The past several days have been busy. I shot in one 3D tournament and competed in two bicycle races. Then, I drove from Hertford, NC to Tignall, GA.
I haven’t done a pure cycling race in decades. I’ve done a lot of triathlons and duathlons. But, no pure cycling races in a very long time. A friend convinced me to enter a bike race so I did. Then, another guy I know talked me into a second race. Both were time trials so I wasn’t too worried about crashing.
In both I did pretty good, talking two second places. And after each race, there was no running to follow. I’ve got a dualthon and a number of triathlons in the near future so I’ll get the post-bike run during those events.
I wish I’d shot as well as I rode my bike, but I didn’t. I ended up 3rd in the archery tournament despite having my best 3D score of the season.
There are runs, triathlons, and other events where all an athlete needs to do is cross the finish line to get a medal. Archery and cycling don’t give out finishers’ awards. Heck, in cycling and archery you can’t expect to get any swag so don’t even plan on a t-shirt. But, you can earn a medal or cash if you do well enough. And if you have a medal crazy dog, like River, that furry friend will model the goods.
River has a thing about medals. Each one I bring home, without explanation, she approaches in the same manner she does her collar. That is, she walks toward me and lowers her head a little in order to have the collar/medal placed on her neck. The difference, with the collar she dances away preparing for a run, walk, play a game or take a ride. With any medal there is no dance. Instead, she sits, poses, and waits until I take her picture. After I take the picture, well it’s game on.
This one, in the photo below, was in my equipment bag, left there after a tournament last week. River watched me as I removed it from my gear to put it away. Before that could be done she had to have a picture. Following this picture, I had to chase her down to retrieve the medal which is now safely stored away.
The role of the central nervous system (CNS) in enhancing sports performance needs special attention as it may hold the key to improved speed and power production, for example. Coaches and athletes need to realize the importance of the CNS and implement strategies in training and competition to maximize its contribution to sports performance.1
The above paragraph is from an article that considers how athletes can train to gain peak performance and apply the impact of their central nervous system. It is a good piece of work, especially if you run, jump, ride a bike, or perform in many sports aside from archery and shooting.
When I prepare for a race I mentally channel my excitement so that I remain somewhat calm. I don’t want to nervously waste energy – I want to apply it to force whether that force is on the road as my foot impacts its surface or on the pedals of my bike. Shooting an arrow is a different condition where nervous energy is not always a good thing.
In the excitement of lining up for a shot, either on the line standing next to other archers or at a stake in 3D remaining calm is important. Shaky arms aren’t beneficial for archers.
In the first archery tournament where I competed, the Virginia State Indoor Championship in 2014, during the first several shots, my heart was pounding, and I was very nervous. In fact, I was far more jittery at that State Championship than I was at the 2008 Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI. Why the difference?
One obvious reason, no one was looking at me in Kona – I was bobbing in the water, waiting for the cannon fire that would signal the start of a long day along with 1800 other triathletes. I wasn’t worried about “looking” bad or “stupid”. I knew what to expect from of my performance. I knew I would get a boost from adrenaline and I knew I’d do as well as I’d trained. I totally trusted my plan. Another reason, it wasn’t my first ‘rodeo’ – in fact outside of archery I have competed in over 415 competitive events (including 6 World Championship in cycling, triathlon, duathlon, and archery). What I have learned since 2014, in archery as well as triathlons, is no one is really looking at me. Most shooters are focused on their performance – not mine.
Learning to control and handle the excitement of an archery event is vastly different than that of a race, yet with a lot of similarities. Running a marathon you can rest assured there will be a point where the race becomes increasingly mental. In an Ironman (140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running) if you are not mentally tough, you will not complete the distance. In archery, mental toughness is a lot about control.
You can’t control what is going on around you in a tournament. You can control how you react to conditions and unforeseen developments. How you handle them will impact your shooting and you can control your performance.
There are days when I practice and I am in a zone. Thus far, I have only been in a zone once during an archery tournament. It was a 3D shoot, I didn’t shoot a perfect score, but there was a smooth relaxed feeling to the shots. During another tournamnet I was nearly that zone where mentally I was on my game. I say nearly since I didn’t feel ‘it’ until I’d shot several targets for 10’s and an 8, before I started hitting mostly 12s. That’s not imply I am smokin’ it at tournaments, at least not yet. I’ve screwed up at major events, missed targets at 3D shoots*, and smacked 8’s at 18 meters in competition after not hitting one in practice for weeks.
I expect I’ll shoot more tournaments like those in a few more months. Some will be better than others. It takes experience and confidence to improve. Practice helps. Pressure during practice also helps. It helps build confidence, which later will aid in support of control.
When I trained for bicycle racing, I nearly always trained in a group. There was always pressure. There was always someone trying to break away or someone trying to be the best during any given training exercise. We used to say our training was harder than racing.
In archery, I try to have days where I am not alone on the range. I want the ‘pressure’ of other eyes watching. That’s, in part, why I have a coach – I need him observing and providing feedback. There is an amount of ‘pressure’ exerted as I work to execute perfect shots under critical eyes. (I am still working at it)
In learning to shoot a bow, I have applied, where possible, training techniques taught to me by my former coaches. These coaches were from: running, swimming, cycling, and football. I’ve applied parts of what I know as a sports scientist / physiologist / sleep specialist and respiratory therapist. Every little bit has helped.
However, there’s the element that can only come with experience. During the past two years, since I began this archery adventure, I’ve competed in 43 events in eight states. The experience of those events has improved my confidence.
But, I also now know what I can expect to score from each competition. I don’t go into any competition blind as to how I will perform then hoping for the best. I can’t control how others shoot, but I can control how I shoot. With each competition, I aim to shoot a personal best. In order to do that I must be able to control the reaction of my central nervous system, and without that explosive outlet I get from racing. And at each event, I like to know my starting point, that is what are my average scores for this type of event. Then, I set a goal, each time, to walk away with an improved score. Afterwards, I head home and relax for a while.
Notes: * Out of 410 3D targets I shot at in 2015 I missed three. A coyote at 35 yard (undershot), a mountain lion at 42 yards (undershot) and another mountain lion steep downhill at 37 yards (shot it in the spine and the arrow did not stick.). Each time, I was embarrassed and each time the guys in my shooting group did their best to outwardly show that silent support. I expect inside they were either laughing or thinking “What an idiot.” But, hey – I can’t control that.
I had a meeting in Elizabeth City this morning so I skipped my first archery practice. I had time for a run with River and shower before driving into the big city. I got in archery practice before cycling in the afternoon.
The meeting in Elizabeth City was worth the effort. I’ve hired a consultant to help with a number of projects. He’s a recent college graduate and what’s so impressive is he works for himself. He’s a few years younger than my youngest daughter. A common thread between them is neither as worked for a “company.” I appreciate that spirit, of individuality and willingness to remain free of the typical 9 to 5 routine.
Following the meeting I headed home for lunch and a brief nap. I always, and advocate it if you can, lying down for a few minutes after the mid-day meal. I don’t climb in the bed. I simply lie on a carpeted floor and take a break. Not too comfortable, and not for too long – about 20-30 minutes. Afterwards, I’m ready for the afternoon.
This afternoon, before cycling on my Computrainer, I practiced on a 3-spot. Shooting from a shed toward the target I stayed dry during a cold light rain. The shed is heated. The light rain wasn’t real bad so getting damp was about as rough as it got while retrieving arrows.
The first 30 arrows, after about 12 warm-up shots, went pretty well. Nineteen 10s using the smallest circle (USA Archery scoring method) and ending up with a 289 (out of 300). The next 30 arrows weren’t so good – 272 and only four 10s.
What I noticed most is I was tired. I couldn’t figure that out – why so tired. When it came time to train on my bike (connected to the Computrainer) I was exhausted. I mentioned this to my wife Brenda.
Brenda reminded me, “Well, you worked hard, yesterday.” I had worked, but it didn’t seem at hard at the time. I had shoveled, then hauled, and redistributed 25 wheelbarrows of dirt. Plus, I’d lifted weights, run, and shot about 130 arrows. Maybe I had earned some fatigue. But, people work like this everyday; I guess I’m not one of them. Because, man, when I ran out of steam today, I was done.
Obtaining sponsors is a bit of work. So far, I don’t have companies lining up at my door to offer me, well anything. That’s fine, I do have several companies that are providing various degrees of help. And, of course, I appreciate all of them.
Rudy Project has helped with shooting glasses. I’d been on racing teams that were sponsored by Rudy Project in cycling and triathlon. When I moved over to archery I contacted the person in charge of sponsoring athletes.
She was great and extremely happy and helpful. Sadly, she moved and her job has passed through two company representatives since she left. I have one more year before my contract runs it’s course and we’ll see what happens. I will note that I have multiple pairs of their glasses, sets of lenses, and two of their bicycle helmets.
BRL Sports Nutrition is also a company that supported me during my exclusive days as a triathlete. I do use their products on a daily basis for archery and endurance sports. I highly recommend the EPO Boost. You might enjoy TriFuel as a sports drink. It, too, is excellent for archery as well as endurance sports.
I wrote a few papers about their EPO Boost. I found that the product lived up to the company’s marketing claims. I am very pleased with BRL’s people and supplements.
60X Custom Strings is the biggest pure archery company that lends me a helping hand. I go through 4-5 strings per year and the arrangement we have is quite valuable to me. They’ve also provided me with one of their archery competitive shirts so now I have that “Pro Archer” look . The 60X shirt is cool and thankfully does not look like a bowling shirt.
They are the first company to offering me their marketing apparel. They also make very good strings and I trust their products. In other words, I’m not part of their team just for the promotional benefits 60X provides. I was using their products before I was on their staff. A former company representative got me connected and I remain a member of their team.
Flying Arrow Archery is a group that found me. Their marketing agent connected with me via social media, I think it was LinkedIn. I was impressed with his business sense and accepted a position based on our conversations. Since then I have used their Toxic Broadheads.
I also did a test to check the shooting variance of their Toxic compared to target tips. That information can be found under the Archery Research tab here.
TriDaves.com is my company. We sold soap and lip balm for endurance athletes. We’re not investing any more time into the business, simply because my partner and I don’t have the time and couldn’t find anyone to handle the business. We had developed a very nice scentless soap for hunters but never bothered to market it. Basically, we’re done with this one. Once I figure out how to do it (or hire someone who knows) I’ll delete TriDaves from this site.
Thus far, these are my sponsors. Thanks to all of you for your help.
2015 was a good year for archery and sports in general. In archery I shot in 22 events traveling approximately 13451 miles over seven states: GA, NC, VA, DE, NY, and PA. One event was a non-competitive shoot for charity.
Among those events my results were: 1st Place 5, 2nd Place, 2, 3rd Place 3, 4th Place 5, 5th Place 2, 6th Place, 3, 9th Place 1, 13th Place 1, 15th Place 1. This includes 1st Place USA National Indoor South (Snellville, GA., Age group) and 13th IBO Pro Hunter Class (Ellicottville, NY). A decent showing considering I had never shot a compound bow until 28 months ago. Specific detail are listed under the Results tab above.
In running events I entered four races, I won 3 and took a fourth place, all of these competing in my age group. They were all 5K events.
This website continues to do well. In 2015 there were 103,018 visitors, 260,879 pages read, and 1,206,466 hits.
In the final quarter of 2015, archery tournaments left the 3D arena and moved indoors. There were two events in archery where I was able to compete an indoor 3D tournament in Elizabeth City, NC and the 2nd Annual EAC 18-M Indoor Tournament in Madison, GA. In both events I competed in the Men’s Open (not in the senior age group) and finished 6th and 9th, respectively. Neither offered a professional class (Pros shot in the Open class) I was also able to compete in four 5K races, winning 3 and finishing 4th in one, all running in my age group.
In November I hunted in Georgia and left with enough venison (3 deer total) to stock our freezer until next year. If you follow my website or Facebook page you will note I never post photographs of me standing over a bloody dead animal. Personally, I’ve always found that a bit disrespectful to the animal, even though I have at times have posted photographs of how much meat (after processing and packaging) was harvested. Of those deer, I donated a portion of a church group here that helps feed needy families.
During 2015, for archery tournaments only, I traveled approximately 13451 miles (excluding in town travel once I arrived at the destination). I shot in seven states: GA, NC, VA, DE, NY, and PA. I shot in 21 events earning: 1st Place 5, 2nd Place, 2, 3rd Place 3, 4th Place 5, 5th Place 2, 6th Place, 3, 9th Place 1, 13th Place 1, 15th Place 1. This includes 1st Place USA National Indoor South (Snellville, GA.) and 13th IBO Pro Hunter Class (Ellicottville, NY). A decent showing considering I had never shot a compound bow until 28 months ago. I had shot a bow as a child and did enjoy the blue suction cup tips on my arrows until my mother took it away due to a difference of opinion related to acceptable targets.
I might have been able to compete in more events barring our permanent move to NC along with the selling of one of our houses that consumed a number of weekends. I will miss the archers on Delmarva but the cost of maintaining the Maryland home was unwarranted.
As 2016 approaches I am working on my competitive/training plan. That includes: archery training and competition, as well and other sports such as cycling, running and triathlon.
My website, Puttingitontheline.com, remains popular even though I am pushing it less through social media. The decrease in pushing the post is to measure the readership without social media notification. What I’ve learned is that with a minimal push the range of monthly visits is from 8410 to 10,102 visitors per month. The range when I push it hard is approximately the same, meaning readers have learned where to find my site and continue to visit on a regular basis. The average length of stay is about 2 minutes, the time it takes to read a post. However, 5% of the visitors stay on the site from 5 minutes to over an hour. (GoDaddy data)
In 2016, I hope to improve the site with professional support. I want more feature articles, those about a specific person or company.
Thanks for reading and following my adventure in sports and archery
There’s a storm headed our way. So, afternoon practice needed to be moved up a bit before it reached us here on the Little River. Rather that shoot at 3D targets (my typical afternoon session), I lined up against a 3-spot. I figured that would beat high tailing it out of the woods should the sky open up while I was on the 3D range.
Playing it safe, I worked at 20-yards. I decided to switch around my releases and use both a hinge and a thumb. It isn’t so much a matter of which one I shot best with, it’s more a matter of which one am I most comfortable shooting.
Yesterday, I finished practice with a 59-yard shot. Today, I started practice set for another 59-yard shot. The problem was, I was aiming at a target 20-yards away. Amazingly, the potentially lost arrow hit vine in the woods and fell onto a bush. All that was needed was to walk over and pick it up. Usually, this is a more costly mistake.
The next two shots indicated I needed to adjust the elevation and windage. After that, it was smooth shooting. By the end of the session, it was clear, at least on this afternoon, I shot better with a hinge release and was very relaxed with the device.
I’m not suggesting one release is better than the other. But, there are times where a hinge takes me out of my comfort zone. It’s good to get out of that zone; it seems to eventually take things up a notch.
Runner’s World recently published an article; seemingly aimed toward men, describing how to look cool while running.1 It came as a bit of a surprise to me. All these years of running and I never knew that there was a “look”. Reading over the work I learned I am far from looking cool when I run. I suspect my uncool running appearance crosses over to other sports like cycling, shooting, hunting and no doubt swimming.
In my naivety it never occurred that I should get ‘fixed-up’ to work out. The Runner’s World example of the man, appropriately attired for running in the magazine, is vastly different than my misconceived notion of work out attire.
The model male runner, per Runner’s World, is neat, clean, and wears expensive colorful clothing. His hair is done up and he wears a sweet little wrist bracelet. I fail on all accounts – not even close.
My shirts are worn out covers picked up from some race. My jackets, for cold weather, aren’t washed after every run, or for that matter every month. The jacket’s sleeves are littered with snot and none is newer than 6 years. I don’t ‘do up’ my hair. That makes no sense because I can cover it with a hat. I don’t own a bracelet. Even if I did the thing bouncing around on my wrist while running would drive me crazy (crazy being a matter of degree.) The only jewelry I wear is a wedding ring, a Crucifix and St. Christopher on the same chain, and a watch. I don’t always wear the watch.
When it comes to cycling, I wear the same team kits I got, in some instances, a decade or more ago. My cycling outer winter gear follows the same rule of running gear when it comes to washings. I admit I never wear the same cycling shorts more than once without washing them.
When it comes to tournament shooting, if possible, I’ll wear some t-shirt in the summer. It is Africa hot in the Southern States and there’s no point in making myself less comfortable. If I must wear something with a collar, typically indoor tournaments, I’ll grab some old shirt that will pass official judgment by the most minimal standards. Because, I am unsponsored by anyone that supplies those bowling shirts so many archers wear I am free to express myself in more luxurious ways.
When it comes to hunting I’ve made very little investment into camo gear – one pair of camo cargo pants from Wal-Mart. Why bother with a lot of expense camo if you are hunting deer? They probably won’t see you unless you are in the open waving your arms. Deer can see colors and many camo pattern colors match what they see best. Squint your eyes so that there is just enough of a slit to see through. Everything will be quite blurry. That’s how a deer sees. Deer are great as seeming movement. Remaining still and quiet are my top priorities when sitting in a tree stand.
I even fail at swimming dress. My ‘jammers’ (competitive swim trunks) are often worn out from the chlorine saturated pool water and all swim caps look stupid. I replace the jammers when I can push a finger through the fabric. Granted, by then they are thin – but, who is really looking?
Despite my failure finding a need to feel “pretty” or “fixed-up” to train, compete or hunt I gain a lot of pleasure from sports. You can rest assured I will never be that guy looking in the mirror to check himself out prior to a workout.
We live very close to Virginia. So close that our daily newspaper is “The Virginia Pilot.” In today’s edition there was an article, which got me well “fired-up.”
Sleep medicine has been a huge part of my life. So, whenever I see an article in print about sleep it catches my eye. Flipping through paper, this morning, there was ‘Advice’ published by Dear Abby related to a matter of sleep.
The sad writer wrote to describe an issue related to sleep and detailed the sleeping behavior of each family member. Dear Abby responded in 83 words. Dear Abby missed potential serious sleep problems.1 Well, Dear Abby isn’t a sleep expert and all I can do is forget it, move on, and give you some free advice about sleep that will improve your shooting.
Let’s image for a moment that your form is flawless, bow tuned, arrows perfectly balanced, you’ve been shooting and winning a lot of local and regional events. You’ve even got your Jedi mind game going to ensure every shot hits the mark. However, you feel that you’re simply not living up to your potential or that occasionally the ‘Force’ isn’t with you.
Even if you think you are performing your best what I’m going to tell you will improve your shooting. Not only that, it could improve your health. It is simple and like Coach Bela Karolyi said to Kerri Strug during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, “You Can Do It!”
What is this simple activity? We all do it, but most people don’t do it enough – Get some sleep!
The majority of us sleeps 6.8 hours per night. 2 The average person, ages 26 – 64 needs 7 – 9 hours of sleep.3 Chances are you need to more sleep. Odds are you’re slightly sleep deprived – maybe even a lot. There is a wealth of information describing the negative impact of sleep deprivation on the Internet. If you are interested do a search, you’ll have enough information to get you on a path to better sleep hygiene or medical evaluation for a possible sleep disorder. But, little is available regarding the matter of getting more sleep – how does that improve performance?
Several years ago my path crossed with Dr. Cheri Mah of Stanford. We were both interested in post-operative pain management and the use of opiates. At that time, I later learned, she, Bill Dement, MD, and others had studied basketball player and sleep.4, 5 Dr. Dement and I had once prepared a research study to look at sleep deprivation and performance in cyclists during the Race Across America – we didn’t get funded. Soon afterwards, a similar study was funded. (You win some and you lose some.) So, I am always interested in what he’s doing in sleep research.
What Mah and her team’s study revealed is that college basketball players gained a 9% increase on free throws and a 9.2% increase on 3-point shots simply by getting more sleep. Those are huge increases in performance. 4 Can this analysis be carried over to archery – absolutely. Sleep is a key element of archery performance.6
You might not be able to increase your sleep time by 110 minutes, the mean increase in the study, but you can try. Most of us can’t get up later, so go to bed earlier. Really, there’s nothing worth watching on televisions and Facebook isn’t a job. By increasing your sleep you will find improvement in your performance.
By the way, never watch television in bed. When I interviewed patients with sleep problems I always asked if they went to bed and turned the TV on. It was alarming how many said they did. The bed is good for two things and sleep is one of them. Practice good sleep and see if it doesn’t help your shooting.