2nd Quarter 2016 Results

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This quarter has been a frustration – no wins. I competed in 8 events. Six in archery and two were bicycle races.

Yes, doing a bicycle race was a bit risky. A crash could wreck an archery season. Both bike races were time trials so odds of a crash were low. The cycling races yielded two-second place finishes.

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This can mess up archery

Archery produced 3-second place finishes, including 2nd place at the Maryland IBO State Championship. There were also 2 third place finishes and one where I ended up out of the top 10.  (we all have those weekends.)

The Maryland State Championship was also the IBO World Championship Qualifier. My 2nd place qualified me to compete at the IBO World Championship.

Two archery events I’d planned were canceled because of storms. The NFAA Sectionals messed me up for the Xterra Triathlon. I was competing in the sectional that ran long infringing on the triathlon – both were on the same day. The archery in the morning followed by the triathlon in the afternoon. An afternoon triathlon – an Xterra – would have been very cool. As it turned out I had to be satisfied with the 3rd place finish after the 2-day sectional competition in archery.

I’ve been on the road a lot having traveled 2490 miles this quarter to compete. I am looking forward to some time back home before heading out to the IBO World’s.

The website, Puttingitontheline.com, where I post remains strong. During Q2 it had 32,860 visitors in Q2 who read 84,567 pages. It also has a new logo.

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To reduce costs (based on a three year ROI) we bought a Winnebago. For example, the past 25 nights on the road cost $592.00 using the Winnebago (lodging only) whereas hotel and kennel fees would have been $4,520.00.

That’s pretty much it for Q2.

Dark versus Bright Vanes

When I started shooting a bow, 34 months ago, I took a shot a 3D archery. It was early September and I’d just purchased a Mathews Conquest Apex 7. I missed the very first target.

In that event the first shot I took with the bow was from a stand. It had stairs that led to a platform surrounded by railing to help prevent people from falling off the platform. I’d only shot the bow a few times and never from any elevation. My arrow sailed over the target.

Before the day was out I was hitting the foam pretty consistently – no more misses – shooting from the IBO “Hunter” distance at a maximum of 35 yards. Even at that distance using binoculars at times it was hard to see where my arrows hit.

One of the advanced guys shooting from the “Hunter” stake laughed at me when I mentioned it was hard to see arrow placement under the thickly leafed canopy. With the voice of experience and a bit of braggadocio he pointed out that his arrows were fletched with black and blue vanes.

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From 45 yards, this is a tough arrow to see

He explained, “That way, when I have g good shot, it’s hard for others to line up on my arrow.” I understood his position of this strategy. After I lost, broke, or damaged the brightly vanned dozen of arrows I’d acquired when I made my Mathews purchase I followed his recommendation. I had black and blue vanes mounted on the arrows’ shafts. Overtime, I’ve come to my own conclusion regarding the camouflaged vanes. That is, I don’t like them.

Granted, if I do have a good shot another archer might end up aiming at my arrow. What I’ve learned is the archers that I shoot against are happy if I have a good shot and they are able to use my arrow as a reference. What I’ve experienced is that unless I shoot first and hit a center shot – the color of my vanes is somewhat irrelevant. See, all the guys I shoot against are so good my arrow has little impact on where they aim. My arrow might help, but probably not much.

Another reason I no longer have an affinity for dark vanes is because I can’t see them. If it was hard to see fletching at 35 yards maximum, at 50 yards maximum (3D) they are pretty much invisible. In field archery, maximum distance of 80 yards, well a spotting scope is better than my binoculars. (But, you aren’t going to haul a spotting scope around)

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Arrows are more easily seen on days like this and venues like this

During a 50 meters outdoor shooting, I use my binoculars – I don’t own a spotting scope. But, those tournaments are in the bright sunlight (unless it’s overcast or raining) and then I can see my arrows.

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I still have a lot of the dark vanes

When in the woods, using dark vanes, if the sun is bright and there is a break in the leaves and a ray of sunshine is just right there may be a refection off the bushing. Beyond that, there’s little chance that I can identify where my arrow hit when targets are out over 40 yards.

I like knowing where my arrows have landed sooner rather than later. Sure, I take some practice shots before I get on the range – when I can. I’ve been to shots where getting 4 practice shots is the best you can hope for. There have been times when I had no warm up shots. Furthermore, the practice range is often bright and that might have a slight impact on sighting compared to a darkened 3D tournament.

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This photo is zoomed in a bit, but the group is clearly visible against this rifle target.  Having bright vanes makes it easier and faster to make fine adjustments.
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Yep, you can see this group from a distance

When practicing alone being able to see my arrows is a key element for my improvement. Others may be fine not being able to see their arrows. One fellow once said to me, “It doesn’t matter after I’ve shot my arrow, it’s too late to do anything about it.” I disagree. If I’m off in practice, I can make corrections once I’ve identified exactly where my arrow hit. Granted, I somewhat know where my arrow is going to stick before it lands. But, it’s the small adjustments that can be discriminating.

Shooting today from 50 yards my brightly colored nocks seemed just about right. The group of them seemed to illuminate. If I lose an arrow because someone breaks a nock or Robin Hoods my arrow in a 3D tournament, well I am okay with that. In the meantime, I can see where my arrow lands.

Trail Riding in the Heat

I can’t shoot all day long.  I shoot a lot, several hours a day on most days. When I’m taking a break from archery I don’t sit around – there’s too much adventure to be had. Between archery sessions today I headed out on my mountain bike for some trail riding excitement.

Riding my mountain bike in the heat of the day was a blast – of heat.  I didn’t get into the woods until 2:30 PM.  It was a warm 97 degrees.

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I loaded my bike at home and drove it 26 miles away to the “hunting” property.  There are logging trails throughout the 879 acres. Excellent for off road cycling.

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The scenery this time of the year is vastly different from the fall and winter. These woods were at times thick and dark.  Other parts of the woods were bright and sunny.

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The Georgia red clay, ubiquitous here, was hard and cracking under the heat. Small puddles were surrounded by tracks of the locals trying to get a sip or dip.

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The paths led from hard red clay to thick underbrush.

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Some of the tracks I passed showed me that there is a new crop of fawns growing in these woods.

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Riding down the main path I approached “Buzzard Tower.”  In the fall buzzards hang out there, I didn’t see one in this heat.

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Occasionally the trails were overgrown and plowing ahead provided a few scrapes and cuts.

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Despite the heat, it was a great few hours of trail riding.

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Short Shots and a Little Trash Can Ingenuity

It takes a while to mow the field where I shoot here in Tignal. The field was being mowed when I headed out to practice. I ended up working on my short game.

This target is only 21 to 25 yards out depending on where I stand. The target was a rifle target – these are often more easily found at sporting good shops. The center ring and the Xs are a lot smaller than a standard 5-spot.

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A little trash can ingenuity needed to level the block

One advantage to shooting short shots is it takes less time to fire 70 to 100 arrows. Walking 42 yards round trip is faster than making a 160-yard round trip trek. But, long shots are so cool.

After around 90 minutes I stopped shooting. I’ll get the long shots in when I come back from mountain bike riding.

Toasty and a Hungry Bird

It’s 97°F, that’s hot. It was hot when I practiced this morning, not yet 97, but close. It’s going to still be hot when I shot again after I finish this post. Typically, I write these posts at night. Today, I’m typing a little earlier to share what happened during the morning practice.

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Started off shooting to the right of center

The target I’m shooting sits in a chair in a small dip. Without the chair the target can’t be seen once the distance reaches 43 yards. The ground isn’t level and there’s a hump that makes the target invisible when you start adding yardage if its not on the chair.

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This was a drill. I set my sight for the center. Then, walk back 5-6 yards and shoot. The low arrow is the mark when I’m off 5-6 yards. Then, I walk forward, not moving the sight. Finally, I pass the center shot and end up shooting high. Gives me some idea of what happens when I’m off a few yards.

There still isn’t a lot of variance in the topography. To make shots have more of a slope I stand on trailers used to haul tractors.

While standing on one of these flat bed trailers I heard a buzzing sound. I looked down and there was a humming bird searching the nocks on my arrows for nectar. I’ve seen some unusual things outside but that was a first. This little bird was putting its beak into the each nock on the hunt for sweetness. Sadly, it was disappointed and flew off.

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Without the chair this target is below the horizon.

Back to the heat:  Brenda just informed me it is 107 with the heat index. Yep, this afternoon is going to be toasty.

EAC Outdoor Shoot in Madison, GA

There are some great archery tournaments within an hour and a half of us here in Tignall, GA. We come down several times a year and there’s always some competition to join. This week we came down for the 4th of July celebration. Then, we head onto the USA Outdoor Nationals in Decatur, AL. While in Georgia, sure enough, there was a tournament in Madison, GA.

The outdoor shoot in Madison was 72 arrows from 50 meters followed by an Olympic Round. I arrived a little early, before all the targets were out on the field. I’d allowed some extra time in case I got lost. I did get lost, but not too badly. I had a phone number to ‘Coach Danny’ so I called for help.

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View of the range before all the targets are up and before the archers and spectators have arrived

Eventually, Coach Danny talked me in and I found the range. Once there, I introduced myself to the Coach and thanked him for his assistance. It wouldn’t be the last time he’d help me out over the weekend.

The shoot got underway pretty much on time. The contest began in the afternoon. It was a hot day and the afternoon temperature was near 100°F. Toasty.

I’d traveled alone and didn’t have a tent to sit under. Before the shooting began the field behind the shooters lined up two deep with tents covering spectators. A family from Alabama invited me to share their shade. I was grateful even though there was not a lot of time for sitting.

The judges kept the flow moving and there was a break after 36 arrows. The break allowed people to refuel, get more fluids, and take a bio-break. I used the time to eat a tournament vender supplied barbeque sandwich.

Now, you might think a barbeque sandwich purchased at an archery tournament might not be the best choice for pork. You would be mistaken.

A friend, Andy, and I traveled together for nearly a decade. On all trips we made it a goal to try to find the best barbeque. We enjoyed slow cooked pig from Texas to Georgia. The barbeque served by this vendor here in Madison is the best I can recall.

It was late afternoon when I finished my sandwich and the carbon fiber bombardment restarted. It was still sweltering and people had been in the sun for hours. Despite the heat arrows continued to hit X’s, ten’s and nine’s for most of the men’s open archers. One fellow, a colligate archer for the University of Georgia, was tearing the center of his target to pieces.

The second 36 arrows were all shot by 7:20 PM. The next phase of the day was the Olympic Round. Regardless of my potential place after the 72 arrows, I was leaving. I’d been on the range since 2:30 PM and had a two-hour drive ahead of me. As much as I would have enjoyed staying, there was no getting around the time.

I hastily packed by gear, or so I thought, said my goodbyes and hit the road. It wasn’t until the next morning I discovered I’d left my bow on the range. Opps.

Hello again, Coach Danny!

I had a feeling Coach Danny would have my bow and he did. I felt lucky to have reached him on a Sunday morning. This is the South and many Southerners are in Church on Sunday morning.

Coach Danny wasn’t in Church this Sunday morning, he was heading back to the range to finish putting targets away. Man, I was lucky!! A bonus was that he didn’t make me feel particularly stupid for forgetting my bow.

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Coach Danny (and his wife) with my bow

We met back at the field where the tournament was held so I could recover my forgotten property. As we talked he gave me a few pointers in my grip. He also said, “I couldn’t figure out way things moved so slowly yesterday.” Then asked, “Where you still here when the sprinklers went off?”

All I could do was laugh at that. The range was set up on a soccer field with an underground sprinkler system on a timer. It activated at 8:19 PM the system showering archers and fans without discrimination. He added, “We didn’t finish until 11:00 PM.”

I really did appreciate Coach Danny’s help finding the range, recovering and delivering of my bow. Without him, well things would have really been a mess.

I’ll be back in Georgia to shoot again soon, I hope. Each time I’m here I meet a new friend and shoot with some of the nicest people in the sport.

Practicing Long Shots in the Heat

Well, it is hot in Georgia. The past few days have been in the mid-90’s. Tomorrow we’ll be shooting outside in Madison and it promises to be a scorcher.

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The practice field here in Tignal

The start time for the competition on Saturday is 2:30 PM. After naptime, which is good and reaching peak thermal exposure.

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Zoomed photo of the target from 60 yards

On Saturday we’ll be shooting 72 arrows from 50 meters. I’ve been practicing here on a field. I can get a clear shot out to 80 yards. I limited practice to 70 yards and focused on 60 yards. It’s a little further than the distances for Saturday and the USA Outdoor Nationals. My hope is that by practicing a more difficult shot maybe 50 meters will feel easier.

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That might do

The other factor I’m practicing in is the weather. Both upcoming events will be hot and there is no doubt practice has been hot.

On the Road to the Outdoor Nationals and Camping Along the Way

On our way to Tignal then Madison, Georgia for fireworks and archery. From there we head to Decatur, Alabama to shoot. It’s a fairly long trip and we’re camping along the drive.

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A little rain in Lumberton.

Our first stop was in Lumberton, NC.  We stayed at a KOA off of I-95.  The road noise was a bit much if the air conditioner in the RV was off.  It was raining so we didn’t get out a lot.

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This might be a nice kayak trip

River, my lab, had to stay on a lease and we kept her out of the water.  She was disappointed.

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One disappointed dog