Falling off the Training Wagon and Creating a Little Fun

Typically, I have training plan for the week. I know what targets I’m going to shoot, how I’ll practice, and how long I’ll spend doing each session – morning and afternoon. This week, well I got lazy. I didn’t build a plan.

My archery training plans like my triathlon plans are several weeks long. I use a thirteen-week cycle. Archery is harder to prepare because I don’t have the same degree of experience or expertise creating a plan as with triathlon. As such, I fell off the archery training plan wagon.

So, today shooting was ad lib. Maybe tomorrow will be ad lib as well since I still haven’t prepared a new archery-training plan for the next 13 weeks. I do have my triathlon plan completed through November. Nevertheless, I spent two hours shooting arrows today.

Without a plan archery was play. I tried things I’ve not yet done or done very little. I used the 3D range and shot really long shots – up to 65 yards. I’ve shot that far and further. Today however, I shot a lot of arrows at smallish 3D targets. The bulk of the shots were from 40 to 65 yards. Heck, I figured the center shot on a badger, turkey, or coyote is about the same the center X on a paper target at 50 meters. Seemed a bit like double dipping my practice.

Then, I noticed, while shooting a badger, I could shoot a turkey and coyote, albeit at a weird angle, without moving. So, I shot them without changing my position. It was fun, it was different.

Hard to see but there is a turkey to the left, a coyote in the middle and a badger to the right

Shooting the same targets day in and day out, well it’s the same everyday. Finding different ways to shoot them, making up different “games”, and finding new ways to hit the targets, keeps practice fresh. Simply shooting three old targets from a new position was fresh and it was fun.

Yep, that was a different perspective. (River is checking for snakes)

As I started backing away from my targets, forty yards, fifty yards, sixty yards, and finally sixty-five yards practice became more fun – certainly less structured. Shooting at a turkey for most of the shots was exciting. Not exciting like climbing a mountain or doing a long open water swim. Exciting in knowing that if I missed high I’d be hunting for an arrow.

The turkey shot from 65 yards

Turkeys aren’t large targets. A bit too much on elevation at 65 yards means so long arrow. Shooting low isn’t as much of a problem; turkeys have a lot of foam below the center ring. Not so much foam up top aiming at the side of the bird.

First two tries at 65 yards

I shot for a couple of hours this afternoon. It was a very informal practice. A break from rigid plans does help keep practice fresh.

I’ll worry about the plan tomorrow. (No arrows were lost during this day’s play.)



Sunday’s Decisions

Today was the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship in Cary, NC. I’d trained for it and entered. It was also the ASA State 3D Qualifier in Plymouth, NC. I had a choice to make: duathlon or archery. It was not an easy choice.

I’ve raced the long course duathlon many times. Basically, the race is a long run, followed by a long bike ride, and finishing up with another long run. In 2007 when I did my first long course duathlon I won the third spot for the USA Team to compete in the World Championship. It was a really hot day and I do better in the heat. I accepted the slot and competed.

The world championship was a rough one for me. It was cold, too cold. I never did get warm and finished 23rd. Still, I was a member of the USA Team and will never forget the Parade of Nations during the opening ceremony. There were 43 countries represented. It wasn’t the Olympics but it was cool. I was very proud to be racing for the USA.

In 2012 I once again earned a slot on the USA Team for the long course duathlon World Championship. When I got the call from the USAT I, regretfully, declined and they rolled down my place to the next athlete in line.

I turned down the offer because we’d just sold our business. It was a big deal, we were a public company and I was a chief officer. So, I turned the spot in the USA team down after explaining to the USAT my position with the company and stating I had “responsibilities to the company that prohibited me leaving for 10 days.” In hindsight, that was a mistake. The deal was done and the bigger fish that had bought us more than likely would have been (seriously) pleased to have me on the team. That bigger fish was heavily populated with amateur athletes, ex-college athletes, and even a few ex-pro football players. So, it probably would have been cool with them. I should have accepted and gone to Switzerland to race. Although I never raced in Switzerland I have trained there and knew what to expect. (It would have been cold.)

Today was another chance for a place in the USA Duathlon Team. I didn’t expect I’d win in Cary, I expected to finish in the top few, high enough to end up making the team. (I had already checked the times of other athletes and knew how I compared) I wouldn’t do it with my running; I’d do it on the bike. Or, at least, that was the plan. As such: hang on during the first run, a short one for this type of event only 5 miles, pull ahead on the bike, again a short distance only 42 miles. The short bike would give me space to come in among the leaders and after only 42 miles I’d still have plenty left in my legs for the final run, again a short one only 5 miles. It would have been the shortest long course duathlon that I’d raced. But, I bailed out of the race to shoot.

I’ve never done a 3D state championship. If I didn’t do the qualifier, well I’d not be able to compete. So, rather than go to the duathlon, I gambled on archery. The gamble is bigger than it appears.

There were 3 in my group and we did this a lot.

The NC State ASA 3D Championship, to be held in Mt. Airy, NC, is a day after I finish at the USA Archery’s National Outdoor Championship in Decatur, Alabama. The timing is tight, really tight. By the time the ASA event rolls around I’ll have been on the road for several weeks. It falls on the weekend that was to have ended with the National Championships in Decatur, Alabama, which is the last leg of spending three weeks on the road shooting. That is going to be a grind. It will also be after spending three weeks in a 21- foot long Winnebago with my wife and two dogs. By then end of that adventure I’m not certain if I can make the drive to Mt. Airy, NC in time to compete or if I’ll have any mental gas left to make a go of it.

Wagons for hauling gear, food and water has become popular on the 3D ranges here.

I can’t yet say whether I made the right choice today. Duathlon is my favorite type of racing. Duathlons are not real popular in the US because more people lean toward triathlon. So, they are a bit had to reach. But, it’s done.

Shooting in the Rain

It’s been raining all day. Not a hard rain. The rain has been light. So, I practiced in the rain.

It wasn’t raining when I got out of bed at 5:00 AM. Typically, I like to sleep until 6:00 AM. Lately, I’ve been hitting the sack earlier and as a result I am waking up earlier. I’m trying to get into a routine of waking earlier. I have a number of races with start times, over the next few months, where a 5:00 AM wake-up call is mandatory. At the ASA in Augusta I had a shoot time set for 07:30 AM. So, I figured I’d better practice getting up a little earlier than usual.

My running partners, River in the lead and Coco on her heels.

The day began with an early morning run. It wasn’t raining during the run, but looked like it might start at any moment. I started shooting a little later that usual because I had some yard work that had to be completed. Once all of that was done – it started raining.

It was warm and we stopped so the girls could have a break.

There are times when I’ve shot in 3D tournaments and it rained. Not a light rain, as today’s is, but a hard core float the Ark type rain. Today it has been gentle and not nearly hard enough to run me inside.

There will be days, I am certain, where I’ll get caught shooting in the rain. In cycling and running, events don’t stop for rain. In archery, we compete rain or shine most of the time.

Last week a 3D tournament was canceled due to rain. It wasn’t raining when the event was called off. It had been storming and the range along with parking were both mud bogs. I went and checked it out. I don’t mind mud on my truck. I suppose other more sensitive souls may have objected to mud.

You know, when we play outside we’re sometimes going to get caught in the rain. Really as long as it’s not freezing cold it doesn’t bother me. I can take the rain or I can take the cold, but I can’t take the rain and the cold.

Today’s rainy practice was fun. I shot better than usual. I think there’s an element of playing in the rain I enjoy. The bonus is now that I’m all grown up; Mama doesn’t fuss at me for getting soaking wet.

The Big Shooter Buck in the Park

The old Big Shooter Buck finally got a new center. The old center lasted nearly a year before arrows began passing though uninhibited. This deer was inexpensive. The replacement insert wasn’t too pricey either.

Some of these holes wouldn’t even slow an arrow down.

This old deer isn’t the oldest target in the “Park.” The 3D range is now called the “Park.” Brenda, my wife commented that I spend more time keeping he “Park” mowed and trimmed than I do my yard. She’s right. But, the “Park” is filled with snakes and ticks. Keeping it clear reduces the risk that someone will walk up on a water moccasin or rattlesnake. Plus, keeping the grass mowed helps keep the tick population down.

Heading into the Park

The property doesn’t belong to me. It’s belongs to three brothers who don’t live here. They’ve given me permission to use their property. Another neighbor, Jimmy, also uses the land for hunting and storing equipment and his boat. Between the two of us there is always activity in the “Park.”

This old fella is pretty well shot to pieces

The old Big Buck has been the longest resident in the “Park” even though he’s not the oldest target.  A number of targets were hand-me-downs that can still stop an arrow.  But, now the old Big Buck has a new center insert and is ready to receive more arrows.

Time to start wearing out this new center

Shooting Snakes

I leave most snakes alone. Typically, they don’t bother me and I don’t mess with them. There is an exception – the water moccasin.

Where we live there is an abundance of these aggressive snakes. They swim where we swim. They lounge on my dock. They slither among my plants. They hang out on the steps that lead from my bulkhead into the river.

When I see them I do what I can to get rid of them. By getting rid of them I mean l killing them. My weapon of choice is not my bow. I use a double barrel 410 shotgun with number 6 shot. It does the trick. Today, it did the trick three times within about 15 minutes.

The third dead snake on my neighbor’s steps leading into the river.

The biggest of the three was lying on my dock. It was a huge fat snake. The second was swimming to the steps on my bulkhead – it didn’t make the steps before it met its maker. The third I shot off the neighbor’s steps that lead into the river.

An hour later we heard a shot from our neighbor, we guessed he’d shot yet another moccasin. I’ll check with him later, but if the shot was indeed the last noise that a water moccasin heard, that makes 5 killed so far this spring.

Better Than Expected – Thanks Black Eagle

Last week I discovered two arrows that had cracks in them. They’d never been shot. They were kept in a tube. They were without a doubt broken. The were Black Eagle Challengers.


They were two of a brand new dozen. I was disappointed. It turned out the discovery was made during the ASA in Augusta. Black Eagle had a booth there so I brought the arrows to their representative.

He promised the company would replace the arrows. He suggested the damge may have occurred in shipping since the cracks were in the same place on each arrow. Before I walked away he told me to send a message to their office regarding this matter. He had already altered the home office of the problem. I left him the arrows and to be honest figured that would be the last I’d ever hear about the broken arrows.

Once home I sent an email to the folks at Black Eagle explaining what had occurred in Augusta. Today, via priotiy mail I received the two replacement arrows and an additional ten arrows.


I’ve been debating a new dozen arrows for the USA Outdoor National Championships. When I order my arrows they will be one of the Black Eagle models.

You know, there is something to be said about a company that treats customers the way Black Eagle has treated me. Thanks!

Our New Winnebago Minnie

Brenda and I travel a lot. The trips are often short and because we have two dogs we need to board them. The price to board them is $45.00 per night. The dogs don’t seem real happy about it and we hate leaving them.

Brenda likes to travel to see things. I do as well but I have another motive, I travel to compete in archery tournaments and races. Travel becomes a hassle when we can’t bring the dogs. We’re always searching for a house we can rent that accepts dogs. They are available – they’re not cheap. A typical trip can cost $1000.00 for just a few days. So, after nearly a year of studying the problem we decided to buy a travel trailer.

The trailer, a Winnebago Minnie is 21 feet long, has a Queen bed,  a full bath, three burner stove, oven, refrigerator and freezer, a couch that flattens into a single bed, and a love seat among many other conveniences. The weight of it is 3440 pounds and it pulls fine behind my Ford King Ranch F-150.


We bought it in Georgia. We’d not planned to buy one in Georgia. There is a dealership near us here in Tignall so we drove over to take a look. It is a new dealership. The owner likes camping and became enthusiastic about RVs. He also uses RVs for hunting and fishing trips. He researched RVs and decided he’d open a Winnebago dealership. The primary motivator for us to buy here is the price was $4000.00 to $8000.00 less than we’d seen for the same model online at other dealerships in North Carolina and Virginia.


During the past two years I’ve travel around 36,000 miles to compete in archery. That’s a lot of rentals. Hopefully, this Winnebago with make the travel even more fun and a bit less expensive. I know the dogs will be pleased. Another bonus is one of our best friends has a motorhome and he spends months at a time on the road.  We’re looking forward to meeting up with him on road trips.


Down East Archery Coalition Well Represented in Augusta!

On the coast of North Carolina there is a group of archery clubs, the Down East Archery Coalition. There are six clubs that make up the membership. I shoot with them on weekends when they have 3D tournaments and I am not already traveling to another shoot or race.


Last year, 2015, was my first year shooting with the group. At first it was a little awkward not knowing anyone. Over time, I got to know faces and names. Now, I look forward to the shoots and seeing people that are becoming friends.


At the ASA in Augusta this past weekend the Down East Archery Coalition was well represented. We had at least 6 shooters in the competition. It was really nice seeing guys there I knew from North Carolina.


If I didn’t get your picture I’m sorry.

Rain, the Wrong Shirt, an ASA Shoot Done, and Riding the Trails

The 2016 McKenzie ASA Pro/Am Tour: New Breed & Leupold shoot is in the books. The second day was faster than the first. Still, it was a long day of shooting. By faster, we averaged one shot every ten and a half minutes.

Heading into the park.

I was pleased with my shooting. This is the first ASA event where I’ve competed. And I nearly didn’t get to finish.

The weather called for rain. It was pouring when I left home. I dressed for the rain and carried an extra set of clothes to change into if necessary. I was considering the weather and didn’t pay attention to my shirts. Neither shirt had a collar.

Randy, Sid, and Don – correctly dressed.

It stopped raining before we got on the range. As I entered I was blocked and told I could not enter the range because my shirt didn’t have a collar. I’m not one to argue with event officials. Arguing, I’ve learned over years of competitions, only helps the official justify their control and power over the athlete. Rather than try to explain I dressed for rain and had forgotten about collars I said, “Well, I guess I’m going home,” and turned to leave. The range official took pity on me and said, “Go ahead, this time,” and let me pass – he still was able to exert his control and power over me. I got to shot sans collar.

In an Ironman race, the Eagleman Ironman 70.3, I had a similar experience. There’s a rule regarding the material used to create a skin suit used for swimming. The officials were inspecting the skin suits, mine was inspected and passed. Minutes before the swim start a different official told me my suit was not legal. She suggested that I remove it, put it on the ground, and pick it up later. Despite explaining the suit passed the prior inspection, she refused to let me enter the water. Well, I wasn’t peeling off  the suit and leaving it on the ground – it cost over $300.00. I told her, “I’m not removing the suit, I’ll race for fun, don’t count my time” and raced. The suit was legal and I wasn’t the only person wearing that exact brand and material. I still have it and still use it. Control and power, I suppose being an official can go to some people’s heads.

An old hunting shack I passed on my mountain bike ride

Despite the apparel faux pas I shot better today than the first day. The longest target was only around 44 yards per my estimate, which was good enough for a 12. I did have a windage problem that once corrected thing went better.  But, it took too many targets to figure out I had a sight problem – I was shooting to the left. I thought it was me, not my equipment.  Another archer pointed out I was hitting the exact same spot on the left every time. A few clicks and problem solved. I ended up setting my high score for the year breaking yesterday’s score by 5 points. I am still  pretty far away from the top guys but had enough good shots to know it’s coming together.

Old school port-a-potty in the woods

Because the start of the shoot was at 0730 (delayed to 0800+) I got home in plenty of time to spend a couple of hours on my mountain bike. There are lots of trails through the woods here and I did my best to explore as many as possible until I needed to head home for dinner.

We had steaks cooked on the grill with roasted potatoes and green beans. After dinner I took River and Nixie swimming before River and I headed back out for another ride and run. A more than decent way to enjoy a Sunday in May.

Your not having fun until someone is bleeding