Archive for February 19th, 2018

An Archer’s Journey: A Sore Elbow 1:3

Monday, February 19th, 2018



  The last week has been rough on my body. My elbow injury from last summer doesn’t want to leave me alone, and this week it kind of came to a head. A few of the days, I dealt with a substantial amount of pain. With that being said, I wasn’t able to do too terribly much with my bows.

The week started off well, though. I headed to the range on Monday and worked solely on executing my shot with a relaxed hand. I have realized that it is essential to relax my hand and forearm to execute a perfect shot. To do this drill, I went to the club after work and shot a 450 came from 12 yards again. I pounded the center out of the target, and I made 43 perfect shots. It’s amazing how easy it is to shoot a bow when there’s minimal movement in the sight picture and when there’s no payoff for where the arrow lands once it is launched from the bow. As the old saying goes, “I’m Roger Staubach in my own backyard.” I’m sure some of you younger people won’t get the reference, but I’m sure most of you can relate to the quote. Although I can remember days that I’ve felt the same on the tournament trail, I’ve never sustained the test of time.

When I finished practicing on Monday night, I felt like I could do anything. The process was locked in and everything seemed easy. I knew I would find out how it really worked when I went to league the next night. When I attend leagues, I still feel a little bit of nerves. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been nervous when I shoot. I’m even nervous in my basement. I guess it’s just who I am as a person.

When I started practicing before Tuesday’s league started, I felt really good. The feeling continued throughout the round. I have to go back to about 2004 to find the last time I felt like I did on Tuesday night. My shot felt so good that I felt like I couldn’t miss; shooting was incredibly easy. In the middle of the round, I let my mind wander around a little bit, causing me to miss a couple of steps in my process. When the scores were tallied, I ended up with a 446 and 25Xs, however, my execution scored a 447 with about 38 Xs. I only missed one arrow that I shouldn’t have missed. I made a good shot and the arrow landed just below the 10 line at 6 o’clock. The paper was torn, and the arrow probably could have gone either way if the line was reconstructed. It was my bad for not changing the target. The other shots missed because I got a little tense and let the shot get out of my back and creep into my shoulder. Instead of letting down and starting over, I figured I could put a little extra tension on the release to get it to fire. Well, I found out that, unlike my old shooting form,  it’s not going to work with my new shooting form. All three of those arrows hit dead center at 12 o’clock in the 9-ring. I was easily able to identify why the shots landed where they landed.

Wednesday and Thursday I needed to take time off because of my elbow. I didn’t go near a bow, figuring it would serve me well for the weekend. I decided to shoot the annual Guan Ho Ha archery tournament on Friday night with George. I met him at the club for a few minutes to shoot a few arrows before heading down there. I could tell that it wasn’t going to be one of my better holding days, and I would probably score as well as the pin floated.

Surprisingly, I was pretty wound up during the first scoring end. Of the six practice arrows, I shot four 10s and two 9s. The best thing was that I made good shots. On my first two shots I hit dead center low under the 10-ring down near the bottom of the nine and a hair to the right. I gave the sight a few clicks and figured I would be ready on the first scoring end. Well, to my amazement, I began shaking more than I had mentally prepared for, and my sight picture was considerably different than it had been the last few weeks. I didn’t pay much attention to it and kept pulling. When the shots broke, they hit where the pin was and I ended up with two 9s and a 10, and every arrow was to the left of center.

The rest of the round got progressively better, and I felt good about at least half of my shots. I did notice that throughout the round, my release hand became tense, which transferred into my shoulder. When I felt it in my shoulder, I didn’t fully rotate the shot into the back and tried chicken-winging it. Mentally, I felt it here and there, especially near the end of the round when I was getting tired. Although it was in my mind that I was doing that, I wasn’t completely convinced because my shots still felt pretty decent.

When I finished my round, Mark Meyers told me that I looked a little bit short on draw length. I’m fairly certain that it was because I didn’t rotate and transfer into my back properly near the end of the round. Although I could feel it, I didn’t make the adjustment. I need to work on that in the future. I love having people who are knowledgable and share their knowledge with me to help me figure things out. I appreciate Mark’s eye, especially when he could have been watching a lot of other people. He knows what I’m trying to accomplish, and I trust his judgement. That’s what make things easy and saves time.

When we added the scores up, I ended up with a 440. I never paid attention to my score after the first end. I just stood there and tried to execute the best shot possible. I feel like I did a pretty good job. I also feel like I shot as well as the pin held. Most of my misses were to the left, other than the ones in the practice round and first scoring round. Looking at the target I didn’t miss my much considering how the bow felt like it was holding. I felt really confident after getting done. I thought I was going to shoot my all-time low score in a tournament, which wouldn’t have bothered me, but I ended up tying it. Scores aren’t important when you’re working to improve something.

My buddy Rick Baker came over from New Hampshire to shoot on Saturday morning. I watched him shoot about half of his round. He looked really smooth. I always like watching him shoot because he makes it look so easy. He told me his pin was shaking around quite a bit, too, but I never would have noticed. He looked pretty solid to me.

In between lines, before I headed home, I tried out a PSE PerformX 3D. I liked the way the bow felt. It felt really good when I had the shot in my back, and it seemed to hold well. I also executed good shots with it. Mark Meyers also let me bring one of his bows home to try. With the elbow pain I’ve been having, I’m fairly certain that I can link it to the bow I’m shooting. There seems to be a lot of shock going into my forearm and ending in my elbow.  I need to do everything I can to alleviate some of that.

Saturday and Sunday I spent some time shooting the bow that Mark let me borrow. I love the handle on the bow, and it feels pretty good at full draw. I’ve tried every let-off module and can’t seem to get the feel I need. I’ll keep working with it to get that feel. Jacob and Mark have both given me a lot of input on this bow. It’s always nice to have people who willingly share information about things they have learned. I appreciate that with all of my archery friends. It seems nice to know that I have so many friends in the archery community who go out of their way to answer any questions I might have. Thanks to all fo you, and that includes way too many people to list.

It’s weird how I need a certain feel to make the best shots possible. I know I might be unlike a lot of people who can pick anything up and shoot it, but I also am beginning to realize what I need to help me make the best shots that I’m capable of making. I’m glad that I’m starting to figure that part out. It has taken about a month of playing with different bows, but I feel fairly certain that I have a pretty good idea what I need. I guess time will tell with that.  Here’s a picture of the Guan Ho Ha target. If I eliminate the big misses in the first two practice ends and first scoring end, I feel pretty good about how it looks. Sometimes the score is not reflective of how we actually shot. I shot a much better round than I scored.