Pros and cons of becoming an archer

I’ve been doing archery for about two years now, I think. I like it a lot, and I’m pretty good at it. But I’ve noticed that even something as fun as archery has a few down sides.

Here is a list of pros and cons of becoming an archer.

Pro 1: Better posture.

If you’re doing it right, you’re supposed to use your back muscles to pull back the string. Back muscles are much bigger than shoulder muscles and can take a lot more strain. I’ve found that after a few hours of archery, my back muscles stay tight and I stand up a lot straighter.

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You can’t hear it, but my back muscles are screaming here.

Con 1: Tension headaches

The down side of using your back muscles to pull back the string is that your back muscles stay tight all the time. This has a tendency to lead to pain that crawls up my spine and tries to strangle my brain. Tension headaches bite.

I had a tension headache the other night that felt more like a severe migraine and lasted until two hours after I tried to go to bed. I felt like someone had stuck an ax into the back of my head and was hammering on it.

Pro 2: Increased finger strength

This is true especially for those of us who do the type of archery I do: recurve (or traditional) archery. Most archers who use compound bows also use a release that means all of the weight of the string is on their wrists. However, people like me hold all of the weight on three of our fingers. Which has the effect of beefing up our fingers.

Have you ever had to carry a lot of groceries and it felt like your fingers were about to fall off? I don’t really have that issue. My fingers (at least on the right hand) are used to dealing with worse.

The only down side to this is that the ring that wear on my right hand is getting a tad tight. Well, not the only down side…

Con 2: Dead nerves in fingers

One possible side effect of putting a lot of pressure on one very small spot, like a string on a finger, is that you might hurt the nerves. A few months into my archery career, I realized that my protective finger glove was far too thin. I thought that I was just getting used to the pain on my fingers (and on in particular), but turns out no.

The tip of my finger had just gone numb.

I was a little alarmed when I first noticed, but when I called up my dad (who is also an archer), he just shrugged and said, “Yeah, that happens.” It took a few months, but after I got better finger protection, the feeling did return in my finger.

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Side note: Do you have any idea how hard it is to type when you can’t feel the tip of your finger? It’s not easy.

Pro 3: Increased zombie apocalypse survival chances

Let’s be honest, most of us wouldn’t make it ten minutes in a zombie apocalypse. But I feel like we archers have a little better shot (archery pun. I am not ashamed). At the very least, we can hit the zombies from a distance.

And arrows are reusable, too. Unlike bullets.

Con 3: Mostly an utterly useless skill in normal life (if you don’t hunt)

I mean, it’s cool that I can hit dead center of a target many yards away, but that’s not something that’s going come in handy most of the time. I’m not a hunter, personally, so I can’t even use my archery skills for that. I’ve got this awesome skill that I use mostly just for fun and stress relief.

Pro 4: Really cool fictional characters who share my hobby

Whether it’s Katniss from Hunger Games, Susan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or Legolas from Lord of the Ring, everyone loves the archers. They’re always the coolest member of any fictional universe.

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Stop drooling ladies.

Con 4: Undying annoyance at fictional archery mistakes

It is a general life principle that once you know how to do something, it becomes hard to watch stupid actors attempt to do that thing on a screen. Sometimes the production company pays for the actors to actually learn to shoot. Sometimes the actor can figure it out.

Most of the time, watching actors try to pretend they’re shooting anything just makes me laugh or rage. Take this example from one of the Hunger Games movies:

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First off, her left arm is so hyper-extended that it is a miracle that she doesn’t have forty bruises on the inside of it. Then, I have to ask where is the anchor point??? She’s holding her drawing hand in MID AIR.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble Hunger Games fans, but she’s hitting nothing. Except by pure luck.

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Archery is a ton of fun, most of the time. But, like anything, it comes with a few down sides. Not enough to make me want to stop doing it, but plenty enough to inspire a humorous blog post.

Bonus: Please enjoy this feature that my university’s sports show did with me.

What happens in Vegas… is archery?

I recently returned from an amazing trip with my archery team. In Vegas. Yeah, I went to Las Vegas, Nevada for an archery tournament.

The road to Vegas for most people begins with way too much money and boredom. For me, that road began in Kentucky. For the second year in a row, my team competed in the US Collegiate Archery Association’s indoor tournament. This was two weeks after the semester started.

Now, last year when I did this, I had just joined the archery team in September, and my first competition was this one in March. It was incredibly nerve-racking and was made worse by the fact that literally all of my equipment with the exception of my hat was less than two weeks old. That, and my string broke when I got there (I had an extra, thankfully).

But I still did fairly well. I actually shot the best round of my life, a 207 out of 300 (pretty good for my division). Overall, the Kentucky trip last year was a blast, and I was looking forward to going on this year’s trip.

That is, until things started changing. First, we were told that the competition was being moved from March to January. Which meant that we had a whole lot less time to practice than we normally would. This was made worse because I planned to take time during my Christmas break to practice, but then I had toe surgery and couldn’t stand up for very long for two and a half weeks.

For those of you who don’t know, archery is rather difficult to do sitting down.

Then, we found out that this year’s Kentucky event wasn’t going to be part of the nationals like it was the year before, but instead, was only going to be a true regionals. The top 8 shooters in every division from every regional competition would be going to Vegas.

I had to ask twice to make sure that my coach was talking about that Vegas when he was telling the team this.

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My teammate Evan and me shooting. I’m on the right. (Pic by Meredith Dissinger)

I was ranked 5th nationally last year, and my goal was to stay there. I actually ended up doing a lot better, out-shooting myself by more than 100 points, and I moved up to 4th place. Which secured my place on the Vegas trip.

As you can imagine, I was over the moon, and I was really happy that two other members of my team also scored well enough to join me on the trip.

Which was, of course, only two weeks away. *Cue 80s-style training montage*

I was in the range every other day when I could be, and I competed in a local shoot for two days longer than I needed to just to make sure my form was perfect. Because I’m an idiot and a glutton for punishment, I bought brand-spanking-new arrows and got them fletched the day before we left.

So I shot like a blind monkey for the first day of the shoot, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

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It was too early, but at least the sunrise was nice.

First, we had to fly to get there. Now I like flying. Most of the time. However, waking up at 5am Virginia time, flying all day across three time zones, competing two hours after we landed, and not finishing until 12:30am Vegas time. Yeah, that was less than fun.

The good news is that I apparently shoot better exhausted. Because after a whole day of phenomenally bad shooting (due mostly to the aforementioned brand-spanking-new arrows), I started shooting really well in the shoot-offs.

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My team standing with our bows and plaques. (Pic by my coach, Mitch Reno)

That is how I managed to come into the competition in 4th place and leave it ranked 2nd in the nation. The shoot-offs started at around 10pm Vegas time. My body thought it was 1 in the morning, so why I was able to stand up, much less shoot as well as I did is a mystery. I just kept praying as I shot that I wouldn’t just fall over in the middle of it.

That could have been… messy.

The rest of the shoot wasn’t as eventful. We did get to watch the World Cup of archery, so that was pretty cool. We also went to the trade show, and I picked up a sweet new quiver.

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Sweet new quiver

The trip didn’t end there, of course, but I’ll save for a later post the story of how my coach got us lost on the way to visit the Hoover Dam, so we just decided to run around in the desert for an hour. This post is a little long anyway.

I’ll end it by telling you that we left at 10pm Vegas time that day (Sunday), got back to Liberty at 11am on Monday, and I immediately had to go work for my other club until 8pm. Yeah, I don’t think I woke up again fully until Thursday.

If you’d like to here a little more about the trip and archery general, you can listen to the interview that another member of my team and I did for my friend’s radio show.

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Below are a few more photos from the trip if you’re interested.

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Life Update: March 2016

I’m sorry I’ve been absent for a while. Things have been pretty crazy lately, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to talk about it.

First off, as you’ve probably noticed, the world has been a bit nuts lately. We’ve got terrorist attacks what, every day now? Horrible as it is, I’ve lost count of how many we’ve had and how many families have been torn apart by this insanity. I hate that I’ve gone numb to this kind of thing.

This election cycle has been crazy too, which can mostly be explained with one word: Trump. I don’t even know where to start on this one. The GOP’s frontrunner is a reality television star with a bad attitude and horrible hair. I keep waiting for him to just laugh and say that this was all a big joke and people were never supposed to take it so seriously.

It started out so well. We had conservative powerhouses like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. We had an articulate business woman, a brilliant,  world renowned African American brain surgeon, a few governors, and a senator or two. And now we have… an old, selfish oompa loompa who lives cares about winning at any cost. And Ted Cruz. And Kasich, I suppose. I can’t even comprehend how this happened.

And then there’s the Democrats. I mean, there’s only two of them, but wow are they interesting. Did you ever imagine that an actual self-avowed socialist would be incredibly popular in the United States of America? Did you ever think that the top candidate for any party could stay at the forefront despite record dissatisfaction ratings and an ongoing FBI investigation?

How did this happen?!?

*deep sigh*

Okay, I can calm down. This isn’t the end of the world. We’ll be alright.

this is fine

On a personal note, I’ve been incredibly busy, but I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version.

Compassion International came to Convocation a few weeks ago, and my prayer group decided to sponsor one of the kiddos. This is the one we picked.

Grumpy kids are my weakness.

I’ve been doing a lot of archery. I just got a brand new bow. It’s a white Samick Polaris. I have named it North. Because it’s a Polaris. I’m so creative.

I finally stopped snapping my arm with the string every practice, but not before I got a three inch bruise on my forearm that left me unable to wear my watch for a week. One of my fingers went numb for a about two months. That’s pretty much back to normal now.

I went to a national indoor competition where I got first place at the regional tournament and ranked fifth nationally. Not bad considering that I just started this past semester and literally all of my equipment, with the notable exception of my hat, was less than two weeks old. My string actually broke right before the competition started. Luckily, I had an extra, but I was still a little frazzled the first round.

I watched the Super Bowl. It was fun, I guess. I cheered for the Broncos on the advice of Facebook. I felt pleased with my choice after watching how the QB of the other team acted.

Like I said above, I have been incredibly busy. Before Spring Break, I literally had about three weeks where I got up at 8 or 9am, worked straight through the day, and then went to sleep at midnight or later with no relaxing time in between. I had papers out the wazoo, a couple of tests, and ALL OF THE PROJECTS.

I didn’t actually even get to go back home until Wednesday of Spring Break week because I had to finish an audio project.

But the break was fun once I got the chance to go home. I took two of my friends with me. We only had three days, but we packed a lot into them. We went to the beach, the mall, and the aquarium. Overall, even though I got less introvert time than I probably needed, it was a great break. It was better than last year anyway, when I spent the whole break in bed with a concussion.

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Marijke, Elizabeth, my sister, and me at the VA Beach Boardwalk.

I suppose I should mention that I turned 20 on March 9. I am officially no longer a teenager.

That’s about it, I think. This is the first time I’ve had time to blog in quite a while. Hopefully, I’ll get another one up before three months go by, but y’all know my record.

See you again soon!

P.S.  I’ve started a new review series on my other blog. You should check out the first review: In Search of Effort: “Good, Good Father” Review