Stormy Weather at Tar River

The weather report called for clear skies. The 3D course was set and ready for archers. The turnout of shooters was excellent. I found a friend to shoot with and met a new one. It looked like the start of a great day. Midway through the 20-target range it stormed.

Start of a nice day

On the coast of North Carolina it rains a lot. Therefore, when planning outdoor activities it’s prudent to check the weather, even if the plans are a bit inland. The Weather Channel forecasted a cloudless morning turning to 30% chance of rain later on that Sunday. There’d be no need to bring foul weather gear for the Tar River 3D shoot. The bigger concern would be finding a group with which to shoot.

Ryan (sitting) and Chris on the Tar River Archery Club 3D Course

That too wasn’t a problem. Chris, a friend I’d met at the Fishing Creek shoot in June was at Tar River along with his friend Ryan. The three of us teamed up and headed into the wood before the main body of archers got ahead of us.

The course was well manicured and shots were challenging. There was a nice mix of target terrain placement: flat, downhill, uphill, even a tree climbing foam bear. A few groups were ahead of us, and those were moving slowly. We’d end up passing everyone.

At stake 6 someone asked, “Was that thunder?” Odd, the weather report predicted nothing other than a perfect morning for archery. Chris, using his cell phone, checked the weather radar and, in fact, there was a fast moving wall of seriously rough weather heading right toward us. The second rumble of thunder sent prudent archers to their trucks and cars. Our trio, relying on good luck and timing, decided to shoot through and hoped for the best.

We’d be passing this archer’s group in short order as they sat in trucks

On stake 10, Ryan, sitting on his folding range chair, philosophically stated, “There’s not a dry spot on me, we should have gone back.” Chris pointed out, “Man, we’re idiots.”

Chris with no cover from the rain

“It will past soon, it is already slacking, “ I added, forever the optimist. It continued to pour.

We played through when the rain let up a bit. Our scorecards were soggy pulp wads. We agreed to use a pen, make a blot under the score column at the correct number and we’d sort it out upon return.

A few targets had been set beyond little creeks and streams. These now flowed rather heavily meaning boots and shoes were assured to slosh. The sky remained dark making some targets, let alone the rings, difficult to see. To top it off, a fog rose up in the woods. Binoculars, while waterproof, didn’t do too much to cut through haze. Black targets, dark woods, and a misty fog formulated a sober trial of skill.

Three 10s on the hard to see bear

When our water-downed trio existed the course, we weren’t the first in, but we were the first out, we received stares and comments. “Did you stay out there?” a startled onlooker asked. “Hard core, “ piped another.

Back out of the woods

Upon making it to the registration tents we traded for new scorecards and transferred data from the disintegrated heaps with which we stared the day. Both Chris and Ryan ended up with decent scores. My result was a bit modest. In my defense, the post prior to this was a bit braggy (see “Call Mama on this shot”) which, according to the Laws of Nature, ensured a poor outcome.

Reporting for new scorecards

The weather helped make the Tar River shoot more difficult for a few shooters. Most people avoided the rain either by heading for shelter or waiting until the storm passed before starting. Chris, Ryan and I survived our stay in the woods. They admitted it hadn’t been too bad. For me, summer in the woods, even sopping wet, was better than sitting inside looking out.

Hot meals under the tent (photo by Ryan)







Call Mama on this shot

I don’t often brag about my shooting. It is the best way to end up being embarrassed. One day I might shoot above my current skill level, brag about it, then go out to compete and wind up leaving the course early because I’ve lost all my arrows. But, this was a shot that made me call

Mama is a spitfire. Using a push mower Mama cuts her lawn, nearly an acre, when needed she paints her house using a rickety ladder, and handles a Labrador retriever that weights nearly as much as she does. She’s my Mama and when something cool happens I enjoy letting her know. I had to call her on this shot. It earned me another lecture.

Mama, working in her yard.

I needed to practice facing the target at a downward angle. Being lazy, I didn’t want to haul my cinder block bricks, support block, and target to a better area to accommodate my need.

Somewhat of a pain to move around

Looking around I figured I’d shoot from the upstairs deck, over the lawn and driveway thus hitting the target at a downward angle. The chimney would be a bit of a problem, but I could work around it once I climbed the stairs.

The chimney was a problem. The corner of it was between any decent shot and me. Still, with effort to get into position there might be a shot. Pressing into the corner of the deck railing, leaning over it, and in that position I could see the target. The quiver and binoculars made staying in the position for more than a second or two pretty much undoable.

Stepping back, I removed all the gear, wedged back into and over the railing, braced my toes under it, making myself fairly secure. It was kind of fun so a sacrificed arrow it would be worth it. Aiming I took a shot, the distance was about 40 yards.

Two things happened. First, I didn’t fall, as such, this post. Second, the arrow hit the target. Of course, Brenda, my wife was first to learn the news and I didn’t need to tell her. After climbing off the railing there she was, arms folded, glaring out of the connected upstairs bedroom in my direction. She’d been checking I wasn’t back on the roof. Brenda has barred me from climbing on the roof and was not too pleased with the current shooting arrangement. So, Mama was next on the good shot alert list.

A lucky shot – in more ways than one

Mama could have cared less about the shot. She lectured me about falling. She reminded me of past accidents, etc, etc. I don’t recall much beyond the historical “accidents” reprimand; a skill picked up when I was a kid living at home (not listening, something certainly your children would never do).

I’ve also learned to keep my mouth shut and didn’t remind Mama of the time she fell while painting the ceiling in her dining room. She didn’t want to move the obstructing table and chairs. Instead, she built a structure using chairs and books on top of the table in order to reach the ceiling. Her civil engineering failed and the construction collapsed. Mama did a hit and roll, got up, and moved the table and chair replacing her scaffolding with a ladder (she was in her 70’s at the time). Genetics is a wonder.

Some shots are adventures, even if they are small slightly risky ones. Those are the shots we like to share with our family and friends. This may now jinx me on Sunday’s 3D tournament, but it was cool.




Being a grown-up

There’s a marketing company that uses Facebook to draw perspective customers tempting them by offering to identify the customer with a variety of ‘things’. These ‘things’ can be a Beetles’ Song, their Aura, are they Southern, where should they live, their best career choice and many other such ‘things.’ The site promises to let readers know their result after answering a few simple questions. When a reader clicks the questions the site hopes the customer further clicks the products associated with the site.

Brenda and I looking grown up

I’ve avoided such traps until I read a Facebook post which promised to identify me after answering 20 simple questions. Twenty is more than a few, but not very many. How could twenty questions identify me and would their answer actually recognize me? This post caught me and I answered their questions.

Striking a grown up pose

The answer wasn’t specific, it identified me as a type of person: male, teenager. It was way wrong. It got the male part correct, but teenager! How could it be so incorrect? Seriously, I am a grown up.1-4


I decided to put their assessment of me to the test by reviewing my activities for one day:

Got up, ran around with River, my dog. We stopped to look at some horses. Shot my bow and arrow. Played on my computer. Looked for my lost checkbook. (Still lost) Shot my bow and arrow. Drove to town with my Brenda (wife). She went to Yoga; I looked for archery supplies and at bicycles. Talked with a friend regarding where we’d shoot 3D this upcoming Sunday. Had lunch with Brenda. We ate Indian food, which always makes me sleepy. Took a short nap (20 minutes) after lunch while Brenda drove us home. Went paddle boarding in the river. Had two girls with me, Brenda and Martha, a SUP friend from down river. Talked with a friend about where we’d ride our bicycles on Saturday. Rode my bicycle 30 miles. Went for a swim in the river with my dogs. Shot my bow and arrow at a new paper target – Zombies! Grilled hamburgers while playing with a 2-meter ham radio. Drank a Budweiser beer (legally).

From the above list it is obvious I am not a teenager. The last entry proves it!

Grown up friends

Grown-up References:







Physical activity during 3D archery

Becoming fit and being fit requires work. In sports work is often related to calories burned during exercise. I was curious what was the amount of work and calories burned during a 3D competition and how that might impact archery performance.


Using a Garmin Forerunner 310XT I recorded the time and distance to cover a 30 target 3D course. On final count there were only 29 targets. The Garmin was activated upon entering the course and stopped at the exit. The terrain was hilly. The distance covered was 2.06 miles and took 3:06:19 to complete. The calories burned, based on my weight, were approximately 468 per hour or 1538 for the tournament. The caloric estimate included carrying about 10 pounds of equipment.


The energy used during a 3D tournament should be a consideration prior to competition. For example, adding the basal metabolic burn to 3D archery, or an additional 83 calories per hour, the output of energy is 1788 calories. Additional activity, warm-up, travel and shoot preparation burns an estimated 484 calories bringing the total used by the time the course was completed to 2272 calories. (Note: I ran prior to driving to the competition but I am not including that for this analysis)


3D tournaments are often in the morning. When your body goes longer periods without food (like fasting or 8-9 hour sleep) it depletes glycogen in order to sustain itself. This means that during the first 30-40 minutes of 3D competition you are only depleting your glycogen stores.

Glycogen is what we use to fuel our energy. After a meal, in about an hour or so, we can begin refueling. If breakfast is eaten, three hours prior to a tournament, the caloric intake can be added for simple calculation. If breakfast is around 500 calories and there is a surplus of 1200 from glycogen, the total available (excluding fat storage and muscle) is 1700 calories. So, by the end of the tournament, an archer around 150 pound will have a deficient of 572 calories.


This is important considering the mental requirement of an archery contest. Running low on caloric intake during a tournament could lead to “bonking”. Bonking is also known as hitting the wall or to bonk. It occurs when glycogen has been depleted which leads to an energy loss, fatigue and reduced mental focus. Bonking can be avoided by maintaining glucose levels during competition, which is easily accomplished by ingesting carbohydrate-rich substances, i.e., a sports drink.

Archery is not a “cardio” sport. Nevertheless, the energy expenditure is an important consideration to optimize performance. Understanding the energy requirements, caloric output, and utilization of carbohydrate-rich substances during training and competition may improve outcomes.



Tuckahoe Quagmire

The July 20th Tuckahoe Bowmen’s 3D shoot in Queen Anne Maryland drew a nice size crowd. The group held some fantastic archers. The range was skillfully prepared; even so I busted my rear in the mud.

Tuckahoe Bowmen Clubhouse

The Tuckahoe Bowmen’s Bill, Paul, and Mevko (and perhaps others) had the 30 target range prepared with 15 minutes to spare before the official start time. At 10 minutes prior to start Paul guessed they might have placed only 29 of the 30 targets they’d intended. Bill supposed there were 28 fake creatures on the course. Mevko announced he’d lost count, a skill of which none claimed expertise.

Mevko, Paul and Bill, course masters

During this season’s 3D schedule, there have been sizeable crowds competing on the range located at its namesake state park. This week’s shoot was no exception. Tuckahoe frequently attracts some of the top archers in the region. Today held true with skilled shooters ruining arrows on the warm-up field by whacking Robin Hoods.

A 30-yard Robin Hood during warm-up. Say goodbye to about $36.00.

Entering the range, the result of recent heavy rain was abundantly evident. Stake one, a bobcat, sat at the end of a mud bog. Competitors retrieving arrows and calling scores wore knee high rubber boots. Most of them, anyway.

My boots only reached to my calves. They were adequate so long as each trip to a target had a planned approach strategy and each step followed a tactical placement decision. The plan collapsed at stake five.

Stake five seemed average regarding the sludge volume. Its appearance was deceptive. The approach was tenuous, the return a disaster. While climbing back, Paul Burrows noticed, “Your right boot nearly got covered.” On the next step, he added, “Your left boot is totally gone.”

It was gone; on the up stroke of my left leg only my sock got air. The boot suck was followed by the pop of free sock caused a shift in my balance that landed me in the mire. A muck-covered sock, swishing in a mud-lined boot meant for a sloshy remainder of the morning. My shooting partners were amused, me less so. Paul noted that the mishap ought to be remembered in print.

The group I shot with held two guys I am lucky enough to often times shoot with: Bill Drain and Paul Burrows. The third was a fellow I’d heard of and never met, Kirk Tull, Sr., who goes by “Pop”.

Paul and Pop which as Bill takes a shot

Pop is a bit of a legend on the Eastern Shore, he’s won a lot of tournaments and recently placed 17th in the IBO World Championships. Pop was out with a new BowTech RPM 360 purchased from Whitetail Outpost in Newark, MD. Even with a fresh bow fresh in his hands Pop ended up with the day’s second highest score (Paul took top honors)

“Pop” testing his new bow.

Another well-spent Sunday was soon behind us. Targets were collected along with more mud. Once the foam menagerie were back in their sheds a few of us sat longer and talked about the upcoming IBO World Championships.   Guys, also, grumbled about their scores, discussed the upcoming deer season and deliberated various styles of release. I mostly listened while picking mud from my boots.

You can’t get there from here

Twenty-three miles doesn’t sound like a lot. (I’ve run further) That’s the distance from my house in Easton, Maryland to Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, Maryland. Schrader’s is where I have been practicing on their 3D range. Typically, it is not a bad drive. It’s summer, however, and vacationers have migrated to the Eastern Shore bringing chaos and money with them.


On the day before this, I’d practiced at Schrader’s. The drive home was a slower than if I’d made the 23-mile trip by bicycle. After practice today, with the migratory traffic fresh in my memory, I stuck to the back roads going home.

Headed “Down the ocean”, people on their way to Ocean City, MD

I’d was pleased with the less beaten paths – smooth sailing. Then, I noticed what seemed to be a back up of traffic. In this case, there was a back up, due to a tractor-trailer flipping in a ditch and dumping a load of corn. No one was injured, the driver embarrassed and worried. Folks caught by this accident turned around and selected alternate routes. My second choice was a seemingly good one.

Free corn

These secondary roads are way off the beaten path. Western shore vacationers don’t often venture this far from fast food, Starbucks Coffee, and popular boutique shopping, I cruised. Then I came upon road construction.

Waiting on the final car to clear

That delay wasn’t bad and I traveled on until hitting my third and final slow down at a spot where someone’s car had malfunctioned.

Scenes from summer on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

The car was well off the road; still the roadside activity required heavy scrutiny from each driver ahead of me as they passed. (being the last in the line, I paused to take a picture)

This day, my return from practice was faster, however, I could have made the trip home faster on bicycle compared with driving my truck. Forty-eight hours to go and I am back in a traffic free rural North Carolina. In NC, my travel to practice is about thirty seconds.

IMG_1455 IMG_1453

My home range in NC



Back on the Eastern Shore

Brenda, my wife, had to teach a few yoga classes in Cambridge, MD.  The Tuckahoe Bowmen’s 3D competition is on Sunday.  So, we’re in Maryland where I train for 3D at Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, MD.  That’s were I was when I forgot about the Ocean City travel on Rt. 50.  The traffic made me miss NC.

Yes, this is Brenda’s yoga class, in a brewery. At RAR in Cambridge, MD

 We hadn’t been to Maryland in over a month.  When we got to Easton the weeds had covered our patio, the inside plants had died, and at some point winds had blown two of the screens off our windows.  The screens at our home in NC have withstood a couple of hurricanes per year and have never failed to hold tight. Our first day, at least the morning of it, would be dedicated to maintenance.

Every crack and crevice was filled with weeds

After the chores of weeding, tossing the corpses of houseplants, and replacing the screens I headed to Schrader’s to practice.  Outside of 3D competitions, my practice target by default has been paper.  Shooting flat targets at known yardage is vastly different than shooting foam 3D animals scattered about the woods.  Since I’d last shot at Schrader’s they’d increased their target array from 20 to 30 and their placement was more challenging.

This old wolf finally gets a new stake

 The first target, a mountain lion, was un-shootable.  The winds had blown a large limb down on top of it.  Perhaps those were the same winds that had separated the window screens from my house. Even so, I was pleased to see they’d moved the old wolf from stake one.  He had done his best to greet me in the past. However, he was getting tired and I was sick of seeing him first. At stake two I noticed the opposite rear stake, exiting the range, read 30.  This was going to be fun. 

A foam mountain lion is hidden under this limb

 Whoever set the targets did a jam-up job. These were much more difficult than the last time I’d shot the old 20, which hadn’t moved in six months or more.  They have tree stands on the course and at stake 5 I climbed the first.  They’d out done themselves.  Thirty yards away from a 20-foot high stand was a headless turkey. 

There is a headless turkey at the end of this lane

 My first thought was “they have got to be kidding.”  Then, I figured, I was shooting down, if I miss, the arrow should be easy to find.  The arrow was simple to retrieve. While recovering the arrow, I found a stake 10 yards in front of the tree stand, on the ground. It was suppose to have been a flat 20ish yard shot.

Didn’t have to “hunt” for this arrow

 It must have been a raining during the weeks while we were away; the range was infested with mosquitos and seed ticks. There was also another target, a bear, covered by fallen limbs and some of the tree stands were obviously not meant to be used – no shot whatsoever.

 All in all it was a great practice.  I stayed longer than I’d anticipated taking a few extra shots to compensate for the limb-covered critters.  What totally slipped my mind was the Eastern Shore traffic when the western shore vacation migration to Ocean City is underway.

 In North Carolina, were we live, there is no traffic to speak of, as such, I forget about traffic.  Route 50 going through Easton, covered with western shore vacationers, the human version of migratory wildebeest, had halted traffic.  The 23-mile drive home took an hour and a half.  Welcome to Maryland.

images Unknown

 Shooting paper is fun, but shooting 3D is a bit more fun, especially if you have been shooting paper awhile.  Schrader’s new range was great.  Tomorrow, when I drive back to Schrader’s I’ll take the back roads.  But, on Monday, you’ll find me shooting paper in North Carolina and Brenda will be doing yoga in Edenton.

Bart is Back

Bart Shortall is an ex-professional archer. He hasn’t shot in the pro division in a few years. Combination of a back injury and shoulder injuries has resulted in him competing in the amateur IBO hunter class category. His last injury and surgery is now behind him and he is once again hitting scores of 300+. (30 targets)

Bart Shortall

Bart owns X-Fire Stings. He coaches other archers and is again able to shoot competitively. His recent shoulder surgery seems to have healed and his cautious (not rushing things) return to competitive 3D is underway.

Bart’s post-op photo

Following Bart’s results on Facebook I read where he’s recently won one and finished second in another 30 target 3D tournament. Bart said to me, “It is all form and focus,” even though he added his “….distance judging is still a bit off.”


It is great to see Bart back. He is one of those inspirational people that loves the sport of archery. He’s also the only person I know that has hit a triple “Robin Hood”.

A Robin Hood occurs 1/10000 shots. I have no idea of the statistical numbers of this – a triple!

Good luck Bart and stop getting injured.

Bart back with Team Trailer Park



More about fitness

Cameron Hanes is a bowhunter that runs a lot. I’d not heard of him until recently. It was by chance that I caught his name. I’d overheard a DVD of him talking about fitness and archery. Seriously, though, he runs a lot.

Cam Hanes on a run

Mr. Hanes runs 100-mile races. That is a haul. Preparation for running in a 100-mile ultramarathon is about the same as training for a marathon.1 Running marathons has been plenty for me. A ½ marathon or 10K is even better. They take less time so I can still enjoy other activities after the run.

Me trying to catch up on a run

Events that take all day or longer are taxing. For example, a full Ironman distance triathlon, 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2 mile run, takes the fastest triathletes between 8 and 10 hours to complete. It is a workday; indeed it is their work. I finish them in more modest times, 12 – 15 hours.

1/2 Marathons are a blast


Recovery is an important part of training

For most people, running 100 miles or finishing a 140.3-mile triathlon sounds like a lot. That is because it is a lot. Training takes hours everyday (exceptions being recovery days – which is a part of training, even in archery). Neither type of ultra race is necessary to be fit or to become fit. Both types of endurance sports are activities that can become a major focal point for anyone. However,  other fitness goals are as meaningful and enjoyable.

Archery isn’t the most physically demanding sport. It is not without benefit. Upper shoulder strength is improved, walking back and forth to collect arrows is good, and the mental focus is paramount. But, as a sole physical activity, archery is unlikely to create the lean body of runners and triathletes.

A very lean Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander speaking with a fan in Hawaii

It does not come as a surprise that the better physically fit someone is the more fit they are mentally.2 Mental fitness is critical for archery. As such, archers may be able to improve their shooting experience by adding a fitness program to their training.

Inexpensive method of working the upper body

Fitness programs aren’t necessarily those requiring an archer training to run 100 miles or  to complete an Ironman. Setting goals like walking 30 minutes to an hour per day(or about 10,000 steps), running a 5K, losing weight and improving diets, cycling 20 miles or swimming a kilometer are activities that can enhance archery. The key is consistency.

Swimming is a great workout

Once a fitness bug has bitten the results are hard to avoid. If you are new to aerobic or cardiovascular exercise see your health care provider before you start a program. Exercise does have an impact but will level off with consistent training.3


Working to put form and focus together

Archers are athletes. Athletes run. Athletes also add other elements of fitness training to their primary sport. You don’t need to be an ultramarthoner or Ironman to be extremely fit. The more fit you become the better for your brain’s fitness – really important for archers. Improved fitness can further assist you in controlling your form. 4 Consider what you might enjoy as an ancillary sport and give it a shot.

Norman Big Weekend
Runner and former cyclist Norman Gustafson shooting an X


1)   Fred HL. The 100-mile run: preparation, performance, and recovery. A case report. Am J Sports Med. 1981 Jul-Aug; 9(4): 258-61

2)   Douw L, Nieboer D, van Dijk BW, Stam CJ, Twisk JW. A healthy brain in a healthy body: brain network correlates of physical and mental fitness. PLo One 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e88202. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone. 0088202 eCollection 2014

3)   Awobajo FO, Olawale OA, Bassey S/ Changes in blood glucose, lipid profile and antioxidant activities in trained and untrained adult male subjects during programmed exercise on the treadmill. Niq Q Hosp Med 2013 Apr-Jun; 23(2):117-24

4)   Fitness for Archery. Topendsports The Sport + Science Resource.

Setting Pins, Again

The last couple of ASA 3D shoots extended my shooting range. For IBO, in my class, if reports are correct, my maximum distance to a target would be 35 yards +/- two yards. I’d been practicing at that distance. At the recent ASA shoots the maximum distance was 40 yards +/- five. Today, I decided to work on sight pins and add five yards distance to my practice.

To begin, I set up a target near the pine trees at the foot of my driveway. Next, using a tape measure I marched off yardage from 20 to 40 in 5 yard increments.  Remains of old arrows became my line markers. To compound the effort I changed my release, again.

The 30 yard line.

My release of choice has been a Scott Pro Advantage hinge release. I also have a Tru-Fire Hardcore Revolution thumb release. I bought the Tru-Fire by accident. I thought I was buying a Tru-Ball. C’est la vie.Both releases feel good in my hand. I wanted to give the thumb release a test and plan to use it during a 3D competition on July 20th. The Tru-Fire changed my draw a little so the variance was going to require calibration of the pins.

My purposeful Scott and accidental Tru-Fire releases

Certainly there are folks that love working on their gear. I am not among that crowd. Once my stuff is set I hope it is set for life. Nevertheless, I tinkered with elevation and windage gradually adjusting my sight.

Working my way “up” at 35 yards

Taking careful aim and copious notes I ended up with professional manicured pin settings or a sight that is “good enough for now”. Changing over to the thumb release only cost me two arrows both in the woods someplace behind my house. I will remain curious of my handiwork for a few days then I get to shoot another 3D course. In the meantime, there is a strong likelihood I’ll switch back to the hinge release and start the pin calibration process over from the beginning. I have a lot of paper to shoot.

Serious note taking

(Late update: six hours after practicing with the thumb release I went back to the hinge. Re-set the top pin just before dark here in Hertford, NC)