My release has been a mess. My sight is off and my bow sounds funny. My draw length feels too long and my peep is all over the string. The wind is a pain in the rear and I haven’t had a chance to ride my bike, swim or run. Sometimes, shooting a bow and not worrying about ill-perceived problems helps lower frustration.
One of the nice things about our home in Hertford, NC compared to the one in Easton, MD is that at anytime I can walk out to my yard and shoot. While I would enjoy shooting a high score, what I like most is the calming effect associated with the sport. For me, the more relaxed I become, the better the shoot. I am rarely all that relaxed.
Despite another day of heavy wind it was fun to get out and practice. Shooting at five spots is okay, but it is good to mix it up. Sometimes I try to hit the Xs and at other times I try to put the arrows between the spots and one in the center.
Shooting from the porch or the upper deck is another way to create entertainment. Once, I shot from the roof of our house. In hindsight, not one of my better ideas and not an activity I’ll likely repeat. My last stupid idea landed me in surgery.
The upper deck gets all the wind from off the river but the porch is a bit more protected. At other times I’ll shoot from the front yard to the back yard – any further and I’d be standing in the river.
On this day, the windows of the house were opened allowing the breeze to cool us. The high temperature was only 80° F (27°C), as such, inside wasn’t hot. While I was aiming for the bale from an opened window comes a voice, “Shoot, GO… Now!” My wife teasing me in a manner improvised by my four year old grandson, Sean. Sean’s coaching technique remains unperfected. Of course, I can’t shoot now, it is hard to laugh and simultaneously shoot. (See the post on Shooting with Sean)
I did, however, get in a day of archery. It was one of those long practice sessions where all I did was try to relax or at best dealt with the wind.
The Soggy Bottom boys got stormed on two week ago. They’d only shot as far as target 12 when a thunderstorm hit, causing them to sprint for their trucks. This week, there was a 60% chance of rain. The rain held and the entire course was played. During the competition conversation floated over the group as it moved through the maze of targets and ticks.
I’d missed the week of the rainout. I was putting my sailboat in the water. It didn’t storm where the boat was being launched. Back at Soggy Bottom, having taken refuge from the storm, the boys speculated that I would rather launch a sailboat during a lightening storm than return to the swamp to practice 3D archery. They were unaware of the nearly perfect weather 60 miles away.
For the boat, we had a crew ready to compliment the weather. Once launched the sailors set about their tasks. When underway there time to talk. The topics that afternoon were human breathing function, respiratory acidosis and two cases of medical interest.
The following Tuesday, despite the Weather Channel’s prediction of Armageddon, it didn’t rain at Soggy Bottom. There was a quorum of archers ready to shoot and the assembly headed into the swamp.
Once everyone was focused and the competition underway, conversation aired as people progressed into their flow of shooting, moving and talking. The primary dialogue among this group, like the sailors of last week, revolved around human body function. However, the system of concentration was south of the diaphragm.
The deliberated topic related to digestion of a sugar-free snack. Apparently, the product wreaks havoc on the gastrointestinal system. In a prior experience, one of the shooters had consumed an entire pack of the foodstuff. Within minutes his gaseous build up and its subsequent voluminous release caused him a degree of embarrassment since it was happening during work.
Following his olfactory offensive episodes of gas discharge rapid peristalsis ensued. Fortunately, for the impacted shooter, his work now completed, he was able to station himself within feet of a toilet for the remainder of the evening. The cause and effect of the offending foodstuff was compared to the experiences associated with a variety of nutritional products and the outcome for each shooter’s GI system. In turn, the archers proudly relayed their physiologically explosive experiences, the magnitude of their audible releases of gas followed by the amount of solid matter excreted, along with the circumstances when sharting* is most problematic.
We had another great shoot at Soggy Bottom. Each target was a challenge and the weather did not hamper the day. It is curious that both sailors and archers enjoy Socratic inquiry of human physiology. It must be pointed out, however, that when debating bodily functions, it is tough to beat a good fart story told among friends.
* Shart – a small, unintended defecation that occurs when one relaxes the anal sphincter to far.
3D archery tournaments are a bit like golf tournaments. People move about the course in small bands often consisting of friends shooting (playing) together. A few individuals arrive alone and are teamed up with others by event officials or take the initiative and ask to join a group. On Sunday, I’d arrived alone for the Mid Del Archers’ monthly 3D shoot.
There was a substantial turn out for the competition. The parking lot was nearly filled by 0845. Mid-Del offered a causal start for the event with registration from 0830 – 1030. Clusters of people lingered about, some headed into the clubhouse, while others warmed up, chatted, or were heading to the course. No doubt, packs of archers were already in the woods compiling their scores.
Flying solo I needed to free lance my way into a group of archers. I’ve learned not to rush up to the first group I see and ask to join their party. Strategically, I scan for a familiar face, perhaps someone in my predicament or folks I recognize from other tournaments and ask to step in with them.
The first band I encountered I’d seen before. These boys, I am fairly certain, are hardcore, if not professional 3D archers. They were adorned with serious equipment, porcupine stabilizers, telescopic bows sights, arrows as thick as small tree branches, HD binoculars, and bivouac gear that would make a survivalist envious. Further observation revealed tangible indication of their superior, top dog, status in the manner with which they utilized the warm-up range.
Mid-Del’s warm-up area has multiple targets at 20, 30, and 40-yards. Between the 20-yard and 30-yard targets is a row of trees. One of the top dog archers after shooting on the 20-yard target, shot across the lane, angling through the row of trees, to the 30-yard target. There was another archer currently shooting that exact target. By his surprised reaction to the cross-lane shot it was apparent he was not at the level of the top dog now adding arrows to the aforementioned 30-yard target.
Understandably, so much entitlement comes with the degree of skill and pecking order rank of such a top dog archer. That display of bowmenship, well beyond my capacity, alerted me to not ask to join the top dog group. I abandoned the warm-up area leaving the entitled to their deliberations.
Inside the clubhouse, my search for alliance continued without attainment. Jim and Clyde, officers of Mid-Del Archers facilitated registration. Both of them were friendly and helpful. I have never seen Jim when there wasn’t a smile on his face. Clyde has a quick wit and both fellows so pleasant I’d have been happy hanging out and talking with them all morning. Alas, a course awaited and I remained an archer apart.
On the range I hung back in pursuit of a familiar face. Finally, Andrew arrived with his friend and boss Mike. I recognized Andrew from shooting on another course. I asked to join their duo and they happily agreed.
The course, as expected, was congested. The three of us, fairly fast about our business, worked through the range bypassing stake entanglements. Andrew is utterly a top shooter – he’s been at it since he was seven. Mike has been shooting 3D for several years and is very good as well. I hoped my arrow count was undiminished at the conclusion the day.
Detouring assemblages of archers we crossed paths with the top dogs I’d seen earlier in the warm-up area. Their roving campsite was pitched between targets 21 and 22. At target 21, they were hovering around a foam deer. I am not certain what they were doing behind the deer; they were all bent over digging through the plants. They must have been looking for wild berries of some sort; certainly none of them could have possibly lost an arrow. Our trio left them to their search and moved to another target – later we’d come back to the faux deer at 21.
Mike and Andrew proved me lucky finding such guys to spend a morning with shooting 3D targets. We finished the day with decent scores – Andrew shot 318. The weather had been excellent, bugs were not bothersome, and the Mid-Del volunteers had sprayed the course for ticks, so these little pests didn’t irritate us. They even provided coolers filled with water bottles for those carrying inadequate provisions.
Back home I told my wife, Brenda, about the morning at Mid-Del Archers. She pointed out that 3D shoots sound to her like little adventures. In that, they are.
Starting Puttingitontheline.com was my wife’s idea. What I wanted to do was write a book similar to “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall or “On the Run” by David DiBenedetto, about an adventure in archery. I was keeping notes about archery and Brenda suggested I turn those notes into a blog.
We decided on a website where I could add other bits of information. In particular, I wanted to write about the science and research behind archery as well as the characters I encounter along the way.
The results amaze both Brenda and me. May, the third full month, was the biggest having nearly 4000 individual visitors who read almost 8000 pages with over 53,000 hits.
I understand my writing is not up to the level of Hemingway, Twain, or Irving and I appreciate your literary tolerance. Thanks everyone for reading and continuing to make Puttingitontheline.com successful.