I've been practicing Olympic style recurve archery in the SF Bay Area since late 2016.

I am guided by the words of wisdom and stern talking-to's from award-winning archer, coach and spirit guide Nico Gallegos, the owner-operator of fantastic Ohlone Archery. More than just a range, Nico has created a close, supportive community of local archers in an environment where you get better proportionately to the ends you're willing to lob at targets for hours at a time.

As a competitive archer, my aspiration is to become what poet Stephanie Burt calls the sport’s “…elevated counselors / of the air, which will not take / anything but our most forceful advice.”

Archery has been the ultimate practice of mindfulness and I have the aching arms and shoulders to show for it.


...and let the glove move where we draw the wire,

scared that the machinery

will misinterpret us,

that we may not stop trembling, that we may lose

our belief in ourselves

before anything is released, or shared, or sent...

-Stephanie Burt, “Archery”


// SEVENTY

Through a little more practice, watching videos of my form and shot sequence, and tuning my setup, I finally broke through the 70 yard wall and have started shooting comfortably at this competition distance. It’s an exciting milestone for me as an athlete but just entry-level table stakes for the competitive archery world.

The Redwood Bowmen outdoor range has given me a sign and that sign says keep practicing.

The Redwood Bowmen outdoor range has given me a sign and that sign says keep practicing.


// THE 40 YARD LINE

Getting more consistent (and overcoming stage fright) at longer distances now. Shooting forty yards for the first time, I started with two primary goals (a) don’t lose any arrows and (b) hit the target butt. Anywhere at all on the target butt.

With some slow and steady practice this day, I ended up with solid three-arrow ends consistently hitting paper, including a luck-induced X-bullseye.

The long, winding road to shooting consistent groupings from the forty yard mark.

The long, winding road to shooting consistent groupings from the forty yard mark.


My first X-bullseye at forty yards. This is a three-arrow end, meaning I shot a round of three arrows. With one arrow nowhere to be seen and another just barely punching paper, this presents an accurate picture of my skill level. It was still pretty cool, though and I skipped all the way back to the starting line.

My first X-bullseye at forty yards. This is a three-arrow end, meaning I shot a round of three arrows. With one arrow nowhere to be seen and another just barely punching paper, this presents an accurate picture of my skill level. It was still pretty cool, though and I skipped all the way back to the starting line.


// HAVE BOW, WILL TRAVEL

While traveling through Raleigh-Durham I was given the opportunity to take a lesson from NTS Certified coach John Kristoff at his range, Lifetime Archery.

While I had been training on form for over a year, working with Coach John was my first lesson formally under the NTS methodology. After a morning of private instruction, I left with a notebook scrawled with new ideas and practice points. My fingers were raw, my spirit was lifted. Bonus that this all happened against a 1990s music playlist featuring The Crash Test Dummies.

Welcome to Lifetime - Durham, NC

Welcome to Lifetime - Durham, NC

Aiming for my personal best.

Aiming for my personal best.

Range life (on a weekend morning).

Range life (on a weekend morning).

I blame raw fingers and sore shoulderblades for this blurry selfie.

I blame raw fingers and sore shoulderblades for this blurry selfie.

Prepare yourself.

Prepare yourself.


// TBT: EARLY DAYS AT OHLONE

Early days at Ohlone practicing on the shop bow in e rarely empty shop. I recall being in an especially good mood that day as I had just devoured a filling lunch at Sushi Avenue, located just a few blocks from the range.

Early days at Ohlone practicing on the shop bow in e rarely empty shop. I recall being in an especially good mood that day as I had just devoured a filling lunch at Sushi Avenue, located just a few blocks from the range.


// EPHEMERARCHERY

Really enamored with this cover for some reason. In my mind this is Huntington Beach Pier and ice cream costs less than $5 a scoop.

Really enamored with this cover for some reason. In my mind this is Huntington Beach Pier and ice cream costs less than $5 a scoop.


// BO KNOWS…ARCHERY

Just watched an incredible documentary on the late 1980s powerhouse that was Bo Jackson in the fantastic ESPN series 30 for 30

This Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn University would become the only pro athlete to become an All Star in two sports: football with the LA Raiders and baseball with the Kansas City Royals (and later Chicago White Sox). He was a superhuman in both, for his strength (breaking baseball bats over his leg), speed (tearing through walls of linebackers in real live, being Super Mario star level invincible in Tecmo Bowl on the Nintendo NES), and agility (running up an outfield wall to catch a baseball). In the 1980s, you could't get more viral a video than being featured in your own Nike commercial.

 

Jackson also worked out his compound bow skills throughout his pro career and his personal retreat is into his man cave, where he builds arrows under the gaze of all of his game hunting trophies.

A scene from    ESPN 30 for 30: "You Don't Know Bo"    showing Jackson making bows in his "man cave" with almost zen like focus.

A scene from ESPN 30 for 30: "You Don't Know Bo" showing Jackson making bows in his "man cave" with almost zen like focus.

Just so inspired by a person who pushed himself to dominate two tough sports so handedly, using his grit and determination to sharpen his preternatural athletic gifts. And then finding peace with a bow and arrow.


// EPHEMERARCHERY

Seeking out artificial intelligence, finding statistics, learning about archery. Low bias, low variance. Via Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm (Basic Books, 2015).

Seeking out artificial intelligence, finding statistics, learning about archery. Low bias, low variance. Via Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm (Basic Books, 2015).


// "NIL DESPERANDUM..."

"Despair in no way," says Teucer (via Horace), to inspire continued journeys and self-discovery.  I take this to mean, "Don't worry, you'll finally master your shot sequence and raise your average six arrow end score into the low fifties."

Teucer , William Hamo Thornycroft (British, 1850 - 1905)   The Huntington Library, Museum and Botanical Gardens

Teucer, William Hamo Thornycroft (British, 1850 - 1905)

The Huntington Library, Museum and Botanical Gardens


// EPHEMERARCHERY

Catching up on my Hawkeye backlog over sushi in the Inner Sunset.

Catching up on my Hawkeye backlog over sushi in the Inner Sunset.


// NIGHTS WITH YONDO

Consulting with Yondu on how to improve my aim. (Although if it involves whistling then I'm out of luck.) And not sure what the deal is with Quill's arm.

Consulting with Yondu on how to improve my aim. (Although if it involves whistling then I'm out of luck.) And not sure what the deal is with Quill's arm.


// EPHEMERARCHERY

In the professional quality assurance world we already known that being consistent is not great if you are only ever consistently bad.  Don't despair. Practice.


// TBT: BEFORE I KNEW WHAT “SHOOTING SPLIT FINGER” MEANT

Archery noob on day one.

Archery noob on day one.