I’m a pretty good archer. I’m a better cyclist and better runner. Since beginning archery cycling and running have been adjuncts to archery training. Since beginning archery I’ve better at archery and less good running and cycling.
Certainly, I do not log the miles running and cycling I did before shooting arrows. Nevertheless, I run almost every day and ride up to 6 times a week. But, I do both to stay fit for archery.
Now, you may be 25 years old and don’t yet see the reason to do either in order to shoot a bow well. Hear me now and believe me later, your youthful fitness will not last unless you work to keep it. If you don’t use it you lose it.
If I am going to miss one of the two, running or cycling, during a day it will be cycling. Running is a demand by River, my lab. She will herd me out the door.
River is 9 years old and runs as well as she did at 2. We run trails, which avoid traffic. We both enjoy it.
Running can pay back in archery tournaments. Those long hours standing on a range are rough. There are times I’d rather have been running rather than standing and slowly walking for three and a half to four hours.
Archery over long periods of time takes a mental toll. As you fatigue from a lack of fitness mental mistakes are more prone to appear. Running can improve your fitness and may reduce the possibly of an error that is associated with being physically drained.
When I completed my 2019 goals and event calendar I made certain conditions. Those conditions are associated with the more expensive archery tournaments. For example, in order to put out the money to compete at the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio, I needed to shoot a pre-determined score at the NFAA regionals.
It wasn’t a difficult task. I needed to shoot two 300s at the regionals.
When I shoot a 5-spot, the target for both events, I shoot a 300 83% of the time. Sometimes, I mess up a shoot a 299 or 298. Those scores are essentially meaningless at the Nationals. No, at the NFAA Nationals you win by having the high X count.
My highest X-count is 104 out of 120 arrows. That’s not a winning score. But, it would be a fine score, yielding 600 total points and 104 Xs, and worth the trip. At the regionals I didn’t come close. I ended up with a 597 and I don’t recall the X count. With shooting like that there’s no point in spending big bucks for a trip to Cincinnati – at least for me.
This change opened up my weekend calendar. In fact, as far as archery is concerned, I found a significant gap between competitions. I had to fill that gap.
I run nearly every day. I ride a bike often in the winter and nearly every day once the weather improves. Once, I raced triathlons. Could a triathlon fill that gap?
No, I’ve not swum a stroke in over a year. If you don’t train for swimming, you can die in a triathlon. It has happened. Even if you finish the swim, without proper training you could fail to met the cut off times and be pulled from the race.
I could, however, race in a duathlon. There are two duathlons within 45 minutes of where I live. I prefer duathlons to triathlons. I decided to add both of those races to my calendar.
To start, I’ll race some 5Ks and 10s. I do run often, I don’t run fast. My daily runs are purely for pleasure and health management. When I’m on a bike, I’ll sometimes crank it up. Running is another matter and I’ve just not been going fast. I’ve been exclusively running trails with River, a Labrador retriever. She stops a lot to sniff I have to slow down and wait. If I don’t she might cut to a chase or roll in something foul. I can change that without much thought.
Archery is fun. It is a whole lot less expensive than a duathlon. But, if there aren’t enough easy to access archery events I’ll pay a bit more to register for a duathlon and save on travel expenses.
Often you’ll read at this website that I post articles about fitness. Many of those posts include stories about running. While cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t essential to pick up a bow and shoot it, it does improve one’s health and ability to maintain an athletic posture during long archery tournaments.
Among the exercises I do as part of my training regime, running is a major element. One manufacturer of running shoes once had an advertisement that read, “Athletes Run.” Whether or not archery is part of my life, I believe running will always be a part of it.
One of the running pleasures I find most appealing is trail running in the dark. In the winter months running in the dark is easy – it’s dark when I get up to run. In the warmer months this isn’t the case.
For some, the thought of running through the woods in the dark might bring to mind some scene from a horror movie. Not the case for me. I do run with a light – getting smacked by a tree or limb isn’t on my bucket list.
Running in the dark is peaceful in my mind. The woods are quiet and calm. Occasionally, I run in the direction of some critter and that can be startling, but never horrifying. I do run with my dog, River, who’s a big girl who provides a sense of ease when I cross paths with an unexpected animal.
There’s a 1.3-mile loop behind my house that cuts a perfect trail to travel whether running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll run it in the morning and hike it in the afternoon. I try to cover a few laps each time, more laps when running.
I understand not everyone that reads this site runs beyond being chased. If you do run and have access to trails try running in the dark it is an entirely new experience compared to running during the day light. Oh, carry a light, bring your dog, and watch how you plant your feet. Also, let someone know where you’ll be running and when to expect you home. Plus, carry your cell phone just in case. Before you run a trail in the dark run it several times during the lighted part of the day to learn the trail. If you happen to get off the trail it isn’t difficult to get turned around. If you happen to get lost, wait where you are until the sun comes up to regain your bearings. Clear lens running eye glasses are ideal for not getting an eye poked out by a low hanging pointy limb. Now that I think about, maybe you shouldn’t run in the dark – you’d probably get hurt.
Lately, most of my running has been done in the dark. I am usually cruising through the woods before sunrise. That may change when we switch to daylight saving time.
I like running trails in the dark. I like running trails in the light. Either way, trail running is more appealing to me than pounding pavement.
There are a few things to do when running in the dark that are less significant issues when running over trails in the daylight. You need to be aware of how you plant your feet. You need to lift and plant a bit more slowly. Otherwise, you could snag a foot and trip. If the trail is tight don’t run into a tree. You aren’t big enough or fast enough to run through a tree. You are not The Flash. Trees will stop you.
Wear glasses with clear lenses so you don’t poke an eye out on a low limb. You should have a good outdoor bearing for direction. Trails coming and going don’t always look the same in the dark. Have a good headlamp and fresh batteries. Bring a spare flashlight just in case.
During hunting season light yourself up. More than one light isn’t a bad idea. If you are running with a dog, put a red light on her collar. Try to run where you know no one is hunting. You don’t want to get shot because some idiot thought your dog’s red light was Rudolph’s red nose.
If you are a hunter or 3D archer running though the woods is another way to enjoy the outdoors without a bow in your hand. It is also a good method for getting you archery fitness on track.
Runners often get caught up in the latest shoe that is marketed to make them run faster. Personally, I like a shoe that feels good. I want shoes that have a wide toe box and won’t rub my toes wrong.
Once, after a 1/2 marathon in Delaware, I took my shoes off to learn the more narrow toe box had chewed away a toe nail during the race. Others followed after a few days of unsuccessfully trying to hang on. Since then, I’ve worn wider shoes.
The Newtons I wear seem just about perfect for my feet. Like must of us, my feet aren’t exactly the same. There not mismatched to the degree where one foot needs another size. Both feet are either 9.5 or 10.0 depending on the shoe. A little wider shoe compensates for the minor difference in my two feet.
I’ll run in a pair of shoes until they fall apart. Over time my shoes do fall apart. Those old Newtons (the red pair) had about a year of running in them before they gave up the ghost.
We’re back in New Hope, North Carolina after two weeks on the road living in our Winnebago Micro Minnie. The trip began as a three-day outing to Madison, NC to attend an indoor archery tournament. The adventure expanded to six campsites over three states: North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.
From the various campsites we took day trips. Among those was a drive to Wilmington, NC. Wilmington is a nice little town except for the traffic. I especially wanted to go there to see some of the sites where “The Hart of Dixie” was filmed. I have no idea how popular this show was when it ran. I watched it after it had been canceled. It is one of those rare series that had me laughing so hard at times I could barely catch my breath.
In Kinston, NC we stopped and for a second time had dinner at the Chef and the Farmer. Kinston has a nice first come first serve campground at a Nature Park on the Neuse River. It is one of the best deals going at $15.00 per night for a full hook up roomy campsite.
Our longest stay was near Tignal, Georgia at Hester’s Ferry campground. By far this ranks as the best campground we’ve used since we bought the RV. This was our longest stay on the trip because we were in Tignal for Thanksgiving.
At all the campsites I found great running trails and got in some off road cycling several times. After the tournament in Madison, NC, I was able to continue archery practice in Tignal.
What I can say about two-weeks in a Winnebago Micro Minnie (the 2106 Model) – there was plenty room, we never ran out of hot water, and the heat at night (temperatures down to below freezing a time or two) was toasty. Nevertheless, it is good to be home.
The past few days have been a bustle of cycling, running and shooting. The weather, despite ever-present wind, has been excellent. Wind impedes cycling in one direction and then repeats the trick in the reverse direction. You’d think there would be a tailwind. Running with the wind in your face may slow faster runners down a tad. A slower paced runner seems unaffected by an equivalent blowing resistance. The leaves that now cover trees suggests the wind across the 3D and the 50-meter range will be less pronounced. Outdoors here means, for most days, playing in the wind.
Yesterday, Brenda and I planned to head out in the boat for a cruise between archery practices. Just as we walked out to the dock we observed the waves picking up. Before we got the boat off the lift there were white caps across the water’s surface. Cursing in a Carolina Skill over a river capped in white is a rough trip. We postponed that adventure.
Our adventure may be have been put on hold but there is a bass tournament underway in the Little River where we live. We watched a boatload of anglers, its passengers slamming across the water, heading out for more casting. They bounced along for about 500 yards before getting smart, or battered the right amount for common sense to emerge, and returned to port.
Shooting has been just fine in the spring woods. The first few 3D targets are a bit exposed to wind but certainly not like they were in the leafless months. The main drawbacks this time of the year are snakes and mosquitos.
Our area of the coast is swampy. Ideal for both the problems: snakes and mosquitos. There is a third annoyance, poison ivy, which a watchful eye can avoid.
Snakes mostly try to evade River, my snake hunting lab, and me. River joins me in the woods and is vigilant in her sniffing for the slithering outlaws. She’s pretty good at finding snakes. She did walk right past a copperhead. I stopped as we approached it seeing it coiled to strike. Its hostility terminated with a lead induced amputation its head.
Most of the snakes we meet aren’t a problem and prefer to let us alone. In that respect, we leave them alone as well, taking a live and let live stance on the encounter. The snakes that care little for avoidance are either poisonous or don’t give way because they’re so large they think nobody will mess with them. We don’t mess with the non-poisonous variety of serpent irrespective of it size. Still there are plenty of the lethal reptiles to warrant keeping eyes constantly examining the ground. There is no way a sane person would head back to those boggy ranges without snake boots.
Already the swamp is minus one copperhead and three water moccasins. One of the chunky vipers escaped after I shot at it with my Ruger 380 and missed. I actually missed it twice. My neighbor, Jimmy, who is competitive with a pistol, would not have missed. He shots them with a little 22. I need a modest bit more lead to compensate my non-archery aim. Even so there’s that one that got away despite the larger caliber projectile. As my pistol friend said, “You’ll see him, again.”
I could probably do as good hitting snakes with an arrow as with a bullet should the circumstance arise. The operative adverb being probably and thus far there’s been no opportunity for an archer’s test. I’ve yet to stroll up on a snake when I wasn’t walking to pull arrows.
A firearm does make me feel a bit more certain as opposed to shooting an arrow angled down at close range. In addition, I would rather not fire arrows that will, whether hitting the mark of not, end up in stuck in the ground.
Mosquitos, those blood-sucking pests, are swarming in clouds so thick that occasionally I have to letdown on a shot to swat them away to see. Yes, I have an operating Thermacell hanging on my quiver’s belt and am drenched with bug spray when I’m shooting in this swamp. Without those chemicals surrounding me in a cloud and soaked onto my skin there is a chance the bugs would harvest me whole.
Despite the somewhat primitive environment where I practice it is fun to be outdoors in the wooded wetland. You just have to be careful where you step, be willing to reek of bug spray, and watch where you squat.
Archery is not a sport where the athletes involved are going to gain a lot of fitness. ESPN created a method to determine the level whereby sports could be evaluated related to: endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, nerve, durability and analytic aptitude. Of the sixty sports measured boxing topped the list of 60. 1 Archery ranked 55th followed by curling, bowling, shooting (non-archery), billiards, and fishing.1 Depending on how you search sports there is some variance in ranking. Archery is never among the most difficult when measuring athletic fitness.
If you have read the site you may be aware that fitness is a frequent topic. Archers to some degree are not really fit. That is not to suggest that a skilled archer is not a great athlete. It is my opinion that being physically fit is an important adjunct to an archer.
As a former internationally competitive cyclist and later triathlete I continue to complement archery with the training needed for those sports. In other words, I still run, swim, cycle and lift weights. Occasionally, I log the distances I walk while practicing archery.
On one of those recent occasions I continued to log distances, after running, using my Garmin Forerunner 310XT while I trained against an 18 meter 3-spot. In that session of shooting I walked an additional 1.66 miles.
Walking less than two miles is not a huge accomplishment. Still not everyone can walk that far. It seems easy, but there a many people who consider 1.66 miles quite a hike. The calories burned per hour, for me, during that session of archery was 238. Obviously, there is more involved with archery than walking, but not much related to physical activity. Without adding archery for the 1.66 miles (walking only) the caloric burn is 203. On average I shoot 4 hours per day and burn 952 calories through archery.
Considering the other exercise I do, I think of it as an adjunct to archery. Being more fit means I can practice longer. It may also help me live longer. Fitness isn’t the sole avenue to longevity but it does help. Fitness and strength training, at least for me, are part of my archery-training program.
Adding a fitness program to your archery training can be beneficial. If you aren’t already involved in other training systems, it is a good idea to have a physician give you a green light to begin.
At nearly all archery competitions people are talking about their health. Some talk about injuries, others mention medical aliments, still more complain about their excess weight. At one outdoor competition, a 50-meter event, the archer on the line next to me said, “I’ve never shot more than 30 arrows in one day.” We had 72 arrows to shoot and we’d had 24 shots for warm-up. Plus, the guy’s weight was a tad on the excessive side. I knew this guy was in for a rough day. I wasn’t mistaken.
Once I heard a bit of braggadocio that went like this, “In practice, if I shoot 10 good shots I quit.” That may be fine if the bulk of the tournaments were 10 arrows or less. Ten shots will not prepare anyone for a 100 shot day.
Another time, a self-proclaimed expert said, “I shoot 30 arrows 3 to 4 times a week.” On the range during 3D tournaments I’ve heard this several time, “I haven’t practiced all week.” Before too long that same individual is whining because he’s making poor shots.
I make a lot of bad shots. Prior to this season, there’s not been a year when I didn’t miss a 3D target entirely. Heck, during my first year of shooting, on an indoor range no less, I put arrows into the ceiling on more than one occasion. This past weekend, I shot all 12’s and 10’s with two exceptions, an 8 and (hanging my head) a 5. (Amazingly, I still won – I just knew that 5 if not the 8 were going to blow it for me.)
Archery is a sport and it takes a great deal of physical effort. That effort isn’t a major cardio workout. At the last 3D tournament we walked 1.36 miles over the course in about 2 hours. Not a grueling pace. Yet, there were people who seemed totally wasted from the effort. (I ran further than that before the tournament.)
You do not need to be a marathoner to shoot archery. But, you should be in shape to perform to your highest level. The better fitness you process the more time you can spend training. In that regard, I consider fitness training part of my archery training. Aside from archery specific training, I spend nearly 1000 additional hours a year on general fitness training.
I can’t shoot well more than about 4 hours per day broken into two practice sessions, morning and afternoon. Nearly every morning, before archery practice I run. Not far, never more than 6 miles, and not too fast. Between archery practices is when I do more fitness training.
I understand most of you work during the day. As such, you probably do most of your archery practice in the evenings and on weekends. That still leaves early mornings for addition fitness training.
When I worked at my medical career I trained (not archery) before work, after work and at times (when I was not traveling) during my lunch break. That pattern began when I was 17 and would train for cycling before school and after school. The pattern still rules today – 44 years later.
Being fit doesn’t mean I need to be able to run a marathon or do an Ironman. It also doesn’t mean I won’t do another of each. What it does mean is that I am in better condition for the rigors of archery.
I don’t focus on the number of arrows I shoot per day. Some days it’s a few as 30 (tapering or active recover) or as many as 240. To help prevent should injury I only pull 52 pounds and lift weights year round. My mid-day workouts are critical to my ongoing development as an archer. Mid-day I swim, ride a bike and/or weight lift.
Not everyone shares this view of archery. That’s obvious by the phenotypes I see in the sport. Regardless of opinion, being healthy and fit are beneficial. Find a plan, create a plan, do what you can for your health. You’ll appreciate when you’re in your 60s.
River runs with me. She’s a lab and she love water. Muddy water is as acceptable as a clear lake. When we pass any wet area she will test the water.
Today as we headed down a trail I spotted a puddle that was red with saturated clay. There was no way to change River’s inertia once she got a whiff of mud. She made an all out sprint to the crimson pool.
As we headed home my running partner was no longer strictly brown, she was more of a rust color. Thankfully, she took a nice long swim in the lake, which, in effect, was her bath.