Warming Up in North Carolina

The weather is getter warmer. No longer is it necessary to bundle up to shoot outdoors. Running is easier, not needing to wear layers of constricting apparel. Cycling is better and feet don’t freeze.

The warmer mornings has allowed me to wear Five-Finger minimal shoes. When it is really cold, my feet can’t take it. The Five-Finger slip on shoes are close to running barefoot. I don’t run in them for any specific training or orthopedic reason, they are for fun. This morning they were indeed fun.

After the morning archery practice Brenda and I headed to the YMCA in Elizabeth City. She does cardio workouts and I lift weights. Of the many exercises on my training plans weight lifting is important to all the sports where I compete. So, I’m in the gym several days a week.

While at the Y I try to swim. I’ve not been in the pool for the past week. A spill left me with some road rash and that needs to heal before I hop into any pool. Sure, the pool attendants add solutions that are suppose to help kill bacteria. Some folks might put their trust in that process. Not me, I know too many people don’t have good pool etiquette and there’s no way I swimming in what they have voided into the water while I have road rash.

Cycling when the temperature is in the 70’s is great. I was a tad windy here – it always is – but the roads are nearly empty of traffic and that is a real bonus.

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Warm, windy, sunny and car-free roads to ride.

Here in rural North Carolina, on the coast, you can ride past farms, fields, rivers, sounds, an ocean, or swamps within a short time on a bike. Today I pasted fields and swamps. It wasn’t a hard ride, just a simple slow relaxing pace. I needed to save a bit for the afternoon 3D practice.

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Cycling from farms to swamps on the coast of NC

Later in the afternoon, shooting with River was, as usual, interesting. Throughout the session she pointed out targets, checked arrow placement, and barked encouragement. Occasionally, I had to throw a stick. But, she’s a great running partner and coach (to some degree).

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River suggesting a target and distance.

Having lived in big cities (Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland) it is great to get back to my roots in the country. In rural America it is real easy to enjoy the outdoors. For someone that doesn’t mind the heat, the warmer the better when playing outside.

Give Me A Break

When I left a clinical practice and took a job in medical device industry I had to learn everything about business. I started as a “Clinical Specialist” for a mechanical ventilator company. It was an entry-level job for clinicians. That was 36 years ago. During my tenure I did learn a lot about business.

As a clinician I often knew more about how the products we made were used on patients than the folks in engineering or marketing. But, I knew I didn’t know everything. Whenever possible I found time to visit hospitals and clinics around the world to study how other people used products and what they needed. I continued to conduct and support research to aid in the development of medical devices. While that occurred I also advanced my business career and education.

Along the way I added a law degree to my doctorate. I studied marketing, accounting, and kept my medical licenses active completing the required continuing education credits needed to keep my credentials. Throughout it all I learned to listen to customers.

Wherever I worked, as my career advanced to an executive level, I knew to listen to those people that used my products. Whenever possible I supported researchers and educators. I supported the clinicians that practiced at the bedside. I listened and acted when I could help. Over the decades I spend in the medical field I worked to support research and education. I found it important on many levels. Supporting young researchers and educators, untested but passionate and bright, was one of the greatest activities with which I became involved.

When we sold our business I retired. It was my last adventure in the medical device industry. I took my pie and headed home. After my non-compete I could have taken another job in industry. But, I decided to try something else: sports.

There are only two sports where a person over 50 (in my case over 60) can become an elite performer – archery and shooting. I selected archery because it appealed more to me. It is a process to say the least. Along the way I’ve been documenting the journey via this webpage. One of the most startling things I’ve come across has little to do with the training involved for archery. It is how far too many archery equipment representatives treat the archery customer.

As a rule I don’t write too much regarding this matter. Frankly, when it comes to the far too numerous cocked up people in the archery ‘business’ I figure it’s their problem. But, then I recall how the people that once worked with me and for me were required to treat customers and I’m appalled at what I hear from the mouths of archery company representatives or view the manner in which they conduct themselves.

Granted, there are a lot of decent good company representatives in archery. And, I’ve seen rotten ones in other business. However, it continues to come amaze me that companies in the sports industry (archery) can maintain themselves with what seems to be a greater share of jerks than were in the field where I spent a career.

If you manage or own a business that participates in archery and you think your organization could use some help in this area – you are right.

Oh, yeah, that’s real

I’m soon to be 61 years old. Not young, not really old. My family’s genetics suggests I’ll croak between 90 and 98 years old. Honestly, I don’t really worry about it beyond making as certain as I can that I have a budget that will last my wife and I until we’re 98. Should we out last 98 years, well my plan is to be a burden on society. I’ve been married for 36 years and not by any stretch someone on the “prowl.”

That said it often amazes me the “Friend” requests I get on Facebook. I’d would have to be pretty stupid to believe an unknown beautiful woman in her twenties wants to be my “Friend.” I’ve got no idea what these people want; I expect it is a front for some nefarious enterprise.

Typically, I just delete the request. Sometimes, I’ll double check their Facebook page to see if they are legitimate. Most often it’s obviously a front –  no cover page, a few posts for some product, and one or two somewhat risqué photos. Delete, delete, delete. But, I recently got one that was too funny.

The “Friend” from Texas. Wait a minute, what is that over her left shoulder?

This ‘Friend” request pops up on my Facebook account. A young woman in a revealing bathing suit from Texas. What caught my eye is that the background showed a fellow that I felt certain was not a Texan. Talk abut a photo bomb!

Nope, not in Texas.

I’ve lived in Texas and so has my wife, Livingston and El Paso, respectively.  I love the west and if my wife didn’t have so much seawater in her blood we might be living there. But, there’s no way she’s leaving the Atlantic Ocean.

I learned a bit about Texas and Texans when I lived there.  I honestly believe that no righteous male Texan would have been prancing around in public looking like the guy in the background of this faux-cowgirl’s photo sent to me via a Facebook ‘Friend” request.

However, I did get a good laugh before deleting the request.

The Cold and the Rain

The past few days have been windy. Wind is not a friend to archers (or cyclists, unless it’s a tailwind.) We’ve had some rain and earlier in the week it caught me while out running. Playing outside, well, you’re going to have to deal with the elements.

Today, Easter, after breakfast there was time to run and shoot. We’ll be preparing a “big” meal later. Cooking that meal, in part, on the grill in the summer (outdoor) kitchen, now looks ever increasingly like there will be rain.

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A little bit to the left, a little bit to the right, and one just where I wanted it.

There was no rain, this morning,  while River and I ran. Also, a bonus, it wasn’t windy. While on the archery range, there was still no wind, but the rain came. It wasn’t a hard rain but it was cold. That combination of cold and wet sent me back inside.

Lately, I’ve been shooting all over the place. I’m not referring to tournaments, I mean all over the place aside from the center of the target. It has been especially bad during 3D shoots. So, practicing 3D is high on the list of areas where I’m looking to improve.

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The lower arrow surpassed me, it was on the center line.

I’d hoped to get in a few hours of 3D practice this morning. That didn’t pan out thanks to the rain. I stayed out long enough to get wet enough and cold enough to throw in the towel. Or more accurately, outside long enough to seek out a dry towel.

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Last shot before heading inside

When I raced bikes I used to say, “I can take the cold or I can take the rain, but I can’t take the cold and the rain.” That remains true for archery.

A Tired Lab is a Good Lab

The day starts with a run. Some days lifting weights follows running. Other days there’s swimming and cycling. Still others it’s all of the above. And on nearly all days I shoot in the morning and afternoon.

This day started like so many others – running. River, my lab, runs with me. She’s basically a runner and swimmer even though she has a keen interest in archery. Together we run along with a friend, Coco. Coco, the lab down the road, is well mannered, but she can’t avoid nastiness. River, a bit more refined, stays out of the worst of Coco’s badly influenced romps, if I can signal River away in time.

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A couple of nasty but happy dogs

Mud was on Coco’s mind during this run. River didn’t haller in mud, Coco’s shame, but following the run she needed a bath. In fact, both dogs needed bathing and I expect Coco’s owners weren’t too pleased when she returned home.

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Coco enjoying the muddy bottom of this ditch, River looking on

One of the many things I’ve learned about labs is that a tired lab is a good lab. So, River hangs out me with after running while I shoot. I’ll spend hours outside practicing archery and throughout it all River watches. Some times I need to toss a stick but that’s fine.

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After checking out my arrow placement, River moves onto more interesting investigations

River prefers 3D practice to paper target practice. 3D is done in the woods and there are so many more things to smell. Occasionally, there’s a nice carcass to taste and roll over. Of course, there’s the possibility of finding the delicacy of a pile of rabbit poop, a favorite treat for many dogs.

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Finally worked out to 40 yards taking aim on this turkey
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At 40-yards, a bit low to the right. but tight.

This afternoon, practice was about yardage. The game was to estimate and check my guess against a range finder. Regardless of what the range finder measured, the first shot was always taken using my yardage estimate. The targets were then shot up to 6 times before moving, using the same target at distances from about 20 yards to about 50 yards at about 5 yard increments. It’s a slow process and by then end of the day both dog and man are tired.

Starting Over

The recent USA Indoor National Championship and the NC State Indoor Championship taught me a lesson. That was, I can’t shoot well. It’s not the bow, arrows, sight or other equipment. Something is very inconsistent with my form. So, when I got home here in coastal North Carolina, I decided to change everything related to shooting.

During the Indoor Nationals I watched a lady that is extremely good. We talked a bit, she was either being nice or thought I knew more about archery. I quickly explained I was still new to the sport and I simply didn’t know the answers to most of her questions. But, what I did was watch how she shot.

It was easy to recognize how relaxed she shot. It was clear she stood a bit differently than me, held her bow better, and her release was smooth. She had better follow through and she currently ranked number 1 by USA Archery. Watching her shoot it was obvious my form was awful.

When I’d returned home here in New Hope,  North Carolina I began the process of changing: how I stand, hold my shoulders, where I anchor, and how I release. By release, I mean I changed back to a hinged release versus a thumb. Of the ‘errors’ I’ve begun correcting is how I stand. It occurred to me I’d lost focus on my core and was sagging a bit. That alone probably accounted for a number of poor shoots.

It is difficult to change. The old style was comfortable, albeit stagnant. The new style is not yet second nature and that hit home in a 3D tournament last weekend. That along with not being par at judging distance having shot 18 meters for so many months.

However, in the long run, backing up a bit, being less comfortable will pay dividends in the future.

 

Getting though a tough day

Some days archery is, well, humiliating and humbling. Lately, I’ve been having a run on those types of days. Sunday’s tournament was no exception.

Before the day was out I’d flung arrows all over the place during a 3D tournament in Beaufort County, North Carolina. Targets were occasional obstacles to prevent my Black Eagles from being lost in the woods. Rings on the faux critters were pointless makings. It was bad, really bad.

Among the few good things about the competition was the group that invited me to join. The group held three archers, Cricket, Bryan and Chas. Chas invited me to join their trio. I appreciated being asked. It meant I didn’t have to play the “hunt-a-group” game.

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Chas (in the short sleeves), Cricket, and Bryan.

I’ve gotten pretty good at “hunt-a-group” and can often spot clusters of two or three archers. Those are my quarry when searching for a way onto a local competitive 3D range. But, the game is always a bit stressful and I was happy not to play.

Our group was fortunate in that we got into the woods early. The day looked like it was going to be light on the number of people that came out to shoot. However, as the day wore on archers came in by the dozens. Being one of the first quartets taking to the woods we never needed to wait at any stake. Our group finished the course in about 2.5 hours, a decent time to spend shooting on a cold and wet day.

Throughout the morning the temperature ran between 44°F and 48°F. It had been raining until shortly before we started shooting. Beyond that early rain the weather remained chilly and misty.

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Cricket taking a shot under a cloudy sky.

After the agonizing experience on the range I considered folding my scorecard away in a pocket. The shoot organizers post scores for everyone to see.  I wasn’t certain I wanted share this moment. Alas, I turned in the optimistically named ‘score’ card as a public reminder of the work I need to improve.

Departing I recognized a couple to friends, that had arrived late. They naturally asked, “How’d you do?” Truly, I couldn’t have shot much worse and had to admit to the poor showing for the day. In response one of the fellas commented, “Well, at least you had fun.” I’m not certain I’d have called it fun. On the other hand, I got though a tough day with a group of fine folks.

Kayaking on Salmon Creek

We’re still unloading and unpacking from a month on the road. Back home here in New Hope, North Carolina (near Hertford) there was mail to be picked up, a house of open up, and a lawn to be cleaned up.

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All the archery equipment is still cased and packed. During the drive home on North 17 we passed over Salmon Creek that is about 30 miles from our place on the Little River. There was a small boat ramp leading to the creek so I marked the entrance to the water on my GPS. We’d head there with kayaks after we’d got home.

Salmon Creek is in the southeastern part of Bertie County. We’ve stopped in Bertie County often to buy peanuts. Today, we returned there to go kayaking.

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We, Brenda and I, put our boats in at the ramp I’d marked a few days ago. These two kayaks, Necky, are smaller boats. They’re easy to load and good in tight places, both being ten footers. They are light and I can easily put them into the bed of my Ford F-150. We’ve got other bigger boats, but these two are ideal for quick trips. We’ve also got two smaller ones, those we keep in Georgia.

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Salmon Creek is historically significant and was home to the Weapemeoc Indians in the 1500’s. Along this creek, following the influx of settlers to North Carolina, trading posts emerged and eventually the nearby town of Edenton grew up.

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The creek itself is slow, in areas swampy, and easy to paddle. It empties into the Albemarle Sound south of the Chowan River. We explored the creek to the west and turned back and headed toward the Sound. The temperature was in the mid-80’s and there was mild wind. Overall, not hard and should be a very nice paddle once all the leaves return to the trees.

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After weeks of archery competitions around the southeast it has been nice to have a few days off. Even when I am working at shooting I find time to enjoy other sports. Today, however, I’ll be back on the range. There will be time for more kayaking soon. But, Salmon Creek was very cool.

Well, the Nationals Didn’t Pan Out As Expected

What happened? Well, I shot all over the place. Going into the USA Archery Indoor National Championship I expected to shoot within a certain score range. I figured I might shoot a little better or a little worse, but I’ve tracked and studied my scores over the past year and wasn’t heading in blind.

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Fans, Family and archers starting to arrive on Saturday
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One of two ranges

A good couple of days I’d win, a bad few days I’d still improve over last year. I shot far worse than I’ve shot in months. Literally, I fired off two of my lowest point totals in a year.

Was it nerves? Nope, I felt very relaxed for the most part. Did a rush shots? A few, perhaps.  Was it bad form? Sometimes. But, overall I felt like I was on top of it. Feeling on top of my game and seeing the final results suggests I was not on top of my game.

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Two ice rinks were used for shooting

Despite the rotten shooting I ended up second in the South Division. There were a lot of laughs over the two days in Snellville so it was socially fun. But, I’ve got to wait until 2017 for redemption.

Now, it’s time to focus on 3D and prepare for Augusta in April.

Scenes from Cycling in Georgia

Riding a bike on the east coast of North Carolina there is always wind. But, the roads are always flat. For the past few weeks we’ve been in northeast Georgia. The roads aren’t flat; there are constant rolling hills plus wind.

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The scenery is really wonderful. It’s nice where we live in New Hope, near Hertford, NC, as well. But, it is sure good to ride in my home state.

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To me, Georgia represents a lot of good things about the South. Yes, North Carolina is certainly a Southern State. There is, however, a difference. It’s like growing up in Savannah. You live there year round. When you are out of school for the summer your parents send to you Atlanta to spend time with your cousins. It’s nice, they’re family, but it is difference. That’s sort of what it’s like living in North Carolina and being from Georgia.

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When we lived in Maryland, well that like visiting your crazy cousins. It was good, but crazy.

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It sure has been great riding here in Georgia.