Today was that day

First 6 warm up arrows. Hey, I know the target looks weak. It stops the arrows.

The morning went like so many others, run, ride, and then shoot. The running and riding only took about 90 minutes. Shooting was another 90 minutes before I stopped.

Paddling my Current Concepts “Storm”. It’s a big boat at 17 feet and 1 inch.

Archery practice was 50-meters. Things were going well. Well enough until I shot a 5. The shot was so off I was surprised I didn’t miss the target entirely. Mentally, I’d run out of steam.

Brenda in one of our 2 Necky Looksha boats.
Osprey nest or Lorax nest?

It was only the 48th arrow of the morning. Still, it was time to take a break. I’d have lunch, take a nap and get back to it around 2 in the afternoon. I didn’t make it back.

Just up river from our house. I suppose we are on the wrong side of it.

Instead, Brenda and I took a couple of kayaks and headed out for a long paddle.

Can’t get a Carolina Skiff into that opening but a kayak fits
At 90 degrees today, I am happy to have been on the water and not in that tent

There are days when it is good to have a diversion. Today was that day.

I’ve ridden my bike on this pier entering on the land side.
Here it is from a bike

2017 Virginia State IBO Championship and IBO World Championship Qualifier

The Virginia State IBO Championship and IBO World Championship qualifier is in the books for 2017. The Augusta Archers near Staunton, Virginia hosted the tournament. The event attracted a large number of shooters, I was among them.

The Augusta Archers have an excellent place for an outdoor range. Their land is a thickly covered hilly old Southern forest. Old is a guess based on the number of hardwoods on the property.

It was certainly a hilly course located between the scenic Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains near the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. My campsite for the few days I was there was just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As dense as the forest was the ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects were not a problem – a pleasant surprise. The hills, I knew were going to present a challenge for me since 99% of all the 3D targets I’ve ever shot are on flat land.

The Augusta Archers’ range did not disappoint. All targets were placed to make them interesting and realistic. Clearly, a lot of thought had gone into the arrangement.

I love shots like this one. This photo is zoomed in so you can see the animal. It took us a few minutes to locate it from the stake. If I recall I shot it for 33 yards and got a 10.

Of course, the range designers set it up to give us a few brainteasers. One of the best was a two shot sequence. The first was a huge bedded elk. The elk was placed across a deep gorge. From the shooters’ stakes the terrain dipped down the steep ravine of around 20 yards in depth. The elk was then sitting 10 yards up the other side between 32 and 43 yards from the archers in my group depending on their class. The next target was a turkey staked around 24 – 32 yards away standing on rocks in a small stream. From huge to small the targets made you think.

This might be the largest target I’ve ever shot

Aside from me the group I shot with consisted of a mother/daughter team in the FBO class, Ginger and Sarah, respectively. Jay, an advanced hunter class shooter completed our quartet.

Zoomed in to see the target. It was close, 27 yards. The angle and trees make it interesting and fun.

The range was large. Our group was the second out in the morning on Sunday. We were never forced to wait for a target and moved along without stopping other than to shoot. The 30 targets still took over four hours to complete. There was a lot of walking. This is not a complaint. The land was so picturesque the trek is worth repeating.

Jay checking out a coyote in a dark hole. This was a long shot at a small target. Our group left the stake with an 11, a 10 and two 8s

Part of the slowness was time lost to hunt arrows that missed the mark. As tough as the course was I was happy not to have been one of those that ended up with a zero. Aside from the misses I witnessed, I heard a few other arrows zipping past their intended goal and banging off trees.

So, the course was hard, but certainly manageable and every target had a very clear line -even if it at times it was tight. Ideal to sort out archery skills. For me, where I had shots that I wanted to take back it was never the distance, target, or its location.  My biggest problem was the lack of experience aiming and balancing on ground that wasn’t as level as I am used to standing on when shooting.

After the last target, a badger on stake 30, we returned to the clubhouse and submitted our scorecards. There were two officials laboring over a pile of scorecards, papers, forms and documents. It was impressive how much paperwork goes into managing a competition such as this tournament. I, for one, appreciated their hard work.

It was a challenging and beautiful course. If there’d been time, I would have enjoyed shooting it again for fun. Seriously, one of the most beautiful ranges I’ve shot.

I brought home a new belt buckle to hold up my pants

On the Road – Staunton, Virginia

I doubt I’ll go to the 2017 IBO World Championship in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. Last year’s event was not a highlight of my archery career. In addition, unless you can average 10.4 points per arrow there’s not much point in spending the money to make the trip. Sure, you could argue, “It’s a good experience.” You’d be right. If you’re willing to fund the trip – I’m there.

Still, I’m in Staunton to shoot an IBO World Championship qualifier. Between now and the main IBO event, who knows, my 3D average might spike.

Staunton is not around the corner from New Hope, North Carolina. It’s about 260 miles from my house to the Augusta Archers’ Club, host of the qualifier. I’d considered making the trip and renting a hotel. Instead, this is being typed from my Winnebago at a KOA Campground.

The KOA was booked online. The site clicked for the reservation was really nice. Bordered by trees and backed up to a small ‘lake.’ It’s not really a lake; it’s a medium (at best) pond. But, the site looked good and it was booked.

Upon arrival the registration clerk pointed out the site’s location on the campground map. The campsite’s position had changed from the clicked on photo shown during the online selection. Now, it was a narrow, treeless mat of gravel backed up to a visitors’ parking lot and bordered by other camping rigs.

The debate to improve the parking situation with the registration agent failed, the clerk claiming all spots were rented. Furthermore, she added with emphasis, “The computer assigns sites and there is nothing that can be done about it.” As proof, she rotated a computer screen for me to view to verify exactly what the 0’s and 1’s had assigned. There’s no arguing with a speechless electronic binary brain. The monitor glowed in my face offering no compromise. Essentially, it was keep HAL’s bait and switch site or KOA retains my deposit and I move on.

(HAL is an AI from 2001 A Space Odyssey. The initials HAL each represent one letter from alphabet moved one space each from IBM. This is being typed on an Apple. If you never saw the movie or read the book this all is meaningless to you)

Deciding that any spot might be better than the Wal-Mart parking lot I backed into the small stony space. Once the truck was unhooked then power, water and sewage were connected I rolled out the RV’s canopy to help keep the sun off the camper. It had to be reeled back in. The site is so tight the canopy extended partly over the road. It was foreseeable that another RV could drive past and rip the canvas extension off the rig.

With nothing else to be done, I took a short practice drive over to the Augusta Archers range to ensure there’d be no confusion in the morning. The drive only took about 18 minutes, a bonus for the KOA.

The grounds, from what I could see on the drive in, were very nice. I’ll find out first hand on Sunday. The IBO qualifier here is held over two days. It was finished for Saturday when I arrived.

A number of competitors were hanging out in the Augusta Archers clubhouse, which holds a decent indoor range. The archers were all men except for one woman. The lady was pretty much the only person that appeared willing to talk aside from the most verbally economic answering of questions directed toward any of the men.

That is until we hit upon Seven Springs. Then, the masculine group all wanted to share and one-up each other on their woeful experiences at the Pennsylvania site. It seems my abysmal adventure of 2016 might not have been the worst in this group.

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll get in zone and shoot over 300. Certainly, I’ll qualify – just in case.

Ninety in the Morning

I have this friend that competes in a lot of archery tournaments. He’s shot in Europe and the US. He’s been at it for decades and he’s good. But, I don’t buy into his training plan.

Now, I do have an advantage over him. I can practice 3D, 18-meter, outdoor and field by walking to whichever range I need to practice. By friend has to make a drive to a range.

Living out in the country does beat living in a city.

When he’s on the range, say outdoor 50-meter, he’ll stay for hours and shoot around 400 arrows. It works for him. The better way, in my opinion, is to break up practice session.

Generally, I practice twice a day. Some days I’ll shoot three times. Mostly, though, it is morning and afternoon. If I know I’ll have a mid-day shoot time, I’ll add a third practice to my schedule to become accustom to shooting through or around lunch.

Each of my practices lasts between one and a half to three hours, depending on how much walking is involved. I’ll shoot between 60 and 120 arrows each practice. That is unless I am doing a mock-tournament where I shoot exactly the way I’d be required to shoot in the tournament. This morning I stopped at 90. I’ll get the second 90 this afternoon.

Shoot 5 arrows, back-up and repeat

The problem with shooting hundreds of arrows without a break in both physical and mental. Physically, we fatigue inviting small errors that can become problematic to correct. Mentally, the brain needs a break.

As nice as this is, a couple of hours and it is time for a break

My friend lives in Europe. Hopefully, we’ll be competing against one another during of the major tour events in 2018. I do keep an eye on his scores for 18-meters and 50-meters. His last 50-meter score beat mine by 10 points.

Another Wet, Cold, and Windy Day in June

Coco coming to say hello to River and I while running

Before I went out to run and ride my bike I put on warm-up clothes for running and a jacket and leg warmers to ride. It was cold and raining. This is some very unusual weather we’ve been experiencing here on the coast of North Carolina. The rain is not uncommon, the temperature is low for this time of the year.

End of this road while cycling

I spent a few hours out on the 3D range in long pants, two shirts and a sweater. Things weren’t so bad once I was out of the wind. But, it was raining a little and still cold.

The rain eased off a bit during 3D practice

What remains incredible to me, it is June, near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the low temperature has been in the low 50’s with a high in the upper 60’s.

Walking past my 50-meter target, sure it is impossible to pass without shooting it

By tomorrow it will be back into the upper 80’s and we’re expecting low 90’s this weekend. That will be more like it.

Not All Campsites Are Equal

We were on road for several days last week. We’d planned a trip to Delaware that was changed at the last minute. We still took to the road, only in the opposite direction.

Hiking along Beaver Dam Trail at Little Pee Dee State Park in Dillon, SC

When we travel, Brenda and I go by RV so that we can bring our dogs. We were traveling so often with archery and other adventures we bought a small Winnebago – for the dogs. Before the purchase I analyzed the cost of the RV along with gas, food, site fee and compared it to hotels, gas, food, and kennel fees. The spreadsheet numbers showed that the RV cost for travel stays will break even on the investment in 28 months.   A real benefit is that we enjoy the camping. That is most of the time.

Last year, coming back from the IBO World Championship in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania I stayed at a really bad RV camp. It was simply too crowded, too noisy, and too commercial. It was not by any stretch camping.

River taking in the view in from of our camper

But, it was just overnight. I’d not made a prior reservation and pulled over when I became too tired to continue the drive. Beggars can’t be choosers.

More hiking at Little Pee Dee

On this recent amended trip we planned as best as possible. Our first stop was excellent. It was so nice we stopped there on the trip back to North Carolina. We’ll stay there again in September. That was at a State Park. So far, we’ve found that State Parks are the nicest campground in general.

Hiking at Little Pee Dee

Little Pee Dee State Park in Dillon, South Carolina was no exception. The campsites are large so we didn’t feel pinned in. It was quiet and very much an outdoor experience.

Our campsite at Little Pee Dee State Park

The second stop, Whispering Pines in Rincon, Georgia was not as nice. It was packed with many long term or permanent residents. It remained me of a drive-in movie theater without the big screen. Our corner lot was located at the intersection of two small and one large road.

This little car just drove through our campsite – that was really weird

I did  meet one fellow there, Jerry, while walking River. That was the highlight of the stay. Jerry and his wife have one of those mega-motorhomes. They’re building a home nearby and were parked at Whispering Pines during the contruction of their new home. Jerry is an engineer and contractor, his motorhome doubles as his office. He takes on major jobs aroud the country, most recently finishing a project here in North Carolina.

Jerry and a companion.

Aside from Jerry, I can’t really offer much else to say positive about our experience. Seriously, at one point two young men were working on a car five feet from my RV. Throughout their mechanical deliberations revving the car’s engine attached to one of those throaty after market mufflers was the whisperings through the pines.

That white truck is passing by our campsite on a major road only separated by that white fence

We do our best to find campgrounds that are as primitive as possible, that is with at least water and electricity. I mean, we aren’t traveling in a covered wagon.  Still, we look forward to having as much of an outdoor adventure where we stay as we can find.  It doesn’t always work out.

Yes, it was a little rough

Unusually Cold Here On the Coast of NC

I’d ride this on my mountain bike, today I was on my road bike

The past couple of days have been intense 3D practice. Tuesday was repeat shots, 25 at each distance, from 20 to 40 with 5-yard increments. For that exercise I used: two bear, a badger, a turkey, two deer, a mountain lion, coyote, and a javelina. Today, so far (the weather has chased me indoors) was a mock tournament. Before shooting I had a nice, cool, damp, run and bike ride.

These boards were slick – you don’t want to slip off the edge here.
It’s pretty cool looking at the end of this pier

For the mock tournament I shot 20 targets from about 18 yards (a mosquito) to 35 yards. I was hoping to break even maybe even shoot a little up. I ended up 15 down.

I hoped this would be the start of a run of 11’s. It wasn’t

Sure, the weather was nasty. It is 63°F, windy and there’s a misty rain falling. Yep, that’s right, 63°F on the coast of North Carolina in June. It was ‘colder’ this morning when I went for a run and bike ride. It was also breezier when I was on the bike. To ride I had to put on cycling tights and a jacket. We missed setting a new low temperature last night, when it dropped to 55°F, by 2 degrees.

This Eastern-Eyed Click Beetle – (Alaus oculatus) – didn’t seem to be enjoying the weather. I did get him to click and hop for me.

This type of weather for June was typical when we lived in Pittsburgh. Here the average is 76°F. Still, the conditions didn’t warrant shooting indoors, not even with a light rain that was not constant. The rain did pick up just as I shot target 20 of my mock tournament.

The rain has eased off (again), so I’ll head out and shoot some more – maybe things will improve.

A Good Guy

One measure of a man’s character, is how he regards his family, and my friend, Guy, held his family in the utmost regard.

Early Army photo of CWO3 Guy Giella

A small conversation about meatloaf is a good example of his affection.   During our last visit, a couple of months ago in Georgia, I told Guy that I make the best meatloaf. He debated my claim saying, “No, Shirley (his wife) makes the world’s best meatloaf.” I told him, “We’ll see.”

Brenda, my wife, prepared the meatloaf. Then, I cooked it over several hours in a smoker. It is my opinion, that is the best way to cook meatloaf.

Shirley, I have no doubt, makes a delicious Southern style meatloaf in the same manner as did my Grandmothers, my mother, and my wife – before I started smoking them. That is, baked in the oven with a ketchup glazed across the top surface of the meat. It’s good.  However, a smoked meatloaf is, in my liberated Southern cuisine, amazing.

Hours after the challenge, of whose meatloaf is the best, mine or Shirley’s, we sat down to eat dinner. The main course smoked, glaze-free, meatloaf.

To get a fair measure for objective analysis Guy ate half the meatloaf. After the meal I asked, “So, Guy, which meatloaf is better?”

He responsed, “Well, your’s is different, but Shirley’s wins; her’s is the best.”

Shirley and Guy

There was no way, whether he believed it or not, would Guy have ever admitted any meatloaf might exceed the treat of his wife’s. He was just that kind character.

Guy passed away unexpectedly May 30th.

I’ve known Guy for 37 years, there was simply no condition where his family wasn’t number one. Whether it be meatloaf or something more relevant. This applies to wife and children.

I have always stated, you can gauge how good a job parents do easily, just take a look at the children. Guy and Shirley’s two boys are among the finest men I have ever known. Those men, Steve and Chris, have families of their own, and their children are the type people that anyone would enjoy meeting.

Chris Giella, Guy, and Steve Giella

After spending any time with Guy’s sons or grand children, you leave feeling good. All of them have a knack for making others feel good about themselves. That is a gift. A gift taught by parents, beginning with Guy and Shirley.

Shirley, Guy, Steve and the tall fella in the background Guy’s grandson and Clemson Tiger lineman, Zack Giella

I met Guy through my father-in-law, Ray. He and Guy, both retired Army, had been friends 50 years. Their camaraderie is impossible to capture in the space and time allotted.  Let’s just say, it was boundless, fraught with bickering, but connected by mutual respect and love.

This isn’t the first time Guy has been mentioned on this site. There’s are article about “Old Lions” that highlights a little about Guy and Ray. Some readers will know Guy personally, some of you don’t. But, what all should know is that Guy Giella was a real bona fide American Hero. You never know it by talkling to him.

Ray and Guy

So, here is a little I’d like to share in memory of one of those true Americans. Read this and you’ll agree that in his case the term Hero is not an over statement:

Guy was born October 6, 1939, in Mount Vernon, New York, and retired from the Army in Savannah, Georgia, in 1976 after 20 years of active service which included tours overseas in Germany, Korea and two tours in Vietnam. His duties included paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, drill sergeant and he attended flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama, to become a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.

He then went on to become a Rotary Wing Examiner and Supply Officer, with the 120th Aviation Company, 222nd Aviation Battalion, Fort Richardson, Alaska. His comprehensive knowledge of Army Aviation instruments and flying procedures contributed immeasurably to the operation efficiency and combat readiness of the U.S. Army. In addition, he was instrumental in developing and teaching flight techniques and doctrine for helicopter operations in an Artic environment. His outstanding performance resulted in him receiving the Meritorious Service Medal. During his career, he received these other following citations: the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal,  Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Aviator Badge, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/ Palm. From 1983 to 2003, he was in the civil service as a helicopter flight instructor at Hunter Army Airfield.

Guy was an avid hunter and bass fisherman and passed on his love for the outdoors to his sons and grandchildren.

Guy’s affection extended to Brenda and myself, and I’m going to miss coming back to the “Lake House” in Georgia and sharing some aspect of archery, hunting or fishing with him. But his love for his children, my father-in-law, and Shirley exceeded all others.

Not a Pivotal Day for Improvement

Yesterday, I had to take care of the 3D range. Taking care of the 3D range is mowing; weed whacking, trimming, and then using a commercial leaf blower to knock back debris. The work takes about 5 hours. When it’s done it is very satisfying. Of course, once the chores were completed the 3D practice range became irresistible to shooting.

The Virginia State IBO Championship and World Championship qualifier in Staunton, VA, is about two weeks out. It’s my last chance to compete in an event that leads to the IBO World Championship. The plan is to shoot in Staunton with a hope to move onto Pennsylvania for the IBO’s main event. If my average scores are up to 10.4 points per arrow by the IBO World Championship I’ll give it a whirl. If not, well that’s a costly exercise to drive up to Seven Springs and fling arrows into the sides of a ski slope.

This is only 21 yards. The tress make the shot interesting

So, from now until Staunton there will be more deliberate practice on 3D. Not that I haven’t been focused on 3D but I have been splitting days between 3D and 50-meter.

This little bird hung out next to me for a surprisingly long time.

Having a freshly manicured  3D range beckoning I sat down at my desk and designed a tournament-like practice session. What I came up with was 20 targets to be scored in IBO fashion, not ASA style. I worked out the distance for each target based on what might be expected during a tough event. Those distance/target combinations were recorded on paper. After the 3D challenge on was paper I grabbed my gear and walked over to the range.

On the range I then stood where I thought the exact yardage would be to the target as recorded on the paper. For example, target number one was a bear set for 35 yards, so there I stood as I judged the distance to the bear. Once satisfied that I was standing at the proper distance for a specific target I measured that distance with a range finder to see how well I’d guessed. Finally, I shot the target and recorded the score.

I was pleased with judging the yardage being different by an average of 0.35 yards over all compared to the range finder’s yards. Most judged distances were spot on, 0 variance, with several 1 yard misses and two misses at 2 yards.  All the differences were within the standard deviation for the range finder. I always shot from my judged yardage.

This little rabbit is set up so that it had to be shot at an angle.

The down side of this is that I’ve shot the range so often for so long I pretty much know the distances from where ever I stand. Moving the targets around helps as does changing the perspective of the shot. Still, the experience of seeing other animals and various terrain remains a weakness.

One of my favorite targets. It is interesting to look at and fun to shoot.

Too bad my shooting wasn’t as good as my yardage judgment. I shot two fives, three eights, one eleven and the rest were tens. The first five was on a turkey. The shot was way off center and low right. It was also a close target, only twenty yards.

This, too, is an interesting shot. Several trees in the 35 yards from the stake to impact.

The 5 on the turkey was not a complicated shot. The miss was carelessness. I don’t even think I was looking when I shot. I was daydreaming.

The other 5, a black bear in a black hole 35 yards away, well that one was a challenge. Still, I’ve made that shot hundreds of times since I bought that bear a couple of months ago. The rings are impossible to see and I had examined the shot with binoculars beforehand. Between seeing the mark and shooting my short-term memory took a break.

This is a hard target to see. Dars a bar in dar.

The eights, those too were fairly difficult targets. One of them was a mosquito at 17 yards. Sure, that one sounds close and I should have hit at least a solid 10. I’d have argued for the 10 in competition. In practice I score any pulled line as the lower score. Then, there was a javelina for an 8 at 26 yards and worst of all a mountain lion at 35 yards for an eight. The total for the day a sad 185.

The past few weeks have not been pivotal in the improvement of my 3D shooting. I’ve actually dropped from a season average of 9.7 points per target to 9.45, nearly a full point from my goal for 2017.

After this score, I was also pounding my head.

Well, all there is to be done is try some more. In the meantime, the 3D range is pretty awesome.