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Category Archives: Down Day

Shouldn’t You be Training?

It’s the week after Indoor Nationals. Outdoor season has officially started. And I haven’t shot my bow since Sunday.

I came home from Nationals feeling pretty good. Until I woke up Monday morning with a throat so sore swallowing made me want to cry. I chalked it up to a cold. It would be  gone in a day. It’s Thursday now. My head is still stuffy. My nose running. I am either ravenously hungry but unable to eat much because of a sore throat, or my throat doesn’t hurt but I’ve lost any semblance of hunger. It’s just a cold! But it’s a cold that’s kicking my ass. I should have gone to practice on Tuesday, but didn’t. Shooting while unable to breathe isn’t fun. I should have gone to practice today. But I’m curled up in bed, home from work early, my voice completely gone.

I can hear the voice in my head. It’s a constant low shout now. “You won’t get better if you just lay here. Shouldn’t you be training? Your scores at Nationals were nothing to write home about. Are you going to let a little cold keep you from shooting?”

Were this a tournament I’d be on the line, sniffles and all. But it’s not. Training is a marathon. A long, never ending marathon. But to perform, to focus, to train, your body has to be functioning pretty well. Mine right now is suboptimal. And so all that energy that would go into shooting is going into getting better instead. Which means rest. Hydration. Oranges. Decent food. More rest.

When you have a chronic illness, any other illness gets a little magnified. The cold will make you feel worse than it might others. But it also has the ability to trigger a flare up of the chronic condition. So my goal with all this rest is to make sure the Fibromyalgia doesn’t flare up in addition to the annoying, crappy cold. Because that’s a train wreck I’d like to avoid. I can’t not go to work, so instead I cut the extracurricular stuff. Which means shooting. Until I can shoot without the risk that it will land me in bed for a week.

Prevention is a bigger priority when you have a chronic condition. Injury prevention, sure. But also illness prevention. It’s more important to take time to recover from even the smallest illnesses so they don’t blow up into something bigger.

So to the voices in my head, no. I shouldn’t be shooting. I should be getting well so that I can shoot.


Archery and Chronic Illness

Archery and Chronic Illness

My coach, the indefatigable Holly, is also a para-archery coach. She’s passionate about archery being a sport in which everyone can participate. Matt Stutzman, one of the best archers in the world, just happens to not have any arms. And he’s still great. He participates in para-archery but he could easily hold his own against the best not disabled archers in the world.

Participating in a sport when one has a disability is one thing. Participating in a sport when one looks normal, but has a chronic illness, is another. I’ve written before about my fibromyalgia. I don’t like to admit that it keeps me down sometimes. When my team mates talk about weight lifting and extra training, I don’t like to admit that getting to the range for an hour or more 3-4 days a week is almost all my body can handle. “Extra” strength training seems impossible a lot of the time. The meds that make me crave carbs and feel sick at the same time, the stressors at work that provoke all over muscle and joint pain, the fatigue that dogs my footsteps; they all govern how much I can participate in my passion and my sport.

If I say “today was hell at work, I don’t think I can shoot much” there are only a few people who understand. I’m lucky my coach is one of them.

But sometimes I don’t understand. I don’t understand why a hectic day at work has to leave me feeling like I was run over by a truck. I don’t understand why I have to see a doctor every two months just to know that there won’t be any change. Ever. I don’t understand why a 40 hour work week leaves me so tired that I could sleep for two days straight. I don’t understand why I can’t have the energy that other people have. I don’t understand why I get to wake up every morning and go to bed every night with a pain level that hovers around “5”. Without relief. Ever.

Archery is my chance. It’s my chance to be normal. Be active. But please don’t think that my lack of additional exercises is a lack of motivation. I am motivated. I want to be the best I possibly can be. I want to hit gold. I want to be on the Hoyt team. I want to compete in Copenhagen.

I want x’s. I want to be strong. I want my life to revolve around archery and family, not pain and fatigue. But sometimes I am daunted by figuring out how to do that. How do I get there? And how do I get there when extra training outside the range seems so difficult?

I don’t have the answers. But I will get there. I am an archer. I have a chronic illness. I want to show the world that people with Fibro aren’t lazy and unmotivated. That we can be great. That we shouldn’t be written off. That it’s not all in our heads.  One day, I will wear a team Hoyt jersey. And when I do I will use that jersey to help other people realize their dreams.


With support from my team mates, I'll get there

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.


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

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.

Female Warrior Japanese Woodblock Print

Female Warrior Japanese Woodblock Print

I need this t-shirt


Need is spelled W A N T!!

Buy All the Things!

I went to the range again tonight, this time with The Man and child2. The Man brought my bow. I haven’t shot my own bow in 2 weeks, so it was bittersweet to know he would be shooting her tonight. Of course, he’s the only other one who ever has, so not a big thing.

Besides, while they were shooting I would be sitting down with my coach and the Lancaster archery catalog. Its finally time to buy new stuff.

For Mother’s Day The Man bought me my bow. I don’t shoot with anything special. I shoot a 62″ Samick Polaris with 27# limbs (at 28″ draw length). But I love her. I love the way she sounds, the way the riser feels in my hand. Everything about her.

For my birthday, he’s buying me the quiver I picked out a while back. The Easton QH100 Hip Quiver in black and silver. I plan to add some red custom embroidery down the line.

So really, I only need two items right now. I need a tab. And I need new arrows. The arrows I have are super pretty! But they’re also more for hunting. Fat, heavy, and slow. Although their performance has improved as my form has improved. Just..not enough. Besides. I will be indoor target shooting for a while yet. These pretty hunting arrows will just have to wait their turn. Tonight the coach and I measured. Neither of us knew what my draw length is at the moment. When I started shooting I barely cracked 21″. Today, I measured 25 1/2″. That’s four and a half more inches of draw length just because of correct form!!!

I shot 3 ends of five arrows a piece to warm up. We measured. And then we picked out arrows. I’ll be shooting Easton Carbon One shafts, size 900, with the 70-90 grain stainless steel break off points and G Nock in deep red .098 (my bow string) and white .088 (the range bows strings). Feathers instead of vanes, but I haven’t picked out the feathers yet.

I decided on the tab a while ago. The Bateman 3 under tab.

My shooting is still improving. My back is still sore. And I’m excited about shopping this weekend!



Best. Present. Ever!!