Big Fish, Big Game

Face it we all have an ego. Heck, I have a webpage – how egotistical is that?

Athletes are often portrayed has being extremely egocentric.  Being athletic or being a recognized athlete doesn’t mean that such an individual necessarily has a big head.  But, you’ve meet them, those big headed folks (athletic or not) that never hesitate to let everyone know just how awesome they are at whatever endeavor they feel they are the best. I’ve even met people willing to inculcate their proficiency on an activity they only just encountered.

Too often an excessive ego doesn’t match the skills.  My first memorable encounter with a person that thought he was a gift to all of us (in the case it was a he) was in cycling.  The fellow was a decent recreational rider and loved the sport. He’d show up at our training rides – in the days when I raced bicycles.  The rides were open to anyone that could hang on.

The guys on our team were fast.  There was a core group of six riders. All six of those riders picked up multiple State Championships, raced multiple National Championships (one winner), raced in Europe (two riders), represented the USA at World Championships (two riders, 3 Championships), and one made the Olympic Team.  I’m not exaggerating when I point out this was a fast group.

ITU World Championship, Duathlon (Yep, a vanity photo)

During a training ride, two to six of this core group would ride together.  A training ride might start with 15 to 20 riders.  Most would be dropped before 20 miles.  The rides ranged in distance from 20 miles to 100 miles. There was this one guy, Mr. Bike Ego, who considered he was our gift to be adored.

Mr. Bike Ego would get dropped nearly 100% of the time before we’d ridden ten miles.  He’d circle back or cut he course and hook back up with the group.  This was a common practice since we trained on a loop and he was not alone in being dropped. He’d cut the course then get dropped again and repeat his shortened relaxed pace ride. As I wrote many people did this until they could ride stronger and faster and could hang in for the entire ride.  Most worked hard at staying with the faster group.  Mr. Bike Ego stood apart from those who worked.  Yet, he remained steadfast in his pronounced ability.

Occasionally, after our group of six had beaten each other half to death Mr. Bike Ego would hook back up with the remains of the day a kilometer or so before the sprint to the finish.  No one in the group paid him attention beyond keeping clear of his bike.  The groups’ goal was to outsprint the others in the group.

Mr. Bike Ego would be left alone and hopefully he’d stay out of our way.  In a full sprint no one wanted his squirrely bike handling skills anywhere around.  He’d jump, as if he was going for the win, and typically we’d let him go for safety’s sake. If we started sprinting too soon we’d have to pass him while he bounced side to side down the road.

As a result, Mr. Bike Ego, who’d casually pedaled his bike for less than 10 miles might cross the finish line ahead of us, those that had ridden 60 or more miles.  When that first happened, Mr. Bike Ego laughed and cried and bragged at how he’d beaten us.  We let if go, for a while.

Eventually we pointed out the discrepancy of his self-proclaimed victory.  Aside from that one comment we offered it was ride and let ride. Our mention of his pseudo-win never took hold with him.  To this day he believes he should have been on some Tour de France Team as a cyclist despite the fact he never won a bike race.

In archery there are some folks with pronounced egos.  For the most part these people are few and far between.  Archery has no room for fools.  You either hit the mark or not – everyone knows.  This is particularly true in 3D where an archer can’t hide on the line.

Shooting on a line with a hundred or more archers you are essentially invisible like a zebra in a herd. You are hard to pick out unless a coach or family member is closely watching.  Even diehard observers of archery events where thousands of arrows fly become glassy eyed and numb following a few ends.

In 3D you are always alone at the stake.  Someone is watching and no one cares how you perform. That is unless they are secretly praying for you to screw-up in order that the watcher gains points off of your error.  In such a way, the individual that prayed for your mistake, if their prayer is answered, might take home a $3.00 medal to display over the fireplace where it hangs from the antlers of that trophy four point buck bagged a few years ago with a rifle or Ford F-150.

You may have won more National or World Championship titles than folks can easily remember and out of the blue you can blow a shot.  It happens.  Archery can be cruel.  So, it is kind of hard to be Mr. Archery Ego with that flopped shot waiting in your quiver. The second you puff up that screwed up shot is begging to be released. Believe me though; Mr. Archery Ego is out there.

Mr. Archery Ego is likely not shooting at National Championships or World Championships. He’s probably a local fellow that’s a big fish in a small pond.  Or at least a fish that in his or her mind is just waiting to show Reo Wilde, Jeff Hopkins and Levi Morgan how they’ve been doing it wrong all these years.

You may have noticed I’d gone from a generic ‘individual’ to ‘he’ in this writing.  I’m not trying to be sexist or disregard women.  I just haven’t met “Ms. Ego” although she too may be out there. Regardless of the scientifically proven fact that women talk more than men when it comes to braggadocio women play it cool.  Oh, they’ll beat a guy to a pulp on the range but they’ve mastered the ability to have you not feel so bad about it.  Women are just more advanced with their egos than men. I expect they quietly laugh behind our backs, which could explain the occasional smile men get and misinterpret as a friendly acknowledgement.

Last week, I watched the ultimate example of an over blown ego in a self-produced video by a Mr. Archery Ego.  He, apparently, had one of those sticks that held his camera away from his body while he aimed the camera at himself.  As I watched, I became hooked in the way someone does who can’t stop staring at a County Fair Sideshow Oddity.

During the video Mr. Archery Ego is walking through a wooded area.  He’s creeping along as if he’s hunting.  He’s speaks to viewers in in hushed tones to prevent a possible animal from hearing then running away.

As he creeps along he continues to quietly yammer away about himself, his bow, his arrows and his release. I would not have been surprised to have seen a sign pop up while he mentioned his equipment that displayed a little “#” tag.

I nearly did stop watching. It was just too much of a weird thing. Just as I lifted a finger to end the video he spotted his prey.  The video continued to run.

Somewhere tracked in front of him, in this wooded area, he’d discovered his target.  He continued to whisper, his voice now barely audible.  I knew he was preparing to shoot a hash tag hungry arrow.

Before even an arrow could be nocked, he went into a yardage-judging trance.  With the camera now aimed at his face he posed looking serious, concerned, he frowned, rubbed his chin, and wagged the fingers on his free hand in the air.  He whispered advice toward the camera’s microphone to viewers perhaps locked on his every breathed word.  After minutes he’d completed mental gyrations and declared the required shot distance to all of us.

As be put down the camera in order to execute the shot, leaving it recording his boots, I had to wonder, is he going to shoot a cow?  What other animal is dumb enough to just stand there?  A dog would have run away or toward him.  Who shoots a dog, anyway? There is certainly not a deer wating for an arrow unless it is tied down.  It can’t be a rabbit, pig, or fox; they’d all have been long gone.  Like everyone who views this hunt I’d have to wait while watching shoes.

The bow pop of an arrow being released is heard as I continued to examine Mr. Archery Ego’s boots. There’s a hushed exclamation, of “Yes!” and I knew something had an arrow in it.  I’ve got to see what this fellow has shot.

The camera pans away from the foot apparel as he gathers the attached stick. Together we walk.  His seriousness is portrayed as he instructs us, facing the camera his feet free from scrutiny, while walking toward a prize all the while an excited yet controlled voice tells the viewers about the shot.  As we get closer to his kill, Mr. Archery Ego is in full bloom.  I gawk at my screen in astonished marvel.  We’ve finally seen the prey.

There is no comparison of the steely non-running nerve of the ever still foam animal.  This man has stalked a foam target.  Well no wonder it didn’t run off, it was staked to the ground. It was here I pressed ‘Stop.’

I admit I too have posted poorly self-produced videos.  I’ve even got an un-posted video of a really cool shot that I can’t figure out how to download.  One day I may be able to post that video.  But, webpage and all, I remain a mere second rate marketer of my ego’s desires by comparison.

There’s a sucker born every minute

Cheers to the fellow that captured my attention. P.T. Barnum’s point has once again been verified.

How Many Hours Per Week Do You Train?

On the internet I stumbled across an interesting article about archery.(1) It was based on a survey.  Years ago I ran a studies that collected survey data. In that research we needed to be certain the data submitted was correct.  In order to do so we contracted with a major university that audited cancer surveys. They’d developed a program that would sort suspicious entries. Those entries could then be questioned and verified.  The archery article I read had in the results data that I found questionable. (1)

Not certain those numbers add up

What caught my attention among the data on this survey were the hours that 2% of the respondents stated they practiced per week. (1) Those archers submitted they practiced more than 50 hours per week.  That seemed like a lot of practice.

I asked some professional athlete friends how much they trained per week. They train closer to 30 hours per week (triathlon/cycling).  More training than that and the return on training begins to diminish. I searched and found that as a group professional athletes practice about 5-6 hours per day 6 days per week. (2) That’s,  around 30 hours per week.

50+ hours a week of cycling would be too much for me.

There a limit of what the body can absorb from training.  If someone is pushing 50 hours per week, allowing for a 6 day week (assuming, perhaps erroneously the 50+ hours per week archers give themselves a rest day) that is 8.33 hours of archery practice per day.  It seems like a lot of archery in a day.

He’s my schedule:

Running is a great adjunct to archery. Races are fun.

I shoot and train about 30.5 hours per week.  I do not have another job so my days are clear for athletic work.  Not all of that 30.5 is shooting arrows.  I shoot arrows on an average two and a half hours per day broken, mostly, into two sessions.  I spend an hour per week at the gym, 2.5 hours stretching, 6 hours running, and 7 hours cycling.  This time does not include video review or study. I have one day off a week.  There are training cycles where this varies, this is an annual analysis.

Training as an archer should include more than shooting arrows

Now, you my think that shooting arrows about 14 hours per week will take a long time to reach 10,000 hours, the number of hours often associated with elite performance.(3) If that 10,000 rule was an absolute, you would be correct.  The 10,000 rule is not an absolute.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, often is misquoted in regard to the 10,000 rule

You may further think that 14 hours per week shooting is the extent of training.  Here you would be somewhat incorrect.  Indeed, it is archery practice. However, the other elements of training, the stretching, running, going to the gym, and cycling are all components to becoming a better archer.

Shooting a bow for more than 90 minutes at a time is a long time.  So, I typically break up archery practice into morning and afternoon practice sessions.  Aside from not becoming too physically fatigued, and increasing the risk of an injury, it means I have what I consider the best time frame for mental focus.  Too long at practice and it is easy to become mentally tired which can be followed by sloppy form.

Coaching tip

The brain needs a break as well as the body.  Anyone practicing archery for 50+ hours per week is likely headed toward injury or burnout. Personally, I question archers who claim to be practicing 50+ hours per week. Their math may be wrong or they may be including other activities. Either way, 50+ hours is a lot.

How many hours per week do you train? (The answer is for you, this is not a survey)

Reference:

  • hitting-the-bullseye-reel-girl-archers-inspire-real-girl-archers-full
  • https://www.quora.com/How-many-hours-do-athletes-practice-a-week
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/anders-ericsson-how-to-become-an-expert-at-anything-2016-6

Saving Turtles

Part of my overall training for archery includes cardio fitness exercise. In that essential area are running and cycling.  I’ve done a lot of running and cycling. Often, while cycling or running along side of a rural road I see a turtle trying to make it to the other side of the road.

Turtles aren’t known for speed but they do have endurance.  In that matter I can relate.  Whenever I see one on the road I pause to help it across.

Today I crossed paths while riding my bike with a large turtle and gave it a tow handed lift to the other side of the road.  This turtle never completely ducked back into its shell.  Perhaps it knew I was hoping to help.

On the round trip I checked to be sure I’d headed it in the correct direction.  I was pleased to find it making progress.

I searched for the turtle on the ride back. It took some looking but there’s it is heading away from the road.

Jalapenos and Archery Tournaments

It is rare to find food that is too spicy.  The hotter the better.  There have been times when food was served that were fireball hot.  Still, for me, it didn’t go to waste.  That is until the next day.

The day after eating particularly spicy food the results of digestion can attest to the degree of heat previously consumed.  For some of us, jalapenos do not fall into the category of foods that lead to gastronomical second degree burning.  The first degree being felt in the buccal cavity.

Recently, I spent a long day in outdoor competition where I didn’t bring enough food.  By the time I was home I was hungry and tired.  I wanted to go out for dinner and not cook or clean the kitchen.  I further had a taste for spicy food. Brenda, my wife agreed to dinner on the town. We decided on Mexican food.

As a rule, Mexican food is delicious, hot and filling.  Like I mentioned, I was hungry.

We didn’t order anything outlandish.  The food was excellent.  My mistake was fresh and pickled jalapenos.  I got extra.  Our salsa request was, “Bring us the hottest you have, please.”  They were proud of their ability to satisfy.

On day 2 of the archery tournament announcements were being delivered throughout the morning. I missed at least half of them.  One very fortunate geographical development is that where I was standing to shoot on day 2 was as close to the rest rooms as possible. Another really lucky thing is that I didn’t need to shoot for quite some time having two byes in the elimination rounds.

Most times spicy food and my lower G.I. system are extremely compatible. Spicy food divergence with an archery tournament intersection is a rough way to spend a morning on the range.

Another life lesson learned.

Marginal Gains

When it comes to equipment, as athletes become better performers, their gear makes a difference. British Cycling has a team, the Secret Squirrel Club, that’s composed of engineers and designers. Their job is to make equipment best suited to provide marginal gains for elite cyclists.  Small gains at an elite level can make a difference when thousandths of a second can mean the gap between a first place and second.

Archery is no different. As we improve our groups become tighter. The accuracy of shots becomes more repeatable.  It is this way with all top archers.  Equipment in archery is generally quite good.  Searching for marginal gains through technologically superior equipment can provide the archer with marginal gains that can make the difference between a first place and second place.

I can’t recall how many times I’ve now lost a tournament by one point, a one point shoot off, the X count,  or the inner X count (I do recall that one).  Each of those close matches I know, whether or not the archer was simply one point better, that my opponent on that day used equipment at least more expense that mine.  At times, most times, the archer shooting to victory held gear that has a retail sticker price of more than double of mine.

I asked a coach/sales person, “How can I buy more points with improved gear?”  First off the bat were the arrows I was shooting for outdoor contests.

He suggested I switch to a more expensive arrow.  The price of the arrows I shoot is $150.15 vanes and nocks included from Amazon.  The tips are another $21.00 at Amazon.  Total price is $171.15.

The arrows the coach/sales person suggested aren’t available at Amazon; they are from Lancaster Archery Supply.  The shafts alone for those arrows are $239.99. Built and ready to shoot the price came to $407.99.  The coach/sales person said he’d gone to those arrows and his score had improved by 10 points.  Ten points is a lot.

Next he suggested a different arrow rest, the price for that suggestion is $248.00.  The arrow rest on my bow is $127.00 on Amazon.  His suggestion is not available on Amazon. He claimed his recommended arrow rest is the best on the market. He should know he is an ex-pro.

Sure, there are all sorts of “Pro” archers. He was a major professional and former “Cover Archer” among the marketing literature for one of the companies he represented.  His opinion is the expensive rest would add 5 more points to my scores.  I do believe he knows what his talking about.

At that point I was looking at an investment of $655.99 for an additional 15 points (potential). That’s a lot of cash. Then, there’s the bow.

Last year, I purchased a bona fide target bow. It shot great for a while.  Then it began doing something that spread the groups. What I noticed was the cable guard was becoming pitted.  The action of the slide on the cable guard appeared to be sticking and gouging small pits and creating ripples on the cable guard itself.

After nearly a year of complaining, calls, and bow tuning I finally got support from the manufacturer.  The bow was returned.  The bow remains AWOL but I do have a receipt.  You can’t shoot a receipt.  Even so, that bow remains among the least expensive target bows on the market.

There’s a point in all sport where excellent equipment can provide an advantage.  One thing I did change which was a huge success was my release. Aside from that my equipment is generally fine for a good time shooting.

Marginal gains are real. These gains can be found through better gear.  Considering the marginal gains projected around the $655.99 of upgraded gear, which I have not purchased, there might be as great as a 15-point gain.  I may never know. What I can say for certain is that the best bow is the bow that is in your hand.

A Form Practice Method

One of the issues with archery is perfecting form.  Good form reliably produces a good shot. The thing is archers as a group are inconsistent with form.1 However, better archers are more consistent in their form.1

Practicing form is not simple a matter of hitting the center of the target at a known distance.  At times, poor form can result in a center shot. That isn’t a good approach that is having poor form and hoping for the best.

Coaching tips

Designing a practice that is specifically tailored to form seems a simple matter – it isn’t. Having a coach watch the archer in practice and providing coaching tips can help.  The problem is that coaches often teach methods which are not incorporated by elite archers. 2 Apparently, coaches may be reciting what they’ve been taught to coach and that advice goes into one of the athlete’s ears and out the other. I’m not suggesting the athletes are wrong. On the contrary, I’m saying those coaching methods are wrong.

In order to create a method that might help create a specific training process for form the archer should be at a degree of accomplishment where the athlete is working on skills of improvement.

The practice isn’t a measure of points.  It is a measure of form, which is the area specific to the skill improvement.

The archer selects a distance that is outside a comfort zone.  For example, if 18-meters is the comfort zone move outside, for instance to 25-meters.  If the goal is better from for 50-meters move to 60 meters.  The idea is to reproduce groups.

If at 50-meters the archer is shooting scores that reveal few poor shots, like an rare eight, then at 60-meters the goal is to create a group of arrows where 100% are within the group.  The score does not matter.  The cluster of arrows is the primary goal.

Say that the archer shoots an end of 10 arrows at 50-meters.  The objective is to create a cluster of arrows, a group, with 100% of them in the yellow.  Should an arrow fall outside the yellow the percentage of success is decreased by 10%. If the main body of the arrows lands in the 10 right with two landing in the nine right that is either a 100% or 80% depending on the skill of the archer.

This practice is done to the point of fatigue – not exhaustion.  The point of fatigue becomes apparent as the percentage drops. Once fatigue occurs stop, rest, and repeat the practice after a period of recovery, say in several hours.

Whether the arrows fail within the group or outside the group each arrow is evaluated.  If an arrows lands high, a 12 O’clock nine, determine if the error was caused by the bow rocking so that the upper limb drifted back or the release hand pulled downward during the activation process. If an arrow lands smack in the middle of the X, pause to consider what occurred to create a good shot.

After each end record the percentage of arrows that are outside the group.  Keep a record of this as a tool to aid in the improvement of form.

The above graph represents this sort of practice.  The red column is the percentage of good form score. In this case, 10 arrows at 60-meters, outside the yellow meant a decrease of 10% per arrow in most cases.

Reference:

1.) Soylu AR1Ertan HKorkusuz F.Archery performance level and repeatability of event-related EMG. Hum Mov Sci. 2006 Dec;25(6):767-74. Epub 2006 Jul 21.

2.) Martin PE1Siler WLHoffman D. Electromyographic analysis of bow string release in highly skilled archers. J Sports Sci. 1990 Winter;8(3):215-21.

Video Records

A valuable tool for your training is a video camera.  In fact, several video cameras are even better.

Coaching Tip

Professional athletes are video recorded during practice and performance.  Nick Woodman, a surfer who wanted better pictures of himself while surfing, invented the ‘GoPro’.  The ‘GoPro’ is a great tool for athletes as are small HD video cameras.  I’ve used my ‘GoPro’ in cycling and recently had a “duh” moment and began using it for archery. I also use a small Canon HD video camera.  Both are set-up on tripods during practice.

The video recordings can be played over and over to analyze form and look for mistakes.  I admit mine aren’t pretty.  However, they are revealing.

Among the textbook of how not to shoot errors I make I’ve broken the problems down to categories. Each category is a problem and that problem becomes the focus of practice until it has been resolved.  I am still on problem number one.

The first major problem that jumped out at me is that I seemed to shoot too fast.  The timing from anchor to release is the section of the shooting process that concerned me.  It seemed fast, so I timed it on the video.

Of course, how fast is too fast?

To figure this out I timed Reo Wilde and Jimmy Butts shooting.  YouTube made them available. (Wilde eventually became my ‘control’)

I timed shots for each archer.  The results were quite telling.

From the point where I anchor to when I release an arrow it takes 4.99 seconds.   Jimmy Butts from anchor to release held for 9.8 seconds while Reo Wilde held for 11.89 seconds.

Note: I shot from 50 meters and Wilde and Butts were shooting at 18 meters for the first measurements.  The distance wasn’t the variable I wanted until I finished looking at the shooters. Then, I wondered whether Reo Wilde shot differently at 50 meters. He’s easy to find on YouTube so he became the control.

At 50 meters (outdoor) Wilde’s hold time was 9.07 seconds, 2.83 seconds faster than 18 meters (indoor).  The variance of the hold time between Wilde’s and mine is 5.49 seconds, using Wilde’s indoor and outdoor average hold time.

The shorter hold times for Wilde during outdoor shooting is important as it is for all of us. Why shorter outdoors?  What I’ve come up with is wind.  Outside there is wind, inside there isn’t wind.  When you find the shot during a calm window you take it.  The calm moment my be your best opportunity.

It is the hold time that appears to be a potential flaw on my part. Wilde and Butts hold their aim before release at more than double or nearly double the amount of time I take from anchor to release.  The video was key to seeing this for myself.

Awareness of this problem with timing (assuming it is a problem) I slowed down.  Today’s hold time increased to 7.49 seconds.  It is too early to know if there will be an improvement in my score.  Actually, my score improved a tad, 0.08 points per arrow.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but those incremental points add up.  Over 72 arrows those small gains amount to 5.76 points  which is great for 50-meters or any distance.

I’m not saying that Reo Wilde’s extended hold time makes him better. It might, I don’t know for certain.  What I can say is that Reo Wilde hold time is much longer than mine.

Overtime, I’ll continue to record and measure.  There will be a point where I find the best feeling hold time for me.  My guess it is going to be longer that 4.99 seconds.

Winning Results

Recently, on Facebook, a group of archers were sharing a victory earned by a member of their clique. The celebrated archer had won an IBO State Championship.  It surprised me to read that he’d never won a state championship.

Having shot with him I recognized he was talented as a 3D shooter.  When we’d competed together I was newer to the sport than I am today. Today, I am less new to the sport having been at it for 5 years, 5 months and 7 days. (As if May 7th, 2019) Among those of you that have been competing in archery for 30 years of more my time in the sport is blip . Obviously, the shorter tenure as an archer means I’m still learning the parts of a bow.

The group that hailed the victor of the state championship is tight.  Within their group are members that complete a normal set of athletes. Some of open and friendly offering advice, others know it all and their advice is best left behind, and a few are arrogant self-described elite performers.  In that last class is one fellow that once told me, “You’ll never be as good as us.”

Mark Twain is a treasure. His literary works are some of the best American writing I’ve read.  During his lifetime he’d often received manuscript, unsolicited, from people that felt they knew him.  Those ‘friends’ wanted his opinion of their forwarded potential book.

Twain was polite, a Southern Gentleman, and didn’t particularity want to hurt the feelings of non-public figures.  If you were in politics then you were fair game.  He’d read the manuscript, sometimes, and mostly not reply to the sender. One proud individual being eager for Twain’s praise was determined to get a response.

When asked of Twain if he’d read the manuscript and what did he think, Twain responded, “Yes I have and much like it.”

The fellow that once told me, “You’ll never be as good as us,” in reference to his gang probably saw me as a weak beginner who simple didn’t have it.  At that point, I’d agree with his assessment that I wasn’t very good. Today, I rarely miss targets.

Since I moved away from those closely knitted archers I’ve shot with a lot of other archers.  Those fellows living hundreds of miles away still shoot together.  They often post their scores.  I read their scores.  To those fellows I say, “I’ve shot with many that are just like you.”

The fellow that won his first state championship is a fine person.  I’m glad he won a state championship.  I remain surprised it is his first.  Regarding the snappy ego-inflating comment, I look forward to a day when I might have a chance to see of the self-proclaimed elite was correct.

Practice is harder than tournaments.

Coaching Tip

By the time you reach tournament play you should be ready. You should understand how you’ll perform and not expect miracles. You should be confident in your ability to execute at the level of your practice.

Before you enter a tournament you’ve practiced a lot.  In addition you’ve added fitness training and stuck to your plan.  It takes a lot of effort, time, and determination.

In archery it means lots of arrows, lots of targets, weight lifting and cardio work.  Aside from being able to put an arrow in the center of a target you need to be fit enough and strong enough to maintain a center shot for dozens if not hundreds of arrows.  Not everyone has mastered this skill set.  In fact, perfect scores are rare events.

If your practice is basically heading to the range three or four times a week and shooting 30 to 60 arrows you can become accomplished, but you won’t reach the peak level of elite archers.  You’ll have fun and be good at the sport of archery.  But, you’ll not be on the podium at the major tournaments.

Practice is hard. Shooting arrows isn’t hard.  Sure, your arms will fatigue and you’ll feel good about having shot a few dozen arrows.  Practice on the other hand should have purpose.

For example, before a practice considers what it is you need to work on for that session.  Say, your timing at the point of release isn’t perfect. Design a practice, or have your coach do so, that focuses on your release.  Then, do the concentrated effort until you no longer get it wrong.

As you prepare keep a record of your performance.  Prior to a tournament, plan to practice the tournament.  Have a timer set to the allotted time allowed to shoot an end. Slow down between ends.  This is going to keep you on the range longer but it will allow to create a mental image of the delay between ends at an actual event. Have music playing, such as they do at many events and record your scores.

You don’t need to do this everyday but add it to your practice.  Overtime you’ll learn what to expect from your ability.  In other words, if you average 570 points out of 600 it isn’t likely you’ll show up on the ‘big’ day and fire off a 600.  If your statistical range of tournament practice is 560 – 580 during a tournament you’ll probably score around 558 – 588 or so depending on your standard deviations.

Doing your practices with a purpose, following a complete plan for archery fitness, and understanding where you are in your ability will help prepare you for a tournament.  Doing the hard work before you show up will make competition feel easy and fun.

Athens and Cycling

Some of the places I’ve lived and trained on a bike:

The flag tells it all for a cyclist.
Seriously, there’s some $$$ around here

Savannah, Georgia, Easton, Maryland, and New Hope, North Carolina, are all coastal cities. The cycling there is primarily flat. There’s wind, but there are no hills. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania there’s not much wind, there isn’t a level road in the city. In Pittsburgh you are screaming in pain on a climb or screaming in terror at 48 – 52 miles per hour going downhill. Cleveland, Ohio, where I lived near Lake Erie is flat. Kennesaw, Georgia has rolling hills and not much wind.  Augusta, Georgia and Statesboro, Georgia had some hills and were easy on the wind for cycling.

Athens is unique.  Athens has nice rolling hills with some decent climbs – nothing of the Pittsburgh caliber. What is unique is the wind.  There’s always wind. The wind here is practically coastal in nature.

On some rides, you just have to stop and smell the cow sh.t. We’re surrounded by cattle. (Better cows than cars)

Wind is an environmental element that anyone who plays outside must deal.  The only times, it seems, when the wind is calm are at times like these when I’m typing, glancing out the window, and see no limbs or leaves moving.  Of course!