That Dark Target

Every week I shoot 3D there’s that dark target wedged into a tight sun blocked hole of vegetation at the end a skinny lane. The target is visible with binoculars or mostly visible. Without the ocular enhancement it’s a crap shoot. In reality I’d never take such a shot on a live animal.

At times this bear is easy to see at others it is in the shadows. Photo zoomed in from 40 yards.

Still, those targets can be counted on to exist. It could be as simple as a matter of timing. When the targets were arranged there was plenty of light. When the archers hit the range the sun is at a different angle and there is no light.

Yes sir, that’s a turkey. You can just make out the white head.

I’ve put a number of my practice targets where the light changes dramatically depending on the time of day. I practice on them at different times to get a feel for the light.

This wasn’t so bad. Close enough with some light to outline the target. At Roanoke Archers, Plymouth, NC (Photo by Angelo T) Oh, and that is a Mathews Conquest Apex 7.
Shooting from dark to bright. This is 38 yards. It seems closer and if I hadn’t shoot it a 1000 times I might have misjudged the distance.

For the most part I do okay on my range. There is one target, a pig in a hole standing on a log that always feels further away and continues to frustrate shooting. I’ve put an arrow in the critter’s spine a time or two.

The pig on a log, the light was pretty good this time of day. Photo at 27 yards.

Light and color are significant factors when judging distance. There may be a vast array of tricks and recommendations to better improve those light compromised shots. I don’t know any of them. The only trick I know is to keep practicing the shot.

We Live in a Wild Place

Heading out to practice 3D archery I get prepared. Garthering all the equipment necessary is different in the warmer months than winter here in rural North Carolina. Yes, arrows, release, bow, quiver are taken into the woods. There are some additions, a firearm and snake boots.

Yes, they are hot. Rather have hot feet than holes in my legs

The woods surrounding our small privately maintained road, one lane of well-packed gravel, expands over thousands of acres. The low swampy forest is wedged between rivers on two sides and farmland on the other two sides. On our little road there are only two full time family residents. Most of the time there are just four people living here. Of those, Brenda and I included, the quartet of residents take frequent trips. So, on any given day there might be only two people in our neck of the woods. Or like today, at this moment, only one.

This little Ruger 380 is light and easy to carry in the woods.
Equipment to practice 3D

Because humanity leaves the neighboring woods alone animals wander about day and night. We’ve seen all sorts of critters: deer, raccoons, possum, coyote, rabbit, squirrels, fox, and evidence of bears. The bears aggravate farmers, they eat tractor seats. There are plenty birds as well including turkey, ducks, geese, swans, bald eagles and osprey. These animals are fine with me and we leave one another alone. Albeit, I do watch out for eagles when our little dog, Nixie a standard wire-haired dachshund and early warning system, is in the yard. The eagles probably wouldn’t attack Nixie, but they have sat in nearby trees and appeared to think about it.

Turkey I met during a run

What troubles me are the snakes. Not the non-poisons variety, the other ones that can hurt Brenda, my wife, our dogs, grandkids, friends or me tend to cause alarm. Those fanged biters demand caution when I’m outside. When I practice 3D archery they are why I wear 17-inch snake boots and carry a pistol. Despite the boots, I constantly survey the ground where I am walking.

Moccasin eating a dove. (Picture by Jimmy C., he and his wife are the other full time residents here)

In April I shot a copperhead. River, my Labrador retriever, walked past it and they missed each other. That snake seemed to have eyes only for me. River had gone ahead but returned to see why I’d stopped. As she approached I commanded her to stop and stay, dog and snake paths were clearly going to intersect. Rather than take a risk that we’d meet later, I shot the copperhead thus ending any potential future encounter.

An arrow would work. But, it is a hard shot to hit a snake up close. I could probably do it, provided I hadn’t really shot all my arrows into foam. A pistol is a sure thing.

A week later, there was a water moccasin. I was doing maintenance on the 3D range with a weed whacker. That snake was coming straight toward me. I turned the weed whacker so that the monofilament was perpendicular to the ground. As the snake got closer I lowered the spinning line onto its head.

A much friendlier encounter.

It really is a bit on the wild side living this deep in low country. Certainly, I am not looking to kill snakes. However, if there’s a chance meeting of viper and man, me being the man, I plan to walk away un-punctured.

Simply Amazing

It never ceases to shock me. When I study the stats tallied for my website I find them difficult to believe. People from around the globe continue in ever increasing numbers to read what comes out of my head.

To begin with, I am not a writer. Oh sure, I write and you know this without further explanation. To me, however, writers are authors among the literary geniuses like Twain, Hemingway, Irving, Tolkien and McMurtry. Certainly, there are others who write and create great stories.

Twain, Hemingway, Irving, Tolkien and McMurtry produce works that are or will one day be considered great literature. Writers like, say King, Connelly, Patterson, and Childs produce novels that are considered captivating stories. There are differences in the styles of composition, but both groups produce entertainment for readers.

I’ve read my share of King, Connelly, Patterson, Childs and other popular novelists. No genre escapes my inquisitiveness. Easily I read an average 2 books per month most containing no pictures whatsoever.

This website is obviously not a novel. For that matter, the reported facts as I view them are works of non-fiction. It does meet requirements to be judged as writing. The verdict is in the minds of the readers.

Here is an example of my astonishment, last month (April 2017) over 19,000 visitors came to this site and read nearly 47,000 pages. Now, if I could calculate how to turn this to profit, that really would be something amazing.

River Wearing Gold

My 2017 NC State Indoor Archery medal arrived yesterday. I hadn’t waited for the results the day of the event. I’d shot in the morning and there were still more start times yet to begin throughout the day. It was going to be many hours before results were known the awards presented. When I learned I’d won, about a week later, I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope so the organizers could mail the medal to me.

River wearing gold

River, as she always seems to be, appeared happy to see it. With every medal I’ve brought home River wants to wear it. She recognizes a medal then approaches in the manner she does when she puts her collar on. That is she calmly walks forward and dips her head a little. I always hang the prize on her.

She doesn’t go dog crazy while wearing it. She stays calm and has her picture taken a time or two. She acts so proud. But, when I go to remove it, she drops her head, grabs the medal in her mouth and tries to avoid returning the award. All of this surpasses my ability to explain and I can only report my observations.

That’s How It’s Been Going

My 2017 average score in 3D has been 9.5. My goal is to reach 10.6 for 20 targets by mid-May, IBO scoring. 3D has not held my complete attention during the early part of 2017. That changed this week. It will become a more focused effort with only outdoor 60-meter practice to interrupt 3D training.

Much of the spring has been spent on 18-meters. That will be put aside for the moment.

To work on 3D I did an initial assessment of where I collected a new base of data over many shots. By many I mean 120 arrows shot into 3D targets. The targets were: bears, badger, turkeys, pigs, a mountain lion, deer and a rabbit. These are not all of my targets but offered a good representation of the sizes I own. With the exception of the rabbit I can shoot all of those targets from 20 to 45 yards or more. I ended this exercise at a maximum of 45 yards. Not all targets were shot at 45 yards.

The test exercise was a bit tough. For example, shooting a badger at 40 yards is a distance where, using pins, you really need to pay attention. Same deal with a turkey. Anyhow, you shoot what’s available or what is presented.

Overall, the average distance didn’t seem so bad, only 28 yards. Average is not where critical shots occur, those happen, in my opinion at the maximum ranges. That’s not to suggest there is ever an easy shot or a hard shot. All shots require the same effort. Still, it is interesting to note that even though some shots occurred at 40 or more yards, more shots happened between 20 to 35 yards, although no specific weight was given to a specific distance. Yards were staked at 20 – 45 at 5 yards increments. In reality there were no stakes in the ground and I didn’t use a rangefinder with this exercise. This was all pins, walking the distance then shooting the distance without further physical distance adjustment.

I stopped after 120 arrows. I didn’t shoot any warm-up shots, as that is often an option not easily assessable at major events. Sure, there are warm-up ranges at those events and on them are all the archers that can squeeze onto a line. For a 0730 start time, which I have at the upcoming ASA in Augusta, I playing with the notion that pre-dawn warm-up practice is not an option.

I scored the practice with IBO rules and shot at ASA distance or more for the class I am shooting in this year. I finished with an average per arrow of 9.7 or 0.9 points per arrow lower than my goal.

I’ll do a random number exercise tomorrow and see how that ends up. This afternoon I’ll be shooting at 60 meters. But, it was a good hard morning practice.

PS. I did shoot 60 meters in the afternoon.  Between sessions I repaired a small tractor.  It should have taken an hour.  It took three because I needed to hunt down a part. By the time I’d shot 30 arrows at 60 meters my arms told me I’d had enough. Plus, it was approaching  suppertime and I was starving.

A Bit of Baby’s Coffee

Two of my favorite places in the US are the Big Island of Hawaii and Key West, Florida. Hawaii is a long trip. I’d go more often if it were closer. Still, distance and all, I’ve managed the trip five times. The Big Island isn’t the only the volcanic island of our Pacific state where I’ve toured, worked and spent time.

The Big Island is where I’ve spent the most time during my trips. It’s particularly special because I’ve stayed there long enough to know my way around a bit. Brenda and I enjoyed a Christmas there once and it was there I raced in the Ironman World Championship.

I’ve raced on the Big Island twice, once a triathlon and another race was running only. Hawaii is as far west as I raced in the US. No, it’s not the most western point for the US, that title belongs to Cape Wrangell, Alaska (Attu Island).

As far east as I raced in the US is Key West. Key West is a lot closer and easier on the body, travel wise,  compared to the haul to Hawaii. I honestly can’t remember how many times I’ve been there. Key West is the most southern point in the continental US and the Big Island is the most southern point. I considered moving to both southern points to live but chose North Carolina, at least for now.

Both places offer great coffee and that is really what this is about – coffee.

In every sport I’ve enjoyed and work and at play coffee has had a role. Archery might be different. Some say coffee gives you the jitters. On the other hand coffee improves focus and concentration. I lean toward the focus and the coffee advantage not worrying a lot about the jittery claim. I also have only one cup in the morning.

A good cup of coffee is a must of me. Without coffee, a beverage I’ve enjoyed since I was about 8 years old, I can confirm, there is no focus or concentration. Whether or not it adds any jitters to my archery aim I may never know.

I do have a coffee of choice, Baby’s in Key West. I have to order it. Of course, if I am in Key West I’ll drink it there and stock up. My current grind is “Jet Black.”

Baby’s is not a sponsor of mine. I doubt they’re much interested in archery. But, when my old t-shirt purchased there about a decade ago finally passed through its last wash, the good people at Baby’s sent me another. I was surprised and it was much appreciated.

Snakes in the Woods

Last year, I had a rough time with snakes. The water moccasins seemed to have wanted to move in with us. This year isn’t looking any better. Already I’ve seen a lot of snakes. Thus far only one has been a moccasin. It slithered away before we could come to terms.

In the evenings I take a walk around the 3D range. This is not the place to take a run during the warm months. When running there is a chance of crossing paths with a viper before either of us is ready. In that case, the odds are in favor of fangs.

This evening, River was accompanying me; we meet up with a copperhead. River trotted right past oblivious to the danger. I’d approached within a few yards. Copperheads have excellent camouflage. It had seen me as well and had turned to greet me where upon I introduced it to my new friend and small Ruger 380.

If you shoot them in the head, they do not mess with you.

When I got home, I ordered a pair of expensive snake boots.