2016 McKenzie ASA Pro/Am Tour: New Breed & Leupold, Appling, GA. Day 1

Over 2000 archers competed in Appling, GA today at the Wildwood Park. The course was rolling hills with a thick canopy of pine. It was hot and humid, it felt great. The course was enjoyable, especially for a Georgia native. Originally from Savannah, I once lived in Augusta where I worked at the Medical College of Georgia. It really is cool to shoot here.

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The vendor displays weren’t getting a lot of traffic.

It was very good to see so many people I’ve met over the past two years competing at this tournament. Seeing familiar faces is somewhat reassuring when they appear in this massive crowd.

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Waiting to get onto the ranges

Over 2000 archers! When I looked at the crowd I was a bit anxious thinking it was going to take a very long time to get through the twenty targets. When I learned there would be 5 archers in nearly every group I prepared myself for an awfully long day.

Then, to make matters seem worse, two of the ranges’ start times were delayed by half an hour. Ultimately our first arrows were forty-five minutes behind schedule. It took four hours to shoot the twenty targets for our group. Having resigned myself to a long day – I got one.

The time spent to shoot the 20 arrows pushed some archers over the edge. At stake twenty, one fellow took his scorecard, ripped it apart, and said, “I’m not coming back tomorrow, this is my last ASA event.” His issue, among other concerns, is that he’d spent nearly 7 hours parking his car, then waiting to get on the range, and finally the slow shooting which was too much for him. His start time had been 11:00 AM. He arrived at 10:00 AM allowing time for unforeseen problems; he left the range at 4:00 PM. That’s seven hours total time to shoot 20 arrows. It turned out to be about one arrow every twelve minutes once he started shooting. Which is about right for groups of 5 shooters.

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Early in the day from stake 2.

I am new to archery so these times, indeed they seem slow, are what I expect from a 3D tournament. What I think is, considering I’ve only been shooting since August 2013, 3D moves too slowly. Can it be sped up, sure it can.

Off the top of my head I see adding more ranges. Another thing is to limit the group size to 4. And finally, limit the overall field size to a manageable number of archers. The ASA might review what Ironman does with their events and perhaps pick up a pearl or two.

Ironman events have a similar number of athletes competing – around 2000 per event. An exception is the Ironman World Championship that has around 1800 athletes. I’ve done 10 Ironman events; all had very good people flow. And, Ironman has help.

Ironman has an impressive volunteer staff. At the Ironman World Championship (not that I see this for 3D archery) I had two volunteers specifically assigned to me. So did all the other athletes. That alone was 3600 volunteers.

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Nothing says sports nutrition like Funnel Cakes

Volunteers help keep activities and flow on pace. Could volunteers help at a 3D tournament? Probably in lots of ways you and I could think up. But, I don’t want this post to sound as if I am overly unimpressed with the shoot today. There were a lot of people and with a lot of people things move slowly.

I’m going back for the second day, unlike the fellow that ripped up his scorecard. In the meantime, if anyone at the ASA reads this and wants some advice or help (pro bono) send me a message.

Shaky Legs

There’s a long course duathlon and XTerra Triathlon on my near calendar. There are three other triathlons and a running race as well. But, the duathlon and XTerra events are next up, aside from archery.

The two recent cycling time trials left my legs a little weak. A day off while I drove to Georgia, the day following the last race, was my official rest day. Since we landed in Tignall I’ve run and ridden every day. The last two days were bricks, off road – that is trail running and mountain biking. (An example of a brick is where you run and after completing the run training you begin your cycling training. It could also be a swim followed by cycling.) This evening while making dinner my legs felt a little wobbly.

It’s not a bad feeling; it’s that leg shaky ache earned when you’ve been putting in a lot miles. Riding off road in this hilly section of Georgia has been a blast. Not crashing, I’ve not been on my mountain bike since my last trip to Georgia, is a bonus. Because the riding has been off road I’ve been standing on my pedals a lot, keeping my rear off the bike’s saddle. There are times when riding in that manner is critical and it can add some extra burn to your thighs.

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I keep one tri-bike, my Fetish (The bikes brand name not a carnal preference) along with a Cannondale F-5 and Scott mountain bike. The Cannondale is the bike coming back to North Carolina for the XTerra race. Hopefully, by the time that race starts my mountain bikes skills will have returned. Until then, I expect more shaky legs from much standing off the saddle while cruising trails.

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(Now it’s off to Appling, GA to shoot)

 

New Breed Archery/ Leupold ASA Pro/Am Appling, GA – It’s Hot!

We’ve lived in Augusta. Right now we’re up at the Lake house in Tignall. We’re here for the ASA Pro/Am in Appling. It’s like coming home to shoot.

It’s home and it’s hot. We drove over the Appling to check out the ASA action on Friday. The tournament is at Wildwood Park and the Park was packed with archers, families, vendors, cars, and lots of sweat.

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Packed ranges for the team competition

Tomorrow it is going to be even hotter. Most of the accents I heard where from the South. Certainly, many folks competing here over the weekend will be accustom to the heat. One thing for certain, it is a lot hotter here than some of the northern states where I shot during the summer.

Brenda drove over to Wildwood Park with me. When she climbed out of our Ford F-150 she said, “It is so nice not to be cold.” The thermometer in the truck read 92° F (33°C). It was toasty. Good luck to everyone shooting this weekend and stay cool.

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Cars and trucks were parked everywhere and baking in the sun.

Four Days

The past several days have been busy.  I shot in one 3D tournament and competed in two bicycle races. Then, I drove from Hertford, NC to Tignall, GA.

I haven’t done a pure cycling race in decades. I’ve done a lot of triathlons and duathlons. But, no pure cycling races in a very long time. A friend convinced me to enter a bike race so I did. Then, another guy I know talked me into a second race. Both were time trials so I wasn’t too worried about crashing.

In both I did pretty good, talking two second places. And after each race, there was no running to follow. I’ve got a dualthon and a number of triathlons in the near future so I’ll get the post-bike run during those events.

I wish I’d shot as well as I rode my bike, but I didn’t. I ended up 3rd in the archery tournament despite having my best 3D score of the season.

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River wearing my cycling medals while holding the ribbon in her mouth. This was her idea not mine. I really have no idea why she does this.

There are runs, triathlons, and other events where all an athlete needs to do is cross the finish line to get a medal. Archery and cycling don’t give out finishers’ awards. Heck, in cycling and archery you can’t expect to get any swag so don’t even plan on a t-shirt. But, you can earn a medal or cash if you do well enough. And if you have a medal crazy dog, like River, that furry friend will model the goods.

Getting a Feel for a Scope and Yardage

Learning to shoot 3D using a scope and adjusting for the yardage is more difficult than I’d anticipated. Last year I shot with pins. Over the 2015 season my average score per arrow was 9.61 in 3D. Thus far, 2016 scores are lower, 8.3 points per arrow.

During the winter I stopped using pins to practice 3D. I was shooting a lot of 3-spots preparing for Lancaster and the USA Indoor National Championships. It was a slight pain to switch my equipment from pins to a scope each time I switched target styles So, I kept the scope and long stabilizers on the bow.

Using pins, I’d learned to estimate yardages for 3D. If I felt the 30-yard pin was the one to use, I used it. Then I’d aim a little high or low between pins to hit at 27 yards or 32 yards. There was a sort of feel for the yardage.

There is a calibration on my scope where at 30 yards, I hit 30 yards. The same for 20, 40, 50, 60 etc. It’s calibrated down to the yard. The problem is with 3D I need to set the yards. If I am off, well I’m way off.

The way off shot last week was misjudged by 10 yards. Major brain fart. That’s not to suggest I was never off or missed a target using pins – I did, often.  But, not so far off as with the scope.

Learning to judge yardage using a scope, in my early experience, is less forgiving than using pins. Still, it is a lot easier than changing my bow around twice a day for different types of practice.

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Well, one arrow survived.

Then there are those days where it seems to come together.

Shooting with the Traditional Guys

Yesterday there was another of the Down East Archery’s 3D shoots. This one was held near Plymouth, NC. I’ve been there before and it is one of my favorite ranges. Yesterday, I messed up and entered the GPS coordinates using the wrong format. That caused me a little delay, a 38 minute unplanned detour.

The delay meant I’d not be in one of the early groups on the course. That meant it was going to be a long day. Then, I got lucky.

There were only a few groups on the range. My luck came when I was able to tag along with a trio of traditional archers. Traditional archer shoot and move much faster than archers with compound bows.

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Recurve bows look like a fun way to shoot.

Basically, the archers shooting recurve bows, walk up to the stake, take a look at the target, none of them using binoculars, draw their bow and shoot. It’s, by archery compound bow standards, fast.

As we entered the course there were empty stakes ahead of us, the earlier groups have moved over half way through their shots. We caught the group ahead at stake 12. Until then, it was shot, score, pull and move.

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Traditional archers’ shots are a lot closer. This taken while standing from the stake were I shoot.

The early pace was great. I was able to get into a rhythm. My scores were high, ten’s and one twelve, 2 up at that point. At least until we hit the wall.

The group creating the wall had 6 shooters. I knew them all, I’ve shot with them in the past, and they are slow. They are also a lively and talkative band. They are fun to be around and would be a blast at a cook out. But, the pace was gone and so was the rhythm. My final shots bankrupted my climbing score.

For me good shots come when all else is removed from my head. Trying to carry on a conversation, which means I have to think about what I might say, or trying to follow multiple conversations, while socially agreeable, does not bode well for 10’s and 12’s – at least for me.

I know it’s going to happen, that is slow shooting and talking. These are conditions which are hard to duplicate with I practice. It’s a discipline I must learn, that is to clear my head and shut out the conversation at the stake, then jump back into to the socializing.

An Easy Yet Interesting Bike Ride

It was time for a bike ride. I follow a daily training plan and the afternoon called for cycling. This ride wouldn’t be a hard as the last, it would be slow, easy, and not that long, only two hours. With the morning’s archery practice behind me and an hour of swimming completed I was looking forward to a ‘touring’ ride.IMG_4866

First I needed to select a bike. The roads out here are rough and even at a slow pace you can end up shaking your dental work loose. I decided to ride a steel frame bike. Steel does smooth out a rough ride.

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A coach of mine once said, “If you want to go 30 miles per hour, then you need to go 30 miles per hour.” On this ride, I only wanted to go 12 miles per hour in a low gear, for about 24 miles. Easy, yes, it was easy. It felt good. Along the way I crossed paths with those critters one typically sees in rural coastal North Carolina.

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Not a mile from my door a group of chickens seemed outraged that a bicycle interfered with their enjoyment of Deep Creek Road. The clucked and puffed and ran away in protest.

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Within two more miles another flock of chickens were equally irritated with me.

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Eight miles down the road I paused for a black snake.

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Twelve miles into the slow ride two Canada Geese offered up verbal abuse before they flew a respectable distance away.

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Eighteen miles along a striped garter snake seemed to little concern for the front wheel of the Peugeot nearly crawling through the spokes while I watched.

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Riding along country roads can be a pleasure. On days where I take it easy there’s time to enjoy the view.

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We’re Here to Play – Right?

River hangs out with near me during archery practice. She walks through the woods during 3D practice or keeps a stoic eye on me while I shoot dots. Throughout it all goes swimming, chews sticks, and at times requests a toss. Usually she is pretty well behaved. This morning she was out of control.

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Are you ready for this?

It seemed to her, my impression since she doesn’t speak English, that she was determined to ruin practice. River had only one thing on her mind – play. From her barking, hopping, running, and banging into me River gave the impression that she wanted me to stop shooting.

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Throw that stick I just dropped on your foot

River doesn’t have a real grasp on the need to practice at any sport. She measures sports in degree of play. That is, how much fun can she have?

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Oh yeah, that was good

Running is fun for both of us. She takes off, we often meet up with her friend Coco and she joins our run. When the run is over it is time for archery practice. Some mornings, River isn’t ready to loosen her grip on the playtime. This was one of those mornings.

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I’m going to chew this for a minute then we can start over – you wait right there, don’t even think about touching that bow.

Archery can be a challenge, more so when a 97-pound Labrador retriever has her mind set on playing with the archer. It is difficult to take aim with a big dog essentially barking in your face and dropping sticks on your feet.

I couldn’t handle the temptation and within 45 minutes the bow was put away and the game was in full session. Some days we just have to play.

That Was Hard and There Was a Little Vomit

Last night the wind had picked up, again. This morning trees were bowing to the wind’s force. This was the morning to practice archery indoors.

I’d planned to shoot inside on Thursday. Plans can be amended so I headed into Elizabeth City to practice. On the range I ran into Charlie. He’s a retired Naval Officer that settled here on the coast of North Carolina.

Charlie is a local JOAD Coach and has been involved with archery for decades. We exchanged our “How ya been” and shot side by side for about an hour. Charlie is not a 3D archer having never tried shooting a foam animal. He has, however, a wealth of information and experience at shooting everything else.

Charlie is a member of archery / gun club in Chesapeake and invited me to come shoot their field tournaments beginning in May. These are on Sunday where the 3D shoots I compete in around North Carolina are on Saturday. Looks like this will work out just fine except on those weekends I’m racing or shooting out of the region.

As far as racing goes, getting into race form is progressing. Today’s training plan called for cycling. Of course, there was the wind.

Cycling in heavy wind it is a good idea to go out into the headwind. That’s exactly what I did today. I, also, wanted to start training on my racing bike used for triathlons. Most of the time I train on a less expensive machine. With a race next week it was time to get a feel for the bike I’d not be on in about a year.

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Let me say, I hammered it into a headwind. I mean I went really hard. Tucked in an aero position, pumping my legs, and pulling for every breath, I ended up with a little vomit in the back of my throat a time or two. I hate those little regurgitations. Yes, I’d eaten a decent lunch, finished it two and a half hours before the ride. Seemed like ample time for the food to have cleared my stomach. Another error in judgment.

If you’d ever ridden a bike in an aero position, gone really hard for a long enough time, you more than likely understand that little urp experience. If you haven’t – no great loss.

Now, off to the 3D range, where I hope the trees can help block some of the wind. Another bright note – there is no vomiting from exertion in archery.

Another Nice Spring Day

IMG_4820Here’s the thing – I can’t do any one single sport all day. For example, I can’t ride a bike all day everyday. Some people can – not for me. One to six hours on a bike is enough. I can’t shoot a bow all day. Unless I am taking a rest day or traveling, I shoot for several hours per day, but rarely over 4 hours in a day.

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Yesterday, I did get in nearly four hours of archery practice. In addition, I ran for over an hour, 75 minutes to be exact. It wasn’t at a hard pace. It felt good. The combined sports training added up to less than 6 hours and the day had begun at 0600. There was plenty of time to get out on the water.

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The Carolina Skiff that sits on my boatlift is a daily temptation. We’re out on the water year round. One of the nice things about living in the South is throughout the winter there are always a few days every month to get out on the water. Spring days with 78°F temperatures are even better than winter boating.