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.

Watching my caloric requirements

As we age our BMR, Basal Metabolic rate, decreases.  Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. I do a lot of exercise and need to check caloric intake versus caloric burn to ensure I have the right balance of intake and output.

I check this every few months and adjust based on training demands, body weight, percentage of body fat, and the food I am eating.  Getting this as correct as possible improves recovery times along with optimizing sleep as well as fat, carbohydrate and protein intake.

Staying aware of my BMR changes helps to monitor intake, which differs in quantity compared to when I was in my 20s. You can use the internet to find all sorts of calculators to find your numbers.

When I was competing in cycling, running and swimming I never seemed to get enough to eat.  As an archer the caloric load is significantly reduced.  For example, while training for the Ironman World Championship I was burning about 6720 calories a day on top of my BMR.  Archery, alone, burns 777 calories a day.  (Based on my weight, height and hours of training) Add daily supplemental training and I burn 2572 per day on top of a BMR of 1472 for a total of 4044.  That is significantly less than what is required for Ironman type conditioning. Heck, add my BMR needs to triathlon caloric needs and you’ll be looking at 8372 calories per day.

When I raced my percentage of body fat ranged from 3% to 7%.  Now that I’ve switched to archery that percentage has increased to 10% – 12%.  If I didn’t do any cardio work and ate the same amount per day as I did before archery I’d expect a much higher percentage of body fat.

Because I am 65 and plan to compete in the Men’s Senior (rather than Masters) Division of Olympic recurve it is paramount I maintain a focus on fitness.  Part of that focus is optimizing caloric intake and output.  Part of the benefit is not having hypertension (high blood pressure) and I don’t require medication to control it. Beta-blockers, a drug of choice for treating hypertension is a banned substance in competitive archery.  I doubt a therapeutic exemption would be allowed for a beta-blocker in archery. Nevertheless, I rather be fit and not need it to begin with.

My mother, an 87 year old, walks two miles a day with a Labrador retriever on a leash, mows nearly an acre of land using a push mower, and works on her property everyday except Sunday.  She takes no prescription medication.  She gets a physical exam every 6 months and is in superb condition.  As she describes it, “It is better to exercise than to take drugs to maintain health.”

Her physician follow her last exam told her, “Mrs. Lain, you have the blood chemistry of a 35 year old.  I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep it up.”

Finding the right balance of intake and output is critical for athletes.  Archery is no exception. For that matter, life is no exception. Eat right and exercise and you’ll be healthier than if you didn’t.

Time for New Running Shoes

When Hurricane Sally’s remnants passed over us there was a lot of rain.  There was a pause in the rain around the usual time I go running every morning.  Taking a chance, River and I, headed out to the trails.

The rain was only a slight drizzle as we left our yard, passing through a fence gate to start pacing through the woods.  Our first path led to ponds of water that aren’t usually on the path.  Back tracking we found a clear path and headed deeper into the woods.

Less than a mile in the drizzle was getting louder in the trees.  Gambling we ran on.  The gamble was a loss.  Within minutes the rain was a torrent.  We turned around and ran for home.

There was no point in sprinting we were going to get soaked no matter what we did.  River did pick of the pace.  She’d gallop ahead, pause to look back to make certain I was still behind her. Once we made eye contact she was off again.

You can take the nerd out of the lab, but not the lab out of the nerd. What a goober.

As soon as we reached home the rain slacked up a bit.  Nevertheless, both dog and man were drenched.  Worse for wear were my tired old Nike shoes.

Those shoes had finally given up the ghost.  They were 15 months old!  The soles had been re-glued three times.  The black rubber bottom heels were worn to the white foundation of the bottom rubber.  But, man did they feel nice running trails – they were seriously broken in.

Slogging through puddles had been the last gasp of the amateur shoe repairs. Still, 15 months for Nike’s least expensive (or near about) shoes, at $50.00 a pair via Amazon, is a deal.  Those shoes didn’t owe me a thing.

Rather than pull out the Elmer’s and try to bleed another few weeks from the shoes I guessed it was time to reorder.  Coincidentally, my most recent issue of Runner’s World (RW) had arrived in the mail a few days prior to Sally’s arrival.  On page 63 RW has an article meant to help me, “22 Best Shoes You Can Buy Right Now”.

Pictures of sleek sneakers are runners’ porn.  There was a time I invested in really extravagant shoes thinking I’d shave a few minutes over a marathon or salvage a toenail.  I don’t race beyond an occasional 5K so my elaborate spending isn’t necessary.  In fact, it probably never was needed.

The average price of the 22 best shoes, as advertised in RW, is $140.68.  Shamelessly, I have spent that and more on a single pair of running shoes.  In fact, I have two pair of big money shoes still in their boxes.  I don’t wear them; they are too expensive to waste for everyday training.  I’ll save them for that day I might enter a race, again. (Even though I expect they won’t help me run any faster at this point.  At least I can still look serious)

I’ve even got a pair of old track shoes.  I raced wearing those in just one race years ago at the US Track & Field Masters Indoor National Championship. Now, they are just a relic from days gone by.

There’s no way I’m forking out $140.68 for shoes when my old $50.00 pair lasted 15 months.  I went back to Amazon to reorder those same shoes.

It took a second to change that plan.  Those $50.00 shoes are now $80.00.  As a running shoe goes the $50.00 spent was okay.  Certainly, the $50.00 shoes were not worth $80.00. The toe box was just a bit off, the rubber sole hard, and heel was sloppy.  Fair for $50.00 but a rip off at $80.00.

Instead, I searched and found a pair of ASICS for $45.00.  ASICS is a trainer that in the past I’ve used for 1000s of miles of running.  I invested the $45.00; the new shoes should be here in a few days.

Years ago, well more than a decade, I was running in ASICS.  A fellow I was working with on a project was one of their athletes.  He’d won a Gold Medal in the Olympics and his ASICS shoes looked comfortable to me so I tried a pair. (Not his, I bought my own)

They were just fine.  I ran wearing them for many years. (ASICS never did contact me with a contract.Do they sponsor archers?)

2008 Beijing Olympic, Gold Medal, Decathlon: Bryan Clay.

When I was running in high-level events I did pay a premium for shoes.  Now a-days, I run a few miles each morning because I enjoy it.  The old Nikes had about 1600 mile in them. That is a heck of lot more miles than I once got out of a pair of shoes running roads.  Running roads I’d have been lucky to get 600 miles out of a decent pair of running shoes.  Trails, at least mine that are mostly pine straw covered hard pack, have been generous to the life of my shoes.

I’ll date the $45.00 ASICS when they arrive and see whether they hold up as well as the $50.00 Nikes did.

The old Nikes will go to the trash, soon.  I always takes me a few days to say goodbye to old friends that have supported me.

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.

Odds for Making the Olympic Team in Archery

Depending on how you evaluate archery as an Olympic sport it is considered the 8th hardest and the easiest. (1,2) I think I understand the range; archery is easy compared to some endurance sports but hard when it comes to being able to perform it well.

Archery is a precise sport.  If you are off millimeter boxing as you throw a punch it isn’t going to matter as much.  That punch is likely to land where intended or become blocked or missed because the opponent was able to dodge the punch.  In archery, it you are off aiming a millimeter at 70 meters away that arrow isn’t landing dead center.

On the other hand, archers need to be able to stand extremely still, remain calm during an Olympic competition, and work a process.  Despite it being easy and hard (1,2) for male athletes odds for making an Olympic Team as an archer are 1:162. (3) Making an Olympic basketball team has much tougher odds, 1:45,487. (3)

When we think of Olympians our minds see young athletes.  That isn’t 100% the case.  Some Olympic archers have been silver haired wonders. Galen Spenser, age 64, won Gold medal and Lida “Eliza” Pollock, age 63, two bronze medals in archery as Olympians. (4) Sure, that was last century, but their victories are relative to the sport.  More recently, Butch Johnson has been a not so young Olympic archer who last was on the US Team (his 5th time) at age 53. (5) As a matter of statistic analysis archery is the number one sport where a less young person can make an Olympic Team. (6)

Curious about these numbers I decided to take a look at my odds for making the 2024 Olympic Team in archery. Using a British sport prediction program I entered my personal data. (7) The data input was more specific to anatomy and physiology that many of the other sites I’d reviewed before seeing how I would fare.

Two of the best countries that seek Olympians based on finding the right fit for an individual and sport are the British and the Australians. Once I completed the UK data input I received an output that put me into which sport best matches my phenotype and mental ability. Number one is archer and number two is cycling.

I’ve done the cycling so I looked further into the Brit evaluation.  It suggested my best chances of making an Olympic Team in cycling were as a sprinter or mountain biking.  Thus is relevant since my 1980 aim was to make the Team as a sprinter.

I never did a lot of mountain biking but when I did race mountain bikes I won with one exception.  In fact, I entered one mountain bike race in the pro division and won it.  The one race I lost was in western Pennsylvania on a course that was foolishly technical.  I was 48 racing against 20 year olds who all seemed to have no fear or figured they would heal fast.  I was careful, finished without bleeding, and came in 3rd.

The archery ranking does seem to fit my phenotype.  So, I’ll apply the sport physiology and use scientific training methods and see where this leads. Doing some statistical analysis, at the moment, my odds to make the Olympic Team (today) would be 1:241. * Those odds are not as good as 1:162 but the numbers are specific to me where 1:162 is generalized. Even so, 1:241 odds aren’t bad.

Reference:

1.) https://www.thetoptens.com/hardest-olympic-sports/

2.) https://hypebeast.com/2016/8/easiest-gold-medals-to-win-at-olympics

3.) https://infographicjournal.com/chances-becoming-summer-olympic-athlete/

4) https://www.ijrc.org/en/News-results/These-7-Older-Athletes-Prove-It-s-Never-Too-Late-to-Be-an-Olympian.html

5) https://archeryboss.com/guides-info/olympics-age-limit

6).https://www.verywellfit.com/olympic-sports-youre-not-too-old-for-4075439

7) http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/olympisize_html/?state=7

  • Based on some wild and wide calculations. Even 1:162 doesn’t make the team.  Nor does 1:10.  Nope, it has to be 1:3. But, you have to start somewhere.

Beginner’s Luck

Forty-seven days ago my sub $400.00 all in price Olympic recurve rig arrived in the mail.  A few days later I had some arrows that would nock on the string so I could give the bow a try.  Nearly 100% of my switch from compound bow to recurve and focused on a distance of 18-meters.  I’ve just begun to increase yardage.

I’ve got all manner of target to keep practice fun

I’ve had the Olympic recurve for 46 days.  Twelve of those days have been recovery days.  No point in over doing it right from the start. So, I’ve actually practiced with the bow 34 times.

Even at 18-meters I’m not that good. Just 48.35 of my arrows land in the 9 or 10 ring at the moment.  I’m still learning. But, 18-meters can become awfully routine so I’ve been moving around.

60-meters is a decently long shot for a beginner

On this practice I began at 60 meters.  The Olympic recurve, since I am a beginner, had low poundage limbs, 34-pounds.  Arrows shot from 60 meters fly a while before smacking into a target.

Beginner’s luck!

I thought shooting from a longer distance from my target might improve my percentage of nine and ten strikes.  Nope, still hanging in around 50%. It, however, was fun to make some long shots.

It is Still Raining

It has been raining off and on for days. Rain is good for the crops I’ve planted.  Crops may be a bit of an embellishment.  I have 18 vegetables beds, 18 fruit trees, grapes vines, and a row of blackberry bushes planted.  This is somewhat of an in-between time for produce. Most of the spring and summer plants are harvested and the fall plants are just beginning to sprout, in small containers or still seed.  Rain isn’t the best for an archer.

I’ve shot in tournaments during rain.  Occasionally, the rain has been so bad the event was halted.  Once, at an IBO World Championship it poured.  My group was first on the range.  The officials held all subsequent archers.  No one missed my group.  No horn was activated to let those archers, one group, on the course to know to stop.  Without the horn we kept shooting.

When is say it rained it poured.  Not one of our group remained upright as we tried to descend the steep slopes at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania.  It rained so hard we missed a turn (the signs with the directional arrows having been blown away) and had to search for the lanes.

During the search we began to hope the tournament had been halted.  None of us wanted to walk onto an active lane, under poor visibility with other archers trying to hit a target.  Eventually, we found a road and stood under a large oak tree until conditions improved.  By the time we began shooting again we were so far ahead we never saw another group of competitors.

Today, it is raining.  It was also a rainy night in Georgia.  There was a slight easing of the rain so I grabbed my bow and headed out to my range for morning practice.

The easing of the rain didn’t last.  I was there wet and figure practice in the rain, because I know I’ll get rained on again during a tournament.

The harder the rain became the less optimistic I felt that I might not need to sound my own horn and head for shelter.  What sent me in was my finger tab.

My finger tab is an inexpensive product.  I paid $14.99 for it ordered from Lancaster Archery Supply.  It is an Avalon Classic.  The leather that is connected to the pad consists of two layers. The double leather pads called me in from the rain when they began to slide back and forth as I drew my arrows.

I practiced through this for a while with arrows landing mostly in the red rings of a 3-spot at 18-meters.  I was hitting about 70% of the time in the red and 30% yellow.  Yesterday, afternoon the opposite had occurred (71% yellow and 29% red).

It wasn’t all that frustrating and just a little bit fun to play in the rain.  Fortunately, it wasn’t cold.  But, the soaked tab was a nuisance.

It was good to learn how this particular tab responds to being soaking wet.  I have no idea how a more expensive tab would respond the becoming as wet as my inexpensive tab; I’ve only ever shot my recurve using this Avalon Classic.

I’ll investigate the pricier tabs and see what I can learn.  At the least I’ll order a second Avalon to have on hand for rainy days.  If that happens I’d try to keep the both as dry as possible and perhaps rotate them in the manner footballs are rotated during rainy games.

Practicing archery in the rain might not be tops on your list of ideal training conditions.  It is, however, a great way to learn how you and you equipment will respond to being soaked.

Running & Raining & Training

There was a light rain falling.  Not bad enough to prevent running.  Bad enough for a rain jacket.  Jacket donned River, my Labrador running partner, and I headed to the trails behind my house just after daybreak.

Ten minutes later it was no longer raining lightly.  It was pouring.  The trails had turned into streams and River, she generally likes water, was bumping my leg to suggest we retreat.  I took her recommendation.

Reaching home I was glad to have worn the rain jacket.

Years ago I ran to race.  Not anymore.  I may enter a 5K for fun but not necessarily to race it.  It is hard not to race.  I remind myself I run for fitness to support archery.  In addition I ride a bike nearly everyday as well.

If you look over the USA Archery training plans for archery you’ll discover sections for fitness training.  A weekly training plan template is available for USA Archery Coaches.  The template does include ‘Cardio/Strength/Conditioning.’

A Level 4 coach and I were recently talking about Olympic archers.  We were on the topic of age and archery.  Archery isn’t as age dependent as other Olympic events such as anything in track and field.  I’d mentioned, now that I am shooting a recurve, that I’d like to make a run at the 2024 Olympic Team.

He didn’t laugh and wasn’t put off by my age.  All he said was, “If you do that, you’ll really have to be in shape.”  I will be 69 when the 2024 Olympics are held in Paris.  So, yes I will really have to be in good shape to make a run for the 2024 Team. The coach knew nothing about my training or past athletic endeavors.

When I look at other archers it is clear the younger archers appear leaner than the more mature archers.  Still, it is rare to notice an archer that one might mistake for a triathlete.  Rare but not absent.

Look at Olympic archers and you’ll find a larger group of fitter athletes.  Archery, however, isn’t a sport limited to the 20 – 30 year of age group. You can find that age isn’t nearly the detrimental factor for fit archers. (1) You can also see that archery has decent odds, 1:162, to make the team. (2)

The oldest archer to compete in the Olympic games was Thomas Scott. (3) He represented the USA in the 1904 games.  He was 71 years old at the time.  Archery has come a long way since 1904, but I’d say it is all relative.

So, who’s to say that staying fit and shooting a lot of arrows is a false hope for someone 65 years old?

The rain did finally pause and I was able to get in some morning archery practice.  At least until it started raining, again.  I do often practice in the rain – just not during the morning archery practice.  It didn’t rain during the afternoon’s practice.

References:

(1) https://www.verywellfit.com/olympic-sports-youre-not-too-old-for-4075439

(2) https://infographicjournal.com/chances-becoming-summer-olympic-athlete/

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Scott_(archer)

Learning to shoot an Olympic Recurve

On July 22, 2020 the Olympic recurve I ordered from Lancaster Archery Supply in Pennsylvania arrived.  Today is August 19, 2020.  I’ve shot 2251 arrows using the new recurve bow. It has been tough not shooting more arrows.  It is fun.

Knowing things can get overdone I’ve limited the number of arrows to shoot per day.  This is to allow the new style of shooting to gradually take hold.  It isn’t as if I having been shooting.  But, shooting a compound bow and shooting a recurve does create a change when it comes to how an archer applies work to muscles.  It isn’t entirely like starting fresh, but the two styles are not a 100% match when it comes to all elements of the shot process and biomechanical function. It seemed wise to limit how many arrows per day in order to avoid a potential injury.

I have slowly increased the number of arrows per day on a weekly basis, increasing by twenty arrows per week.  Currently, I am at 140 arrows per day.  Those are broken into two sessions one in the morning one in the afternoon, seventy arrows per session.

I’m not just heading out and flinging arrows.  I’ve been trying to work on specific objectives associated with recurve form.  As I’ve gotten stronger holding the form has improved.

Of course, I didn’t just pick up the bow and start hitting Xs.  Neither have I missed the target.  For the first 1000 arrows I didn’t even care where the arrows landed.  I did want them to hit the target so that I might not misplace in arrow.

After about 1000 arrows I made a game where I try to get all the arrows to end up in yellow from 18 meters.  At this point, 18 meters is as far as I’ve shot the recurve.  That little game, the Yellow Game, does make things interesting.

The Yellow Game’s goal is 100% of the arrows in yellow.  At present 51% are in yellow.  Still a long way to go to reach 100%.

I’m also enforcing a strict recovery plan.  I don’t shoot on Wednesday or Sunday for the moment.  That will change, as I get stronger.  In the meantime, the Yellow Game is a way to help focus on the process and I’m trying to be patient.

All athletes run. 

You may be an archer and as such don’t necessarily find value in running.  If this is your position on running you are probably in the majority of archers.  To my knowledge there’s no official poll that provides information related to archers that use running as part of their training.  From purely informal observation of archers it seems many have allergies to running.

I’m a runner.  I run nearly every day.  Part of my running includes a day off per week – a part of a more formal program associated with archery.  Even before I ever picked up a bow I ran.

As children we run for the pleasure of running.  Today, I run with my grand children.  Racing Granddaddy is great sport.  Believe me these races are serious wind sprints.  One of them is an amazing runner. Her speed is shocking.  At 7 years old she asked to be timed and she was timed.  That’s how we discovered she really is fast.

Getting older many of us ran as part of some sport we played.  Others of us ran because we raced as runners or multi-sport athletes.  Archers on the other hand don’t run.

It wasn’t also so. Bows and arrows were originally tools for hunting and warfare.  Hunters often had to run to catch prey or get away from angry arrow poked prey.  In combat archers would empty their quivers on a field.  Once that happened pissed off cavalry would begin to chase the arrowless archers.  Those archers could run or at least those who fought in future battles were good runners. Archers on horseback, such as the Mongols, had an advantage in that they carried swords to apply to their trade once the arrows were gone.

Runner’s World, a magazine, comes to me without charge.  You may get hunting magazines for free – I get those as well.  That isn’t because you and I are great hunters.  No we get these free magazines thanks to the vendors that offset magazine’s cost with advertising. The vendors are hoping you’ll read their ads and buy their stuff.

I read Runner’s World, RW, and occasionally an article in one of the hunting rags.  RW often has ‘experts’ write for them whose work cracks me up.  This current issue did have a 5K training plan that I thought was excellent if you wanted to run 5K in less that 30 minutes.  That isn’t fast.  But, it is a good point for runners new to the sport that are seeking fitness and speed.  What cracked me up about this issue was the cover.

On the cover they’ve pictured a runner.  He’s running over rocks situated in the Barton Creek on the Greenbelt Trail in Austin, Texas.  When I pulled this RW from the mailbox and looked at the cover I laughed out loud.  The runner, PJ, photographed by Faith (her first name) is in mid flight gliding from wet boulder to wet boulder.

Immediately, I though “PJ you should be wearing a helmet.”  There is no way to consistently perform this acrobatic feat without falling.  If you slip on wet boulders, and you will, it is going to hurt.

I supposed Faith wanted a cool picture and talked PJ into taking the leap.  I hope PJ didn’t get hurt.

Athletes do run or should run.  If you do consider running trails are fun.  Running will make you more fit which can be an advantage in archery.  Trail running and trying to run across wet rocks in a creek isn’t smart. You will slip and fall. (Nope it has never happened to me.  I can fall on trails without the addition of wet boulders sitting in a creek to navigate.)