Lifting Weights

I took about 8 months off from the gym. It was a matter of a move, getting settled and finding a convenient and moderately price facility. Now that we’ve landed in Georgia a gym membership and weight lifting program is off of my to do list and part of my weekly training.

The gym I joined.

Lifting weights is an important adjunct to any athlete. After the Master’s Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia Tiger Woods was interviewed. During that Tiger pointed out the work it has taken him to try and bring himself back into competitive professional golf. One of his comments referred to time spent in the gym.

In nearly every sport there is an avenue among the training regime that leads the athlete to a weight room. Archery is no exception. It is obvious that not all or even most archers spend time at a gym.

Spending time lifting weights can become an asset to you during long tournaments where the weight of a bow and the drawing of an arrow can become physically draining. Not only can the arms and shoulders benefit of weight lifting, but also your core and legs (support the shot) should be part of your conditioning program.

Shooting More?

I thought I was doing enough practice. Including rest days (when I don’t pick up a bow – about one day every 7 to 10 days) I shoot about 100 arrows per day. When I practice I break it up so that I shoot in the morning then in the afternoon. I try to get no less that 125 arrows each day that I actually shoot (rest days excluded). I have long days where I shoot more and tapering days when I shoot less.

Last week, I watched a 15 year old that has been shooting almost exactly the same number of months I have – around 55 months. He was nearly perfect on a 3D course that was pretty tough. He was shooting known 45 and ended up with a 220 for 20 targets. During conversation he mentioned he’d only been shooting 3D for a year.

Granted, he’s ranked number one in the US in his age group outside of 3D. But, he finished last weeks 3D course with the highest overall score. He also mentioned in conversation that he shoots about 200 arrows per day.

Each vertical check equals 6 arrows, The first column is warm up and the second at animals on my 3D range.

That got me to wondering. Maybe I should increase the arrows I fire off to around 200 per day.

A Little Tapering

Tomorrow is there’s a Georgia ASA State Qualifier about 38 miles away. I’ll shoot that hoping to qualify for the State Championship. The past week or so I’ve been cranking out arrows concentrating on 3D. (I’m a little behind in that discipline.)

In addition to archery practice I maintain a rigorous overall fitness program. It’s part of my training for archery and just in case there’s a race I’d like to try. There is a duathlon nearby in August and I am considering it.

At a recent tournament I overheard a “Pro” archer talking about his training schedule. He said he shoots for two hours a day and adds running and weight lifting to his workouts. That is an excellent way to go.

Aside from archery I run nearly every morning. I ride a bike almost every afternoon and I’m in the gym at least two days a week. Unlike that young professional archer I can’t recover as fast as I did when I was in my 50’s, 40’s, 30’s 20’s and teens. So, today after running I practiced archery for just an hour. I consider that sort of practice active recovery.

This afternoon I’ll ride a bike, but it will not be as intense a ride as yesterday’s. I may fling a few more arrows, but for the sports part of my day I’ll take it easy and save some for tomorrow. Sunday is a nearly total break while we go fishing. (I’m still on the hook today for several hours of yard and range work.)

Practicing Shots You’ll See in Competition

You’re facing a coyote that is positioned 40 yards away on a small hill. Between you and that target are trees obscuring the view. Your 3D rig is hunting with a shorter axel-to-axel length, sporting a short stabilizer and you’re aiming using pins.

We’ve all been right here

A coyote is not a large target. At 40 yards firing off an arrow a little hot or a little cold and you’ll find yourself excavating behind your intended mark for an arrow that’s gone astray. There’s no easy way to avoid this type of mishap. The way to best avoid it is to practice it over and over before you encounter it in a tournament.

This sad ole dog hasn’t got much left in him. There’s one of my arrows yet to be reclaimed in those woods behind it.

The same holds true for that small black bear sitting in a black hole down range at 40 yards. Or the javelina perched on a log below a crest with a tree branch over its back and leaves blocking your view. A slight error and you again are taking a pause to hunt down an arrow. Be confident when you will see these targets. Confidence that practice and exposure to competition and knowing you can hit the mark.

There always a black target in an abyss. For a 40 yard shot I need to open the back get on this little bear.

Taking aim on a black target in a dark hole using pins need not be an exercise in “wing and a prayer” archery (that approach has been known to work). Another way is to perfect your aim on this type of target is to practice it over and over.

Multiple shots from different location into the abyss can help prepare for that tough shot ahead

You need to prepare for all sorts of target conditions during a 3D tournament. Even when you think you have all contingencies rehearsed there will a target that might throw you for a loop.

Raining Again

This little badger from 35 yards

It is raining again here in Good Hope, Georgia. The plants are loving it. For humans seeking outdoor fun the rain isn’t as welcome. On the bright side it wasn’t a hard rain when I went for a run then practiced archery.

If you are an athlete who competes you know that sooner or later you’ll be playing in the rain. It is easy to postpone outdoor training when it is raining. Unless the rain is simply unbearable I don’t let it stop me. This morning was one of those where I headed out and got wet.

Coyote on a mound from 40 yards

Over the years I’ve raced bicycles, run races, done triathlons and shot in the rain. During the Tokyo Marathon a few years back it was both cold and pouring rain. It was miserable. But, there I was in Japan and there was no turning back.

This mountain lion at 45 yards

In 2017 at the ASA in Augusta it rained, I shot poorly. The second day of the tournament the weather was fine and I shot great. After that decided to not let rain keep me away from archery practice.

Bear at 43 yards
At 43 yards this group was a little low resulting in 3 tens and one 8. That is not a score to settle on.

If you can manage it, it is a good idea to practice under adverse conditions. You can’t control the weather, but you can learn how to deal with it. Raining falling on your bow while you’re trying to shoot can affect how you perform. Having experience in rain before a competition can help you understand the feel of your equipment when it’s wet and give you confidence knowing you’ve practiced this and are prepared.

So, it is a do-over. I was able to bring the arrow enough so that all arrows were 10s or 12s. The center is so shot out it is hard to know where the 12 ring is. But, the ten ring is still easy to see.

Going Down the Line

3D is more of a challenge for me that target shooting. That’s not to suggest that at either discipline there isn’t a great deal of hardship. Hitting the X ring whether it’s at 18 meters, 50 meters, 80 yards or hitting a 12 ring on a deer at 40 yards, each target offers unique requirements for a good shot. I don’t say a perfect shot. You don’t need a perfect shot to hit an X. A really good shot can hit the X. A perfect shot is a rare occurrence in my experience. So, to prepare for an upcoming 3D tournament I’ve been focused on foam animals.

Today, rather than practice on my targets I headed over to the Walton Public Dove and Field Archery Range near Social Circle, Georgia. There I could practice on targets I don’t own.

Because the targets are set up in a line, I started with a bison and worked my way down the line. Each target I shot at 40 yards. I shot each until all shots were in the 10 ring. The exception was the last target in the line, a turkey.

Shooting with pins and without magnification made the turkey a really tough bird.* I adjusted my practice for that target and shortened the distance to 35 yards. At 40 yards there was always at least one arrow in the 8 ring.

 

Of course, as part of my archery training, I did cardio as in running and riding. The morning trial run was uneventful. Riding brought me into close proximity with a dead deer and a feast on the dead.

*When it comes to 3D i prefer pins and a hunting rig.

 

A Stinky Run and Some Morning 3D

The morning started as usual. River and I hitting the trails I’ve cut in our woods for a run. The plan for training and practice was pretty much the same as it is every Thursday with the exception of practicing 3D rather than shooting at paper targets.

A great place to run – behind my house

During the run River took off in another direction for longer than usual. She gets to free range in the woods unless she’s out of sight to longer than I am comfortable not being able to see her or hear her.

When that happens I whistle and she returns. Today, when I whistled she returned with gusto. There was a big dog smile on her face. And for her, she was smiling with good reason, a reason she shared.

River had found something particularly smelly and nasty to roll in. She came barreling at me and slammed her chest against me thereby transferring some of good stink onto me. That, of course, meant we’d both get hosed off as soon as we returned home. It was exceptionally nasty.

Here comes the stink

River having a bath was kept off the 3D range after the run. It is a bit lonely without her but I wasn’t taking a chance that she’d return to whatever gross mess it was that she’d found earlier.

I’ve not shot in a 3D tournament since last year and am planning to compete in one this weekend. Yardage has been the focus of the past few days of practice. That and making shots interesting.

At 40 yards, this is an interesting shot. (Photo zoomed)

I’ve been shooting the same targets for a few years now and creating ways to keep them lively helps make practice enjoyable. For example, I’ll position myself so that there are narrow lanes or longer distances (50 yards is the max with my pins) can keep me on my toes during practice. Hopefully, this will pay dividends this weekend.

 

 

Routine and Training are a good pair.

Routine is good for training and practice. Many of you focus on archery as your sole means of fitness training. You won’t get a lot of cardio using that approach. You may not want any cardio. Archery may be the only sport that you can find time to fit into your schedule. At least you’re out on a range walking about a mile a day.   Well, you’re probably not getting in a mile of walking. You may be coming close.

Cycling took me past the Mt. Carmel Church in Monroe, GA. Old churches have a lot of character.

It is good to have a routine for your training. In my routine I add running and cycling. If I cut out the running and riding I doubt I could get much more archery practice completed. I shoot several hours a day and physically that’s all I can handle.

This turkey os positioned so it can be targeted from three interesting aspects.

For instance, yesterday I shoot 90 arrows in the morning. Thirty at 60 yards, thirty at 50 yards and thirty at 40 yards. That took an hour and forty-five minutes. During the afternoon I fired off another 60 arrows on the 3D range. I didn’t shoot at all my foam animals. Instead, I worked yardages and difficult shots.

This angle on a mountain lion means you have to shoot straight. The trees are tight enough so that a range finder is worthless.

By difficult I mean interesting. All shots are the same when it comes to difficulty. The interesting part was the complexity of judging yardage. Although I practice 3D often I have not competed in a 3D tournament since last summer. Soon I will compete in 3D and judging yardage is my greatest weakness.

Other than that I did run and ride my bike. Running is an early morning activity whereas I ride in the afternoon between 1 PM and 3 PM. The goal is to have a routine so that I can create training plans to fit a schedule. It is getting close and next week I’ll have specific training plans that agree with out recent move back to Georgia.

Routine and training don’t mean doing exactly the same thing over and over.  Although, being able to do the same thing over and over is a requirement for archery. More about this later.

Good Days

These are good days. They begin with a trail run with River, my Lab. That is followed by target archery practice. Then, some chores and errands are wrapped up. The outdoor activities finishing with a bike ride and time on the 3D range.

On a bike out in Walton County, GA.

River is with me most of the time. She stayed home while Brenda, my wife, and I ran errands. River, also can’t come along on a bike ride. But, she’s back with me while we’re on the 3D range.

The morning trail run is so much nicer here in Georgia than it was in North Carolina. The trails are more interesting. In North Carolina, we lived on the coast, everything was flat. Here, in Georgia, we have rolling hills that makes for an interesting run.

Last hill before heading home.

The highlight here is cycling. Again, North Carolina was flat. Here there are rolling hills. There is a bonus of very little traffic.

All in all not a bad way to get through a day.

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.