Getting Dialed in for 3D

Saturday begins the 3D season here in my neck of North Carolina. The following week I head to Georgia to shoot two in two indoor tournaments. Hopefully, I’ll find another 3D shoot while I am in Georgia. Friday, I shot outside and didn’t shoot all that well.

I did a practice round, without a range finder, at random distances over 20 targets. I tried to make each shot tough – judging by my score (188) I succeeded. To make a random sample I used a random number generator with a range from 20 to 50. Here’s how it ended up:

44       23       20       44       32

24       50       26       49       27

24       24       41       30       40

43       23       34       22       47

Then, the yards were assigned to targets 1 through 20 based on the random numbers generated. As it turned out target 1, for example, was a turkey at 44 yards. Then, on the range,  I estimated the distance for each shot without a range finder. So, at the first target, a turkey, I walked out to what I judged as 44 yards and shot it. I scored a 10 on that shot.

I did worse on target eight, having shot all 10’s and 12’s until that point. Eight was a small boar. This time I shot it from the reverse side – not my typical shot. I ended up with a 5. It was a difficult shot where I needed to place an arrow through a small opening in the bushes. The next shot was from 49 yards and I hit a 12, then back to 27 yards on a coyote for a 5 and so forth.

All dialed in for 3D

It is a little bit backwards to walk the distance first, trying to judge it, rather than walk up to a target and make the call. I didn’t approach the target then walk away while counting steps. I walked the range approaching targets from a tangent.

In a comparison of known distance yardage (ASA State Qualifier where they provided the yardage on the 1st 10 targets – I still have the little slip of paper they handed out.), it was interesting to discover in that previous tournament the average known distance was 34.8 yards. My randomly generated average was 33.4 yardage (for 20 targets), or only 1.4 yards difference between the averages. However, with my random number generator the average for the targets 11 – 20 was 36.6 yards, or 1.8 yards further. (Unless you care about stats and numbers, you’re probably ready to click this page closed.)

Finding new ways to make 3D more challenging in training, especially on your home range, can be important during a tournament. Moving target around helps. Coming up with ways to make judging yardage ‘different’ should pay dividends later this year.

Beat, Just Plain Beat!

I suppose I don’t recover from working out like I did when I was in my 20s. Well, I know I don’t. Lately, I’ve been on a tear of riding, swimming, lifting weights, running and shooting. On top of that I’ve been hauling lumber and moving loads of dirt. It seems to have caught up with me and I felt it this afternoon while shooting.

I try to take rest days. Most of the time I succeed. This morning I didn’t even run that far. Not so much because I felt tired, Coco, the lab down the road, joined up with River, my lab, and I on the run. With all the rain we’ve been having I knew the two labs would get filthy. That meant I’d need to give River bath. I’d just bathed her yesterday (mud related incident) and was not up for doing it again. So, I turned around before we reached cresting creeks and over flowing ditches – one that is the last resting place of a buzzard picked deer.

If there is water, muck, or mud, these girls are in it.
I shot this for 60 yards, it was 57 – yes sir that’s how to earn an 8.

Shooting in the afternoon I was on a muddy wet 3D range. I had no gittyup. Still I shot, and ended up 2 down (198 out of 200). It wasn’t so much a matter of not being able to judge yardage. At each target I recorded my distance, shot, then recorded the distance using a range finder. The average distance per my estimate was 32.3; the range finder’s average was 33 yards. The minimum distance, a mosquito was 18 yards and the maximum distance was 57 yards, a mountain lion. On both of those targets, the distance was one of convenience; water left me very few options regarding where to stand. I shot poorly, hopefully, just because I was tired.

This mosquito is a tough little bug.

To complicate shooting the sun, which can come through the trees because the leaves are down, created a glare on the lens of my scope. I was happy I didn’t lose any arrows. At least two shots were as much of a guess made aiming as I like to make. Amazingly, both of those shots were 12s.

IMG_4617 IMG_4618

I did run this morning, I shot twice, and I will force an easy bike ride in an hour. But, tonight, I plan to have a good nights rest.

Marginal Gains Following the Use of EPO Boost

My average score for 20 yards was 9.27, which at first glance seems pretty good. Actually, it’s okay. It’s not great, yet.

An average score of 9.27 for 60 arrows against a 3-spot using the current USA Archery scoring is only 556. Again, just pretty good. The new USA Archery rule scores the little X circle in the yellow as a 10, the rest of the yellow is a nine. That means it’s harder to score 10s.

I’m always looking for ways to make marginal gains. Going from 9.27 points per shot to 10 points per shot is only 0.73 points. While this sounds like a little but it is a lot. It means advancing from an average score of 556 to 600 or 44 points, now it sounds like a much higher hurtle.

Obviously, more practice is the first thing that comes to mind. Practice helps, especially if you have decades for improvement. But, at a certain level more practice does not necessarily mean more improvement. How the practice is conducted becomes more critical as perfection is approached. That matter is for another paper. This is about a simple addition I made to archery and the results.

When I was not involved in archery, or about 2 years ago, I was heavy into triathlons. A friend of mine introduced me to a product that was sold by the company where he worked – EPO Boost.



EPO Boost contains “Echinacea an herb that stimulates your immune system and your kidneys to make more EPO. In the long run, this results in more red blood cells…and peak performance.”1 It is legal and not a banned substance by WADA or other performance enhancement agencies.

Before I tried it for triathlons, I did some research and felt it was safe for a trial. In advance of the Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, I’d been taking EPO Boost for about 6 weeks. I finished par in the event, but what I noticed was that my recovery was noticeably reduced. In fact, I published a paper describing its use and my results.2 A few months ago, I decided to see what EPO boost for do for archery.

First, did it reduce my recovery time? Well, I didn’t measure that so I don’t know. What I studied were the data recorded shooting Vegas and vertical 3-spots. 3D shooting was not included since judging distance added too much complexity.

All the targets were scored in the usual fashion, 10 points and below. I did use the current USA Archery scoring system, so that the smallest ring in the yellow equaled 10 points. The data was collected and stored on an Excel Spreadsheet. The scores were pre-EPO boost and during EPO boost consumption.

I allowed two weeks of EPO Boost consumption before I began entering the EPO Boost data. The data needed to be collected throughout a reasonable time so that it might not be affected my natural performance progression. In other words, I wanted to not have a change simply based on “I got better over time.” Therefore, the entire test was relatively short, over 5 months (pre and during EPO Boost). Basically, a convenient way to see what would happen if I took EPO Boost.

My average score before EPO Boost was 556.2. At the end of the data collection the average score was 562.8 or a 1.17% increase. Clearly, not a statistically significant interaction (p=0.29. 1-tailed t-test for math people). That doesn’t could like much, but it is a nearly 7-point improvement (6.6 points rounded up) over a short period of time with no other changes.

In competitive review, 7 points at the 2015 USA Indoor Nationals, for my section, is the difference between 1st place and 4th place.3 (Won by Dee Wilde). Another way of saying this, those 7 points were the difference between the National Champion and not finishing on the podium. (By the way, I did win the 2015 USA Archery South Section for the event, but who’s keeping score.)

Yes, this is a sample size of 1 (n=1). But, the ‘n’ is me so I’m interested. You know, 7 points here and there do add up. Marginal gains, every little bit helps.

(EPO Boost is a product of BRL Sports Nutrition. BRL Sports Nutrition in part, sponsors me. However, they did not influence this work.)



A Long Day

Some days at work are longer than others. Today was a long one. For me it meant an early meeting with a 5-spot. It was a short meeting only an hour. Then, my next two meetings were laps in the pool followed by weight lifting and it wasn’t even noon.

Noon meant a break for lunch. Brenda, my wife, who’d also been working out and I were by now starving. Yogurt with fruit and granola for breakfast does not last as long as bacon, eggs, grits, and biscuits. We stopped at Chick-Fil-A. We don’t do that often, but when we do I really enjoy their sandwich and cole slaw.

They’ve stopped making the cole slaw. I got lucky; the Chick-Fil-A in Elizabeth City still had some so I got it. They’d offered me something with kale in it. I laughed and offer them good luck with that.

Home, I took a 20-minute nap before starting my afternoon work. The afternoon began with more archery. This time shooting at known yardage out to 55 yards. That took about two hours and led to a run with my dog River. I’ve found if River doesn’t get in a run she wants to play in the house in the evening. Actually, any run less than 3 miles means I’m fair game for River all night.

The run led straight into a bike ride or a brick. When triathletes do a run/ride or ride/run in succession it’s called a brick. That’s pretty much how your legs feel, like bricks at some time during that activity.

You know, that’s not a bad day’s work and it sure beats sitting in an office.

Shooting from the Shed

Living out in the country has advantages. It is quiet, scenic, and I can play outside all day without disturbing neighbors. When it is too cold and windy to practice archery outdoors I’ve got a alternative, I shoot from a shed on my property.IMG_4505

It was cold and windy here today. I didn’t feel like driving into Elizabeth City to practice on an indoor range. It’s about a 40-minute trip one way to the range. Granted, it is nice that there is an indoor range so close, but there are days when driving anywhere isn’t fun.

At home I can stand in a shed and shoot. Because nobody lives near me I’m not worried about someone walking across my property and into the path of an arrow. Out here in the sticks we are very isolated.

First 5 shots of the day.

A plus is that I now have heat in this shed. I had this storage building renovated and now have heat, AC, carpeting, paneling, and it is insulated. It is a great workout room and not a bad place to stand inside against the cold. There are some unique advantages to living off the grid.

Warming up my bow and release.

Switching Up Plans a Little

Yesterday I switched training up a bit. One of those chores that sometimes mess up plans made the adjustments necessary. That chore was my forth attempt to get a couple of minor repairs completed on my Ford F-150. By minor I really mean minor. A map light replacement and door hand cable replacement.

The cable on the driver’s side door handle had broken and one of the overhead map lights had burnt out. Since the cable replacement meant a trip to the dealership I asked them to replace the light bulb.

They installed the cable wrong causing it to hang up on the window and broke the housing of the overhead lamp when they tried to remove the burnt bulb. Yesterday was another attempt for the dealership to, “Do their best.”

The errand meant no early run. Brenda met me when I dropped off my truck so we could head to the YMCA. There we did our workouts. It felt great to swim and lift weights.

Back home it was a long afternoon of archery practice. I’ve been doing a lot of work at 18-meters. Today, I practiced on a 5-spot, experimenting with my release. I felt good and moved using 5-yard increments out to 60 yards. It is real convenient having room for a range on my lawn.

River demanding a run


Because I’d missed my morning run, and River was a bit too full of energy, we ran just before sundown. Typically the last exercise of the day is cycling. River, however, needed the run more than I did so we headed out. Running at sundown versus sunrise was a pleasant and scenic switch.

Archery and Running with the Big Dogs

We’ve got a bit of winter bothering outdoor archery practice here in eastern North Carolina. Along the coast it’s not a bad as in the western mountains of the state. Still, it has been too cold and windy to shoot outside. The weather hasn’t had a negative impact on running, in fact, it has been great. River and her friend Coco, as always, have a blast while running with me. I have as much watching them as they seem to have with each other.


River and Coco turn every run into a game. There’s a lesson in their pleasure.

Shooting in breezy cold conditions can be frustrating. The temperature warmed from a high of 29°F to 51°F yesterday. Today it will again be in the 50’s and tomorrow we may hit the low 60’s. But, with that warmth we are expecting rain.

The weather sent me into Elizabeth City, NC to practice on an indoor range. I try to shoot inside about once a week. Indoor lighting is very different compared natural light so I head inside to stay accustom to the dissimilarity. Usually, I’m there by 10:00 AM and have the range to myself. This week, on both occasions, I ended up shooting inside at around 2:30 PM. On those occasions, I was not alone on the range. Two small groups were already hard at practice. A set of sisters, monitored by their Mom and a young fellow with his Dad.

My usual view of the range

This week during both of my indoor sessions on the range  there was Mom overseeing her two daughters’ practice. I asked them how was it that they weren’t in school. Mom replied her children were home schooled. Part of their educational activities included physical education. Encompassed in that course is 1 hour of archery practice every school day.

The oldest of the two girls, probably 13 or 14 was a terrific archer. Shooting a Vegas style 3-spot she rarely hit anything lower than a 9. The younger child, maybe 9 or 10, was less accomplished but clearly on her way to catching her older sister.

On the second day of indoor shooting  another family was at the range, a father and son. Where the girls were shooting “beginner bows” the Dad and his 14ish year old son had the most expensive gear. Dad told me he’d  gotten a deal on the bows. I got the whole story of their equipment acquisition, along with more information and talk than I needed or wanted.

Dad knew equipment; well Dad proclaimed he knew a lot about equipment. The father – son duo, singularly were geared with tackle that exceeded the cost of mine and the girls combined.

Dad asked me how I liked my bow and I replied, “It seems fine.” He explained how he’d, “Looked at that bow but decided against it.” From there he offered an oral dissertation of what made my bow inferior. Dad further complained that one of the world’s top archers had recently announced he’d switched from his famous brand to my inferior brand bow. Dad further doubted that the world-renowned ace archer had in fact simply picked up the new inferior bow and shot a perfect 300. Personally, if the pro was shooting a 5-spot, my guess he is had shot a 300.

Despite the substandard equipment of the other archers on the range, if I’d had to place a bet on who’d score over the others, minus me, my money would have been on the older home schooled young lady. She was clearly a better archer despite her $200.00 bow and discount arrows.

There was a major difference between the two middle schoolers. The boy, a pretty good shot, was decked out and looked like a professional. Lancaster Archery towel adorned quiver on this waist, expensive $25.00 arrows, $1600.00 bow, cap and shooting glasses. Aside him Dad was coaching him between shots. The boy would shoot, they’d hike to the target, take out a pen, mark the shots, record the count, and discuss.

The older young girl, Wal-Mart arrows (3) supported by the range’s PVC holder, no cap, long-sleeved t-shirt displaying an ad for some band, holding an inexpensive bow and conducting an on-going dialogue with her sister. The subject ‘not-archery’ was some heated debate that volleyed back and forth with too much speed and fury for me to follow. Somewhere during the deliberation the youngest sister got the hiccups and now the argument became a game of some sort – judging from the giggles. Mom sat reading the paper oblivious to her students’ verbal battle.

Aside from the vocal differences of the pairs, the equipment variances, and the boy’s ‘correct-look’ what I observed was the girls playing, having fun. The boy didn’t appear to be having as much fun. He seemed to be working hard to present a ‘look’ while the girls had fun shooting. He seemed very serious if not a bit cocky.

Part of any sport is the pleasure derived from playing. The girls weren’t stressed. They really didn’t seem to have a care and they both shot really well. The older, as I mentioned was better, the younger not far behind. The young boy, determined and serious, seemed to be working toward projecting an image and perhaps missing the point.  Or maybe his real target was on the opposite side of the range wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt. He appeared to be missing on that goal as well.

When it was time for me to leave I pulled my target in order to put it in the trash. I headed back to the bench where I’d left my coat. I’d laid my paper 3-spot on the bench. Dad came over to once again ensure I realized that my bow was inferior in every aspect of archery. I’d had a pretty good day of practice. While Dad was lecturing me I picked up my target and rather than crumble it I folded it, hoping Dad would notice all three centers were missing. I doubt he noticed and if he did he made no comment that might interrupt his criticism of the bow that so offended him.

Like running the most fun and best results seem to come when we simply enjoy what we’re doing and not worry too much about the outcome. Something River and Coco try to teach me everyday.

Mental Tip From an Ironman World Champion

Our children and grandchildren are back at their homes in Athens and Pittsburgh after their Christmas visit. The house is a whole lot quieter. It’s going to take a while to get the place back in order. All day couldn’t be spent doing post ‘grandkids’ cleanup chores. There’s still time to train despite foul weather.

It has been cold, windy, and lightly raining all day. The shed I converted for indoor training on my bike was perfect for today. For the first time in many years, I have heat in the room where I train.

When we lived in Maryland, for 11 years prior to becoming full time residents of North Carolina, I trained in the garage on the coldest days. It wasn’t heated. It would be as cold inside as it was outside. Having been born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Maryland often felt like the tundra. It was better than Pittsburgh or Cleveland (I’ve lived in both cities), but still too cold for me.

When we lived in Pittsburgh I had heat. In Cleveland, I simply froze since my only option for cycling in the winter meant going outside. But, here in NC I have heat and it felt great.

Fossil fuel is so warm.

Riding on my Computrainer, I watched the 2012 Ironman World Championship. During the show, on DVD, Leanda Cave, women’s winner in 2012, was being interviewed. She talked about how the sport of triathlon, in specific the Ironman distance is such a mental game.

I’ve raced the Ironman World Championship and a number of other Ironman triathlons. There’s a point in such long distance racing where your body is done and your brain must make it continue. When I’ve reached that point, I’ve always been able to continue. Mental fortitude is very different in archery.

In archery, I don’t have to push past physical pain. In archery, I must be able to clear my head. Leanda Cave mentioned this in her interview that is her ability to block out everything except what she was doing at that moment in the race.

Leanda Cave winning the 2012 Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii (photo from Google search images)

When the best archers in the world shoot, their brain activity has been measured. It turns out that the primary wave form just before an arrow is released is an ‘alpha’ wave. The ‘alpha’ wave is the dominant brain wave during meditation or stage 1 sleep. Something I wouldn’t expect during a triathlon, but paramount for peak performance in archery.

Standing inside it wasn’t so bad.

So after I trained on my bike, I practiced archery. Today, shooting from inside my converted shed out toward the target. The wind was howling, it was misty (the rain had eased a bit) and it was cold. The heat still lingered inside the shed and it was comfortable.   I thought about the mental effort needed to complete an Ironman and tried to get a mentally quiet brain for archery. It’s a work in progress as is the post grandchild Christmas clean up.

View of my target (Not River, my dog, the blocks in the distance)

The Chocolate Milk Myth

Aside from archery, I’m involved with other sports. Among them is running. I heard somewhere that one of the common rules of sports is that athletes run. Perhaps that’s a myth since from what I’ve seen, the rule isn’t applicable to archery.

Run, David, Run

There are lots of myths in sports. Another myth is the 10,000-hour rule. If you dig around a bit you’ll find a number of Olympic medalists that earned their podium finish with a lot less than 10,000 hours of training. Some myths however are true – despite the attempts at debunking them.

In the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Running Times magazine on page 29 the authors claim to bust a myth. The myth is that “Chocolate milk is Best.” In the article the writers are referring to chocolate milk as a sports drink specifically to provide protein.

Hines Ward enjoying chocolate milk

IMG_4455There are plenty of sports drinks. I use TriFuel from BRL Sports Nutrition. Hines Ward, the ex-Pittsburgh Steeler, drank Chocolate Milk during his training to complete the Ironman event in Kona, Hawaii.

The ex-Steeler, post training run, and after drinking the plain old non-chocolate milk

I like chocolate milk, but I think I’d be hard pressed to gulp it down after a hard run on a hot day. I can’t even imagine carrying it in my water bottle. But, here’s the thing about chocolate milk – it is never not the best when compared to plain old milk.

I can drink TriFuel during a hot day on the range. Milk in any form might be hard to shallow.

Granted both varieties of milk have the same amount of protein, but seriously, chocolate wins when it comes to drinking. If you don’t believe me (well you’ve forgotten) go to any elementary school. Go the cafeteria and offer students their choice of plain old white milk or delicious cold sweet wonderful chocolate milk. See which one wins. Basically, regardless of the protein equivalence, if you don’t enjoy drinking it, so that you don’t drink it, the equivalency isn’t relevant. The Runner’s Times compared chocolate milk to a turkey sandwich. In that case, I say have both – it’s not one or the other. They picture the turkey sandwich next to a bottle of white milk. (Clearly a non-runner’s art)

Oh, one other myth – it really does not take 10,000 hours of training to become an elite.

Practice with River

River, my lab, is often with me with I shoot. She’s a keen monitor of form and barks if she thinks I need advice. Today, after running we headed out to practice archery.

During the hour or so we spent outside she: stole a bone from the neighbor’s dog, ate a small tree branch, sent swimming, rolled around on a dead mole, barked me while I shot, ran around the yard with a stick, and tried to steal a glove.


Avoiding mental distractions is important in archery. Seems River is doing her best to help me focus.