Harder Than It Needs To Be

When I go to the “Big” tournaments this is what I’ve learned: 3D is harder than and indoor is more frustrating than practice.

Shooting indoors at 18 meters is the same distance on all ranges. Sure, there are those that might debate an inch or two. What I find is the main perplexing variable is the lighting.

As we age, the lens of our eyes changes. The change, I am sad to say but can confirm, means the lens lets light pass differently the result being that older people need more light than younger people to see. Knowing this I do what I can to practice indoor shooting where there is poor lighting.   Older people are also more susceptible to glare which can be a problem from time to time.

Targets in shadow are tough on older eyes

To learn how big of impact lighting has on me I reviewed my practice notes. Those notes contained reference to the light on the range. My scores were an average of 14 points higher on ranges where I noted the light was good. You know that 14 points is huge when it comes to indoor shooting. (60 arrows)

When the light is bad, the dot that I aim is essentially a shadow. Sometimes it takes a few seconds just to identify the dot. It is frustrating. So, in order to deal with this physiological fact of aging, I practice in poor light as well as good light.

3D is another matter. I do have a practice range where I could become really good a shooting my targets if I didn’t change things up in practice. I know for sure that the range masters setting up competitive events will not create an equivalent 3D range to mine. So, I change things around a lot.

Shadows, light, and more shadows complicate shots
Taking a shoot at an odd angle makes it more difficult and interesting

Plus, my range is flat. Thus far all the “Big” 3D tournaments where I’ve shot have been hilly. There’s not much I can do to create hills. I do what is reasonable, shoot from my porch, off the upper deck, and while standing on a dirt mound created by an excavation. Still the elevation and shooting conditions don’t match with the slopes or footing in the hills.

Underbrush adds another element of difficulty to judging yardage.

To make matters more difficult I take long shots, shoot at targets wedged between trees and aim for foam-animals that are separated from the stake by underbrush or creeks. Those training measures make it more difficult to judge yardage.

This bear, in a shadowed hole at 40 yards, is a target arrangement likely to be seen at a tournament

By working to make conditions more difficult during practice, you will find yourself better prepared for those weird things that just seem to happen. Like finding out that I have to shoot at 0730 at the Augusta Pro/Am. Which means getting up at 0430. Guess I’ll have to practice getting out of bed before 0600 – which is early enough.

Familiarity breeds contempt–and children. (Mark Twain)

I shot in an 18-meter indoor competition today. Targets were set at the usual distance. The crowd was not the usual.  Today, there was an abundance of children probably exceeding the adult count. Children know how to pass time between ends. Their efforts to fill any void in time or motion with activity were on display and exemplified two boys.

The boys are brothers. You would know this without asking by way of their fighting. The older, as usual at this early stage of development had the physical advantage. The younger fortified with spirit.

Between ends, one activity was balancing. In this event, the younger positioned himself prone across two stools. The trick, as the three-legged stools were narrow topped, was not to fall off while depriving the senior brother of a place to sit. A younger mind not thinking ahead missed the potential that a chest would be a perfect place for a brother to seek comfort. That game was up when the prone child complained, “I can’t breathe!” The weight of the larger child was resisting rib expansion.

The whine for air caught the ears of some of adults, who sat by and watched as they thought through proper words of scolding. The older boy took pity, and with experience reminding him that nearly killing his little brother led to trouble in the past, lifted from the smaller thorax, allowing air to return to squashed lungs. The adults’ silent musings ceased upon the release and their mature eyes returned to several pairs of blank ovals the momentary hope of providing a scolding now empty.

In an accident while pulling arrows the bigger of the two boys was injuried. Details of the incident remain unclear as facts are often relayed from perspective. In some fashion the older boy, subsequent to the chest crushing of the younger, was stabbed in the back of the neck with a nock. The nock broke skin and there was minor bleeding.

The abrasion looked painful and did bring tears to the eyes of the injuried. In sympathy the uninjured smaller child looked squarely in his brother’s eyes and said, “Suck it up, Buttercup.” One must admire the courage of the smaller boy to pronounce such a crass remark. Buttercup’s eyes showed that this too would have a debt. The debt soon paid by the theft of arrows.

This sort of give and take lasted the entire competition. Fortunately, there was only the one bloodletting and no bones were broken. Albeit, several adults seemed disappointed having to conceal a mentally rehearsed after-the-fact reprimand.

Time to Put 18-Meters on Pause

In one day I’ll be moving away from 18 meters for about 3 months. I like 18 meters. You shoot three arrows, take a short repetitive walk of 36 meters then shoot three more arrows. Lately, using my iPhone connected to speakers, I’ve been playing music in the background while I practice. It is my understanding that all the USA Archery indoor events will forever more be playing non-stop music. At first I found it annoying. Now it helps pass the time spent walking back and forth.

I don’t even mind the walk. It’s a rather enjoyable few minutes to reflect. For example, today I considered how it was that I kept shooting around the X and just missing. From 18 meters away it seemed I was hitting the X. Up close the truth was revealed and I was hitting the nine about as often as the X.

If I’d tried to do this, I’d have failed
If either of those top two shots had been to the right that little fellow might have been squashed.

On another trip I was pondering over a bug. This insect seemed fearless. It landed on a target and stayed put for arrow after arrow. Maybe he was trying to impress another insect or was there on a dare. Perhaps not a super hero of bug bravery because it kept to the blue ring. I didn’t image the fly knew the color blue but just maybe could somehow sense a safe distance. It was there so long I had time to decide a photograph would make for solid evidence of its courage. On the next 36-meter trek I brought my iPhone, disconnected from the speakers, and there half way into the walk, it was waiting for a cover.

Eventually, I began to fatigue. My shots less centered and my mind no longer in the game. It had been hot, 87°F. Shooting from inside my shed the temperature felt closer to 97°F. I’d already shot up three sheets of targets and was on my fourth when an 8 announced it was time to wind down for the day.

Yep, time to call it a day

Eighteen meters is fun. The NC Outdoor State Championship is in July. So, with than on the horizon it’s time to add more steps to my walking. I’ll be back at 18 meters before it gets too distance from memory.

Signing With Black Eagle Arrows

Recently, I entered into an agreement with Black Eagle Arrows. The arrangement means I am considered on of their “Pro-Staffers.” They didn’t contact me, I asked them for the position.

The reason I reached out to Black Eagle Arrows is that I shoot their arrows. I also like their arrows. More importantly the company located in Canton, Georgia impressed me.

A year or so ago I had a problem with a few Black Eagle Arrows I’d ordered. The few arrived broken, obviously damaged during shipping. I was at the ASA in Augusta and marched the damaged arrows to the Black Eagle display booth. It was early and no one was yet at home. I had to get to work, so I found a fragment of paper, wrote a note, taped it to the arrows and figured that was the end of that.

After finishing the shooting for that day, I hiked over the Black Eagle booth. The hike over was more out of curiosity than anything. Having had a few interactions with other archery vendors at tournaments, I figured the arrows would have disappeared leaving behind no note or evidence they ever existed or I might hear a suggestion to take the problem up with the carrier that had delivered the arrows to my door. In the worst case I thought whoever was manning the booth would instruct me to call “Customer Service” whereupon my complaint would most surely vanish in a maze of button presses and awful telephonic music.

It turned out I was wrong. The Black Eagle representative seemed glad that I had returned. It nearly threw me off my game. My experience with archery company representatives at tournaments has mostly been a demonstrated hope that customers gaze in lust at their wares, don’t touch, don’t ask too many questions, and move on so as not to interfere with any celebrity archer that might chance a visit thus illuminating the booth with reflected glory.

Prepared to puff up my complaint, I was squashed before I could get rolling. The Black Eagle representative concurred that the arrows were damaged, likely during the shipping. The Mother Ship, in Canton, Georgia, had been notified and replacement arrows had already been shipped to my home in North Carolina. True to his word, when I returned to North Carolina, the replacement arrows had arrived.

I mentioned to a friend the broken arrow story. He suggested that I might write Black Eagle and request to be on their “Pro-Staff.” So, I did and in doing so made certain I played up that I’m a native Savannahian – they being located in Canton, Ga.

One never knows about mentioning Savannah. Occasionally, you do come across the person who recalls Savannah as one long bad St. Patrick’s Day they’d rather forget. Or you could be writing a person with the still bitter taste left by the speeding ticket earned while cruising Butler Avenue on Tybee. In this instance, being from Savannah didn’t seem to matter on way or the other. Black Eagle accepted my application without prejudice.

While reading their website I did find pictures of other archers being supported by Black Eagle. I also found the fellow that recommended I submit an application, his toothy smile in the spotlight. He never told me he was a big shot for Black Eagle, although he is well known as being a good shot with a bow.

I’ve purchased a pile of Black Eagle arrows. In fact, I don’t yet need any more of their products. They probably wonder why a new member of their “Pro” staff has yet to invoke his benefits. When I run low on arrows I’ll buy more, but until then I’ll try to keep them out of the weeds.

18 Meters, 3D, and a New Bear

It’s that in between time of year. 3D season is ramping up, indoor shooting is on the downslope, and the outdoor main events are only a few months away. Training at the moment is like attention deficient archery.

The present practice is 18 meters in the morning and 3D in the afternoon. After Saturday practice will be 60 meters in the morning and 3D in the afternoon. I’m not headed to the USA Archery Outdoor Championship this year but plan to do well at the NC State Outdoor Championship.

Yep, there’s that brain fart.

There’s one more indoor shoot where I am taking part because it is just up the road. When that one is done, I’m moving outside all the time until August. In August I’ll pick up 18 meters, again.

It’s turn green, it’s wet, warm and swampy. Ideal for water moccasins.

Shooting at 60 meters is a bit like shooting 3D except 3D is closer and I don’t know the yardage. Perhaps, 60 meters will make me more comfortable with those longer shots that crop up.

That will give you an itch

To spruce up the 3D range I’ve added a new bear. This one I placed so that there is a lot of ground cover in front of the target. The only draw back is that, for the moment, the maximum range for this bear is only 38 yards. There are lots of other targets on the range where 60 or more yards are possible. Whether or not I can hit them is another story. Actually, since I am shooting with pins this year 50 yards is the furthest where I have a pin to align with the target.

The new bear. Photo taken at 25 yards zoomed in a bit.

During the afternoon, today, it rained a little. Not enough to chase me inside. My worry wasn’t so much the weather it is the water moccasins that start coming out this time of year. I’ve seen a few snakes one of them was a moccasin. That one was lucky, I was unarmed when we met.

Camping Rocky Hock and Shooting in Plymouth

Mornings here in the Little River are often spectacular. We’re all awake just before sun up not because we particularly enjoy it, rather because our dogs seem to think we enjoy it. For whatever reason we are usually out of bed before the sun has crested the horizon.

Friday fit that pattern and there was time to feed dogs and take a walk to the end of our dock to catch the sunrise. After that came the hooking up and hauling off of the Winnebago for the trip to Rocky Hock Campground not far from Plymouth NC.

Typically, for an archery tournament as close as Plymouth I wouldn’t take my camper. This weekend was different. Brenda, my wife, had planned a “Girls” weekend that included a ‘Pilgrimage’ to Edenton, NC. The Pilgrimage is a tour of old homes and plantations. Having experience being the only guy among this group of women it seemed a good bet to go camping.

Trying to find a campground nearby Plymouth was more difficult than I’d have thought. The search landed me at Rocky Hock Campground. My expectations were low based on the Google Earth views of the facility. However, once there I was pleasantly surprised.

My site at Rocky Hock Campground

Granted the camping area, aside from that for tents only, was a bit treeless. To counter the lack of trees the grounds were immaculate and the individual campsites spacious. Now, at the time I was there only 10 other campers were overnighting. Even had Rocky Hock been jammed full I would not have had another RV parked right on top of me.

Evening view directly in front of my Winnebago

The view at my site was nice being directly on a good-sized fishing pond. Within a short hike I was on a creek that led to the Chowan River. The grounds were extremely clean, only the rest rooms and showers, I checked and didn’t use them, were lacking. I was happy to have not needed them.

A short hike from camp

Aside from the public shower and toilet there was nothing in which to find complaint. It was also close to the Roanoke Archery Club in Plymouth where the 3D tournament was held on Saturday.

After I’d set up the Winnebago on my site at Rocky Hock I made a ‘test’ drive over the range at Roanoke Archery. The plan for Saturday’s competition was to meet up with friends Mike and Angelo by 0900 so that we might hit the course first.

Definitely coming back with a kayak

Although I have been to Roanoke Archery several times, on Saturday I’d be driving in from an untested pathway. There had been road construction leading into Rocky Hock and if the way was blocked to Plymouth I wanted to know in advance.

River enjoying a hunt

The test drive turned out to have been a good move. Initially, the GPS landed me in the middle of a plowed field in the wrong direction. It wasn’t a nightmarish error and a U-turn led to the solution. In any event, I was glad to have made the discovery the day before the tournament.

On Saturday, with the way planned and practiced, I arrived on time, just after Angelo and minutes before Mike. Angelo was warming up on the marked practice range so I joined him. Mike arrived and skipped warm-up practice whereupon we three registered and headed onto the range.

Angelo aiming for 12

Mike and Angelo are top archers. Angelo, a BowTech Pro-staffer, shoots open class where Mike shoots traditional. The three of us shoot from different stakes so our yardage is unique to the divisions. Despite the yardage differences we managed to smack each others arrows a bit too frequently for comfort.

These couldn’t have been any tighter without busting an arrow

For the second week in a row we were on course first and completed our trip in less than two hours. I didn’t earn a new high score for 2017 on the ASA style 3D range. But, I did slighter better than my average per arrow for the year, by 0.4 points. Even so, I was 0.25 points per arrow below my high water mark of 10.05 points per arrow. And still further away from my 2017 goal of consistently hitting an average of 10.6 points per arrow.

Mike, shooting with a stick at around 25 yards

It was temping to have another go at the course for fun. But, River, my lab, had been waiting patiently for me to finish the first 20 arrows and it seemed unfair to have her wait any longer. There were Canada Geese to chase back at Rocky Hock and for a retriever such concerns are of the upmost importance.

Fixin’ the Ole Coyote

When I got this coyote it was old.  The owners had laid it to rest on a trash heap or at least on a heap.  I inquired about the heap and learned the coyote and several of his lot were being replaced.

It’s a rough life for a foam animal. Abused, wasted and finally tossed aside.  No way to treat a friend.

I rescued the critter while liberating a few of his companions.  All needed care and an internal supplement of Great Foam.  A couple of years of work and the coyote needed a reprieve.

It got one, more Great Foam and paint.  Certainly, an amateur’s work when it comes to faux animal veterinarian management.

But, the old dog is back in the woods and among friends, old and new, following a few days of intensive care.

They’re Practice Elites and Will Tell You So

Frequently, I overhear archers complaining during an event that, “This isn’t how I usually shoot.” We all have off days. But, when I notice the same individual restating his complaint on different occasions it becomes suspicious. Rather, it seems that the complainer is shooting to the level of his practice and ability.

Certainly, there is that rare bird that has debilitating stage fright, which causes the performer to draw a complete blank, or score a zero, when the pressure is on. I’ve only ever read about these poor souls and as yet to cross the path of one on a range.

Archery tournaments are a voluntary activity that I’d expect the spotlight-inhibited individual to avoid. No, for the most part the archers I’ve met have just the right ego to stand before a crowd and offer themselves on an altar built for shame or glory.

Then, there’s that guy. That’s the fellow that somehow manages to strike X after X during times vacant of independent observation. Yet, when on the line to execute in public manages a self-proclaimed sub-par performance. Oh, he’ll describe to you just how magnificent he is an athlete and on any other day he’d be putting you to shame.

There’s, also, his cousin, the “ex-pro” forced to abandon his membership within the top tier of athletes for personal, work, family, health, financial, travel, or other complicating factors thrust upon him just as he summited his sportsman’s peak. He, too, manages those days of solo personal glory in the present as well as maintaining those numerous from the past from which no one can dispute, having no witnesses to declare otherwise. Of all those days, know for certain, you will hear of them.

I am happy to hear from both of these archery types, and I am frequently provided with all the oration I can absorb. I am a good listener and have never interjected with, “Bullshit,” regardless of how loud it shouted in my head. No matter how fervently their expertise and qualification are reported, their score indiscriminately and pitilessly speaks for itself.

There’s no hiding from the score. Scores are posted at events on boards, on overhead monitors, and online for the world to authenticate. There is really no relevance to anyone padding his or her abilities using speech. Although, bragging is an expected requirement of archery, or so it seems, and is often appreciated for its entertainment or conversational value. The boasting as a conversational conduit becomes less amusing when the exchange becomes an impassioned monologue searching for admiration.

Despite vast well-rehearsed familiarity of archers to boast, as group archers remain woefully outclassed by even the most novice of fishermen when it comes to braggadocio. As an archer, should you have any doubt, spend an hour at a bait shop. When you leave, ears ringing with rod and reel accomplishments of casters gathered within, you will no longer carry doubt. You, as a bonus, may learn new approaches to spinning your tales of personal glory.

Speed 3D and Jogging to Keep Up

The Soul Hunters, a member of the Down East Archery Coalition held a 3D competition today in Elizabeth City, NC. It is nice to have a 3D event so close to where I live in New Hope.

The range is just across the river. If there was a nearby landing I could have made the trip over water. There is no place the land my boat; the truck was my conveyance for about 25 minutes.

The weather suggested rain and then it rained a little. It wasn’t bad. A friend, Angelo, who was required to make a 2.5 hour road trip to compete was at the range by 0847 and hunting me at home in an effort to hurry me along. We planned to meet around 0920. He wanted to get the shooting underway should the rain become more serious.

The rain let up and Angelo and I were signing in by 0915. As Angelo was registering Mike, a traditional shooter, walked up and we had a threesome. Angelo shot open class and I shot hunter class.

Angelo (photo courtesy of Angelo Thompson)

I moved to hunter class after a couple of years shooting at a maximum distance of either 45 or 50 yards depending on whether I was shooting IBO or ASA. The ASA hunter class brings me down to a max of 40 yards and at IBO the max is 35 yards for the 2017 season. Moving through woods, even on a manicured 3D range, is much more relaxing carrying a hunting bow arrangement rather than hauling around a bow with all sorts of accouterments and extensions.

Our band was first on the range. Angelo and Mike are tall fellows with long legs. Without an impasse of archers ahead of us we made good time. Mike, shooting traditional was fast being only slightly delayed by Angelo and me. I must say that the long-legged duo had me fairly jogging to keep up. I don’t mind a jog and was glad to be in decent shape.

We cleared the woods in record time. This was pleasing for Angelo and Mike who had a long journey home. On the other hand I had time to spare so I hung around and ate lunch.

Mike (Photo courtesy of Michael Lupton)

Food at a 3D range is at times dicey. Usually, sticking with a burger is the safest route. The $2.00 burger offered by the Soul Hunters was a good bet.

I averaged 9.5 points per arrow and shot a lower score, 190, than I’d have expected. None of the targets were awful even though many were small: a skunk, frog, badger, javelina, a baboon, multi-ringed raccoon and turkeys  were among them.

The longest distance target was a standing bear at 40 yards, for me, on which I shot a center 10. The 10 ring was smallish for a standing bear. The foam animal was old and had been repaired a number of times. The homemade-crafted 10 ring was a little short on diameter. But, I took the 10 rather than gamble for a 12.

I’d wagered on shots a number of times going for 12s I felt I could hit.  The pay outs were mostly 8s. Only one 12 was struck so I took a less aggressive posture and shot for 10s. That strategy probably saved me further embarrassment.

As always, it was light and easy shooting with Angelo and Mike. My sprinting through the woods, keeping pace with those long gaited friends,  necessitated a nap when I got home. (Then again, I try to take a nap everyday.)  It was nice to get through the woods at a fast pace.