Pirates, Running, Wildcat Archery, and Hunting: Pirates and Running

Brenda and I drove to Savannah to spend time with out oldest daughter, her husband, and our grandson, Heather, Bill and Sean, respectively. Sean is 4 years old, and loves pirates. Tybee (Savannah Beach to some) was the host of a Pirate Festival. Heather and Bill booked a rental house on Tybee Island, where I’d spend my childhood, for the duration of the Festival. They invited Brenda and me. This was going to be an adventure. We’d enjoy a pirate festival with Sean; I’d race, shoot indoors, and go hunting over ten days.

Sean checking out the treasure

I’ve never attended a Pirate Festival. Sean planned to dress the part of a pirate, so all the adults would be required to become appropriately attired pirates. I stressed the importance of dressing true to current pirate practice observing the Somali pirates as my example. I pointed out that modern pirates wear running shoes, shorts and t-shirts. I failed to gain a consensus for that apparel. The opponent in this pirate dress debate proved to be unbeatable despite his youth.

Penalty for grumbling about the costume.

Prior to the main pirate event we spent time on the beach. Sean and I are runners. In fact, Brenda found me a race in Savannah for Saturday. As part of my pre-race preparation Sean had me doing wind sprints on the beach.

Sean would have me run a nice tempo pace, one that kept him at my side and able to coach. His coaching demanded I sprint to observed points along the beach.

“There granddaddy, speed for that!” he’d shout while pointing to the object. If my increased pace was unsatisfactory Sean offered further instruction, “Speed faster granddaddy!” It would not have been bad except the ‘ad lib’ beach training occurred immediately following dinner.

Saturday’s race was well planned and organized. Initially, I’d intended to simply enjoy the run. But, as often is the case with a 5K, as soon as the gun sounds, I run hard. I had forgotten about the heat in Savannah and paid the price toward the finish. I fell back three places ending up 12th overall and taking 3rd in my age group. Actually, the guy that won the race was in my age group.


Putting it on the line is in part about being alive and finding challenges that are outside of your comfort zone. Wearing a pirate costume is weird, but grandchildren make adults do weird things. Pushing hard in a 5K isn’t comfortable, but the effort is transient and the reward, regardless of place of the finish, is lasting.


I need some new arrows

There are those days when shooters are in a zone. Today was that day for me. It is not the first, and hopefully, they will continue to come with increasing frequency. When you look at these photos, you’ll see not every shot for the past two sessions has been on the mark.

Monday evening, first shot at 20-yards to sight my bow with a fresh paper (rifle) target.

Yesterday evening I changed a worn out 5-spot paper target to a single center shot. I often use a 5-spot to protect my arrows. Five center shots means less risk of damaging fletching or nocks.

My bow had been recently tuned and needed to be re-sighted. Sighting takes time and patience. I have plenty of the former and little of the latter. Sighting, at least for me, is easier when I shoot for the same spot.

After yesterday’s tedious process of sighting out to 60 yards I’d gotten the bow where it seemed okay. I’d stopped shooting, and sighting, when Brenda called me in for dinner. This morning I’d test my labors of yesterday.

At 20 yards, the bow seemed to be hitting were I was aiming.

Tuesday morning at 20-yards. Holes are from Monday evening after I replaced the 5-spot to adjust my sight I moved to 30 yards.

Satisfied at 20 yards, I moved to 30 yards.

30-yards, looking pretty good. Yes, there are two brands of arrow. I am running low and have 6 beaters and 4 good ones. Saving the good arrows for hunting.

Then, I tried 35 yards.

Not too bad at 35-yards

Brenda had driven to Elizabeth City to run a few errands. She arrived just as I’d shot two arrows at 40 yards. When she pulled onto our driveway and opened the car door I called,

“ You have to come see this”

“That’s pretty good, “ she replied. Then added, “But this is tough on your arrows.”

40-yards and down 2 more arrows

Like I said, some days are better than others. Hitting a ‘Robin Hood’ is pretty cool.  Statistically, a  ‘Robin Hood” shot occurs once every 10,000 shots (all archers inclusive).  Of course, this now leaves me with a total of 8 arrows – 4 beater arrows and 4 nice arrows.

Traveling makes getting arrows a challenge.  The dozen, now 8, arrows I’d been using was shipped to me by Cypress Creek Archery in Maryland.  The last 3 shops I visited didn’t carry the brand arrow (Beman, ICS Hunter Carbon, 500, 7.3 gpi ) I shoot or if they did they had the brand didn’t have the correct weight.

40 yards is a pretty long shot, over the trailer, past the car and truck to the end of the driveway.

I haven’t verified the sight at 45 – 60 yards, yet.  I stopped at 40 for lunch and to prepare for our trip to Georgia.  We’re heading their to visit family and hunt.  I am also looking forward to a seeing the folks at Wildcat Archer in Pooler, GA.   And, perhaps, buy some new arrows.0aa0cc943f91d0327567ac849a8e572e.jpg



Some days it is hard to stop shooting.

Some days it is hard to stop shooting. Mornings are particularly tough. There is little wind off the river. The light is just right. It is a good time to be outside and practicing. Training, however, has to be done smart.

A run starts the day. River enjoys the workout as much as I do

Each week I set a plan for practice sessions. These sessions include archery and endurance sports. All my training has a plan with specific short-term and long-term goals. I also know that over training can lead to problems.

images Shooting a heavy target bow can fatigue shoulders, arms, and hands. Next week I’ll be hunting so current practice is mostly using significantly lighter equipment. My hunting bow, a Mathews ZXT,  weights  4.2 pounds, is shorter axle to axle, and has 80% let off versus 65% let of the target bow. During this morning’s practice, using my hunting bow, it felt like I could have shot for another hour.

Repetitive motion under stain can lead to injuries. What I’ve experienced training and competing in endurance sports is that minor aches and pains if not monitored closely can lead to problems.

A case in point is the Jones fracture of my right foot (fifth metatarsal). Sir Robert Jones an orthopedic surgeon first described the injury in 1902. A friend that is an orthopedic surgeon confirmed my injury. Mine was a Zone II injury that often resolves with limited restriction of activity. I took it easy for a while, but not long enough and the injury has taken years to resolve. Surgery and an internal screw fixation would have helped but I elected to run through it.


Shooting a heavy bow for hours a day can lead to a number of shoulder injuries. I’ve described these under Archery Research section of this website. Some archers advocate use of analgesia prior to practice. I disagree  since the analgesia could mask pain. If it is going to hurt, I want to know about the pain before it becomes serious.

A more prudent system, in my opinion, is to work up to a certain level of archery endurance and not over do it. A year ago I was shooting 30 – 60 arrows a day. Today, I’ll shoot up to 200 (+/- a few) arrows over two practice sessions. On rest days, I don’t shoot a single arrow and on easy days I’ll fire around 30 shots. Each session has a mental plan, a form plan, and the actual arrow count is secondary.


Today is a long day. That means I’ll shoot somewhere between 120 and 200 arrows. It will take several hours. But, the hunting bow is so light, easy to draw, and the let off so amazing it was tough to end the session even though my training goals may be accomplished.

The number of arrows is never an exact count. I work it like this on long days: yardage, marked by tape measured stakes,  is 20 to 60 in 5-yard increments, 5 to 6 arrows per end. If I feel I am having a problem at some distance I’ll take extra time on that position or come back to it. Because I am practicing for hunting, I’ll shoot unknown yardage from various levels on my deck and poach. I’ll add these unknown distances by moving the target and walking to random spots on my property then shoot.

Today shooting felt good.  Sunday had been a light day, morning practice only. (Sunday is a football day, after all.) My arms, shoulders, and hands were rested. There was little fatigue following a couple of hours of practice this morning. Regardless, I put down my bow and counted the holes I’d placed into a new target. There were 75. That was enough for the moment.

Post gets press in England

For the second time one of my posts has been picked up by an online edition of the Hertford Daily, a newspaper out of  Hertfordshire, UK. The article is on the front page under the Sports heading and on the Sports page.

Hertfordshire County in England

The article they ran is the one I wrote on Super Tuning a bow done at PGF Archery. This is really rather cool. Here’s the link: http://paper.li/johnvasili1/1362670076

Hertford Castle

Super tuning at PGF Archery in Hertford, NC

Bumper Williams, Owner at PGF Archery in Hertford, NC called to let me know he’d finished “Super Tuning” my hunting bow. I’ve been shooting with it at most 3D tournaments, including the IBO World Championships. The before and after were quite amazing.

Bumper Williams

“Experts” in the past have tuned the bow. Still a novice to compound bows (my recurve relegated to a closet), I put my trust in the bow technicians at another shop. What I discovered is these previous “experts” aren’t all they profess to be.

The QAD arrow rest, Bumper revealed, had been Super Glued! It was not moving and dried glue residue was visible. That led to the purchase of a new rest.

The horizontal movement frozen with Super Glue

The super gluing was done without informing me and is a bit irritating. The bow has only been touched by one other shop. On my next trip to that shop I will ask them why they super glued my rest.

Bumper worked with me to ensure the labor he’d done was perfect. Inside his shop we verified his adjustments via paper tuning at increasing distances. Before shooting he warned me the sight would need to be adjusted. There we made gross adjustments to the sight. The arrows shot true.

Moving outside he had me shoot at 20, 30, and 40 yards. A few more slight refinements to the sight and the arrows were hitting within millimeters of each other.

Bumper checking my bow

Once again, Bumper Williams, at PGF Archery has done an excellent job. I’ll be putting this all to the test while hunting in Georgia next week.


Racing a Stinky Dog, Shooting and Kayaking with Brenda

This has been a great day. Nice sunrise and perfect temperature. Plus, we, Brenda and I, did not need to drive anywhere so we would enjoy the entire day.

Sunrise and off for a run

We’ve been organizing to remodel our home in Hertford. That has meant spending a lot of time looking at stuff for the house. There is not a room that will be untouched by the work. We are spending a bundle to renovate; it will be worth it in the end.

Something to roll on!

When we do get a day free of renovation work and travel it is used to the maximum. Like always the day starts with a run. River, my lab, and I head out early, sometimes – especially during the winter – it is still dark when we run. There are essentially no cars on the roads where we run. If a car does approach it can be heard long before it nears. I make certain neither of us is close to the road when it passes. Today, there were no cars. There were, as always, ditches with water to splash and carcasses to taste.

Racing against River it is impossible to take a clear picture

I don’t run in the ditches but River can’t avoid them. Yes, she gets stinky. She often enhances her aroma by rolling in a tasty carcass. If she finds something wonderfully rotted I sprint toward her saying, “No, No!, NO!” to prevent the taste and roll. It was a mad race.

Today, I succeeded in preventing a taste and roll, to her remorse. I will add that River jumps into the Little River after every run. Not a soap bath, however, a vigorous post-swim rub with a ‘dog’ towel followed by a brushing  helps abate the stench.

After running it was time to shoot. Morning archery practice takes 1 to 3 hours. Mornings typically have less wind so it is a great time to sight and shoot from long distance (up to 60 yards). Today, practice was an hour and a half. It was dedicated to release work. It was also working from 20 meters as I prepare for the indoor season. Long shots would come in the afternoon despite the potential of wind. It was a very good session.

Still in my running apparel, I look like a nerd.

I take a break mid-day for lunch then do some other activity like ride a bike. The weather was so nice and the water so calm bike riding was going to be replaced with either a long swim, paddle boarding or kayaking. I asked Brenda if she wanted to go kayaking. She agreed and was ready in minutes. We were both eager to enjoy the water.


From where we live, across the Little River, there is a small creek we’d not yet explored and we chose it for our destination. We launched two of our Necky boats onto water that was totally flat and without breeze. At least those were the conditions when we departed from our bulkhead. Wind can come up fast off the Albemarle Sound.


We were only paddling 1.5 miles to the other side of the river.  Less than midway conditions changed as if someone had thrown a switch. Flat water changed to whitecaps on top of two-foot to three-foot fast rolling swells. There aren’t any rocks or obstructions in the water but we were rocking and rolling. ( Sorry, no pictures, it was too rough and I was afraid I’d drop my camera in the water. I wished my GoPro was onboard)

Brenda – Calm after the storm

Two to three-foot waves don’t seem like much and aren’t unless only a few feet separate them. In a boat where you are sitting at water level and the cockpit is only a few inches above the surface – two feet is plenty. We’d slide down the side of one swell and get splashed by the next as we rode up. Both of us got soaked. It was wonderful.

Neither of us was in great danger of flipping. We frequently head out into similar chop. However, we are usually paddling into the wave so we can turn and surf them. Today we were paddling parallel with the swells.

Heading into that creek on the left which ended up a dead end

Once on the far side of the river the trees blocked the wind. We tested the creek that ended in a swamp after a short distance. There are some massive homes on that side of the river so we paddled past and admired them before heading back into the wind.


On the way back the chop wasn’t as severe but seemed to come from all directions. Brenda hooped and hollered as she bounced her boat on the water. Getting out of the boats was a small challenge but we managed it without getting anything other than our feet wet. Not that it mattered, we were already soaked.

The water was still churning a bit following the heavy wind

Soon after we cleared the boats, the wind returned so I canceled my afternoon archery practice. The range felt like a wind tunnel. Instead, I finished the day following baseball, writing, and waiting for Thursday night football – Vikings vs. Packers. The perfect end to a great day.



Great and unexpected coaching

1379911_1407670866128714_2097376479_nLast week, while in Easton, MD, I drove to Cambridge, MD to meet with Tim Sharp. Tim is the CFO at TriDave’s, LLC, and we needed to review our budget then plan more orders.  He’s also a partner in Mid-Shore Tax & Accounting Group, LLC in Cambridge, MD. We met years ago through triathlons. We have many similar interests: triathlons, sailing, boating, running, business, and shooting.


Tim Sharp, CPA, triathlete and skeet shooter

Tim is an avid skeet shooter. He also shoots trap and sporting clays. I knew he shot skeet, but only recently grasped how passionate he is about the sport. By comparison, he is a better shooter in his sport than I am in mine. Tim began shooting in his teens and took a break while he focused on his career as an accountant. A mutual friend and triathlete, Blaine Weitzel, who has been shooting skeet for a while, asked Tim for some tips. Before long, Tim found himself shooting with a renewed vigor.

Tim finishing a triathlon

As we spoke, Tim pointed out “We’re looking for ways to hone our skills since we can’t rely on youth.” As such, Tim has been taking advise of the pros in his field, which he passed along to me. The mental similarities are dramatic.

Some much of shooting is mental whether it is with a bow or a shotgun

The tips he gave me, based on his shooting, I have been applying to archery – they’re all mental tips. Over the past week, applying what Tim coached my center shots seem to be coming with greater ease and flow. What is most amazing is how simple suggestions make a big difference.

I mentioned this to Tim and he said, “I’m glad I was able to pass my experiences on to you.  I think I’m a teacher at heart.”

A lot can be said about being able to teach or coach. Finding the right coach can make a huge difference. Self-coaching, common in triathlon, simply will not work in archery. That became abundantly clear after spending a short time with Tim listening to his advice and incorporating the knowledge he passed my way.


September numbers

September was another good month for Puttingitontheline.com. Visits continued to grow and were 15% higher (nearly 10,000) than August. Pages read were up by 18% (amazing – 16,635 pages read). Total hits for the nearly 7 months over 620,000.

I am currently working on a medical review of vision and archery for the archery research section.  Should have it out soon.  Thanks, David