So, do you train 3 to 4 times per week?

I was an innocent question, “So, do you train 3 to 4 times per week?”

I honestly didn’t want to answer the question and tried to side step it. However, our friend, a yoga student of my wife’s, was persistent.  I provided the short version:

I train everyday.  If there is a day off it is part of a plan for recovery.  Generally, this is how it works:

When I wake up in the morning I spend 26 minutes stretching. I eat breakfast then run for 30 to 40 minutes. When I finish the run of skip rope using a speed rope for 5 minutes.  Then, I shoot my bow for an hour to an hour and a half.  Next I eat lunch followed by a short nap taken on the floor so I don’t get too comfortable.

From there I get up and have a snack.  After the snack I ride a bike for 30 minutes to an hour.  This is also the time when I’ll write something for this webpage or one of the books I am writing. Then, I shoot my bow for another hour to an hour and a half. The last part of my training is to play my trumpet for 30 minute to an hour (brain training). Playing music, I believe, helps with concentrations and seeing ahead.  By seeing ahead, I mean having the notes written on sheets of music in my head before I play them. For me, this is like seeing (and feeling) where an arrow is going to land before it is released.

After dinner I watch something on the television, usually something on Netflix, Amazon or the BBC. Sometimes it is YouTube where I watch archery videos. That lasts between and hour and forty-minutes and two hours.  I am never in front of a screen until 7 to 7:30 pm aside from this computer. Then I go to bed and read for a short time before I fall asleep.

Essentially, that’s it.  It doesn’t explain the training plan, shooting reviews, practice objectives, etc.  That detail would have certainly put an inquiring mind into a deep sleep. It is a six days a week occupation.

Dang that was too rough

It happens every winter – the outside temperatures drop. Today was rough.  The temperature was in the upper 30s so not horrible.  The wind on the other hand just cut through me.

Even the cold and the wind aren’t awful shooting a compound bow.  But, the string on my fingers in the cold is another story.

The cold makes the calluses on the middle finger of my drawing hand crack. Then, it bleeds.  It is tender but I can shoot through it.  Every once and a while the release is a hair off and the cut gets stung.  It wakes me up.

I shortened the morning practice since the cold wasn’t abated using the outdoor heater.  The little propane heater couldn’t keep up with the wind.  It will warm up into the 40’s my mid-day and I’ll lengthen the afternoon practice.

Dang! That’s a lot of money. Oh, he’s blessed!

I don’t often look at Facebook.  The propaganda spewing unchecked is too awful.  I tried to delete my page and failed.  So, once in a while I look.  It is like looking at some circus sideshow freakishness.  Yesterday, I looked.  I was rewarded.

My reward was a post written by Mr. Archer.  You may know him.  He’s the fellow that is blessed with the latest gear provided by the most pious supplier and whose archery performance remains superior because of his unparalleled support from God.

God has provided Mr. Archer has some extremely expensive gear.  Excluding his stabilizers I looked up the price of his bow, sight, scope and arrows.  The package price: $2588.98.  The bow, a compound, is the 2021 edition.  Along with the bow he’s “blessed” to now have a new sight, scope and arrows.

Mr. Archer posted one if his practice session’s results.  No doubt it was excellent! Not perfect but pretty close using Vegas scoring and relating it to USA Archery scoring on a 3-spot.  Nevertheless, pretty impressive.

Mr. Archery is, also, a “Pro” archer with a number of sponsors! Perhaps, this guy is really good.  So, I checked.  You know finding results of archery performances are not difficult.  What turned out to be amazing is that he was a rare find and a winless one at that!  It seems his “Pro” sponsorships are based on his potential and perhaps God’s recommendation.

Mr. Archery is indeed blessed not with one $1549.99 bow but two.  He has one for target archery and one for 3D.  Obviously, I attend the wrong church.  Clearly, neither God nor Jesus has been so inclined to provide me with cash or sponsorships to subsidize $3099.98 in brand new 2021 bows.  Heck, it was all I could do to get permission from my wife to purchase a $249.99 Olympic recurve bow.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Archery and God, I admit I do have two compound bows.  Their combined price was $1398.00 spread over six years.  Both are similar models made by the same manufacturer.  Neither, the Shaker 5000 or the Decelerate remains on the market.

The Shaker 5000 was notorious for rattling limbs so hard they would crack and the Decelerate lost parts every few thousand arrows.  Both were introductory bows and I expect the maker never expected anyone purchasing those bows would shoot over 3000 arrows per year.

I understand, from Mr. Archer’s posts on Facebook, his new bows are very forgiving. I’ve never really understood how a bow can forgive an archer.  I expect my current $249.99 bow is simply shy and quiet around those big money bows.  If it had emotions or empathy enough to forgive it likely feels a little dejected next to all those prouder more forgiving bows.

Now, Mr. Archer does offer advice beyond how one makes the best sublimation to God via Facebook in order to get the most bang for your prayers (and as such become Blessed).  He further points out that it is currently time to get ready for the indoor archery season.  In fact, he makes this recommendation a full six days before his first announced indoor competition.

On Facebook he reveals to all that might read his post that he has spent a couple of hours practicing to get ready.  I can only suppose with God and Jesus on his side that is ample practice.  His sponsors are fortunate to have such a hard working athlete to inspire others to run out and purchase their forgiving bow.

I’ve often wondered how an individual athlete seeks heavenly support for victory.  Would a prayer be like, “Oh Lord, give me the strength and skill to vanquish my competition?”  Or, “Dear God, help the beat everyone here today.”  Or, “Sweet Jesus, help me performance my best in order to win.” Maybe it is good enough to type “Amen” and forward Mr. Archer’s prayer on Facebook. I haven’t tried that, yet.

No such prayers would ever be in my thoughts and being blessed with two new bows remains absent for me.  I remain simpler, “Lord, help me be a good example and let me help others where it is needed and help me to treat folks with kindness.”  That prayer too often fails.  I miss a lot and not just when it comes to shooting arrows.

How Many Arrows Per Week?

There was an article written by an archery coach.  In the article he wrote that in order to achieve a National Championship an archer needed to shoot 120 arrows per day.  That seems reasonable to me.  Or so I thought. But, the coaches count for success seemed vague to me.  Still, it was a number and a place for me to start.  With that number in mind I worked to shoot around 120 arrows per day when I was competing in the compound bow division.

The results I earned using that count as a compound bow archer were fine.  I won a lot of tournaments in the Masters division.  I did well on a National level despite having a very limited exposure to archery.  In less than 18 months I was winning on the State level and doing respectably in National Indoor events.

Then, I heard a quote from Reo Wilde that he practices about an hour per day.  It seemed too short to me for 120 arrows.  Certainly, Wilde has been shooting much longer than I have and I figured his base was adequate to maintain a high degree of excellence in archery with fewer arrows per day.

When Covid hit us archery slowed down for everyone.  It did take some wind out of my sails.  It also provided a pause for me to evaluate my activities in archery.

I’d always wanted to shot recurve.  So, after 6 years and 8 months of flinging arrows using a compound bow I bought a $249.99 recurve bow – riser and limbs.  I added a full kit and had an Olympic Recurve from stabilizers to stand for $460.00.

I started slowly learning to hit the target.  During the first 12 weeks of practice I shot 688 arrows per week.  Excluding recovery days from those weeks the daily count of arrows shot with the Olympic recurve is 138 arrows per day.

At that level I won my first tournament using the $249.99 Olympic recurve bow, the Georgia Field Archery Championship.  I competed in the Men’s Senior division, not as a Masters archer.  The coach’s number of 120 arrows per day seemed applicable.

While looking at Olympic recurve archers in Youtube I watched an interview with Brady Ellision.  He was being interviewed after winning an early season competition.  In it he said he was out of shape and only shooting about 100 arrows per day. He added he’d begin ramping his training up to 200 – 300 arrows per day.  It seemed like a lot of arrows.

I decided to look more closely into the quantity of arrows shot by some of the world’s top archers on a weekly basis.

I found interviews of some of the world’s top archers, 52 % men and 48% women. Twenty-two of them were Olympic recurve shooters and eight shoot compound bows.  Twenty-five of them provided a weekly arrow count. Five of them didn’t count their weekly total arrow count.

As a group these elite archers average 1088 arrows per week or 181.3 arrows per day over a 6-day week with one day for recovery. When I broke out the recurve versus compound bow archers the numbers changed.  Recurve archers claimed to shoot 1332 arrows per week while compound bow archers say they shoot 646 arrows per week.  The recurve archer claim to shoot more than twice the number of arrows compared to the compound bow archers.

The range was larger than I expected to find.  The low number of arrows shot per week was a compound bow archer who claimed to shoot 300 arrows per week.  She shoots at a very high level.  The high number on the range is 3000 arrows per week by a recurve shooter.

At first I called foul on the 3000 arrows per week.  The archer also reported the number of hours per day he trained.  I checked his arrow count versus the hours spend in training that he reported.  Over the hours he claimed to train it is possible to shoot 3000 arrows per week with one day of recover per week.  However, the hours to arrow intersection is 8 hours and 32 minutes per day.  I think this is an exaggeration.

On the other hand the 300 arrows per week is easily achievable.  I believe this is an under count.  Perhaps some can be tops in the world of archery with relaxed practice, but 50 arrows per day (one day recovery) seems low.

Admittedly, I’ve increased my weekly average as I gotten stronger.  My count is still lower than 1332 per week.  I’m in the 930 arrows per week.  I take 2 days off per week, which means I am averaging 186 arrows per day.  To get to the 1332 arrows per week I need to increase my count to 266.4 arrows per day (5 days per week training 2 days recovery).  Using two-practice session a reasonable number.

Now, I just don’t go out to the range and shoot for the sake of an arrow count.  I approach each practice with a specific goal for that practice.  There are variables that, at this point of recurve shooting, influence the arrow count.

Arrow count is important but it shouldn’t be the primary objective of practice. If arrow count where the exclusive factor for archers all contests could be determined beforehand by having each competitor submit their practice logs.  The athlete with the highest count could be declared the champion.  It just doesn’t work that way.

That Was Awful

It wasn’t horribly cold this morning. The temperature was in the low 40s.  It wasn’t bad during my morning run.  I didn’t even notice the wind during the run. Archery was another matter.

Heading out to the range to practice 25 meters I needed to make an about face.  The apparel I was wearing for practice was inadequate for the temperature.  The more I wear the warmer.  The down side is the bulky warmth inhibits accuracy when shooting.

Even with the extra layers for protection against the cold the wind seemed to breeze right through.  After 30 arrows I was miserable.  In addition to being cold the down filled puffy outer vest was snagging my bowstring.  The cold and wind were only adding insult to injury when considering the frustration of warmth versus satisfying shots.

Today’s practice was supposed to be a 25-meter tournament game.  That is a game where I work to duplicate the timing of a tournament. As such, I was shooting a vertical 3-spot the same size as those for a 25-meter event.

By the time I’d competed my ‘warm-up’ shots it was clear I wasn’t warm. Nevertheless, the show was going on.

My first three arrows were a 9, 7, and then 6.  I recognized the problem with the puffy vest and tried to compensate.  The next three shots, 10, 10, and a 7.  Then, 10, 9, 9. Those were followed by a 10, 10, 9.

With only four ends completed it was apparent today wasn’t going to be a highlight of my week’s work.  The colder I got the less accurate I became.

The wind didn’t ease throughout the practice.  I because less careful with the puffy vest.  In fact, my goal for the practice changed.

Initially, I head in mind a specific goal of every arrow in the yellow.  The colder I became the more relaxed the goal – eventually, don’t miss the target face seemed enough.  At both levels, I failed.

It was a miserable 516 kind of day.

Dang, that was windy

I’d planned to start at 70 yards (not meters).  Then work out to 70 meters. It was cool with the temperature around 51°F. That would have felt pretty good except for the wind. Morning practice was going to be a challenge.

It was windy. The wind was blowing steady at 12 mph with gusts up to 28 mph.  I can shoot through that – I thought.

The problem was the gusts blew my target over twice.  On the second crash, one of those gusts, which felt like more than 28 mph, I moved to a heavier target.

The heavier target is smaller and without the overhang clearance of the larger less wind adaptable target. I have lots of trees along the range lanes and some still need to be trimmed.  So, I moved closer.  It was still frustrating.

My light introductory level recurve arrows, Easton Vector 1000s, aren’t ideally suited for gusts of wind.  Trying to time a steady wind with the intermittent gusts was good practice should I, or rather when I, find myself competing is such conditions. Before any major tournament I imagine I’ll need an arrow upgrade.

I got in 70 arrows before I had to move on.  I’d lost some time setting up a blown over target twice so I didn’t get the 90-arrow practice completed.  This afternoon the wind is forecast to drop to 6 mph.  That should be a more humane practice.

Total Recovery

Sunday is supposed to be a complete recovery day.  The past 53 days have included a fair number of days to take a break.  In fact, there have been 12 days off from practice and training.

This works out to 41 days of work.  That work has been serious.  Archery-wise, shooting recurve bows exclusively, I’ve shot 5026 arrows for an average of 122.58 shots per day.   Not every day yielded 122.58 arrows.  Some days there were low counts other days the quantity was high.

This upcoming week is a recovery week.  There will be less shooting before practice ramps up though mid-October.  At present, this schedule is focused on base and form.

Mid-October holds a point where archery plans will get a major edit.  It will be the end of a quarter of shooting recurve.  It will be time for a fresh assessment and plan revisions.

In the meantime, forcing a short break is tough.

Watching my caloric requirements

As we age our BMR, Basal Metabolic rate, decreases.  Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. I do a lot of exercise and need to check caloric intake versus caloric burn to ensure I have the right balance of intake and output.

I check this every few months and adjust based on training demands, body weight, percentage of body fat, and the food I am eating.  Getting this as correct as possible improves recovery times along with optimizing sleep as well as fat, carbohydrate and protein intake.

Staying aware of my BMR changes helps to monitor intake, which differs in quantity compared to when I was in my 20s. You can use the internet to find all sorts of calculators to find your numbers.

When I was competing in cycling, running and swimming I never seemed to get enough to eat.  As an archer the caloric load is significantly reduced.  For example, while training for the Ironman World Championship I was burning about 6720 calories a day on top of my BMR.  Archery, alone, burns 777 calories a day.  (Based on my weight, height and hours of training) Add daily supplemental training and I burn 2572 per day on top of a BMR of 1472 for a total of 4044.  That is significantly less than what is required for Ironman type conditioning. Heck, add my BMR needs to triathlon caloric needs and you’ll be looking at 8372 calories per day.

When I raced my percentage of body fat ranged from 3% to 7%.  Now that I’ve switched to archery that percentage has increased to 10% – 12%.  If I didn’t do any cardio work and ate the same amount per day as I did before archery I’d expect a much higher percentage of body fat.

Because I am 65 and plan to compete in the Men’s Senior (rather than Masters) Division of Olympic recurve it is paramount I maintain a focus on fitness.  Part of that focus is optimizing caloric intake and output.  Part of the benefit is not having hypertension (high blood pressure) and I don’t require medication to control it. Beta-blockers, a drug of choice for treating hypertension is a banned substance in competitive archery.  I doubt a therapeutic exemption would be allowed for a beta-blocker in archery. Nevertheless, I rather be fit and not need it to begin with.

My mother, an 87 year old, walks two miles a day with a Labrador retriever on a leash, mows nearly an acre of land using a push mower, and works on her property everyday except Sunday.  She takes no prescription medication.  She gets a physical exam every 6 months and is in superb condition.  As she describes it, “It is better to exercise than to take drugs to maintain health.”

Her physician follow her last exam told her, “Mrs. Lain, you have the blood chemistry of a 35 year old.  I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep it up.”

Finding the right balance of intake and output is critical for athletes.  Archery is no exception. For that matter, life is no exception. Eat right and exercise and you’ll be healthier than if you didn’t.

Active Recovery

Learning to shoot an Olympic recurve is a challenge.  It is a challenge that is enjoyable.  It is so much fun it would be easy to over do it and end up with an overuse injury.  A way to help avoid an injury is to schedule recovery days.

Initially, I planned two recovery days per week.  This week I’ve dropped one recovery day and added an active recovery day.

The active recovery still allows for shooting, however, with reduced poundage.   There are also fewer arrows fired for the day.

One a regular day, at the moment and per the plan, I stop shooting after 180 arrows using the Olympic recurve.  For an active recovery I use a simple recurve at 28 pounds.

I only shot 48 arrows during the active recovery session.  Those arrows were shot at 15 yards with a metronome is keeping time.  The idea is to shoot a little faster, no sighting and get the form and shot process matched with the beat of the metronome.

It was fun. No arrows were lost in the process.

Typical Morning With Some Rain

Training and practice started early today – at 0520.  Training starts with 30 minutes of stretching and balance exercises.  (Nothing can start until my dogs are let out then fed) This is followed by breakfast, a run and then archery.  On non-recovery days, they all start in this manner.

Stretching and balance regime is done before breakfast.  This includes 25 exercises that are specifically pit together to be an ad to archery.  It takes 26 to 30 minutes to move through all the positions and stretches.

When that’s complete I have breakfast.  I wait a few minutes, using that time to make up the bed, gather River’s collar (My Labrador running partner), and don my running apparel, before we head out to trails.

The run lasts 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the trails we take.  Post run I do a brief workout on with my speed rope.  If you’ve never skipped rope using a speed rope give it a try.  It is a great addition to conditioning. By now I’m about 2 hours or so into my morning and it is time to move to archery.

Each archery practice begins with a plan.  The plan is based on a weekly schedule.  As improvements or goals are reached the plan evolves.  For example, replacing my string meant re-calibrating my sight tape.  That chore is incorporated into yardage practice, which was the plan for yesterday.

Yesterday, I did go beyond the planned arrow count.  My new Fairweather Tab arrived from Lancaster Archery so I added 60 more arrows as part of condition the tab.

The new tab will require a breaking in period.  The Kangaroo leather is still stiff.  So, this morning, the plan archery training plan was amended a bit.  I moved back to 18-meters and spent the morning working with the Fairweather.

As I head out to the range, I pause and let the chickens out of their coop.  They are allowed free range while I’m shooting.  They are rounded up when I return from the range.  The range is about 20 yards away from their coop and I’m hoping my shooting will discourage hawks from swooping down on my chickens. So far, so good.

Practice went well and I landed 98% of my arrows in red or better with 67% in yellow.

Rain had been forecast and the weatherman was correct.  It rained.  There was a light rain falling off and on during practice.  Minutes after I’d finished this morning’s practice it switched to a downpour.

Between morning and afternoon practice I put notes in my logbook and write these posts. I’ll also have lunch and take a short nap.  Then, it is onto the afternoon training schedule.

Tomorrow is scheduled recovery day.  I am considered adjusting my plan and moving this to an active recovery day.  That means I shoot but will use a reduced poundage bow.

This describes my morning training schedule in general. The afternoon has a similar repeat except running is replaced with cycling and there is no jumping rope.