Rough Day in Beaufort County

Today was not my finest hour or two and a half hours, shooting at the Beaufort County Archers in Washington, NC. Compared to my last few 3D shoots it was almost like two different people shooting.

The 3D range at Beaufort County has never been an easy course. Saturday’s lay out was tricky. It left me with my lowest score in quite awhile, an abundance of eights and only three twelves.

Finally, on the last target – three 12s

The two other archers in my group, Jeff and John, weren’t tearing up the range either. None of the targets were overly difficult. All seemed a little misleading.

It did give me some ideas to improve my course only a little – to make it more difficult. All in all, it was just an off day.

3D Practice in Adverse Conditions

This morning, practicing 18 meters with my Mathews Apex 7, wasn’t so bad – the weather, that is. By this afternoon for 3D practice, that had changed. At the moment, 3D gear is an Elite Energy 35 set up for the hunter class. Having two bows to practice with makes training more convenient. Between the morning and afternoon a cold front moved in with a vengeance bringing dropping temperature and wind.

River never seems to mind the weather

The local weatherman’s forecast had predicted correctly. The latest update, however, now suggests we will not, probably, be getting snow. Snow, in March, on the North Carolina coast – please.

That hole is perfect for a standing bear target (some day)

As time approached to go outside and shoot I gazed out the window at Little River. It was covered in white caps. The wind was howling. It was easy to consider skipping practice. As time wore on the sun continued to drift west.

This was an adventurous shot at 40 yards

Finally, I manned up and went outside. Really, it wasn’t the worst weather I’ve practiced in as far as cold is concerned. It was really windy, with a constant 20 mph breeze and gusts up to 30 mph. At this time of the year there aren’t enough leaves on the trees to block the wind as much as I’d like for shooting. The entire time in the woods I kept waiting for a tree limb to fall on me.

You just know, by all the limbs on the ground, one is headed for your head with all the wind

There will be times, in tournaments, when the conditions are not ideal. Today, the weather were far from ideal. It was cold, windy and because of my delay getting onto the range the sun was a problem for many targets.

Despite the conditions, I like to work in technically difficult shots

What today’s training plan called for was another random number generation of yardage, those values assigned to targets, no range finder, and keeping score. It was a sad day. The very first target was a badger at 33 yards. The sun was not an ally, I shot a 5.

No matter the weather, being outside can be appreciated

Throughout practice it was a struggle. Some of the targets are positioned so that to shoot them you must stand in what today felt like a wind tunnel. Any target requiring a westward facing aim was pretty much a guess. The wind was cruel and I was pleased to have ‘hit’ every target. I finished this scoring session with a 181 (fifteen 10s, two eights, and three 5s). It was a sad day.

There were a few targets where the sun was a friend.

Surely, I could have skipped practice and probably not have lost any of my current skill. But, skipping would have not provided the training under adverse conditions that might come in handy some day.

18 Meter and 3D Practice

Yesterday morning I had the indoor range to myself at PGF Archery and Outdoors in Elizabeth City.  I’d brought music along, since according to one of the judges at the indoor nationals, USA Archery will be playing it over event PA systems thoughout their events.  So, I played music and shot for a couple of hours.

Afternoon was 3D.  Another two and a half hours of practice.  Combine that with several days of having the weight room at the YMCA nearly empty, hence some over indulging, and by 4:30 PM my arms were feeling it.

You know, it was a good feeling.

Show Me the Money

It isn’t uncommon to overhear envious archers dreaming of the riches lining the pockets of the elites in our sport. Certainly, it is a dream of many archers to shoot well enough that they might quit their day job and tour the world competing for fame, glory and riches. That really is more a fantasy than reality.

To be sure any one that is free to pursue archery as a full time occupation will become a better archer. But, my advice, keep your day job. That’s not meant to discourage, if you are truly willing to risk it all – go for it. You might want to have a significant savings or extremely supportive spouse before you take the dive.

There are a few archers that earn their living though competition. There are a few archery tournaments that have a nice pay out. My estimate is that less than 2% of “pro” archers are earning enough money to devote their full time attention to the sport.

Archers aren’t alone in competing in a sport where most, even good athletes, don’t really make enough money in the sport to support them economically. Those that are the big and frequent winners also have endorsement deals that supplement their incomes. The example I am most familiar with outside of archery is triathlon.

In triathlon, there are 2% of the professionals making a decent living by swimming, cycling and running. Sixty percent of the pro-triathletes earn less between $150 – $5000 dollars a year.

At the recent Las Vegas shoot one archer walked away with a $46,000 paycheck. It’s a big event and well funded. Some Ironman events boost large purses for winners, like $75,000, but that’s broken down over several places. First place might be $14,000. A few of the top triathletes have earned over a million per year. Their earning being supplemented through endorsements. That may hold true for an archer or two.

If it is your dream to get paid as an archer, be prepared to spend a whole lot more time practicing than you do. Even with a lot of practice, you can expect to earn, if you reach the top level, $10,000 to $75,000 per year gross. (1) If you’re already there, you understand.



Getting in Cardio

Usually, my day starts by taking a run with my dog, River. Sadly, she’s injured her left front leg so she has to rehab and walk. So, we started with a long walk, no chasing squirrels, no playing with her friends, and pretty much a leisurely pace. Tomorrow she may have to wait for me while I run.

Between morning and afternoon archery practice I got my cardio in by cycling. The temperatures are no longer frigid and despite a brisk wind the bike ride as usual was wonderful.

Lately, I’ve been riding on a steel frame Peugeot. Steel feels great compared to carbon fiber or aluminum. This bike was built about 15 years ago and set up retro. It has down tube shifters, an old Shimano 105 crank, Ultegra derailleurs, and 105 brakes. It does have a carbon fork. For those that ride, the chain rings on the bike are 55 and 48 and the rear cassette is 11-18 (only eight sprockets). With a tailwind this bike flies.

Rudy Project is my archery eye wear sponsor. They also make excellent helmets. That’s one of my Rudy Project helmets on the handlebars.

The wind, being sort of bad, I nearly decided to ride one of my triathlon bikes that allow me to cut into the wind. But, there’s just such a nice feel to that steel frame that I decided to leave the Cervelo and Cannondale Slice hanging.

No rain today, we’re expecting it tonight and tomorrow

I’ll admit, when it comes to cardio workouts, for me, nothing beats a bike ride. I did get that tailwind on the ride home.

A Demanding 3D Practice Method

One of the most difficult 3D practice exercises was on the agenda today. It seems easy enough but it’s pretty tough.

First, I made a list of my animal targets pretty much as they are arranged on the course. Then, I generated 30 random numbers between 20 and 40 yards. Next, going down the list of numbers I attached them in series to the animals on my list. That means that a small target, like a mosquito, might be assigned a distance, from the random numbers, of 40 yards.

Now, that I had a list of targets and a distance assigned to the target I grabbed my bow and headed out to the range. The bow is an Elite 35 with pins and a short stabilizer. The arrows are Black Eagle Challengers. In addition to the equipment, I carried my wrist Garmin Forerunner to record how far I walked and how long it took to shoot 30 targets.

You may have notice, there was no warm-up. Getting a warm-up at a 3D competition isn’t always possible. When it is, and I need about 18 shots to have the distances fresh in my head. Naturally, there is often a lengthy delay before scoring begins by which time I’m cold and totally forgotten my warm up. This isn’t such a problem at local events, but the major tournaments continuously seem to present a warm-up a challenge. Taking that into consideration, I didn’t warm-up.

Also, I wanted to be on the range by 0830. At two major 3D events last year I had early start times. Typically, at the local shoots the first archers are off at 1000.

Yesterday, I had a lucky day at the gym. The weight room was nearly empty. Since I had the weights and machines to myself I indulged. That along with a hard run left me with some delayed onset muscle soreness. I felt it once I started shooting. Actually after ten targets I considered stopping. I didn’t, there may be days where I am not at my physical peak and still have to shoot.

Here’s the deal with knowing the distance and approaching a target. It seems slightly harder than standing at a stake the making the yardage assessment. (No range finder allowed in this drill) But, I think it is a great way to learn yardage. Of course, shooting a rabbit at 40 yards and getting a good score is tough whether you use a range finder or not.

The practice turned out to be difficult. My average score per arrow was 9. That’s 1.05 points lower than last week’s 3D tournament. It took an hour and twenty-two minutes to shoot the 30 targets that covered a distance of 1.35 miles. It was a demanding practice, but a good one.

Starting Long 3D Practice Days

First, let me say that throughout the winter of 2016 I continued to practice 3D. Second, it was not my primary objective for winter competition or training. Indoor 18-meter was the focus. Third, that focused practiced paid off. Lastly, it is time to reverse the order of concentration and prepare for the 2017 3D season.

To be fair, I’ve shot three 3D events thus far in 2017. There wasn’t a whole of specific 3D practice before hand, but I shot well enough. However, my 2017 goals for 3D will require better than well enough to achieve.

Morning practice was more an exercise in bow maintenance. I had to switch my indoor equipment over to my secondary bow. I’d been shooting my primary bow for indoor events. There is no specific reason one is primary and the other secondary beyond the primary bow is the newer bow. I shoot both of the equivalently.

The primary bow ready for 3D
Oh, there it is

Basically, I switched the long stabilizers to the secondary bow along with my sight and scope. There was a moment of panic when I couldn’t find the scope. See, when we returned from Georgia last week I loaded the bed of my truck with our gear. The bed is covered. Then, I drove away with the tailgate down – opps. We didn’t discover the mistake until we were in Columbia, SC. By then, we’d lost a cooler with the fillets of the few fish we’d caught. I was much more disappointed in loosing the fish than the cooler. I’d planned a few meals and was eager to eat those fish. Anyway, for a few minutes I couldn’t find the case containing the scope and sight. The problem – it was right in the open on a bench just in front of my nose.

I’ve been seeing a lot of turkey butts lately, so I turned this one around

So, having found the scope and sight I connected my indoor gear to my secondary bow and adjusted it for the yardage. The primary and secondary bows are vastly different and there is always a good deal of fidgeting to get proper alignment. That exercise ate up my morning until it was time to head to the gym.

These skinny birds are inexpensive and frequently found on local 3D shoots

The afternoon was all 3D. I took six Black Eagle Challenger arrows, no longer practicing with my less expensive arrows, my primary bow, and headed over to the range. The plan was to shoot each target out to 45 yards at five-yard increments starting at 20 yard. I knew this would result in a few broken nocks and it did – I busted three. When the arrow placement began to drift I stopped and held that distance until the groups tightened. And I did all of this without a range finder.

The dirt pile for elevation – here on the coast we’re pretty much at sea level. A real problem during hurricane season.

Honestly, I don’t like range finders. At least I don’t like mine. I don’t trust it. For real accuracy, I use a 100-foot tape measure and place stakes in the ground for fixing yardage.

This target doesn’t leave enough room but for one arrow at a time

This year, all my 3D is going to be with fixed pins and unknown yardage. There is one exception. I spoke to a representative of the ASA regarding their Pro/Am shoot in Augusta. Last year, I shot a long stabilizer, sight and scope. I didn’t know for sure which group I should compete in using the fixed pin arrangement. I know for IBO, but there seems to be an ever-increasing number of classifications for both organizations. Rather than take a chance, I called for help. The ASA representative entered me into the Masters Elite. In that one day is known yardage. Unless they’ve put the distance at the stake I’ll need to us a range finder. Seriously, I am considering just relying on my judgment throughout. That or try to find a decent range finder.

Yep, that turkey butt is out there a ways

The 3D session this afternoon ran for just under three hours. There was plenty of light remaining for practice and I had ample physical reserve to shoot. But, I had a dog, River that no longer wanted to watch or chase sticks. She was ready for more aggressive play and she ended the practice.

River has decided I’ve practice enough for one afternoon

Only a Few More Cold Days Left in 2017

This little wall heater in my shed has been just perfect this winter

There are only a few more of these cold days remaining in 2017. And today was a cold one. The temperature was 32°F, which isn’t too bad, but the wind was doing it’s best to degrade 3D practice.

You can just see the pig on a log – I like to imagine it’s a javelina – javelinas and logs are ubiquitous on 3D ranges

Two hours of 3D in the morning with an occasional break to step into my shed and warm up. Hopefully, the wind will die down a bit before the afternoon practice.

River making critical observation of my progress

PS. It was just as cold during the afternoon. But, the wind did let up a little.


One more day off and back to the range.  Brenda and I spent the day fishing with her dad.

Fishing wasn’t as productive as we’d hoped.  Only three stripers and we threw one back.  It was too small. The other two were big enough to provide use with a couple of meals.

It was cold on the water.  We spent seven hours doing our best to find fish.

Oh well, like my father-in-law said, if we alway came back with a lot of fish they’d call it “catching” rather than “fishing.”

Oh, and time to start running, again.


Considering Past Pain While Taking a Break

Over the past few days I’ve been taking a break. No doubt, I needed a rest. The past six months have been fairly intense. Days have been filled with fitness and archery training.

That training consisted of two to six hours a day of archery. The archery was supplemented with another 8 to 10 hours a week of running, cycling, swimming and weight lifting. Granted, there were small breaks, a day off every 7 to 10 days and time off for holidays. The target of those efforts was an indoor archery tournament held in Snellville, GA. Now, that it’s behind me, I’ll enjoy this break and move into my 3D season.

While on this break I’ve been thinking about some of the hardest sporting events where I competed. Archery and racing are very different disciplines. In sports, they are about as opposite as possible.

If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know it is not just heading out to take a leisurely run. Even if you’re not a fast runner, the miles take a toll. At the 2011 Tokyo Marathon I was prepared and very fit. Then, in Japan, on race day, the temperature plunged to freezing with pouring rain. The conditions became the force driving in every runners’ head urging them to drop out. At around mile 18 the rain stopped but it never did warm up. It was not the hardest sporting event ever for me.

Of the Ironman events I raced, not one of them reaches the peak of pain. At 2008 Ironman in Hawaii with around six miles left to run (the race is 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, and 26.2 run) I was pacing with an ex-professional athlete. But, not an ex-pro triathlete, he was Jeff Conine, member of two Baseball World Championship teams. The conversation was pleasant and baseball never came up although a camera crew in a convertible Ford drove slowly next to us asking related questions. It was quite cool.  Still, I mostly listened – I’d didn’t have enough breathe for a conversation. It’s amazing how much communication can come from grunts.  Still, not near the most difficult physical / mental effort of my life.

The most difficult was a race where everyone shared the pain. All runners watched out for one another. Everyone gave encouragement to his or her opponents. It even seemed the other athletes were far less the opponent. The opponent for us all was the racecourse. The race was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The run up to the peak of Mt. Evans, over 14,000 feet, was on North America’s highest paved road. We started the race in near 60°F temperature surrounded by trees and finished on a barren mountaintop being snowed upon at 26°F. It stands out as the most difficult sports event of my life. It was as much a physical strain as a mental strain. The higher we got, the lower our oxygen saturation.(1) The thought to stop never once entered my head. I thought I might die did, which would have been a good reason to have stopped running.

Archery is very different. There’s a massive degree of mental exercise along with the physical elements that makes the sport difficult to frustrating. One little mental error and that 10 becomes an 8. But, it’s not physically painful. Still, over months containing many long hours of practice it’s best broken by a bit if rest.