Archers Run

If you’ve read “Putting it on the line” you know I’m an archer as well as runner and cyclist. You know that I think fitness is critical to sport including archery.

I try to post stuff that supports fitness and athletics beyond shooting a bow. Often those posts are about bicycling or running.

Cycling isn’t a 100% everyday activity because of weather. I’ve ridden in the rain or cold, but rather not ride in the rain and cold. I’m also not heading out on a bicycle in a storm.

This trail leads home

Running is another matter. Unless the weather is really bad, I’ll run. Once I read a saying that went, “Athletes Run.” In a general sense that seems true. Archery is a bit of an outlier in that many great archers don’t look like they could run 10 yards. There was a time, however, when archers ran as a matter of course.

In the early days of archery, say 1480 England, archers not only needed to shoot well, they needed to be fit. They needed to be able to run away from or toward a battle. In some accounts they joined a battle from their positions to finish off an opponent. They didn’t wear armor making them more mobile and perhaps fresher than the enemy that had been taking a pounding. Anyway you look at it archers were fit.

Found this remains about a mile from home. Not far from a road. This deer probably got hit by a car and made it into the woods before dying.

Fitness training is an excellent adjunct for the sport of archery. Taking a morning run through the woods is pleasant. Along a trail run you get to feel the outside. You never know for sure what you’ll pass and it is always a bit of an adventure.

“I can’t sleep at night – any idea why?”

Sleep study data

There have been a number of “studies” published stating individuals that have poor sleep who don’t exercise may get better sleep if they exercised. Seriously, that has been studied. Another way to look this is that if you complete a day of hard labor or exercise you are likely to sleep more soundly than if you lounged about all day. Scientists study a lot of topics that are pretty much common sense.

An early run is a nice way to start your day

People are frequently talking with me about their sleep problems. Not because I’m a good listener (I am) but because I have a background in sleep medicine. The most common complaint I hear relates to a poor night’s sleep. Some of the folks have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which needs a medical intervention. Some folks’ sleep issues are related to poor sleep hygiene and a lack of exercise.

Archery isn’t the same calorie burn as a run, but shoot enough and you’ll get some decent exercise

Without getting too in-depth an example of poor sleep hygiene refers to lounging in bed while watching television hoping to become sleepy. A some piece of advice – If you have a television in your bedroom take it out.

Having a gym membership can provide weights to support muscle mass as well as treadmills or other cardio machines. Nice to be able to go inside when it is raining.

A lack of exercise is, as a rule generally, understood. Running for example is considered exercise. If you run you exercise. A video game played seated would not be considered exercise.

Some folks are runners and prefer cycling. Mountain bike riding can get you out of traffic and into the woods

When you exercise you’ll need to rest for recovery. Sleep is a method of recovery. You do enough exercise, moving around versus playing video games; you’ll find that you can sleep well.

Fitness won’t hurt your skill as an archer

A 12-Mile Mountain Bike Loop Failure

It started as a short 12-mile mountain bike ride. Most of it on trails or narrow dirt roads. There was one section of paved road that I suspected would put me on a loop back home. If it worked I’d have a nice 12-mile loop.

When I started racing bicycles in 1972 our team, The Savannah Wheelmen, had permission to train on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. There was a road, Perimeter Road, which as named, encircled the perimeter creating a 10-mile loop of the base. Our team would ride around Hunter two to twelve times per day. Since it was a 10-mile loop it wasn’t tedious. The major factor was that it was nearly void of traffic. It remains one of the safest training routes in memory.

Finding a 12-mile loop, mostly off road, here near Athens, Georgia seemed like a great idea. I’d been searching and felt I was close. Heading out to find the last few miles needed to create the course I was optimistic.

Miles of this on a mountain bike is fun. This is a long uphill grade, steep in sections.

For seven miles I was primarily on trails, dirt roads and a very isolated paved road. Then, things got dicey.

I knew a section of the yet discovered loop would be on a more traveled road. It wasn’t a bad road and there were signs to encourage motorists to “Share the Road” with cyclists. This would last only a mile or so before I turned left and took my Cannondale back into the woods to close the loop.

This old shack is next to a single track

The surprise came from a road closure with only four miles of my estimated ride remaining. Riding right wouldn’t work since that would send me in the wrong direction. Left was out because that landed me on a road with heavy traffic. I took road number three a total guess; Monty Hall would have been proud. He’d also have been saddened by my choice –it was the wrong road.

Not exactly certain where this is, but there were cattle everywhere.

After too long and being a bit lost, I needed help. I had my phone in my pocket and decided to consult Google Maps. Naturally, there was no cellular service. I did spot a few folks skinning a deer so I rode over on my bike to ask for help.

This is a familar crossing.

One nice thing about living near Athens, cyclists are a common sight. So are people skinning deer. In fact, many cyclists here skin deer. When I asked how to get back to Good Hope, Georgia, I learned I was way the hell off course. So far so that the fastest way home was to do a 100% back track.

When I passed this, I knew I was at a minimum in the correct county

I’ll try this again with the road is open. I know there is a way to come up with a 12 to 15 mile loop that is almost as safe as those days circling Hunter.

295 (Not the Loop around a city)

It is time to reset a goal. Over the five years that I’ve been shooting a bow I’ve set goals. Some are short term; there are mid-range, and long-term goals. Setting them brings an athlete out of a comfort zone.

The score of 290 out of 300, doing it twice in a row, to reach 580 as a final score against a USA Archery style 3-spot has to change. It seems tough to hit 290, but the data on practice says it is time to make a change.

In the past moving up was hard. I don’t expect 295 twice will be easy. Shooting a consistent 590 is a pretty good score. It isn’t perfect. It does mean fifty Xs and ten 9s. Certainly, I’d love to shoot 600, but for now 590 is the target, that is hitting 295 on the first 30 arrows and doing it a second time.

That’s an average. I could reach 590 with a 289 plus 291. Any way you do the math, it is a lofty goal. By breaking it up, 295 and 295, it doesn’t sound a difficult as scoring 590. It is also a reachable goal.

Hitting 580 or a personal best (in practice so far) of 588 you might wonder way not set the goal for 600. Six hundred is the ultimate goal.

Coaching Tip

Six hundred has only be achieved a few times. It is better to set an obtainable goal, for me anyway, of 590 (2 X 295). Once that becomes comfortable, then jump to the next level.

It Takes Time

November 1st  (2018) marked 5 years of shooting a bow for me. Sixty months isn’t such a long time. During these past sixty months USA archery changed the way we score a 3-spot. That is, we changed from scoring 10s and Xs to only the X ring equaling 10 points. The sport got tougher and it is taking longer to achieve a level of expertise than I’d initially guessed.

When I began shooting this would have scored as 30 points or X,X 10. Today it is X,X, 9 or 29 points.

The smaller ten ring (inner ten)  makes scoring a perfect 600 tougher. Heck, scoring a 600 using the old scoring method remains tough. I’ve not yet shot a 600 using either scoring method. I’ve come close scoring the old 10 ring. Last week I shot 599. It was going well until the last six arrows. With six arrows to go I shot 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10. On the old larger ten ring mind you.

Inner 10 scores over the past three years. (There are data like this in a 3D file, 50-meter file, 5-spot file, etc.)

The little ten or inner ten or X ring, whatever you want call it this dime sized 10 point ring remains the same in size. But, the outer ten is now only worth nine points. At 18-meters (20 yards) a dime is a small target. The thing is I thought I’d been shooting with a bit more accuracy after 5 years.

A steeper slope would have been nice

When I began shooting arrows I thought it would be pretty much like switching from cycling to duathlon. That was pretty easy. All I needed to do was start running. I could already ride a bike and had won all sorts of prizes racing bicycles in the US and Europe.

Run like you’re being chased

Sure enough duathlon moving along pretty rapidly and I earned a spot on the USA Team to the World Duathlon Championship about a year after I picked up running. When I added swimming, part of the plan to become a triathlete, I learned swimming was not a strong discipline for me.

A few years ago (@2011). This triathlon was in the fall in Cambridge, Maryland. The water was cold.

Still, I did well in shorter triathlons where I didn’t lose so much time during the swim. Eventually, I moved up in swimming from the slowest 25 percentile to the upper (faster) 25 percentile. I even brought my long distance, 2.4-mile swim (Ironman distance) down to around an hour.

2007 ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon

Transfer talent from cycling to triathlon wasn’t all that difficult particularly competing in my age group. Archery, however, is another matter. There are some elements of sport that do transfer such as determination and discipline. The mental focus is, in my opinion, different. Archery requires a mental effort unlike that of racing an Ironman.

By looking at a rolling average I can set goals. A goal was to average 290 points out of 300 or 580 out of six hundred. Now that I’ve hit that goal I reset the goal to 295 or 590.

Archery excellence or at least elite level performance based on scores and winning, is going to take time. Five years into this sport I’d hoped to be further along. It can be frustrating. Thankfully, I have data that shows progress, even though part of the progression included making the ten ring smaller.

 

Plantation Ruin

Mountain biking around my home is really pretty nice. I can be on trails, hard pack, or dirt roads within minutes of leaving home.

I try to ride everyday. I doubt I’ll race again – but I might. I think of racing every time I train. The fact is, I ride (and run) as part of an archery fitness plan. At 63 years old I want to compete against seniors although the masters archers are pretty tough to beat. Part of that desire requires I stay fit. I don’t want to end up with high blood pressure and need to take beta-blockers to manage as aliment when fitness and weight management can help reduce the risk of getting high blood pressure. Beta-blockers are banned in archery. Still, there are a lot of archers competing while using beta-blockers. Aside from that cycling off-road is a lot of fun.

While riding in a wooded area I discovered what appeared ruins of an old mansion. It seemed to be more than just a run down old house. I circled the ruins and rode around trails that were on what seemed to be old property to a large estate.

When I got home I searcher the Internet a learned the ruins are the remains of the Casulon Plantation that burned in 2002.

What a shame. The estate was incredible. The Internet report indicated that the couple that owned the Plantation was going through a nasty divorce. The couple was out of town when the Planation burned.  Arson was suspected. It is awful for Georgia to have lost such a nice old home.

Before the fire

Mountain biking is one of my cardio programs used for fitness, which is part of my archery training. It is fun to get out on a bike ride through the woods. You never know what you might discover.

Stretching and Flexibility

Slow and easy, that’s how I go when it comes to stretching. I stretch as part of my morning routine. That is, as soon as I roll out of bed. To some, they’ll say, “Whoa, that’s not good, you could hurt yourself stretching when you’re cold.”

Well, I go slowly. It feels great. I look forward to it.

There was a time when I was extremely flexible. I studied karate for years and I stretched a lot. Cycling took place of karate and it wasn’t long before I lost most of that flexibility. I still ride a bike. I am no longer as limber as I was during my karate phase. But, I realized that flexibility was an importance adjunct to overall fitness.

Coaching Tip

“Flexibility exercise is one of the four types of exercise along with strengthbalance and endurance. Ideally, all four types of exercise would be included in a healthy workout routine and AHA provides easy-to-follow guidelines for endurance and strength-training in its Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.”1

As we age it is easy to neglect flexibly. Well, so are strength, balance, and endurance fitness programs. It is easiest to do zero exercise. You know this is true of most folks as suggested by the current state of obesity in America. For you, an archer, all four types of exercise are more important that you may think – especially if archery is your primary (only) form of fitness training.

As an archer it is a good idea to have a plan that includes flexibility along with your balance, strength and endurance adjuncts to shooting.

A stretching routine need not take a long time. I get all main muscle groups in about 30 minutes. Since I do this first thing in the morning I move slowly and feel tightness slipping away.

There are a number of sights online where you can find more about flexibility and stretching. As this site develops I’ll add my routine if you’d like to follow it.

Reference:

1.) http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/staying-motivated/stretches-for-exercise-and-flexibility

 

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Daylight Saving Time and Archery Practice

Try this once you’ve gotten your body accustom to daylight saving time: Go to bed one hour later than usual. Wake up at your usual time. Go to bed at your usual time. Wake up an hour earlier. (Yes, of course not on the same night.)

Which one makes your feel more sluggish? If you’re like most folk the latter of the two sleep pattern disruptions makes you more sluggish. That’s why we often feel out of sorts when we switch to daylight saving time. It is also way falling back often seems harder than springing forward. (Aside from the bonus hour in the spring)

Last night we made the switch and fell back. I was optimistic that it might not be as awful this year as all of those in the past. Nope, I felt like crap.

Getting through morning archery practice was pretty miserable. I considered ditching the workout. I didn’t, I trudged through it.

There will be archery tournaments that may require you to shoot without having a perfect night’s sleep. It is good practice to continue your training when you’ve simply had a poor night’s rest. You’ll gather information on how you’ll perform and be able to consider techniques that will aid you making corrections.

Coaching tip

For example, when your shooting is off because of poor sleep, you may make shots where your form is sloppy. Understanding that you’re not physically worn out, rather you are shooting while a bit sleep deprived can help you pause and figure out what to do. In this case, slow down, work through the shot process and trust your training. You’ll need to dig deep to focus on the shot process and not get lazy.

It’s easy to make sloppy shots when you’ve missed some sleep before a practice. You don’t have the tournament adrenaline rush to boost you up. Still, lack of sleep not withstanding, do your practice, concentrate on each arrow and mentally override that momentary disruption in sleep pattern.

Professional athletes who travel  learn to make this mental adjustment needed to deal with disrupted sleep. Think of yourself as a professional who is continually competing in different time zones. When that day comes and you need to have this skill you’ll be glad you practiced it.

Tips for running in the dark

Lately, most of my running has been done in the dark. I am usually cruising through the woods before sunrise.  That may change when we switch to daylight saving time.

I like running trails in the dark. I like running trails in the light. Either way, trail running is more appealing to me than pounding pavement.

There are a few things to do when running in the dark that are less significant issues when running over trails in the daylight. You need to be aware of how you plant your feet. You need to lift and plant a bit more slowly. Otherwise, you could snag a foot and trip. If the trail is tight don’t run into a tree. You aren’t big enough or fast enough to run through a tree. You are not The Flash. Trees will stop you.

Wear glasses with clear lenses so you don’t poke an eye out on a low limb. You should have a good outdoor bearing for direction. Trails coming and going don’t always look the same in the dark. Have a good headlamp and fresh batteries. Bring a spare flashlight just in case.

During hunting season light yourself up. More than one light isn’t a bad idea. If you are running with a dog, put a red light on her collar. Try to run where you know no one is hunting. You don’t want to get shot because some idiot thought your dog’s red light was Rudolph’s red nose.

Coaching tip

If you are a hunter or 3D archer running though the woods is another way to enjoy the outdoors without a bow in your hand.  It is also a good method for getting you archery fitness on track.

Personal Walk of Shame

On Facebook, an archer whose is one of those, Robin Hood shootin, Pro-Staffer, big game huntin’, Bull’s Eye hitting, experts posted his latest heroics. He’d grabbed his bow, a newly acquired hunting rig, stood at 18-meters, faced a vertical 3-spot, and landed a perfect 30X 300.

30X – Take that you whimps

On his Facebook update describing the shooting wonder he thanked his many ‘sponsors’ by hash tagging everyone and attributed to them his success. (I am not sure how those hash tags work. Because I’ve no organization with which to accredit my archery performances I’m not worried about the hash tag.) He further acknowledged his many blessings (in this case 30 of them in the X), thanked heaven, offered an Amen then called for others to blanket the Internet with an Amen rally as proof of their worth.

His devotees rallied to this glory – Amen. In unison they begged him, using that new out-of-the-box hunting bow, to take on the hot dot shooters at the next major tournament and to walk away with all their cash taken via stunning and absolute defeat. To the dismay of his fans he humbly replied he’d stick with 3D in 2019, barely being able to wait, and salvage the embarrassment of the world’s best 3-spot archers. In the meantime, he was going hunting with plans to take down “Ole Buckster” the monster and elusive trophy deer seen on his trail cam, now that he was equipped with the new bow.

This trail cam monster is going down

His peeps gnashed their teeth and wrung their hands with sorrow.   If only, if only, their king would take on those lesser archers at Vegas, Lancaster, or any World Cup event. Going though my head was, if I could just land a solid 300 on the big ten that might be good. Clearly, my thoughts were far from the ones that led to hugging replies for the semi-famous 30X hitting ubiquitous Pro-Staffer.

I come close nearly every day to matching Mr. Pro-Staff. Close, that is by measurement, to a 300 or 600 shooting the big 10. But, 300 and 600 remain goals. Additionally I remain committed to shooting an occasional 8.

Today, I once again came close to a 300 and even a 600. I was low – missing the mark. My all time new low, during this practice, was to walk away from my target, return to the orange flagged 18-meter dirt spot out back that represents my archer’s box, reach down to grab an arrow and discover the arrows weren’t in my quiver. Yes, you guessed it; I had left them lodged in the butt.

Thankfully, this was an error made in private. Although, I am compelled to share it with thousands of you here. I share this because it seems fair. This is a way to balance the extreme elite performance of a fellow archer, Mr. Pro-Staffer, who can pick up a bow, rigged for hunting, march onto an indoor range and shoot 30 perfect Xs and share his magnificence.