The Georgia Golden Olympics

The 2021 Georgia Golden Olympics were held in Warner-Robins, Georgia. I entered for two reasons: Qualify for the 2022 National Senior Games and visit my sister who lives in Warner-Robins.

The highlight of the trip was seeing my sister.  It is always a pleasure to visit her.

The tournament was a mess.  It had rained the night before and the field was a bit swampy.  That really wasn’t an issue.  I’d expected the rain and had waterproof boots to wear.

The problem was the organizers had expected the event a week later.  All the archers arrived and there wasn’t a target in sight.

When it was clear there was a miscommunication a few of the archers found some target butts and targets.  There were on 6 butts and thirty archers.

We made due at 60 yards by cramming five archers per target.  Not a problem at 60 yards. At 50 yards it wasn’t going to work.  Every one shooting was so good that there wasn’t room in the yellow rings to hold all the arrows without breaking many of them. In addition, as tight as the arrows were at 60 yards, scoring – following each arrow from nock to pile was more difficult that you’d think.  Thirty arrows squeezed into a 12.5 cm ring is a lot.

We ended up having to run a line where the arrows would be shot then pulled then run the next line and pull the arrows.  Arrows had to be pulled after each end. IT made for a long and hungry day.

I’d brought enough food for a four-hour tournament.  Roughly 800 calories worth of solid food and four drinks for another 1000 calories.  It ran out sooner than expected.  It was rough.  It is hard to focus when you are hungry.

A friend gave me a breakfast bar and it was enough.  At least it didn’t rain on us.

It Is Going to Rain – Again!

Shooting an Olympic recurve started for me 398 days ago.  Eighty-one days after starting I shot an outdoor event, in October 2020 where it didn’t rain. In 2021 I’ve competed in 7 tournaments using a recurve bow.  Of those four of them were outdoors. Once there was a light rain that wasn’t much bother.  During the other three outdoor tournaments it stormed.

Those storms caused extended delays as archers, spectators and judges took shelter. The last event ended hours behind schedule due to lightening delays.

Tomorrow I am headed out of town to compete in an outdoor event in two days. Right now it is raining. Tomorrow’s forecast is for rain.  The day of the tournament the forecast is calling for thunderstorms.

Frequently it rains when I am practicing outdoors.  I continue to practice in rain unless it really becomes a storm.  Practicing in those conditions has been beneficial considering every competitive outdoor event in 2021 has been rainy.  Those practices helped me a little to understand how my bow and in particular bowstring reacts to being wet.

If I had a choice I’d rather not shoot in the rain.  It looks like in two days, however, I’ll be in the rain.

There’s one more outdoor event in October.  I am hoping for clear skies. By November we’ll be shooting indoor events.  There will be a few months to dry out before heading back outside.

Range Work and Repair

When we decided to move home to Georgia one of the requirements was land.  Land for privacy, quiet, and archery.  Initially, the target amount of land was 5 to 10 acres.  We settled for less.

This issue regarding acreage wasn’t price so much as it was construction and location.  While we find many wonderful old Southern homes with plenty of land all needed rehab.  Securing a construction company that we could rely upon to upgrade these old homes seemed less and less likely.

We ended up with building a house on a little over 3 acres in a small development on the cusps of Athens. Although we didn’t end up with the amount of land we wanted we did land in a good location. The building of the house from start to finish was only 6 months.

The three plus acres has turned out to be just enough if not just right.  More land would have been better.  The property we do have serves me pretty well with archery.  It isn’t prefect but I can make do.

There’s now a 70-yard lane to practice targets and 18 3-D targets sitting on the back part of the lot that is wooded.  If I need to shoot further I must step over the line to a neighbors property for which he’s given me permission.

This is important when practicing 70 meters or roughly 77 years.  I did have 75 yards bit lost five yards when I put a backstop behind my target butts.  This was necessary when the property next to us sold.  The new owner was afraid I’d miss the target and an arrow might land in her woods.  Granted, the target is over 100 yards from her house and sitting so that an errant arrow would land in the nature berm between the two lots.  Anyway, to keep the peace I built the backstop and lost 5 yards.

Backstop that ate some yardage and the butt to be repaired

To practice all I need to do is walk out from my back yard, through the fence and onto my range.  I get to do a lot of shooting.  As a result my targets take a beating.

Targets don’t last.  I have to plug holes every few months.  Today I needed to repair my 48 inch round butt I use for 122 cm targets.  Because I have multiple butts I only need to repair them two to three times a year.

There is a material I could purchase to cover the 48 inches that costs $240.00 a sheet.  Since most of my arrows land in or near the same spot the $240.00 for a large sheet seemed expensive.  Instead I plug the holes with installation foam, after wrapping the butt and using a cut out from a yoga mat to cover the center of the target.  It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish to make the repair and it is good for several months.  The material for the repair per repair runs less than $10 each time.

The yoga mat I am currently using is a cheapo.  It can be cut with scissors, costs less than 10 bucks and adds life to repair.

This morning was a recovery day from shooting so it was repair day.  I’ve found that the installation foam takes a little longer to dry because for the packing wrap that covers the butt.  After pulling an arrow out of a repaired target that only have 24 hours drying to find goop on it I now wait a couple of days. While one target is drying to practice on another.

Hole is filled now waiting everything to dry.

Even though I’d hoped to have a 100-yard lane for practice I make due worth the shorter lane.  I don’t need to make many shots over 80 yards and can avoid the 100 yards shots by not shooting in the class that requires a 100 yard shot.

Photo taken at 70 yards

Having access to targets whenever I want is great.  Keeping up with repairs and range maintenance is worth the effort.

“THESE ARROWS COST $47.00 A PIECE!”

I’ve bought a lot of gear from Lancaster Archery. When we lived in Easton, Maryland, where I started shooting a compound bow in November 2013, someone mentioned to me Lancaster Archery.  Until that moment I had no idea they existed.

There isn’t any reason I might have heard of Lancaster Archery Supply.  I’d never been involved with archery so why would I have heard of LAS?

Naturally, I looked LAS up on the Internet.  Those where the days when I lived in a fancy town with actual Internet service.  The year was 2014; I’d been trying to shoot a compound bow, a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 for several months.

Easton is only 110 miles away from LAS.  I’d decided to make a pilgrimage to LAS so my wife and I headed to Lancaster, PA. She wanted to see if there might be some Amish goods to acquire in the area.

What I wanted from LAS was a target sight and scope along with those long stabilizers the other archers all had on their bows.  Up until that point I had a hunting sight and a Trophy Ridge hunting stabilizers on the Apex 7.  I ‘knew’ the fancy gear would improve my shooting and was willing to pay for it. Or at a minimum I’d look the part of an archer taking aim at targets.

With a couple of months experience in archery I entered LAS pretty much not having a clue.  LAS felt like archery Mecca. Within a few minutes my glassy eyed expression signaled for help.

The salesman was extremely patient. He sold me a pile of gear.  I still use the sight and scope on my compound bow.  Well, they are still on my compound bow but I’ve not picked it up since I switched to recurve in 2020. I did change the front stabilizer on the bow after a few years of using it.

While I was in LAS there were other archers milling about. One fellow in particular I’m unlikely to forget.  He wasn’t milling about admiring treasures. They fellow strutted around as if his genital was engorged hoping, perhaps, he’d be admired.

Accompanying him was his recurve bow, quiver lashed to his waist loaded with the skinniest arrows I’d ever sent.  Admittedly, I was curious about the arrows. I wanted to know about the arrows but was afraid to risk speaking to the man for fear he’d erupt on himself he was so puffed up.

When a salesman spoke to him it took a little puff out of the archery gear decorated peacock so I took courage and asked him about the arrows.

At my question the little fellow froze. He was shorter than me and I’m under 5 feet 8 inches tall.  Once, I was taller. Gravity is winning. There was a pause in his existence.  He literally was frozen where he’d stood.  He eyed me with either a look of suspicion or viewed me as prey.  Either way it was awkward. His suspended stance appeared to be a sign that anyone within a five-foot radius of the human figurine should consider moving further away.

Backing away without turning my back on the motionless archer it could be seen that the fellow was beginning to vibrate. The arrows in his quiver starting to rattle like maracas as his face became a dark crimson.

Then, he blurted out, “THESE ARROWS COST $47.00 A PIECE!”

Well, okay I thought to myself as we both walked away from one another. That was a close as I got to the $47.00 arrows.

I have no idea who the little fellow was and still don’t.  Nor do I care.  What amazes me and something I won’t forget was his puffery.

One day I expect I’ll shoot expensive arrows.  Right now I’m flinging arrows THAT COST $4.90 A PIECE.  Those cheap arrows have won six out of seven tournaments in the men’s senior or masters’ divisions.  I don’t know if that says something about me or those archers flinging the high-end arrows. What I can say is that the archers with the expensive arrows always look the part.

Nice Arrows

When I switched to Olympic Recurve I did so on a budget.  There seemed no point in buying the top level gear having never shot an Olympic recurve bow. Using that philosophy I started with very inexpensive arrows.

Over the year of shooting Olympic recurve I’ve had to purchase an expensive riser.  The initial $149.00 riser snapped in half after 26,011 arrows.  In addition, I moved up to a high-end sight.  The original sight was fine to start, but it’s screws kept falling out.

The bow’s limbs increased from $99.00 products to $149.00 products as my poundage increased.  One group of items that remain basement bargains is my arrows.

My current arrows cost $4.90 each.  I’d moved up to a $6.00 arrow but the spine was wrong despite what the manufacturer had published on their website.  I returned to the $4.90 arrows and those are much better.

I understand there are much more expensive arrows.  Next year I may make a move toward the high-end arrow.  Those range from $32.35 to $52.00 each.

I’ve held one of the $52.00 arrows.  I’ve never shot one.  One sales person told me that a dozen, $625.00 before tax, would buy me 10 points over the course of an outdoor tournament.  Another sales person told me more likely the expensive arrows would only provide a few extra points.

The 10 points advantage works out to $62.50 per point.

No doubt in 2022 I’ll buy more expensive arrows.  I doubt they’ll end up being the most expensive.  I’ll likely get the $32.35 each arrow.

Georgia Golden Olympics

“You can’t help getting older, we just don’t have to get old, “ George Burns.

I’ve signed up to compete in the Georgia Golden Olympics. In Georgia there are many excellent archers over 50.  No matter how much one practices there is no way to guess at who might win in a competition among the more mature archers here.  It really comes down to who makes the least number of mistakes.

I nearly doubled-up and entered the bicycling time trials.  Then I looked at the most recent winners’ time at a distance where I was considering competing.  I can’t beat that time.

The most recent winners are amazing.  There speeds are equal to those put out by Professional Cyclists for the same distance.  I would have never guessed a 67 year old could compete against a 30 year old Professional Cyclist.  Heck, when I was 30 years old those current Golden boys would have beaten me over the same distance time trial.

At the peak of my cycling racing I trained with and raced against Olympians, World Champions and Professionals that competed in the Tour de France.  I raced all over the US and in Europe.  So, I was pretty fit.  Still, I would not have beaten the top 65+ Golden Olympic cyclists in the time trial I was considering.

Now, I was never the greatest time trialist.  But, I won a lot of time trials.  Once I was even the USA Cycling Georgia State Time Trial Champion.  I even broke the top 10 in a Velodrome Time Trial when I was 50 racing on a cheap $500.00 bicycle.

Reviewing some of the older longer Tour de France Prologue times these Golden boys would have done themselves proud against the top cyclists in the World. As much as I’d enjoy racing my bike there simply no way I can compete against such supernatural Golden power.

From the National Senior Games Rule Book:

“The NSGA does not currently test for banned or performance enhancing drugs. If an athlete is found to be using drugs by any other agency or governing body, they will also be banned from NSGA competitions until the sanction or banned is removed. The NSGA will communicate with NGB’s for a current list of athletes.”

Now, I think I understand.

Lifting Weights

A friend of mine recently asked if I lift weight.  I do. When the Covid pretty much shut down the gyms I didn’t.  Now, I do, again.  Only, now I don’t go to the gym.

I bought a weight bench and some weights and workout in my garage.  Turned out that my home gym is less expensive than an annual gym membership.  For sure I don’t have all the fancy gear but I do have enough.

I’ve also changed when I lift.  Rather than in the afternoon I lift in the mornings four days per week.  You can believe during those days at some point while practicing archery my arms are going to feel like they’ve done a lot.

Today was no exception. I lifted weights this morning. The morning practice, 100 arrows at 60 yards, was fine.  The afternoon session, 50 arrows at 40 yards was misery.  Usually the afternoon is a minimum of 60 arrows with a maximum of 120 arrows.  I quit at 50 arrows.

The last end of 10 arrows wasn’t too awful.  Five 10s, one 9 and four 8s.  The four 8s at 40 yards is, of course, a sign.  The more obvious sign was pulling through the shot. One in ten draws were where I had to let down and start over.

To be fair it was a particularly arduous weight lifting workout on this morning.  On the prior day of weights and shooting at forty yards I didn’t land any 8s.  Today it was different.

I felt I could have worked though the stiffness in my muscles.  I decided against it.  Over the past 3 days, the time since my last recovery break, I’ve flung 526 arrows.  On the last end, at 50 arrows, a Kenny Rogers song popped into my head.  The lyrics were, “you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”