If Only, If Only – Oh, Well (ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM, Final Day)

The 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM is done, at least for me. This final day started early, 0730, on Sunday. It was over before I knew it. I was out of the woods and home by 1115. The weather, perhaps remorseful of the conditions presented on Saturday, redeemed itself providing textbook perfection for the final volley of arrows.

Headed toward Lincolnton then onward to Appling. (Yes, I stopped the truck to take this picture.)

Starting early, like I mentioned above 0730, at first seemed nightmarish to me. Such an early time is reminder of triathlons. Those events also begin at the ‘puke of dawn.’ Triathlons are more likely to start before 0700 rather than later. While the time itself doesn’t sound awful, the start time is misleading. To make an early start time for a sporting event, the athlete has to be up even earlier to eat, prepare, then travel to the event venue. For me this meant a wake up call, three alarms set, for 0415 – an hour and forty-five minutes earlier than normal. As it turned out, none of the alarms activated all being disarmed minutes before their assigned announcements.

My favorite meals of the day are breakfast, lunch and dinner. I arose little earlier so there’d be ample time to prepare a good breakfast. Today, that pre-dawn meal was a fresh spicy hamburger sized sausage patty on an English muffin with coffee and orange juice. An easy 500 calories. All ingested before 0500. There was leftover time to take River for a short outing where she chased a fox. Then, I wished Brenda, rationally still in bed, Happy Mother’s Day and hit the back roads leading from Tignal to Appling.

Phil taking aim on a deer around 40 yards out.

The drive to the ASA Augusta was just fine, the roads nearly vacate. Last year, when I turned onto Dogwood Lane entering the Wildwood Park, home to the tournament, the line of traffic was backed up crawling along at a stupidly slow pace. This year the ride was as smooth as silk and I didn’t stop until I landed in the same excellent parking slot I’d had on Saturday. As far as similarities between the two days I hoped that these events weren’t prophecies that my Sunday’s shooting might agree with my Saturday’s. Parked, outfitted for archery I readied my self and headed to range G to join my group on stake 12.

Our group of four, Phil, Randy, Buddy and I were at our stake in good order. The ASA officials reminded archers that stake time was going to me monitored and to keep pace. Their incentives had everyone shooting at a good clip.  Our group was off the range, along with everyone else, in three hours. Consider, 20 stakes per range attended by 4 archers per stake. That’s eighty shooters. We were at ranges H and G. That’s 160 athletes. We started at 0730. At 1030 scores were being forwarded to the judges. One can only praise the organization and management of the ASA at moving so many archers through the woods with such efficacy.

ASA ran a tight ship. With so many archers it was amazing how fast we cleared the range. Honestly, quite pleasant.

However, the course though the woods, today, was not entirely smooth travels. Granted, a 3D competition does not cut through a forest at the pace of a mountain bike race. Mostly, people stand a little, walk a bit, sit down, and creep along. In between shots, I sat or stood and stared glassy-eyed while daydreaming of what might have been in reflection of Saturday. Some of those, “Oh, well..” moments of self analysis.

Yep, there is a target out there.

During one those moments, not really being visually focused, my head was aimed toward a group of female archers, all standing still or sitting down, to my right. Presently, my eye’s glaze was interrupted by one of the women archers.

Rather than holding her statuary mimed posture she began flapping and slapping her arms, spinning about, and twirling her head, all while her legs thrashed in fits River Dance choreography. It was a distinctly festive exposé brought forth following the introduction of a yellow jacket swarm. The local community alerted we keep a vigilant scan of our proximate skies.

Only the dancing archer was directly involved in the aerial combat being just slightly wounded by a single sting. The stinging insect yielded to a high pitched verbal assault of language most often associated with Chief Petty Officers and Drill Instructors. In the manner of good sportsmanship, I turned my head before laughing as restrained as possible to prevent personal injury. Under such conditions, belly laughs can be misunderstood exposing the laugher to deflected rage – not good with the inciting object has a weapon at close hand. Always good to err on the side of caution.

Squeezing in 4 upper 12s

Aside from this only occurrence of inter-species conflict ranges H and G moved along without further incident or compromise. Birds chirped and foliage cast shadows over densely covered foam animals. There were good shots, better shots, bad shots and missed shots among all groups conveying bows and arrows. ASA representatives politely monitored and encouraged people to shoot and move without ever seeming aggressive or confrontational.

If only, if only, Saturday had gone even close to normal. There’s no point to what ifs in sport. It leads to empty wishes at best or grief over possibilities now past.  Neither serves a meaningful purpose. Certainly, a do over means doing it all again at another time another place and from the first shot. Between doings there will be more and more practice.

If you’re an archer then you know how to find scores. So, there’s no point in commenting Sunday’s results. All I’ll add is it is a crying shame that on Saturday I didn’t do the same or even nearly the same or maybe just a little better. Oh, well another opportunity is just around the corner. Until that appointment –ave atque vale my friends from the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, Georgia.

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