Fathers’ Day 3D

The Tuckahoe Bowmen’s Fathers’ Day 3D shoot fell on Fathers’ Day. As such, there weren’t expectations for a large turn out of archers. We guessed most dads and their families would be elsewhere celebrating, but some might use the 3D opportunity to bring their sons and daughters out for a day on the range.

Early sign in at Tuckahoe

Bill and Mevko, members of the Tuckahoe Bowmen, came early to set up the 3D course. They prepared 30 challenging arrays of targets. By the time I arrived the course was complete. Getting to the range early is a bit of a haul for me and requires a 5:00 A.M wake up alarm to make it there by 7:00 A.M. Honestly, that is a long shot for me. In fact, it was a long shot for Mevko on this particular Sunday.

Mevko had been out late on Saturday night. Some Saturday nights are hard to end. As Mevko explained it, “My alarm went off, I hit it and went back to sleep for another hour.” We’ve all been there. Nevertheless, our Bosnian buddy was able to pull himself into action and still made it to Tuckahoe in time to help set up the course. Bill and Mevko had the range ready by 8:00 A.M. They had help from another archer I don’t know. He couldn’t shoot because of an injury. But, he came, helped set up and then left. That is a good man.

We were surprised at how many archers showed up for the Father’s Day Shoot. It was nice to see all the kids that came, as well. These children were extremely excited. Their eyes were big, their bows were little and the pride for their dads unlimited. It was, also, really entertaining to hear these cubs share the stories of their 10 and X shots. During the child’s recitation of their good shots, the pride now shown on the faces of their dads.

Mevko, Bill, and Al

Archers continued to show up until 11:40 A.M.  They were greeted by a recently mowed, well laid out course, of which Bill had cleared the weeds from trails the day before. The warm-up range’s  field was also freshly mowed offering members and guests golf course like greens to practice on before moving onto the course.

Mevko Robin Hood
During warm up it became clear these archers were serious (Photo by Mevko)

After the shoot I assisted with collecting the targets. The deer and smaller foam animals aren’t too difficult. Bill often handles two of these at a time. I stick with one target at a time. Once, Bill called for help. He wanted me to put deer on his left shoulder; a pig was already riding on his right.

While wrestling a foam elk, and losing, I was rescued by Mevko. He tossed this giant up like it was a circus-prize animal and pretty much skipped up an embankment. While certain I could out run, out swim, or out bicycle any of the folks I shoot with, Mevko and Bill made it obvious I have got to get to the gym more often.

Wish I’d gotten a few more of these

Father’s Day was a success for the dads and children that showed up to enjoy the outdoors and archery at Tuckahoe. All the children left the range with an archery patch. Several of the most frequent archers stayed away celebrating with their families and we missed them. On the other hand the many new archers that shot with their kids was gratifying compensation.

Take home prize won by an older child at heart


Shooting on Smoothies

My wife, Brenda, decided we needed to do the Dr. Oz cleanse diet. She’s a yoga instructor and into all sorts of mystical methods for health improvement. I accepted the challenge and figured under gastronomically adverse conditions I could sneak by Hardies when I went out to practice shooting and eat a whole food burger. th On the first day of Dr. Oz’s program, zealot disciples eat smoothies. In my opinion, one drinks a smoothie and eats food with a fork, spoon, or even chopsticks.  The smoothie recipe called for blending in kale with fruit, yogurt and protein powder, which sounded disgusting. Nevertheless, I followed my wife’s instruction and throughout the day blended kale smoothies. In my home I am master of the blender, a carry over from less healthy libations.

Kale infused smoothie

The kale in my smoothie wasn’t as disgusting as I’d imagination. Neither, was the kale an improvement to the smoothie’s flavor. Typically, I run in the mornings. A non-kale smoothie is often a delicious drink following a run and consumed along with fork driven food. Post today’s 5K, my smoothie rehydrated me a tad, provided a few calories, and left me wanting chewable food by 8:00 A.M.

Typcially, I’ll run early. Most races start too early so it helps prepare for the “Puke of Dawn” effort

For lunch we had another smoothie. Actually, I had all the ingredients gathered near the blender by 10:50 A.M. There was a consensus we should eat (drink) our meal at 11:00 A.M. I suggested we ration the liquid meal by consuming half at 11:00 A.M. and finish it at 2:00 P.M. At this point kale meant more calories and I wanted my full portion. And, if we rationed the drink we’d not be crossed-eyed with hunger before our dinnertime kale enriched smoothie. Such was my optimism. My schedule for the day included 3D practice at Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, Maryland around 3:00 pm, one of the primary reasons to ration the smoothie. I was there on schedule, my hunger so intense that not stopping at Hardies along the way was an act of the purest discipline. Brenda advised me that Dr. Oz recommends drinking water to help with the hungry pain. Dr. Oz, apparently, has a sense of humor.

Schrader’s Outdoors

At Schrader’s Club House, where shooters check in, I paid my fee for the 3D course then headed into the woods. At target 1, I headed back to the Club House to get my release, scorecard and pencil where I’d forgotten them. Prior to the first trip into the woods my concentration had been broken when I noticed someone’s left over lunch behind the counter.

My first surprise from the Blue stake at target 1
The wolf at stake 1

Back at stake one I had my doubts whether I could finish the course before I passed out. It IMG_1484was worrisome considering that should I lose consciousness I might not be discovered for awhile – meaning when they found me I’d be even hungrier. Consciousness never abandoned me and to my surprise I shot better than usual. The improved shooting was food for thought. It occurred to me, I was very hungry. The McKenzie foam animals looked like unprepared food. Perhaps, some Neolithic survival gene had surfaced to improve my likihood of killing an animal to eat. Of course, this path of reasoning may have been somewhat hallucinogenic brought on by acute hypoglycemia.

I did these types of shots more than usual

I finished practice around 5:00 P.M. There was still one more smoothie to drink before the day was done. Because Brenda was teaching yoga that evening we wouldn’t be drinking that meal until after 8:00 P.M. Whether or not limited starvation improves hitting the X on a foam animal is an experiment I don’t plan to repeat on purpose. From the day’s experience I determined I don’t need kale in a smoothie and kale turns poop green.

Not on Dr. Oz’s diet

Soggy Bottom’s Team Trailer Park

Team Trailer Park (TTP) is the group of archer’s that practice at the exclusive Soggy Bottom 3D range at Norman’s house in Goldsboro, MD. Several weeks ago, Bart Shortall sent a message to the TTP apprising them that the Virginia IBO State 3D Championship was scheduled for June 7th and 8th. Members of the TTP were certain to take the bait, the awards for top finishes included shiny belt buckles.

Team Trailer Park on their way to Virginia

It should be noted that Jeff Foxworthy, from Hapeville, GA, a graduate of Georgia Tech and Southern philosopher has pointed out that rednecks are attracted to shiny objects. Hence, the mesmerizing belt buckle bait attracting the TTP.

Engineer and philosopher, Jeff Foxworthy of Hapeville, GA

Bart’s notification of the Virginia tournament reached me, as well. I was eager to test myself against the folks in Virginia. Naturally, I totally forgot about the tournament until Chris Watkins reminded me about it at 10:00 PM the night before the contest. From my home on the coast of North Carolina, I did a quick MapQuest search and realized this shoot was out of my travel reasonability.

TTP was, however, well represented. The archers among the select team included: Chris Watkins, Norman Gustafson, John Sapp, Jr., and Wes Pritchett. They decided to get up early then travel over 200-miles to the tournament. The travel distance was about the same for me, but I decided I’d sleep and compete another day.

Missing the tournament, I can only report results and rumor. Not surprisingly, TTP did well. All four members of the team placed in the top ten of the Men’s Hunter Class. John won the event and got his belt buckle. Thus, all was right in the universe. John seems to have an abnormal lust for shiny prizes. Wes took third place, Chris was 7th and Norman was 10th.

I missed the tournament, so I suffered quietly

Chris had some difficulty during the event. On one shot, as he was aiming, his release slipped from his hand and smacked his bow. He was lucky to have not gotten hurt. Later, Bart disclosed that Chris should have wiped his hands better before aiming. Rumor has it Chris has been eating chicken wings before that particular shot. Personally, I doubt the rumor, but chicken wings are hard to resist and as I mentioned I was not there.

John sizing up the distance

Bart Shortall, still reduced to a spectator because of his recent shoulder injury, made the trip with his daughter, Megan. She won her division and brought home a belt buckle. Bart has since polished it to a mirror finish.


The Soggy Bottom TTP worked a 14-hour day to attend the Virginia competition. Of the men that shot, they earned 40% of the top ten places including first. Bart’s daughter, a bit too refined to be grouped with the Soggy Bottom boys, took away another of the top prizes from Virginia. Not a bad showing for the folks from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The Backyard Bale

My release has been a mess. My sight is off and my bow sounds funny. My draw length feels too long and my peep is all over the string. The wind is a pain in the rear and I haven’t had a chance to ride my bike, swim or run. Sometimes, shooting a bow and not worrying about ill-perceived problems helps lower frustration.

The Backyard Range

One of the nice things about our home in Hertford, NC compared to the one in Easton, MD is that at anytime I can walk out to my yard and shoot. While I would enjoy shooting a high score, what I like most is the calming effect associated with the sport. For me, the more relaxed I become, the better the shoot. I am rarely all that relaxed.

Going for the Xs

Despite another day of heavy wind it was fun to get out and practice. Shooting at five spots is okay, but it is good to mix it up. Sometimes I try to hit the Xs and at other times I try to put the arrows between the spots and one in the center.

Shooting between the spots

Shooting from the porch or the upper deck is another way to create entertainment. Once, I shot from the roof of our house. In hindsight, not one of my better ideas and not an activity I’ll likely repeat. My last stupid idea landed me in surgery.

Results of my last stupid idea

The upper deck gets all the wind from off the river but the porch is a bit more protected. At other times I’ll shoot from the front yard to the back yard – any further and I’d be standing in the river.

Elevated Porch Stake

On this day, the windows of the house were opened allowing the breeze to cool us.  The high temperature was only 80° F (27°C), as such, inside wasn’t hot. While I was aiming for the bale  from an opened window comes a voice, “Shoot, GO… Now!” My wife teasing me in a manner improvised by my four year old grandson, Sean. Sean’s coaching technique remains unperfected. Of course, I can’t shoot now, it is hard to laugh and simultaneously shoot. (See the post on Shooting with Sean)

Sean, a bad influence on his Grandmother

I did, however, get in a day of archery. It was one of those long practice sessions where all I did was try to relax or at best dealt with the wind.



Socratic Illumination At Soggy Bottom

The Soggy Bottom boys got stormed on two week ago. They’d only shot as far as target 12 when a thunderstorm hit, causing them to sprint for their trucks. This week, there was a 60% chance of rain. The rain held and the entire course was played. During the competition conversation floated over the group as it moved through the maze of targets and ticks.

I’d missed the week of the rainout. I was putting my sailboat in the water. It didn’t storm where the boat was being launched. Back at Soggy Bottom, having taken refuge from the storm, the boys speculated that I would rather launch a sailboat during a lightening storm than return to the swamp to practice 3D archery. They were unaware of the nearly perfect weather 60 miles away.

Launching the sailboat

For the boat, we had a crew ready to compliment the weather. Once launched the sailors set about their tasks. When underway there time to talk. The topics that afternoon were human breathing function, respiratory acidosis and two cases of medical interest.

Not yet under sail

The following Tuesday, despite the Weather Channel’s prediction of Armageddon, it didn’t rain at Soggy Bottom. There was a quorum of archers ready to shoot and the assembly headed into the swamp.

Once everyone was focused and the competition underway, conversation aired as people progressed into their flow of shooting, moving and talking. The primary dialogue among this group, like the sailors of last week, revolved around human body function. However, the system of concentration was south of the diaphragm.

Come on in boys the weather is fine

The deliberated topic related to digestion of a sugar-free snack. Apparently, the product wreaks havoc on the gastrointestinal system. In a prior experience, one of the shooters had consumed an entire pack of the foodstuff. Within minutes his gaseous build up and its subsequent voluminous release caused him a degree of embarrassment since it was happening during work.

Following his olfactory offensive episodes of gas discharge rapid peristalsis ensued. Fortunately, for the impacted shooter, his work now completed, he was able to station himself within feet of a toilet for the remainder of the evening. The cause and effect of the offending foodstuff was compared to the experiences associated with a variety of nutritional products and the outcome for each shooter’s GI system. In turn, the archers proudly relayed their physiologically explosive experiences, the magnitude of their audible releases of gas followed by the amount of solid matter excreted, along with the circumstances when sharting* is most problematic.

We had another great shoot at Soggy Bottom. Each target was a challenge and the weather did not hamper the day. It is curious that both sailors and archers enjoy Socratic inquiry of human physiology. It must be pointed out, however, that when debating bodily functions, it is tough to beat a good fart story told among friends.

Norman, Lee, John and Paul

* Shart – a small, unintended defecation that occurs when one relaxes the anal sphincter to far.

A Mid-Del 3D Day in June

3D archery tournaments are a bit like golf tournaments. People move about the course in small bands often consisting of friends shooting (playing) together. A few individuals arrive alone and are teamed up with others by event officials or take the initiative and ask to join a group. On Sunday, I’d arrived alone for the Mid Del Archers’ monthly 3D shoot.

Mid-Del Archers’ Clubhouse

There was a substantial turn out for the competition.   The parking lot was nearly filled by 0845.  Mid-Del offered a causal start for the event with registration from 0830 – 1030.  Clusters of people lingered about, some headed into the clubhouse, while others warmed up, chatted, or were heading to the course.  No doubt, packs of archers were already in the woods compiling their scores.

Flying solo I needed to free lance my way into a group of archers.  I’ve learned not to rush up to the first group I see and ask to join their party.  Strategically, I scan for a familiar face, perhaps someone in my predicament or folks I recognize from other tournaments and ask to step in with them.

The first band I encountered I’d seen before.  These boys, I am fairly certain, are hardcore, if not professional 3D archers.  They were adorned with serious equipment, porcupine stabilizers, telescopic bows sights, arrows as thick as small tree branches, HD binoculars, and bivouac gear that would make a survivalist envious. Further observation revealed tangible indication of their superior, top dog, status in the manner with which they utilized the warm-up range.

Archers warming up at 40 yards

Mid-Del’s warm-up area has multiple targets at 20, 30, and 40-yards.  Between the 20-yard and 30-yard targets is a row of trees.  One of the top dog archers after shooting on the 20-yard target, shot across the lane, angling through the row of trees, to the 30-yard target.  There was another archer currently shooting that exact target.  By his surprised reaction to the cross-lane shot it was apparent he was not at the level of the top dog now adding arrows to the aforementioned 30-yard target.

Understandably, so much entitlement comes with the degree of skill and pecking order rank of such a top dog archer.  That display of bowmenship, well beyond my capacity, alerted me to not ask to join the top dog group. I abandoned the warm-up area leaving the entitled to their deliberations.

Clyde managing the cash

Inside the clubhouse, my search for alliance continued without attainment.  Jim and Clyde, officers of Mid-Del Archers facilitated registration.  Both of them were friendly and helpful.  I have never seen Jim when there wasn’t a smile on his face. Clyde has a quick wit and both fellows so pleasant I’d have been happy hanging out and talking with them all morning. Alas, a course awaited and I remained an archer apart.

Jim, in real life is not blurry

On the range I hung back in pursuit of a familiar face.  Finally, Andrew arrived with his friend and boss Mike.  I recognized Andrew from shooting on another course.  I asked to join their duo and they happily agreed.

The course, as expected, was congested. The three of us, fairly fast about our business, worked through the range bypassing stake entanglements. Andrew is utterly a top shooter – he’s been at it since he was seven.  Mike has been shooting 3D for several years and is very good as well.  I hoped my arrow count was undiminished at the conclusion the day.

Detouring assemblages of archers we crossed paths with the top dogs I’d seen earlier in the warm-up area.  Their roving campsite was pitched between targets 21 and 22.  At target 21, they were hovering around a foam deer.  I am not certain what they were doing behind the deer; they were all bent over digging through the plants.  They must have been looking for wild berries of some sort; certainly none of them could have possibly lost an arrow.  Our trio left them to their search and moved to another target – later we’d come back to the faux deer at 21.

Mike and Andrew reviewing our shots

Mike and Andrew proved me lucky finding such guys to spend a morning with shooting 3D targets.  We finished the day with decent scores – Andrew shot 318.  The weather had been excellent, bugs were not bothersome, and the Mid-Del volunteers had sprayed the course for ticks, so these little pests didn’t irritate us. They even provided coolers filled with water bottles for those carrying inadequate provisions.

Andrew scoring another X

Back home I told my wife, Brenda, about the morning at Mid-Del Archers.  She pointed out that 3D shoots sound to her like little adventures.  In that, they are.

My prize for the day


May was a big month for Puttingitontheline.com

Starting Puttingitontheline.com was my wife’s idea.  What I wanted to do was write a book similar to “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall or “On the Run” by David DiBenedetto, about an adventure in archery.  I was keeping notes about archery and Brenda suggested I turn those notes into a blog.

Brenda, retired school teacher, language arts, continues teach me to write

We decided on a website where I could add other bits of information.  In particular, I wanted to write about the science and research behind archery as well as the characters I encounter along the way.

The results amaze both Brenda and me. May, the third full month, was the biggest having nearly 4000 individual visitors who read almost 8000 pages with over 53,000 hits.


 I understand my writing is not up to the level of Hemingway, Twain, or Irving and I appreciate your literary tolerance.  Thanks everyone for reading and continuing to make Puttingitontheline.com successful.

Worn out after trying to write

Numbers can be fun.

It is not the bow, at least on an indoor range. It isn’t the arrow; it isn’t the sight, the stabilizer, the string, the quiver or the size of the target.  Regardless of what I shoot or where I shoot, the results are pretty much the same, when I shoot indoors.


ZXT hanging on my kayak rack

Using two bows I collected the results for 26 sessions of 30 arrows targeting a FITA 5 spot. I used a modified scoring system, if I hit the white that was 10 points, if I hit the blue that equaled nine point (30 arrows versus 60 arrows per session).    The distance to the target was measured using a tape measure on two indoor ranges, 20 yards. Each range was used equally.  All 26 sessions used Beman Hunter 500 carbon arrows with 100-grain tips. One bow was the Mathews Conquest Apex 7 with Bee Stinger stabilizers, an Axcel Achieve sight with a 6-inch bar and Axcel X-31 scope with 4X magnification. The other bow was a Mathews ZXT with an Axcel Armortech 7-pin hunting sight and Trophy Ridge 8 inch static stabilizer.  Both bows were matched for draw length and weight. A single release was used, the Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage.

Apex 7 on the porch in NC

The data was collected over a four-week period. The median score using the Apex 7 was 296, (range 293 – 300) while the median for the ZXT was 295 (range 291-298) and the interaction of scores was statistically non-significant (p<0.37). Anecdotally, shooting a Bear Authority and BowTech Insanity CPX yielded scores of 294 and 293, respectively (these bows used only once and scores not included in the analysis).

Apex 7 vs ZXT
Math can be fun!

This analysis was conducted to first determine if there was a measureable difference between the two bows, there is not on an indoor range at 20 yards.  Second, the data establishes a baseline from which to work toward shooting improvement.  For example, a variance in scores, that is a value outside the range (essentially a lower score) suggests something about the shooter has changed.  A value consistently above median means improvement. In either case, it is important to understand why the values have shifted.

So, when your numbers are like this, that is good.

Recently, trying a modification of my grip dropped scores to the 292 level (post study).  While practicing and attempting to adjust my grip another archer, pointed out a simple method to make the correction.  After several attempts, using his recommendation (thanks, Norman) the scores returned to their median levels.  While adjusting my anchor point, a slight change, my scores were slightly above the median. Understanding baseline levels and using a little math can aid in refining form.  It can also help, by tracking scores, to identify training loads and assign recovery days.

Norman Big Weekend
Thanks for the suggestion regarding my grip, Norman

 Although I keep track of 3D scores, the differences in ranges, target size, distances, weather, and other uncontrolled variables require a lot more data to provide a meaningful analysis. Overall, indoor shooting is more controlled having fewer offsetting conditions to interact with the data used to establish baseline values thus allowing for a good measure to use as a reference.

Shooting indoors reduced the influence of uncontrolled variables

What this study provided was evidence that both bows used preform essentially the same indoors at 20 yards.  The failure to reach a perfect score is therefore not the equipment’s fault.  (Not to suggest that equipment doesn’t fail, it does happen on rare occasion) The data further sets a baseline to be used as a control to judge progress and monitor form variance. However, a point is a point, so during tournaments, I’ll shoot the Apex 7, even if one point is not statistically significant.







Apple Archery Bow Press and String Jig

The other day,  I practiced in the attic at Shore Sportsman in Easton, MD.

The attic range

As I was leaving, Kenny, their archery manager, mentioned they have 2 used Apple Archery Bow Presses and 1 used Apple String Jig for sale.  He asked if I knew of anyone that might be interested in buying them. Off-hand, I didn’t know of anyone, however, I offered to share this on Facebook and my website.

IMG_1369 IMG_1371 IMG_1372

If you are interested call Shore Sportsman at 866-291-0084 or 410-820-5599.

Shore Sportsman
Shore Sportsman, Easton, MD

Winner’s Trophy at Soggy Bottom

Soggy Bottom Archery Range is ever changing. The targets are demanding and well placed in natural realistic positions.  There are inducements to shooting at Soggy Bottom beyond the advanced skills gained by archers testing themselves against a challenging array of artificial beasts.  This week, the motivation for many was the Winner’s Trophy.


 Each archer that practices at Soggy Bottom must survive pests and pestilence. Those with the fortitude to return for the weekly competition are among the best and heartiest shooters in the region if not the country.  This week unseasonably cool temperatures and rain had dampened the aggressive tick and insect attacks, but the mud and mire made up for their slack.  Prepared for the terrain, with conquest and glory in mind, a determined troop of bowmen were steadfast in their Tuesday evening assault on foam.

Wes, Chris, Norman and Lee prepare to shoot
Coyote often hide themselves with sticks

Norman Gustafson, proprietor of the range,  is a student of wildlife.  His study has provided him with the knowledge to amass the faux animals on his twenty-target range in exact positions where one might discover them during a hunt.  This evening, Norman laid out one of the most incomprehensible arrangements of targets one could image.  Each archer knew there was more on the line than practice.  A Winner’s Trophy was spoil for the victor.

Gators do climb

The prize was constructed from the highest quality Far East Oriental cardboard and had been assembled by hand in America.  Customized for the Soggy Bottom range the trophy was inspiration for all to shoot their best in pursuit of the fame.

Glory and Fame await

Despite fierce competition, in the woods the groups shooting in nearby proximity exchanged philosophical debate.  Individuals were identified and compared to areas of the gastrointestinal tract that ends and exists the body.  Considering the importance of the anatomical location and its function one could only regard the comparison as complementary.  Others were praised for their religious affiliation with groups related to the Pennsylvania Dutch, even though no one had arrived by horse and buggy.  The archers proffered their knowledge of science and religion while displaying for review their skill shooting 3D.

Good eyesight is a must at Soggy Bottom

Groups passed across the looped range and exited.  Afterwards an independent report of arrow casualties observed, “…. [the] course … claimed 3 arrows, 2 nocks, and some fletching.” (Christopher Watkins, reporting)

Too much sway and goodbye arrow

 Final tally for the day gave victory to John Sapp.  Mr. Sapp accepted the trophy secured during the most difficult of competitions. Receipt of the cellulose award and the champion’s ceremony were sadly not covered by ESPN; this report being a small consolidation of the triumph.

Spoils to the Victor! John Sapp’s acceptance speech.

Soggy Bottom never disappoints.  Each week new adventures await the elite that accept Norman’s challenge.  Their diligent returns speak volumes to their immune systems, eyesight, and nearly Olympic gymnasts balancing skills.  This past week, the prizewinner needed to put his best on the line to assure victory.

What prize and glory await the future for contestants at Soggy Bottom? (Norman presenting the award)