Stressful day on the range

On Saturday, July 11th the Fountain of Life Soul Hunters Sportsmen’s Ministries sponsored another outdoor 3D shoot. They’ve conducted several indoor shoots and recently moved their targets to an outdoor venue. Aside from the good folks that manage and compete in their shoots, there is major bonus in that all their events are within 30 minutes of my home. There is little that will keep me away from these tournaments.

One of the things that might keep me away is an illness. My dog, River, have been extremely ill. She’s been struggling with a bug bite. That bite introduced a neurotoxin that eventually paralyzed her rear legs.

River’s recovery is a top priority

There are two well-established causes for such a paralytic condition, a tick-borne toxin and Coonhound paralysis. The Coonhound version is related to raccoon bites or raccoon salvia. It can be more serious and takes longer for recovery. River’s paralysis is rapidly decreasing and she’s back on her feet, albeit wobbly. Considering her progress I headed to the Soul Hunters shoot, despite a lack of sleep and near exhaustion.

Prior to reaching the range I stopped at the New Hope Country Store for a bottle of water. The store is 3 miles from my home and is what you’d expect in a local small country store. Their shelves are stocked with the essentials: bread, eggs (fresh from the owner’s chickens), milk, and other staples. They also sell worms and minnows for fishing.


At this friendly country store they have a small flat screen television. The establishment is frequented by a collection of locals talking about their day, getting started with their day, and at times pausing to watch the little TV. Saturday morning I was surprised to see what was being watched, in our extremely rural community, it was the Tour de France. Having once been a competitive cyclist, racing in the US and Europe, I’ll be the first to admit, seeing hard core overall wearing, tobacco chewing, rebel flag and deer tattooed good ole boys watching the Tour was a surprise. While I’d have enjoyed staying for a while and watching the race I had an archery tournament to shoot and my water.

I wanted to finish the archery competition as fast as possible. I was worried about River. Even though my wife, Brenda, had things under control I felt remiss being away.

When I arrived the first archers of the day were heading onto the course. After I checked-in and paid my registration fee I began looking for a group where I could be the 3rd or 4th shooter.  Near the registration desk, under a tent, was my friend Norman. I asked if he had some folks to shoot with, if so was room for another, and were they ready.

Retired Chief Petty Officer Norman

On all accounts the answer was yes. We immediately headed onto the course; I took my first warm up shot on target number 1. It was a five.


The rest of my shoot resulted in an abundance of 8’s, a fair share of 10’s with a sprinkling of 12’s. My final score wasn’t close to my recent scores being a full point per target lower than average. It wasn’t an unsetting score and neither was I in the top 3. Considering I wanted to leave at target 7 to get back to River, shooting wasn’t all that was on my mind.

Archers waiting their turn at the stake

This is way I stayed – the stress. I was under a huge amount of personal stress. There will be a time when I’ll need to shoot under a lot of stress.  Saturday was a way to evaluate how I’d perform under adverse personal strain – not too good.

You might think – man she is only a dog, you can get another. Not true. River has been at my side pretty much non-stop everyday since she was 6-weeks old. Granted, there are other dogs and good ones, too. But, like my Mama says, “River is a once in a lifetime dog.” I agree and it was difficult shooting and not being at her side for a few hours.

Jeremiah, Hoyt ProStaff, in our group made this great pin wheel shot from about 37 yards.

After the last shot I didn’t even turn in my scorecard  – I signed it and asked Bubba, the scorekeeper in our group to please return it. He said he would, so I jumped in my truck and headed home.

In the truck I called home immediately and asked Brenda about River. She said, River was doing better and getting up on her own. That was a relief. We’d been helping her up then supporting her while she walked. I was anxious to be home and measure the progress she’d made during the past several hours.

On the drive home I noticed a group of cyclists in the parking lot at the Ruritan Club about 11 miles from my house. I knew the group; they’d invited me to join this particular ride earlier in the week. (Before River become ill.) I’d declined out of preference to archery. These days, I do most of my cycling alone.

River City Cycling Club

Despite my eagerness to get home I stopped to say hello. Driving away I thought it strange that Saturday’s  archery tournament was sandwiched by the Tour de France and the Elizabeth City Cycling Club.

Since Saturday, River has continued her rapid improvement. She’s swimming, trotting a bit, and fully capable of getting around on her own. Throughout it all, she never lost her appetite. When I gave it a thought I realized I’d spent a morning surrounded by things I love: my wife, my dog, cycling and archery.

River enjoying the company of archers and their food