USA Archery National Indoor Championships – Day 1

 

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I missed the bakery

Day one of this tournament is in the books. The drive to the event was a little longer than planned. The number of athletes competing was a bit of a surprise. I’d guess recurve bows outnumbered compound bows. And, it was nice to run into archers I’d shot against in the past and knew well enough to call them by name.

The tournament is being held in Snellville, GA. (and on other ranges across the US) From our place in Tignall it is about a two-hour drive, although my online search for directions said it was an hour and forty-one minutes. I’ll leave earlier for the second day of shooting.

Because equipment must be checked by USA Archery Officials a little extra time is nice. I had only forty-five minutes for check-in, get my equipment checked, and shoot a few arrows to warm-up.

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Archers warming up

There were two ranges in use and I was glad to be shooting on the smaller range. Shooting on target 17D I was next to Roger Willet, Jr. shooting at 17C. Willet has been ranked number one in the world. He did, not surprisingly, shoot better than me. I expect he out shot everyone.

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If you wanted to spend money this was the place to do it

I  ran into a couple of friends from Alabama I’d met earlier in the year at another tournament and talked with John from Eatonton, GA. Knowing other people does help reduce the tension. It was nice to exchange pleasantries and catch up on their recent events.

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Folks sharing stories after the final end

My shooting was a little above par for the day and I was pleased with my final score. Not my best, but not my worst. Tomorrow I’ll make a slight adjustment and see how the day pans out.

Spending time with Big John

Big John Chandler is a USA Level 3 archery coach. He’s also an expert bow technician, an expert archer, and a good guy. I recently spent time with him at the Lake Oconee Golf and Archery in Eatonton, GA.

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My principal issue, when I made the appointment with John, was I wanted to shoot a larger diameter arrow using my more expensive bow. I’d been using smaller diameter arrows. A few other bow techs explained all I needed to do was adjust my sight to compensate for the variance in diameter and not worry about my D loop placement. Their enlightenment didn’t match what I’d been taught in my physics classes. Could it be that these bow techs were better informed in physics than my impressively credentialed college professors?

Arriving at John’s shop we talked a bit. Then he started me off with a simple paper tuning shot. I regret not taking a picture to have shared here. It was clear the arrow, one of the larger diameter arrows, was indeed shooting cocked up to the right and not just a little. My physics professors were vindicated.

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This Apex 7 looks like a toy in Big John’s hands

John took my bow and on closer examination discovered other equipment errors that frankly didn’t come as a surprise. He worked with me for three hours until satisfied that the bow was tuned as best as could be in the limited time available.

He’d work and then he’d watch me shoot. Then, he’d work some more and watch me shoot some more. Along the way he made observations and offered suggestions to improve my form.   The form errors were those mistakes easily noticed by an experienced coach. There was no debate from me regarding the adjustments he recommended.

The day sailed past and I needed to leave. It would have been nice to have stayed longer but I had to get home. Before I return to North Carolina I’ll try getting back to Eatonton to see if I can get some more of John’s time. It would be time well spent.

Racing and Shooting on the Same Weekend

Finally a race and a tournament on the same weekend! I’ve been looking to pair a run with an archery competition for several months. Many times these events end up on the same day.

Eagleman Bike

Over the past eight years I competed in 96 non-archery events. These include: Ironman (3), ½ Ironman (7), triathlons (non-Ironman brand events) duathlons, marathons (7), ½ marathons, 10 mile runs, 10K runs and 5K runs. During the past fourteen months I’ve competed in 18 archery tournaments. These events have taken me all over the world: Hawaii, England, Japan, Italy, and across the lower 48 States.

 

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Prior to 2007 I didn’t keep track of my racing. Each year, beginning in 1972, I’d plan my sport competition schedule. Actually, in the early 70’s my coach, Nestor Gernay, planned the training and racing. All of that was cycling. In addition to cycling, I played football, ran track, and sucked at baseball.

What I learned is that the disciple and attainment of goals, after a lifetime of competitive sport, is a driving force for me. Being able to find multiple events in diverse disciples, back to back, is a real treat.

C-Man Swim

This isn’t the first time I’ve been able to fill a weekend with mixed competition. Last year I ran a ½ marathon one day and did a 3D tournament the next. The 3D course was hilly and I noticed 13.1 mile run the day I ran it and the following day while hiking over the hilly archery course. Actually, for me, going up hill hurt less than going downhill after that half marathon; a lesson I’d learned following the Las Vegas marathon. The day after that race walking down stairs at the Las Vegas Convention Center taught me a new definition of soreness.

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The race in Georgia is a short one, only 5K. A 10K would have been good but all longer runs were on the day of the 3D tournament. The 5K is near one of my daughter’s homes so Brenda, my wife, will drive with me to the run and afterwards we’ll visit our daughter and her family. The following day I’ll drive over to Social Circle, GA for the Buckeye 3D. This is going to be a lot of fun.

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View during a race to the top of Mt. Evans. Life is about the journey.

 

 

The Wild Shot

In a few days there is a big tournament, the USA National Indoor Championships. I’ll give it a shot. The target will be a 3-spot at 18 meters. I’ve not been shooting 3-spots for a while and decided to take out nice, not paper, vertical 3-spot for practice.

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I called that top arrow on the line

Most of my shots were pretty good. But, there’s still a wild shot that still pops the target from time to time.

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Ugh! That bottom arrow – it happens.

Think I’ll go with the Fat Boys for this tournament.

 

Chilly run and shoot

It was another chilly morning here on the eastern shore of North Carolina. Hitting the road to run it was 15°F (-9°C). Today the weather was better than yesterday, not so much because of a warming trend, but the wind wasn’t nearly as bad.

The forecast is for a bit of snow beginning after lunch. We’re anticipating 1-3 inches. Properly dressed, cold can be dealt with and a lack of winter wind meant I’d shoot before the snowfall.

Dressed in my running attire I didn’t bother IMG_3124changing, really there wasn’t any point is changing clothes. The running gear had served me well for several miles and perhaps it would remain loyal against the cold.

Despite the heat hugging efforts of the winter run apparel I headed inside after only a couple of hours. The time outside included the hour spent running and hour shooting. The slower pace of archery helped me cool down from the run, which really wasn’t help. Once I’d cooled down cold soon followed and I was inside enjoying heat as only fossil fuel can produce.

The Price to Play

During the past several months I have done zero triathlons. I still train for my next triathlon but haven’t decided in which race to compete. What has occurred to me is that I am getting my competitive fix through archery and archery is a lot less expensive.

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Start of a 2.4 mile swim

When I write that archery is a lot less expensive than triathlons that isn’t an exaggeration. For example a top end bow, top stabilizers, best scope/sight, high-end arrow rest might cost $2500 – $3000 for everything (except arrows). That is essentially the price of a nice set of racing wheels for a triathlete’s bicycle. Seriously, a nice HED tri-spoke front wheel can cost $1694.00 and a HED Disk rear wheel is around $1849.00. That is $3543.00 for wheels. Add an $8000.00 bike and the ride can cost $11,543.00. (When I raced bicycles in the 1970’s, my bike did cost more than my car!)

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There are less expensive bikes and wheels. A budget minded triathlete could get set-up to ride for around $2000.00. However, that is going to be a bike, which is a far cry from the top end racing models. An archer can get a lot of equipment for $11,543.00. And the bicycle price doesn’t include: wet suit, goggles, running shoes, cycling shoes, helmet and all the other bits and pieces needed to complete an Ironman. Next, there is the cost of an Ironman registration. The Lake Placid Ironman’s (one of my favorite events) entry fee is $750.00, if you are lucky enough to win a chance to pay the fee.

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The way Ironman registration works begins with the limited size of the field that can compete in an Ironman, between 1400 and 2300 athletes per event. The way registration is awarded is first come first serve. Once, the quota is reached there are a few spots for community charities (price is over $1000 for one of these) then that’s it. For the record, my fee for the USA Indoor National Archery Championships was $75.00 – expensive as go archery tournaments. Less expensive triathlons are available. A sprint triathlon can be as inexpensive as $120.00 and a ½ Ironman is ‘just’ $325.00. * Less expensive archery tournaments are also available; the last 3D tournament I competed in cost me $12.00 (I got the senior price, regular fee was $20.00).

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Testing oneself in athletic competition is exciting for a lot of people. Doing an Ironman, running a marathon, or completing an Ultra-distance event is a challenge to which many people aspire. Shorter distances are just as much fun and lots of athletes concentrate on speed making short distances their specialty.

Personally, it is the training and competition I enjoy most. I can still train by swimming, riding, and running. I believe those disciplines help with archery. But, the price to play in archery is truly a bargain and gives me my competitive fix.

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*A full Ironman distance (140.6 miles) is 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. A half Ironman is a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1 mile run (70.3 miles).

 

“Wind” is Victorious!

IMG_3110River, my dog, and I began our day as usual with a run. Along the way we were joined by one of her friends. Once home, it would be archery practice.

Before I could shoot I needed to provide cookies to both of the furry runners. River’s friend decided she’d come in our house to visit Brenda, wag a bit, and depart with a Milk Bone.

The day was warmer than yesterday but the wind was still blowing. The wind was forecast to reach gusts of 25 mph. “Wind” is not a friend to archers.

The wind, at times, seems to be organic and with malicious focused intent bent on ruining every shot. With each draw of an arrow “Wind” appeared to increase its effort to push my bow and me. I’d have to let down then “Wind” would let down. I’d reach another draw and here would be “Wind” pushing me around.

From the very start “Wind” joyfully began efforts to remove my paper target. That plan of “Wind’s” was spoiled by adding extra roofing nails to secure the target. I, also, added a 2 X 6 board behind the target to help hold it in place. But, “Wind” would not be deterred and only increased its intensity to spoil the day.

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Extra roofing nails and a board for support against the “Wind”

Naturally as the struggle continued I became more frustrated and determined to overcome “Wind”. Sadly, in the end “Wind” was victorious.

Training Cold Hold

The morning plan was a short 40-minute run then archery practice on a 3-spot. This is a light week on my training schedule. One look outside and confirmation of the temperature altered the plan.

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Light snow in eastern NC

A native Savannahian, and despite having lived and worked in very cold places, cold still hurts. While living in Cleveland I ran and rode my bike year round. I did the same in Pittsburgh. In prior years I’ve run during the coldest months in Boston, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Uppsala, Sweden. I’ve headed out for a snowy run in Nagano, Japan, Alta, Utah and ran the Tokyo Marathon is freezing rain. But, I’ve never really enjoyed the cold. As a matter of fact, I don’t like cold.

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Wind on the Albemarle Sound kicking up white caps

There are a lot of folks that seem to enjoy cold and snow. Great for them. Exclude me from that crowd. When I looked at the temperature and the white caps from wind blowing across the Sound I made a deep-rooted Southern blooded decision and didn’t head out for a run. Shooting can wait until it warms up.

My arctic loving brethren scoff at 19°F (-7°C) and laugh at gale force winter wind. The light dusting of snow across the Tar Heel State is a joke to the Patriots of Boston. My Viking friends consider the current weather here in North Carolina excellent for short pants and t-shirts. Well, all I can say is, “Bless their hearts.”

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Nope, not for me anymore.

Living as far away as I do from an indoor gym means no easy access to a treadmill. It also means there is no indoor range on which to practice archery. Days like this become recovery days and I amend my training programs. I, also, look ahead to the continued cold in the forecast and make plans to temporarily move further South. I’ll be back in Georgia in just a few days to face a wintery warmth of 68°F (20°C).

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December on the Big Island of Hawaii. Works for me.