Not bad, not bad at all

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Downtown Hertford – a 35 minute drive from our home. Main street has 2 traffic lights. This photo taken during ‘rush hour’

After five days in Easton, MD it is great to be back in Hertford, NC. The dogs and I can run wild and free.

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Free range dogs

River’s first order of business was to jump in the river. Nixie was soon after her.

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River, my lab, and Nixie, the weinerdog who thinks she a lab.

After unpacking my truck and Brenda’s car I grabbed my bow and shot for an hour and a half. While it was nice to see folks in Easton and Cambridge, Maryland it is hard to beat living on a river near the woods.

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This speaks for itself

After shooting I pulled out kayaks and paddle boards for tomorrow.

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Man, it is nice to be back.

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Not bad, seriously, not bad at all

Running, shooting, and picking up poop.

When we drive back to Easton I look forward to seeing friends living there. It is also fun to shoot on familiar ranges and train on well-worn running courses. So far, this trip has played out pretty much as expected.

Shooting at Cypress Creek is always warm and friendly. So many harsh winter days were spent firing away on their range. Throughout the winter, Charlie and Harry gave me frequent tips and pointers. Both are experienced bow hunters and accomplished competitors.

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The range all to myself at Cypress Creek.

Shore Sportsmen was my second indoor range to visit. Much closer to my home in Maryland, about 2 miles, it is my choice to practice where “shooting short” is not going to matter. Their attic range distance is only about 16 yards.

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Kenny, Archery Manager at Shore Sportsmen in Easton, MD
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Fun times (expensive way to loose arrows) in the attic at Shore Sportsmen

Running our neighborhood offers it’s own adventure. Not so much for the run course, but for the interactions with people along the run. However, the backside of the 3 mile loop is adjacent to protected  land that has several miles of trails. Running the trails increases the distance from 5 to 10 miles depending on how I run it and where I exist.

The real entertainment comes from greeting the people that live here. We live in a “retirement” community in Maryland. Most, rather all but perhaps three, of the people that live in our community either don’t or can’t run. I can and do run. That causes suspicion among the people that live here.

Rarely do the neighborhood folk venture too far out and their travel is almost exclusive to where they can go while sitting – in their cars to someplace else where they can sit. Runners, those that live outside of our community, occasionally pass through the subdivision. The entrances are marked with “Private Property”, “No Trespassing”, “No Soliciting”, “You aren’t wanted here”, and other non-welcoming signs.

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River and I running the trails near our house in Maryland

When I run, I wave, smile, greet people and often run with my dog, River. This infuriates other residents. They are certain; I don’t belong anywhere within their boundaries.

I’ve been approached, as I near lawns of others here with questions like:

“Did you see the signs? Can you read?” a-hole neighbor.

“Yes, I did see them. I can read. Do you need me to help you read them?” me.

“Hey! Are you lost!” a grumpy old man yelled and hacked in my direction.

I couldn’t think of anything catchy to rebuke and only said, “Nope” and kept running. Looking as I turned the corner, “Nope” was perfect. The old man was clearly outraged I had not stopped for further redress.

Once, someone sic’d the community manager on me. She chased my down by golf cart to warn me off the property. As a resident, I assure you, I was no way pleasant or polite to her false claim against me. If she had asked whether I was a resident my attitude and manner would have been calm and polite. However, she accused and threatened – that has never worked against me.

Running with River pisses off the neighborhood. Especially when she poops. I clean it up, of course, I always carry poop bags. Poop happens, just pick it up and keep on going, is a dog owner’s mantra.

Once, River pooped on a strip of public land between the community and a road. A neighbor, unfamiliar with clandestine techniques, pulled her car over to observe whether or not I’d clean up the mess. Of course, I could see her.

I walked over to the pile of poop. Took the empty poop bag, bent over the poop, reached down next to the poop, and grabbed nothing into the bag. The old woman in her car was too far away to confirm or deny my retrieval of the feces.

As see watched, I straighten, reached my free hand into the empty poop bag, pulled my hand free of the bag, and acted as if I was consuming what might have been in the bag. Even from 40 yards, I could see her mouth fall into her lap and her eyes bug out. It was a performance I have laughed over many times.

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Heading home in Easton

Not everyone living in our Maryland subdivision is a jerk or acts self-entitled, but too many fit that bill. In NC, where it is extremely rural, on those rare times when I pass someone  while running they always smile and wave.

Running through the Easton neighborhood is always a treat one way or another. Shooting at Cypress Creek and Shore Sportsmen will forever be enjoyable and leave me with great memories if not some improvement in my shooting.

Back at Cypress Creek – going for 600

Brenda and I drove from Hertford, NC to Easton, MD on Thursday. The drive takes about four and half hours. Most of our time is spent at our home in NC. Still, we travel back to Maryland to check on the house and visit friends. Upon arrival my first order of business was to get back in the truck and drive to Millington, MD to practice on the indoor range at Cypress Creek Archery.

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The 3D season is essentially over for 2014. Granted there may be 3D shoots offered here and there but most hunters are targeting live game this time of year and foam isn’t their primary prey. Hence, the reduced demand for 3D tournaments. The indoor season is approaching and I’d not shot inside is quite some time.

Cypress Creek Archery is 35 miles from my home in Easton. After four and a half hours of solid driving I was wishing it was a bit closer. Still, I was eager to try my aim inside on a 3-spot. Bumper Williams at PGF Archery in Hertford had recently tuned my Mathews Conquest Apex 7 and I wanted to give it a serious test inside. I’ve been shooting it outside in NC. The wind that never stops coming off the river where we live there is a constant targeting aggravation. Inside I’d not have to deal with the wind and was hoping for my first 600 on a 3-spot.

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Charlie

When I got to Cypress Creek Charlie and Larry were working. Harry was off. It was wonderful to see both of them. I’d not been to Cypress Creek for over a month.

After our “Where’d you come from?”

“How’ve you been?” and,

“Have you been down South?” greetings I began unpacking by bow. I’d be practicing with a hunter set-up, short stabilizer and pins. I forget to bring my fancy stabilizer (Bee Stinger) and scope from NC.

There were two young fellows shooting on the range. Cypress Creek has an electronic Dart Target System where archers can practice shooting animals portrayed, by video, in the wild. Those two guys moved into the room adjunct to the range where the screen is located. There they would shoot mock animals electronically using their bows and arrows, with the tips replaced. I now had the range to myself – perfect windless conditions for a 600 score.

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Archery nirvana

I’d not yet shot a 600. I’ve come close but to date have managed to blow a shoot or many along the march of 60 arrows to 600 points. This day would not be the day of 600.

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Dart System screen

Despite falling short of my goal, it was still good practice. The boys shooting in the room next to me yelled, laughed, popped arrows, banged arrows, ran in and out of the room, and did their best to make me focus. They even brought Charlie into the ruckus complaining about the electronic score keeping and asking for a “reboot” suggesting the electronic data was erroneous.

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Larry, manning the counter

Finally, I’d fired my 60 arrows. The score a disappointing 582. My 600 remains elusive for now. Seeing old friends was worth the drive. Listening to and watching the youngsters on game board was entertaining and afforded me an exercise in concentration (albeit one that failed). In hindsight I’m pleased to have not shot out any of the lights at Cypress Creek Archery.

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Harry, off duty when I arrived

Good friends and good things to come

Thank you Chief Norman Mitchell for picking up my trophy from last weekend’s tournament. I’d hung around for awhile waiting for the final results.  Being the among the first group out to shoot and the first ones to return it was going to be a long wait.  Brenda would be waiting on me at home, so I headed back to Hertford before the awards were announced.  Norman called around 1:30 PM on Saturday to let me know I’d gotten third and he had my trophy. It is nice to have friends like Norman.IMG_2069

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Chief Mitchell

Collecting the award,  I was introduced to  Cliff and Woody, working hard updating the indoor range at Fountain of Life Sportsmen Ministry in Elizabeth City.

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Woody

When they have finished I’ll post the before and after pictures. There was another person painting on the back wall, but we didn’t meet. These guys are doing a fantastic job. Man it is going to be nice!

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Cliff

Nutrition, hydration and a discount from BRL Sports Nutrition for Archers

This year many 3D competitions were hot, hilly, and took hours to complete.  Over the winter and spring, indoor tournaments lasted hours and the nutrition available on the range consisted of carbonated beverages and snacks loaded with sugar.  Many people, me included, came prepared by bringing something to eat and drink while shooting.  The “food and drink” I frequently noticed people consuming, well, wasn’t exactly what they should have been putting into their bodies during competition.

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Hikes over a 3D course can be beautiful as well has physically demanding

What I observed being consumed by archers, in competition and during practice, is a far cry from the nutrition other elite athletes put into their bodies.  Runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes are less likely to compete after and while fueling themselves with “Little Debbie” cakes and using “Coke or Pepsi” for hydration.

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I mix TriFuel and use it for endurance sports and archery

An archer’s diet not only impacts performance, it also impacts overall energy level. Junk foods have little nutrition and are loaded with trans fats, sugar and calories. They may provide an initial surge of energy, but you will quickly experience an energy crash after eating them.

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Whether competing in endurance events or archery I plan for nutrition and diet requirements (sadly I’ve learned a lot the hard way)

Apart from being sugary, cola drinks can lead to gastric problems during any kind of sports activity. Cola drinks can lead to acidity problems and indigestion. It can also account for a sharp increase in insulin, followed by a drastic drop in sugar levels.

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Hours of hiking and shooting need a nutrition and hydration plan

It seems the sports nutrition companies have passed over archers to a large degree.  At the vendor expo prior to nearly all endurance races where I complete there’re always sports nutrition products on hand.  During the twenty archery competitions I’ve done in 2014 there have been no sports nutrition vendors. There was a beer vendor and beer was available beginning in the morning at one major event.

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Bob Gentile, ultra-runner

I explained this to Bob Gentile, a friend who is an ultra runner (he runs those 100-mile events). He also happens to be the National and International Sales Director of BRL Sports Nutrition.  I use their products and have published two papers on them.

Bob said he would offer archers a chance to try their products at a discount.  By going to BRL Sports website, http://brlsports.com, and using Code Bowhunter20 you can get a 20% discount on their products.

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I am also including the link to one of my papers on their products if you’re interested: http://respiratory-care-sleep-medicine.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Dietary-Supplements.aspx

So much of how we perform, as archers, is associated with focus and confidence. Archers should build into their training nutrition management and diet control.  It can improve focus and confidence once you’ve taken a holistic approach to the sport.

Busted bags and busted blocks

Recently, someone posted a question on Facebook, I think it was Julie at Archery Talk, an informal survey asking which target did archers prefer, the bag type or the block. If there was a final tally I never read it. I shoot both, and both fall to pieces.

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Buck Commander vomiting its guts out after a few weeks

Since October 2013 I’ve purchased two block style and three bag style targets. They’ve ranged in price from $39.00 to $89 for a total of approximately $245.00 without tax. That is about $22 per month spent on blocks and bags, not including the paper targets that are pinned to them. The painted marks on bags and blocks don’t wear well and don’t match up to any target I’ll shoot in competition.

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New block and a shiny new paper target
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The same block after four weeks, a bitter and old mess.

Archery paper targets run 75¢ to $1.00 where I buy them. They typically last one day often times less.  Pistol and rifle targets aren’t any cheaper and often don’t last as long, but they are easy to find. A problem with them is they have only one center shot per sheet. That may be fine for bullets but isn’t great for arrows.

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Shooting a pistol target pinned to a duct taped block with one good side remaining. You can see by the angles of the arrows I move around in an attempt to avoid hitting the previously shot arrows.

Shooting at one center using multiple arrows will destroy arrows. They get banged together, holes are punched into fletching, nocks get cracked, and Robin Hoods waste two arrows.

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For an instant it’s cool, then the realization – $20, or more, gone

Arrows can be expensive. I hate breaking them, worse I hate losing them, and they eventually end up with fatigue or stress fractures. Shooting on a block, which still seemed to have some life, a center shot cut through the paper and didn’t slow down until it was in the forested area behind the target. That block has now been retired.

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Arrows sinking deeper into foam
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Note the extra red dots. Added to save arrows and this new bag
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Same bag after a few weeks.

Retirement means all six sides of the block are shot to pieces. I rotate bags and blocks, move the pinned paper targets around, shoot the corners as well as the center. That recently retired block was purchased in mid-July, it lasted about eight weeks. On an average new bags and blocks have a life expectancy of eight to nine weeks despite my efforts to salvage them.

Actually, the life span is very misleading. From November to February I shot indoors almost exclusively. So, the targets from October had rest from their depreciation during those months.

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Shooting inside on someone else’s range. Certainly keeps you out of the cold in the winter
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Shooting inside can be expensive. One arrow per target means spending time walking back and forth to retrieve arrows. Time is money when paying by the hour. Shooting two arrows per target face can add to the cost

Tomorrow I’ll head out to buy a new target. It won’t last very long. The cash I pulled out of the ATM today will go even faster. Maybe, one day, I’ll get a target sponsor. Or, perhaps, a target manufacturer will send be their bags or blocks as part of a focus group to study the endurance of their products.  If I could find one that would last sixteen weeks – that would be an improvement.

Sportsmen Ministry’s 3D Tournament in Elizabeth City, NC

The Fountain of Life, Sportsmen Ministry held a 20 target 3D tournament near Elizabeth City, NC on September 20th. Norman Mitchell, a retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer and friend told me about this event. Fortunately, I was in Hertford on the 20th and able to join the competition.

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A windy day was tough on this banner

 

The Sportsmen Ministry operates a number of community programs. Among them is Center Shot, an archery program for the family that focuses on discipline, self-esteem, character, and is faith based. The group also conducts archery tournaments, skeet shoots, turkey shoots, and is starting an indoor archery league.

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Registration located at the end of this road

Their 3D tournament was tough. The distances weren’t overwhelming but the target placement required nearly perfect shots. Shots off the mark could have easily meant a total miss.

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Sign in, the pond at the center of the course seen in the background

It seemed nothing was placed in the open. The few open targets were deceiving as they were on undulating ground.

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Norman taking a shot on a deer laying behind a small hill. Notice the rolling ground between Norman and the target.

Trees often stood between the shooter and the target so that a slight variance might leave an arrow embedded in bark.  Although the shots were tough, all shots were possible and many required a bit more thought than usual. For the most part, the arrangements matched what would likely be encountered during real hunting situations.

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This bear is standing behind a number of trees. There was a shot, but it was tight.

Teamed up with Norman and Justin we where first on the course. Targets were arranged in a circle facing out with a pond in the center. From the registration tent shooters could be seen moving along the stakes around the circumference of the pond. It was one of the few local or regional competitions, I’ve noticed, where people showed up to walk the course and watch. The course was ideally laid out for spectators.

Registration closed at 11:00 AM. The last archers wouldn’t finish until 1 PM or later. Our group, first on and first off the course had completed the 20 targets by 10 AM. The Sportsmen Ministry offered lunch of North Carolina style barbecue and hot dogs. The barbecue was quite good.

It was another wonderful day of archery. The course was challenging and well laid out. I seriously wanted to take another turn. I considered asking and was willing pay to shoot for no score. Whether of not that sort of activity would be allowed caused me to not ask, I didn’t want to ask and put someone in the awkward position of having to tell me no.

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The drive into and out of the course was surrounded by fields

The Fountain of Life Sportsmen Ministry is doing work beneficial to the community. Their fellowship was evident among the friendly people who gathered for the competition. I was satisfied to have finished the day with 3rd Place in the Bowhunter Division.

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Agkistrodon piscivorus, the cottonmouth

Areas of North Carolina remain wild. Here bears, the eastern cougar, whitetail deer, coyote, bobcat, river otters, and other mammals can be seen almost daily.

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Reptiles are abundant. One of our major concerns is the cottonmouth or Agkistrodon piscivorus. We see them frequently while kayaking and give them a wide berth.

The other day, my neighbor, Jimmy, who works outside was driving though a swampy area with a friend of his. In a spot they’d recently cleared, they noticed something large and moving. It was a cottonmouth eating a dove.

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These snakes are venomous and aggressive. In my yard when I see one I don’t risk a shot with a bow. It is faster and I feel more certain handling them with a shotgun.

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This cottonmouth messed with the wrong hoe

It’s nice living in this part of North Carolina. Much of it remains wild. In minutes we can be out of sight of everything resembling civilization. Once there, we are careful where we step.

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Beautiful here, but it can be primitive

Thanks for reading

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It has been 6.5 months since I started Puttingitontheline.com. Since then the site has had 566,372 hits, 62,701 pages have been read and there have been 34,479 visits. Tomorrow is another tournament. It promises to be a challenging 3D course. Hopefully, I’ll remember to take some pictures. The hunter class max distance is 40 yards and open is 45. Some of the top archers from NC will be competing. Should be fun. Of course, I’ll write about it.

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