Moving, Shooting, Racing and Missing a few Great Events! Go Ben Go!

For the past four days we’ve been packing up our house in Easton, MD to make the permanent move to Hertford, NC. Hertford is the closest major “town” (2- traffic lights) but we’re actually in a smaller community, New Hope. Some of the local here refer to it as No Hope.

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Downtown Hertford

Because of all the packing and moving, which isn’t over, I’ve not shot in four days. I am feeling a bit antsy to get out and shoot. While in Easton I was able to get in some nice early morning running, but no cycling, swimming or shooting. Moving gets into the middle of the day and messes everything up.

When I finally had a chance to check out my emails, back in NC,  and review this website I read a comment from Ben that he and some other archers are doing the Ironman Timberman 70.3 in August. Ben invited me to join then in the race. Oh, the pain of it!

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70.3, my favorite distance to race

Timberman is one of the 70.3 races (I’ve done 11 at that distance) I haven’t done. 70.3 miles is a distance I really enjoy. I checked and discovered the race is still open, which means I could sign up and compete. It is killing me not to enter. However, the IBO World Championship is the week before and to do both I’d probably just stay in New York and Connecticut for the time prior to the IBO through the Ironman event.

August is also when my kids and grandkids are coming to visit us in NC. You know, I’d love to do all of the races and tournaments. Sadly this year I have to miss a few fun competitions. I am just going to have to be envious in 2015. Good luck Ben and please keep in informed. I’ll enjoy hearing about your Ironman adventure. Next year my friends, next year!

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Stay calm, there’s always another race

Creating an ASA Pro K50, Remarks by John Chandler, Levi Morgan and David Lain

On June 2, 2015 my friend John Chandler published the following post on his Facebook page. I repeatedly read it along with the subsequent comments. John and I spoke on this matter and he gave me permission to publish his post on this website. Along with his remarks I included those from Levi Morgan, with permission, and mine.

John Chandler: “First I would like to say Georgia Archers did well in KY this past weekend. We had lots of archers make the top of the list in lots of classes. Congrats to each and every one of you. But I have been scanning social media. I’m not seeing the normal “Great Weekend”, “So much fun,” “Can’t wait for the next one” comments. You know what I have seen? Known 50, Pro 50, Bumper Pro, The Meeting. SMH.

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With 1841 scores posted for the ASA in KY (I counted); what is all the fuss about K50 needing to become a Pro class about? We should be happy with the growth in the sport, the women classes are growing fast, youth classes are bigger then ever, that is a good thing. The known classes (K50) have a place that is a fact (just look that the numbers).

Why does K50 need Pro in the name? That is the question that needs to be answered. Why would making it a PRO class make it better? Contingency money? Will it bring more top archers to the class? Are so you can say you shoot in a pro class?

As for contingency money many of the top companies have already said they will have it next year in that class as it is now. I know some of the biggest names in the archery world have shot this class before: Jesse Broadwater Dave Cousins, Scott Starnes & more. These are Pros in the sport and have shot in the class that didn’t have PRO in the name.

Now for the last question – to say you shoot in the pro class? Well ASA has a pro class that you can do just that. Pay your money and shoot it is that easy. Tim, Dan McCarthy, Levi Morgan & more would not mind at all for you to join them. Oh but you are not good at yardage? Well then work on it. Top athletes in every sport work hard to become what they want to be. They don’t try to change the game to fit what they are not good at.

As some have said Return On Investment (ROI) is the way of business. How would adding a Pro 50 Benefit ASA? Fees for the class would go up for sure if it became a Pro class. Would the class grow? I think the numbers would drop because. Some would not pay the Pro fees.

I think the only way archery will get more money whether it’s 3D, USA Archery, NFAA will be to find outside sponsors. Every other sport that is big has this: NASCAR with Nextel, Golf with FedEx Cup, and Football with advertising. Corporate sponsorships will help more then anything else. The archery equipment companies have done a great job but there is only so much $$ to be spent.

Solutions to problems are what we need, if they’re really problems. That being said what does everyone else think? If you think is should change or not? But is so why and how should it be done?”

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‪Levi Morgan: “I promise you that if the top pros move over – 60 plus up will win every time. If you can’t shoot 60 up on a known course you won’t stand a chance. When we have the simms known we were hitting 9 out of 10 14s almost every tournament. If you give me the yardage or Danny or Tim or any of us for that matter and we miss more than five 12s out of 20 shots something is wrong. If the known 50 guys want to test their shooting skills against the best in the world then tell them to come to Redding, Vegas, or Louisville and do it; only like 4 or 5 ever have. So the rest of you have no argument in my option.

There are already pro known tournaments all over the world and hardly any of these guys are going. … Why? The same reason they don’t shoot in the pro class at an ASA, because they don’t think they can win. I’m not taking about the few that do but the rest. I personally don’t care either way because I will do whatever it takes to compete. And unlike some of you, I have a problem with the “every body deserves a trophy” attitude. You are either one of the top archers or you’re not. Put in the work and if you don’t have the time then guess what – Archery is your hobby… not your job!”

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David Lain: Response to shooting classes, earning opportunity, reaction to advancing  archery to a more public friendly spectator sport, and costs.

In archery the amateurs and the pro compete in close proximity during many tournaments. It is the same in triathlon. In triathlon the pros and the amateurs are essentially side by side, at least until the race starts.

What I notice in this similarity is that in both fields amateurs develop a unique relationship with the professionals in their respective sport. In that association I’ve seen amateur triathletes beat professional athletes – it happens! In archery, I’ve seen amateurs that could easily make money shooting as a professional. The money, however, is an issue.

Earning a financial living as a professional athlete is work. It is also a risk. If you have a few bad days at a regular job you’re not likely to find that job disappears. Pro athletes that have a slump are quickly in jeopardy. Furthermore, the average income (Salary.com) for a professional athlete in the US is $31,922 – not the big bucks of dreams. The income range for professional archers is: $10,000 – $75,000, for Olympic archers: $36,000 – $97,000. While top end of earning looks pretty good, the median in the US for all pro athletes is only $31,922.

If you want to be a professional archer – forget about the money. Do it because you love it. And you will have to put in the work. Take a bit of time and investigate the hours of training per day you’ll need to reach the top level of archery or any sport. When I started shooting a “Hot Shot” approached me to brag how he shot 30 arrows five days a week (That was probably an exaggeration). I assure you he was not a professional caliber archer.

When considering the potential of archery becoming a specator sport – that is a matter of finding the right professional “characters” and sponsors that recognize archery’s marketing potential. It has happened in other more difficult to video record sports.

Take cycling, the Tour de France for example – very difficult to record for television. Consider an Ironman event, even more difficult than archery or cycling to video. In an Ironman, the athletes swim away, next they get on their bikes and ride away, and finally they run away. Yet NBC has televised Ironman events for decades. Why do these sports get the media’s attention?

Think about the charismatic athletes that moved other sports to center stage: Cycling – Lance Armstrong, despite doping the man brought competitive cycling into the homes of America, triathlon – Mark Allen and Dave Scott’s Iron War, Julie Moss’ dramatic 1982 finish in Kona, then modern Queen Chrissie Wellington. The greatest promoter of a sport, and himself, in boxing is Mohammed Ali. If you don’t know at least two of those names you are truly focused on archery. Those athletes have powerful personalities  the media fell in love with them and so did the public. What does the public know about archery figures: Robin Hood, Katniss Everdeen of Catching Fire, or Hawkeye of the Avengers. We need a Tiger Woods or Venus Williams. I think, we have great and charismatic archers on the range – they only need so time to be recognized.

A few of the responses to John’s Facebook post complained about the price to play in archery. Cost, from my perspective is that archery is very reasonable. Let me point out, my entry fee for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii was $850.00. By comparison, my IBO World Championship entry fee – $175.00. Specific to the equipment of the sports, my racing bicycle and wheels cost $7200.00. On the other hand, my current bow cost $900. My old bow cost me $1249.00 ( less than the price of one rear disc wheel for a racing bicycle) Archery is very fairly priced compared to many other individual sports including golf and tennis. None of archery is free. Is there money to be made, yes. Can you make more money doing something else – certainly. It comes down to this, “What is it that you want and what are you willing to give up to get it.”

As Levi Morgan suggests, should you want to shoot as a professional archery, well what is stopping you? And as John Chandler points out, “…don’t try to change the game to fit what they are not good at.”

Circling the X

Before I start getting down to business during archery practice I take several warm up shots. These help get muscles ready and verify my pin sight is on track.

I shoot at paper in the morning since the wind coming off the Little River generally picks up in the afternoon. During the afternoon I practice 3D in the woods where the thick trees and foliage help to block the wind.

Typically I am pretty loose after a few shots. For the most part these are not my “wow” shots of the day. Today started with a number of duds.

While warming up I shoot for the same point. This lets me discover any obvious blemishes on my part. My first four shots missed the mark at each arrow. Clearly, two up to the left and two down to the right – it was me.

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Nope

The next couple moved a tad closer to the X but remained off target.

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Still no but closer

The final two hit the line around the X but both missed center. It was beginning to look as if I’d drill arrows in a circle around the center X. Not my intention.

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OK, on the line, I can start

Some days the arrows seem to flow and others it takes awhile to get into a groove. This morning it took about an hour before I gained focus and started hitting where I’d intended.

Starting a new week of training

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Start of a new day

Frequently I write about sports other than archery. Archery is an individual sport as are the other sports where I competed since my teens. Mark McClusky wrote in his book, Faster, Higher, Stronger that athletes who competed in individual where better at picking up other sports than those that played team sports.

That makes since because as a runner, cyclist, and swimmer I focused on my training and was free of the constrains of team requirements. As a newly minted archer I’ve applied many of the training rules, and made up a few, to reduce my learning curve.  At the moment I am studying marginal gains that can help me.

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Running the back roads of rural NC

Some of the small things I do as a percentage of the aggregate of marginal gains is maintain fitness. Because I have a foundation based on endurance sports, I continue to train, although with less intensity, in those areas that aid sustaining overall fitness: running, cycling, and swimming. It also happens I enjoy those sports too much to ever stop doing them.

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Catch up, River

Today, like other Mondays I am coming off of a weekend of shooting. It began with a run followed by shooting. This morning was one of those epic runs where everything felt good.

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Perfect cool down for a lab.

It is starting to warm up here in the South and I love running in the heat. River, my dog, doesn’t enjoy the higher temperatures and I keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not overheating.

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River, does – no matter the temperature – finish every run with a swim. In fact, today I might add a short swim at some point if for nothing else but fun. Whether or not I get a swim in today, it did start right with a decent run. My morning shooting was a bit off, but there’s always the afternoon to work out the glitches.

Fun Shooting with the Kingsboro Bowmen in Virginia

There’s a major archery tournament in London, Kentucky this weekend and I’m in North Carolina. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been traveling a lot; so missing a trip to Kentucky doesn’t feel so bad. However, I did enjoy a “Fun Shoot” at the Kingsboro Bowmen Archery Association in Suffolk, Virginia.

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The Kingsboro range is located in a pristine forest. The course is a bit hilly, which was a nice break from all the flat terrain I’ve lately encountered. Because this was a “Fun Shoot” I was eager to take aim at the furthest stake (50 yards max).

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The folks that set up the course weren’t afraid of trees, hills, dips, ticks, or thickets. Even though the group I shot with pointed out that, “The range was easy, today” and, “During a real competition they make it harder, “ I found their arrangements of targets was plenty tough.

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I got to shoot with Paula and Anthony who both are familiar with the range. I was glad they were along, the undergrowth and foliage was so thick and it would have been easy to have gotten off track, if only for a moment.

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Jonathan, Paula, and Anthony

In our quartet was a tradition archer, Jonathan. Granted, his stake is a bit closer to the target, and we weren’t really competing, but Jonathan was clearly out shooting us. Jonathan, it turned out is an exercise physiologist by college education. He attended college on a football scholarship where he earned that degree.

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Jonathan approaching a target to pull arrows – despite a sunny warm day, it was dark in the woods

Despite the shoot being a non-competitive event, the range filled up. Like most of the 3D shoots there was food back at the clubhouse and I was too eager to get one of their burgers. It was a tasty burger, but Clyde’s hamburgers at Mid-Del Archers in Delaware are still the best. (Not just best on an archery range, the best – period)

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91 degrees when I left the range

Kingsboro isn’t a long or difficult drive from my home in Hertford, only an hour and 22 minutes. They have a nice field archery set-up and I’m looking forward to doing more shooting in Suffolk. This was a good way to spend part of my day and I didn’t feel bad about not being in London, Kentucky.

83 Degrees, It’s Starting to Warm-Up

It’s 83°F here in Hertford. The temperature feels great. Not too hot and definitely not cold. This day, like most others, I’ve spent outside.

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The day started with coffee taken on my dock.  In the mornings the wind coming off the river usually isn’t bad. Morning is the time of day I run then shoot at paper targets set up in my yard. By afternoon, the wind has generally increased; the yard shooting migrates into the woods where I have several 3D targets for practice.

Even though 83°F isn’t terribly hot, spending all day outdoors; I did run out of “TriFuel” a few times. It’s important to get into the practice of drinking right as the temperature begins to increase. It is probably a good habit to, as you gather your gear for practice or a tournament, make sure you’ve got the right hydration solution and the right amount.

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Finding “The Archer’s Edge” During a 10 Day Trip

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View from our rental property

We just completed a 10-day road trip. Our youngest daughter, Candace, had her third baby on Mother’s Day. They live in Pittsburgh; we live in Hertford, NC and Easton, MD. We were in NC when she had the baby so we drove to Pennsylvania from our coastal home in Hertford.

For the Pennsylvania trip we rented a house, a 150-year-old place, in West Middletown, twenty-three miles from where our daughter lives. An advantage is that West Middletown is a small rural town so there was plenty of open space to run. If I’d had more time to plan I might have brought a target to shoot. As it turned out, I did find “The Archer’s Edge”, an archery shop that has a nice indoor range.

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Inside The Archer’s Edge in Oakdale, PA

The Archer’s Edge was only 8.5 miles from my daughter’s home. Still, Pittsburgh traffic makes it a tedious excursion. It was, however, worth the driving effort.

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Having the range all to myself

When I travel I am always looking for a tournament, race, or new place to shoot. Sadly, I’d missed a race, a 5K, that ran right past Candace’s house. I would also miss a number of great shoots, but I did get over to the Archer’s Edge twice during the week.

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Jeff Falconer, archer and USA Archery Coach

At the bow shop I had the range to myself once and once shared it. I also met Jeff Falconer a top archer and USA Archery Coach. He’s traveled with the USA team to places like China and Turkey. He is an interesting guy and it would have been nice to have spent more time talking with him. But, grandkids were waiting so I kept my time away to a respectable limit.

Good Day in Plymouth, NC

Good day in Plymouth.  Set a PR at a max distance of 45 yards using pins. Starting to get the hang of the new bow. Lots of 12s and 10s. Next step, all 12s.

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During the tournament I wore my Garmin Forerunner 310XT.  The distance walked over the course was 1.38 miles in about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Often it takes longer to complete the 20 shots at 20 targets but this day I ended up on the range early.  It is a bit like mountain bike racing or trail running.  Get into the woods first and fast and you’ll end up with a good time over the course. In today’s case a fast time and a good score.

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Yes, this race was cold, wet and muddy.

Walking and shooting

I’ve been curious how far I walked during a typical hour of archery practice. I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT to measure my runs. I’ve used it to record measurements during a 3D competition. Although I’d often thought about using the Garmin with its GPS to look at how far I’d walked during paper practice, I’d mostly thought about while I practiced.

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Today, following my run I was still wearing the Forerunner as I gathered my gear for morning archery practice. I’d finished the prior day shooting at 3D targets and first on today’s plan was shooting paper at know distances. Noticing the Garmin on my wrist I reset it to zero and recorded my shooting walk distance.

During an hour of shooting I walked 0.60 miles. I shot at 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 35, and 50 yards. At each interval I shot 5 arrows, I’d collected them and shot again sometimes at the same stake and at other times moving backward or forward as I felt necessary.IMG_3308

Tomorrow there’s a tournament in which I’ll compete so today is a relatively light practice – trying to save a few of the good shots for Saturday’s 3D event. It’s interesting to know my per hour walk rate and distance, it will help me with hydration and nutrition plans for future competition. Knowing a little about energy spent during competition (related to walking and shooting) and how that effects hydration and caloric needs will be valuable over the long haul.

Running with the Big Dogs

Tropical Depression Ana, reduced from Tropical Storm status has delivered, to our neck of the woods,  her promise of rain and wind. The atmospheric conditions render outdoor archer practice to a frustration that is best waited out. In the meantime, the weather didn’t prohibit running.

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Coco up front, River behind her. No, that’s not Coco’s tongue hanging out, it’s her collar that is too big.
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Both dogs pausing to hunt for turtles

River, my dog, and I took to the road for a run and were soon greeted by our friend Coco. Coco, like River, is a Labrador retriever. Her coat is lighter than River’s and see looks as if a Chesapeake Bay retriever entered her gene pool at some point. Her owners are certain that is not the case. I remain unconvinced.

Watching the two girls run and play is a real treat. They are always polite to each other and mindful of my commands when it comes to the very rare passing car or truck. Aside from ordering them to come and sit when a vehicle approaches these free spirited friends are unencumbered by lease.

Typically dry when we they meet by the end of the run they’re guaranteed to be soaking wet. If the creeks and ditches we pass have water in them the two are racing in series or parallel in as deep as possible. If the conditions are dry, they’ll be jumping in the Little River when we reach home.

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Found one!

Most of the time Coco follows River and I back to our house. Once there she’ll play some more, go swimming, and enjoy a cookie before returning to her home. Even though archery practice looks doubtful for today, the morning started off right.