Getting Your Mental Picture

“I have never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture in my head.  It’s like a color movie.  First I ‘see’ the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes and I ‘see’ the ball going there; its path, trajectory and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is sort of a fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the image into reality.” (Jack Nicklaus, Gold My Way, Simon & Schuster, New York, p. 79, 1974)

One expert on mental efforts in sport has written to see yourself as the champion.  It seems to fit the fake it until you make it philosophy.  While this appears silly it there is some merit to the mindset. However, faking it doesn’t supplant practice and training.  Those you can’t fake.

During practice don’t daydream you’re the winning of the next event. Use that time to focus your mind on the shot.  Before the shot, in your head go through your process and see your arrow land exactly where you want it to go. Then relax and make your shot.

Once that shot has completed clear your head, relax and move to the next shot.  Sure you’ll visualize yourself on the podium.  But, before you can get there you’ve got to execute one arrow at a time.

A Tough Crowd

The past few weeks have encompassed camping, travel, and archery.  August and September include more of the same regarding archery.  The results of all this work over the past four weeks have been under whelming: two second places and a third.

First stop in Savannah. Not much more than a parking lot.
It was toasty in Savannah

The two second places where hard pills to swallow.  In one I’d shot well enough to surpass the prior State record in field archery only to be bested by a friend that set the new bar 3 points higher.  The other second was nothing more than being schooled by a better archer. He topped me by 9 points for the Southeast NFAA victory in field archery.

What really did me in was the Georgia ASA State 3D Championship.  There’s no class in my age group for those selecting a hunter rig during competition. This meant I’d be shooting against athletes up to 15 years younger.  Taking third in this event felt like a new low.

Next stop (was here twice) at Hester’s Ferry.
This certainly beats that parking lot near Savannah

Before the first warm-up arrow at the 3D contest flew off my bow I considered not competing.  It wasn’t because I felt off shooting or was overly concerned competing against younger athletes.  As soon as I arrived at River Bottom Outdoors’ range near Franklin, Georgia, host of the tournament, my truck malfunctioned.

Chattahoochee Bend a Georgia State Park. Too bad I needed to high-tail it out of there.

It was a minor flaw that could have serious consequences.  The driver’s side window partially lowered and froze in place.  With rain in the forecast, being nearly four hours from home with a camper in tow archery was the minimal of my concerns.

Being at the range I gambled and shot.  After the first 12 targets the sky looked like it was going to open up at any second. In the Ford there was a towel covering the back set, a protection from River, my lab, when she’s riding.  I’d come up with a plan to run back to the truck, cover the window using River’s seat protector and run back to whatever stake the group was shooting from should it begin raining.

It never did rain and I was spared a sprint.  I wasn’t spared too many 8s and not enough 12s.  Well, I’d hit ten 12s on the second range, only problem was I hadn’t called the upper.  The thing is on every one of those shots I knew I’d hit the upper.  My mind and confidence were lost on a wayward window.

I may have worried about my truck during the ASA State Championship, but I didn’t get hungry or thirsty.

Regardless of the electronic malfeasance sitting in the parking area I did my best to subdue the problem while I shot.  I truly can’t say how much if any the F-150s ailment contributed to all the 8s I shot. The final score was actually my running average points per arrow for 3D.  I’d been practicing for a peak performance not an average. The second and first place winners of the Senior Hunter division bested my average per arrow without apparent pause.

As soon as the tournament concluded I hopped into the truck and headed to find a remedy for the window. So far, it hadn’t rained and I’d been lucky.  (Well lucky regarding rain, no luck in archery) The search for an auto mechanic reached a dead end so I hooked up the camper and headed home.  There I could park the truck in the garage to save the interior from the forecasted rain.

It did rain.  In fact it poured the very next day. I had made the right decision to leave early.  (I’d made the wrong decision not calling the upper that same day) Fortunately, by then the truck was at the dealership and out of the weather.

Forty percent of all competitive archers are over 50 years of age.  That’s approximately 3.12 million competitive archers.  If you’re going to win in this crowd you can’t make mistakes or have your mind elsewhere.

Olympic Sport for Me (Or You)

On the Internet I found a sight that suggests an Olympic sport for people who enter certain requested data. (1) It wasn’t what I was looking to find on the electronic quest. Nevertheless, it got my attention the way a squirrel grabs a dog’s attention.  I had to chase it down.

I’ve often felt that everyone has an ideal sport they’d enjoy and perform better than other sports. Someone might enjoy basketball but not be successful because they are short.  On the other hand someone six feet seven inches tall might be physically suited for basketball but hate the game.  Then, there’s the six feet and seven inches individual that loves basketball and works at it for years.  There’s an increased likelihood that person has found a sport for which they are suited.

The ‘Olympize Me’ sight I visited is based in the United Kingdom.  The data it called for included metric system measurements.  If you’ll not literate in the metric system you’ll need to make some conversions to get your ideal sport recommendation if you decide to chase it down.

The data entry takes only a few minutes and doesn’t ask you questions that might reveal your identity, passwords, and locations to send you fake news.

Granted, this was a game for me.  Not like the video games people play, more like a brain game to see what the results yielded.  The suggestions that came from the sight were interesting.  Their results suggested the sports for me are: archery, cycling, kayaking, taekwondo, and fencing.

This wasn’t my first time trying an analysis similar to this one.  However, this one did ask a few more specific questions than the others. What is interesting is how it matched other similar questionnaires and exactly what it is I’ve done or still do in sports.

Growing up in Savannah from the mid-1950s until early 1970s many of the sports the sight suggested weren’t popular.  Cycling for example was not popular as a competitive sport in Georgia in the early 70s. Yet, I found a way, without the help of the Internet to become a cyclist.  In cycling I was a particularly good sprinter and the UK site recommended sprint style cycling 46 years after I’d won a major cycling sprint championship.

The British also thought I might like kayaking.  In fact, I kayak often and own six boats.  Additionally, decades ago I practiced and competed in taekwondo .  Although I’ve never done fencing a fellow that understood that sport once told me I was built for it.  On that call I believe at five foot eight inches tall my reach might be a limiting factor. Then, I know nothing about fencing.

What is somewhat reassuring is that archery continues to rank top or near the top on every survey.

When I think about an Olympic team I wonder about the missed opportunity to have gone as a cyclist. When I had a serious chance no one from the US went to the summer games because of a boycott.  Whether or not I’d have actually made it – the odds say no – I’ll never know.

What crawls in the back of my head is missing again any chance in archery because I shoot a compound bow.  Wait a minute, you’re 64, there’s no way. Perhaps.  I also took on of the surveys that suggested my real age is 36. (2)

Reference:

1.) http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/olympisize_html/?state=0

2.) https://www.age-test.com/gfsy3k

Paying to play and solo practice

When I practice, perhaps like many of you, I don’t often have company to share the practice session. When I trained for triathlons, cycling and running there was always a group or team which whom to train.  There is a group of archers that practices together near me. However, their practice sessions require a fee of $15.00 to play.

I understand the fee. The folks that put it on are not volunteers and it is a lot of work.  In addition, the practice includes a ‘pot’ ( from those $15.00 fees) where a percentage of your payment goes to the winner.

I practiced with them when I first moved home to Georgia.  But, paying to practice seemed a bit too rich for my pocketbook.  That and the fact I rarely left with any cash in my pocket.  Still the group is pleasant and the environment is nice.  Certainly, I’ll end up supplementing some ‘kids’ gas money in the future.

See many of the ‘kids’ that come to those practices are ranked top in their class in the Nation or the World.  A couple of them only ever shoot an X.  One of them I have never seen miss the X.

When I lived in Maryland there was a group that got together at least once a week to practice at no charge. Being invited I joined those practices whenever possible. These were younger folks and everyone was over 23 years of age.  The oldest is probably in his 40s. Among them one once shot professionally, one won an IBO World Championship, and the others have all been State Champions at one time or another.  However, they were exclusively 3D archers.

Tuesday night training rides – cycling. Near Atlanta, GA. (Count back 4 riders. That 4th rider is yours truly)

I’m frequently invited to run with groups here near Athens.  I’ve also been invited to ride (cycling) with groups several times near where I live .  Their schedules haven’t made joining possible without infringing on archery. Still I sometimes connect with other cyclists on the road.

In North Carolina there was a group that gathered to practice archery and I often shot with them.  They had a huge indoor range where they often held indoor 3D tournaments. The tournaments’ entry fee was $10.00. The practice cost zero dollars.

What’s up – you shooting your bow?
Shooting in Maryland

Racing bicycles was an activity that nearly always meant having others with whom to train. One group that trained together was coached by a high level USA Cycling coach who didn’t charge a fee. The coach also ran one of the bike shops in town, the “Yellow Jersey Cyclery” on Waters Ave in Savannah, Georgia. The “Yellow Jersey” was there for decades and is now gone.

The coach, Nestor Gernay, remains one of the more famous USA Cycling coaches and cyclists.

Nestor Gernay and me (wearing the red top) around 2002 after a training ride during the winter in Savannah.
This fellow ran up and down the tree between ends

 

You can’t see me

If setting up a practice costs the organizer then those practicing should provide some reimbursement to offset the cost.  Paper targets aren’t free and athletes should pay for their targets. So, paying to play in archery is a bit different than playing in other sports like cycling or running.

Golf on the other hand is going to cost you to practice.  So is swimming and nearly every other sport.

If an archery club organizes the practice dues can supplement against cost.  If a bow shop organizes the practice for their team, of course, some small fee can be paid for targets.  Aside from that in regard to shop supported practice, I consider the practice part of a marketing program to keep archers returning to make purchases. That’s how cycling shops support their riders.  The shop puts together rides at no cost to those participating. If the bike shop, for example, began requiring cyclists to pay to get together and ride, I expect those cyclists would find somewhere else to ride.

I’m not a biter

Now, I admit I am tight fisted when it comes to spending money.  I admit I do miss the fellowship of training or practices groups.  I’ve also, regardless of the sport, done a great deal of training alone so I can and will train alone.

Dude, you grass is pretty tasty – try some
Boring

Alone, specifically means no human companionship. Over the years of archery practice I’ve had numerous non-humans hanging out watching me shoot.  For example, River, my dog, loves to hang out while I practice.  She requires an occasional toss of stick but aside from that she’s no bother.

I’ll just wait right here while you pull those arrows

In North Carolina I had horses that seemed to enjoy coming over and watching practice.  They were very polite and although they stood nearby they never roamed between the target and me.

Don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me (Rabbit telepathy)
This frog got a little too close.

There have been rabbits and squirrels that have hung out and watched me shoot.  The squirrels are always bolder than the rabbits.

Cruising across the range at high speed
I’m your friend not a meal

Today, River didn’t join me for practice.  It has been really hot here so she remained indoors.  (not her choice) Still, I wasn’t alone even if the company was non-human.  Throughout practice one of my neighbors chickens followed me around.  Maybe the chicken hoped for some feed to come her way and maybe not.

There was also a fox on the range this morning. It didn’t pause for a photo.  I’m pretty sure it was hunting for chicken. Maybe the chicken was hoping I’d shoot the fox.

Having a group to practice with makes the time on a range nice.  Without a group (of humans) it can take a lot of self-discipline to remain at work though training. Every sport requires some time spent in solo training.  When doing so it is entertaining to be joined by non-humans that remain for the most part non-judgmental. (Squirrels can have an attitude.)

Despite the small fee I’ll pay to play with a group nearby I’ll soon be heading their way as the indoor season approaches.  Several of the top gun ‘kids’ are heading off to college.  Maybe this year I’ll break even.

There are different meanings to exercise and sport

We were at pizza joint with a group of my wife’s friends. They’re mostly her friends from yoga. Yoga folks are pretty cool and I enjoy hanging out with them.  As a rule they are all fit and health conscious. It never fails that one or two of them quiz me on the subject of my less passionate view of yoga. I don’t do yoga, but I stretch every morning for about half an hour plus or minus a few minutes here and there.

My daily run which begins in my backyard

Mixed in with the purest yoga students there are runners who practice yoga. While I never bring up the subject of running many of them know that I run or at least have completed many somewhat difficult runs. (Brenda told them) They are all younger and will at times ask for advice. (Often the advice relates to a medical concern. Brenda also told them of me medical background.)

Sooner to later, like the yoga inquiry, I get quizzed about my running, which is only about 2 miles a day.  That’s enough for me for the moment.

Trail running in North Georgia with River

When I mention 2 miles a day jaws may pop open as if I’ve uttered a severely unacceptable comment or committed some sacrilege. One fellow asked me if I missed it referring to running longer distances.  I said no, plainly and simply I don’t miss running long solo miles.  If I keep the mileage at three or less per run River, my nearly 9-year-old lab, is happy to run along with me.  Beyond 3 miles and she gets bored. At two miles she’s happy and I have company while running.

Another inquisitor asked me if I missed triathlons. (Brenda, again)  He’s training for a triathlon.  He’s heard I have completed lots of them.  As with running, “Nope,” I answered.  When I said “Nope” the yoga runners and yoga triathletes looked at me with saddened eyes as if I had nothing to live for.

“Look,” I said to the small audience watching to see if I was going to die on the spot, “I do a lot of exercise.”  I added, “ I stretch every morning, which is a lot like your yoga.  A number of the stretches are actually yoga moves.” The audience appear unimpressed.

Then, I pointed out that indeed I run only 2 miles a day. I also ride a bike by time rather than distance or some combination of time and distance everyday for an hour to 90 minutes.  So, I pointed out I get a lot of exercise. The additional cycling seemed to satisfy many that I was doing the correct amount of physical fitness training.

Some scenery is well worth the ride

I was going to mention that those exercise intervals are warm-ups sessions only.  That the 2 to 3 hours per day doing those workouts are, in fact, not my primary sport.  Further I didn’t mention that I head to the gym once or twice per week.  All of which are secondary activities to the 2 to 5 hours per day of archery practice.  It seemed to me, that in the setting of the conversation, bringing to light the nearly 8-hour day of work to be a decent archer would have been wasted breath.

Beyond our backyard fence is where 3D practice is the current primary focus
There’s always a dark target in a hole in 3D – gotta practice this shot

Everyone around Brenda and I eating pizza was a lot younger.  The top end age, outside of Brenda and I, was probably upper 30s to at most 42 years old. The majority of those in attendance were younger than our children. They all workout several times per week at yoga and a few do train to run or work toward completing an international distance triathlon. Most of them have jobs, not all, so working out or training  much more than they’re doing takes a certain frame of mind. The question becomes what it is you want and what are you willing to give up to get it.

What I learned is that what time most of them put toward exercise and fitness max’ed out at around 14 hours per week.  That’s good and overall for most people a lot of exercise.  None of them is working toward any specific sport goal beyond a completion of some target event.

Good to practice the shot, but it sucks to break an arrow

“I’m training to do a triathlon,” or “I’m training to run a 5K,” are great goals and eventual achievements. There is, however, a difference when your goals include breaking records, winning titles and championships, or  being ranked top in the world.  This difference in the meaning for the exercise or training in no way implies one set of priorities is more important than the other.  There’s just a difference.

Okay, you’re the expert

There are fields where I am an expert.(1)  As many of you too are experts at something.  It might be that you are an expert electrician, builder, surgeon or athlete. Don’t you find it odd when someone that has never done what it is where you are an expert and that someone decides to provide advice to you at your job?

Before I go further I am removing archery from my areas of expertise. I’m good at shooting a bow and I’m a USA Level 3 NTS Coach but compared to other endeavors archery doesn’t come close to sections of my life where I remain an expert.  By expert I mean one the top in the World.

When I worked I considered myself the best in the World at what I did.  On occasions I received unsolicited awards for my work. Not a one is on display in my home. I have a friend that won a number of Academy Awards; he keeps a few on display in his basement.  The other Oscars are stored in a box. He’s certainly an expert at his job. It would never occur to me to give him advance on his work.

The Global Awards have a division for the type of work where I was involved.  Once I thought I might earn a Global.  I was a runner up.  They gave me a nice framed award for not winning.  But, I did come close with only a $10,000 budget from which to work. (2) So, I find it amazing when people feel the need to educate me with their business acumen, especially when they’ve never worked in business. I also find it amazing when some bike shop technician tries to educate me on cycling.

There’s a local bike shop I visit for parts and repairs.  They employ a bike tech that in his mind is an expert on a variety of topics from cycling to business to science.  Yesterday he tried to sale me tires I didn’t want.  I needed new tires, which is why I was in the shop.  My choice didn’t meet his opinion of what he thought I should be riding.

Benefit run post-World Championship

I explained the tires I selected from the wall display were ideal for the bike and my riding.  He offered the tires he would rather I purchase which would make me go faster.  I suggested that my legs were in fact what might make me go faster.  Further, I pointed out I ride a bike for fun and had no intention of racing in the near future if ever again.  In addition if I did race it wouldn’t be on that bike.  He couldn’t leave it alone and claimed I was ignoring science.

First, I never ignore science.  I’m a bona fide scientist and science fueled my career along with law and business. Secondly, I doubt the bike tech has ever gone as fast or as far on a bike I have in the past.(3) I wanted to puff up at the tech and explain I’ve raced for a living, raced in Europe, and placed as high as 4thin a cycling world championship.(4) Additionally, I’ve been a member of a USA Team that included cycling and raced at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. (5,6)  Yet, I said nothing.

I did get the tires I wanted and the bike tech put them on the bike while I left to purchase another blueberry tree to plant. The bike was ready when I returned with the tree sitting in my truck.  While checking me out he asked if I was following the Tour, as in Tour de France for non-cycling readers.

I told him no I wasn’t explaining I didn’t know any of the guys racing any longer and wasn’t interested. I am interested enough that I’ll purchase the DVD of the race when it is complete.  But, since I don’t know of the riders I’ll watch it later.

I didn’t add that when I raced for Trek and trained sometimes in Kennett, MO I’d share my training route with Lance Armstrong so that he could ride the route while he was visiting Sheryl Crow. Sharing that with the bike tech might have meant I’d need to hear his lecture on doping.

My old UCI International Racing License

As I left the bike shop with my newly installed tires not once did I consider racing a bicycle beyond a possible time trial. The bike tech was shaking his head as he considered the old fool leaving with non-recommended tires.

Reference:

  1. Best of 2011 Respiratory Care RT: Rode Decision Makers in Respiratory Care, October 2011, 24 – 26
  2. Finalist Award, The “Global Awards” for Marketing Communication- Quantum Launch, Oct. 1997
  3. Calvin’s Challenge 12 Hour Ultra-Marathon, Bronze Medal, Columbus, Ohio 2000
  4. WUCA World 6 Hour Road Cycling Championship, 4thPlace, Eldridge, IA, September 2003
  5. ITU World Long Distance Duathlon Championship, USA Team, Richmond, VA, October 21, 2007
  6. Ironman World Championship, Kona, Hawaii 2008

 

Greater progression of athletic performance in older Masters athletes (2)

At the 2019 Georgia Field Archery Championship in the age group of athletes from 60 to 70 years old the prior State record was surpassed by three archers including the prior record holder having set the old record in 2017.  In the women’s over 50 group a new record was set.  That means two new records with four scores surpassing prior records were achieved. Outside of those Masters athletes only one other record was broken in the cub group. (1)

Record holding triathlete the “Iron Nun”
Yes that a pack of kids chasing a Master athlete

Looking at Masters athletes as a whole a group of investigators found that improvements among the Masters athletes is advancing more rapidly than among younger athletes.(2) The researchers stated that, “While younger athletes’ performance has stagnated, Masters athletes improved their athletic performance significantly and progressively over the years. The magnitude of improvements was greater in older age groups gradually closing the gap in athletic performance between younger and older participants.”(2)

We’re all getting older, we just don’t have to get old (George Burns)

If you have read my writing here you’ll know that I’ve been offering the opinion that Masters athletes are being overlooked by sports companies.  We, the older athletes, are indeed reaching new levels of skill not seen from past performances.  I remain steadfast in my belief that companies bypassing the recognition, particularly in the US, of Masters athletes are missing a major market opportunity. (Wake up -Nike, Elite, Hoyt, Mathews, UnderArmour, and you other sport companies and smell the sweat.)

Reference:

  1. http://gbaa.georgiaarchery.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-GBAA-State-Field-Results.pdf
  2. Akkari A, Machin D, Tanaka H: Greater progression of athlete performance in older Masters athletes. Age Aging 2015 Jul;44(4): 683-6. Doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv023. Epub 2015 Mar 8.

Georgia State ASA Championship in 10 Days

Being way behind on 3D practice is not a good place to be 10 days out from the ASA State Championship. In past years I had two bows: one for target archery the other for 3D.  The fancy target bow seemed to occasional throw an arrow off the mark.

I mentioned to the techs where I’d purchased the bow that occasionally it seemed to fling an arrow some place other than where I was aiming.  They said it was me. When I finally convinced the bow shop where I’d purchased the bow that is wasn’t right it was returned for the company to look for a problem.

The company found a problem, supposedly corrected it, and the bow was back in my hand yesterday after several months of being absent.  In the absence of the target bow I’d been using my hunting/3D bow during tournaments.  That bow I’d been using for targets (dots) was converted back to a hunter class rig for 3D a few days ago.

Certainly I could have used a target set up for 3D – long stabilizers and a scope.  I’ve done that in the past.  Maybe in the future I’ll shoot 3D with a target rig again.  The thing is I prefer shooting 3D using a hunter class rig.

To make things a bit more challenging there is no hunter class at ASA in my age group.  So, I’ve qualified for the tournament by dropping down into a younger division.  I expect I’ll be competing against archers that aren’t much older than my children.

During a conversation with Reo Wilde I mentioned I’d like to get to a point where I can compete against the archers he shoots against.  He mentioned, “All these young guys are so good.”  He is right there are a lot of younger archers that are good.  There are also a lot of younger archers that aren’t so good – he doesn’t need to shoot against them.  Reo Wilde, also, doesn’t compete in 3D. On the other hand I did get my wish to compete against younger archers.

I’ve looked at 3D in the same way I considered mountain bike racing compared to road bike racing.  The disciplines are different and each attracts it’s own breed of athlete.  Switching over from one disciple to the other provides a nice break.  And I figure, with archery, put the dot in the middle and shoot the dot. It isn’t as if I’m trying to race these younger guys through the woods on a mountain bike.

Changing Gears

In cycling I change my gears a lot.  In archery changing gears is merely going from one discipline to another.  For instance, going from indoor archery to outdoor archery.  In this specific case it is going from shooting dots to 3D.

During 3D tournaments I gear down in yardage and equipment. I don’t have to make an 80-yard shot in 3D. But, I do need to make a 40-yard shot. Forty yards seems quaint after training at 80 yards.  It isn’t quaint.

First off shooting a 3D animal is never a give me. Even a 20 yard shot can end up wasting a whole day of competition.  The problem isn’t the distance, it is the target.  Sure 20 yards is a breeze when you can see the X.  A turkey hen is tough at twenty yards – you can’t see the X on a javelina at 40 yards. (X being the center 10 ring, you can forget the 12 rings)

Not the hen. This fellow can be practiced from multiple angles.

Secondly, during 3D I shoot the same set-up I’d use hunting – no scope, a short stabilizer and pins. I just don’t enjoy 3D as much using long stabilizers and a scope.  It feels a little like field archery only closer in some instances.

Three is the limit to save arrows. In this case, despite moving around, I still shot through on of these arrows. Money down the drain.

The third challenge I have is competing against much younger athletes.  Their physical fitness isn’t the advantage they have it is their eyesight. The darker the view the less effective the light gathering is with nearly 65-year-old eyes.  There’s simply nothing I can do about the decreased ability of my eyes to pick up light.

This old target is about 40% foam from a can.

Still the Georgia State ASA Championship is just a few weeks away and it is time to concentrate on 3D. Thus far in 2019 I’ve only shot in two 3D events.  In those I only averaged 9.5 points per target.  That’s isn’t good enough to win an ASA State Championship.  No, to win the average, against the folks that shoot 3D with a passion here in Georgia, I need to be averaging 10.4 points per target – and that might not cut it.

Yes, the younger 3D shooters in the hunter class here are tough.  I’d do better against them if the only gears I needed to change were in fact on a bicycle.

The GBAA State Field Championship and NFAA Sectionals or What About Bob

Savannah, Georgia in July is hot.  It’s hot in Savannah every July.  I grew up in Savannah and every summer it was hot.  This July continues to meet expectations of heat.  Regardless of the heat archers showed up to compete at the GBAA State Field Championship.

Most everyone if not everyone shooting was from the South.  There was little complaining about the heat.  If you’d grown up with Southern summer heat despite the 100% relative humidity and 97°F temperature you might have thought this is a pretty nice day. There was an occasional breeze, archers were mostly under the shade of tall pine trees and it didn’t rain.  Overall, a really nice day for archery.

Before coming to the tournament I’d looked over the past years’ results at the GBAA website.  My friend, Jerry had set the record for our age group in 2017.  I expected Jerry to show up and he did.  So did Bob.

I consider Jerry and Bob friends.  I look forward to seeing them at tournaments. We live too far apart to get together aside from archery unless someone is willing to make a 4-hour drive.  But, they are welcome faces whenever I see them.  I also know I’ve got to shoot against them.

At the recent Georgia Cup Jerry and I went head to head for the first place finish.  Then, there’s Bob.  Bob beats me and sometimes I beat Bob.  It comes down to mistakes.  That is, which one of us is going to make the most mistakes generally loses.  Bob and Jerry are not all that generous at giving away points.

During the first day that started at 0900 and ended at 1730 I was lucky and assigned to a group with Bob, Jerry and Tony.  Tony had driven to Savannah from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  When Tony mentioned Winston-Salem my thoughts went to Wake-Forest, my grandfather that once lived there and our former home near the Outer Banks.  I do miss our place on the water but don’t miss the hurricanes.

Day one moved amazingly slowly.  You know if you shoot field or 3D there’s often that group that bogs down the pace. Yes we had such a group and long backups.  All I can add and remain polite is at least it didn’t rain.  There was thunder in the distance on day one and afternoon storms are not uncommon on the coast but we were spared that misery only needing to suffer through body aging blood pressure lifting waiting. Before long each new stake began to feel like the first shots of the day.

Let me say the Ogeechee Bowman, who put on the show, are really lucky to have such a great place to shoot. The range, county owned, is maintained by the Ogeechee Bowman and truly nice.

Jerry thankfully was with Bob and I.  Jerry is an expert on all things archery and can explain, at least to me, what to do without making me feel stupid.  Of course, I’d read the rules of field archery before hand and had purchased some field archery targets for practice.  Still, there’s a lot of moving around and shooting at different targets from the same stakes or walking up (getting closer) to targets.  There are further different colored stakes and a variety of distances depending on the shooting trial for each third of the competition. Reading the rules and putting them into practice are different.

One observation about the sunbaked archers is that there was a lot of grey hair on their heads – those that had hair.  I counted to learn 42% of the archers were over 50 years old while only 6% were included in the Cub and Youth divisions. Now, back to Bob and Jerry.

At the onset of shooting Jerry was the record holder in this field archery competition.  I had no idea how Bob was going to shoot aside from it would be good.  Beyond that, I didn’t know really know what to expect. The plan was to simply shoot my shots. That is all anyone can do.

Jerry had traveled further to get to the shoot and Bob mentioned he’d not been sleeping well. On the other hand I was rested and felt good.  I felt I had a little edge on both of them.

On the field round let me say Bob was very stubborn and possessive with his points. He kept more of his than I did of mine.  In return, during the animal and the hunter portions of the event I kept more of my point than Bob did of his.  So, (Paul, if you are reading this please share this with Bob) I beat Bob 2 out of 3.

Sadly, that isn’t the way Field archery is scored.  I will say Bob, at least on one target where his brain was elsewhere, did open a door for me.  He quickly closed that door.  His recovery was something that would have been television worthy and crushing to those of us that despite doing very little wrong couldn’t keep up.

When the day was over Jerry, who’d kept us in line, had broken his former State record.  I’d broken Jerry’s former record and his new record.  But, then there’s Bob.  Bob took the grand prize and set a new State Record.  Jerry’s old record was bettered three times in one day. (Paul, I know you read these – please let Bob know he only won by 0.2% if you do the math.)

Archery: 10% mental and 90% trying not to quit

Certainly, I wanted to win. But, when I don’t it isn’t so bad that Bob or Jerry wins.  The GBAA State Field Champion was Bob’s win. I know next time we meet up we’ll enjoy competing against each other and we do make each other perform better.  (Deep down – I’d rather have won – dang it, Bob)

Bob’s the taller and happier looking person, I’m on his left. Only Southerners would wear dark clothing in near 100 degree temperature. Congratulations, Bob.