This Is How I Practice for 50 Meters

Fifty meters is a fairly long shot. It includes a lot of walking back and forth. Twenty meters is a faster practice because of the shorter walk to reclaim arrows. Now, the walking isn’t a real endurance work out, it just slows things down. Having a 50-meter range behind my house is a bonus.

50-meter practice, for this session, meant about a mile of walking and took nearly two hours.

Being slow in archery isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rushing a shot is a bad thing. When I practice I’ll frequently set a timer and measure how many seconds remain following a six shot end.

The thick lines are the trek back and forth pulling arrows

During practice, I could fire off more than 6 arrows – I don’t. I try to make practice close to tournament conditions. That means: shoot 6 arrows, walk to the target, record my scores, pull the arrows and repeat. Practicing with a timer gives me confidence that I’ll get my arrows off with a routine buffer of time. I don’t want too much unused time. On the other hand I don’t want to be thinking about the clock during competition.

On average I have ample time left on the clock after six arrows. Between each shot I use an 8 count as I go through the shooting process. Using an eight count, I go through it 3 times. Each set of the 8 count associated with the shot process. Counting slows me down and clears my head. Since each set of eight has parts of the shooting process associated with the count it makes me aware of the steps to getting off a good feeling arrow. By the time I reach the third and final 8 I am ready to release the arrow. After the first 3 arrows, I make an effort to take a conscious pause before shooting the final three arrows.

When planning a practice I vary it to some degree. The practice may be two sessions a day at 84 arrows, 12 warm up and 72 for scoring or shorter sessions three times a day at 42 arrows, 6 warm-up and 36 for scoring. I almost always record my shots and make notes. I carry a pad in my quiver to making records. My notes and measurements are later transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. (Some days I’ll purposely not record anything and shoot for fun only)

A spotting scope is a handy tool for longer distances. (This one an early birthday present from one of by daughters, her husband and one of my grandsons.)

There are also days where I’ll practice for 50-meters by shooting from 60, 65  or 70 yards.  Fifty meters is roughy 55 yards.  The extra yardage makes 50-meters feel easy when I return to that distance.

When it’s cold I wear a thin glove

Everyday practice isn’t always possible. For instance, it stormed yesterday. Today, despite it being the middle of April it was cold. Cold does not prevent practice. Neither does wind and today it was windy. Even when it rains, other than down pours, I’ll be on the range. (It is important to note that everyday practice does include a recovery day. Taking a day for rest is an important element to any sport. That recovery day for me is on a 7-day and 10-day cycle)

My bow setting at the 50-meter mark.

Practice and shooting 50-meters presents outdoor challenges we don’t face during indoor competition and training. Space for a range is a problem for many archers. When we built our new house having enough land for archery was a must. Finding a local 50-meter range then getting to it does add another burden to long-range practice. (Not unlike finding a pool to practice swimming – they are available.  It is nice when it is a simple walk to practice.) Fifty meters ranges are available, it sometimes takes a bit more effort but it can be done.

Blame it on John Pinette

John, today’s poor practice shooting was entirely your fault.

You may not know John. He was a failed accountant. He stopped practicing accounting shortly after receiving his degree from University of Massachusetts in Lowell. His friends talked him into giving up that career convincing him he’d do better as a comedian. They were correct.

John was a master comedian. He was also an actor and Broadway star. He died a few years ago. (2014 – he was only 50)

One of his comedy albums in on my phone. While practicing today I put on music. Occasionally, the phone would shuffle through songs and play John.

I should be able to remain clear headed and shoot somewhere near the center of the target regardless of what going on around me. Today it was impossible to do so while laughing. Even when I started skipping John (my phone seemed fixated with him), his lines would float through my head and I’d start laughing again.

John Pinette

If you want to work on centering yourself for archery, John Pinette is a good distraction. If you can get though listening to him while practicing and shoot well you’re probably ready for about anything.

Waiting for the Dust to Settle

2018 has been a blur of activity. We moved to Georgia. We added more construction to the property in Georgia. I’ve cleared, mostly, about 3 acres for a 3D range. I’ve added a target range for 50 meters and out to 80 meters.

I also completed a USA Archery Level 2 Coaching program. Competed in four tournaments and weekly league style shooting. Plus, I bought a new bow.

New Elite Victory 37

The new bow is another Elite. This one is the 2018 Elite 37. To be honest, my scores are pretty much exactly what they were with the 2015 Elite 35. In the long run I think the 37 will be worth the investment.

Another benefit to being here is the running and cycling. I can run in my neighborhood but must to laps to get in any serious miles. There are excellent trails to run all within a short drive.

Cycling is the best. The terrain here near Athens, Georgia is rolling hills. Rolling hills are my favorite type of road. Flat gets boring. Too steep becomes more of fight to go up and then coast down. That was pretty much how I trained when we lived in Pittsburgh. That too got old. When we lived in Kennesaw, Georgia the roads were rolling hills. From my experience, rolling hills are the most fun for training.

I am yet to get a decent long-term training program going. Typically, I run, shoot, rest, ride and shoot. I’ve gotten that in a number of times but the past 12 weeks have been a challenge.

Starting to Settle In

We’re so close to being completely into our new house. There are still several projects on the list.

The land behind the house still isn’t cleared enough to put out a 3D range. We’re waiting on a builder to put up a second shed for the lawn tractor and kayaks. These are the remaining two big projects.

River enjoying a deer antler while I practice. Practicing with a brand new Elite Victory 37.

Then, we still have things, including our RV, at our place in North Carolina. That means a trip to haul those things down to Georgia. In the meantime, I am trying to get in archery practice and maintain decent cardio workouts.

Finally, I do have a nice area to train for 18 meters. I will have a nice 50-meter range near my 3D range when the land clearing is completed. There is also a nice place to run, nice road cycling and really nice off-road biking right from my front door.

Still getting a feel for my new bow.

The road riding is great. Empty roads, little traffic, and rolling hills. There are dogs. Yesterday, one four legged sprinter gave me two informational gathering bites on my left foot. It wasn’t painful nor did the bites break skin. I was more worried about this little dog getting hung up in a wheel and knocking me down and his teeth. This was the first time a dog has ever bitten me.

I really think it was the dog trying to figure out was I was. The bites seemed not very aggressive. Dogs get a lot of information through taste. Stinky human foot took this microcelphalic a couple of tastes to learn I wasn’t a threat. On the return home I made certain I was carrying enough speed so that sprint as he might, the varmint of the Jack Russell variety couldn’t catch up.

All in all we’re starting to settle in at our new home in Good Hope.

Clearing woods and pitiful archery

Moving is more than simply having one house loaded, moved to the next, and then unloaded. Although, that is a major task, there are all sorts of landscaping that needs to be done on our property.

We have three acres of thick forest behind our backyard. Our “backyard” has now been fenced and sodded. But, the land beyond the fence is practically impenetrable it is so thick. There are a couple of old trails that pass across the land, but other than those passages navigation is a challenge.

The new 18-meter set-up

This land is where I want to put a 3D range. I’d, also, like a place for picnics and short hikes when the grandkids come to visit. To have that means clearing the land. After three days of hacking and chopping I was beat.

This patch wasn’t too bad
Targets waiting for a home on partially cleared land

On top of the clearing work I’ve been trying to run every morning, shoot after running, then hack, chop, and pull, eat lunch, get on my bike in the afternoon then chop some more and finally get in a second archery practice. Let me tell you, that kind of work and archery do not mix – at least for me.

Tools for the job

 

This section is starting to open up

By the end of the third day it was all I could do to lift my bow. That night I joined a local archery competition and shot horribly. The next day I hired a crew to help with the land clearing. I’d found my physical limit.

Wonder if any body is home?

38 Hours

We’re nearly all packed for our move to Georgia. The movers load our furniture and boxes on Friday. They can’t get our “stuff” to us until the 22nd through 24th of January. Really bad timing for archery.

We’d anticipated being in our new home by the end of December. Hurricane Irma put the builders behind schedule. The time infringement is now on archery practice and a few major archery tournaments coming up in February. Oh well, that’s how it goes.

We’re still in our house here in North Carolina for the next 38 hours or so. There’s not a dish unpacked. We’re eating off the china we in our Winnebago for camping. Today, 100% of my archery equipment was packed. I shot three arrows at 18-meters before I disassembled my bow – hit a 10 and two nines. Yesterday, when no one was noticing I slipped away for a decent practice. But, that’s it for a while.

Hopefully, I can get some practice in while we’re in Georgia waiting to moving into our new house. We’ll be staying with our daughter and her family until our “stuff” arrives. She’s only 10 miles away from the new place. And she’s close to Ace Archery in Social Circle. There may be a number of, “Has anyone seen David?” “No, and his truck is gone,” moments while we wait out the arrival of our possessions.  Then, there’s bond to be a, “Where have you been,” inquiry.

The house here still hasn’t sold. We had two offers this past week but both were too weak to accept. The second was close and we referred a counter offer to the potential buyer.

Until it sales, I plan to continue to come back and forth in the camper and enjoy some trips to the Little River and the Outer Banks. Who knows, if it isn’t too much of a burden to make the drive we may just keep North Carolina house as a vacation home. It is why we bought it in the first place.

In the meantime, I am anxious to get archery practice back on track.

 

This moving stuff

Getting a new house is exciting. Getting one that we don’t have to immediately renovate is nice. Here’s the thing, before we’ve set foot in the door we’ve changed ceilings, customized closets, had kitchen plans modified, added trim work everywhere inside the house, changed the driveway, and picking out everything from flooring to roofing. The past few days we’ve hired someone to build a custom shed on the property, found a fence guy, and met with a landscaper to work on the 3D range.

The landscaper was a lucky find. He’s also an archer. He’s not the landscaper that is currently doing our landscaping. Both are archers. The current guy is too busy. The new guy, Andy is our new next-door neighbor. As such, a lucky find.

The other landscaper guy told me he was so busy he had no idea when he might have time to help design my 3D range. However, he mentioned that there is a free 3D range just 15 minutes from our new house. Needing a break from spending money I decided to search for this free 3D range.

Certainly uninteresting shots but good for judging yardage.

I found it. In fact, it is only 15 minutes from my house. But, it is simply 3D targets set up on a range. It’s not 100% free. You need to have a Georgia DNR Hunting license. So, aside from that fee, which I pay anyway, I’m good to go on the DNR range.

Today wasn’t the day to test the free range. It was too cold and windy.  Still hoping to shoot my bow on the round trip home, I stopped at Ace Hardware Social Circle. Now where I wrote ‘home’ I am referring to my daughter’s house in Watkinsville. We’re staying with her while we add a few finishing touches to our house in progress.

Oh, I can’t wait to shoot this big fellow.

In Social Circle Ace is the Place to shoot indoors. It was nice to get some practice. On this trip, we left about 10 days ago; I’ve only gotten in three practice sessions. Today made the fourth. On a more positive note, running is above par and cycling is just below on my current training plan.

Trying to compensate for some loss of hours training, running and riding were on today’s agenda along with archery. Running and riding in the cold really takes it out of me. I’ve been asleep since I began writing this post.

Talent Transfer

It was not my intention to be competitive in archery. It was only suppose to be a backyard pastime. Then, I read, “Faster, Higher, Stronger: The New Science of Creating Superathletes, and How You Can Train Like Them” by Mark McClusky.

In his book McClusky writes there are two sports where an athlete over 50 can be an elite: shooting and archery. He further writes about talent transfer and the 10,000 rule. Looking into this with more depth archery became a sport wherein I decided to become competitive.

The first order of business, aside from getting a bow, some arrows, and such, was to determine if that 10,000 hour rule could be broken by a 59 year old cyclist/triathlete turned archer. There also needed to be a measure of where that might be properly evaluated.

The measure I selected as a goal was equivalency in cycling. At my best, as a cyclist I won State Road, time trial and sprint Championships in the same year. In 2017 in archery I won State Indoor, Outdoor and 3D Championships. It took less than 48 months to achieve those objectives in archery. It did not take 10,000 hours.

The 10,000 hour rule is based on what judges might say is a summary of the time it take anyone to became an elite performer. I do not have 10,000 hours of archery practice under my belt. Because I’ve some championships does that mean I’ve broken the 10,000 rule to become an elite performer in archer? Simply, no.

Look at three archers considered elite: Brandon Gillenthien, Jesse Broadwater, and Reo Wilde. Their last published scores for 120 arrows at 18-meters comes to an average score of 1183 or 1190, 1190, and 1170, respectively. My best score for 120 arrows at 18-meters in 1158 or 2.1% lower than the elites’ average over one event where they competed. While 2.1% doesn’t look like a lot it is a huge difference – 25 points. It is this variance that separates me from an elite based strictly on score.

Cadel Evans, mountain biker (photo from:http://www.treadmtb.co.za/cape-epic-2017-day-6-tread-notes-observations/)

The next question is how long will it take to close that 25-point gap? As a rule, I generally know how many arrows I shoot per year. I have not kept hours of practice logged but do have a rough estimate of 1250 hours per year. Along with the 10,000 rule this matches the eight-year rule. The eight-year rule says it takes eight years of deliberate practice to become an elite. At my current rate of practice I should reach the elite level in 2020. However, my improvement percentage change year on year has me reaching the scoring level for elite status late 2018 or early 2019.

Cadel Evans, Tour de France Champions (photo:http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/cadel-evans-the-legacy-of-australias-greatest-rider/)

What I have learned is that Talent Transfer from cycling, for example, to archery has only minor advantage. The main benefit is focus on training. In cycling there are a lot of long hours on the bike. In archery there are a lot of long hours on the range. Beyond that, the sports are so dissimilar that there is little crossover. It certainly isn’t like being a mountain bike rider that crosses over to road racing as in the case of Cadel Evans winner of the Tour de France (2011) and Olympic Mountain Bike racer (9th place Atlanta 1996).

Mountain Biking, Shooting and Ditching (Not in that order)

Ditching was first on the agenda. Not my agenda, River’s agenda. If you haven’t been a reader here you might not know who is River. River is my Labrador Retriever. I’ve not met a Lab that doesn’t love the water. River is crazy about water.

It rained hard here in Georgia yesterday. Every ditch and creek was brimming with water. River runs with me and this morning we headed out to run a trail we discovered yesterday. Knowing of a ditch that pools with water along the usual run I decided to avoid that direction. I was pretty sure we could get to the new trail a back way. It was an attempt to keep River out of the rain off ditch pool.

River has been smelling a bit ‘above bad’ having had a bath last week. It would be nice if she’d not stink when we’re visiting family. Were here in Georgia visiting family for Christmas. River doesn’t often have ‘nice’ wafting off of her coat. If she goes ditching (Ditching: jumping into a water filled earthy conduit and running as hard as possible) there is going to be stink.

It’s not that she’s naturally stinky. She works hard to reach an apex of olfactory funk. Rather than chance she’d jump into an overflowed ditch that forms such a tempting pool of water we headed in the opposite direction. That didn’t end up as planned.

The run put us at trails that simply called us forward. After nearly an hour of running it was becoming clear we were heading around a wide weaving circle. In the back of my mind a worry suggested we’d come out of the woods at a point where the pool would be between home and us. I considered turning back figuring that might add another 45 minutes to the run. That time would eat into archery practice. We remained on course. Plus, I wasn’t really up for nearly 2 hours of trail running.

It turned out my worry wasn’t unfounded. Once we cleared the woods my fragrant neutral dog hopes dimmed. Within two tenths of a mile there was the pool of rainwater. River was only 10 yards ahead, 30 yards from the water. She stopped as soon as she spotted her wet reward. Slowly she turned back toward me, gave dog grin and made a beeline for the ditch. I sprinted toward her and with increasing volume ordered her to stop. The louder I got the faster she sprinted.

River is a big girl at 105 pounds. She is all muscle. It always amazes me how much water she can displace at full tilt. There was no avoiding the bath to come. I did save time by not circling back only to lose it washing a dog.

Nevertheless, I got a decent ‘afternoon’ archery practice shooting at a 5-spot. The morning archery session was blown to washing River. I’d switched over from a 3-spot for a break. Since August 2  of this year every 5-spot practice has yielded a 300. But, if you shoot 5-spots a lot you know the X count is where the money waits. Only 47 X’s today. Frustrating.

The archery frustration was burnt off during an afternoon riding mountain bike. I wanted to follow the same trails we ran this morning only heading right rather than left (I already knew that was a wide circle) at a Y intersection.

At that point the trail begins to climb. Looking down at my Garmin I noted the mileage at the foot of the climb. That climb went on for one mile. The earlier rain made the path, having a base layer of red clay, one slippery exercise in staying upright and moving forward. Despite the greater than anticipated elevation in heart rate, to match the unforeseen length of the climb, it was a nice way to end the day. That and of course no broken bones or cuts.

Running and Shooting and Waiting Out the Rain

We’re back in Tignal, Georgia for a few days before we had off to Athens for Christmas. River and I hit the road before it rained. Man, has it rained. Running was pretty nice. First of all there was no rain. Secondly, there were lots of trails and double track to cruise.

Running along the sides of country roads isn’t bad primarily because we have minimal traffic. Getting totally off road is even better.

After an hour of trail running it was looking more and more like rain. Needing to get some archery practice in, having missed yesterday when we drove to Georgia from North Carolina, it was a rush to stay ahead of the guaranteed downpour.

This is a blast on a mountain bike

Both running and archery (at least the morning archery practice) were completed. Cycling and a second day’s archery practice now await cessation of rain.

The rain is easing off