Carlita’s Toes

Today, while running, my brain cleared – it didn’t take long, there wasn’t a lot of clutter floating around upstairs.  When my head opens thoughts and ideas pop into mental view.  On this run what popped in to my consciousness was Carlita’s foot apparel worn during Sunday’s 3D Tournament at Mid-Del Archery in Harrington, Delaware. (This isn’t weird in the way you might think)

Running and “Trying” to think

The 3D tournament was an IBO Qualifier held at the Mid-Del Archers’ range.  It had been raining for weeks and the course was a mud hole.  Carlita is married to Wes and both are archers.  They were shooting during the tournament and grouped with a couple friends, John and Paul.  All four are excellent archers.


The tournament was a major event and as such the course was crowded.  There were assemblies of four or five archers weaving and crisscrossing the range to avoid the mire and standing water.  The soaked course could not be circumnavigated so some folks were shooting the front 15 targets then retracing their steps to the back 15 and vica-versa.  Sloshing about, I’d started on the back 15; I crossed paths with Carlita’s assembly on the front 15.  I hadn’t seen the four of them since we’d finished the Indoor League Competition at Cypress Creek.


They are a wholesome group of people.  All of them are friendly, helpful, encouraging and quick to laugh.  I was pleased to see them.  The guys were ready for the potential of a muddy day having worn rugged footwear.  (Among all the competitors I noticed an abundance of work boots and knee high rubber boots.)  I’d chosen incorrectly and worn running shoes.  Having stopped to say hello to the quartet, I happened to glance down and noticed Carlita’s feet.

Carlita was wearing white, slight, flat, girly-strapped sandals.  They and her feet we mud free.  My mental conclusion was that someone, perhaps Wes, had been giving her piggyback rides.  What I’d tactlessly blurted out was, “You are wearing those!” Rather than a comment from anyone in the crowd in agreement with the obvious sandal blunder, Paul immediately focused onto Carlita’s possible need to have her toenails painted. Paul had initiated a toenail painting controversy!


As argument and pontification on proper toenail artistry elevated it was suggested that: 1) She could have her toenails painted professionally, 2) she should paint them, or 3) Wes could paint them.  It was observed that since Wes was shooting so well, exemplifying steady hands, that he could certainly paint Carlita’s toenails.  The choices being debated, each with merits and detriment, heads bobbed from feet to speakers, the cluster of compadres centered on toes and painting. Meanwhile, their ignored arrows protruded from a headless coyote target 30 yards away. The conversation seemed mismatched to the mud, the guys, the bows, the targets, arrows and the swampy outdoors.  All I could do was listen and wonder. Paul smiled with satisfaction having ignited a fuse that threw vocal flame toward silent toes.


Eventually, the debate floundered so that arrows and scores could be collected and recorded.   We moved away in oppose directions allowing more stoic archers’ to approach the headless canine. While I slopped along in mud I glanced back to see if Carlita was indeed being carried or if she was somehow levitating above the muck.  She was on her own, skillfully ambulating the high ground.

The shoot in Delaware was fun and aside from the muddy course a nice day.  I will have to ask, when I next see Carlita, how did her feet and shoes fare over the back 15. Such are the thoughts that float through my head while I run.






Busted, Again!

A new night and a new league competition or so I’d hoped. The cool thing, this shoot was only 30 minutes from my home.  It was going to be great, a short drive there, shoot, and head home. On that initial night, I’d arrived early to get a feel for the range. There I was sitting in my car thinking, “This is weird . . . no one has shown up to open the facility for the 7 PM shoot.”  Something did not feel quite right. Time 6:15 PM.

The sign out front verified I was at the correct location.  The GPS in my car confirmed the address.  Yes, according to the Internet information, the date and time were right.  Everything appeared to be in order other than the locked building and absent archers.  Time 6:30 PM.

Mid-Del Archers, Harrington, DE

Growing more anxious, I made some calls.  Contact was achieved with the second attempt.  A lady answered the phone and I asked, “May I speak to Clyde?” Clyde is the Vice President of the Mid-Del Archers, the organization holding the competition. Once Clyde was on the phone I explained my predicament.  “Oh, well, no one is there because that shoot is at Delaware Outdoors in Smyrna”. He was referring to Smyrna, Delaware another 25 miles away, time now 6:40 PM.

Clyde did not have the exact address for Delaware Outdoors.  He explained, “It is easy to get there, where are you now?” I replied, “I am at the Mid-Del Archers Club House in Harrington.” “Well, “ he began providing directions, “go right, then when you get to XXX road, which is about a mile or so, go straight until you reach the intersection of ZZZ and RRR, from there go about 3 or 4 miles, then turn left at TTT which is not too far from the firehouse.  You can’t see the fire house….you’ll pass….then see….” Having not the slightest idea where Clyde was sending me, I thanked him, hung up, used my iPhone Googled and found Delaware Outdoors, got their phone number, called them, got their address and entered it into my GPS.  It had started to rain. Time 6:45 PM.

Come hell or high water (it was now raining hard) I was going to find Delaware Outdoors to at least see where the folks were shooting and take a look at the range.  Through heavy rain, congested traffic, and an advancing fog I made the bumper to bumper road trip to Delaware Outdoors.  Time 7:20 PM.

There, the parking lot was filled with pick-ups, Jeeps, and customized rigs designed to meet road and off-road travel demands.  I parked a very out of place Mercedes SLK between a jacked up Dodge Ram and a Ford Excursion, opened the door, stepped into the rain and walked to the entrance of Delaware Outdoors. Time 7:24 PM.

Delaware Outdoors, Symrna, DE

At the front desk sat Steve.  At first he was a bit reserved but warmed after some conversation – mostly me complementing the wonderful store.  I explained how I’d come about to be in his shop and asked where were the shooters.  Time 7:30 PM.

Steve, at Delaware Outdoors

Steve directed me to the back of the shop so that I could see the range and watch the competition now underway for the past 30 minutes.  Reaching the range, the door was closed, its window for viewing covered with a sign warning readers to stay out and not open the door.  A few heads were visible at the gaps between the sign and window but nothing more could be seen. The visible heads held faces masked serious by intent.  I obeyed the posted warning.

Notice to be observed and obeyed

Retracing my steps, reaching Steve, we exchanged a few more pleasantries before I headed back into the parking lot and my car – it was still raining, the fog intensified. The ride home was going to be nasty.

I returned home three hours after departing.  My bow remained in the trunk, not a single arrow had been fired.  The trip had been a total bust.  Sadly, this league was, after all, not drive worthy.  I would not be making this weekly trip.  Even though, this night, I’d not met anyone from Mid-Del Archers, I did end up having a nice call with Clyde (we’d eventually meet).  However, for more indoor league competition, unless I was willing to spend two and a half hours of transit time per week to compete, this would be a busted event. Time 9:00 PM.






The Archer in the Attic

It was another rainy, cold, dreary, and windy day on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

At our home in Hertford, North Carolina, we are up at the ‘puke of dawn’ to open the door and release River, our three and half year of Labrador retriever, to savor the smells in the air and do her business.  At our wooded rural home in NC, River is free to wander with little or no human observation.  Here in Easton, MD, leash laws prevent River from managing her own affairs, so after putting on several layers of clothing and donning myself in foul-weather gear I am off to roam about the tundra with River.  During our walk, with River breaking our cadence to stop, sniff, stop, sniff, stop, sniff…MARK!…with amazing frequency, we plod along as she searches for the perfect place to poop.  During our trek, Willy Nelson’s song “Georgia” is floating through my mind and I am thinking about where can I shoot on this miserable day.  The fall back for me is always Shore Sportsman on Route 50 in Easton.

Shore Sportsman
Shore Sportsman

The Shore Sportsman has been around for over 25 years.  I’ve been buying things there for ten of those years.  It is where I purchased my Mathews Apex 7 and Mathews ZXT.  When I purchased the bows I was taken upstairs, to their attic storeroom, where they have a one-lane range for initially sighting new bows.  This small, 15 yard, attic range is one of the most frequent places I shoot.

The attic range

When time is limited or conditions prohibitive, the Shore Sportsman is a great fall back to not shooting.  One very nice benefit is that I am typically alone upstairs. There, I take all the time and space I need to work out difficulties, perfect my form and analyze errors.  The only eyes that see my mistakes are my own, and the ever-staring glass orbs glued open on a deer’s head and in a stuffed goose, both relegated to the attic in favor of more substantial trophies now hanging in the rooms below.  Of the things I like most about the attic is that beyond the popping of arrows and the occasional demonstrative duck call from downstairs, it is silent. In the attic, I can hear myself think and focus my attention.

On this day in Easton, I am driven indoors by the not-so-Springy 42-degree temperature, and the rain and wind.  I was working out with my ZXT.  My internal debate was which bow I should use for 3D, the ZXT or the Apex 7.  The 3D reviews for the ZXT are not glowing.  The Apex 7 is well established as a target bow.  Both are so much fun to shoot and both are very different.  The ZXT feels better in my hand.  The Apex 7 is, well, an Apex 7; res ipsa loquitur. My scores and patterns are essentially identical using either bow.

At Shore Sportsman, Kenny heads up the archery department.  When he is not busy with customers, we get to talk archery.  If I don’t include my youthful recurve days, Kenny has been shooting longer than me.  So, I listen to his advice. He has been trying to convince me to take a stab using a thumb release versus my hinge back tension.  He’d found a thumb release at a garage sale and brought it in for me to try.  He said, “I picked this one up for a buck and a half.”  Later, I would search for it on the Internet; it sells new for around ten dollars.

Kenny working on a bow at Shore Sportsman

Operating Kenny’s thumb release, I shot about the same as with my back tension, and that may have been an indication I should try a high quality thumb release.  I’d only held Kenny’s garage sale release for a minute or two before I began shooting with it.  I wonder how I’d shoot with a really nice thumb release and a bit of practice? The practice is a problem, not having a thumb release product, especially with IBO 3D qualifiers on the horizon. And now, there is the bigger problem – doubt.

I shoot with a Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage release.  It feels great in my hand.  It “clicks” when the angle to release is nearly met. The click drives me crazy.  There is a way to stop the click but I’ve avoided any attempt to remedy the problem for fear of destroying the release.  I’ve learned to manage the click by causing it to activate as I am drawing the arrow, thus avoiding the aggravating noise in my ear.  It works, but this trick causes me to occasionally loose an arrow early, about once in every 200 shots.  Or, in full disclosure, it could be that I screw up the shot more than usual every 200 shots. Today, upstairs at Shore Sportsmen, I was due for the screw up.

Drawing back and preparing to aim at the middle X on a FITA 5-spot target, the arrow was away.  When the arrow released, I hadn’t yet lifted the PEEP to my eye. By the sound, I knew the arrow had struck the bail – but where? Happy the arrow didn’t go into the wall (that would have been embarrassing) I looked through my binoculars and found the arrow not too far from the X I’d hoped to hit. How it got there is a miracle.

The miracle in the middle

The guys at Shore Sportsman are typically busy.  If they are not helping customers they are active managing the store.  Nevertheless, whenever I come there to shoot I am welcomed and brought into friendly conversation, sometimes brief if they are busy, but sometimes a long and interesting conversation.  They used to charge me to use their attic range; these days they let me shoot at no charge.  Free range usage is a bit awkward for me and I’ve commented several times that I am willing to pay. About this Kenny said, “Just remember us when you get famous.”

I doubt I will ever become famous, but I will certainly remember Shore Sportsman.  The hours upon hours I have practiced in the solitude of their attic range is unforgettable.  Thanks guys, more than once you’ve provided a warm dry place to shoot and have helped me to put it on the line.


River the 3D Dog

Wherever I go I like to bring River, my Labrador retriever, with me.  She is a great traveler, fits well in my 2006 Ford F-150, and enjoys seeing new places, especially those involving the outdoors and water.  The other day I took her with me to practice 3D shooting.  3D archery is one of her favorite pursuits.

River watching me assemble my gear

River and I generally go to Schrader’s Outdoors in Hendersonville, MD to practice 3D.  In the warm months they have a 30-target course, which they reduce to 20 targets over the winter months.  (The price to use the range remains unchanged despite the seasonal target reduction)  On their range they have a number of stands from which to shoot; some that are fairly high.  The land is low and there is often sitting water near the course that is webbed with small ditches and creeks.

We’d registered to shoot at the Club House.  River always prances into the Club House as if she were walking a red carpet.  More than once she’s walked around the reception counter to visit whichever employee is on duty. The staffers don’t get licks, they might get a wag, and she is opposed to strangers patting her on the head regardless of their good-natured attempts.  When River finishes her ducking and weaving she leaves the attendants to their business. After paying the $15.00 range fee, collected a scorecard and pocketed the included golf pencil, we hiked out to shoot.  (There is no additional fee for River.)

Club House at Schrader’s Outdoors

At each stake, as I prepared to shoot, River trotted up to the target, gave it a measure and headed back to me where she then stands or sits at my side while I shot.  Often she whines, growls or barks instruction as I aim.  The minute I’ve completed the shot, she runs to the target to view the arrow placement.   Good shots or bad shots never receive any more praise or condemnation than a sniff.

Sizing up a target and getting distance

As I hiked from stake to stake, River ran ahead hitting every bit of ground that was covered with standing or running water.  When I approached the stakes she repeated the process of trotting up to the target, taking her measure, then returning to her sitting or standing position beside me.  By the time I notch an arrow her complete focus is again on my posture and preparation.  At some targets she utters a whine, growl or bark and at other targets she remains silent.

Stands are a game for her.  As we near any stand she runs to it, places her front paws on the second step, turns her head and watches my approach.  There is no keeping her out of these stands.  She is either first up the stand, or climbs them after I am in place, her rise shaking the stand as I prepare to shoot.  Occasionally a stand requires her ascension and descent before I am allowed to embark.  No matter what, whining and barking aside, after the shot she invariably runs off, from a stand it is scary how fast she descends, to view my arrow placement up close and personal.

River selecting an arrow and offering instruction from a stand

The whining, low growls and barking I am only now beginning to comprehend.  On this trip to Schrader’s they had 20 targets arranged on the course ($15.00 fee regardless of the 33% depreciation on targets).  River barked, whined, growled or made some other announcement 10 out of 20 shots.  On the 10 when she was silent I shot an 11.  On the 10 when she chose to communicate with me I shot an 8.  It seemed she was trying to coach me when she recognized I was about to shoot something less than an 11. River seems to understand good versus bad form.

Coaching me from the ground

Departing from the Schrader’s 3D range River, having left no puddle, ditch, creek, stream, or pond unmolested, was completely soaking wet.  She’d climbed every stand, measured every target and provided what I now expect is archery coaching.  It was a big time for her.  My ten 8’s made my day less big. After putting it on the line we’d arrive home in wet dog smelly truck.

The joy of water and mud

Red Bull In My Quiver

I race.  I compete in running races, cycling races and swimming events.  Going fast and far is fun, so I am never still for long.  During my training and during races, I ingest masses of caffeine and drink a large amount of Red Bull.  My caloric intake of caffeine and my archery maintain a tenuous collaboration.

Case in point: I had an intense training schedule and a serious archery competition on the same day. The archery event was last on my agenda.  First on the calendar was a 10K-morning run, then, in the afternoon, a 40-mile bike ride. The final activity of the day would be an archery tournament.

After breakfast I knocked out the run in under an hour and between the run and ride, I completed some work.  Within all that activity, I had lunch and took a short nap.  I think it is inhumane to ‘get busy’ while digesting.

The 40-mile ride was a few hours before the shoot, and I needed calories and a caffeine boost.  A windy day on the Eastern Shore, it was going to be a gut buster to complete the ride in the time before heading to the shoot. Plus, I was hungry, again. It is not good to start a ride with no fuel to burn. Bonking is not pleasant.  A pre-ride double espresso along with a PB&J on an English muffin did the caloric trick. Knowing my calorie count for the day remained low; I grabbed a 2X Caffeine GU and stuffed it in my jersey.  Now prepped for riding, I headed out on my Cannondale Slice.


At mile 28 I’d burned about 800 calories so I sucked down the 2X Caffeine GU.  These GU gel food supplements taste awful, their consistency is gag worthy, but they provide fast energy. The 2X caffeine gives a real kick particularly when washed down with Red Bull. (Sometimes, that day in particular, I carry Red Bull in one of my water bottles) I’d finished the 40 miles in a tad more than 2 hours.  Back home I grabbed another Red Bull, drank it, doffed my riding kit, showered, dressed, hopped into my Mercedes SLK Super Sport and headed to archery competition.

During the 35-mile drive to the range, my iPhone linked to the car stereo for music, I cranked up my “running” play list.  That list of music is hardly sedate. Cruising in the SLK is always exhilarating, and I was really feeling pumped. I was headed to an archery shoot, Red Bull, coffee and 2X Caffeine GU coursing through my veins, driving in a sports car – living the dream.

I’d planned to arrive at the range a bit early for a good warm-up. If I’d been arriving for the start of a sprint triathlon I could not have been more warmed up. Hitting the parking lot, stereo booming, with 30 minutes to spare I was race ready. But, I needed to change gears and become archery ready.  Heading in, feeling charged, I put the sight and stabilizers on my bow, grabbed arrows and stepped up to practice.  Firing off a few practice arrows it was apparent I was race ready.


Caffeine increases your mental alertness.  Only a few hours before shooting my bow I’d caffeine loaded.  My brain was alert.  The pre-shoot Red Bull was certainly working as a solid maintenance dose of caffeine.  Actually, I typically drink a Red Bull within 30 minutes of every archery competition.  In practice, I often drink one beforehand. My scores and practice seem unaffected by Red Bull.  It is unclear what this implies about those scores.

Archery isn’t like running a 40 K trail race in the freezing rain in February over ice slick red clay in Georgia. And it certainly doesn’t compare to a parachute jump from space.  But, archery has its own thrill.  The feel, the calm, the focus, and intensity under control, which apply in archery, also apply to more vigorously dynamic sports.  Archery does provide me calm and focus that I carry into other sports.  Once I hit that zone, my shooting becomes relaxing or my racing controlled.

My score for that Red Bull invigorated night was 294 with 11 X.  Not my best score, not my worst score. Whether or not it is advantageous having a heart rate of a hummingbird in archery is debatable.  Prior to the shoot I’d run, biked, and mega-dosed on caffeine and energy drinks. How that impacted my shooting I honestly don’t know. I suppose it is relative or relates to what one is accustomed to having in their bodies and how that body is used.  Frankly, the only times I am still are when I am asleep or putting it on the line, caffeine, Red Bull and all.

Ironman World Championship Kona Hawaii





Getting My Gear Back

Archery Lesson 2:  Remember everything you bring to the range and don’t leave it there.

I learned lesson two a few weeks ago in Murrysville, PA, after I forgot a couple of items on the range.   This past Saturday, I retrieved those items, a mislaid quiver and belt.  The quiver and belt were presents from my wife – even more important I got them back.

Sherry had been working the tournament at the Crowfoot Sportmen’s Club when I competed there in early March. It was a well-run fun event. Following the shoot I partially packed my gear and headed back to Maryland.  Someone in Pennsylvania found my unpacked gear and gave it to Sherry.  Luckily, my quiver had an old score card in the pocket which is how Sherry identified the forgetful owner, me. She called the next day to let me know she had my stuff.

Sherry working the desk at Crowfoot Sportsmen’s Club

The Crowfoot Sportsmen’s Club in Murrysville is on the western edge of Pennsylvania.  My home in Easton, Maryland, is on the Eastern Shore.  The distance between the points is about 300 miles.  Fortunately, I was heading back to Sherry’s neck of the woods in a few weeks.

Twenty-two days after her call I was meeting Sherry for a second time and collecting my previously forgotten property.  Sherry was working another tournament at the Crowfoot Sportsmen’s Club.   The range was packed.  Seeing all the shooters made me envious.  If that day had not been my grandson Merric’s first birthday celebration, my reason for being in Sherry’s neck of the woods, I might have been shooting at the tournament.

Shooters checking their arrows

Thanks to Sherry and the other good folks at Crowfoot Sportsmen’s Club for taking care of my stuff.  I’ll try not to leave behind other things of mine during future shoots at Crowfoot Sportsmen’s Club or any other range for that matter. It was great to get the gear back.

The “Left-Behind” gear

The Kyudo Debate

Field archery Kyudo style

At the indoor range where I was practicing there was an archery coach and his associate available to provide help.  These range fellows were old and a bit rough around the edges.  I had a technical question and their opinions might be interesting.  When the words, “Is glare a problem when using a lens versus pin sights while shooting outside?” left my mouth, I knew asking was a mistake.  That simple question initiated an unrelated lesson in Japanese archery.

The range coach started to address my query. Before he’d finished, his confrère barked, snapped and began harping about the Japanese.  On and on he lectured about the greatness of the Japanese archer. The sermon exhausted the concept that Japanese don’t allow novice archers to shoot an arrow until they’ve mastered 1000s upon 1000s of draws with an arrowless bow.

His point, having little to do with the technical question I’d asked, was that an archer’s form is paramount for accuracy. (The grizzly colleagues would never return to the question of glare on a lens)  Curious about the technique of drawing and letting down an arrowless bow for 1000’s of repetitions, I searched the Internet for information.  When drawing and letting down an arrowless compound bow there is bound to be trouble.  Sooner or later there will be a dry fire. The Japanese act of practicing with an arrowless bow needed clarification. What I found was the Japanese practice of Kyudo.

“Kyudo is practiced in many different schools, some of which descend from military shooting and others that descend from ceremonial or contemplative practice. Therefore, the emphasis is different. Some emphasize aesthetics and others efficiency. Contemplative schools teach the form as a meditation in action. In certain schools, to shoot correctly will result inevitably in hitting the desired target. For this a phrase seisha hicchū, “true shooting, certain hitting”, is used. (1)


While mastering archery form the students of kyudo practice bowless. This brings to my mind “air guitar”.  But, the students do graduate to bows and no arrows.  Bow should be drawn and released without an arrow.  For practice without an arrow students of kyudo may use rubber bows to make 1000’s of arrowless draws less risky. Eventually, kyudo students get to shoot arrows.

Online there was a video example of kyudo archery in which modern practitioners demonstrated battlefield technique.  The lighting in the video was such that the flight of arrows is visible. I have included the video for your review.  At 2 minutes and 25 seconds notice the archer closest to the left and his arrow.  The arrow flies off his bow at a 45-degree angle.

(Scroll down a little to see the video from the link above once you get there. The video is the one with several archers on what looks like a football field.)

Watching the Kyudo practitioners it is obvious there is no Japanese archery secret. Cultural superiority is an archery myth. The folks I have practiced with from Japan, Middle East, and the US all performs about the same.  They all practiced about the same.  Just like Americans, they all practiced their form. Just like Americans there were good shots and bad shots.

The old fellows at the range never answered my question about glare in the lens versus a non-lens pin sight.  They were busy talking over one another and distracted from the issue when I left them bickering. Busy glorifying the mystery of Japan.  As for the question that started it all: If I don’t use a lens, I won’t get glare from the lens.



Busted Plans

You know the quote about “best laid plans of mice and men,” well my plan was soon to be unexpectedly diverted off course.

My plan was to begin outdoor training for the 2014 3D archery competition season. Winter at my home in Easton, MD had been rough and would not move on for spring. There had been too much snow, too much cold, and too much ice.  Accordingly, indoor archery practice became my genre of choice.  Avoiding the cold, I’d gotten pretty good at sizing up 20 yards. But, I needed to get outside and practice. My plan got busted.

At long last Easton had a day that was sunny and 60 degrees (it wouldn’t last long). I was getting outside to shoot while the getting was good. I loaded archery gear into my 2006 Ford F-150 and drove to the Tuckahoe Bowman’s outdoor range in Queen Anne, MD. Arriving at the entrance of the range, a locked gate barred my access. It was time to become flexible with my plan. Plan B was a trek to Schrader’s Outdoors and shoot on their marked field targets.

Schrader Outdoors in Henderson, MD

When I reached Schrader’s in Hendersonville, MD the parking lot was filled to near capacity.  Attached to their Club House was a large banner announcing something I couldn’t read from the far end of the parking lot.  In the lot, I noticed a parked pick-up truck with its tailgate down and on it a bow case and assumed someone else was there to practice.

Located beside the Club House, Schrader’s has several flat targets with marked yardage and a 3D range.  Until I had some yardage practice, I was sticking to flat targets at known distances (or so I’d planned).  Having to park a few hundred yards away from their Club House I hiked in to make my arrangements.

On the front lawn, more correctly the front gravel, of the Club House there were picnic tables covered with compound bows – I wondered what was going on here. The banner, previously seen from a distance, now close, revealed no clues, so I headed into the Club House.

Milling about in the Club House were a dozen or so archers. Noticing a gray haired, gray bearded bureaucrat in the crowd I asked him what was happening.  He explained Schrader’s was sponsoring a charity 3D archery event.  The charity was for the Delaware Premier Outdoors DPOA Kids program.

Totally unprepared for a 3D Tournament, I filled out an entry form, paid the entrance fee, ran back to my truck, grabbed my bow, pocketed an untested release, stuffed four arrows into a quiver and sprinted ad libitum into the woods.  I’d been teamed with several stoics, who’d previously arrived, to complete a shooting quartet.

In the woods, the first target was on the left.  Still catching my breath following the jog from my truck it became my turn to shoot.  A replicate coyote sat about 25 yards away from the first course stake. After taking my shot, I took my bearings.

One well worn coyote

On my right was the last of today’s targets; there were only 20 targets for this event.  The 20 targets were arranged in a large circle through the woods. Each target was staked and numbered. At the target 20 stake, which closed the 3D loop and adjacent to stake 1, there seemed to be a campsite. To be fair, it was a cluster of people and supplies resembling a roving campsite managed by four archers. In addition to the archers, were two spectators apparently along for the exhibition.

Their bivouac included portable chairs, two small coolers, extra clothing that hung off the chairs, umbrellas bracing seats, provisions were available and being enjoyed, and laying about was spare archery gear for emergency or supplemental use. People mingled, ate, drank, and chatted. Studying target 20 an archer was aiming, next he drew his arrow, then let down his arrow, verified the target through binoculars, re-aimed, re-drew, let down a second time, re-checked through his binoculars, while professorially addressing his colleagues between postures.  Following great and wondrous deliberation, this real life Sagittarius, naturally in the Open Class as indicated by the multiple stabilizers, assortment of unknown protuberances, and large scope on his bow, released his shot.  The arrow smacked the rubberized modeled animal, a large boar. In unison, as if choreographed, the group at stake 20 inspired then lifted and peered wide-eyed through their binoculars.  The assembly then lowered their optics, huddled and debated the shot. The team must have been conferring as to how best to approach the synthetic boar locked in place at number 20.

My group was poorly, even embarrassingly provisioned.  We had no chairs, no water bottles, no food, no coolers; we lacked extra garments, carried limited archery gear, only 3 – 4 arrows each, and no umbrella. We were at the mercy of the wooded wild. To worsen our situation, the composite attitude was every man for himself.

Among our collective, no one was interested in sharing strategy. Conversation was discouraged. We traveled light and fast.  Although we were socially awkward, we ranged effectively – silent, covert, almost like Ninja. We gathered no admiring spectators.  No one ever let a bow down. Never was there more than one quick glance though binoculars. We shot then ate up the distance between us and the encampments ahead, literally “playing through” two groups temporarily immobilized at numerically growing stakes on the course.

I don’t know is any our meagerly supplied and silent group placed well in the event.  However, if there had been a prize for fastest time through the maze of mock animals, we’d have certainly been among the victors.

Upon completion of the event I’d only shot 20 arrows.  This was far less than I’d planned for the day.  I’d also not planned to shoot 3D targets much less actually compete in a tournament, at least until I’d practiced at varying distances.  Still, the event wasn’t too bad.  I had entered the course with four arrows and existed with the same four arrows. My worst shot had been a 5.  Sorrowfully, we don’t have Mulligan’s in archery.

The day had been a tease of spring. It would soon snow, again. My morning practice plan had been completely busted. The result was an unanticipated, aerobically challenging, short 20 targets, sprint 3D event. Sometimes, plans change. Sometimes, in archery and life, we end up unexpectedly putting it on line. Often times when plans get busted there is a silver lining. And eventually spring will come, along with its outdoor 3D tournaments.







Shore Sportsman Update

 Shore Sportsman

Shore Sportsman, Easton, Maryland

The guys at Shore Sportsmen are replacing their store’s carpeting.  They moved a lot of inventory to their attic storeroom.  As a result their upstairs archery range was closed yesterday.  The range is basically a target set back 17-yards against the far wall of their attic storeroom. Primarily, they use this to sight bows for customers. For other non-sales use there is a small fee to use the range.

For me, it is very convenient taking about 3 minutes to drive from home to Shore Sportsmen.  Jamie, the owner, said the attic range should ready for use today.  I am looking forward to getting back upstairs to shoot.

Indoor range at Shore Sportsman



Last Night At Cypress Creek




“Shoot well, David.”  Standing on the line to shoot, hearing the call from a friend behind me, I am already beginning to miss these archers.  I replied, “I’ll try not to shoot out the lights”, which sadly, was a distinct possibility.

Some friendships take time to cultivate. Other friendships are instantaneous.  This group was no different.  During the past six weeks, the social and athletic mixture of the 2014 Cypress Creek Archery Indoor League Competition evolved.  Friendships grew and so did archery skills.

On opening night, week one of the Tuesday Cypress Creek League Competition, I knew two people: Norman and Paul. I’d met them at a 3D shoot held by the Tuckahoe Bowman’s Club.  Aside from them, everyone was a stranger.  This first week, I imagined everyone except me would be flawless shooters.  That first night was quiet and intimidating. Paul and Norman must have recognized my discomfort, so they made covert conversational efforts to ease me into the group.  Afterwards, driving home, I’d remember only three names, including Paul and Norman.

By week three, social tension was almost nonexistent.  People still stressed over their skills as archers.  Over the past few weeks, John, one of the 300, 30X shooters had gone out of his way to make me feel at home.  Kurt, a flawless shooter, always greeted me and politely asked, “How’s it going?”

Week six, on the last night at Cypress Creek, events and relationships played out much differently than the first week of shooting. Lining up for perhaps the third end of arrows, Chris was shooting next to me. We hadn’t shot yet, but everyone was getting focused.  As Chris lifted his bow, someone, I didn’t see whom, approached him from behind (approaching a line of archers preparing to shoot from the front is simply not smart), and said, “Here take these peanuts back.  I had enough of them, I am sick of peanuts,” while stuffing a bag of peanuts into Chris’ right pant pocket.  Chris, standing on the line, bow in hand, arrow notched, said, “How can you be sick of peanuts? I love peanuts, any kind of peanut.  I can live off of peanuts.”  The peanut debate subsided and we shot.

Wesley, who had been shooting, showed up late and was not shooting that night.  “Wesley, why aren’t you shooting?” someone asked.  Another person, interrupted before Wesley could respond: “Didn’t you see Facebook?”

Wesley explained, “When I got home from shooting on Sunday, I put my bow, quiver and arrows on the bed.” He was pulling out his cell phone as he spoke, “here, let me show you why,” he said as he brought up a picture on his phone. The picture showed the remains of his arrows.  The fletching had been chewed off of every arrow.  Apparently, Wesley’s new puppy has a penchant for chewing fletching.    Everyone in the room and on the line overheard the conversation and there was sympathetic and good willed laughter.

Several minutes later, the waiting area and range were once again silent except for the releasing of arrows and the sound of arrows popping into targets.  As the firing lines rotate and archers focus, Paul floated a question.  Let me pause here to say Paul has one of those voices that carry.  The room and range were silent.  Paul’s unintentionally vociferous question, “ So Wes, are you looking for a new dog?”  On the line, several arrows were let down as laughter fills the room.  I didn’t catch Wesley’s wife view on the partially consumed fletching; Carlita was busy working to outshoot the guys.

For recording scores this sixth and last Tuesday night of league competition, I was paired with John.  On one hand, being paired with John was good because I knew he would be considerate of any malfeasance caused by one of my arrows.  On the other hand, it would be humbling because I knew I would have the immediate comparison of my score with his 300 and 30X-27X per end evening.  Our scores panned out pretty much as I predicted.

On this last night, Paul shot next to me and scored a 300. Clustered around me, Kurt, as usual, shot 300 and a 21X and Chris and Dave probably shot around 300. I cranked out a 294 with 10Xs (sadly, not my worst night).  Ultimately, John fired the last shot of competition while someone in the background whistled the tune to Jeopardy.  This league’s shooting is now closed until 2015. Time to pack up and head home.

While I was loading my equipment into the trunk of my car, Kurt came out to the parking lot and told me that I had to go back.  When I walked through the door, I saw Harry, who works at Cypress Creek Archery. He was standing behind his counter facing me. With a broad smile, he extended his hand toward me, a $50 dollar bill protruding from the end of it and said, “Congratulations, you got second.”

Before anyone thinks too highly of my second place, let me put it in perspective.  I shot in the Open Class – less shooters than the hunter class.  I showed up every week. Hence, I had the advantage of six weeks of combined scores. Others that didn’t shoot every week had fewer points to accumulate toward their total score.  I am not 100% certain of overall attendance and how it elevated me but it seems to have helped.  What I can say for certain is I will miss Tuesday nights and the good folks who competed in this league.