One of those days

Shooting a 5-spot seems too easy when compared to a 3-spot. The X is a whole lot bigger. So, I figured I’d take a break from shooting a 3-spot, give my ego a boost and hit a couple of easy 300 scores. That didn’t happen.images-1

I have not looked at a 5-spot since January of this year. My last score was, not to brag, a 300. Then, I stepped away from 5-spots in order to prepared for the USA Indoor Nationals. Today, when I tacked up the blue and white target I was feeling good and looking forward to a decent score for a change.

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You know, when I lined up for few warm-up shots those blue and white rings, well they looked funny. It was weird to see them after a nearly eight-month absence. The warm-up shots were okay and I felt ready to shoot like a pro.

Man, that did not happen. The first 60 arrows I dropped 3 ending up with a 297, the next 60 shoots ended up scoring 296. After each less that great arrow I stopped to think about where I’d screwed-up. Then, I reset and got on with business.

Mostly, my off shots were associated with my anchor placement. It really wasn’t a total disaster. The practice is helping me find just the right place for my right hand.

 

Running with the Pack

Before I started archery practice today I ran and then rode one of my bikes. That, in the triathlete’s lingo is known as a ‘Brick.’ The run was a special one today. River and I were joined by Coco, as usual. Today was different, we were greeted by Cornbread.

Cornbread is the Old Dog here on the river. He’s a reddish mix of Labrador and golden retriever. He’s exact age is unknown to me. But, I think I heard he’s around eleven.

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These are truly great friends

Running with a pack of dogs is a treat. Each morning when we gather River and Coco go through a ritual. In that their tails are high, ears are perked, and heads cocked. Then, it is an all out sprint where they jump ditches, sometimes over and sometimes into, as they leap at one another and bump shoulders. They occasionally pause as if to take a breather, check each other for inadvertent damage, and then start the melee again. At times they try to include me where I seem to become a sort of home base. They aim at me, running full speed, and if I am amiss with my dodge I will hit the ground. They don’t jump on me; they try to run me over.

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Pure delight

It was on the way home that our small pack was met by Cornbread. Cornbread is no longer a frisky young dog. He did, however, puff up and give the girls a gallant trot. River and Coco seemed to understand he is a grand old dog. The immediately slowed their run, hovered around Cornbread and it appeared they gave him a slight bow of their heads. There was a reverence to the greeting.

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The girls and Cornbread

The girls, their attention waning, sprinted away and caught me on the final leg home. Once home both jumped into the Little River for a short swim before they got their snack, a Milkbone each.

Coco stayed with us a bit longer than usual. Perhaps hoping for another biscuit or maybe another swim. It’s always sad to watch her walk home alone. Maybe Cornbread came out and said hello again as she made her way back to her house.

There are few pleasures more enjoyable than running with dogs. During my cycling I checked on Coco, she was taking a nap in the shade of a tree. Cornbread, I guessed had gone inside to sleep it off. River stayed home while I was cycling, asleep under my desk where she’s relaxed since she was a puppy.

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River, ready for a nap

A Little Bit of Running, Shooting and Kayaking

Over the weekend, as I prepared for a day of outside adventure, I was sitting on my dock at sunrise.  The plan for the day would be run, shoot, then go kayaking before my second archery practice.

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River, as usual ran with me and we were – as usual – joined by our friend Coco after about a mile of easing running.  Once the two girls get together easy is surpassed by hard play.

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Following the run I got in about an hour of 18-meter practice.  The sun is begining to migrate alone the horizon as the season starts to change. For a while I’ll need to take the shadow variance into consideration when shooting early.  Seems I need to shoot from right to left starting on the bottom of a 3-spot. Otherwise, I end up with a shadow from the top X that falls directly over the bottom right X.

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After the morning archery practice, Brenda and I loaded our Necky Looksha boats into the truck and searched for new creeks to paddle.

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Not far from our home we found a couple of nice places to kayak.  This isn’t white water but it is serene.

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The water is swampy and around any bind you can paddle up on all manner of wildlife.

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Brenda turning around after I was stopped by a downed tree.

In places it does get tight and we are careful to keep watch for snakes.

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Running, Paddleboarding and Shooting

River and I have a trail we use when running the roads becomes dull. I expect either run is fine with her. But, there does seem to be more to sniff when we’re off road. So, the day started with plenty to sniff.

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River pausing while I catch up

The “sniff and run” was followed by archery practice at 18 meters. I have changed my stance, as result of my new coach, Charlie Sneed, suggesting I give it a try. Basically, the stance is opened up a bit and my feet are more angled. It’s taking a bit of practice to get the new feel of my feet.

I’ve also been shooting strictly with a hinge release for the past couple of weeks. During 3D the footing is often so bad that I prefer a thumb release. With a thumb, if I slip a little I can control the release and not waste an arrow. I’ve shot using both hinge and thumb during 3D. Essentially, I don’t see a difference and my scores remain the same (that is not statically difference.) So, the extra security I think I get with a thumb probably isn’t real.

Before I shot this afternoon, Brenda and I took a nice paddleboard trip down Little River. As we headed out the wind was to our face so the return trip was a faster paddle. Afterwards, it was more 18-meter practice.

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First six shots of my second practices, three 9s followed by three 10s. It started better than it ended (572)

For this session I used three releases, two hinge and a thumb. Again, no difference.

Charlie Sneed Level 4 Archery Coach

He’s seen me shoot. We’ve shot side by side. But, he’s never been my coach. Today, he is my coach.

My last coach, Norman, was just fine. I took weekly lesson from him for months. I had no complaints. But, years of training have taught me; there is a time when another coach’s perspective might be helpful.

In cycling I had two truly great international coaches, a Belgian and a South African. Both left a lasting impression on me. The Belgian is still alive. Just last week I met an old teammate of mine, Tomas Rahal, in Charlottesville, Virginia. We talked about the years we trained together and our coach, Nestor Gernay. What he taught us we took into our everyday lives. Nestor coached many State and National Champions as well as Olympic Team members and USA Cycling Teams.

The other great coach I had in cycling Gabe Stanley from South Africa is no longer with us. Gabe found me, quite by accident. I was out of shape having played at sports but not competitively while I finished my education and built a career. Gabe pushed me harder than I could have imagined. After a few years of training with Gabe, I never again thought about limits of what I might do in sports. As Gabe said, “It’s all in your head.”

Much of what we do in sport is in our heads. What I felt I was (and am) missing is the ‘head game’ when it comes to competitive archery. Perhaps, a way to find how to improve would be to try a new coach, to find a new perspective.

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Charlie Sneed, USA Archery Level 4 Coach

Charlie Sneed is a Level 4 USA Archery coach. According to Charlie, there are 150 level 4 USA Archery coaches. There are only 10 level 5. We had our first meeting over lunch. As we talked Charlie decided during that meal we’d give it a shot as student and coach.

Seeking New Mountain Bike Trails

Near my home are ample roads for cycling. There isn’t a lot traffic here in the “sticks.” So, cycling, riding on roads, is a real treat. There are also, as yet not completely explored, off road trails and paths that exit the paved, gravel, and dirt roads here in Perquimans County. About once a week or so, rather than riding a road bike, I head out on my mountain bike with the intention of discovering what lays down those paths and trails that lead away from more substantial thoroughfares.IMG_5405

After my morning junket with River, she likes to run before it gets too hot, I gathered my mountain bike, cell phone and water bottle. I mixed TriFuel for the water bottle before I headed out to where I wanted a closer look.

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Along the way I found an abandon pier that led over a dried-up swamp. Typically, there would be water under the pier. We’ve had so little rain here during the past month the wetlands aren’t as wet as normal.

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Most of the trails I followed led nowhere. There were a lot of dead ends. Many of them terminated at creeks or swamps. What I’d like to have is a nice 6 to 10 mile off road loop. I have smaller loops, 1 to 3 miles, but after awhile they begin to feel like the minor circles they are.

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Even though I didn’t find an ideal loop I did get a fairly nice 8-mile out and back. It was a break from riding around in circles that can easily be double or tripled to make the ride worthwhile.

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More 3D Practice and Analysis

Learning how to shoot 3D using a scope and adjusting for the yardage is more difficult than I’d anticipated. Last year I shot with pins. Over the 2015 season my average score per arrow was 9.61 in 3D. During the first half of 2016 my scores were lower, 8.3 points per arrow.

During the winter I stopped using pins to practice 3D. I was shooting a lot of 3-spots preparing for Lancaster and the USA Indoor National Championships. It was a slight pain to switch my equipment from pins to a scope each time I switched target styles So, I kept the scope and long stabilizers on the bow.

Using pins, I’d learned to estimate yardages for 3D. If I felt the 30-yard pin was the one to use, I used it. Then I’d aim a little high or low between pins to hit at 27 yards or 32 yards. There was a sort of feel for the yardage.

There is point with my scope where at 30 yards, I hit 30 yards. The same for 20, 40, 50, 60 etc. It’s calibrated down to the yard. The problem is with 3D I need to set the yards. If I am off, well I’m off. And I am off, but not by much, most of the time. I am getting a slight feel for moving my aim a little up or down to compensate for a yard or two after I have set my scope. But, lately, there has been that one shot where I am way off.

The way off shot last week was misjudged by 10 yards. Major brain fart. So, this morning I went out on the 3D practice range for practice and post-practice analysis.

I shot 20 targets. I took a range finder to measure the yardage after I shot. My estimate of yardage for all targets was 34.45. The range finder indicated the average yardage was 34.25. OK, close.

There were 11 shots greater than 35 yards with an average distance of 41.1 yards and 8 shots less than 35 at an average distance of 26.3 yards. The targets were at 24 yards to 46 yards. I shot a 167 and missed, undershot, one target at 40 yards (my estimate, 42 yards per the range finder.) I scored, per arrow 8.35, my average for all of 2016. There had to have been a major brain fart somewhere on the missed shot. There were also two 5s, one on a badger at 37 yards, the other on a mosquito at 24 yards.

This afternoon, I’ll give practice some more.

Athletic Compression Socks for Archery

th-1An archer on the range asked, “What kind of socks are those?” I explain, “They are compression socks for athletes.” That answer usually induces glazed over eyes.

Compression socks for athletes aren’t those white garments that your grandparents wore with the idea that the socks might help their circulation. Sure, athlete can get the white color, along with black, blue, red, green, yellow – you name it.

Yes, sports compression socks are often longer and reach to just below the knee. Other styles are mid-calf length still others come to just above the ankle. I’ve used them in endurance sports primarily for recovery. The socks made me feel better so I wore them.

I became interested when I noticed many of the top professional triathletes wearing compression socks during races. What I thought when I saw the socks, “That looks dumb.”

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What’s more, I didn’t buy my first pair of the tightly fitting socks for sports. I bought them to see if they would stay up when I wear boots. Boots eat socks. What I discovered is they felt good and they stayed up.

Today there are lots of compression garments available to athletes. I limit my use to socks. Lately, I’ve added them to archery. Why?

It started with sore legs. I run nearly every day. Along with running I ride a bike nearly everyday. Most days I do both. Not as hard or fast as I once trained, but both activities are hard enough and fast enough. Or as the case may be slow enough and easy enough. Nevertheless, my legs, when adding weight lifting and swimming to the mix, left sore while I was training for archery.

Archery adds another, on the average, 3 miles of walking and standing around shooting on my legs. A standard 20 shot 3D practice on my range is a walk of 1.69 miles. I’ll typically practice twice a day. The athletic compression socks made my legs feel better.

The other reason I began wearing them during 3D practice was bugs. Bug spray seems to alert insects that the feast has arrived. It is too hot for long pants so the higher socks help a little. The heartier bugs still bite through the socks, maybe a few are discouraged.

The experience of wearing the compression socks was a good one. So, I wear them daily.

The socks do seem to promote some recovery.1 And I am not alone in subjectively thinking they feel better.2 Can they help me shoot better – probably not although in some exercises they can improve performance.3

What I can say is that athletic compression socks feel great. Archery tournaments require a lot of standing still, standing around waiting, standing while officials to talk, standing while arrows are pulled and scores debated, standing for the sake of standing (the hotter the longer) and walking at a slow pace. The compression socks doubtless feel better than regular socks. Can felling a little better improve shooting?

In study where subjects were made mentally less anxious they performed better. If, my guess, I feel more comfortable that is one degree of anxiety that is removed and as such perhaps less clutter in my head that could negatively influence performance. 4

Athletic compression gear manufacturers are making a pitch at archers.  There was an add in a magazine for bow hunters that promoted compression under shirts and under pants. All I felt I needed were socks and wanted to see if I could find a sponsor to help with the price. Turns out I got a compression sock sponsor – Swiftwick.

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Swiftwick is a relatively new company, founded in 2008 and are located in Brentwood, Tennessee. You can find them on the Internet and in stores. Give them a try.

Reference:

1.) Goto K1, Morishima T. 1Compression garment promotes muscular strength recovery after resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Dec;46(12):2265-70. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000359.

2.) Ali A1, Creasy RH, Edge JA. 2Physiological effects of wearing graduated compression stockings during running. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Aug;109(6):1017-25. doi: 10.1007/s00421-010-1447-1. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

3.) Mizuno S1, Morii I1, Tsuchiya Y1, Goto K2. Wearing Compression Garment after Endurance Exercise Promotes Recovery of Exercise Performance. Int J Sports Med. 2016 Jul 25. [Epub ahead of print]

4.) Stern C1, Cole S, Gollwitzer PM, Oettingen G, Balcetis E. Effects of implementation intentions on anxiety, perceived proximity, and motor performance. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2013 May;39(5):623-35. doi: 10.1177/0146167213479612. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

The Game Teaches the Game

 

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John Kessel, of USA Volley Ball, said, “ The game teaches the game.” That is a bit of coaching advice that’s I’ve taken to heart. It seems too true in 3D.

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2016 has been a year of changes for me. A new bow, shooting with a long stabilizer, using a scope versus pins, and adding a side stabilizer. These equipment changes, aside rom the bow, weren’t totally new, I’d used that set up for indoor tournaments. Shooting with this rig for 3D is altogether another story.

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Honestly, I didn’t think it would be so difficult to judge yardage and set a scope/sight to the corresponding mental measurement. I was wrong. With pins, there seems to me a bit of flex. I could float a pin or float between pins to get the yardage. I haven’t yet got the knack of a single pin and dialing the yardage on a sight.

New skills in sports are often taught through repetition. 3D isn’t like shooting a set distance into a dot. A lot of variables come into hitting the X on a foam animal. These variables include: terrain, target size, distance, placement of the X on the target, light, target color, etc. These all must be considered when training for 3D. Another element of training is how to practice.

Going out a shooting a 2D target at 20 – 50 yards will improve your skill. But, adding sessions that simulate a 3D event can be a great method of training to augment your practice.

The tactic for 3D training should include making some sessions resemble as much as possible a 3D tournament.