If off of 3D for a while. Back to shooting dots. Over the next few weeks I’ll do an outdoor tournament in Madison, Georgia before heading over to Decatur, Alabama for the USA Outdoor Nationals.
Brenda is coming with me on this trip. We’re bringing River and Nixie. All of us will be packed into our 21-foot long Minnie Winnebago. It will be an adventure.
Before I hit the road I needed new arrows. I tried to get the “skinny” arrows similar to those the big boys shoot. That didn’t quite pan out and I’ll be shooting my old standby Beman ICS Hunter arrows.
I had eight of them and bought another 1/2 dozen at Winks Sporting Goods in Princess Anne, Maryland. CJ Wink, also changed the tips and vanes so the arrows ‘mostly’ match. Two were older and a different length so they were eliminated from my pile of arrows.
The concern is that these “fatter” arrows may have be a slight detriment over a longer distance outdoors. Both of these upcoming outdoor competitions are at 50 meters. But, I can only shoot what I have on hand.
Before I got on road, I gave the Beman’s a try. Shooting all the arrows at the exact same point is risky. Twelve should be fine.
Saturday and Sunday the Maryland IBO State Championship and IBO World Qualifier was held in Princess Anne, Maryland. Wink’s Sporting Goods was the host.
It would be my final chance to shoot a qualifier for 2016. There were qualifiers earlier in the year. Circumstances required those earlier events to be skipped in deference to this later qualifier. As it ended up, I was down to this 3D shoot to qualify.
The drive to Princess Anne, Maryland from Hertford, North Carolina is about three and a half hours. The IBO World Championship is being held this year in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. The dates are blocked on my calendar. If I wanted to shoot Seven Springs I needed to make that drive to Princess Anne.
I’ve got that Winnebago and considered taking it Maryland on Friday. I could camp the night before then shoot on Saturday. Working through that idea I decided to drop it. The revised plan was to get up at 4:00 AM on Saturday and make the drive to CJ Winks.
Live and learn. Should I head back north to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a tournament, I’ll take the camper. There wasn’t any problem with traffic. The issue was fatigue. I arrived tired and sleepy. Some folks are early risers. I rise earlier than some, but not as early as others. Getting up before 5:30 AM sucks.
Before I got onto the range I drank a Red Bull. It kicked in after 10 or so targets. Good thing it did or I might’ve been hunting arrows. One thing for certain at the CJ Winks range, they aren’t ashamed to use their real estate.
The maximum distance I’d expected to aim from was 45 yards. My legs are fairly well calibrated – six paces equals five yards. Understandably, the 45 yards is +/- a few yards. By my calibrated pacing measurement of a few shots approached 50 yards.
To be clear, I am perfectly fine with a 50-yard shot. In fact, I enjoy them and scored well on the longer shots. I hosed myself on a few between 35 and 38 yards. (Mental breakdown and gave away points)
The range is also tight and dark. This added to the challenging experience. Twice my arrows just nicked something as it coursed towards a target. The two shots ended up 10’s so they ended well.
Overall, it was a challenging and enjoyable 3D range. I liked the long shots. I ended up averaging 0.6 points lower per target for the year. It was apparent I’ve not been shooting 3D in over six weeks. But, I shot fair even if a tad below my average and got done what I needed to make to the IBO World’s in Seven Springs.
We’ve had a real problem with water moccasins this year. They are all over the place – in the year, on my dock, on the bulkhead, on the steps leading into the river, and in the woods. We have to keep a constant watch out for them.
My neighbor doesn’t walk around outside without a pistol. For the most part I keep a .410 shotgun nearby when I’m working in the yard.
When I practice archery in the woods I carry a pistol. These woods are swampy and a great place for snakes. I’m pretty good with a bow but there are times when, should I cross paths with a poisonous snake, I might not have any arrows or might not be carrying my bow. The pistol adds a certain level of comfort.
Today I shot moccasin number nine for the year, I’ve shot seven, my neighbor has shot two.
This one is pretty big, but is not the largest one that I’ve shot this year. The biggest of these nasty snakes was swallowing a fish during its last meal.
I don’t know what’s up with all these snakes this year, but it is bad.
I have a range finder. It provides fair estimate of yardage. At times I regret ever using one. It’s probably better to never use the gadget and learn to make the yardage measurement accurately without electronic support.
Today, I didn’t use range finder. I think it can become a crutch. Using one all the time makes me feel less confident in my yardage assessment.
Not using a range finder was a bit more fun than when I use one in practice. To make certain I wouldn’t become tempted, just to take a peek, the range finder wasn’t on the practice field.
You know, I think I shot better without the ranger finder.
The past month or so archery has been focused on shooting known distances while preparing for and competing in the NFAA Sectional. There was one 3D tournament, with unknown distances, I’d hoped to compete in during this interval, but it was canceled due to weather. So, this morning’s practice was in the woods working on yardage.
You know what they say; if you don’t use it you lose it. It wasn’t too bad judging yardage. I did, however, lose one arrow shooting at a mountain lion target 50 yards out.
Aside from that one shot the others were okay. Even so, I had yardage correct on that missed lion shot. Fifty yards is pretty long and the arch of my arrows is noticeable at that distance. I might have hit a low hanging limb when going for that mountain lion. All the other fifty yarders were on target.
In these woods, there is an abundance of snakes. I practiced for three hours and forty-five minutes and didn’t see snakes today. Water moccasins are plentiful this year. As a result we’ve already shot eight if those aggressive vipers hanging around our dock, on the bulkhead and in these woods. When I go into that thicket I bring a little pistol in the event I walk up on a poisonous snake. I leave the harmless ones alone.
Granted, I do have a bow and arrows with me. But, when it comes to a snake that could kill me I’ll take whatever advantage I can get. Plus, when I go to pull arrows, I may not have any more in my quiver or my bow might not be in my hand. I keep the revolver on my hip – just in case.
What I wanted to do today was shoot the same target from around 20 yards to 50 yards. I shoot each faux-critter about eight times each at a variety of points near and far. I also changed the angles and positioned myself so that the targets weren’t all straight ahead. There are eleven foam animals on the range, which meant around 88 or so shots excluding my warm-up on a flat paper target.
This afternoon I’ll repeat this practice session and continue with this form of practice until Friday. On Friday I’ll be headed to Maryland for an IBO Qualifier.
We’re back in Georgia for a couple of days. Our oldest daughter invited us to join them to see Cirque de Soleil. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Between now and them I have two tournaments, one in North Carolina the other in Maryland.
Once we get back to Georgia I am looking forward to shooting in Madison, Georgia. Then it’s onto Decatur, Alabama for the USA Outdoor National Championship. So, with all the competitive events in the near future I’ve not skipped on practice.
We have a field here that is devoted to storing trailers, tractors, and archery. That’s were I practiced this morning. I was shooting with a Mathews Apex 7 and pins rather than my Elite with a scope. The Elite is being re-strung in Elizabeth City, NC. I’ll have it back on Tuesday.
I’d mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve not shot using pins in over a year. It feels a little weird aiming with pins. Nearly all my shots landed in the yellow and I almost opened up the center.
Pins and no magnification certainly make seeing the X more of a challenge. Shooting out over 35 yards takes a slightly different “feel”. The effort is magnified since the Mathews bow feels very different from the Elite. But, I think the variance in the bows could be good practice.
Traveling is a great way to meet interesting people. John, for example, I met at the NFAA Sectional hosted by Big Buck Archery in Stoneville, NC. John is a 75-year-old retired Marine. Aside from being a chef in the military for six year he was a member of the Marine rifle team.
There are all sorts of characters in archery. But, not all of the unique individuals found along the way to shoot are found on an archery range.
Before heading back from Stoneville to Hertford I wanted to do a quick inspection of a back road I’d planned to try. Because I was pulling my camper, a Winnebago Micro Minnie, it seemed a good idea to preview an area of construction on the way to US-158.
A short drive provided assurance the path was manageable. Another good idea was to fill up with gas before the planned early morning departure on the following day.
The gas station, grocery/hardware store where I pulled in to fill up was a slice of the old South. In North Carolina, the place reminded me of a store one might have found in Mayberry.
Gomer wasn’t inside, but Andy was on duty. Andy was a retired sheriff. After his retirement he used to walk down to the store to sit out front and smoke his pipe. His wife disallows smoking at their home.
The gas station, grocery/hardware store, McCollums, is where the old men gather to smoke, chew and spit. Andy, actually Mr. Lambert, would join the tobacco team and enjoy his pipe and the local conversation. This is North Carolina and here tobacco is a staple.
Anyway, the “Old Man” that owned the store went into the hospital and “…never came out.”
The “Old Man’s” son was working his career job and trying to run the store. One evening, while smoking, Mr. Lambert said to the son, “You look beat. I know how to close up. Why don’t you go home and leave it to me.” A month later, Mr. Lambert was the new store Manager. That was ten years ago.
What was typical of the people in rural NC is that Mr. Lambert had stories to share. We talked for over an hour. He told me about his farm, his career in law enforcement, and how to get around the traffic. Most of all, he made me feel welcome and at home. A Southern Tradition.
I travel about 20,000 miles a year shooting in archery tournaments. Most of them, thus far, have been the local or regional events with a few National and World Championships thrown in for good measure. Aside from the enjoyment of the competition a main highlight is the unique people I meet along the way.
My Elite 35 is in the shop. The string needs to be replaced. 60X is one of my sponsors I use their strings. Because I have red bicycle handle bar tape on the grip of my bow, this time I requested a red and black string from 60X. It should look cool.
The shop where the sting is being replaced is moving. PGF Archery, owned by Bumper Williams has operated out of a shed on his property in Winfall, NC. Bumper has expanded his business and is relocating to a storefront in Elizabeth City, NC.
In fact, the property he’s rented for his expansion was the former location of the Cutting Edge Archery store. The Cutting Edge closed this week and PGF Archery is moving to that location. In the meantime, my Elite is in transit with the rest of the goods from Bumpers shed.
Without the Elite I still had two options to shoot: a $78.00 recurve and my old Mathews Apex 7.
I gave the recurve a few hours of time. It is amazing; I did not lose a single arrow. I tried to get a feel for shooting tradition style and had some success out to about 20 yards. I shot around 60 arrows with the recurve and all hit the target. A few even landed in the center. Nevertheless, I admit I had no idea what I was doing.
My second option was the Apex 7. I’d sold the bow last year and ended up getting it back. Since last year I’ve not shot with pins. I didn’t want to do the work on the scope in order to set it for the Mathews bow so I connected my old pin sight. (I removed the scope and stabilizers from the Elite while it’s being restrung)
It took awhile to acclimate to the 65% let off, the spongy wall, and pins. Eventually, I was shooting pretty well out to 50 yards – the bottom pin. Out of curiosity, I decided to shoot twenty 3D targets with my old friend.
The Mathews Apex 7 was my first bow. I’d bought is two years and 10 months ago from Shore Sportsmen in Easton, MD. It was nice to get reacquainted with it.
Since I was using pins, a bit cold to pins, I didn’t shoot any target farther away than 40 yards. Not having a scope makes a real difference. Being unaccustomed with the bow also took a toll. I ended up 6 down after a twenty target session with the Apex 7.
On Tuesday of next week my Elite 35 will be ready for me to retrieve. Even though I shot pretty well with the Apex 7, I’ll go into the next volley of tournaments with the Elite.
But, I still got to shoot even if the score was a bit disappointing
At the NFAA Sectionals, here in North Carolina, it was hot. Not record setting hot, but the second highest temperature that had been recorded for these two days. Shooting in 95°F was hard on a lot of people. The heat combined with the rugged terrain was more that some people could handle.
The first day was the hardest since there were three rounds. Two were field rounds and there was one animal round.
The field round, as expected, had plenty of long shoots. There were eighty-yard targets, mixed in with 70, 60, and 50 yarders. The second day was a “hunter” day and the distances remained the same. Lots of long shots. Long shots are fun shots. There’s something audibly rewarding to loose an arrow then wait awhile to hear the pop of it striking home. It’s visually rewarding to land on a center ring.
There were no freebees. When there was a short target it was often arranged at a difficult angle. One such was a “walk-up” where the first shot was only 11 feet away. After taking the short 11-foot shot, archers walked closer until four arrows had been fired.
Initially, it sounds easy. It wasn’t easy. The target was at an angle such that archers needed to contort creating a radical bend from the waist simply to see the target. In fact, it was a fun target.
The heat and rugged terrain did take a toll. On the second day there was a pronounced reduction in competitors. It was a tournament of attrition.
This was my first field archery event. I look forward to getting into as many of these as possible. (238 shots in 2 days -very cool)
It was a long shot – no doubt. The NFAA Sections ran on Saturday and Sunday in Stoneville, NC. The Xterra triathlon was scheduled for 4:30 PM on Saturday. Both events were on my calendar.
The archery tournament and triathlon were only 45 minutes drive apart. The field archery event, according to someone on the phone, was expected to be competed, the Saturday portion, by 2 PM. This was doable or so it seemed.
Saturday we shot 126 arrows. At 12:30 PM we’d only fired off 56 shots. The triathlon was becoming a questionable race.
An Xterra triathlon means a swim in a lake, a mountain bike race, and a trail run. Something that seemed just about perfect. The bonus is that it started in the afternoon. That alone was a novelty. It was going to be really a cool race despite the 95-degree temperature.
One thing that could happen was to walk away from the field archery sectional. By 3 PM, it was clear, archery would be the only competition for last weekend. There was no way I was leaving the tournament.
As so the day ended with archery only. The tournament wrapped up at around 6 PM on Saturday. It was a shame but there was nothing to be done aside from walking off the course to compete in the triathlon – which I didn’t do.