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.

The Avalon Classic Finger Tab

In July 2020 I decided to give Olympic Recurve archery a try.  I had no idea how much I’d enjoy switching from compound bow to recurve.  So, I didn’t pay heavily for the gear I purchased.  That purchase arrived on July 22, 2020.

Today is August 11, 2020.  I’ve shot that inexpensive Olympic recurve a fair amount.  I’ve tried not to over do it hoping to avoid an over use injury.  Thus far that has been a success.  My only complaint is my fingertips on my hand used to draw the string. They are numb and hurt from the tissue damage caused from drawing the bow.

The poundage is only 34 pounds.  I started slowly hoping to build strength in my fingertips.  At the beginning I shot only 100 arrows a day, 50 in the morning and 50 in the afternoon.  I’ve also built in recovery days, two per week now down to one day off per week.  My max current daily arrow count is 160.  Some days I’ve shot less when I am working through a “Tournament Test” game. Once a week I play a game where I shoot a home range tournament and the arrow count is lower than my training days.

It has been 62 days since I received the bow.  Already I’ve learned a few things about inexpensive gear.

One, cheap sights suck, two, inexpensive arrows aren’t bad for beginning, and three a low cost finger tab isn’t going to last neither will it give much support to fingers.

The Avalon Classic Finger Tab

The Avalon Classic is a budget finger tab.  I paid $14.99 for mine.  For the price you get an entry-level tab that, for me, hasn’t held up. With just under 5000 arrows shot using the tab it has begun to break down significantly.

While walking to pull arrows I noticed a little screw on the ground.  I had no idea where it came from and could not find a missing screw anywhere on my bow.  The same thing happened a second time.  I discovered the screws had fallen out of the Avalon Classic. It is amazing that I found the at all considering my range is a clearing in the woods behind my house.

The leather is wearing away. Note: I removed the hook for my little finger.

When it rains I continue to shoot.  The two layers of leather on the Classic will slip as they are forced together while drawing.  But worst of all the leather is what you get for $14.99 and wears thin fast. Believe me, go a few days shooting 160 arrows per day and the Avalon Classic will let you know you’ve been practicing.

These two screws fell out. Amazing that I found them on my range

If you are only shooting about 25 to 30 arrows a day this tab might last you 7 months. It is a tab that is inexpensive and an honest place to start.  But, if you work your way up to over 700 arrows per week you’ll be getting a new tab soon.

I’ve ordered a Fairweather tab to replace the Avalon Classic.  I’ll see how that one does while I continue to work my daily arrow count higher.

The Fairweather tab. It costs $74.95. Certainly not inexpensive.

 

Distance Variance

Leaning to shoot a recurve despite having shot a compound bow for 6 years, 7 months and 15 days, before the switch isn’t an automatic transition. There is some transfer of the talent learned compound shooting to recurve.  For example, using the new recurve I am reaching equivalent scores at 18 meters that took 6 months to achieve with a compound bow.  What took months to reach having no experience with archery using a compound bow I matched in hours using a recurve.  Certainly, the recurve precision is not in the ballpark of where I was hitting with a compound bow when I switched.

Now that I am pretty confident the arrows leaving my recurve bow are going to land near the center of a target at 18-meters I’ve begun changing distances.  The maximum distance is just 50 yards.  There are some low hanging limbs, not a problem with a compound bow that will upset the path of arrows that has taken flight from the recurve.  The limb remedy has been arranged and hopefully I’ll soon be able to shoot from 70 meters without plant life interference.

The variance is a good addition to training distances.  Shoot a couple of hundred arrows from 50 yards and move up to 20 yards and that target feels a whole lot closer even if the yellow part is a whole lot smaller.

Beginner’s Luck

Forty-seven days ago my sub $400.00 all in price Olympic recurve rig arrived in the mail.  A few days later I had some arrows that would nock on the string so I could give the bow a try.  Nearly 100% of my switch from compound bow to recurve and focused on a distance of 18-meters.  I’ve just begun to increase yardage.

I’ve got all manner of target to keep practice fun

I’ve had the Olympic recurve for 46 days.  Twelve of those days have been recovery days.  No point in over doing it right from the start. So, I’ve actually practiced with the bow 34 times.

Even at 18-meters I’m not that good. Just 48.35 of my arrows land in the 9 or 10 ring at the moment.  I’m still learning. But, 18-meters can become awfully routine so I’ve been moving around.

60-meters is a decently long shot for a beginner

On this practice I began at 60 meters.  The Olympic recurve, since I am a beginner, had low poundage limbs, 34-pounds.  Arrows shot from 60 meters fly a while before smacking into a target.

Beginner’s luck!

I thought shooting from a longer distance from my target might improve my percentage of nine and ten strikes.  Nope, still hanging in around 50%. It, however, was fun to make some long shots.

Break Time

When I switched to recurve a designed a training schedule based on a week’s practice.  When a week was complete there would be minor changes like increasing the number of arrows per day.  The weeks are connected to specific process goals.  Each week has planned recover days.

The recover days are important.  Changing from compound to recurve means there isn’t a let-off of the poundage a full draw.  Keeping days open for recover is important to avoid an overuse injury.

There are two days of recovery per week, Wednesday and Sunday.  Eventually, there will be only one day.  For now two seems wise.

Deleting one rest day is a gradual process.  For example, I practice archery twice per day.  At the moment, I am shooting 80 arrows in the morning and 80 arrows in the afternoon (800 arrows per week).  This week I began to abbreviate the recovery.  Rather than entirely skip Wednesday I shot 80 arrows in the morning and none in the afternoon.  This will increase my weekly load to 880 arrows.

The goal for routine practice is 1200 arrows per week.  Right now, I am holding at 880 arrows per week for the month of September.  Sunday remains a complete recovery day and Wednesday is a ½ day break.

Yellow Game Another Rainy Day

It wasn’t all that rainy, but it did drizzle.  Not nearly as intense of a rain as during practice a few days ago.  The rain didn’t stop the yellow game.

As I’ve mentioned the yellow games is scoring the percentage of time an archer’s arrows land in the yellow.  I find it a fun way to move though a practice session.

Having changed to a recurve bow 35 days ago the yellow game is a fun challenge. The goal is to keep all the arrows in the yellow.

My recurve is not equipped with a clicker.  I think a clicker may help improve my yellow game percentages.  Still, repeating each shot as exactly as possible without a clicker is probably a fair way to train for now.

Today’s wet percentage was 52.5%.  That was after 10 ends of 8 arrows shooting a vertical 3-spot at 18 meters. The non-yellow strikes were primarily 8s with a couple of 7s and a couple of 6s.

I am already looking forward this afternoon when I repeat the game.