That Picture from the Event

Throughout my sporting activities there have been loads of pictures taken of the events where I competed. In running and triathlon races they’re always a pile of photographers snapping shots in hopes those digitalized athletes will exchange money for the memory.

I good friend of mine was a professional photographer and he’s often come to races where I’d entered and take pictures. Some of them were of me.

At the IBO World Championships, one year, I’m pretty sure photographers where on the ranges snapping up images they sold. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure.

During that tournament, I looked over the photographs available to review at a booth with a computer at the ready to search for pictures of yourself. My search proved empty. I moved on without further inquiry.

There are a few pictures of me on this website, mostly taken by my wife unless the image is of me is some race. In that case, I probably bought the ego-enriching photo.

What I can say about archery is that I rarely make the cut for a picture unless my wife takes it. I did, however, finally make to cut at the Georgia Archery Association 25-Meter Indoor Championship, this past weekend in Statesboro, Georgia.

The tournament had around 152 archers competing. At the Facebook page where the organizers said we could find our pictures that I checked.  I discovered there are 257 pictures of the event. That’s nearly a 2:1 picture per archer ratio. It seemed the odds of finding myself at full draw, looking determined and dashing were pretty good.

Scanning the 257 pictures it was clear that whoever captured them knew what they were doing with a camera. There were some excellent shots. In one the fellow shooting directly to my front was shown a full draw in perfect form. In another the lady behind me, a bare bow archer, is seen, bow in hand, gazing downrange, in silent contemplation.

Alas, there is no glorious close up of me with bow in hand projecting an air of professional athleticism. On the other hand, neither is there a ruined image of me with a finger up my nose. However, there is one picture where I made the cut. (See below)

Look closely, at the end of the line, under the letter ‘n’ in the word ‘center’ you’ll notice a sleeveless elbow. That’s me.

Well, it is the bow.

There seemed to be something off during my last competition. In fact, my arrow placement has been dropping. It was so bad during last week’s tournament I shot two eights at 18 meters.The last tournament was scored with the inner ten equaling 11 points. Despite a recent slump I was optimistic.  Before long it was apparent something was clearly amuck.

Things started pretty good but didn’t last. Before I’d shot nine arrows I knew the monkey was on my back. My arrows were flying all over the place. My first thought was that I’d hit rock bottom. My second thought was that something was wrong with my equipment.

The equipment should be fine. It had been checked out in the previous week. Still, when I got home I took my stabilizers and scope off my Elite Victory X and put them on my Elite Energy 35. Low and behold – the arrows were landing more or less where I wanted them to land.

The arrows are Easton 2018s. The Victory X is a 60lb bow set up for around 54 lbs. The Elite Energy is a 50 lbs. bow giving me 52 lbs. I’d shot 2014s with the bows in the past and moved over to a stiffer arrow few weeks ago. With the Victory things had been looking good. Then, things didn’t look so good.

At last year’s Georgia 50 meter State Championship, I was training with the Victory. Prior to the Championship I went back to the Energy and won the event setting a new State record. I did the same for the next outdoor tournament and again set a new record* using the Energy. When shooting the Victory the arrows just seem to shift. I’d have to adjust windage when there was no wind.

Following that I took the Victory to the local bow shop where I’d purchased the bow explaining that something seemed off with the bow. I also contacted Elite looking for help. Elite didn’t respond.

Indeed, the limbs had somehow loosened and one was no longer matching the other. Corrections were taken and the bow performed well. Well, for a short while.

This latest problem was soon chased back to the bow. The Victory, set at 54 lbs. was tested and found to have a draw weight of 46 lbs. Forty-six pounds from a bow that has a maximum draw weight of 60 is seriously out of whack. At the Indoor Nationals last year (the tournament for which I’d bought the bow) during bow check in I discovered the bow had dropped the poundage. I’d assumed it was a variance between measuring devices.

The Victory X is a nice bow. Mine is nine months and 5 days old. I shoot about 100 arrows a day on average. My Victory X seems to have some issue with staying tight.

The recent discovered change in draw weight isn’t the first time – it is now the third. The first, I blamed it on variance of measuring devices. The second time, well no fault was assigned. This third time, well it is the bow. The third time is also the charm.

Today, while practicing, I had to pause and tighten the locking screws that are on the sides of the limb pockets. At this point I have no idea why this bow gets loose. But, I do hope it can hold together long enough to compete this weekend.

*Unofficial record. No higher score can be found online and I have contacted the State officials to verify – they’ve not yet responded.

 

Well, that was fun!

It was a pretty exciting day. It was cold and it started with stretching an indoor activity. It wasn’t long before River, my lab, and I hit the trails to run. By then, it had warmed to a toasty 28°F.

There are some big mushrooms in these woods. (My shoe is a size 10 for reference)

For sure, I’ve run when it has been colder. When I lived in Cleveland during the winter temperature around 0°F wasn’t uncommon. Still, I got up and ran.

Lake Erie in the winter

Running here, back home in Georgia, temperatures are as rough in the winter. Heading out on single track or animal trails through the woods is plain fun.

But, archery outside in 28°F isn’t a lot of fun. You just don’t work up enough internal combustion to stay warm. Wearing everything you own to stay warm while practicing is too cumbersome for me. The other night, after league shooting, a fellow and I were heading to our vehicles. It was around 8:20 PM and already getting cold. He bragged about the temperature not being cold to he – being from Boston and all.

For seven years I had an office in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I worked for extended periods of the winters in Sweden. In all of those places, I ran in the morning before work. I understand cold. Spend a winter or two in Uppsala, Sweden and Boston winters seems cute.

Uppsala, Sweden

After running it was off to Ace Hardware is Social Circle, Georgia to use their indoor range. Yep, Ace has an archery pro shop and very nice indoor range. They are also the major sponsor for an archery club, where I am a member, in this area.

Mornings at the hardware store archery range often mean the early risers can have their choice of lane to use. I try to get to the shop as soon as possible. I’m never entirely alone, other shooters come in, fling some arrows, and leave. As a rule, I do have a solid place to practice away from the cold.

Perfect for winter practice

On this morning I used a new target after the first 50 or so arrows. I moved it higher on their archery butt to take some time shooting the top target with a bit more elevation. On my second end on this new target I screwed up.

My shoulders were all wrong, my anchor felt off, my peep had rotated, so I needed to let down and start over. As I was becoming aware to let down I blinked. It seemed that something hit me in the eye. Naturally, with my eyes closed and my braining thinking, “Ouch” the arrow launched away.

All I could do was wait to here the arrow crash into the wall above the target. But, that’s not the sound I heard. I was lucky I heard the arrow hit the archer butt.

Looking for a five at best I didn’t immediately notice the arrow. Looking off the target entirely I still couldn’t find the arrow. Then, no, that is too lucky – the arrow hit the X. Not only hitting the X but it couldn’t have landed more perfectly. It was probably a one in a million shot.

The top arrow, eyes closed, the arrow got away, but seems like a well trained arrow

The weather “person” promised rising afternoon temperatures. So, after the morning at 18-meters I hoped to practice at 25-meters in the forecasted warmth. Sure enough, after a short cold afternoon bike ride, the temperature peaked into the 40s. On top of that, my new target arrived.

The sad, old, poorly repaired, block targets on my range could no longer do their jobs. Sure arrows slowed down, but there was no stopping them. I’d resorted to shooting a bag, which isn’t a great butt for a 3-spot. On the bag I use a vertical 3-spot is too long and the Vegas style target has only on sort of flat target. It was time for a new butt.

Target are expensive. It is one of the items on which I hate spending money. I know that before long the purchase by using it will end up wasted. You can shoot a bow over and over, you can use arrows over and over, but anything you shoot an arrow into eventually is gone.

What I’d been looking at for a replacement cost over $300. The same item was available on Amazon for $260. Amazon also had another brand that was a little smaller, a few inches, but a third the price. I figured for around $100 I’d take a chance.

In this case, that chance paid off. The target is very high quality as good as or better than the more expense products. The bonus is that it arrived about 30 minutes before I was planning to practice 25-meters.

Found on Amazon for around $100. It is heavy, 70 pounds.

During 25-meter practice daylight began to fade. The range is on a cleared area in the woods behind our house. In those woods, off not too far, I could hear coyotes howling. Usually, I’ll carry at least a pistol with me on the range; particularly in the summer as defense against rattlesnakes and copperhead. During winter months I don’t always bring a pistol. Those coyotes were too close for comfort even though I had a bow.

The coyotes marked the end of a fun day. There was running and riding and shooting. Granted, it was all part of training to do well in archery, which is sort of like a fun job.

Archery Fans’ Signs

In my current issue of Runner’s World magazine they had an article that pictured lots of signs held by fans lining marathon courses. Marathons were never my favorite distance. I only ran them to train for Ironman races where we had to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112 miles. A single event like a marathon was essentially a fun way to train.

All marathons are different. The distance remains the same but each race is unique. The distance isn’t the only constant; there are always thousands, if not tens of thousands of fans watching the race. At the Tokyo marathon a few years ago (yes Japan) the course was literally packed with fans. The noise was incredible. Like all the other marathons I’ve run Japan had another constant of the race – fans with signs.

I couldn’t read the Japanese signs. For the most part I couldn’t understand what was being said around me. I had the same problem racing or training in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. Usually, I’d find someone that spoke English and that person was a prize. But, in every race, no matter where, there were signs.

I love that about sports, that fans come out and watch us suffer while often providing a bit of humor is wonderful. That is except for archery.

I did a search for signs by fans of archery. I found one. Apparently the Koreans are less inhibited than other fans and produced signs in support of their champion Park. (I can’t show it. The sign, while available in the public domain, came with a copyright warning.  Typical.)

Signs for runners aren’t necessarily going to support a champion, at least in the sense of the race winner. They support runners in general or a runner in specific. My wife, Brenda, at the Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii, drew me a sign on the road with chalk. I hadn’t known she’d done it but I saw it. It was a small thing in the grand scheme of a lifetime together but I haven’t forgotten the gesture.

There may be a sign or two at major archery tournaments, but they have eluded my search. I think fans with signs supporting their favorite archer is a good thing and it is sad we don’t see them. I think it is great when fans of a sport make and hold up signs that are non-athlete specific and are meant to support everyone.

Some signs I read along a racecourse have stuck with me and I was thankful to have read them. Of course, archery judges or more stoic observers of the sport might not welcome some of the signs held up by rabid running or triathlon fans should similar signs migrate to archery.

Still, I remain in favor of fans enjoying archery even if enthusiastic ones held signs over their heads that might be a distracting to serious minded, stone faced, fans, competitors and officials of the sport. For me, the signs have always been refreshing and welcomed.

Time to Give the Senior Division a Shot?

As 2019 approaches and tournaments begin to open there is the matter of which division to shoot. A goal, when I started shooting a bow, was to migrate from the Masters division to the Senior. That move would be based on my scores. (In archery Senior is the group between 21 and 49 years old.  Masters are over 50 years old.)

Archery is one of two sports where age isn’t a tremendous factor. For example, if I were training for a triathlon the consideration to compete against a 25 year old would be out of the question. In archery I compete against opponents less than half my age all the time. However, I’ve not yet made the shift to a younger group in any major event.

At the moment I am preparing for the USA National Indoor Championship. I’ve not yet entered – entry for my area isn’t available at the moment. In the meantime we have a 25-meter State Championship in ten days time. I’ve entered that as a Master.

My rolling average is creeping toward 600

The internal debate of Senior versus Master Division is a matter of confidence. I suppose it can’t be truly earned by simply comparing scores. It will come from head to head competition and a bit of guts.

A 12-Mile Mountain Bike Loop Failure

It started as a short 12-mile mountain bike ride. Most of it on trails or narrow dirt roads. There was one section of paved road that I suspected would put me on a loop back home. If it worked I’d have a nice 12-mile loop.

When I started racing bicycles in 1972 our team, The Savannah Wheelmen, had permission to train on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. There was a road, Perimeter Road, which as named, encircled the perimeter creating a 10-mile loop of the base. Our team would ride around Hunter two to twelve times per day. Since it was a 10-mile loop it wasn’t tedious. The major factor was that it was nearly void of traffic. It remains one of the safest training routes in memory.

Finding a 12-mile loop, mostly off road, here near Athens, Georgia seemed like a great idea. I’d been searching and felt I was close. Heading out to find the last few miles needed to create the course I was optimistic.

Miles of this on a mountain bike is fun. This is a long uphill grade, steep in sections.

For seven miles I was primarily on trails, dirt roads and a very isolated paved road. Then, things got dicey.

I knew a section of the yet discovered loop would be on a more traveled road. It wasn’t a bad road and there were signs to encourage motorists to “Share the Road” with cyclists. This would last only a mile or so before I turned left and took my Cannondale back into the woods to close the loop.

This old shack is next to a single track

The surprise came from a road closure with only four miles of my estimated ride remaining. Riding right wouldn’t work since that would send me in the wrong direction. Left was out because that landed me on a road with heavy traffic. I took road number three a total guess; Monty Hall would have been proud. He’d also have been saddened by my choice –it was the wrong road.

Not exactly certain where this is, but there were cattle everywhere.

After too long and being a bit lost, I needed help. I had my phone in my pocket and decided to consult Google Maps. Naturally, there was no cellular service. I did spot a few folks skinning a deer so I rode over on my bike to ask for help.

This is a familar crossing.

One nice thing about living near Athens, cyclists are a common sight. So are people skinning deer. In fact, many cyclists here skin deer. When I asked how to get back to Good Hope, Georgia, I learned I was way the hell off course. So far so that the fastest way home was to do a 100% back track.

When I passed this, I knew I was at a minimum in the correct county

I’ll try this again with the road is open. I know there is a way to come up with a 12 to 15 mile loop that is almost as safe as those days circling Hunter.

Plantation Ruin

Mountain biking around my home is really pretty nice. I can be on trails, hard pack, or dirt roads within minutes of leaving home.

I try to ride everyday. I doubt I’ll race again – but I might. I think of racing every time I train. The fact is, I ride (and run) as part of an archery fitness plan. At 63 years old I want to compete against seniors although the masters archers are pretty tough to beat. Part of that desire requires I stay fit. I don’t want to end up with high blood pressure and need to take beta-blockers to manage as aliment when fitness and weight management can help reduce the risk of getting high blood pressure. Beta-blockers are banned in archery. Still, there are a lot of archers competing while using beta-blockers. Aside from that cycling off-road is a lot of fun.

While riding in a wooded area I discovered what appeared ruins of an old mansion. It seemed to be more than just a run down old house. I circled the ruins and rode around trails that were on what seemed to be old property to a large estate.

When I got home I searcher the Internet a learned the ruins are the remains of the Casulon Plantation that burned in 2002.

What a shame. The estate was incredible. The Internet report indicated that the couple that owned the Plantation was going through a nasty divorce. The couple was out of town when the Planation burned.  Arson was suspected. It is awful for Georgia to have lost such a nice old home.

Before the fire

Mountain biking is one of my cardio programs used for fitness, which is part of my archery training. It is fun to get out on a bike ride through the woods. You never know what you might discover.

Another State Record – Maybe

A couple of months ago I won an outdoor archery tournament. I shot it in my age group. I did well and won. I’d been practicing the distances required for the tournament, 70 meters, 60 meters, 50 meters and 30 meters for weeks. I finished 101 points over the 2nd place finisher.

The event was a state championship. I looked over the results from prior years. It seemed I’d broken the old record. That is unofficial since I was only searching for scores on the Internet. But, from the scores available it seemed like a new record.

I asked the organizers, via email, whether my score was a new record a few times. I never received a reply. In a previous outdoor event at 50 meters I did set a new record. I decided then that where I set records I’d compete in the subsequent year in the senior division.

I don’t know if my score was an official record – well it isn’t since no one from the organization that ran the event notified me of a record. But, next year I will shoot in the senior division.

You’re Never Going to Beat Us

Decades ago I had a decent triathlete give me a slam. I was out of shape having not raced in years. I’d spent a lot of time after I finished racing bicycles to finish my college education. I wasn’t in horrible shape; I was certainly not as fit as the group I was training with on that day.

The comment really pissed me off. I got my racing form back in short order. Afterwards, when I trained with that group I did my best to repay the insult.

Riding a bicycle I used that slight to push me harder when training with those riders. Oddly, in archery, a few months after I picked up a bow I was practicing 3D with a group of close friends. I was an outsider. I wasn’t doing very well; it had been only a few months since I’d picked up archery.

One of the archers said to me, “Just shoot you own game, you’ll never beat us.” I remember that comment. It was loud enough that anyone nearby could have overheard. I considered it rude. I held my tongue knowing that nothing I might say would make any difference.

I don’t see those fellows any longer. Most were fine men. The guy that made the rude comment was nice even if a bit arrogant. I may never see them again. So, I’ll never really know whether the comment was accurate. Well, maybe.

Those guys compete exclusively in IBO fashion 3D. I wondered, what were their recent scores at major IBO events. I checked.

These guys are certainly good shooters. Overall, their average score is 9.32 points per arrow from 35 yards maximum distance. Individually, they scored on average: 9.52, 9.56, 9.22 and 8.98 points per arrow. Like I said, these guys aren’t bad. They’re just not great.

Then, I checked my 3D scores. I excluded the few IBO scores I have since those where just too low and I was truly a beginner. I was interested in the past two years. That allowed me some time to learn to shoot a bow – two years.

Another factor I can’t control for is distance; I have been shooting ASA style. Using the classes where a rangefinder was not allowed I shot at a maximum distance of either 40 or 45 yards. My average score is 9.89. Not bad, but certainly not great.

I have no doubt I can beat those guys today. But, unlike the cycling, I don’t care nearly so much as I did after the triathletes comment.

Daylight Saving Time and Archery Practice

Try this once you’ve gotten your body accustom to daylight saving time: Go to bed one hour later than usual. Wake up at your usual time. Go to bed at your usual time. Wake up an hour earlier. (Yes, of course not on the same night.)

Which one makes your feel more sluggish? If you’re like most folk the latter of the two sleep pattern disruptions makes you more sluggish. That’s why we often feel out of sorts when we switch to daylight saving time. It is also way falling back often seems harder than springing forward. (Aside from the bonus hour in the spring)

Last night we made the switch and fell back. I was optimistic that it might not be as awful this year as all of those in the past. Nope, I felt like crap.

Getting through morning archery practice was pretty miserable. I considered ditching the workout. I didn’t, I trudged through it.

There will be archery tournaments that may require you to shoot without having a perfect night’s sleep. It is good practice to continue your training when you’ve simply had a poor night’s rest. You’ll gather information on how you’ll perform and be able to consider techniques that will aid you making corrections.

Coaching tip

For example, when your shooting is off because of poor sleep, you may make shots where your form is sloppy. Understanding that you’re not physically worn out, rather you are shooting while a bit sleep deprived can help you pause and figure out what to do. In this case, slow down, work through the shot process and trust your training. You’ll need to dig deep to focus on the shot process and not get lazy.

It’s easy to make sloppy shots when you’ve missed some sleep before a practice. You don’t have the tournament adrenaline rush to boost you up. Still, lack of sleep not withstanding, do your practice, concentrate on each arrow and mentally override that momentary disruption in sleep pattern.

Professional athletes who travel  learn to make this mental adjustment needed to deal with disrupted sleep. Think of yourself as a professional who is continually competing in different time zones. When that day comes and you need to have this skill you’ll be glad you practiced it.