Running With the Dogs

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The girls taking a break in a water filled ditch

Prior to shooting this morning I ran. River, my dog, ran with me. After about a mile we were joined by Coco. Coco (the light coat Lab) is a good friend and joins us on nearly every run. For the most part River and Coco sprint and chase one another while I plod along for the next mile or so. Then, as they get hot, winded, and begin to slow I plod past them. By mile three they are inline and running at my pace. In fact, they often take breaks in water filled ditches to cool down. When it comes to running long distances in the heat it is good to be human.

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At the turn around point – my running partners ready to head home

Time to Review Goals and Plans

Throughout my life in sports when I trained there were goals.  Whether the goals are personal or professional it is good to have them set.

Once a goal has been reached the question becomes – what now? I manage goals and the “what now” dilemma by setting short-term, intermediate, and long term-goals. My ultimate goal is to have my cremated remains shot out of a cannon across the river where I live. In the meantime, there is a lot to be done.

A short-term goal I had was to compete as a professional archer at a World Championship. By qualifying as a professional I was able to accomplish that this August. Yes, that was a “short-term” goal.

In archery, many of my goals were established to create a forward momentum and to learn. Part of the learning is to gain a ‘feel’ for the various levels of competition and an understanding of tournaments. That is, to become comfortable shooting despite the conditions.

Becoming comfortable during an archery tournament is more important that many people might consider. If you’ve been competition for decades, you’re probably comfortable. You probably have a group of your friends that you shoot with during a tournament. Your arrangement is social, easy, relaxed and supportive.

When I land at an event I never know whom I’ll end up shooting with or against. Where I’ve shot multiple times, I do better. I am more comfortable there. However, for the most part, it is always a little awkward.

For that reason, one of my goals was to shoot at least 2 competitions per month in the 2015 3D season. That activity and that goal would help in the mid-term when I arrived to qualify for a spot to compete at the IBO World Championships. On that day, I would be shooting with guys I knew in Delaware and Maryland. I’d also be shooting further away from the target and didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my friends. At times, it can be more difficult to shoot with friends that you haven’t seen in a few months than when shooting against strangers. When the shoot was over, I wasn’t embarrassed.

I didn’t win the World Championship –it wasn’t a goal for 2015. Being realistic and having first picked up a compound bow 23 months and a week prior to the IBO event my plan was a bit more realistic. The plan was to shoot against the best in the world and to become more comfortable during that level of competition. My goal to win isn’t until 2017.

In the meantime there are goals and milestones. Along the way, experimenting and learning there have been some humiliating moments. Those times are when I shot a 5 or, as happened 3 times this year, missing the target entirely.

Thus far, in 2015 I have shot 500 arrows during competition. Since January I’ve competed 19 times or just over 2 tournaments per month. Of those I took 1st four times. That means that 21% of the time – I win.

There were also some rather sad days where I didn’t perform to par. Fifty-three percent of the time I ended up 4th place or lower. My second worst shooting of the year came at the 2015 IBO World Championship. During practice, on the Defense Range, I shot great. Apparently, I left all my good shots there. When shooting for the money, I shot badly.

That is one of the reasons I went to the tournament. Not to shoot poorly but to get the feel for the level of competition. I was uncomfortable which was entirely a mental error. One of the goals is to overcome mental stress during competitions. That comes, in part, with competition at all levels.

As I review the upcoming fall and winter tournaments, I’ll be looking at the tactics involved in achieving my goals and the plan itself. During this phase I may realign goals or completely change some of them. As with all sports, athletes should set goals, have tactics to help achieve the goals and evaluate performance. During the process adjustments will be necessary. Don’t be afraid to change things up a bit.

Good luck with your plan.

Me versus the Power Washer

A few weeks before the IBO World Championships I decided to get my house power washed. Living on a river in the country means that bugs and spiders cover every outdoor surface. We had a lot of surface area that needed cleaning.

When we weren’t living full time in NC and had a nice cash flow we’d hired someone for the job. That job was always the same price: $500.00 for any specific surface. For example: power wash the house, $500.00, power wash the decks, $500.00, power wash the pier and dock, you guessed it – $500.00.

Since we do now live in the Tarheel State full time and no longer have cash flowing in (a matter of retirement) I decided to buy a nice power washer and do the cleaning myself. I found a nice one on sale at nearly ½ price – $500.00.

I’ll admit I’ve had some experience with a power washer. I’d borrowed one from my father-in-law that actually belonged to my brother-in-law. It wasn’t hard to operate and it didn’t do a great job. There wasn’t anything wrong with the device and it worked to specifications. The issue was that this borrowed power washer was an entry-level product with a low PSI and low GPM output. The one I purchased was double the output capacity of the one used on loan.

The force of the new power washer was dramatic. The wrong nozzle and it would peel paint from a house or etch wood. It did get the bugs, spider webs, dirt and environmental grime off the house and deck.

Power washing is addictive. Once the spray begins turning a dingy surface new it is hard to stop cleaning. I power washed for a week straight. The house and decking were good as new. The pier and dock looked like they’d just been built. All the outdoor furniture seemed as if it had just arrived from the assemble line. Heck, I power washed the kayaks, my Carolina Skiff, three vehicles, my tractor, and where I could reach the bulkhead.

What I learned is that a serious power washer is a beast to handle. The force and vibration will shake your teeth loose. It didn’t matter; I took the punishment for the sake of cleanliness. Man, everything looked great.

But, there was an unexpected price. What I noticed following a very satisfying few days of power washing was an ache in my elbow. The ache got worse. By the end of my power-washing extravaganza I could hardly bend my arm. To make things more serious, I could barely lift my bow.

It was with this condition I arrived in Ellicottsville for the IBO World Championships. I nearly skipped the tournament – frankly I couldn’t draw my bow without intense pain around my elbow. Once I had an arrow drawn the pain wasn’t as intense, so I decided to go to NY for the experience.

I got through the tournament knowing I’d need at a minimum of a couple of weeks to recover from what is commonly know as “tennis elbow.” In this case, brought on from a power washing frenzy.

Tennis elbow affects 1% to 3% of the population and as many as 50% of tennis players during their careers. Less than 5% of all tennis elbow diagnoses are related to actually playing tennis.1 In my case, I fell into the group of “scrubbers” that end up with the affliction.

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Since shooting in NY I’ve rested that arm until two days ago. It is hard not to shoot. An incentive to rest was the inability to lift the bow – the pain was much worse after the tournament. Two weeks of rest seems to have helped. The elbow still hurts but now the pain is dull and seems to be receding.

I had less success keeping away from the breast of a power washer. The addiction was too great and my wood burning grill too tempting. I did crank up the monster and cleaned that grill – it hurt. But, the grill looks practically new.

Reference:

1) www.webmd.com/ostearthritis/guide/tennis-elbow.

 

 

Back at the Y

Since I was around 14 years old I’ve had a membership at the YMCA. That membership included an “Away” status that allowed me global access to Ys. On Thursday, I renewed my Y membership in Elizabeth City, NC.

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YMCA Elizabeth City, NC

The move from Easton, MD to New Hope, NC meant saying goodbye to one of the best Ys in the world. I’d been going to the Y in Easton for nearly a decade. They had two pools – one of my main reasons for going.

I do lift weights, but only for muscle maintenance – not bulking up. As a triathlete, bulk means more body weight to carry. That is tough while running and worse when going uphill on a bicycle.

Swimming, however, is a different story for me. I am a horrible swimmer. Growing up in South Georgia, swimming was an activity associated with some floatation device and a 6-pack of beer tethered to that float. Competitive swimming is a totally other activity. I’ve spent many years working to finish in the middle of the pack during the swim leg of a triathlon. Despite the effort there were races where claiming a mid-pack finish was generous.

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Working through a 2.4 mile swim

The Y in Elizabeth City has a nice pool. Before joining that Y I used my “Away” membership to train there and never needed to wait for a lane. In fact, using that “Away” membership I have swam at Ys from San Diego to Jerusalem. The Y in Jerusalem is particularly cool.

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YMCA Jerusalem, Israel

While I have no burning desire to do another triathlon, I know the day will come when I am compelled to race. Having a pool in which to do laps means I can at least maintain my slow pace – maybe even improve a little. It also means year round swimming and getting out of river for a break. The water in the river here has been near 90°F throughout the summer. That is really hot for a long swim.

I’m looking forward to heading to the Y for a swim. The shoulder work may even prove beneficial over the long haul in archery.

Score Analysis Heading into the IBO World Championships and Post Tournament

Prior to the IBO World Championship, I paused to evaluate my scores for the year in 3D. The distance I have been shooting in competition was a maximum of 45 yards while using a bow with fixed pins and a short stabilizer. That bow set up meets the requirements for the IBO Professional Hunter Class.

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Since the 2015 3D season began I’ve averaged 9.1 points per target. The score per shot improved as the season progressed with the ‘better’ scores averaging 10.35 points per target. The worst performance (the first 3D tournament of the year) the average was 7.65 points per target, which included a miss and a mess of fives.

It takes a lot of numbers to make a good database. The sample set used here isn’t large enough to be definitive. But, it did give me an idea of my likely score at the tournament in New York. That score should have been around 364 which would have landed me in 12th position.  In fact, I shot worse, ending up 13th place. The distance didn’t turn out to be my major downfall, it was my lack of experience shooting at steep uphill and downhill angles.

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This sort of analysis is beneficial to help determine areas of weakness and topics for shooting improvement.

Day One Shooting at the IBO World Championships

I went into this shoot feeling really good. It didn’t last long. There is a lot so say about shooting uphill and downhill. Living on the coast nearly all my shots are on level or nearly level ground. Mountains and hills within mountains certainly add a new dimension to archery.

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Wes sizing up what was truly the easiest shot of the day.

These archers that live in areas where they can practice on ranges with steep slopes have a practiced ability to find a foothold and stand steady were in their element. Some of these guys were like mountain goats the way they could hang on a steep incline. For me, I was mostly hoping, on many shots, not to slip down while taking aim.

There are two pro classes here: those shooting with a fixed pin hunting rig and those with long stabilizers and adjustable scopes. We shot on the same range; so all the stakes were either a max distance of 45 yards or 50 yards. The hunting rigs have a max distance of 45 yards.

On more than one occasion the group using the pro hunting setup ( 45 yard max) was placed further back than the pros using the ‘unlimited’ arrangement. This was seriously one difficult range and the IBO really setup challenging targets. More than once I’d get to a stake and need a minute or two to find the foam critter. Seriously, a brown turkey, partially exposed behind a log with a tree behind it, up a hill, surrounded by smaller trees, 36 yards away – that’s tough. (And for me an 8, off a bit to the right)

The group I shot with were all veteran pro archers. By that I mean none had been shooting less than 7 years with me as the exception. In fact, one of the scorekeeper’s IBO number was in the very low 8000s. Mine, I was the other scorekeeper, is over 91,000.

These guys shot better than me today. On the level or nearly level targets I definitely held my own. But, every target that required a major bend at the waist, well I was taken to school.

Despite their efforts to school me, the other guys had a day of managing tough shots. Our group had at least one very high score (probably in the top 3 at the end of the day) and even though there were 5 in our group we didn’t create a backup. I think the hike through the woods was so difficult that it was taking enough time to trek from stake to stake that crowding wasn’t a problem. Honestly, on some walks between stakes our group stopped and took a break.

It was a long hard day on the range. Looking for some redemption tomorrow.

Latest Website Stats

I check this site through a number of services about once a month.  Today, I pulled this data following a search on Goggle.  Certainly, I understand that much of what I write isn’t top shelf literary work.  However, I know I am like many of the folks that read this site – someone with a dream.

The difference is that I am sharing this experience, going from a novice archer to a professional.  August marks my second year of shooting.  Next week I’ll be back at the IBO World Championships.

Last year I competed as an amateur.  This year, I’ll shot in the pro division.  Tomorrow is my last practice tournament until next Friday –  day 1 of the World Championships.

At the World’s I am not competing in the Senior Pro Class.  I’m 60 and could have selected that division.  But, I decided to really put it on the line and shoot against the younger men.

I’ve kept a record of this adventure which has been followed by many readers.  Here are the stats from this morning:

“Puttingitontheline.com seems to be quite trustworthy website, it is 1 year old. The website was registered by and has its servers in United States. The site is ranked 5,286,829 on the Alexa list of Top websites by visitors.” (There are about 250,000,000 active websites)

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Now, write about it

Burning Strings

When I bought my first compound bow in August of 2013 I asked, “How long will this strings last?” The string looked complex and expensive compared to the string on my recurve. The salesman, with all the confidence and authority he could muster said, “These strings last a year or two.”

That seemed to be a reasonable amount of time until the string needed replacing. I bought a Mission Riot expecting to go back to a recurve bow with a few months. Since that day, nearly two years ago, I’ve not shot a recurve. The Mission Riot has been replaced. And I’ve burned though six bow strings.

Strings don’t last as long as promised by the confident salesman. In the “Coach’s Corner” of the second quarter 2015 issue of Archery Magazine Bernie Pellerite answers the question: When should I replace my string?

Coach Pellerite writes that a string should be replaced every two years or when it is starting to fray. The string on my bow is beginning to fray. The bow is new – about 6 weeks old.

Coach Pellerite further mentioned that a bowstring is good for, on average, 3000 – 5000 shots. This means that a string should last me about two to three months months.

Coach Pellerite’s answer certainly makes more sense than “These strings last a year or two.” His answer also means I am probably not changing string as often as I should.

Using stats to set a goal

I like studying number and I enjoy statistics. In all sports, athletes, coaches and fans measure performance. However, in archery a number of shooters have advised me not to look at my scores.

That advice hasn’t taken hold. Some say, “The score will get into your head and make you miss your shot.” In my brief experience with competitive shooting there’s not been a tournament where I didn’t either know my exact current score of had a really good idea of my score.

I think it is useful to practice knowing my points total. This way in real competition I will be accustom to dealing with my numbers.

Stats give me a solid reference to gauge my shooting. Over the past few days I’ve been recording detailed evaluations of my shooting and analyzing the data. What I observed is improvement based on a general understanding of where I was weak.

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This suggests (also this isn’t one of my worst shots) I needed work on longer distances

In three days I’ve brought a falling score up by two points while increasing the mean distance per shot. My goal is to increase the mean value by one more point over the next week and hold it there.

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Two days later, further away and a better shot.

All athletes study their performance. Looking at the fine details of scoring and where the numbers indicate work is needed is done by 100% of professional athletes. Personally, I see the value in making mathematical measures then setting numeric goals for performance based on the results.

Having a Blast On My Bike

Over the months I’ve mentioned that aside from archery other exercise is important. For decades I’ve enjoyed competing in cycling, running, duathlons and triathlons. Of those sports what I like most is cycling.

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Cycling gives me a since of freedom. I’ve always felt it is the closest humans can come to flying under our own power. Then, there is the benefit of being able to see so much of the land and scenery while cursing on a bicycle.

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Worth the stop for this picture

Today’s ride was no exception. I carry my cell phone with me in case of an emergency. That phone is also my camera. Using it I recorded a fun encounter from today’s ride.

Dogs are frequently running after me when I ride. Most of the time this  isn’t a problem since I can see or hear them well in advance of their approach. Dogs typically can’t run at a 30-mile per hour pace for long. When I see them, I crank it up and hope I can outlast their sprint. As a rule – I win.

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Hey – Wait up!

Most of the dogs I met along my rides are friendly. Having be chased by them for decades I’ve learned to recognize the happy ‘I’m glad to see you’ bark versus the ‘here comes a bite’ bark.

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I found a stick

Ten miles into this ride at a dead end road I heard the happy bark. Sure enough, this golden retriever was out for a sniff and offered to play. Naturally, I stopped to join the fun.

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Of course, I stayed and played (and for those that know bikes that is an 11 – 19 cluster)

It is tough to beat a good bike ride topped off with meeting a nice dog along the route. The bonus is that cycling is a great form of exercise.

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Back home on Little River