Swimming and 3D Practice

Swimming was my primary focus for today’s cardio training. Since it’s been raining non-stop swimming at the YMCA was perfect. Then, it was onto 3D or indoor archery depending on the weather.

I have a triathlon in a few weeks. My goal for this workout was time. I did a swim time trial for the distance I’ll be swimming in the June XTerra triathlon. The distance is not an issue. What I wanted to know is how slow (or fast) I might be over the 800 yards (sprint distance) for the triathlon. Whatever time I have the in pool it will be faster than open water. In open water it’s harder to keep a straight line. I tend to zigzag from buoy to buoy.

Swimming in open water – I barely stay on a straight line

Heading back to my Ford F-150, after the swim, I was pleased to see it had stopped raining. Not really wanting to shoot indoors I knew I’d be on the 3D range soon. I’d recently gotten a new 3D target, a bobcat, and was eager to stick some arrows into the small cat.

Before I got to my new target I spent time shooting a bear, badger, coyote and turkey. Progressing through the range, I was anticipating the new animal. Shooting the same old targets day in and day out is fun, but a new target is exciting.

The bobcat is certainly a small target. Where it’s placed on the range the maximum distance it can be shot is 32 yards. That seemed like a good place to start. The rings on the bobcat are barely visible using binoculars from 32 yards. This wasn’t a freebee shot.

The cat sits so that it’s in a tunnel of foliage. From the stake, which is in the open, the shot enters a closed in path. This was done in an attempt to make the shot more difficult.

Patch of blue sky through the leaves

I’ve seen bobcats similar to this one during tournaments. Each time the faux Lynx rufus was sitting straight down a lane less than 20 yards from the stake. Granted, it is a small target and during tournaments small targets are frequently arranged less than 20 yards from the stake. Small targets aren’t always so close. The last few javelinas I’ve had to shoot in tournaments were at 40 plus yards. I silently cursed before I took my shot.

My inaugural shots on the bobcat were a ten and an eight. The eight was the first attempt. I tried a few more times to hit the very small center ring from 32 yards – never got it and moved onto the next animal.IMG_5035

Where I wanted to spend some time was on this pig that is situated so that trees and angles make up the challenge. I have three stakes for this pig. There’s not much different where distance is concerned, two shots are at 37 yards and one is at 34 yards. The trick is to get the arrow between the trees and hit the pig on a slant for the longer shots. At 34 yards the shot is nearly straight on.

You can tell the angle of aim on this pig from the arrow placement

What’s happened, as summer approaches (come on warm weather) is that the foliage in the woods has darkened everything. The black boar’s rings are impossible to see. Shoot it enough and maybe the rings can be committed to memory. If only all the pigs I see in tournament were at 37 to 34 yards and the size of this one.

It’s almost like a rain forest in these woods

Back in the woods, out of the wind, I have a couple of targets where longer shots are possible. One is a Rinehart deer that, at the moment, has a 55 yards maximum range. There’s also a mountain lion, that if I wanted, I can shoot at from 100 yards or more. Note I wrote, “shoot at” from 100 yards not hit from 100 yards. I’ve never tested a shot over 85 yards. (I found that arrow cutting the grass last week)



Practice kept me in the woods for around two and a half hours this afternoon. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. The lighting in the woods because of leaves gives this forest a very different appeal than the bare trees of winter. It sure beats sitting in an office.

Falling off the Training Wagon and Creating a Little Fun

Typically, I have training plan for the week. I know what targets I’m going to shoot, how I’ll practice, and how long I’ll spend doing each session – morning and afternoon. This week, well I got lazy. I didn’t build a plan.

My archery training plans like my triathlon plans are several weeks long. I use a thirteen-week cycle. Archery is harder to prepare because I don’t have the same degree of experience or expertise creating a plan as with triathlon. As such, I fell off the archery training plan wagon.

So, today shooting was ad lib. Maybe tomorrow will be ad lib as well since I still haven’t prepared a new archery-training plan for the next 13 weeks. I do have my triathlon plan completed through November. Nevertheless, I spent two hours shooting arrows today.

Without a plan archery was play. I tried things I’ve not yet done or done very little. I used the 3D range and shot really long shots – up to 65 yards. I’ve shot that far and further. Today however, I shot a lot of arrows at smallish 3D targets. The bulk of the shots were from 40 to 65 yards. Heck, I figured the center shot on a badger, turkey, or coyote is about the same the center X on a paper target at 50 meters. Seemed a bit like double dipping my practice.

Then, I noticed, while shooting a badger, I could shoot a turkey and coyote, albeit at a weird angle, without moving. So, I shot them without changing my position. It was fun, it was different.

Hard to see but there is a turkey to the left, a coyote in the middle and a badger to the right

Shooting the same targets day in and day out, well it’s the same everyday. Finding different ways to shoot them, making up different “games”, and finding new ways to hit the targets, keeps practice fresh. Simply shooting three old targets from a new position was fresh and it was fun.

Yep, that was a different perspective. (River is checking for snakes)

As I started backing away from my targets, forty yards, fifty yards, sixty yards, and finally sixty-five yards practice became more fun – certainly less structured. Shooting at a turkey for most of the shots was exciting. Not exciting like climbing a mountain or doing a long open water swim. Exciting in knowing that if I missed high I’d be hunting for an arrow.

The turkey shot from 65 yards

Turkeys aren’t large targets. A bit too much on elevation at 65 yards means so long arrow. Shooting low isn’t as much of a problem; turkeys have a lot of foam below the center ring. Not so much foam up top aiming at the side of the bird.

First two tries at 65 yards

I shot for a couple of hours this afternoon. It was a very informal practice. A break from rigid plans does help keep practice fresh.

I’ll worry about the plan tomorrow. (No arrows were lost during this day’s play.)



Shooting in the Rain

It’s been raining all day. Not a hard rain. The rain has been light. So, I practiced in the rain.

It wasn’t raining when I got out of bed at 5:00 AM. Typically, I like to sleep until 6:00 AM. Lately, I’ve been hitting the sack earlier and as a result I am waking up earlier. I’m trying to get into a routine of waking earlier. I have a number of races with start times, over the next few months, where a 5:00 AM wake-up call is mandatory. At the ASA in Augusta I had a shoot time set for 07:30 AM. So, I figured I’d better practice getting up a little earlier than usual.

My running partners, River in the lead and Coco on her heels.

The day began with an early morning run. It wasn’t raining during the run, but looked like it might start at any moment. I started shooting a little later that usual because I had some yard work that had to be completed. Once all of that was done – it started raining.

It was warm and we stopped so the girls could have a break.

There are times when I’ve shot in 3D tournaments and it rained. Not a light rain, as today’s is, but a hard core float the Ark type rain. Today it has been gentle and not nearly hard enough to run me inside.

There will be days, I am certain, where I’ll get caught shooting in the rain. In cycling and running, events don’t stop for rain. In archery, we compete rain or shine most of the time.

Last week a 3D tournament was canceled due to rain. It wasn’t raining when the event was called off. It had been storming and the range along with parking were both mud bogs. I went and checked it out. I don’t mind mud on my truck. I suppose other more sensitive souls may have objected to mud.

You know, when we play outside we’re sometimes going to get caught in the rain. Really as long as it’s not freezing cold it doesn’t bother me. I can take the rain or I can take the cold, but I can’t take the rain and the cold.

Today’s rainy practice was fun. I shot better than usual. I think there’s an element of playing in the rain I enjoy. The bonus is now that I’m all grown up; Mama doesn’t fuss at me for getting soaking wet.

We’re Here to Play – Right?

River hangs out with near me during archery practice. She walks through the woods during 3D practice or keeps a stoic eye on me while I shoot dots. Throughout it all goes swimming, chews sticks, and at times requests a toss. Usually she is pretty well behaved. This morning she was out of control.

Are you ready for this?

It seemed to her, my impression since she doesn’t speak English, that she was determined to ruin practice. River had only one thing on her mind – play. From her barking, hopping, running, and banging into me River gave the impression that she wanted me to stop shooting.

Throw that stick I just dropped on your foot

River doesn’t have a real grasp on the need to practice at any sport. She measures sports in degree of play. That is, how much fun can she have?

Oh yeah, that was good

Running is fun for both of us. She takes off, we often meet up with her friend Coco and she joins our run. When the run is over it is time for archery practice. Some mornings, River isn’t ready to loosen her grip on the playtime. This was one of those mornings.

I’m going to chew this for a minute then we can start over – you wait right there, don’t even think about touching that bow.

Archery can be a challenge, more so when a 97-pound Labrador retriever has her mind set on playing with the archer. It is difficult to take aim with a big dog essentially barking in your face and dropping sticks on your feet.

I couldn’t handle the temptation and within 45 minutes the bow was put away and the game was in full session. Some days we just have to play.

Finally a day Without Wind

Today was the first day in a week where I wasn’t trying to shoot in wind blowing at 25 mph. This morning – no white caps on the Little River. The sky was clear and the temperature rose to 78°F. Pretty darn nice.

Not a bad start

Per my current training plan I shot paper in the morning. Without the wind it was a pretty decent practice. Then, it was off the swim and lift weights.

Shoot an arrow, throw a stick

Swimming kicked my butt. The pool was crowded and along with other swimmers I was sharing a lane. Every lap became a silent unannounced contest – at least that’s how I perceived it.

River really enjoyed the day.

By the time I was back home I was dead. I’d been looking forward to 3D practice, but I was so beat I wondered how I’d make it through the session.

At 60 yards, the target is down range next to the far pine tree. Each arrow is a close pass with the oak tree. The little building behind the paddle board is where I grill or fry food.

Around 3:00 PM, after a few hours of work on my dock, I rallied and got in the 3D practice. Still no wind and shooting was pretty good. I finished up around 6:00 PM in time to grill chicken for our dinner fajitas.

At 60 yards, one foot is on the bulkhead.

I’ll admit, the swim did me in, and I am fried.

3D Struggles

At then end of last year’s 3D season I was averaging 9.61 points per arrow. There were times when I shot just fine other times not so hot. Thus far, 2016 sucks. My average 3D score is 8.35 points per arrow. That’s a loss of over 25 points per 20 targets. Something has run afoul.

This badger can be a tricky shot beyond the ground obstructions.
On this one, I guessed well on the yardage.

I practiced a lot over the winter. It was cold and I shot a lot of dots. The main two reasons, it was cold so I shot indoors and the USA Indoor Nationals were in the spring. Still, I got outside several times per week to shoot 3D.

A week ago I shot a tournament, outdoor at paper, in which the sequence of arrows was: 20 at 60 yards, 20 at 50 yards, and 20 at 40 yards. I shot well and ended up second. I was pleased with my final score. Granted I’d been out scored but I’d shot well losing by 2 points. A few days prior to that competition I’d shot a 3D contest, I ended up second, but shot like crap.

My assumption was that I’d spent so much time shooting paper that I was failing in my yardage estimates. That’s easy to test, I when to the range, guessed at 20 targets, shot them, and then took a yardage measurement with a range finder.

I try to make the shots 3D realistic – this one at 42 yards.
When I pulled the arrow at the 42 yard deer I discovered a frog had found a nice spot to enjoy the day. I left him to his pleasure.

My final scored yielded, you guessed it 8.35 points per arrow. The kicker is, my estimate of the yardage was only 0.80 yards difference. The mean distance for all targets was 37.15 yards with a range of 23 yards minimum ( a mosquito) and 54 yards maximum ( a mountain lion). These results did not yield a clear indication of the problem.

Looking at the individual variance in yardage error was more revealing. When I misjudged I was off by 2.3 yards. On one, which probably skewed the values, I missed judged by 13 yards. If I removed that error the misjudged value becomes 1.65 yards. Seeing that I’d missed judged by 13 yards was a shock.

There were a lot of distances that were correct. But the errors when I made them were large enough to land me 5s and 8s. It only takes a few of those to lower a total score. Where I judged soundly, I shot 10s and 12s. This little exercise was telling. It shows that when I guess yardage well I shot pretty good. When I am off, I am off and at times I am way off.

Judging yardage is one of the challenges of 3D. Having access to a range within a few feet of my front door helps. But, there is still a lot of work ahead to bring my per target average back to 2015’s level and surpass it.

The Cold and the Rain

The past few days have been windy. Wind is not a friend to archers (or cyclists, unless it’s a tailwind.) We’ve had some rain and earlier in the week it caught me while out running. Playing outside, well, you’re going to have to deal with the elements.

Today, Easter, after breakfast there was time to run and shoot. We’ll be preparing a “big” meal later. Cooking that meal, in part, on the grill in the summer (outdoor) kitchen, now looks ever increasingly like there will be rain.

A little bit to the left, a little bit to the right, and one just where I wanted it.

There was no rain, this morning,  while River and I ran. Also, a bonus, it wasn’t windy. While on the archery range, there was still no wind, but the rain came. It wasn’t a hard rain but it was cold. That combination of cold and wet sent me back inside.

Lately, I’ve been shooting all over the place. I’m not referring to tournaments, I mean all over the place aside from the center of the target. It has been especially bad during 3D shoots. So, practicing 3D is high on the list of areas where I’m looking to improve.

The lower arrow surpassed me, it was on the center line.

I’d hoped to get in a few hours of 3D practice this morning. That didn’t pan out thanks to the rain. I stayed out long enough to get wet enough and cold enough to throw in the towel. Or more accurately, outside long enough to seek out a dry towel.

Last shot before heading inside

When I raced bikes I used to say, “I can take the cold or I can take the rain, but I can’t take the cold and the rain.” That remains true for archery.

A Tired Lab is a Good Lab

The day starts with a run. Some days lifting weights follows running. Other days there’s swimming and cycling. Still others it’s all of the above. And on nearly all days I shoot in the morning and afternoon.

This day started like so many others – running. River, my lab, runs with me. She’s basically a runner and swimmer even though she has a keen interest in archery. Together we run along with a friend, Coco. Coco, the lab down the road, is well mannered, but she can’t avoid nastiness. River, a bit more refined, stays out of the worst of Coco’s badly influenced romps, if I can signal River away in time.

A couple of nasty but happy dogs

Mud was on Coco’s mind during this run. River didn’t haller in mud, Coco’s shame, but following the run she needed a bath. In fact, both dogs needed bathing and I expect Coco’s owners weren’t too pleased when she returned home.

Coco enjoying the muddy bottom of this ditch, River looking on

One of the many things I’ve learned about labs is that a tired lab is a good lab. So, River hangs out me with after running while I shoot. I’ll spend hours outside practicing archery and throughout it all River watches. Some times I need to toss a stick but that’s fine.

After checking out my arrow placement, River moves onto more interesting investigations

River prefers 3D practice to paper target practice. 3D is done in the woods and there are so many more things to smell. Occasionally, there’s a nice carcass to taste and roll over. Of course, there’s the possibility of finding the delicacy of a pile of rabbit poop, a favorite treat for many dogs.

Finally worked out to 40 yards taking aim on this turkey
At 40-yards, a bit low to the right. but tight.

This afternoon, practice was about yardage. The game was to estimate and check my guess against a range finder. Regardless of what the range finder measured, the first shot was always taken using my yardage estimate. The targets were then shot up to 6 times before moving, using the same target at distances from about 20 yards to about 50 yards at about 5 yard increments. It’s a slow process and by then end of the day both dog and man are tired.

Starting Over

The recent USA Indoor National Championship and the NC State Indoor Championship taught me a lesson. That was, I can’t shoot well. It’s not the bow, arrows, sight or other equipment. Something is very inconsistent with my form. So, when I got home here in coastal North Carolina, I decided to change everything related to shooting.

During the Indoor Nationals I watched a lady that is extremely good. We talked a bit, she was either being nice or thought I knew more about archery. I quickly explained I was still new to the sport and I simply didn’t know the answers to most of her questions. But, what I did was watch how she shot.

It was easy to recognize how relaxed she shot. It was clear she stood a bit differently than me, held her bow better, and her release was smooth. She had better follow through and she currently ranked number 1 by USA Archery. Watching her shoot it was obvious my form was awful.

When I’d returned home here in New Hope,  North Carolina I began the process of changing: how I stand, hold my shoulders, where I anchor, and how I release. By release, I mean I changed back to a hinged release versus a thumb. Of the ‘errors’ I’ve begun correcting is how I stand. It occurred to me I’d lost focus on my core and was sagging a bit. That alone probably accounted for a number of poor shoots.

It is difficult to change. The old style was comfortable, albeit stagnant. The new style is not yet second nature and that hit home in a 3D tournament last weekend. That along with not being par at judging distance having shot 18 meters for so many months.

However, in the long run, backing up a bit, being less comfortable will pay dividends in the future.


Shoot 3 arrows, throw a stick.

I forgot to bring my camera to provide a picture of today’s practice here in Tignall. Honestly, how exciting is it to see arrows stuck in a block. Not so exciting for River, my dog.

She’s fairly forgiving and let’s me shoot a bit before she needs to play. She let’s me know she’s had enough by getting in front of me while I am at full draw and barking. It is a real demand on concentration, which typically yields an 8. It is hard to not laugh when River is essentially going crazy in front of me.

Show me the stick

The solution is a stick. Any stick that I can throw works. The game works this way: I shoot three arrows. Then, I retrieve them. Walking back to my bow I find a stick and grab it. Next, I toss the stick as far as I can chunk it. River runs after it, picks it up, and heads back. She’ll then sit next to me, stick in mouth until I shoot three arrows.

At that point she drops that stick, walks with me to retrieve the arrows and the process repeats.

It adds a little time to practice. That’s a good thing; I tend to shoot too fast. Maybe River is trying to teach me to slow down. Or maybe she’s just bored.