fresh assessment and plan revisions.

In the meantime, forcing a short break is tough.

Typical Morning With Some Rain

Training and practice started early today – at 0520.  Training starts with 30 minutes of stretching and balance exercises.  (Nothing can start until my dogs are let out then fed) This is followed by breakfast, a run and then archery.  On non-recovery days, they all start in this manner.

Stretching and balance regime is done before breakfast.  This includes 25 exercises that are specifically pit together to be an ad to archery.  It takes 26 to 30 minutes to move through all the positions and stretches.

When that’s complete I have breakfast.  I wait a few minutes, using that time to make up the bed, gather River’s collar (My Labrador running partner), and don my running apparel, before we head out to trails.

The run lasts 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the trails we take.  Post run I do a brief workout on with my speed rope.  If you’ve never skipped rope using a speed rope give it a try.  It is a great addition to conditioning. By now I’m about 2 hours or so into my morning and it is time to move to archery.

Each archery practice begins with a plan.  The plan is based on a weekly schedule.  As improvements or goals are reached the plan evolves.  For example, replacing my string meant re-calibrating my sight tape.  That chore is incorporated into yardage practice, which was the plan for yesterday.

Yesterday, I did go beyond the planned arrow count.  My new Fairweather Tab arrived from Lancaster Archery so I added 60 more arrows as part of condition the tab.

The new tab will require a breaking in period.  The Kangaroo leather is still stiff.  So, this morning, the plan archery training plan was amended a bit.  I moved back to 18-meters and spent the morning working with the Fairweather.

As I head out to the range, I pause and let the chickens out of their coop.  They are allowed free range while I’m shooting.  They are rounded up when I return from the range.  The range is about 20 yards away from their coop and I’m hoping my shooting will discourage hawks from swooping down on my chickens. So far, so good.

Practice went well and I landed 98% of my arrows in red or better with 67% in yellow.

Rain had been forecast and the weatherman was correct.  It rained.  There was a light rain falling off and on during practice.  Minutes after I’d finished this morning’s practice it switched to a downpour.

Between morning and afternoon practice I put notes in my logbook and write these posts. I’ll also have lunch and take a short nap.  Then, it is onto the afternoon training schedule.

Tomorrow is scheduled recovery day.  I am considered adjusting my plan and moving this to an active recovery day.  That means I shoot but will use a reduced poundage bow.

This describes my morning training schedule in general. The afternoon has a similar repeat except running is replaced with cycling and there is no jumping rope.

Fairweather Tab Has Arrived

It was a day to calibrate my sight.  My initial string was unraveling and my new 60X string was on the bow.  The yardages were a bit off.  Nothing to do other than recalibrate the sight.

Sighting is dull work.  I do have flags at 5-yard increments that were placed using a tape measure.  That does save time.  The distances are from 20 yards to 75 yards.  When I want to shoot at 70 meters there is a tree than exactly marks the spot.

During the morning I worked out to 40 yards.  In the afternoon I stopped at 55 yards.  At this point I’d shot 120 arrows.  My inexpensive Avalon Classic was about worn through and I could no longer feel in my fingertips of my drawing hand.  I seemed better to finish tomorrow.

While I was shooting the mail arrived.  In it was my Fairweather Tab.  Obviously, I was going to shoot more arrows.

The pressure on fingertips is minimized using this Fairweather Tab. The bow string slides away smoothly. The ring verse an elastic pull to tighten the tab is consistent and doesn’t pinch.

And the new tab is wonderful.  The only minor issue is that the Kangaroo leather is still a little stiff and was pinching my nocks.  Another 60 arrows at 18 meters and the Roo was loosening up.

After 120 arrows and switching to the Fairweather the difference is like night and day compared to the Avalon Classic.  Those last 60 arrows were painless.

The Avalon Classic is a fair starter tab. If you shoot a lot you will be upgrading

The Avalon Classic got me started shooting an Olympic recurve.  It wasn’t a bad tab for a beginner.  The Fairweather tab is a significant upgrade.

But, I suppose in a few days of breaking in this tab I’ll need to start over on the sight calibration.