Playing on the Pro Tour and Shooting Bare Bow

You never know whom you’ll be shooting near on a public range.  You might show up for practice and be standing next to Reo Wilde. If you are an archer you will more than likely recognize Reo Wilde.

If you’re an extrovert you might strike up a conversation with a stranger. Many times those conversations can enrich your life.  You might find a new friend and you could be amazed by the character standing next to you.

Months ago while working on an indoor range there was this guy a few feet away from me practicing with a bare bow.  Every so often you notice a different attitude toward the practice of another athlete.  In this case, there was something different.  Eventually we started talking and I learned he’d been shooting bare bow for 27 years, now 28 years.  I picked up that he is an accomplished bare bow competitive archer and hunter.  One thing is clear, he can shoot a bow.

Someone had mentioned to him that I’d once raced bicycles and the Tour de France was what he wanted to talk about.  He’s one of the few archers I’ve met that is a true fan of professional cycling.

He asked about my racing past, my bikes, the training, diets, and my experiences racing bikes.  In the short time between ends, I could only approach answering with the briefest of responses.  It was pretty incredible to find an archer that appreciated what a cyclist deals with to race.

But, that conversation didn’t answer my questions, perhaps because I was busy answering his, as to who is this guy. I’d later learn just how out of my league he is as a professional athlete.

As I was overhearing a conversation between this bare bow archer and another I heard him talking about an interview on ESPN with him and Jack Nicklaus.  Wait a minute, was I hearing that right.  Turns out I was hearing that right.

Do you play or watch golf? Many of you probably do.  I don’t play golf.  I do watch it from time to time.  When I lived in Augusta, Georgia I used to sneak onto the National Golf course and run the cart path.  Once (in 1989) I even got to watch a Masters Tournament in person. The weather was foul and my neighbor, being a bit under the weather, gave me his annual pass.

The bare bow archer is Tim Simpson.  Tim is a professional golfer who played the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.  While I was sneaking onto the Master course to run in Augusta, Tim was playing there.  He played the Masters 6 times.  Additionally, he played the US Open 12 times, the Open Championship 4 times and the PGA Championship 11 times.   He’s, also a native Georgian.

Tim was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended high school at Woodward Academy where he was the Atlanta Junior Champion, Georgia Junior Champion and Westlake National Junior Champion. He attended the University of Georgiain Athenswhere he made All SEC, All American, and College All Star teams.  He left college early and turned professional at age 20. He earned his tour card at 21 years, 1 month (Among of the youngest in history).

His first win as a professional came at the 1982 Cacheral World Championship in Nimes, France. His first PGA Tour win came three seasons later at the 1985 Southern Open. His career year was 1989 when he captured the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year award, and won two Tour events: the USF&G Classic and the Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic. He had another good year in 1990 repeating as Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic Champion, and posting his best finishes in the U.S. OpenBritish Open and PGA Championship. Simpson was awarded the 1990 Georgia Professional Athlete of the Year award. He has 66 Top-10 finishes in PGA Tour events. (1) And achieved the status as a top-10 player on the PGA Tour in 1989 and 1990, finishing 6thand 8thon the money list for those years, respectively.

Tim’s career wasn’t an easy one, as if it ever is for any professional athlete.  After back-to-back years being in the Top 10 PGA Tour money winners Tim, contracted Lyme’s during a hunting trip. One of the numerous manifestations of the disease he was left with a tremor in his left hand.  In 2005 Tim had Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery to remedy the condition.

In 2006 Tim, universally considered one of the world’s greatest ball strikers in history, joined the Champions Tour having an unparalleled comeback lasting five more seasons before career ending injuries forced his retirement in 2011.

Today, Tim coaches a mental management program to golfers and archers. He also lectures on mental management for athletes.  In talking with Tim about his mental program he shared things he’d noticed about me of where I’d slipped.  Tim’s application of sport psychology is unique coming from an elite athlete who can translate mental coaching to fit another athlete’s needs.

He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.  Like I wrote, just never know whom you’ll be shooting next to on an archery range.

Reference:

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Simpson

If you are interested in becoming a client of Tim’s he receives inquiries at: Timbogolf@gmail.com

It Is Cold

There were some nice warm days in December and January – until now.  It has turned cold.  The indoor range where I practice is closed while the folks that work there enjoy the ATA Meeting.  I’m practicing outside. It is awful.

First stuff these into my pockets

Unlike my nice warm shed I had in North Carolina, here in Georgia when I can’t get to practice indoors there’s winter in the raw.

Next, turn on the little heater

Sure, it isn’t like winter in say Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Baltimore. I’ve lived in all those places and winter was an entirely other animal compared to a Georgia winter.  Nevertheless, cold is cold.

Get ready and warm

Because the cold here in Georgia isn’t in the same league as a north Ohio winter, yesterday I tried to practice wearing as little clothing as possible to stay warm and not make the shots more difficult.  That was a total failure.  Three layers weren’t enough.

This didn’t last

What started off as a good day quickly rolled downhill into shoot, thaw by the little outdoor heater, then shoot again.

Distractions

Two scores – vastly different.  Each practice was against a Vegas style 3-spot scoring the inner ten.  There was a drop of 4.12% between the scores. One day resulted in 42 tens, the next 21 tens.  That’s huge drop. What happened?

Day one the good day – zero distractions to take away from archery.  Day two – music, a timer, and a break to play with dogs.  Although, the dogs aren’t much of a distraction, they’re good dogs and mostly remain quiet during shooting. The music and the timer, well that’s another matter.

During USA Archery tournaments there is music and a timer.  Without a doubt both can be distractions.  A good song comes over the air and it floats through your head.  You glance at the timer to see you first two shots took longer than usual or less time than usual.  It distracts.

Coaching tip

“Practice the way you compete,” says my coach Big John Chandler.  Adhering to that policy during many practices there will be music playing and a timer ticking. Both of these elements of competition are distractions until you learn that they’re not.

We know that there will be a distraction or two during competition.  If you don’t “Practice the way you compete” little things like a timer and music may impact competitive performance.

Win It All – At Least Knowing The Numbers Creates a Goal to Win it All

18-meter practice over the past eight weeks has been an up and down business. It feels mostly down because I hit a peak early on in a six-weeks cycle.  Naturally, going into the final two indoor tournaments of 2018 I was rolling around in the mire of a down turn in performance.  Still I won one of them.  The second, competing against the 21-49 year old men, it was all I could do not to embarrass myself.  Nevertheless, I finished respectably and used the tournament for an “educational” session.

For 2019 I am still working out in which tournaments to compete and the goals for those events and the year.  I keep coming up with an all-encompassing goal of ‘win everything.’  While it might sound brash the data suggests it might be possible.  So, why not have the foremost goal for 2019 to win everything.

2019 has major tournaments early in the year with two state championships in February.  In 2018 January and February were moving months.  For eight weeks I barely got in any practice.  The lack of training showed up with three consecutive second places.  Once I got back to practice things improved and I won the next three State Championships setting a record in one.  Then, I took a second place, at the Georgia Cup, competing against a younger crowd (thanks, Paul – he knows what I’m writing about).  Few more wins and a few more seconds, the younger guys still knocking me down after the Georgia Cup.

So, why would I have a goal to win everything?  It is because my data suggests that’s possible.

Here’s an explanation for 18-meters: In 2017 the top two places in my age group for the indoor Nationals finished with scores of 1155 and 1154.  Over the past eight weeks my lowest two scores totaled 1130 – not so good.  My highest two-day score is 1183 – a winning combination.  During this eight weeks cycle my average score for two-days is 1150, one point above the 2017 3rdplace finisher.  But, when I delete scores associated with a new release, new arrows, changes in stabilizers the average score is 1156. 1156 isn’t the best score; it is an average without variables that impact performance. It also places me one point up over the prior winning score.

You might think that 1150 is the likely finishing point puts me outside of a first place finish. You’d be correct.  The lowest two-day scores of 1130 knock me way down the line. That would place me in 9thplace.

Here’s the thing, a goal must be established.  The overall goal of winning it all is then broken down to achieve specifics in form, training cycles, and 30 arrow quantitative scores.  In each of those elements I am currently below my 2019 goal.  Now begins the cycle to work toward achieving each element of each goal.  When I do that, well I’ll win.

Christmas Morning Run

I try to run every morning. It is rare I miss it.  Christmas was no exception – I ran.

Running the backroads

We, Brenda and I, were in Tignall, Georgia for a Christmas celebration with Ray, my father-in-law and Wade, my brother-in-law. All the kids and grandkids where out to town either at Disney World or visiting in-laws in Pittsburgh. (Girls, should you read this and if given the option include Brenda and I next year in Pittsburgh. Just kidding – Disney World will be fine.)

Whether at home, on the road, in Pittsburgh or Orlando I’d run.  Many times I run and ride a bike.  And, if you’re a frequent reader and an archer – I do have a bow with me and Ray has a range here in Tignall.

Coaching tip – athletes run (even archers)

Running is the simplest way for me to exercise aside from stretching.  It is inexpensive, you can move along at your own pace, and running is fun.

This morning as the sun was rising I able to run near to and on the shore of Lake Strom Thurmond – Clark Hill for Georgians.  No cars, no dogs (other than River, my lab and constant running partner) and had a wonderful run.

End point of this Christmas morning run

Aging and Exercise

In a recent paper sport champions and athletes were asked what they thought it took to become a champion.  The group had a large sub-set of Olympians (medal winners and participants), world Champions, State and Regional Champions as well as a sub-set of “chronic” athletes that had, at the time of the survey, not earned a Championship.  The group had spent a significant portion of the lives competing and training.    This of course makes sense because achieving a sport level of performance to reach a major championship takes years of preparation.1

The group seemed in general especially bright mentally as noted by their responses to the survey.  This wasn’t too surprising because the mean of the group is 53.8 years with a range of 26 to 78 years of age.1Nevertheless; there was an air of vitality among these athletes.

The survey was not done face-to-face with the athletes.  However, a large percentage of the athletes were seen face-to-face as part of typical social interactions.  In addition, after the survey a number of the athletes felt compelled to discuss the work by phone.  At times one or more of them were present at different gatherings.  Among those surveyed there remained a competitive presence as well as a high degree of verbal and body language mild posturing that could be considered friendly yet slightly aggressive regardless of age. The overall impression a bystander might of noted is that these people appeared extremely healthy and engaged. Certainly, the group is physically fit regardless of age.

An important observation is the general health of the group.  At a mean age of nearly 54 they are generally not overweight.  A few are overweight.  An archer is obese (but currently on a strict diet to drop the weight), there’s an overweight ex-football lineman (thought not obese) and in that category there is a PGA golf pro, and one ex-major league pitcher who are heavier than during their playing days.  In general, the group was not overweight. This may be attributed to; overall the group continues to exercise to a large degree.

Coaching Tip

Exercise is a relatively easy why to remain in good health both mentally and physically. 2,3As we age we can hope to die young at a very old age. In that vein exercise can be an adjunct to prolonged health and mental compacity.4Aside from clearly obvious physical attributes associated with aging and exercise, exercise decreases the degradation of our brains.5

Being physically active isn’t the sole method to engage our brains as we age. One study showed that individuals who played chess were cognitively engaged and had better health than a control group.6The same study, which compared the chess players to master level track and field athletes, revealed the athletes had more injuries than the chess players.6For those injuries the athletes gained a lower prevalence of chronic disease.6However, the chess players and athletes had a lower incidence of chronic disease compared to a control group.6

As we age, exercise can be modified to account for slower recovery times.7, 8Even with modification exercise among the senior population can improve quality of life and independent living.9As a measure of successful aging, exercising among the older population may be a model to support concepts of best health over longer durations as exercise works to protect the body including the brain.10, 11

Through active engagement in sport and exercise we can prolong better physical health and mental health. This becomes clear to an observer in the presence of chronic athletes.11By adding a regime of exercise to activities of daily living we can improve our quality of life.9

References:

  1. Lain,D C; What it takes to be a Champion.In review, NFAA Publication, Archery, Nov. 2018
  2. Trapp, S:Master athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Dec;11 Suppl:S196-207.
  3. Zhao E,Tranovich MJDeAngelo RKontos APWright VJ: Phys Sportsmed. Chronic exercise preserves brain function in master athletes when compared to sedentary counterparts. 2016;44(1):8-13. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2016.1103641. Epub 2015 Oct 29.
  4. Geard D,Reaburn PRJ, Rebar AL, Dionigi RA.: Masters Athletes: Exemplars of Successful Aging. J Aging Phys Act. 2017 Jul;25(3):490-500. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0050. Epub 2017 Jun 28.
  5. Tseng BY1,Uh J, Rossetti HC, Cullum CM, Diaz-Arrastia RF, Levine BD, Lu H, Zhang R.: Masters athletes exhibit larger regional brain volume and better cognitive performance than sedentary older adults. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Nov;38(5):1169-76. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24085. Epub 2013 Mar 21.
  6. Patelia S, Stone RC,El-Bakri R, Adli M,Baker J.: Masters or pawns? Examining injury and chronic disease in male Master Athletes and chess players compared to population norms from the Canadian Community Health Survery. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2018 Nov 30;15:15. doi: 10.1186/s11556-018-0204-z. eCollection 2018.
  7. Foster C, Wright G, Battista RA, Porcari JP. : Training in the aging athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep.2007 Jun;6(3):200-6.
  8. Soto-Quijano DA.: The Competitive Senior Athlete. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am.2017 Nov;28(4):767-776. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2017.06.009.
  9. Spirduso WW1,Cronin DL.: Exercise dose-response effects on quality of life and independent living in older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6 Suppl):S598-608; discussion S609-10.
  10. Geard D, Rebar AL, Reaburn P, Dionigi RA.: Testing a Model of Succesfult Again in a Cohart of Masters Swimmers. J Aging Phys Act.2018 Apr 1;26(2):183-193. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0357. Epub 2018 Mar 24.
  11. Tseng BY,Gundapuneedi T,Khan MA, Diaz-Arrastia R, Levine BD, Lu H, Huang H, Zhang R.: White matter integrity in physically fit older adults. Neuroimage. 2013 Nov 15;82:510-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.06.011. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Running in the Dark

Often you’ll read at this website that I post articles about fitness.  Many of those posts include stories about running.  While cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t essential to pick up a bow and shoot it, it does improve one’s health and ability to maintain an athletic posture during long archery tournaments.

During hunting season I wear orange every time I run trails

Among the exercises I do as part of my training regime, running is a major element.  One manufacturer of running shoes once had an advertisement that read, “Athletes Run.”  Whether or not archery is part of my life, I believe running will always be a part of it.

One of the running pleasures I find most appealing is trail running in the dark.  In the winter months running in the dark is easy – it’s dark when I get up to run. In the warmer months this isn’t the case.

A head lamp is a must for running in the dark. River, my lab, has a little read clip-on light on her collar.

For some, the thought of running through the woods in the dark might bring to mind some scene from a horror movie. Not the case for me.  I do run with a light – getting smacked by a tree or limb isn’t on my bucket list.

Some mornings we finish running just after sunrise

Running in the dark is peaceful in my mind.  The woods are quiet and calm.  Occasionally, I run in the direction of some critter and that can be startling, but never horrifying.  I do run with my dog, River, who’s a big girl who provides a sense of ease when I cross paths with an unexpected animal.

Find this at night and you’ll wake right up

There’s a 1.3-mile loop behind my house that cuts a perfect trail to travel whether running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll run it in the morning and hike it in the afternoon.  I try to cover a few laps each time, more laps when running.

I understand not everyone that reads this site runs beyond being chased.  If you do run and have access to trails try running in the dark it is an entirely new experience compared to running during the day light. Oh, carry a light, bring your dog, and watch how you plant your feet. Also, let someone know where you’ll be running and when to expect you home. Plus, carry your cell phone just in case.  Before you run a trail in the dark run it several times during the lighted part of the day to learn the trail.  If you happen to get off the trail it isn’t difficult to get turned around.  If you happen to get lost, wait where you are until the sun comes up to regain your bearings.  Clear lens running eye glasses are ideal for not getting an eye poked out by a low hanging pointy limb. Now that I think about, maybe you shouldn’t run in the dark – you’d probably get hurt.

An Impressive Younger Crowd of Archers

When I compete or practice in a group I am generally the oldest person in the crowd.  This is especially true during indoor practice or league shoots. Heck, while practicing at the local indoor range, I’m older than the parents that have driven their children to train.

At large events there will be people my age and older. During an outdoor competition last summer there were a couple of archers in the 70’s. Excluding league events where there are no age divisions, I’ve shot in 12 tournaments so far this year.  Of those I competed in my age group six times and in younger divisions six times.

In the senior division (the younger group), I won 3 times, got two second places, and one third.  In the masters (my age group) I won twice, got three seconds and a fourth. You’d think I had a slight edge against the younger fellas but the bulk of the loses came during the time we were moving and my practice wasn’t great.

Being the oldest person in a crowd is a bit weird.  There’s very little common ground for conversation.  Most of the people I routinely see on the range are more concerned with getting a drivers license, turning 18 so they can move out of their parents’ home, or where they’ve applied to college.  On the other hand, I worry about my portfolio, trade wars, and what my grandchildren are going to break next. (Either bone or property, I never know)

What strikes me most of the youngest sub-section of the group I see most often and shoot against on a weekly basics is the overall high degree of good manners and respectfulness of others they exhibit. There average age is 17 with a range of 15 to 22 years old. Each of them would make their parents proud.

They also make their coach proud.*  As a group they have a 70% win rate at tournaments.  Not just the local events, but national and international competitions. While taking a break on the range yesterday I was flipping though an archery magazine and there on the pages was one of the archers, highlighted for winning at a World Championship.

Here’s the competitive frustration about shooting with and against them – missing one X takes you out of the money on league nights.  A nine among this crowd doesn’t cut it.

It’s fun to shoot with this group.  But, I wonder, after some of them leave for college, get roommates, cars, and jobs will their performance falter.  For a few yes, the writing is already on the wall.  For others, will their future hold decades of shooting that provides an income to exceed that of those that sought a more traditional route to self sustainment? Probably.

  • There coach, Big John Chandler is a USA Level 4 NTS Coach.

A Cone of Warmth

Last month I paid $60.00 for unlimited use of a local indoor archery range. It was a good deal. In North Carolina the same deal was $30.00, a better deal. I made the purchase of the archery pass because the weather during the past month has been cold and rainy. The problem with the $60.00 deal is the drive.

The $60.00 range is excellent, the time spend going back and forth is in my opinion is wasted time. The round trip takes an hour. An hour might not seem like a lot but it does impact training. While an hour on the road might not be spent in direct physical activity it does impact how I recover from a morning practice period before entering an afternoon practice period. To make this matter better I got a gift from my son-in-law, an outdoor gas heater.

Glowing red this little heater does a decent job of keeping a limited area warmer.

The little heater makes a big difference. While it doesn’t match an indoor climate controlled environment it does provide an ever-escaping cone of warmth. It uses propane, which is selling for $0.76 a gallon. The gas heater operating on the lowest setting is all the heat needed at around 38°F along with a few layers of clothes. Hopefully, this will help save some cash and time.

Well, that was fun!

It was a pretty exciting day. It was cold and it started with stretching an indoor activity. It wasn’t long before River, my lab, and I hit the trails to run. By then, it had warmed to a toasty 28°F.

There are some big mushrooms in these woods. (My shoe is a size 10 for reference)

For sure, I’ve run when it has been colder. When I lived in Cleveland during the winter temperature around 0°F wasn’t uncommon. Still, I got up and ran.

Lake Erie in the winter

Running here, back home in Georgia, temperatures are as rough in the winter. Heading out on single track or animal trails through the woods is plain fun.

But, archery outside in 28°F isn’t a lot of fun. You just don’t work up enough internal combustion to stay warm. Wearing everything you own to stay warm while practicing is too cumbersome for me. The other night, after league shooting, a fellow and I were heading to our vehicles. It was around 8:20 PM and already getting cold. He bragged about the temperature not being cold to he – being from Boston and all.

For seven years I had an office in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I worked for extended periods of the winters in Sweden. In all of those places, I ran in the morning before work. I understand cold. Spend a winter or two in Uppsala, Sweden and Boston winters seems cute.

Uppsala, Sweden

After running it was off to Ace Hardware is Social Circle, Georgia to use their indoor range. Yep, Ace has an archery pro shop and very nice indoor range. They are also the major sponsor for an archery club, where I am a member, in this area.

Mornings at the hardware store archery range often mean the early risers can have their choice of lane to use. I try to get to the shop as soon as possible. I’m never entirely alone, other shooters come in, fling some arrows, and leave. As a rule, I do have a solid place to practice away from the cold.

Perfect for winter practice

On this morning I used a new target after the first 50 or so arrows. I moved it higher on their archery butt to take some time shooting the top target with a bit more elevation. On my second end on this new target I screwed up.

My shoulders were all wrong, my anchor felt off, my peep had rotated, so I needed to let down and start over. As I was becoming aware to let down I blinked. It seemed that something hit me in the eye. Naturally, with my eyes closed and my braining thinking, “Ouch” the arrow launched away.

All I could do was wait to here the arrow crash into the wall above the target. But, that’s not the sound I heard. I was lucky I heard the arrow hit the archer butt.

Looking for a five at best I didn’t immediately notice the arrow. Looking off the target entirely I still couldn’t find the arrow. Then, no, that is too lucky – the arrow hit the X. Not only hitting the X but it couldn’t have landed more perfectly. It was probably a one in a million shot.

The top arrow, eyes closed, the arrow got away, but seems like a well trained arrow

The weather “person” promised rising afternoon temperatures. So, after the morning at 18-meters I hoped to practice at 25-meters in the forecasted warmth. Sure enough, after a short cold afternoon bike ride, the temperature peaked into the 40s. On top of that, my new target arrived.

The sad, old, poorly repaired, block targets on my range could no longer do their jobs. Sure arrows slowed down, but there was no stopping them. I’d resorted to shooting a bag, which isn’t a great butt for a 3-spot. On the bag I use a vertical 3-spot is too long and the Vegas style target has only on sort of flat target. It was time for a new butt.

Target are expensive. It is one of the items on which I hate spending money. I know that before long the purchase by using it will end up wasted. You can shoot a bow over and over, you can use arrows over and over, but anything you shoot an arrow into eventually is gone.

What I’d been looking at for a replacement cost over $300. The same item was available on Amazon for $260. Amazon also had another brand that was a little smaller, a few inches, but a third the price. I figured for around $100 I’d take a chance.

In this case, that chance paid off. The target is very high quality as good as or better than the more expense products. The bonus is that it arrived about 30 minutes before I was planning to practice 25-meters.

Found on Amazon for around $100. It is heavy, 70 pounds.

During 25-meter practice daylight began to fade. The range is on a cleared area in the woods behind our house. In those woods, off not too far, I could hear coyotes howling. Usually, I’ll carry at least a pistol with me on the range; particularly in the summer as defense against rattlesnakes and copperhead. During winter months I don’t always bring a pistol. Those coyotes were too close for comfort even though I had a bow.

The coyotes marked the end of a fun day. There was running and riding and shooting. Granted, it was all part of training to do well in archery, which is sort of like a fun job.