A Three Party Pack Loose on the Run

There are few things more enjoyable than running with a pack. In this case, two dogs, River and Coco , and me. River lives with me, Coco lives down the road. River leaves with me when I run, along the way Coco joins us.

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My running partners

The other morning as we ran past Coco’s home, she wasn’t ready or at least outside. River sat in front of her house and waited while I ran on. About a ½ mile away, I looked back to see both labs sprinting in my direction.

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Playing catch up

On this morning our little pack ran 10K, partially on the road and partially through a field that led into the woods.

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Our turn around point in the distance

When these girls get together for a run it is pure pleasure. They bump, tackle, push, race and jump into or over every ditch and creek we pass. Both are a mess by the end of the exercise.

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Non-stop play

When we reached our turn around point they began a new game. They would run away from me the distance of about 40 yards then turn and sprint full out directly at me. Getting smacked by a 100-pound lab will up end a person – here I am writing from experience.

Neither ran into me. The first one that reached me would brush past my leg. They’d head in the opposite direction and repeat the game. It seemed I’d become home base in the game of tag.

I try to get pictures of these two labs, but it isn’t easy. What is easy is the joy they bring to running.

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They just won’t hold still for a decent picture

Stormy Weather

There’s a storm headed our way. So, afternoon practice needed to be moved up a bit before it reached us here on the Little River. Rather that shoot at 3D targets (my typical afternoon session), I lined up against a 3-spot. I figured that would beat high tailing it out of the woods should the sky open up while I was on the 3D range.

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Playing it safe, I worked at 20-yards. I decided to switch around my releases and use both a hinge and a thumb. It isn’t so much a matter of which one I shot best with, it’s more a matter of which one am I most comfortable shooting.

Yesterday, I finished practice with a 59-yard shot. Today, I started practice set for another 59-yard shot. The problem was, I was aiming at a target 20-yards away. Amazingly, the potentially lost arrow hit vine in the woods and fell onto a bush. All that was needed was to walk over and pick it up. Usually, this is a more costly mistake.

The next two shots indicated I needed to adjust the elevation and windage. After that, it was smooth shooting. By the end of the session, it was clear, at least on this afternoon, I shot better with a hinge release and was very relaxed with the device.

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My first arrow is in those woods behind the target. My sight was set at 59 yards, a bit hot for a 20 yard shot.

I’m not suggesting one release is better than the other. But, there are times where a hinge takes me out of my comfort zone. It’s good to get out of that zone; it seems to eventually take things up a notch.

Cashing in on a Guarantee- Or Not

When I can afford it I duplicate my archery equipment. It would be a sad thing to be in a tournament and have some piece of gear fall apart and be stuck without a second. You’ve probably noticed the Big Dogs in our sport frequently have two bows at a tournament.   An easy product to have two of is the release. Granted these aren’t cheap, but I’ve thought it might someday pay off  to have a back-up.

I have one hinge release I like a lot. The price for a new one on Amazon ranges from $132.09 to $241.37. (Exact same product and model number). At Lancaster Archery it lists for $139.00. So, it is not a cheap product. I don’t reminder what I paid. But, I like it so much I bought a second – just in case.

The device comes with a “Can’t Beat it” guarantee. The company promotes that “If the XXXXX release requires repair, for any reason, we will fix or replace it – no questions asked.”

My original one began slipping. The release point seemed to have shifted. I pulled the second out of its package, and sure enough, the release point had changed on the orginial. I did my best to re-calibrate the older release. I failed. Relying on the stated guarantee I wrote the company for help.

I didn’t want much from the company. Heck, I’d pay for a repair. All I asked was if they could get the hinge release point back to factory specs. After two attempts to get help I threw in the towel.  Some things piss me off. Not responding to customers or backing product labeling are among those things.

Running 5Ks Over the Weekend

Saturday in Hertford and on Sunday in Elizabeth City I ran 5Ks, the Stride for Scholarship and Battle of the Albemarle, respectively. Both events were associated with supporting education.

Aside from the runners and the ‘cause’ both events and another thing in common – really, really loud, bad, DJ managed music. In one case, the DJ’s sound system was kept alive by a gas-powered generator. The generator was located about 10 yards from the DJs speakers. So, his painful selection of music competed with the generator to see which would win in the creation of noise. The harmonies from the two opposing noise machines nearly caused my ears to bleed.

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Nice venue in Hertford

The next race’s music wasn’t as bad related to a generator, but the selection of tunes and the volume were a bit ridiculous.  When did it become necessary to inspire runners with such loud music? I suppose it encourages them to run away. The running away part was also a bit weird. The DJ played the 1976 theme to Rocky when the gun sounded. Seriously, Rocky? Most of the runners at that event were born after 1976, some long after 1976. If runners want music, they’ll be wearing headsets and listening to what they like, not what a wannabe DJ selects.

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Unique vendors at the Battle of the Albemarle 5K
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A display not seen at most running events

A good thing about 5Ks is that they don’t take long to complete. A quick run, hop back into the truck, and leave. In both cases I ran well earning a medal. Typically, I don’t have extra time to wait around for medals. At some events  it takes an hour or more for race officials to get it together for the awards ceremony. On Saturday,  one of the organizers noticed me getting into my truck to leave and invited me to stay; I waited a little longer for the award. On Sunday day, I was able to slip away avoiding what was developing into a long wait.

Still, I enjoy racing in 5Ks. In the past I’ve done so many 10ks and ½ marathons I really can’t recall them all. I went on a marathon binge and did 7 of them.  Running 26.2 miles isn’t for me – too tedious.  Short and sweet is fine.  I’ve limited my long races to ½ marathons with the simple short 5K being my favorite distance, bad music and all.

Tracking skill – seeking the illusive trail camera

Of course, I know exactly where I left that trail camera. It is straight ahead, directly in front of me. Heck, when I’m in the woods, it’s like my primal instincts take over. Yes sir, I never even miss a twig that’s out of place.

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Yep, that camera is right ahead about 10 yards, maybe not.

 

 

 

What’s up with this arrow?

I’ve been shooting Black Eagle Challenger arrows for several months. Black Eagle isn’t a sponsor and until the matter here had no particular affinity, one way or the other, for their products. I shoot them because they’re what I could easily get my hands on.

Until I shot Black Eagle arrows, my choices were Bemen or Easton. The reason, well it was what the local shop at that time, in Maryland, sold. Sure, I could go online and order any number of arrow brands, but I played the convenience card and it won.

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I shoot a lot and put any arrow through a test.  Often that test is find-ability during 3D practice or on a rare occasion during a tournament.  The Black Eagle arrows have held up well.  But, there has been what I’d call, a minor issue with a few of the arrows I purchased. The PS23 Pin bushing fell out of three arrows. A couple of the pin nocks were too loose and would slip or twist.

The nock problem was corrected by purchasing  an extra package of pin nocks and moving through the nocks until I found one with a tight fit. The bushing problem was a bigger concern and one that required more thought.

The bushings could be glued in place, obviously. But, three bushings ‘fell out’ and all were lost except one. My concern was that, even glued in place, I don’t know why the internal diameter of the arrow and the external diameter of the bushing, on these three, didn’t precisely match. All of the others (3 dozen, to date, in total) matched perfectly.

Rather than take a chance on a questionable arrow I did the safest thing, I sacrificed the three arrows. You might think this was a waste of money – I’d agree. However, getting them replaced locally would have cost me more in time, gas money, and effort than I had to spare. At that point, I hadn’t considered notifying the manufacturer.

When I decided to write post this, I sent Black Eagle a draft prior to publication.  I was impressed by the immediate response.  They offered to replace the arrows with the too loose bushings, but I’d already tossed them.  It didn’t feel is was right to accept their generous offer.  C’est la vie.

It is important to me that a company stand behind its products and support customers.  Randy Kitts, the owner and President of Black Eagle Arrows did just that – he did not hesitate and responded to my email containing the first draft of this writing. His concern didn’t seem to be what I’d written.  He was eager to make things right for me. In my opinion, that’s how to conduct business.

The key point here isn’t to bash Black Eagle (in fact quite the opposite); it is to remind everyone to inspect his or her arrows. If you have a questionable arrow – don’t shoot it. Get some help from the manufacturer or replace the arrow.

Looking Cool – I’ve Failed

Runner’s World recently published an article; seemingly aimed toward men, describing how to look cool while running.1 It came as a bit of a surprise to me. All these years of running and I never knew that there was a “look”. Reading over the work I learned I am far from looking cool when I run. I suspect my uncool running appearance crosses over to other sports like cycling, shooting, hunting and no doubt swimming.

In my naivety it never occurred that I should get ‘fixed-up’ to work out. The Runner’s World example of the man, appropriately attired for running in the magazine, is vastly different than my misconceived notion of work out attire.

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I’m just not feeling it

The model male runner, per Runner’s World, is neat, clean, and wears expensive colorful clothing. His hair is done up and he wears a sweet little wrist bracelet. I fail on all accounts – not even close.

My shirts are worn out covers picked up from some race. My jackets, for cold weather, aren’t washed after every run, or for that matter every month. The jacket’s sleeves are littered with snot and none is newer than 6 years. I don’t ‘do up’ my hair. That makes no sense because I can cover it with a hat. I don’t own a bracelet. Even if I did the thing bouncing around on my wrist while running would drive me crazy (crazy being a matter of degree.) The only jewelry I wear is a wedding ring, a Crucifix and St. Christopher on the same chain, and a watch. I don’t always wear the watch.

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The hat was a gift, the t-shirt a hand-me-down from my father. The sweat and snot all contributed by yours truly.

When it comes to cycling, I wear the same team kits I got, in some instances, a decade or more ago. My cycling outer winter gear follows the same rule of running gear when it comes to washings. I admit I never wear the same cycling shorts more than once without washing them.

When it comes to tournament shooting, if possible, I’ll wear some t-shirt in the summer. It is Africa hot in the Southern States and there’s no point in making myself less comfortable. If I must wear something with a collar, typically indoor tournaments, I’ll grab some old shirt that will pass official judgment by the most minimal standards. Because, I am unsponsored by anyone that supplies those bowling shirts so many archers wear I am free to express myself in more luxurious ways.

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Looking sharp at the 2014 IBO World Championships. (Failed on the bowling shirt)

When it comes to hunting I’ve made very little investment into camo gear – one pair of camo cargo pants from Wal-Mart. Why bother with a lot of expense camo if you are hunting deer? They probably won’t see you unless you are in the open waving your arms. Deer can see colors and many camo pattern colors match what they see best.  Squint your eyes so that there is just enough of a slit to see through. Everything will be quite blurry. That’s how a deer sees. Deer are great as seeming movement. Remaining still and quiet are my top priorities when sitting in a tree stand.

I even fail at swimming dress. My ‘jammers’ (competitive swim trunks) are often worn out from the chlorine saturated pool water and all swim caps look stupid. I replace the jammers when I can push a finger through the fabric. Granted, by then they are thin – but, who is really looking?

Despite my failure finding a need to feel “pretty” or “fixed-up” to train, compete or hunt I gain a lot of pleasure from sports. You can rest assured I will never be that guy looking in the mirror to check himself out prior to a workout.

Reference:

  1. Runner’s World, Nov 2015, page 34.

 

 

Avoiding a Chicken Grease Release

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing something I’ve needed to do since I started shooting. I’ve got a full time coach. He’s made a number of suggestions.  I listen and learn. One of his pointers was to relax the hand holding my release.

The shift in the way I hold my release wasn’t too difficult. I’d been gripping it with a lot of hand. Primarily, I was afraid of it slipping out. A friend of mine had this happen to him in a tournament. His support group, the Soggy Bottom 3D range group from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, blamed the mistake on improper wiping of his hands following a snack of fried chicken.

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Sure, these guys are going to let a mistake go unnoticed.

Relaxing my release hand felt odd and definitely felt as if the release might do a chicken grease launch.  I’ll just have to be careful with finger foods while shooting.

 

A couple of fun exercises during archery practice

Morning practice is typically at some paper target. Early in the day the wind off the Little River isn’t as forceful as it is in the afternoon. During the afternoon I’ll move onto the 3D range where the woods offer some protection from the wind.

Shooting 3-spots and 5-spots can become monotonous. I shoot a variety of targets; most of them are designed for a rifle or pistol. My thought is that will keep me fresh and help prevent me from falling into the routine trap.

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Today, I set up two exercises, one to shoot the center out of the target and the other, without out altering my sight (set at 20 yards) walk away from the target and see where the arrows landed.

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I was a fun practice session. The lack of wind was a bonus.

Congratulations Chris

I met Chris though archery. We shot together in Delaware and Maryland. He’s a good man, husband and father. He was also a big man.

Chris had a weight problem. His health wasn’t as good as he wanted. He also wanted to be around a long time for his family. Chris set out on a mission to eat better, lose weight, and run to improve his fitness.

Since beginning his mission he’s lost 147 pounds. This past weekend completed Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, DE.

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Way to go, Chris! We’re all very proud of you. Look forward to shooting with you and hoping to get in a run with you.