Visiting Pittsburgh, Shooting an Apple

Our youngest daughter, Candace, and her family live in Pittsburgh. She’d invited Brenda and I to visit them and attend a Renaissance Festival. So, we drove over for the weekend. On this trip I brought nothing to distract me from my visit. That meaning, no bike, no bow, no running shoes, and no swimming gear. Nevertheless, I found a way to shoot.

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Brenda (sunglasses), Cordelia, Candace, Merric and Jason. The ladies in period attire.

Candace lives in a house that is over a century old. She and her husband have been making improvements on it since they purchased it several years ago. The old home certainly has a character you don’t find in newer houses. Where they are located is indeed city life, but residing in Pittsburgh they are never far from a park or trail.

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Merric giving River some love, one year old style

Our primary goal was the Renaissance Festival. I’d only attended one other, in Maryland. These are theme parks based on the Renaissance time period. For entertainment they have shows, food, shopping, staged sword fights and jousting. They also have archery ranges and contests.

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Knights jousting

This park had two archery ranges. One where you pay a fee and simply shoot at a target. The other where for $5.00 you can shoot at an apple with a small dot adhering its center. If you hit the dot you win a bow. For $5.00 I bought a 3-arrow chance to hit a dot on an apple and win a bow.

The bows were more costume equipment than actual target or hunting bows. The design was a simple wooden long bow. The bow I was offered was unfinished and roughly carved. The proffered hand made wooden arrows varied in length and weight. Each had a uniquely attached or carved notch. All seemed to be more or less straight.

Fearing the bow would break at full draw, I notched one of the arrows, hoped for the best, aimed and over shot the bale holding the apple. Pleased the bow didn’t snap I selected another arrow as closely matched to the first as I could find among those available. This arrow hit the center of the apple but a centimeter to the right of the dot. There wasn’t an arrow in the quiver that was a  close match to the previous two I’d fired. Selecting my best third chance arrow, my final shot was a tad to the left (elevation was perfect and it would have been a 10 in 3D).

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So close to winning a bow

It was a neat experience to shoot such a lightweight amazingly quiet bow. Still, I wasn’t going to hand over another five bucks for three more shots. Shooting purely by instinct seems like a good practice to add to my training.

Candace’s two children represent 2/3 of my grandchildren. Our oldest daughter has the 3rd, Sean who is somewhat of an archer. Sean would have been verbal expressing his demand I continue until the bow was won. Fortunately, for my wallet, Sean was at his home in Georgia.

Of Candace’s children, Cordelia is 3 and Merric is one. Merric a bit young; still he seemed to be enjoying the sights and sounds. Cordelia fell in love with a magic fairy, a caterpillar and a toad, the latter two being native residents of the fields whereupon the theme park was arranged.

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Kissing was forbidden and a prince may have escaped

While I took the weekend off from practice and training, the smiles and hugs of children and grandchildren was superior compensation. It was, too, great fun to have shot an apple with a home made “costume” bow even if the shot left me prizeless.

A good day of training

Driving from Hertford, NC, we stopped over at our home in Easton, MD en route to visit our daughter in Pittsburgh. In Easton I have bikes to ride and a path to run and did so. Mid-day, I practiced archery at Schrader’s Outdoors and saw friends along the way.

The day began with a short 20-mile ride. For the most part I train alone. Today was not different, riding my Trek 5900, circa 1999, the bike I got when I raced for the Trek Mid-Atlantic Factory Team, and I headed out solo. This ride was different.

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Steve Culver, Ironman and bow hunter

As I approached my 10-mile turn around I passed Steve Culver. Steve is a fellow triathlete and a bow hunter. He was also training alone, doing a 16-mile run. I turned around and rode at his running pace so we could talk about training, racing (in particular Ironman Lake Placid), and shooting. It was a great pleasure to see Steve and the conversation made my ride a morning to remember.

After the ride, a quick stop at Shore Sportsman and a haircut, I headed to Schrader’s’ Outdoors to practice on their 3D range. They have a sign posted at the entrance, “Only One Shot Per Stake”. A rule follower, I shot once at the hunter class stake and once at the open class stake. There was a one-point difference between the scores; advantage to the open class distance.

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Guessed 32 and 44 yards. Lucky guesses

The final workout of the day was a run with River. It was still around 88° degree F so we took it easy. River doesn’t like the heat and her tongue was dragging after a few miles.

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River can’t decide whether to run or play

All in all it was nice to be back in Easton, if only for a quick stop. It was nice to ride the traffic free roads, to see Steve, visit my friends at Shore Sportsman, shoot at Schrader’s and run around the neighborhood with River. Not a bad day at all.

Augment your shooting with other forms of exercise

It is important to augment archery with other forms of exercise. Some people advocate weight lifting, swimming and running. All are good. In addition to these, cycling is a great way to improve fitness and see the countryside.

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Tough guy on the side of the road

Typically, I do cardiovascular workouts early in the day. I’ll practice archery afterwards, in the morning and again in the late afternoon. Cycling is my favorite of the major disciplines in which I participate. While I enjoy running and swimming, aside from archery, I am a cyclist at heart.

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This old girl always greets me when I ride past her. She never chases and is always eager for an ear scratch.

As we age, we lose muscle mass, so weight lifting can help slow or reduce that loss. Going to a gym can be social and is more fun when your friends are involved.

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5 Mile turn around point of a 10 mile run course

Regardless of what you chose to augment your fitness, additional exercise can help improve your health and performance as an archer.

 

Should have stayed in bed

Fishing Creek’s rain make-up shoot was Saturday. Their range is one of my favorites. Looking forward to the shoot I was up by 0530. It was going to be a memorable day.

FCAC

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Bill (standing), Greg and Bryan

The 80-mile drive from Hertford to the Fishing Creek Archery Club near Rocky Mount has little traffic and good roads. Arriving early I hoped to get on the range in front of slower groups. Bill, Bryan, and Greg accepted me as a fourth and our quartet was underway by 0920.

All three of these archers are quite accomplished. Bill has been competing on this year’s ASA circuit. Bryan and Greg, Advanced Hunter Class, are also top shooters; the three of them exchanged war stories from stake to stake.

One of those stories was of an archer dry firing his bow during a 3D tournament. Apparently, intensely focused, the archer, judged his distance, got his footing, stance, drew, aimed and fired. Upon the release everyone realized he’d forgotten to notch an arrow. I’d never heard of such an accident during competition.

At target 12 I was first up. The target was a lion, one of my favorites. I could feel the yardage. My footing was perfect. Mentally, going through each step: feet, butt, core, shoulders, draw, aim and release – I fired. POP!

I can’t say if it was the story about the fellow who dry fired his bow during a 3D shoot. Don’t know if it was the excitement of a foam lion where I seemed to have a real sense of the yardage.  What I can say is I’d neglected to notch an arrow.

Talk about feeling stupid. As I exited the range the President of the Fishing Creek Club passed and asked, “ Are you done?” I said yes and explained. He was quick to point out, “Too bad your forgot your arrow, it would have been a 12, right?” I replied, “Of course.”

Repair was nearby at ‘Shooters’ in Rocky Mount. Thankfully, only the string slipped and no damage was done. After 5 minutes and $15.00 my ZXT was back in service.

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Impressive display of bows at Shooters in Rocky Mount, NC

The reparation was so quick I could have returned to finish the final few targets. But, I decided to hide my disgrace, tucked tail and headed home. I’ve done some dimwitted things in archery but this tops the list (thus far). I probably should have stayed in bed at 0530.  Another way of looking at it – this was so asinine odds are I won’t do it again, at least not for a long time, or so I hope.

Practice then on the water

Of course I practiced today. There are five 3D shoots within a couple of hours drive from me this weekend. So, I can’t get too cold of judging range – not that I am all that hot at it to begin with. But today was also about having some fun on the boat.

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Impossible to keep “River” out of the water

The water looked pretty smooth so a trip to the Albemarle Sound was just about right. Brenda and I headed toward the Outer Banks then decided to go up the Pasquotank River toward Elizabeth City, NC.

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Looking from the Pasquotank River toward Kitty Hawk, NC

We paused at TCOM, where they manufacture dirigibles (blimps). The blimps made in Elizabeth City are used for surveillance. We often see them in the sky north of our home on the Little River. We didn’t stick around; the wind was picking up on the Sound and our 19.8 Carolina Skiff will rock your bones in a chop.

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This hanger is huge

The ride back was choppy. There were white caps on the Pasquotank, in the Sound, and at the mouth of Little River. After a couple of miles travel up Little River it was, once again, smooth.

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Brenda catching some sun on the boat

It is always an adventure in the rivers and creeks around the Albemarle Sound. From my boat to woods filled with deer tracks is only 130 yards. Living here is quite cool. In Hertford, nearly every day is spent outdoors, much of that on the water.

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The chop easing up as we head up Little River

World Championship Number 5

Reflecting on the 2014 IBO World Championship I recalled the two other world championships. In those I placed 24th then, a year later, 4th. What I’ve learned from other sports I’ll apply to archery and see where it leads. Considering another two other world championships, duathlon and triathlon, it occurred to me I’ve been lucky in sports.

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Cycling was good too me and for me. Through cycling I got to experience my first National Championships and race outside of the US. It also provided a foundation to expand into other athletic endeavors.

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Racing in Maryland in 2013

Some friends I trained with decided they’d do a triathlon. I’d trained with the top triathletes in the world while cycling, four of them world champions, two considered the greatest of all time and one the greatest age group finisher, Bruce Buchanan. All of these folks were very fit.  I joined my friends’  group of would be triathletes.

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Triathlons require swim, bike, and run training

While they trained for a triathlon, I relearned how to run and swim. Running I could go great distance at a slow pace. That paid off at a long course duathlon. The race was a qualifier for the USA Team to the World Championships. The day was hot, nearly 100 degrees, temperatures I’d trained in all my life. Essentially, I got lucky; the heat didn’t bother me as much as the faster athletes. I placed 3rd place, qualifying for the USA Team.

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Wearing my USA Team gear at a charity event in Delaware

That World Championship was an experience. Being in the parade of countries during the opening ceremony, the colors, and the fans were amazing. As amazing as it was it didn’t compare with the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI.

The Ironman World Championship is the Super Bowl of triathlons. Thousands of fans line the course and the finish on Ali’i Drive is iconic. For many it is an experience of a lifetime. The race is hot, beautiful, exciting, long, painful, fun, emotional and windy. Crossing the finish line and being greeted by my wife, she escorted by crowd of dancing children was truly remarkable.

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Finishing on Ali’i Dr

Shooting at the IBO World Championship was number five of the world championship events I’ve competed. Honestly, I wasn’t ready. Still, I’d qualified, could drive to the event and it would be great preparation for 2015, when I hope to be more ready.

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Day 2 of the IBO World Championships

Of these five world championships my best finish, cycling, was 4th. My worst finish was in archery. The longest training effort to reach a world championship was cycling while he shortest was archery. The results align with the time and effort. But, like the duathlon championship, I got lucky and was able to compete. Opportunities like a world championship are few, I figure if you can take the shot.

 

 

 

 

On the road again…..

Since I didn’t need to stay in NY on Sunday, I hit the road. The drive was perfect. Only two slow downs, one somewhere in Pennsylvania and the other at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. As a result of smooth driving I was able to get two nice naps along the way. Both times considerate people in adjacent lanes awakened me. They gave me pleasant toots with their horns to keep me straight.

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One last look at NY

Three shoots to select from next weekend. Two in NC and one in MD.

Day 2 of the IBO World Championships

The second day of the IBO World Championship was better than the first. Neither day ended exactly as I’d hoped but certainly within the statistical range I’d calculated, albeit on the low side. Despite an abundance of 5’s and economy of 11’s the experience was worth the trip.

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Earned a 12 o’clock 10 on this shot

Many archers that I’ve shot with and against over the past year convened in Ellicottville, NY to test themselves against the best in the world. At a minimum I heard Canada, Australia, and South Africa were represented. Other competitors from outside the US may have been in NY but I’ve not read an official tally. The State of New York, judging by the tags on vehicles, was well represented.

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The Mathews camp

Aside from their skill shooting archers are great social athletes. Each archer puts it on the line when they shoot 3D. Good shots brought excited praise and congratulations. A poor shot was never ridiculed and competitors sympathized and consoled. Each knowing the next weak shot could be theirs. Teasing, when done, was good-natured and without malice.  Archers weren’t the only people with whom I interacted.

Having spent decades in business I wanted to assess the archery companies. For example, how did their representatives intermingle with customers, what marketing focus did I notice, were there obvious times when management used this competition to run focus groups.  Assemblies, like the IBO World Championships, are excellent venues to get close to key customers (in this case archers).

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The top brass of the IBO

I left NY having made many new friends. Several  promised an interview to place under the archery characters tab of Puttingitontheline.com. The experience was perfect prep for 2015.

Day one of competition – IBO World Championships

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Archers in the queue to shoot

Being realistic I’d calculated my expected target point average for the IBO World Championships. I also know, using statistics, where I can expect to finish. The objective here wasn’t to shoot for a miracle but to set a bar from which to improve relative to the best shooters in the world. Day one went pretty much as planned.

There are self-motivating confidence building slogans and sayings. Having heard them all and studied the science behind sports, the myelin building process and experience requirements for a world championship event, this being my 5th in four disciples, I have a pretty good idea of what I am up against. Simple statistics determined my first day’s results. My calculations were 0.2 points away from the actual result.

This doesn’t suggest I gave away any shot.   The terrain was so different from my experience level, which I’d considered beforehand, my goal was to shoot my best and try for an 11 with each attempt. Math won the day.

The group I shot with were seasoned archers.  These boys are in it for the fun and solid results. Their finals for day one were among the top scores.

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What I can say about the course, it was world class. Dark targets in confined nearly as dark holes were the norm. One coyote, certainly one that will be talked about, was small, spotty, across a road and positioned high on a steep embankment 30-plus yards out. The adolescent sized canine provided our group an 11, two 10s and an eight. At times the steepness of the hills challenged holding your stance and retrieving arrows. Mountain lions were a favorite on range “I” and one required a rope to haul you up to the target. By stake 14 climbs were so difficult as to slow down the pace. As such, our group made use of the time sitting and eating. Our 10:20 am start time had us on the range during lunch.

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Yep, that’s a black bear in that hole
Norman Big Weekend
Norman Gustafson

“Pop”, Kirk Tull, Sr. was in the group just behind me. Meeting him afterwards he explained he’d only had one poor shot. A good day tomorrow should award him a high finish. Of the others among the group from Maryland, I understand Norman and Wes finished one up. No results on the others as yet.

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Wes Pritchett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IBO World Championships Trade Show and Practice

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Registration and some of the vendors

The IBO World Championship is a competition and trade show. Registration is like any competition or convention. That’s where the similarities end. Clearly, my attire for the day was incorrect. I felt a bit like a fish out of water. Fortunately, help came from two new friends and several old friends.

Walking around the exhibit hall I understood what it was the sales people, those manning their booths, were experiencing. I can’t begin to recall the trade shows I’ve attended. Upper level managers were huffing about while their staff worked to promote the company’s products. Overhearing some of the conversations, it was the universal language and cliché of sales.

Obvious was the attire of the competitors. While no actual competition was underway, attendees were decked out in shirts, t-shirts and hats as banners for their selected equipment. Understandably, since many of the “non-professionals” are factory staff members and may receive discounts or free supplies from their sponsor. My t-shirt, like most I own, was a race perk from a run, today’s from St. Michaels, MD.

Archers, as a group, are not the most fit of athletes  and my attire too often earned a smug stare.

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Opps,a running T-shirt at an archery competition

Fortunately, the snobbery was not universal and I found two people to practice with on the “Defense” course. I’d misunderstood and thought the “Defense” course was an archery safety seminar. My friend Norman, now of Tennessee, explained the “Defense” course was the 3D practice range. I grabbed my bow and queued up for the ski lift to practice.

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Transportation from registration and vendors to the 3D ranges

Once at the Defense course, the lines were impossibility long and slow. The price was $10 to shoot and I paid before recognizing practice was primarily an exercise in patience.

I was fortunate to meet two people, Scott and Shannon with whom I traveled the slow circuit. Scott and Shannon are famous and highly skilled archers.  Scott offered a few tips on training.  Interestingly, his tips were not different than those applied in upper level cycling, running, swimming and triathlon.

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Shannon and Scott

Existing the Defense course meant another ride on the ski lift. The distance was easily walkable but an IBO official claimed walking back was prohibited by the host. As such, I sat and waited for my turn on the lift.

While waiting an amateur photographer standing behind me backed into my bow knocked it over and stepped on the sight. Following the ride down I rushed to the “bag” target range to reset the sight that appears to have had little damage beyond a few scrapes.

Heading back to my truck I crossed paths with Team Trailer Park(TTP)  from Maryland. They were a sight for sore eyes. I was invited have  dinner with them; they’d rented a condo.  The meal was grilled Sika deer, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes and salad. Everything was good and the deer excellent.

After dinner the TTP held Corn Hole competitions and practiced with their bows. Several of them had brought bags to shoot. I was satisfied my sight was functioning before departing to Olean and the Hampton Inn.