RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: September 2014

I Shoot Differently Now

I Shoot Differently Now

And it’s a little weird for it to feel this easy.

For one, I’m shooting primarily at the 18m (20 yard) line now. I even warm up on the 18m line.  I haven’t felt comfortable at this distance until recently. But now it feels like “home”.

image

Probably because of shot groupings like this!

I’m also not doing the raise bow, draw, then open up completely thing anymore. Now I’m doing raise bow, open, roll to anchor. Notice the lack of the word draw in there? If I open up completely using my back muscles, my bow is drawn already! All I have to do is roll to my anchor! I will not tell you how long it took me to change that habit. Suffice to say, too long! And it feels so much better!

image

So that now i group like this. At 18m!

Never mind those outliers. I was working on getting my bow hand and arm correct that day.

Which is the other thing I’ve been working on a lot. I had been doing some strange things with my bow arm and hand. So the last week or so I’ve been working on the correct way to hold my bow. This seems simple right? You’re supposed to just hold it! But no. I had problems with getting the bow to settle in my hand so that my thumb was in the right place and so that the majority of the contact was along my palm. Don’t ask me why I struggled with this, but I have for a long time.

Until last week, that is! It really clicked on Thursday and Friday, and my bow feels so much lighter! Also, I realized that I can only lift the bow so far before I’m out of alignment and my bow arm is no longer straight. So that is my natural stopping point now. I can get my arm straighter and really “push” through the grip as long as I don’t try to lift the bow too far up. Any other adjustment has to come through aiming.
Gah. I wish I had pictures of my form to show the difference. Maybe one day soon!

image

Intentional spacing and work on aiming

I’ll leave you with this last picture, where I started to work on really aiming. This pattern was so I wouldn’t hit my own arrows. Except for the low left one. That was a form mess up.

Child 2 is starting to shoot at 20 yards as well. He has to in order to get his next pin.

image

One of B's first 20 yard ends

He’s working on how to aim as well. Neither of us use a sight right now.

Advertisements

Time, Archery, and Not Keeping Up

Time, Archery, and Not Keeping Up

Whoah! I didn’t realize how long it had been since I posted! Work is hell this whole month. I’m only two weeks in, but I didn’t realize how much it was taking out of me. I’m doing good to get to the range. I’m doing good to keep three other people fed and two kids doing their homework, to tell the truth. But I have been going to the range.

Holly’s super secret relaxation techniques work. But they only work when I’m not focused on other stuff. I have started on the beginning of a proper release and that feels good! Then it got overshadowed because I realized I did not have proper bow arm or bow hand and started concentrating on that. I wish I had more pictures, but until I invest in a go-pro, or find someone who is willing to do nothing but snap pics or take video while I shoot, there’s going to be less pics and more of me writing.

image

This is me, shooting

Right now, to shoot well I have to walk through each “room” of it in my mind. Stance, locked in then forgotten. Facing the target, locked in then forgotten. Proper bow hand and wrist pushed out, locked in the forgotten. Pre-activation of back muscles, locked and forgotten. Proper lift of the bow and proper bow arm, locked then forgotten. Draw back using back muscles draw draw draw draw ROLL to anchor. Then forgotten. Open up the rest of the way, locked then forgotten. Aim? Sure. I’ll try. But I spend most of that time making corrections to whatever slacked off after I forgot about it. Instead of walking through each room closing the door behind me, I run through the house and double check everything one last time.

Then everything has to be forgotten.  Jelly. Relax. Fingers and arm muscles relax while keeping tension in my back. That is release. And its a damn exhausting process with a 14# bow, much less a 29# one.

But when I do it right…

image

Yay!

I get results.

image

Like this

Outdoor Archery

Outdoor Archery

Friday I went to the outdoor range for the first time. Jonathan, my friend and team mate, is getting ready for the Texas Shootout at the end of the month. He was working on getting comfortable at 50m. And I just needed to work on being comfortable, period. Comfortable outside, comfortable at 20m, comfortable with new arrows, and re-gain confidence with my bow after having lost control of it and shot wild during Wednesday’s lesson.

image

Jonathan walking back to 50 meters

It helped that, despite being surrounded by urban everything, Hamilton park is pretty peaceful. It was hot, to be sure, but not unbearably so. The sun was working on its downward decline and the cicadas were singing. Grass, trees, and good friends can help you get over a lot of fears. Especially when most of them are in your head.

I shot one round with the old, really heavy hunting arrows. Then when I realized I wouldn’t miss the bale at least, I broke out my new target arrows.

image

New arrows are fun!

No worries about missing the bale, even with mild wind and new arrows and feeling slightly unfamiliar with my bow these days. We had a great time! And shot until sundown. I cannot think of a better way to end a day.

The Day My Bow Exploded in My Hand

The Day My Bow Exploded in My Hand

I shoot a pretty basic bow. It’s not a fancy Olympic recurve that cost almost $1,000. But my bow is very special to me.

image

Samick Polaris

I shoot a 62″ 29# Samick Polaris. On Wednesday I had a lesson with my Coach. We worked on a new technique for teaching me how to release properly. Which meant teaching me how to relax. Anyone who knows me knows that I fail miserably at relaxing. And this is even more difficult because I must relax only specific parts of my body. Very small parts, even, while keeping steady tension in other larger muscles.

The good news is that this new technique is very effective! It worked! And in addition to it helping me release it has also helped me with the motion of rolling to my anchor point. The first piece of bad news is that I cannot go into detail and say what this technique is, yet. Its supposed to be a surprise for my team mate and partner in crime, too.

After spending most of the lesson with the range’s 20# bow, she let !y pull out my bow for just a few shots. I had brand new arrows I had yet to shoot with, and I hadn’t shot my own bow in over a month, so I was just itching for the chance to put the two together and try them out!

First shot with my bow and the new technique went smoothly. Then I stepped back to the 18m line to do it again at full draw. Bow raised. Bow arm in good position. I started drawing back. I went to roll to my anchor without realizing that my shoulder had lifted. Suddenly my wrist popped, it felt like electrical wires had replaced my tendons. I involuntarily released well before I was ready. But I no longer had control over what my hand was doing. It flew open. The arrow flew wild. And my bow felt like it exploded out of my hand to go crashing to the floor.

Why had my shoulder lifted? A combination of things, really. One, this is an area I struggle with consistently. Two, a heavier draw weight that I was not accustomed to and probably not ready for (muscle development wise). I can tell you that this absolutely scared the crap out of me. I kind of became scared of my own bow for a little bit.

All my coach said was “Good bow hand!”. But if nothing else this taught me the absolute importance of good form. And relaxing. If I can’t relax I can’t keep my shoulders down and risk losing control of the shot.

It also taught me that I need to develop my back muscles even more. Drawing my bow is no longer the strain it once was, but better muscle development will mean that it comes easy. And easy will mean no shoulder lifting to my ear. OK. Less shoulder lifting, anyway.

Building the Foundation

Building the Foundation

I read the article below about foundation training for youth sports. It’s written specifically about building a foundation for youth wrestling, but I thought the author hit the nail on the head for all sports.

Breaking Muscle: Foundational Training for Youth Athletes: Are You Doing It? http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwx9SFzRo

Building a foundation shouldn’t be important just for youth, though. This is important for any person of any age who takes up a new sport, be it running or archery or fishing. The foundation has to come first or there is nothing upon which to place technique.

When I read this article I realized how lucky I am to have Coach Holly. Right now we are building the foundation upon which my whole archery experience will be built. With her guidance and her emphasis on the foundation, I am building up the correct muscles, ingraining the necessary muscle memory, and establishing the proper form which will maximize my bone structure supporting the bow. All this leads to better performance, increased safety, and decreased risk of injury.

Building a foundation can seem boring. It can seem repetitive. When you’re raring to go shoot that 40 pound bow and see arrows fly down the range at the 50 meter target you don’t want to stand at the 18 meter line with a 20 pound bow for months. But you need to! You need to put down the pretty shiny thing and build up your body and mind until you can actually handle it.

image

So pretty! So shiny! But don't shoot yet!

I’ve been asked a few times why I’m shooting a 14 pound bow that belongs to the range when I have an awesome bow of my own just sitting there waiting for me. And yes, I’ve pouted more than once that I was “reduced” to using a lighter bow. But the truth is that I did not have the foundation to handle my bow safely and effectively. So my coach did the best thing she could for me. She took away the bow and worked on creating a foundation within me.

I’m still working on the foundation. But I see progress! And I realize that this is not a sprint to see how fast I can “get good”. Its not even a marathon with an eventual finish line. It is a journey. But for a long journey one needs the proper shoes. For a life long journey, those shoes had better be awesome. So I will take my time so that my foundation for my lifelong archery journey is a custom fit. One cannot buy custom made shoes off the shelf.

image

Custom shoes. Custom foundation

We wait weeks or months for them. Here’s to training hard for the custom fit foundation that will make archery enjoyable for the rest of my life.

Archery Swag

Archery Swag

I’m not training today. I thought about it, but my body is a wrecked mess due to circumstances beyond my control. I decided it would be better to save up what minute amounts of energy I have for lesson time tomorrow. Instead of shooting, I’ve been perusing different kinds of archery swag online.

image

Like This Cute Bag

Bags are important for girls. Lots of us like to have multiple purses and bags in all sorts of colors and fabrics to go with our outfits. However, I’m not one of those girls. I have three purses. One I bought years ago. One I bought at a thrift store because I needed something smaller to carry to work. And one was a gift from my Mom when I got my new job in downtown. Two are brown. One is black. I’ll probably not by another purse again ever.

But bow cases? That’s a whole different subject. I want a new case for my current bow. But I’ll also need a case for the new bow I’m getting next year. And they have to fit my personal aesthetic and coordinate with the rest of my gear. I like the one above because it’s fun. Not too serious (despite having competitor written on it). I have no idea what it’s like to use, since I’ve only been browsing web sites. But it just made my list of “and now I need that, too!”

How much should you practice? – Performance Archery

http://www.performance-archery.com/how-much-should-you-practice/

So taking a day off after the local level tournament I attended isn’t a bad thing? It was more mentally stressful for me than I had imagined. But I have to realize that I put a lot of mental pressure on myself. Let’s face it, I had my shooting partner tally my scorecard for me because by the end I wasn’t able to face the fact that I might not have met my goal, where on any other day I’m very Zen about letting go of the goal and accepting the archer that I am on that day.

So today has really been a mental as well as physical decompression day. I was happy to read this article because when I first heard the “1000 arrows per practice” quip I immediately felt like being a “good archer” was out of my reach.  I work full time, have a family who needs my attention. In an hour of practice I may not even shoot 100 arrows. Sometimes not even 60 if I’m really trying to dial in elements of my form. And since I’m a novice (I’ve only been shooting since May, and only seriously since mid-June) I’m always trying to dial in elements of my form. I’m building muscles and muscle memory now. I’m ecstatic when I can consistently group somewhere, even if its not on the target. I read about pros who practice 3 hours a day and despair because sometimes I’m lucky to carve out 4 or 5 hours a week.  And until I can convince someone to open the range at 5 am, it will stay that way.

I’ve been thinking a lot about goal setting and practice strategy lately. This is just one more piece of information to throw into the pot and hash over with my coach.