Moving on Back

Practicing archery, for me, is more fun than tournaments.  Tournaments are slow.  Practice moves at a livelier pace.  Still, there are times when flinging arrows for hours can become monotonous. That can be improved by adding training games to your practice.

If you practice solo there are ways to make your planned sessions exciting.  There are a number of games I use.  These are: the yellow game, the tournament game and the Move Back game – among others.  Of these I find the Move Back game the most challenging.

The yellow game is simple; shoot as many arrows in the yellow rings at any given distance.  Record the shots at aim for 100% of your arrows in the yellow. The tournament is where you work to duplicate the conditions of an actual tournament.

The Move Back game is where you select a starting yardage and don’t increase the distance until a set number of arrows hit the center ring.  For example, 30 out of 30.

Thirty out of thirty can be tough as distances increase.  To reduce frustrations make changes.  You can personalize any way your want based on your ability. A change I use is 10 center shots in a row starting at 30 yards.  I also move back using increments of 10 yards; some folks might rather use 5-yard increments.

For me, 30 yards is usually just 10 arrows.  Forty yards takes a few tries, fifty yards gets more difficult to get 10 center shots in a row, 70 yards – well that remains a frustration for me.

Generally, I stop shooting after 100 to 120 arrows.  At that point I take a break.  When I resume shooting I pick up where I left off.  That is I start at 60 yards if that is where I left off during the earlier practice.  (This is on the same day.)

The day after shooting a Move Back game I’ll not continue the game.  The Move Back game is tough so the next day I’ll plan something else.  Once I’ve taken a break from the Move Back game the next time I practice it I start short and work my way back.  Even if I am close to 70 yards when I shoot a Move Back practice session I’ll start at 30 yards after any break extending into another day.

That doesn’t mean I won’t practice at 70 between Move Back practices.  If I shoot a couple of 100 arrows at 70 the next Move Back might be easier.

The Move Back game is also a good way to verify your sight calibrations.

Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

Of the past three outdoor tournaments where I’ve competed it has rained during all of them.  One was soaking rain, another was paused due to lightening, and the remaining event was a drizzle.  Lately, practice has followed suit.

Today, I was debating taking a break.  I’ve not has a full day off in five days.  While I didn’t feel the build up of lots of arrows today really needed to be a recovery day.

I caved and went out to the range.

Not yet raining – it didn’t last

Mother nature seemed to know better and began pouring rain on top of me.  It rained on me yesterday and the day before.  On both days I shot through it. Today was different. I was getting soaked.

Taking the drenching as an omen I packed up and headed indoors.  Perhaps it will clear up this afternoon. Almost a half a day off seems okay at the moment.

Under Recovery

This morning the plan was 100 arrows at 45 yards.  I stopped at 70 arrows.  I was exhausted.

The fatigue I am feeling was obvious during the pre-archery workouts of stretching and cardio.  While running I slowed my pace but made the distance.  When it was time to shoot I didn’t have that usual spark. In fact, over the past week or so I’ve been tired.

Furthermore, and to my dismay, my groups have been expanding and my ‘test’ tournament scores have dropped. Something is up.

A friend of mine, a ex-pro PGA golfer, Tim Simpson, once told me, “You don’t want to be tired going into a tournament.”  I am 11 days out from a Georgia State Target Championship (International Round).

Going into the event my training has been 100 arrows per distance per week with a practice tournament on Saturday and recovery on Sunday.  The distance interval practice means 1000 arrows over 5 days.  The practice tournament (all distances arranged via a random number generator for those 5 yard increments) with warm-up is 80 arrows (60 for the scoring 20 warm-up).  That comes to 1080 per week.  Not overwhelming.

When it comes to any delayed onset muscle soreness and arms feel good.  When running or cycling I admit some ache.  Overall, the fatigue seems greater than the exercise input. So, physiologically it comes down to inadequate recovery. (1)

Not all physical effort is limited to an athlete-training plan.  Outside my plan I do a lot of other physical activity.  For instance, this week I’ve dug holes and planted 10 moderate sized trees. That included carrying 50-pound bags of soil around my property.  In itself not exhausting.

While shooting field distances there is a lot more walking versus winter training for 20 and 25 meters.  The walking, by itself, not an issue.

Cycling has been slightly harder since everyday there has been more wind that usual.  Again, by itself, not an issue.

Combined, there is an increased workload.

The way out is a slight reduction for a few days regarding the overall workload.  Evaluate my nutrition, hydration and sleep.

The first problem that comes to mind is sleep.  The inadvertent increase in workload probably pushed me to the edge and has led to sleep disruptions.  A key indicator for me in this regard is a lowering of my concentration.  That is easily picked up for me while shooting and playing music.

Playing music is a standard for me when it comes to concentration.  While I am playing and reading the sheet music and not know where I am it is a sign of mental fatigue I’ve associated with poor sleep.

I also expect my caloric intake has been low.  There was a time when I recorded it, when I was racing, because it was hugely important.  It is important in archery as well but I have taken a more relaxed tracking of my input and output.

At this point I feel my hydration isn’t a problem.

I also have had exercise-induced anemia in the past that is controlled by iron.  This is been just a low does of iron supplement until the sinking has passed.  Although I’ve not checked by hemoglobin I’ll get that done.

Hopefully, I can get through this in a few days.

Reference:

(1) https://sportmedbc.com/news/tired-athlete-issue-underrecovery

Listening to your body

Today I am exhausted.  Outside it is storming, it is Monday and all the local indoor ranges are closed.  The plan for today was 200 arrows, 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon.  My scheduled recover day was Wednesday.  The training plan will need some refinement to reach my weekly goal of 1200 arrows. (1200 at this phase of my training plan)

I am glad for the rain.  We’ve just returned from a week’s vacation where there was no archery.  There was a lot of cycling on vacation.  Since the return my arrow could has gradually reach 200 per day.  After a week off it was had to stop at 100.  But, lowered the daily count to give my body time to get back into archery form.

The archery and conditioning training isn’t what has caused the fatigue.  It was been planting trees or rather digging holes.  We’re talking 10 trees, fairly larges trees, digging holes through Georgia clay using a Maddox and a shovel.

The initial thought on the trees was to hire someone to dig the holes and plant the trees.  The lowest price for the holes was $175.00 per hole. (That’s $1750.00 for those that are math adverse)  I can dig a hole.

It felt good while digging the holes.  It has caught up with me.  I am glad for this storm. Equally glad to have not hired anyone to have dug the holes.

Building a Training Plan

USA archery coaches have access to general training plans for archers.  These plans are generally good.  If you work with a coach that coach might make changes on such a plan to meet the specific needs of an archer.  It is good to have a plan.

Among an archer’s training plan a coach might include activities for fitness.  Those activities may include cardio workouts and weight training.  Both are excellent for archery. Another element of a training plan may include stretching.  The focus is, of course, on archery.

Plans should include periodization.  That means a cycle based on workloads prior to specific tournaments, base training, and recovery.  The cycle might include exercises that cover volume and intensity.  They can also focus on unique points for technique improvement.

One simple measure of training is going to be arrow count.  It takes a lot of arrows to ‘get good’ even more to become ‘great.’

Starting new to recurve it is important not to overdo it from the beginning. Throughout the training there are periods of several days in a row where there is no shooting.  Becoming an excellent archer takes time.  No one gets there overnight.  A plan can reduce wasted time and provide a foundation for growth in the sport.

Training for an International Round

Twenty yards to sixty-five yards at five-yard increments doesn’t sound to tough.  Go shoot these distances and you’d discover it is pretty tough.

What might become clear is:  You can drop points at 20 – 30 and gain points at 55 – 65 yards. Or you can drop points at every distance.  Or you can hit the center at every distance.  In other words – it is tougher than one might think.

Shooting set distances even 70 meters isn’t as complex as shooting multiple distances.  Seventy meters is a long shot (@ 77 yards) but you’re set and can make corrections should you be off a tad.

Shooting an international round you get three shots per distance and move to the next target.  So your sight must be spot on.

Say you shooting 55 yards and the arrow on your elevation scale looks like it is in the correct position.  The needle on the elevation block has a diameter and can cover your calibration mark and still be a few clicks high or low.  If either is askew despite a flawless shot execution the arrow will be off the mark.

Walking through a forest, on and off of fields, and through mixed shade will have an impact on lighting and center placement of a shot. Chances are it won’t be horrible but light can still impact aiming.

Then, there are, at times, the potential for a shift in target elevation.  When the angle becomes significant aiming at your usual center will float your arrow high whether shooting toward a downward set target or an uphill target.  Shooting a set distance, such as 50 meters (compound) or 70 meters (recurve) this isn’t an issue.

When preparing many archers focus on improving their long shots to the neglect of the shorter distances.  The result can be slight improvement at the long shot, over confidence at shorter distances and overall less than optimal scores.

To prepare build a training plan.  For example, practice twice a day once in the morning and one in the afternoon.  There are ten distances.  In the morning pick a short or long distance and shoot 100 arrows.  For the afternoon shoot another 100 arrows at the reciprocal distance.  Over 5 days you’ve shot 1000 arrows at 100 arrows per increment.  Then on one of the two remaining days do practice International Rounds – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. With warm-up shots this is going to put you in the range of 1200 arrows per week. (Your shot count can vary depending on your time available for practice)  The last day is reserved for recovery. Start your international practice as far in advance of an International Competition as feasible in consideration of your event schedule.  (If you’ve been shooting less than 100 arrows per day adjust your load to prevent an injury)

Taper

In nine days I’ll be heading to the Georgia State and USA Archery Indoor Championships. At the moment I am shooting like crap.

Over the past week or so my practice scores have been decreasing.  The volume of practice has been high.  Obviously, fatigue (hopefully) is a symptom of reaching a point of diminishing returns.

A friend of mine is an ex-pro golfer. He once said not to go into a tournament tired.

From past sport experience I understand that excessive fatigue can impact quality of performance.

With that in mind I’ve dropped my daily arrow count o 140 arrows broken into two practice sessions.  Still my scores aren’t competitive.  However, they are creeping up, again.

This afternoon during the 4th quarter of my practices my groups began getting tighter.  I’d jumped from 8.45 points per arrow to 8.8 points per arrow. Then, on the final five ends the average increased to 9.125, closer to where I expect to be shooting at this point with my recurve.

It was hard to stop shooting, but to continue deviated from the plan.  There’s nine days left before I hit the road for the tournaments.  That is a realistic taper.

Since I began shooting an Olympic recurve 186 days ago I’ve taken 49 days for compete recovery.  I understand that shooting a recurve isn’t something that can be picked up over night.  Still, I’ve managed, starting with a lower volume of arrows per day and working my way up, to shoot 16,728 arrows. That’s an overall average of 122 arrows per day.  I’d peaked at 1000 arrows per week but have now dropped to 700 (allow two days break per week at this point) per week.

It feels like a huge drop in volume.  I hope it works.

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.