Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doing, Teaching, and Dueling

Those Who Can, Do

Went out to the range, walking across a rainy Dedham, trying to improve on last week's pretty good showing. Could not get any kind of consistency, though. Opened with a 23 (of course), and never made any real move to catch up to 25 pace.

No shoulder pain, and not even any real fatigue felt until very near the end. Consistency just eluded me. Some days are like that, and it did not help that I tagged my arm early in the session. Maybe next weekend will be better, and I can pursue a 250 to start a new year.

When all was said and done, I had posted a 227. Good enough to improve on my first scoring round a few weeks ago, but still a loss of 9 points from last weekend.

Those Who Can't, Teach

After I finished shooting, I stuck around (with my bow still set up) and helped some party shooters with their form. There was one little girl who had such an exaggerated stance it was funny. Instead of having her feet shoulder width apart, it almost looked like she was trying to do splits across the shooting line. I spent a lot of ends working with her, helping her adjust her form, and trying to get her to not finish her shots with a flourish (like a symphony conductor), which sends the arrows flying every which way.

When the balloons came out, she did not start well. For the first two ends, her shots were so far off. She popped her neighbor's balloon, then she nearly popped the balloon two lanes away. She was nowhere near her own target, no less popping the balloon.

Then came the final end. Biggest prize at stake, with a bonus for being the first person to pop a balloon and doing it on the first arrow. And lo and behold, this little girl, who a minute earlier seemed to be lucky just to get her arrow within a target width of her lane, took her first arrow and popped her balloon as if it was no big deal and she had been on target all along. I knew she could do it, the little sandbagger.

The Duel in Dedham

As the party was winding down, the question came up on who would take the cross-range shot. Initially, Anthony was going to do it. I had left my bow set up so that I could take it, if given the opportunity, and then it looked like Anthony would do it if I missed with my three arrows. Then it was decided that we would both take the line in lane 1.

Just like in An Archer's Carol, we stepped to the line, Anthony with his wooden traditional bow, me with my (still relatively new) Win&Win. Three arrow shootoff to win everyone in the party a prize. We both knocked out arrows, and took aim. As I was drawing back, however, my arrow slipped off the rest, so I had to reset while Anthony loosed his arrow towards the balloon. Instead of shooting together, we would now alternate shots. Anthony's first arrow missed, and mine followed suit. Second shots each did the same thing. And then Anthony's third also failed to pop the balloon.

I knocked my third and final arrow, all eyes on the range watching what I would do. I don't know how I did it, but I was more relieved than anyone when that balloon popped at the end of my arrow. In this duel, unlike in An Archer's Carol, the Win&Win had won. I don't know if Anthony missed on purpose to put the pressure on me. I know for sure that I was trying to hit it with every shot. And thankfully I was able to do it.

So even without a great score, I still had a pretty good day at the range.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Couple of Archery Posts from Anthony

An Archer's Carol
By Anthony Bellittini

T’was the night before Christmas and all about the range,
Not an archer was stirring – no flying feather or vane.
And I with my quiver stand patiently on line,
With hope that my "friend" will show up on time.

My tab is powdered and string newly waxed,
My shoulders at the ready, I’m set, where’s he at?

Then through the door he came smugly aglow,
Sporting a new Win and Win bow -
“OK I’m here!” he said, - ”Now, let’s get on with this show!”

He set his clicker, and V-Bars, and adjusted his sight,
To myself I thought - Let’s get on with this "fight".

With confidence he stepped into his lane,
Glanced my way and said, “You’ll be sorry I came!”.

So they’re we both were, his new bow against mine,
An old Bear Tamer Lane, that has seen better times.
One end takes all - that was the deal,
A long-standing challenge, today finally made real.

The first shots were his, won by a coin toss,
I didn’t care - I knew he already lost.
He drew and released those 2315’s
To do battle with mine, each one scored a nine.

I lifted my bow and loosed my first arrows,
And just as I visualized them, each flew slowly and narrow.
You see I knew something my dear friend did not,
That into the ten, again, again - my wood shafts were hot!

With the score in my favor, the end result achieved,
I turned to my friend, smiled and said, “its all in how well you believe!”

“It’s the faith in yourself, knowing that you have already won,
that determines the ending even before the competition’s begun.

“I don’t get that”, he said, “I have all this cool stuff!”
“Perhaps, just perhaps, I didn’t buy enough?”

So I bid him farewell and he went on his way,
And I wish you all Great Shooting this year after Christmas Day!

copyright 12/2004

Archery Champion or just another soccer player?
By Anthony Bellittini

Now that Spring has arrived I'm sure many kids will also be participating in other sports such as soccer, baseball, and lacrosse.

It never ceases to amaze me how the coaches of these sports start their recruting in November of the prior year with constant phone messages and emails to families to be certain they have that one more player starting that next spring.

This year, some coaches have increased the ante. Baseball and soccer are BIG Business, and someone has to pay for all those fields. Parents are held in place with threats of their child being dumped from the team if a practice or two is missed.

I've spoken to many parents recently that tell me their son or daughter will have to cut back on archery (or drop archery till fall) because their soccer or baseball coach now has their child practicing two to three hours a day, three to four times a week (essentially locking them out of any other activity - and into theirs), and, not only are they exhausted when they get home, but they hardly have any time for schoolwork.

My heart saddens every Spring because I see such progress in my students cut short because of the high demands of other sports and the parents that give in to them. And then, or if, they return after summer, it's just like starting all over.

I have been coaching archery professionally for almost 20 years. That said, I can assure you that it doesn't take anywhere near that time to know that if an archer practices even 4-6 hours a week- that archer will be a National Champion within a year or two, if they want to take it that far!

Archery is one of only a few sports in which you can accomplish that. That, is what is so amazing about this sport. It's repetitive improvement! It's success that you can be proud of because you accomplished it yourself. You didn't have to rely upon how good another player was, or how much the other team sucked less that day. in order to win.

Archery is a year round sport. Our state archery association and those of our adjoining states all have outdoor tournaments. If one wanted to, you can go to a tournament every other weekend somewhere close by.

Outdoor events are fun! With all the family and team tents, flags, it looks like a modern medieval game.

It's been my goal for a long time, to promote our sport until it becomes as recognized as soccer. So I'm urging everyone not to abandon archery for other sports, perhaps increase your practice time, and keep up with improving your skills!

Thank You,



Climbing Back Up for the Holidays

Spent a long day at the range on Saturday. With the snow coming down, I set off a little late for Dedham. A detour through a couple of shops got me out to the range well after the class had ended, but the range was still empty. Weather had kept a lot of the shooting public away, since no one wanted to be on the roads. I can't really blame them. It was bad enough walking out there, especially considering Dedham dumps all of the snow on their roads onto the sidewalk, making them all but impassable. Have to walk in the streets, staying as close to the sidewalk as I can, keeping a watchful eye on the closest lane of traffic, and getting out of the way as soon as humanly possible.

So I walked into the range, and spent a little while talking with one of the range employees. Because of the Archery USA holiday party, the range was closing at 4:30, instead of at the usual 6, so I finally set up my bow and started shooting. I had no intention of keeping score, but my opening warm up ends were so good, I decided to grab a pen and start counting. As usual, I opened with a 23, and capped my first half round at 124, just a single point behind pace for 250. My sixth end was a solid 25, but I slipped on seven through 10. Ended up at 236, a 13 point improvement over last week, and this time with only myself for motivation (instead of competing with my friends). If I can pick up just 1 extra point every other arrow, I will be right back where I left off in July, at 250.

After I put my bow away, I helped set up for the party. People started trickling in over the next few hours, and then we all sat down in the middle of the archery range to eat a pretty good pot luck. This is an annual tradition at Archery USA, a chance for Anthony to thank everyone for supporting the range, and this year a chance for everyone to welcome Anthony back. This was my first holiday party, and probably my last, as I do not plan to be in Boston next winter. Glad I got a chance to attend this one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back to Normal, with a Little Help from my Friends

Had some guests with me at the range on Saturday. Couple of friends went out to Dedham with me. One even had a car, so didn't have to take the bus or walk across the cold. After a quick lunch, the three of us went in, hoping there would be room on the line for all of us to shoot for an hour. A party was just getting started, and there were some other archery patrons, but we were able to find a trio of lanes, so while my friends got set up with range equipment, I put my bow together, and out to the line we went.

After a couple of warm up ends, one of my friends decided that we should keep score and have a competition. Now keep in mind, I have not had a scoring round since my shoulder started bothering my back in July, so I'm a little apprehensive, but my shoulder has been feeling better, so I agreed. My friends shot at 60 cm targets, while I shot at a 40. It was my suggestion. One didn't really want to go along with it, but in the end decided to go ahead.

Seeing as my friends have shot a grand total of (at most) twice between them in the last four years, it was not much of a contest. They were going at each other for barebow supremacy. I was shooting for a good ten end round. Ended up with a 223, which while not spectacular, is quite respectable for my first scoring round in 5 months. Finally getting seriously on the road to back to normal. Not ready for tournament doubles yet, and won't be for a while, but I was long overdue to return to single rounds. The work will be good for strengthening my shoulder, and I'll have some tangible results to judge my shooting by.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flights, Returns, and Repair Jobs

Three airports, six different security policies, nine kinds of weather, and two coasts later, I have arrived back in Boston with my bow in tow. Dragged it up the stairs to my new apartment, where it promptly sat on the floor for a week while classes started and I got settled. It did make an appearance to show off to my new landlord/roommate, who is interested in learning how to shoot (and made it a condition of my rent that I teach her), but other than that, the case sat in the corner of my room, sitting there, waiting.

Saturday, I returned to Archery USA. Walking down the sidewalk outside the windows, Anthony saw me, and pointed at me as his jaw dropped. Spent the next few hours at the range, back to my usual Saturday tricks.

I finally got around to a much needed repair job on my arrows. I now have 8 newly re-fletched, top-flight condition arrows ready to go. Given the condition of my arrows when I started the repair job, I had enough vanes for 9 arrows, but only enough tape for 8 of them. So at this point, the next time I have to do a repair job on my arrows, I will need to buy a new set of vanes. Another chance to pick colors for my archery set. Taking suggestions as they come.

I did actually shoot on Saturday as well. About a half hour, around 36 arrows (in double ends). Shoulder got tired near the end, and a little sore yesterday, but I'm attributing that to other factors besides shooting. I might even try a scoring round this week. Just one, though. Not quite ready for a tournament double yet.

So I have arrived for my last tour of duty in Boston. The range is still standing, and I feel as welcome there as I did before my west coast hiatus.