It was just right, an 8:20 morning start time, the first group on the range. When I arrived at check-in for the IBO World Championship, twenty minutes before my start time, I was alone. There wasn’t a marker to indicate the range check-in queue. Looking around I noticed an approaching storm and discovered two volunteers – I asked for help or information.
Inquiring of the two of them, neither was exactly certain of my checkpoint. According to the information in my packet, I was on the correct spot. Our trio waited and watched the not so distant storm as it appeared to come closer.
Other archers began to arrive, a slow trickle hopping off the “Polar Bear” ski lift. As they milled about an event official arrived with the delinquent check-in sheets for the range. We were in business.
Minutes later the initial group of the day was heading to stake number one. I among the group was happy to be going out hoping to stay ahead of the storm. The other three shooters, all experienced, were seasoned archers. One was even a representative of the IBO, today there as a competitor. Among the three others in this group were many honors and competitive victories.
By stake number four we knew we were making good time. There were no archers ahead of us and none behind us. The wind had been blowing all morning and was picking up. Then, it started to rain.
In the short time between stakes four and five we become disoriented. The wind had blown down the direction markers. We weren’t worried we be lost, we were worried about walking the incorrect way and finding ourselves between another stake and the target. Still, we didn’t see other archers and weren’t too anxious. We had a couple of large umbrellas and were making the most of the situation.
When the lightening begain to illuminate the sky and thunder rolled over the hills one fellow suggested we should head down off the mountain. The group, not hearing any signal to leave the range, decided to wait a few more minutes before we found the quickest path to safety. It was a little eerie to be alone as we were on the range. Eerie but nice, we were under no pressure from groups behind us or in front of us.
We were under a pressure from the rain and wind, but in the thicker woods there was a break. Alas, the break from the wind helped little since the mist arising from the slowing rain and cloud cover made it nearly impossible to see some of the targets. Once we all aimed for a silhouette and achieved a grand total of 20 points among all four shooters.
As the rain abated and we began our slide downhill there was not a lot of improvement in our scores. The ground was so wet and steep occasionally we tried kneeling to hold our positions while we tried to aim. That wasn’t any help.
We were so far ahead of other archers, none in sight, that on targets 17 and 18 we shot both before making a downhill and uphill climb that would be required to retrieve the arrows.
Eventually, our band of wet and muddy archers made it to the tent where we turned in our scorecards. Our scores were the first four recorded for the day. After a thirty-minute wait for a shuttle we headed away.
Five minutes into the ride back we looked up the mountain from were we’d previously scrambled. Near the top we could see a backlog of archers beginning around target 15 and on as far as was visible. It seems, as bad as our shooting might have been we did make good time.
On that day, I set a personal record – the lowest point score per arrow I’ve ever managed including the very first 3D tournament where I competed 34 months ago using a bow I owned for two weeks and having never before seen a foam animal target. Behind me on the range where I had bounced, slid, tripped and rolled remain a bow stand, a reusable water bottle, an arrow and one release. No doubt all missing equipment hidden in the foot high grass covering the slopes.
I considered replacing the bow stand and release before the beginning of day 2, then thought better of it. I made good time getting back to North Carolina.