Why Do Athletes Need Vitamin D? How Much D Is Enough?

Vitamin D is critical for reaching potentials in life, like the top step of the podium.  Maximum health.  Strongest bones and immune system.  Best neural development in utero.  Avoiding a host of diseases later in life, such as MS and RA, to name just two. (Want to review the whole range of possible impacts? Look to the left side of this page)

To achieve the best elite athletic performance an archer is capable of, as well as to promote “normal” human health, the athlete’s vitamin D must be at least at a “mother-nature” blood level (MNL) throughout the year.  To get there, an athlete needs to either get enough raw, high-quality sunlight, or else take over-the-counter vitamin D3 capsules, about 1,000iu for every 10 to 20 pounds of body weight, daily.  The goal is to achieve a blood level as measured by a 25(OH)D test that is between 50 and 70 ng/ml.  I cite 70 ng/ml because there are studies that show improvement going from 30 up to 70, there are none (yet) that show enhanced performance comes from having more than 70ng/ml.  One needs to be tested in order to know for certain what the blood level is, using what is called a 25(OH)D (aka, 25 hydroxy D) test.

How do you get tested? It involves making a small hole in your hide, and collecting the blood for a special machine.  Your physician can order it, and you may end up paying hundreds of dollars per test.  Or, you can go to the non-profit organization, Vitamin D Council, and order an in-home test kit for $50 (or 4 for $180).  It requires you to prick your finger with the lancet supplied, and put drops of your blood onto circles on a special blotter paper.  Let it dry, mail it in, and in less than 2 weeks, results!  Based on those results, you then adjust your intake of vitamin D capsules, or your daily exposure to sunlight, to get your levels up.  This is really the only to know whether your blood level is competitively at MNL.  The further from the equator you live, the weaker the sunlight.  The weaker the sunlight, the more critical it is that athletes take oral capsules of vitamin D.

That’s the short of it.  For those that want a better understanding of the “why” of my recommendation, read on.

One of the best references published in the last few years is “Athlete’s Edge: Faster, Quicker, Stronger with Vitamin D” by Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council.  Recommended.

This s a link to a page where I have stored a number of good studies on athletics and vitamin D, it’s effects on myelinization, immune, power, etc.

There are also enough published, well-done medical studies for me to conclude several things:

  • No matter how good an archer is, if she is deficient in D she could be perform archery better.  Why? Studies show that  D improves nervous system control over muscles, enhances balance, and increases muscle strength evolution in response to training.  The benefits vary based on gender, genetics, skin type, lifestyle (indoors vs. outdoors), many things.
  • D is one of the few things that actually stimulates the immune system.  Forget vitamin C – D has been shown to increase T-cell and interferon production, increase motility of macrophages, and when at MNL, produce cathelicidins and defensins.  You want to travel on an airplane to a foreign country to compete for Team USA and NOT get sick on the way?  D actually helps this, IF you have a MNL.
  • Far too many physicians (in my personal experience as a pharmacist) do not understand the full nature of mother nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory, nervous system maintenance drug, immune system stimulator, and skeletal structure enforcer.  If they did, they would not routinely refer to a deficient blood level (anything less than about 45 ng/ml) as “ok”.  And they would not keep setting up studies where the subjects in the study never get enough vitamin D to have any reliable effect.
  • The RDA for D in the US is an incompetent 600iu to 800iu per day.  If you give someone 800iu of vitamin D, you literally cannot measure it in the blood seconds later, it is so inadequate.  And no athlete can get to ~50 ng/ml on an 800iu dose per day.  If a person can make 20,000iu in a day from just being in the sun, then 800iu as an RDA  is not only a contradiction of mother nature, it’s an embarrassment.
  • If you read any studies or hear a news story about vitamin D, check what the dose being studied was, and chances are good that the dose was incompetent.
  • Be wary of news headlines, as reporters are usually less informed than most physicians. “Calcium and vitamin D do nothing for osteoporosis” was actually a recent headline. That borders on the criminal.  yikes!
  • Most coaches have little training regarding vitamin D and its effects on athletic performance. This is forgivable, and correctable.
  • Most athletes have even less. Ditto. Mature athletes take responsibility for their training, which includes nutrition and health concerns, so this is your chance to move in that direction.
  • What you don’t know about D CAN hurt you. It can leave you sitting in the stands instead of standing on the steps.  Get that book, or do some reference reading if you can, and at least start getting more vitamin D (but not in the form of a multi-vitamin. Definitely Not Good).
  • In more than 8 years of intense and diligent observation of the literature concerning nutrition and vitamin D, I have yet to find a study that shows that improving D blood levels *ever* decreases performance!

Coach Lee has taught that the main goal of the NTS is to achieve Holding.  My conviction about the NTS is that in addition to Holding,  everything the athlete does in the NTS also synergistically “reduces the circle”.  Firm foundation / stance / posture, lower center of gravity, squeezing the grapefruit, skeletal alignment, the gunbarrel, and so on, ALL serve to create a more steady bow arm which moves and wavers less during the final steps of the shot cycle.

At anchor, it is physically impossible to keep the pin in the aperture perfectly still, right on the desired aiming point – it will always move – BUT you can reduce the hover circle size, greatly enhancing accuracy at the moment of truth, as the arrow is loosed. (Yes, that is an archaic term, but hey, we’re talking archery here – one of the original SPORTS mankind ever developed!)

Improving D has been shown in studies to improve stability and coordination, so therefore, improving your level of D to MNL will help reduce that hover circle and more rapidly quiet the scope.  Your ability to “stand still” and not sway is actually enhanced.  If you are a coach, as you age your risk of falling and fracturing a hip goes up as your D level goes down.  Many studies show that improving D to MNL decreases falls, and also decreases greatly the risk of fractures.

Proper nutrition is just as important as practicing drawing the bow.  Unfortunately you can’t EAT enough of anything that grows or is grown, to get enough vitamin D.

Why?  None of our foods have enough!  You would have to eat so much cold water fish (one of the highest foods in D content) that you’d get mercury poisoning before you reach the MNL.

What to do?  Mother Nature gives us..for free…the Sun.  Sunlight.  (UV-B wavelength radiation, to be most precise).   Through evolution and thousands of generations, our skin, when exposed to quality sunlight, MAKES the vitamin D that is essential for health and for optimal athletic performance.

I define quality sunlight as when your shadow is shorter than you are tall.  In Texas, we can make some D just about year round, if we are out at high-noon.  But if you live further north than the Red River, well, your ability to get to MNL of D goes down because the intensity of the sun goes down, especially in the fall and winter and early spring.  WAY down, in some locations.

MNL?  Mother-Nature Levels. What the average homo sapiens blood level is when routinely exposed to the sun’s UV-B rays, which is around 50 ng/ml.  More than 80% of all Americans fall well below the MNL, some have virtually *no* measurable levels.  I won’t go into all the disturbing diseases and problems which chronic deficiency leaves you open to.

By the way, D3?  D2?  D?   What is the difference?  D3 is what your body makes, the chemical name is cholecalciferol, and when someone is talking about “D”, this is usually what they mean.  It is also the only kind of D available over the counter.  D2 is an artificial and inferior prescription version that your body does NOT make, and when your doctor prescribes it, he’s saying that he hasn’t got a clue about D.  He’s writing for you to take 50,000iu once a week, doesn’t realize that your body must attempt to convert D2 into D3 before it does any good (at a success rate of 50 to 70% ), and in short, doesn’t understand the importance of the MNL.  He’s the one who will look at your blood test result of say, 20 ng/ml, and tell you, “your level is fine”.  Always get the number and decide for yourself what is “fine”.  In my measured opinion, a level less than 20 is a sure ticket to troubling symptoms, diseases and ill-health.  Less than 40 is risking the same.  Less than 45 and you also are not going to be as good of an athlete as you would be, all other things remaining the same.  25(OH)D is a metabolite your body makes from the D3, and some of your organs need this as opposed to the D3.  YOU NEED THE D3, and your body will make the 25(OH)D it needs.

Back to sunlight and exposure for several important points. FIRSTLY, don’t overdo the sun – never burn, and if you find you quickly start to get pink, that is a sign that you are LOW in D, and reaching a point where you are starting to do damage.

Your body makes D in part to protect you from the sun! So do not overdo it, never burn, and don’t tan to excess, because that is damage you don’t need later in life.  You will rapidly discover that the time to “pink” goes from 5 minutes to 30 minutes to hours, as your levels of D build up.  Once you start to pink, THAT is when you should either get out of the sun, cover up, or else, apply sunscreen.  And you should insure the sunscreen blocks UV-A wavelengths! (UV-A does the DNA damage to skin)

The typical caucasian at high noon in Austin, Texas, in July wearing just a bathing suit, (let’s call him Leslie) will make 5,000iu of D in as little as 15 minutes or so.  The darker your skin, the longer making that 5,000iu will take – for truly dark skin it may take FIVE times longer.  This is one reason why a greater percentage of african-americans and latinos have more D deficiency!  Lifeguards typically make 20,000iu in a day, by the way.

So taking 5,000iu a day if you weigh 100 pounds is perfectly safe for the vast majority of people.  I just finished studying a paper regarding prostate cancer and vitamin D, and while giving 40,000iu a day showed positive effects, it noted also there were absolutely NO adverse effects.   NOT recommending that dose for athletes in a long term, but if MY D test comes back with a level of 10, or even 30 ng/ml, I would load for a few weeks with a higher dose, then settle back into a 10,000iu/day dose that keeps me at around 70 ng/ml.  (I weigh 235 pounds, at 6’5″, AND I actively seek sun exposure when I can get it to help boost levels, AND I have been testing my levels for years.)

Bottom Line:  The difference in being on the step and in the stands is a matter of just a tiny percent of the overall score.

Often the two top finishers have to actually have a 1-arrow shootoff, they are so close!  If you can give your athlete even a “measily” 1% enhancement in her performance by insuring good vitamin D levels for free, how can you justify NOT doing that? And since a year’s supply of vitamin D 5,000iu capsules costs less than $20 at most pharmacies, athletes living where the sun isn’t strong enough can still be competitive in their MNL blood levels for less than the cost of a single night out on the town. (hmm, maybe not the best cost example to compare to)

If you want still more information, I recommend the non-profit Vitamin D Council’s website, and I have accumulated a host of studies over the last 8 or 9 years on my own website so that I can refer to them when discussing this with other health professionals.



More On Drugs

Coach, you need to be informed enough to help your athletes avoid negative outcomes. You work hard in creating a better athlete, a better archer. If you don’t know and teach enough about medications, though, your athlete can be eliminated from the top step, even if she/he makes it there.
I was just reading this article, a ruling where two archers were punished for testing positive for diuretic medications.

Diuretics stimulate the kidneys to lose water, often by excreting more salt, so that blood is thicker.  Some athletes use it to “make weight” such as boxers and wrestlers, who compete against others in weight classes.  Archers?  Not so much.  A 90 pound female archer can whup up on a 350 pound macho male in the blink of an eye!  So these two archers are confoundedly guilty – a water pill is not, in my opinion,going to provide any measurable improvement in archery skills, but WILL remove them from competition most definitely. I’ll mention in passing that often, abusers will take a diuretic in the hopes it will “flush out” (ie, HIDE) the abuse of a more devious medicine.  Not good.

Look, archers, coaches, parents, the rules are very clear and easy to follow.  If you are involved with this sport, and you/yours has a chance of competing well, then the chances are there that a NON-OPTIONAL urine test for a banned substance will be in your future.

It’s incredibly easy nowadays to check the drug your doctor wants to prescribe, BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE OFFICE, for safety with USADA – “yew-SAH-duh” – the United States AntiDoping Agency.  They are charged with enforcing the rules in the US, and they are to the WORLD Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as the USOC is to the IOC.

Want to know if a drug is safe?  USADA has a great, easy to use tool you access using your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or computer, to verify whether  any medication, either prescription or over the counter,  is SAFE for taking. It only takes a few minutes to preserve an athletic career!  By the way, there are PLENTY of drugs you can buy without a prescription, that are forbidden in competition – test positive for one after you think you have won the gold, and you will never, ever, be the same when they publicly humiliate you and strip you of your medal.

What to do?  It’s easy!

You go to this link, and I’m going to type it out, not embed it: http://usada.org .  You’ll see a page full of things, but we are going to focus on the “substances” choice on the menu across the top:0002


Left-click on “substances” so you can see several options you need to know about:

  • A link to a list of everything prohibited which you can download to your device to use when you are off-line.
  • a search tool, “Global DRO Online Tool”
  • Drug Reference Telephone Line (yes, you can actually call a human and ASK them)

Le’s focus on the DRO Tool, since it is always going to be the most accurate and update reference short of a human, and unlike a human, available 24/7/365.  (DRO stands for “Drug Reference Online”).0003


Mouse-left-click the DRO icon, and then you go through a couple of screens that you need to take an easy, quick action on, such as what country you are in:


0005You will finally come to this screen, where I have filled in the blanks you will need to fill in with correct answers for who you are: Coach, athlete, etc…






I have chosen a diuretic, one that was part of that case mentioned earlier, called indapamide. Once you click the SEARCH button, you will see a list of ALL the different ways indapamide might be available – say, as a tablet, as an injection, or as part of another combination tablet: 0008

It does not matter which you choose, so select the ingredient you want, and click the “View Status” to find out about in-competition and out-of-competition status of this drug.


See the two red words, “PROHIBITED” ??  How simple is that?  Take this drug at anytime in your competitive career, and you risk getting your ticket cancelled.  Note also there is a reference number?  Let’s say it returned that this was “Not Prohibited“.  This would mean that you can safely take the med – so a smart thing would be to print this out and SAVE it to document the fact.  Or, take a screen shot and email it to yourself, just in case.  This is called “due diligence” – doing what is necessary to protect yourself or your athlete from a mistake made through ignorance.  A mistake for which ignorance is NO EXCUSE!

Ok, let’s get to what I think is the most common risk athletes make – treating themselves for common, minor, ailments like “the crud” or the flu –  stopped up sinuses – where you just go to the drug store and get a pill to dry out your runny nose.  When you check “Sudafed” or “pseudoephedrine” (notice you can search on either brand names or generic names, it doesn’t matter), you get a search result for In-Competition of “Conditional“, so you read further down the screen and it says, “prohibited when the urinary concentration exceeds 150 microgram/mL”.

What that means is that you should NOT take this medication in the week before nor during a competition, unless you can accurately calculate the concentration of the drug in your urine at the time of the test.  Without getting too technical, you are NOT up to the task of calculating the volume of distribution, the rate of metabolization and renal clearance, for ANY drug. I’ve done enough math on the half-life for pseudoephedrine and a typical dose, to estimate that a safe margin is no less than 7 days from a single large dose.  In some cases it may be many more days than that.  So when you see “Conditional“, it is safest to actually read that as “PROHIBITED“.  

You should know that virtually no one ever, ever, successfully evades cheating.  USADA keeps the urine samples for literally YEARS, and goes back to test again and again as the machines get better and more sophisticated.  Medals get revoked even 10 years after they were given, because a new test reveals a cheat.

I’m going through this long exercise, showing you how easy and short it is to CHECK a drug, so that you won’t accidentally take something that causes a broken heart, a lost cause, wasted years of striving to be the best.

Coaches, be proactive on this.  Parents, you too!  Do the checks WITH your athletes so they know how to do it on their own.  Give them homework.   “Check out aspirin, Claritin, Afrin, Delsym, and Mucinex-D” and do it yourself, just so you know.  These are some of the most common drugs I get questions about.

What were the odds for an archer to be tested at an event EVEN if they aren’t part of some elite unit like the JDT or the USAT?  In 2013, a non-games-year, 27 archer urine tests were given by USADA (out of a total of over 9100 tests).  In 2012, a “games” year for both the Olympics and Paralympics, FORTY archery tests were administered. When you consider that at the ranking events and trials there are usually less than 300 or so athletes competing, the odds are actually fairly good someone will get the tap on the shoulder, especially if you finish in the top 6 regardless of your status on a team.

About “Therapeutic Use Exemptions” – aka TUE – they are available on a very, very restricted basis for SOME drugs, IF their committee can be convinced that the prohibited medication is the one and only thing keeping you from dying on the field.  Seriously, it is incredibly hard to get a TUE.  But it can be done.  Read more on…you guessed it…. usada.org .


Tendons. Everybody’s Got ‘Em. Antibiotics Might Be A Problem.

Back in 2009 during a coaching meeting at the COS OTC, I made a brief talk about cameras and drugs. I doubt anyone paid that much attention but I want to bring the “drugs” up again. The reason I talked about them, flouroquinolones in particular, was because at that time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. had just black-boxed them due to a tendon problem.

Remember that tendons are what tie the muscle to the bone.

ALL muscles attach to a bone via tendons.  Catastrophic failure of a tendon is called a rupture, and the tearing of a tendon right off of the bone, an avulsion.  Extremely painful and immediately immobilizing, the athlete may lose a career in an instant.

When a drug company is permitted to make a new drug in the U.S., usually an exhaustive process is followed, including carefully conducted human trials. This makes the safety margin for drugs in the US one of the best in the world, and it also means some beneficial drugs are kept out of the hands of desperate patients.(but that’s for another day).

WHEN a drug has been in use long enough, millions of doses given, there becomes possible the analysis of side effects in a way that was impossible prior to release. Very rare side effects can suddenly be revealed through computer number crunching.

When those appear, the FDA issues a “black-box” warning, stating that the drug has a certain side effect, not strong enough to warrant removing from the market, but a warning none-the-less.

Flouroquinolones (aka quinolones) are antibiotics. Very potent.

They are NOT usually considered the first-line, “drug of choice” (DOC) for any particular infections, but useful when there is a reason not to use the DOC, such as patient has an allergy or the DOC failed to work, or a lab test shows it is more suitable than the DOC.
ANYWAY, the new black-box warning for these drugs was and is that it increases the chances of a tendon rupturing months later, after the athlete forgets he/she ever took it. Know any athletes who’ve ruptured an achilles tendon? (basketball, football, track, etc.)  Or had a “joint/muscle pain” that happened during training/competition, right out of the blue)?
There is a distinct possibility that if an athlete has a respiratory infection, a paralympian gets a staph infection on his stump (very common), or a swimmer has a chronic UTI, they all get a quick script from a doctor or nurse practitioner for Cipro, and then, months later might blow their future olympic dreams during the stress of a competition, or even simply walking across a field. It can happen to archers, as the tendons surrounding the shoulders are subject to repetitive and intense stress.  There is no warning.  No “funny feeling” beforehand.  Just a sudden and massive “pop”, and the loss of the function.  The next stop: surgery.

Coaches:  Talk with your athletes about drugs in general, and cipro/levaquin/etc. specifically.   And include the parents, training buddies, related coaches (ie, you are a private archery coach and the student also participates in baseball, then the baseball coach!), who might be involved in the decision-making process to seek medical attention at some point in the career.

WARN ABOUT CIPRO and the other flouroquinolones!

There are USUALLY other antibiotics that can be chosen in place of CIPRO to do the same thing.  If the practitioner understands the risks and weighs the potential benefits properly, 99% of the time there will be an alternative to a quinolone for any given infection.

Here is a chart of the flouroquinolones:

Generic Brand Name
First Generation
Flumequine Flubactin
Nalidixic acid NegGam, Wintomylon
Oxolinic acid Uroxin
Piromidic acid Panacid
Pipemidic acid Dolcol
Rosoxacin Eradacil
Second Generation
Ciprofloxacin Cipro, Cipro XR, Ciprobay, Ciproxin
Enoxacin Enroxil, Penetrex
Lomefloxacin Maxaquin
Nadifloxacin Acuatim, Nadoxin, Nadixa
Norfloxacin Lexinor, Noroxin, Quinabic, Janacin
Ofloxacin Floxin, Oxaldin, Tarivid
Pefloxacin Peflacine
Rufloxacin Uroflox
Third Generation
Balofloxacin Baloxin
Gatifloxacin Tequin, Zymar
Grepafloxacin Raxar
Levofloxacin Cravit, Levaquin
Moxifloxacin Avelox, Vigamox
Pazufloxacin Pasil, Pazucross
Sparfloxacin Zagam
Temafloxacin Omniflox
Tosufloxacin Ozex, Tosacin
Fourth Generation
Besifloxacin Besivance
Gemifloxacin Factive
Sitafloxacin Gracevit
Trovafloxacin Trovan
Prulifloxacin Quisnon

Last thought:  Some archers are lost to the sport because they develop an intractable pain, a sharp shooting pain in the vicinity of the shoulder, or in the back.  I have no way to confirm how many are due to a small tendon tear, but the odds are good that some are.   Now you know, and so may the odds be ever (better) in your favor…

The Most Common Injury To Archers?

Even with the NTS, the archer has as a great risk injury to parts of the drawing mechanism.  The most common injury to beginning archers is of course, the string slap to the bow forearm.  NTS coaches know that this has a simple fix – rotation of the bowarm into a vertical elbow, proper tricep tension, etc…oh, and of course, an arm guard in the appropriate position at the point of loose. (release of the arrow).

Beyond the simple, the part of the arrow deliver system, the physical part that is most subject to abuse, inflammation, injury, and pain is likely the shoulder region.  It is not designed specifically for the precise duress and motions involved with drawing a bow, when the athlete uses the wrong mechanics!

I know from personal experience that the archer who allows the string shoulder to rise up during the drawing motion will most likely develop pain!

Even with the best mechanics, the design of the shoulder varies from person to person and problems such as inflammation and pain can develop.  I have noticed that there are “channels” and “pathways”, where the motion of drawing can be LESS painful for even the injured archer, if the shoulder is kept at just the right level.  A few fractions of an inch too high, and the pain can be enough to leave the sport.  IF THE COACH CANNOT DETERMINE THE BEST PATH TO AVOID PAIN, even if it departs from the “ideal” NTS method, the coach may fail the athlete.

Human physiology is not uniform.  It varies.  So to must the coach vary, in approach, to insure continued success in the athlete’s development!  Without flexibility the coach may be worth than useless. First, cause no harm.

A medical perspective about “shoulder impingement” helps, even if you do not have a medical background: General Introduction to shoulder impingement.   More In-depth review.  I also suggest you review google search on images for “shoulder impingement”, and pay attention to the the way the shoulder – the clavicle, the acromium, the attachment to the ball of the humerus, all the designs of mother nature, for a LOW motion rather than a HIGH motion when the area is under duress.  The tendon is in a lousy place for moving a heavy load in just the way a bow requires when the load is applied too high.

Final words:  be flexible.  Having a “too-low” shoulder is not the worst thing for the NTS.  Failing an athlete is.

(IS) There Is Only The Right Way!?

I am currently in a situation, a classroom, with more than 30 coaches from some 20 countries.  The majority of the coaching instruction is coming from one U.S. Coach, Don Rabska, for whom I have the greatest respect and appreciation.

He’s emphasized something time and again, that many coaches in the U.S. do not fully understand, nor feel comfortable with.


It is ok to teach a customized-for-the-individual-needs of the athlete.  The obvious provisions come into awareness for the athlete with a physical impediment (aka a paralympian) but a wise coach may find it productive to change a part of the method in order to succeed with an archer that has other issues – say, a shoulder impingement from some other sport.  I recall one JDT camp I was an observer at, where I was repeatedly admonished to watch, to observe, and to shut up.  Two separate youths were shooting their hearts out (among many others) to try and make the team, and who I was to observe.  Each   had some issue that were obvious to me as painful, “hitches in their giddyup”, but they were bound and determined to gut it out and shoot exactly as the JDT coaches were teaching – in one, the dad was also watching, adding the pressure.

I ended up accompanying one of them to the sports medicine facility, his JDT experience effectively “shot” because of the pain in his shoulder.  Career in archery effectively over.

With what I came to know afterwards, and what is being emphasized now in this superb class, if the normal draw path causes pain, a good coach should be able to explore other paths, try different methods, to avoid pain yet achieve a consistent shot method. And to do so without delay or floundering!  The first sentence in my coaching philosophy is, “First, do no harm”, and it is that way because I was victim to a feckless individual who called himself a coach yet nearly destroyed an archer near and dear to me.

The predominant method for teaching archery in the U.S. is the NTS, and I deeply believe it is the best method for uniform archery instruction ever employed in the U.S. .  BUT, it is not a “one size fits all” rigid code.  A good coach learns as many styles, methods, and philosophies as possible, NEVER stopping his/her own learning process, in order to bring to the student every resource possible.  A coach must have as many arrows in the quiver as possible, and know which one to use for a particular “target” in training the athlete.  If the athlete needs to draw lower than the average height at “set up”, so what?  The critical element is whether that enables said archer to achieve holding or bridging without pain in the shoulder assembly.

Be flexible.  Be innovative.  Be open to using alternative methods that help, not hurt, your athlete.  Just be sure your adjustment is a positive one for the archer, not an unthinking compromise to a rigidity in thinking that causes failure or injury.

Preparing X10 Arrows, or “how much is too much?”

Arrows need to be assembled, unless you are working with fiberglass arrows.

For the vast majority of archers, this is the priority in arrows:

  • Right Length (so the arrow does not fall off the rest and go through the hand)
  • Sufficient Stiffness (so the arrow doesn’t whip against the bow as it is shot)
  • Correct nock (so that it does not fall off the string)

Once the archer is beyond the first few weeks/months, and wants to “move up” and buy her/his own gear, I usually suggest purchases in this order:

Finger tab – the most personal piece of archery gear, and one of the most critical. At this writing I recommend ONLY the Black Mamba finger tabs.  I’ll write about them soon and why an archer would want them over the others out there on the market.

Arm guard – needs to not be the bicep-to-wrist covering length which just potentiates bad habits. The simpler the better, and the smoother, the better.

Riser – Generally has to be bought at the same time as limbs, but some clubs will have loaner limbs (desirable especially in younger archers where strength and bone growth plates are still active).

Limbs – as skill evolves, so does strength.  Limbs are the energy handling part of the bow and the dynamics dictate a *lot* of things.  I suggest any archer always save every pair of limbs owned, so as to have a library to choose from as future circumstances (say, recovery from injury, change in methods) might dictate.

sight, plunger, clicker – these are relatively inexpensive and purchase usually comes with the riser if the archer is inclined to acquire accuracy at  longer distances.  Barebow archers sneer at these, of course.

ARROWS.  back on topic!

Arrows are chosen by environment:  Hunting, Outdoor Target/3D/Field, Indoor Target.

Hunting arrows carry heavy tips and need lots of stiffness.  Enough said since they are a whole ‘nother topic.

Indoor – briefly, they can be thicker, cheaper, aluminum arrows with larger feather vanes.  Since indoor distances tend to the 18 meter length, you want aerodynamics exerting effects faster, hence the larger vanes/feathers.  Some archers feel they get a scoring advantage with large shafts (“guppies”) that might cut a line and yield an extra point.  Most world records, however, have been set with slender arrows in recent years, though not all.

To the outdoor target/3D arrow:  The hollow, carbon, or carbon/aluminum arrow, especially the X10!

These are a good example of the height to which our civilization’s technical abilities have risen (much like the riser and the limbs).  The most medals, probably 99% of all archery Olympic medals since 1972 (when archery was re-introduced into the Olympics) have been won with an Easton Arrow, and the majority of those were with the X10 arrow, an aluminum tube-wrapped-in-carbon-fibers-embedded-in-a-carbon-resin shaft which is barrel shaped to provide an accurate, aerodynamic performance even without vanes.   These shafts are strictly uniform in weight and stiffness, such that the factory actually rates them into batches of 12 shafts that are closely identical (not perfectly, however!).

The arrowheads for X10s are actually called points, and the most common form in use is a stainless steel point with a smaller shaft portion that is inserted into the hollow front end of the X10.  By the way, what I describe for the X10 goes for the other similar shafts, including the all-carbon versions.

The points have notches in the insertion part, so that you can change the net weight of the point by breaking off a section.  Breaking a section off is fairly simple, requiring two sets of pliers, and a careful technique to avoid bending the rest of the point’s shaft.

To mate them with the shafts, the points are heated slightly with a clean flame, some special hot glue (supplied by the manufacturer) applied to the insert portion, then pushed into the front end of the arrow shaft and held steady for a few seconds until the glue “sets”.  Excess glue is removed with fingers.  With a little practice, the fix is permanent and the points are in for good, but can still be removed with gentle heating of the tip if needed.  Heat must never be applied directly to the carbon shaft as it will cause the front of the arrow to weaken and perhaps crack sometime during its future.  If the glue become liquid or fluid when applied to the insert shaft, it is too hot for the carbon , so wait until the glue become viscous before inserting.  If you cannot hold the point in your bare fingers, it is likely too hot.

In preparing one archer for a major world championship event, I was driven to get everything as right as possible.  Since I had a scale at the pharmacy that measures accurately down to just a few mg, I decided to really get precise.

First, I got 2 dozen new X10s courtesy of my archer’s sponsor, Easton, and I confirmed the arrows were all the same rating.

After cutting each new shaft (of 2 dozen) with meticulous care, working outside with an Apple arrow saw, I used a can of compressed air, with a straw attached, to blow out all dust from inside the shafts.  (never breathe the dust during cutting/cleaning)

Then use a paper towel soaked with either 70 or 91% rubbing alcohol to rub down the outside of the shafts.  Use just enough pressure to feel the shafts resonate as you do this, and change the surface of paper contacting the shaft frequently. You’ll see a good deal of dark residue the first pass, and less with the next pass.  Don’t overdo this, and be careful using 91% alcohol as it is flammable – burns with an invisible flame (!). Also, while some will recommend using acetone or mineral spirits, I dislike (as a pharmacist) using such toxic chemicals that are sure to be absorbed through the skin.  Some may also harm the resin, shortening the life of the arrows and/or affecting accuracy as they age.

Next, clean the inside of the tube where the points and pins (for pin nocks) will be glued.  I use 8″ long pipe cleaners which come in packs of 30 or 100 at party stores and Arts/Crafts stores.  Cut them in half with scissors once and you have a lifetime of cleaners.  Dip one end of a cleaner into the alcohol for an inch or two, then insert carefully into the arrow shaft.  Some will drip, so be careful.  Insert/remove the cleaner once or twice each end, and discard.  Take a dry cleaner and follow the same in and out a couple of times.  The cleaner should not have much dark residue discoloration – if you are in doubt, repeat the process.  NOTE that you don’t need to clean any deeper than the point will reach.

Here’s where I got really obsessive-compulsive.  I do realize that the density of the resin causes a variance in the “per inch of shaft” weight and stiffness, and it’s impossible for me to equalize that variance.  But I can take some steps to even out the net weight of the arrow, and the variance between point weights.

I weighed each arrow shaft at this point, and used post-it notes to label each, and I laid them down in order of weight.

I also recorded the weight of each on paper, and then found the average weight, the max, and the min weights.  There were almost no identical weights, by the way, given that my scale was so precise.  It is able to weigh a single grain of salt, for example.

Next, I took the points, and thoroughly cleaned them with alcohol to remove all machine residues and grime.  You want to do this in any case, even if you are not going to weigh them – the cleaner the “glue” sites are the better the glue will work.

If you weigh all of the points, each will vary slightly as well.  If you have to break off a section (or two) in order to get to the right dynamic spine of the arrow, you introduce even more variability to the arrow weight, the spine, and the grouping behavior of the final arrow product.

I broke off a section for each point, and then I did the same weighing series, and post-it labeling.  I compared the max weights and min weights, to calculate what was the best combined weight I could use as a target value for all arrows.  In other words, how could I combine a given point with a given shaft, and end up with the arrows weighing as close as possible to each other.

I had some combinations that were “outliers” on the too-heavy side, even after swapping combinations around.  For those, I carefully lightened them up using a dremel/grinding wheel on the break-of end of the point, and then carefully cleaned them.

When gluing the points, I was careful to apply enough glue to fill the break-off valleys.  I doubt the glue all stayed there in those valleys, but I know that at the start of insertion the amount of glue was the same.  Once they were all glued, I was surprised at how little more weight they gained from the glue, and there was next to nothing in the way of variance.  Also, clean your fingertips with alcohol frequently to eliminate the oils that will leave discolorations, if you are as obsessive as I am 😉

I was likewise very careful gluing in the pin nocks, regarding weights and glue use.  The final 24 arrow products were all as uniform as I could make them in terms of weight overall.

My archer was able to shoot groups with bare X10 shafts from 70 meters which made this next much easier – remember that X10s have good aerodynamics due to barreling which no other shafts do.  If your archer isn’t that consistent then use a distance that works best.  All shafts were uniquely numbered, and we kept track of the top performers over several days, selecting Team A and Team B groups.  We then fletched 8 of each team with kurly-vanes, leaving 4 bare shafts for tuning purposes in each team.  I don’t see any functional difference between spinwings and kurlys, but the archer liked the bling factor of the kurlys (red holograms in particular), and whatever makes the archer happy…

At the end of the tuning process the bare shafts were impacting at 10 to 11 o’clock, within 2 rings of the fletched group center at 70 meters, so we then fletched the rest of the arrows and called it a done deal.

I did not do this before Athens, and I have always fretted about leaving something on the table ever since.  Doing whatever YOU feel is worthwhile, will leave you able to sleep nights as a coach.

Note: if I was doing this again, I would consider: fletch ALL of the arrows initially, then TAPE down with vane tape the vanes, so they have the weight at the back end with none of the aerodynamics, and compare behavior.  An engineer I greatly admire at Hoyt used this method, and I’ve sometimes wondered whether the ensuing drag was a greater influence than the weight, in terms of evening behavior out when bare-shaft-testing the bow’s tune.  It’s probably a wash for all but the top 1% of archers, but it certainly bears testing.

Long Term Athlete/Archer Development

A splendid coaching document was brought to my attention by Tom Barker.  I’ve long known and respected the Canadians for their level-headed and all-inclusive approach to the sport of archery.  They often have a unique perspective on elements of coaching, as well.

While no program is perfect, the Canadians have seemed to me to often be on the leading edge of developing a more well-rounded program that does not sacrifice the well-being of the individual athlete for the sake of national dominance or even “excellence” to the elite level.   Excellence in a program is possible without disregarding the ultimate welfare of the participating athletes.

There is a philosophy of “you are not doing your best coaching unless you push all your athletes so hard, you lose 25% to injury or burnout.  The knowledge that for the limited number of spots on a national training team, the competition is so high that if coach “uses up” an athlete, there are plenty more eagerly waiting where that one came from who are just dying to get a shot seduces a coach into a win/lose coaching mentality.  It does not have to be that way.

This document might help you to develop a win-win coaching philosophy that does not require you to sacrifice *any* athletes in pursuit of excellence.

I do not believe there is a more well-developed overall plan of athlete/archer development for all levels of athletes anywhere. Every coach should read and evaluate this, and incorporate elements into your own philosophy for coaching.

Nerves. A Coach Often Struggles To Teach The Athlete To Deal With Anxiety Of Performance.

Mike Rowe has a way with words.  Here are some of his best on the topic of being nervous about a looming event.  To be direct, this was on FaceBook, and is copyright (as far as I know) for fair use.  Mike Rowe’s awesome website for his MikeRoweWorks program is well worth your visit and your support.

nervousness by Mike Rowe:

(A woman wrote to Mike to ask about her nerves at adopting the course of welding as a sea-change in her life’s course)

Hi Jenn

Most friends of this page know better than to ask me for advice, primarily because I’m known to give it. So heads up – while I can offer you a variety of words, I can’t vouch for their wisdom…

You’re 27-year old single mom. You’re about to enter what many still consider to be a man’s field. If you’re not nervous, you’re either arrogant or naive, two qualities rarely associated with great welders, and far more difficult to remedy than the apprehension you feel today.

Nervousness is like sea sickness. It’s a normal reaction to an unfamiliar setting. It won’t kill you, and it’ll probably go away as you become acclimated to your new environment. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Because like nausea, nervousness can turn you into a pathetic pile if ineffectual humanity. So it’s best to treat the condition before the symptoms really jack you up.

The first step is admitting that you’re nervous, and not just on Facebook. When I’m nervous or unsure of something, I make sure everyone around me knows it. Especially the people who are causing me anxiety. The more I try to appear “not-nervous,” the more likely I am to shit my pants. Nervous people who deny their apprehension are like seasick people who deny their nausea. It’s only a matter of time till the vomit squirts through their fingers, as they stand gamely on the Lido deck, trying to pretend that all is well.

Back in 1990, I had just been hired as a show host on QVC, and I was nervous. Very, dreadfully nervous. I had no experience on live TV, no prior training, and no knowledge of how the many products I was supposed to be selling actually worked. Plus, I really needed the job. (In those days, QVC hired anyone who could talk about a pencil for more than six minutes, and put them on live television for a three-month probationary period. The washout rate was 99%, and many of those who debuted on the graveyard shift never showed up a second time. Trust me – it was nerve-wracking.)
On my first night, I was a mess. My palms were sweaty and my stutter was threatening to return at any moment. My first item was something called The Amcor Negative Ion Generator. I had no idea what it did or why anyone would desire a preponderance of negative ions. So when the red light appeared on the top of the camera and the director pointed at me and said, “You’re up,” I looked into the lens and told something very close to the truth.

“Good evening. My name’s Mike Rowe. This is my first time on live television, and frankly, I’m a nervous wreck. Furthermore, I have no idea what to say about The Amcor Negative Ion Generator. So please, if you watch this channel often and have any useful facts about this particular item, call the number on your screen and tell the operator you need to speak with me right away. We’ll chat, and hopefully, sell a few of these things.”

The directors jaw hit the floor, and the lines immediately flooded with calls. For the next three hours, viewers offered all sorts of encouraging words. They explained the purpose of whatever crazy product had been plucked from QVC’s bottomless inventory of and made me feel welcome. In this way, I was trained for my job not by the people who hired me, but by the people who watched me. Interestingly, sales were brisk. And more importantly, my nervousness went away.

Point is Jenn, most nervousness comes out of fear and insecurity, and those things can usually be made much smaller with a big blast of unapologetic honesty. Also, curiousity is a great replacement for nervousness. The things that make people nervous – ignorance and uncertainty – are the same things that make people curious. And yet, it’s hard to be nervous and curious at the same time. Nervousness will keep you from trying new things. Curiosity will force you to. So try to replace your apprehension with a heightened measure of wonder. Be intrigued by the uncertainty before you. Don’t look at your ignorance or your inexperience as the enemy. Look at them as the necessary qualities which allow you to become a more curious person.

Finally, google women and welding. You’ll feel better. You’re learning a solid trade at the right time, and your gender has some real advantages in this career.

Good Luck.

Here ends Mike’s words.  Consider well how you can benefit, apply, these concepts.  As with Coach Wooden, the words are somewhat simple, but the reason behind them a golden nugget for the worthy prospector.


Why You’re Most Likely To Get Sick…


Or rather, Pre. dendum.  an article came to my attention, and I want to include it in this treatise on air-travel and infections.  It makes a few good points.  Hopefully this link will be active for the duration.


If you are serious about your archery game, you must attempt to compensate for the stresses your body must deal with.   Heavy physical training makes consuming adequate nutritional variety more difficult – how many great athletes do you know that are perpetually fighting some minor infection or flu bug? (lots)
Science has shown for many years that when a human body is “anergic” (lacking in total nutrients needed) that the first thing that gets sacrificed is the body’s primary defense barrier in the immune reaction system.

SO you must insure a good source for as wide of a variety of fruits, vegetables, berries, and proteins as possible, not just before a tournament but like the Olympics, EVERY DAY…  Of course you must also properly hydrate so that your kidneys can freely dispose of the metabolic wastes you produce.  Following the concept of compensation, recovery, and supercompensation is a good way to avoid overtraining and weakened immune function.

Traveling in an aluminum tube at 30+ thousands of feet

We have to get to where the action is.  Rarely will the tournament be at home. There are several risk factors to be aware of – most can be minimized – in flying for 8 to 12 hours (or more) en route.

Humidity in jet planes is virtually non-existent.  Why is this critical?  Your sinus cavity and throat, even your esophagus and bronchi, are lined with mucous membranes which produce a barrier of thick, gooey, mucopolysaccharides (aka snot) that are rife with white blood cells.  Any foreign bacteria you inhale gets physically stuck on this stuff, digested, and killed.   WHEN you are at a low humidity in a plane, your production of snot goes way down, and the mucous beds actually become much more thin, much LESS of a physical barrier.  You lose much of that first line of defense, so when the person in 12b from some far away country starts hawking up a lung, YOU are more at risk for absorbing his viral or bacterial donation.  Incubation periods vary, but this is often why 2 to 5 days AFTER your flight, you suddenly have a “cold” or a head full of phlegm and the grizzlies. Often that is right when you are supposed to perform at your peak.

Smart frequent fliers realize this humidity-related risk, and plan for each trip by spending a couple of bucks at the drug store buying “normal saline nose spray”, brands include Ayr and Ocean – these are sterile solutions of water with just enough salt to match your body’s own fluids – no stinging or burning.  During the flight, about EVERY 15 minutes, you should inhale in each nostril a shot of spray, and your membranes won’t thin out and your mucous production remains both more thick and effective.  Once you are home, throw that bottle of spray away – it contains no preservatives and so could become a host colony of bacteria over time, sitting in your travel case after having been used.

At the hotel

Another Frequent Flyer (FF) trick:  Run a hot shower, but stopper the tub drain, and leave the curtain open as much as possible without water on the floor.  Locate the bathroom exhaust vent on the wall near the tub, and place a kleenex over it to impede the loss of the steam.  If you have clothes on hangers that are wrinkled, hang them from the curtain rod – the steam will release the wrinkles (don’t spray them with the water, though).  Once the air is so thick you can’t see yourself in the mirror, breathe deeply through your nose, exhale through your mouth for at least 5 minutes.  You are rehydrating your breathing passageways – don’t be shy about clearing your sinuses by blowing them – the mother-nature method is much better than with a kleenex, by the way.  Once your tub is full, do NOT drain it.  Open the bathroom door, and let the steam escape into the room, increasing humidity and making it more sinus-friendly for you throughout the night.  This is especially useful during winter months when the humidity is, you guessed it, low.


No, this doesn’t mean those things wrapped in a foil packet (although those are a good idea, always).  If you fear you are coming down with “something” despite your best precautions, you must be mindful of USADA restrictions on taking certain drugs both in and out of competition. Sudafed, for example, is a definite no-no.   The only true immune booster that you can take without a prescription, that has zero adverse side effects, and actually increases T-Cell production, Interferon production, and improves the motility of your macrophages (your white blood cells get around better to englobe foreign invaders, is known incorrectly as “vitamin D”, and USADA has no problems with it.
It’s not truly a vitamin, but that doesn’t matter – your body can make it, the Over-The-Counter version is called D3 and is exactly the chemical your body makes so there is little chance of an adverse reaction.  MOST people are deficient in it, so their immune systems are challenged.  Taking 50,000iu a day for 3 to 5 days is much more than the minimum daily allowance, but will not be dangerous for the otherwise healthy athlete.  What it will also do in addition to the above mentioned benefits is enable your body to create “cathelicidin”. (hint: follow the link)
Since insuring your blood level of D (test is a “25(OH)D” test) is 50 to 70 ng/ml has been shown to improve balance and muscular strength, it is a win-win.  Since it is safer than water, cheaper than bottled water, it is actually a triple win!  BTW: A ng is a billionth of a gram, which means that not much at all can sure have a hugely beneficial effect on health.

I still don’t feel good

Despite your best efforts, your head is about to explode,  Or, you can’t take ten steps away from the toilet without feeling *very* insecure.  Being a Boy Scout (be prepared) can be a life-saver and keep you competing.

USADA is your friend.  Check ahead of time for what you can pack with you “just in case”.  Pepto Bismol for stomach cramps and upset?  In-competition archery, it’s legal.  Plain antihistamines for sinus symptoms like Claritin or Zyrtec?  OK.  (but NOT the combinations with pseudoephedrine!) Phenylephrine (a weaker version) – ok.  Afrin, a nasal spray that can relieve clogged sinuses quickly and for just a few hours – legal – but do not over use it or it will stop working for you.
LOPERAMIDE (Imodium) – this can be a huge comfort, as it can stop diarrhea – is legal in archery for both in and out of competition.  These are all available OTC, as individually wrapped tablets/capsules, so they travel well and don’t take up much room, and you can carry them with you to the field.  Don’t expect finding these will be easy at your competition city!   And if you are in doubt – always check the drug against USADA’s search tool, and printscreen the USADA results page that say it is ok – the page includes a reference numbeR that *may* be useful in arguing.  Bottom line, check USADA about *anything* that is a medicine, that you are taking to cause a change in your body’s functions especially if it is available without a prescription.  Do NOT remove these tablets from their packaging that positively identifies them.  Mysterious tablets in one’s possession in foreign places can be a distraction from competition!


For the seasoned traveling competitor this is an obvious, but…Never drink from a water bottle that has been opened outside of your immediate control.  If you have a doubt about which one is yours, toss it and get a new one.  DO stay hydrated – if you are not feeling the need to urinate every hour or so during competition, you are possibly falling behind in hydration BUT DO NOT OVERDO!  Don’t drink only straight water in hot sweating occasions – alternate with propel, gatorade, etc. for electrolytes and variety in flavor as you are more likely to stay caught up.  NEVER ever accept an open drinking container from another competitor or coach that is not a member of your team, and likewise be cautious with anything taken internally – food, candy, gum, etc..   Another good reason to know your balance needs – when USADA does come calling on you after an event, if you are dehydrated your urine will not be acceptable to the test.  You’ll have to drink, wait for it to percolate through the kidneys, and then test.   If you have been TOO aggressive in hydrating, your urine will actually be too WEAK in concentration, and then you must wait even longer before you are able to provide a testable sample.  Smart athletes gauge the conditions, and drink accordingly.

BEFORE Competition

Sure, you are in a new country with exotic and fun things, including foods.  Before your competition, stick with the “normals” as much as you can, including ENROUTE.

Travel with your comfort foods in your carry-on, along with your finger tabs, releases, (yadda yadda you know the travel drill for your gear!) peanut butter (including the pre-mixed-with-jelly, and the packaged in squeeze tubes kind), beef jerky if that is your passion, craisins, trail mix, etc…  And try to buy several smaller sizes rather than one big size.  Makes for easier packing, and reduces the chances of contamination.

If you want a personal recommendation on a neutraceutical, USADA-safe, that travels extremely well and insures nutrient intake is maintained under *any* circumstances which I recommend and sell, email me.  Athletes the world over (23 countries so far and in a number of NGB-sanctioned diets) are discovering what I have been using and recommending for more than 8 years, it again is USADA safe and has more gold-standard studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals than any other neutraceutical.

Addendums after the post:

If you do develop diarrhea be aware that your hydration needs will triple or quadruple. Imodium is much safer than Lomotil for a competitor, but if Imodium(loperamide) doesn’t work resorting to Lomotil may be a rational decision but be aware that Lomotol WILL alter your senses.

Technical Medical/Clinical Talk

Normally, your large intestine’s main function is to regain water from your gut to help homeostasis.  That means muscles of your large intestine squeeze the water out of your stool, kneading it like bread dough, and return the water to your bloodstream so that you do not endure wide swings in your blood thickness.  That is why when you are dehydrated, like when you go to the AZ cup, you are more likely to be dehydrated AND constipated, with harder, smaller stools.

But things like unusual bacteria (which are not pathological in the traditional sense) that cause diarrhea to the unfamiliar switch the great bowel muscles from the kneading dough mode to a propulsion, get the heck out of dodge mode, forcing the contents that offend your body out as quickly as possible, homeostasis being less important than hydration stability.  In essence, mother nature knows it is better to be dehydrated than retain that which offends and might rot your gut.  IF you develop diarrhea, taking more fluids, especially with electrolytes, is critical for maintaining muscle strength.  After a bout of diarrhea, you WILL be weaker even if you do not feel such is the case.  Rehydration, but with the right mix of electrolytes, is key.  (No, drinking lots more beer is not going to help)

In the timing of competition once begun, it’s likely that what you do in the the short term is what wins out.  Regaining fluids, simple sugars for short-term energy, potassium and magnesium for muscle contractility, these are paramount.  AFTER the event, taking probiotics you carry with you or eating local yogurts, to re-establish the flora in the gut will provide the faster path to normalcy.  It is suspected that the appendix provides the inoculants of beneficial bacteria for the recovery after the diarrhea attack but that takes longer time for the colonies to multiply and spread.  It’s much faster to supply the gut with probiotics, which are encapsulated and USADA safe.

The bacteria making up yogurts in say, America, will be FAR different than that found in perhaps, Turkey or Mexico.  NOT PATHOLOGICAL, (DISEASE CAUSING), JUST DIFFERENT.   During a prolonged stay, for say the Olympics, where the athlete will likely be exposed to foreign bacterias for many days, inoculating yourself early after arrival with native bacteria can actually LESSEN the debilitating effects which might occur during competition by precipitating them during the acclimation and practice periods.  I for one am NOT a fan of having the athlete stay at the Oly village and eat nothing but McDonalds – it might be “safe” from a bacterial sense, but a cratering of nutrition otherwise and very, very bad for supercompensation goals.   NO smart US athlete eats nothing but McDonalds (and yes, Usain Bolt swears he ate nothing but chicken nuggets during his games, but that *may* have been a step up in his dietary quality) on the way to the games so why eat that way in the moments leading up to the penultimate competitive moment in an 8 or 12 year odyssey?  No sense there.


What can you do?

Your fairly inexperienced archer shows up with not one, not even two, but multiple things changed, such as:

  • new, heavier limbs (by more than 2 pounds difference)
  • a new fingertab
  • altered bow grip with plumbers’ epoxy
  • clicker (for the first time)
  • added weights to the stabilizer
  • added lateral bars to the stabilizer setup (with weights)

So what do you do, coach?  Hissy Fit?

You may need to decide what the net impact is, when the archer realizes he/she has lost all semblance of the shot skill from before.

There is the distinct possibility that this is a good thing – get it all over with faster – by making so many changes that the archer’s brain is totally discombobulated and you can make huge strides in correcting form issues and technique bad habits.  It provides an opportunity for you to stretch your coaching muscles.

Or, this has such a negative impact on performance, or else you kneejerk the reaction so badly, that the athlete becomes disillusioned and quits the sport.

Finally, more cautiously, sometimes the best coaching technique is that of benevolent observation and inaction, followed by acute inquiry….After all, the coach has an obligation to WORK with the athlete, as long as the athlete is working.  I think I like this approach the most – it’s like, “hmmm, very interesting.  How does that make you feel”? that psychiatrists are so famous for using in *any* situation.  SEE what negatives crop up, deal with/knock them down one at a time, and seize upon the positives that arise from the archer feeling they’ve done good.

It may very well be that the way you handle the athlete doing something that demonstrates just how badly he/she needs you such as mega-changes, defines your own capability as a good coach.  It’s worth thinking about now, so you will be more comfortable and react optimally, when it does happen to you. And it will very likely happen to you.  Remember when you were starting out?