The weather wasn’t great; it was cold, windy with a chance of rain. Certainly not the worst conditions for a 3D archery tournament. But, I was seemingly among the minority that held that opinion.
When I got to the range hosting the event, there were only a few trucks parked around the entrance. The shoot was scheduled from 1000 to 1400. It was 0945 when I signed in and paid my fee. Mine was the first name on the sign in sheet. It wasn’t encouraging.
As normal I showed up hoping to find a cluster of 2 or 3 archers and beg my way into joining their group. So, waiting I took a few shots on the warm-up range. Taking those shots wasn’t part of my plan for this day. The plan was to head out to the range and start shooting without any warm-up. Not that warming up isn’t good; it is that most of the major events on my list may not offer the time or circumstances for a warm-up. Therefore, this event, as will all others be, needed to be done without a warm-up. But, I was wasting time and getting bored so I shot a few arrows at 20, 30 and 40 yards – the three distances where there were targets on the warm-up field.
As another 30 minutes passed it was becoming obvious today wasn’t going to one where I’d get to shoot with other people. Three traditional guys, who’d been waiting inside a clubhouse had hopped on a golf cart and headed onto the range. There were only three. I considered running and trying to catch up with them. They’d already had a significant lead before they gunned the cart and would likely have been at target 3 before I’d catch them. They got clean away before I could react. So, I waited some more to no avail.
Finally, I walked over to target one. I stood there waiting and watching the parking lot through my binoculars. Still not another archer had arrived.
Having paid my fee I was hugely disappointed. The event was part of a coalition and each shoot counts for their Shooter of the Year competition. Had I known in advance I’d be shooting solo I’d have entered the “Fun” shoot and possibly saved a few bucks. I’d have been the only person having any fun, but it would have been less expensive –or so I think. I believe the fee for a “Fun” shoot is only $5.00. It’s not so much a matter of the extra cash laid out, but there’s no sense in wasting it. And since points or competition weren’t on the line it was disappointing. (There must be at least 3 people per group for proper scoring protocol)
Without another archer in sight I begin my solo trek. There was not a person in front of me or behind me. The tradition guys were off the range – I’d heard their cart rolling off the course as I entered. Maybe they weren’t shooting and just riding around.
At target 5 Charles, a new fellow whose moving here from Maine, looking for Joe, his friend, walked up and inquired whether I’d seen Joe. I told him no. He asked, “Are you just practicing?” I explained that now, “I was.” Despite the cold and wind, Charles, from Maine, was dressed lightly. He was easy to recognize as someone not from the South.
The course was not a disappointment. In an unusual set-up they had 5 bear targets. I like bear targets. The first four targets, a pig, two deer and a bear, were out in the open and the wind made them difficult. I shot those, rather simple shots, ( 22, 26, 34 and 38 yards) all 8s. I blamed those 8s on the wind and being a little pissed having driven so far (Nearly two hours), paid, and realizing I’d get no points to add to my total for Shooter of the Year. I miss a lot of the coalitions events traveling to other competitions. I’ve already missed several and needed this one. Having no points to contribute will pretty much take me out of the running. Which may be good, I can head over to the central part of the State without concern of missing any points here on the coast. In the central part of NC there are plenty of hills. Here on the coast, it is flat. I need to practice on hills.
Once in the woods, and perhaps feeling a bit less frustrated, I improved – no more 8s, but only three 12s. I ended up 2 down for the day.
As I walked back from the last target, over a mile to the clubhouse, there weren’t any other shooters on the range until target number 4. There at the beginning of the targets, the field containing targets 1 – 4, were two groups, one with four archers the other with three.
In the clubhouse I explained to the judges that had taken my money that, “I suppose the weather keep people away today,” and “Since I shot alone I can’t turn my score card in, it was just for fun.” I wondered if they’d get the message and return some of my money. They didn’t get the message or a fun shoot costs the same as shooting for points. Even if they’d had offered an exchange, I’d have not accepted. By now I was feeling pretty sorry for them. A lot of effort had gone into setting up a nice course. Perhaps a crowd showed up later in the day, some time before 1400.