Stuck at Home

Only a few holes and free

I have to wonder how many tournaments we’ll get to enjoy during 2020.  I see four, thus far, on my calendar that did not happen.  This break from competition gives time for me to figure the best combinations of bows with gear for when tournaments re-start.

Even though I replaced this target it still had a little life remaining. Yes there are holes everywhere including some in the blue. The ranges were from 10 yards to 15 yards. (No these holes come from a bit further out)
Working from 50 meters
Sitting at 65 yard with plenty of room to increase the distance. I expect some limbs will need to be trimmed as I get out to 75 + yards. At 70 yards no limbs to intersect with the arch of an arrow.

Currently, I am working at longer distances. I am also shooting lots of holes in paper.  Here’s a really lucky thing – last year I picked up several used targets after an outdoor event.  These targets were going to be thrown away! I wish I’d grabbed more but felt a little embarrassed digging from the pile of trash on the ground.  I was assured I could take as many used targets as I wanted.  I didn’t want to seem selfish so I grabbed a few.  I took a limited share leaving an abundance for other people – unlike the toilet paper grab that seems for the moment to be universal.

This happens every once and a while (50 meters)

I know this shelter at home is harder for people living in cities.  If you are an archer and live in Chicago or Atlanta I am sorry for you.  Hang in there!

If You Don’t Monitor You Can’t Manage: A Useful Journal

When I retired I’d planned to put all my athletic efforts into the endurance sports I’d enjoyed my entire life.  Those competitions are hard on the body and pocket book.  By chance I was given a bow that new priced at $78.00.  After a week of playing with that toy bow I wanted a better bow and I wanted to get better as an archer.

One of the focal points for me is in sport is data.  Naturally I began collecting data on my practice and performance shooting a bow.  I still collect and review my data.

The data I collect helps me monitor progress, find areas that need work, and suggests how to set goals.  It has further allowed me to create scholastic works based on talent transfer.

All top athletes monitor their work.  The data for professional athletes and the systems used to gather input have become extremely sophisticated. From chips in football shoulder pads to invisible grids on a basketball court we know more about today’s athletes than ever before.

Archery hasn’t yet been overwhelmed with gizmos promising immediate improvement.  Still, you can find plenty of ‘tech’ on which you can spend your cash hoping to gain an edge shooting arrows.

Archery has been around for a much longer time than any hot new gizmos promising improved shooting performance.  People have been shooting bows since around 20,000 BC.  Early bows weren’t used for sport, they were tools for hunting and warfare. (1) Successful archery was an easy measurement – you ate and you lived.

Archery as a sport had its first recreational competition of modern time in 1583 England. (1) It is also known that Mongols held archery competitions during gatherings before the English: 1194 – 1195. (2) Amazing, data from the Mongolian tournament exists today. The Mongolian archers were warriors, whereas in Britain in the 1500s over 3000 archers competed for pleasure.

Keeping your archery data is important should you want to be a competitive archer.  My friend Robbie Surface, also an archery coach, has designed two journals for archers to record their data.  One journal is designed for 3D the other for target archery. He gave me one, a target style, to try.

First, the journal is narrow enough to slip into my quiver.  If it didn’t fit I’d probably have it lost before too long. The journal contains 100 pages for data entry.  There are entry fields to record practice or tournament specifics.

Aside from points per arrow fields there is an area for Mental Game and Shot Execution.  For me, I use a simple numeric recording for both entries.  While my short hand means something to me it will be meaningless to others.  You can create any notation or system that works for you in these two fields. (3)

I’ve been using my journal, thanks to Robbie, since he gave me one to try.  It is a useful tool and easy to understand – surpassing expensive gizmos that remain on a shelf after the novelty dies.

You can view his journals, target and 3D, online where they are available for purchase at:

https://www.archeryjournals.com

If you don’t monitor you can’t manage.

Reference:

(1) https://worldarchery.org/History-Archery

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_bow

(3) https://www.archeryjournals.com

I Wanted to Go Shopping

My scores in archery have too often reflected the fluctuations in the stock market.  President Trump can stop blaming Obama and aim his Tweets at me.

I had a brief spike and my practice was excellent.  The stock market spiked the same day.  My wife pointed out that it was just a “dead cat bouncing.”

A few days later I am about to buy a pile of cruise line stocks.  Seriously, I was thinking bargain prices.  Sure, a lot of folks remain investing their money into toilet paper.  I was also wanted to take a swipe at Proctor and Gamble.  You bet their stock is up. Cruise lines on the other hand are a deal.

The gamble is that the travel company has enough reserve to float this temporary sinking of prices.  I was on a web page looking at financial reports and had picked a prize.  Then, I got vetoed.

‘No, we need to save our money,” was the order.  I pleaded, “In six months our investment could nearly double.”

There have been times when Brenda, my wife, wanted to pour more money into stocks and I held.  Today, she held the purchases.  Life is a balance.  My prior veto worked out well.

What is happening at the moment, investors reeling in good buys, may be another dead cat bounce.  I suspect I’ll wish we taken this bounce for a ride.  In know because my archery practice was good today.

Keeping My Mouth Shut

In archery there is a lot of standing around waiting to shoot.  During those periods folks talk about this that and the other. Some people complain about their current performance, a few brag about past glories, and others compare gear.  At one tournament where I was shooting next to a former world champion his impassioned topic was fishing.  He knew I lived on the Little River near the Albemarle Sound and wanted to hear about what I was catching.  Occasionally the topics of religion and politics flair as do passions brought on by either subject.

Most of the time I try to keep my mouth shut if religion or politics are the subject of debate.  Success is rare.  Too often I’ll chime in with some outlandish statement, disregarding my true personal view, just to see what happens.

The topics of religion and politics aren’t limited to archery ranges.  Recently, nowhere near archery, I was in earshot of a verbal examination about religion and politics.  The venue was a gym.  A group of five iron pumping middle-aged men were in a red-faced conversation when I drifted close enough to hear.

Listening, I gathered the five some lacked real scholarship.  Their dialogue held an abundance of single syllable words peppered with profanity.  Volume rather than logic was employed to settle a point. Those combinations were a warning for me to stay quiet. Temptation was great to toss in an opinion, which hopefully would offend or puzzle the entire group.

Their deliberation had rolled to Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, two Democratic presidential wannabees (Now down by one).  All five seemed in agreement that neither candidate would be their choice. Hearing their pronouncements regarding forthcoming bread lines I saw an entry point to enflame their passions.

Before I could insert my one liner into the banter this is what I heard, “ If God had wanted America to have a Jewish President, Jesus would have been Jewish!”

I made no additions to the colloquy. I know when I’m beaten.

The 2020 USA Archery Indoor National Championship

In Suwanee, Georgia the range for the 2020 USA Archery National Championship was packed.  Every line was filled.  There were so many archers an additional Friday line was added to help accommodate the athletes.

I’d signed up early to help ascertain I ended up with 1:00 PM times over Saturday and Sunday.  Suwanee isn’t too far from Good Hope.  Suwanee is on the cusps of Atlanta which means travel to the event can be tricky. One mishap by a driver hoping to get into ATL can screw up precision travel times. I got the 1:00 PM times. Picking 1:00 PM gives me a travel buffer.

The traffic was innocent over both days.  Oh, there was a lot of it despite being the weekend but everyone was on good behavior.

During the Saturday shoot I was on the same bale as three women from a college team. Their manners were excellent.  These women, however, were not about to slip off a very competition edge and there was minimal talking.  Being stuck on an archery range in silence for four hours is punishment as far as I’m concerned. Fortunately, friends were in abundance on adjacent bales so company wasn’t lacking.

The Sunday bale was a whole lot chattier.  One of the archers was a woman from the same college.  In this case we knew one another and she’s fast to smile and laugh.  Prior to the start we discussed when either of us hits three 10s on the same end the archer achieving the 30 points would do a celebratory dance similar to those performed by NFL players following a touch down.  She struck first.  Before she danced, and yes she danced, she wanted me to loudly call her score.

I complied yelling out her 10 – 10 – 10 score.  She did a jig.  We thought it was fun as did most of the folks nearby.  A few seemed dissatisfied with the performance.  When she hit 10 – 10 – 10 again I yelled again and she danced again. This happened a lot. (She only dropped about 9 point) Day two went by faster than day one.

The Sunday bale also had representation from Georgia Tech making me the only non-colligate archer on my bales over the weekend.  When Tech showed up I was holding the clip to manually total the scores.  I looked at the Tech logo and handed over the clip board saying, “You’re an engineering student, you can do the math.”  He seemed puzzled asking, “I am an engineering student how did you know?” I pointed out it was a guess based on his Georgia Tech kit. He got 100% on his addition all done without touching his cell phone calculator for help.

Looking around over the two days noticed the athletes seemed more youthful than the past few years.  I over heard one ex-collegiate archer lecturing to a group from Emmanuel College, “This is great now.  But when you get out of school and have to get a job things will change.”  He was referring to the time he’d had to practice in college prior to getting a job. The current students will, of course, cross that bridge when they get there.

The number one element of enjoyment during the Suwanee version of the Nationals, of course, was mingling with so many of the folks I don’t get to see outside of tournaments.  Our conversations became infected with smiles and laughter.  Shooting in competition is fun, practice is more fun, and hanging out with good people is the most fun.

Getting Ready for Nothing Much in the Rain

It has been raining a lot here in north Georgia.  When it rains I’ll typically drive to Social Circle and practice on the indoor range at Ace Hardware.  If there’s no rain and the temperature is above freezing I’ll stay home and shoot on my range.

Two days ago there was a nice break, several hours, from the rain.  This saved me a drive into Social Circle. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy practicing at the Ace in Social Circle.  I enjoy visiting the folks that work at the archery pro shop at Ace. I also enjoy simply walking out back to practice.

Practice at home often includes spectators.  Two days ago they were the girls from next door.  It is fun when they come over to watch.

The practice is prep for the USA Archery National Indoor Championships.  Today I read the local (regional) awards are not being presented after the events.  Rather, everyone must wait for the finish of all sections, the results submitted to USA Archery , results verified, and USA Archery will mail awards.

Personally, I like getting a cheap medal for finishing in the top 3.  That trinket is the period on a sentence.  Waiting months to find final results is less enjoyable.  If I’d known they were going to switch this up (learned about it the day before the event) I’d have skipped the indoor nationals and would have headed to Alabama to shoot the ASA tournament being held there.

Here’s the update regarding awards:

Awards
National awards will be mailed from the USA Archery national office after final results from all locations are verified and combined. No location medals will be awarded.”

The thought of spending two days competing after a whole lot of preparation knowing the results will be months away isn’t inspirational.

To add insult to injury the update includes information regarding parking.  For the first time athletes, in my experience, who have paid to compete must pay a fee to park or take a hike.

From today’s event information (one day before the event):

Parking….
SSA has paid and unpaid options for parking. There is a $5 fee to park on site in the paved lot. There is additional free parking in the gravel lot across the street at the church. SSA also has additional free parking across McGinnis Ferry Rd. There is a trail from that lot to SSA. Do not try to cross McGinnis Ferry Rd directly. The City of Suwanee Police will ticket for jay walking! Please use the trail to cross safely!”

Honestly, I cannot recall every event where I’ve competed.  I can recall the last 140 or so events.  Those events covered triathlons, runs, cycling and archery.  They ranged from local to international.  This USA Archery event is the only one where an athlete, having paid to compete, now must pay $5.00 to park near the venue.  ($10.00 over the two days on top of the $80.00 entry fee)

For comparison, I parked downtown Athens a few nights ago.  I was parked in a parking garage.  I was there for several hours.  I’d expected to pay.  It cost me $2.00. To park and shoot at the upcoming archery tournament the cost, excluding food, gas, lodging (for some) is now $90.00.  Parking is 11.1% of that fee! Of course off site parking is free.  Families with kids shooting that might find the extra money harsh will end up the most disadvantaged.

Sure there may be other instances where athletes might need to pay to park once they arrive at the competition.  I’m saying have not experienced the requirement to pay a parking fee at over 140 events beginning in 2006 where I was a competitor.

You might not consider this a big deal.  I do, it is wrong.  The athletes are what fuel the sport.  The fees we already pay are enough.  Last year, there was no parking fee at the same venue.  This year someone decided to stick it to athletes to gain a few extra dollars.  Oh, there is free parking available – nearby.  For free parking athletes and their families are going to need to walk a way with all their gear.  I’m not opposed to a hike.  Heck, I ran for nearly an hour this morning.  It is the principle.

The trails, during this morning’s run, had plenty of spots where rain water hadn’t yet drained.

If there is a specific need for revenue ask for help.  Athletes will frequently do things outside of training or competing to support their sport.  But, grabbing a bit of last minute cash by adding a new parking fee is low.

I’m reminded of an archer that didn’t compete.  I watched him a lot and never once did he miss the X on a vertical 3-spot.  I asked if he competed.  He said, “Only local events.”  He added, “I’m not going to travel and pay to compete at a bigger ones – they’re a rip off.”

Sometimes, it is just more fun to practice in front of the girls.

Three of the girls for next door who’d dropped by to watch practice

 

Finding a workable combination

During the last competitive event I shot the lowest recorded score against a vertical 3-spot, inner 10s, in my life.  The score was 28 points below the six weeks average going into the tournament.  Something was clearly amok.

Naturally, I blamed the bow, an Elite Victory X from 2018.  The bow received the blame because the arrows were landing in similar disarray to the patterns revealed when the bearing in the cams failed.  Months ago, that bow, the 37, was shipped back to Elite for analysis.  They uncovered that the bearing in the cams had failed.  Elite replaced the bearing, returned the bow and it shot fine, again. At least for awhile.

At the 2020 Georgia State Indoor National Championship I suspected that those replaced bearing had again, following around 10,000 shots, bit the dust.  Looking at the cams I could see tiny specks of silver that made me more suspicious. I vowed to never shoot that bow again.

To replace the Victory 37X I tried a 2014 Elite 35.  It didn’t shot a whole lot better.  The fellows at Ace Hardware’s Bow Pro shop took a look at the 35 and went to work straighten it out.  The problem is that with the Elite 35, while I gained 10 points over the Georgia State flop, I was still 18 points below my prior average for 18-meters.

I tried an even older, purchased in 2013 when I started archery, Mathews Conquest Apex 7.  The bow shoots great and is extremely smooth.  The feel, however, is dramatically different from the two Elites and my scores were no better.

Today, shooting all three things remain a mess.  The Elite 35 landed me an average of just 9 points per arrow.  (That is until I noticed a screw missing on the limb pocked. Amazingly, I found it on the ground.) The Mathews was 8.5 points per arrow and the Victory 9.5 points per arrow.

To achieve the 9.5 points per arrow I ended up flinging arrows too stiff for the poundage I shoot.  Using a bare shaft the arrow, an Easton 2318 that has been cut 3 inches and has a 180 grain tip, the shaft shoots to the right.  A bare shaft 2314, uncut, with 100 grain tip shot even further to the right – which is not what I’d expected.

Two days out from the USA Indoor Nationals I am considering just tossing my arrows toward the target.

Well, That Sucked

It was really bad. Two years ago, in Hertford, North Carolina, in 10° F, with snow on the ground, shooting while standing in a shed I shot better by 2 points than I did in the 2020 Georgia 18-meter State Championship.  In 2016, when I first scored using the inner 10 ring as 10 and the remainder of the yellow as 9 points I shot one point better than this past weekend.  In fact, I was 28 points below my average this past weekend.

A buddy of mine, who is a Level 4 USA Archery Coach, suggested I wasn’t bringing the elbow on my release arm around.  He didn’t know for certain as he was competing and shooting his bow on the same line at the same time as I. He knows that sometimes I fail in that regard – I’ll occasionally not have everything lined up.  I’ll land a fat nine to the right of the X when I make that mistake.  Fat nines were not my problem.  Those eights, sevens and even a six, those were the problems.

I don’t need to reach back too far to recall a five I’d landed.  I did that a few days ago.  It was during a team competition where my teammate and I rallied to finish shooting for the win.  I shot two tens and a five.  It was awful and I tossed it up to pressure – even though I didn’t notice all that much pressure.  Truth is at that point I was unaware we were shooting for the win.

Over the next two days, Friday and Saturday, I shot a few eights and let it go figuring those eights are rare even if they and that five from earlier where clustered.  There did seem to be a feel that those wild shots were coming at me with a bit more frequency.

On Sunday, the Georgia State Indoor 18-meter championship my arrows were everywhere. There were absolutely no groups on any target to suggest tweaking my sight.   I’d have a few decent arrows, those that landed pretty much where I’d expected they’d land, then arrows would be sailing out like discount birdshot.

It was another full house for archery in Georgia

Throughout it all I kept thinking that my shooting would recover and I’d land some tens.  That never really happened.  The final score was the lowest I’ve ever shot aiming at a vertical 3 spot scoring inner tens during competition or practice.

I’m the short fellow

My friend who coaches top archers added to his earlier suggestion, “I think you just wanted this too much and were holding your shots too long.”  Maybe.

I am still working though what happened that lead me to such a poor performance.  Regardless of the potential finding I admit that this past weekend sucked when it comes to archery. For any of you that might ask, “But, you had fun – right?” For the record – No, it was not fun.

(I did enjoy seeing lots of good people.  That, on the other hand, was fun.)

So, I Missed the 1st 3D of 2020

Miami a few years ago (I won)

As with nearly every morning Sunday started with a run.  Before I retired I traveled a lot.  Travel outside of the US was common. Everywhere I traveled I ran.  I’ve run in 49 of the 50 US States and 20 of the 195 countries in the world.  I ‘ve ‘Officially’ raced in US, Italy, France, Germany, England and Japan.  Most of those competitions were on the road.  In England, a 10K, it was mixed trail and road.

10K in the UK (I didn’t win)

Running allowed me to see parts of the world I might not have had I not gotten out for a run.  What I’ve found is that running in cities is a great way to sightsee but running trails has really become a favorite.  I have found memories of trail runs in Australia, Japan and Malaysia. I never got lost on those trails.  I did get lost running in Toronto. Canadians are really helpful and the locals guided me back to my hotel. My morning runs here in Georgia are nearly 100% trail running.

Trails behind my house

Running has become an element of archery training.  I may not sign up for another race anytime soon.  That is unless I find a nearby trail run that happens on a weekend that isn’t filled with an archery event.

Had to hold my bow using a glove during this cold day
Ray, my father-in-law’s practice range

This weekend I missed the first local 3D tournament of 2020.  It was this past Sunday and I’d made plans without having the 2020 3D schedule at my fingertips. Naturally, all my friends who competed posted photos and bragged about how much fun they had shooting.

This is what you get of you aim at the same spot twice.
You can see the targets down range

I still practiced on Sunday and was thankful that my father-in-law has a nice practice range at his house in Tignall, Georgia.  It was cold over the weekend but the weather wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get a nice long practice.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get Him” in my direction

Despite missing the 3D tournament in Shady Dale, Georgia it was a good day to run and do some solo practice.

Sporting my USA Team kit for this charity run in Delaware (Not the hat, I don’t recall how I ended up wearing a South Carolina logo cap)

That Sponsorship Game

At the moment I have no sport affiliations aside from my local club, Ace Apache.  Ace Apache is based at the Ace Hardware in Social Circle, Georgia.  Primarily, I see the club as a well-coached organization focused on the community youth.  There aren’t many adults wearing an Ace Apache logo kit during tournaments aside from the Ace Apache coaches and me.

The younger folks on the team are frequently donning a kit for competition displaying their sponsorship associations.  For example, Elite signs many of the younger archers and those athletes wear the Elite apparel during tournaments. Still, the Ace Apache logo uniform is frequently seen on the backs of as yet un-recruited youngsters.

In the past I played the sponsor or “ProStaff” game.  That game is a marketing program were adults festered about for discounts on gear.  If an adult is selected those quasi-sponsorships require (of me) quarterly reports, booth duty if that selected adult is competing at an event where a sponsor had a booth and devotion to their gear. Much of what a “ProStaff” placement offered sounds like fun. I was happy to agree until the benefit versus detriment became too one sided.

Last year I didn’t make an attempt to regain another year’s worth of discounts.  Only one company continued and continues to recruit me as a sponsored athlete.  Their offers were too egregious for me to accept.

The persistent potential sponsor is happy to sign me up if I promised to spend X amount of discounted dollars on their gear. There is a discount, but there is also a required dollar amount of which there is no way I’d spend my money. As such I am unaffiliated.

Another sponsor explains in their ‘contract’  I must use their equipment and that is to be the current year’s model.  I do use their gear.  But I’d have to buy their new gear even though I have their older, perfectly good, gear. There would be a discount.

In some cases it comes down to not what you know rather who you know.  Or, in the case of sponsorship, not altogether how well you perform as an athlete in archery but who is your contact within an organization.  I don’t know anyone of the insiders who might offer a helping hand.

A friend of mine that does have in inside connection with one of my ex-sponsors and did get a great deal from them.  The company, now one of his “sponsors”,  loaded him up with nearly $1000.00 (retail) worth of their goods. No purchase required. Sweet!

(You immediately think, “Well, he’s probably better at archery than you are.”  Nope.)

Needing some new archery stuff I’ve studied the cost – dang! Since I don’t know anyone on any inside who might help I suppose I’ll have to fester about for a discount.