Paying to play and solo practice

When I practice, perhaps like many of you, I don’t often have company to share the practice session. When I trained for triathlons, cycling and running there was always a group or team which whom to train.  There is a group of archers that practices together near me. However, their practice sessions require a fee of $15.00 to play.

I understand the fee. The folks that put it on are not volunteers and it is a lot of work.  In addition, the practice includes a ‘pot’ ( from those $15.00 fees) where a percentage of your payment goes to the winner.

I practiced with them when I first moved home to Georgia.  But, paying to practice seemed a bit too rich for my pocketbook.  That and the fact I rarely left with any cash in my pocket.  Still the group is pleasant and the environment is nice.  Certainly, I’ll end up supplementing some ‘kids’ gas money in the future.

See many of the ‘kids’ that come to those practices are ranked top in their class in the Nation or the World.  A couple of them only ever shoot an X.  One of them I have never seen miss the X.

When I lived in Maryland there was a group that got together at least once a week to practice at no charge. Being invited I joined those practices whenever possible. These were younger folks and everyone was over 23 years of age.  The oldest is probably in his 40s. Among them one once shot professionally, one won an IBO World Championship, and the others have all been State Champions at one time or another.  However, they were exclusively 3D archers.

Tuesday night training rides – cycling. Near Atlanta, GA. (Count back 4 riders. That 4th rider is yours truly)

I’m frequently invited to run with groups here near Athens.  I’ve also been invited to ride (cycling) with groups several times near where I live .  Their schedules haven’t made joining possible without infringing on archery. Still I sometimes connect with other cyclists on the road.

In North Carolina there was a group that gathered to practice archery and I often shot with them.  They had a huge indoor range where they often held indoor 3D tournaments. The tournaments’ entry fee was $10.00. The practice cost zero dollars.

What’s up – you shooting your bow?
Shooting in Maryland

Racing bicycles was an activity that nearly always meant having others with whom to train. One group that trained together was coached by a high level USA Cycling coach who didn’t charge a fee. The coach also ran one of the bike shops in town, the “Yellow Jersey Cyclery” on Waters Ave in Savannah, Georgia. The “Yellow Jersey” was there for decades and is now gone.

The coach, Nestor Gernay, remains one of the more famous USA Cycling coaches and cyclists.

Nestor Gernay and me (wearing the red top) around 2002 after a training ride during the winter in Savannah.
This fellow ran up and down the tree between ends


You can’t see me

If setting up a practice costs the organizer then those practicing should provide some reimbursement to offset the cost.  Paper targets aren’t free and athletes should pay for their targets. So, paying to play in archery is a bit different than playing in other sports like cycling or running.

Golf on the other hand is going to cost you to practice.  So is swimming and nearly every other sport.

If an archery club organizes the practice dues can supplement against cost.  If a bow shop organizes the practice for their team, of course, some small fee can be paid for targets.  Aside from that in regard to shop supported practice, I consider the practice part of a marketing program to keep archers returning to make purchases. That’s how cycling shops support their riders.  The shop puts together rides at no cost to those participating. If the bike shop, for example, began requiring cyclists to pay to get together and ride, I expect those cyclists would find somewhere else to ride.

I’m not a biter

Now, I admit I am tight fisted when it comes to spending money.  I admit I do miss the fellowship of training or practices groups.  I’ve also, regardless of the sport, done a great deal of training alone so I can and will train alone.

Dude, you grass is pretty tasty – try some

Alone, specifically means no human companionship. Over the years of archery practice I’ve had numerous non-humans hanging out watching me shoot.  For example, River, my dog, loves to hang out while I practice.  She requires an occasional toss of stick but aside from that she’s no bother.

I’ll just wait right here while you pull those arrows

In North Carolina I had horses that seemed to enjoy coming over and watching practice.  They were very polite and although they stood nearby they never roamed between the target and me.

Don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me (Rabbit telepathy)
This frog got a little too close.

There have been rabbits and squirrels that have hung out and watched me shoot.  The squirrels are always bolder than the rabbits.

Cruising across the range at high speed
I’m your friend not a meal

Today, River didn’t join me for practice.  It has been really hot here so she remained indoors.  (not her choice) Still, I wasn’t alone even if the company was non-human.  Throughout practice one of my neighbors chickens followed me around.  Maybe the chicken hoped for some feed to come her way and maybe not.

There was also a fox on the range this morning. It didn’t pause for a photo.  I’m pretty sure it was hunting for chicken. Maybe the chicken was hoping I’d shoot the fox.

Having a group to practice with makes the time on a range nice.  Without a group (of humans) it can take a lot of self-discipline to remain at work though training. Every sport requires some time spent in solo training.  When doing so it is entertaining to be joined by non-humans that remain for the most part non-judgmental. (Squirrels can have an attitude.)

Despite the small fee I’ll pay to play with a group nearby I’ll soon be heading their way as the indoor season approaches.  Several of the top gun ‘kids’ are heading off to college.  Maybe this year I’ll break even.