3D in Shady Dale

There were only two shots out of twenty under 30 yards. One target at 22 yards and the other at 26 yards. They were my worst two shots of the day. Aside from those two shots, ones I wanted back immediately, it was a long day. By long I don’t mean time spent shooting.

In a recent post I noted that in the bowhunter class 3D targets seem to be stretched. My comments didn’t sit well with some folks that seemed to feel affronted by my review of that particular range. Of course, no offense was intended. Like mama taught me,”It is not what you say, it is how you said it.” Perhaps I wrote the prior summary without the correct finesse. In that post I’d noted that faux animals in the bowhunter class seem to be getting further away from the stakes.

I’ve competed in the Pro Bowhunter Division at an IBO World Championship. The equipment in that class was limited to pins, short stabilizer, and no magnification on the sight. The maximum distance was 50 yards. Essentially, what I’m saying is that I am not afraid of long shots. The absence of fear doesn’t equate to accuracy of an arrow.

To be fair I’ve shot 3D using a target bow rig with all the fancy thingamajigs allowed on a bow. But, last year I switched back to pins and a hunting rig to shoot 3D. Why? Because that’s how I hunt with a bow. I thought it might be fun to shoot 3D with a hunting bow set up for hunting. And it is. I got to test the rig again on Saturday in Shady Dale, Georgia at an ASA State Qualifier.

Met a new friend on the range

I got lucky and was able to hitch a range ride in a group where I knew everyone. There were three excellent shooters using target bows from known distances, Steve, Butch, and Austin. Butch’s son Luke was in the group and he was using a bowhunter rig.

Easy prey at 37 yards

Luke may be all of eight years old. He was tearing it up on the range. His bow doesn’t have a whole lot of speed or power but he was smacking mostly tens with a few twelves and a few eights. For a little guy he did have a quick wit.

On one shot his arrow hit high and bounced off the target. We all saw the shot and knew his score for that target. However, when one of the scorekeepers, Steve, asked, “What was it” referring to the score, it was Luke who spoke up first. As straight-faced and serious sounding as he’d been all day, he replied, “Oh, that was a twelve.” He knew as we all did it wasn’t a twelve. The entire group caught the intended humor. “Yep, “ someone replied, “he’s an archer.”

The most impressive shooting of the day was by a 15 year old in our group, Austin. With one target to go he was 20 up shooting from known 45. On the last target he scored a 10 and it was the highest score on that 26-yard target.

This was 38 yards for the fellows shooting known 45. For me is was a very reachable 32 yards. (Steve here at the stake)

That target was a hyena sitting in a completely dark hole and simply could not be seen. Of the adults we scored a 10, an 8 and two 5s (including Austin as an adult – he had the 10). It was a difficult shot simply because it was too dark to see the target and one I’d have never taken hunting. I was uncomfortable shooting it on the range.

There’s an old rule that for me is hard to ignore, “Never shoot at anything you can’t see.”

There’s a hyena in that bamboo thicket

Aside from that one target all others were well placed even if no real estate remained left behind. I think I’ll finish the year with a bowhunter rig and change back to a target bow and shoot some known yardage for 2019.  Seems that’s where everyone is shooting.

A Little Tapering

Tomorrow is there’s a Georgia ASA State Qualifier about 38 miles away. I’ll shoot that hoping to qualify for the State Championship. The past week or so I’ve been cranking out arrows concentrating on 3D. (I’m a little behind in that discipline.)

In addition to archery practice I maintain a rigorous overall fitness program. It’s part of my training for archery and just in case there’s a race I’d like to try. There is a duathlon nearby in August and I am considering it.

At a recent tournament I overheard a “Pro” archer talking about his training schedule. He said he shoots for two hours a day and adds running and weight lifting to his workouts. That is an excellent way to go.

Aside from archery I run nearly every morning. I ride a bike almost every afternoon and I’m in the gym at least two days a week. Unlike that young professional archer I can’t recover as fast as I did when I was in my 50’s, 40’s, 30’s 20’s and teens. So, today after running I practiced archery for just an hour. I consider that sort of practice active recovery.

This afternoon I’ll ride a bike, but it will not be as intense a ride as yesterday’s. I may fling a few more arrows, but for the sports part of my day I’ll take it easy and save some for tomorrow. Sunday is a nearly total break while we go fishing. (I’m still on the hook today for several hours of yard and range work.)

A Few Pearls You Already Know

Don’t Blow It

You’ve practiced, you’re ready, but during 3D competition you blow it. Here are a few pearls that may help you to not blow it.

We’ve all been there. That place where we botch a shot. From time to time I revisit ‘there.’ So, rather than return to ‘there’ more often than necessary set up practices to find the mistakes that could that lead you back ‘there.’

For those of you that left ‘there’ and never returned my hat is off to you. Some of us make mistakes when shooting 3D that result in lost points or lost arrows.

About losing arrows – don’t be afraid to lose them during practice. While practicing it isn’t a bad idea to push your limits. Doing so is going to cause a miss. Better to miss while in practice than during competition. When you do find a particular shot that is off course do it over and over until you get it. Then, do it some more.

Working long shots. Practicing at 50 yards (known) may help me do better at 40 yards.

Aside from judging yardage, which is another matter, there are things than you can do to help make that shot. For baseline, we’ll pretend you always judge yardage smack on. We’ll also agree that you are a practiced and proficient archer that on occasion messes up a little.

Practicing from 50 yards then moving up to 40 yards. (Known distance practice)

Here are a few pearls that are simple things to remember that can help you 3D competition.

First, unless you’re one of those top gun archery celebrities, almost no one is watching you shoot. Sure, you’re at the stake standing isolated at the stake for everyone to see, but they are either watching the target, eating a Little Debbie snack, talking, daydreaming, or worrying about their own score. Relax and don’t let your egocentric imagination go wild. Stay calm, relax and shoot an arrow.

When you’re not shooting take that time to study the shot. Before you reach the stake have a mental plan of how to solve the shot. Say, for example, your target is half of a javelina exposed from behind a tree at 40 yards. Of course, the center shot for a 10 (ASA scoring) is inches away from the tree.

First off the tree is a bonus. It provides a linear boarder. Aim so that the tree provides a black line, the part of the javelina exposed, between the tree and the X. The shoot the X.

Next, make certain you don’t screw up your shot. If you push or pull and arrow, depending on whether you are right or left handed you are going to hit the tree next to that javelina.

To avoid that catastrophe remain clam, take you time (you of plenty) and do what so many neglect, follow through with the shot. You’d be surprised at how often archers get rushed and don’t follow through. Heck, don’t take your aim off the target until you hear your arrow hit and then hold some. If you got the yardage right you’ll be fine. If your elevation is good but your arrow landed right or left, well you messed up your shot. You probably didn’t follow though or rushed the shot and pushed your arrow. (Assuming your form is good most of the time and your not torqueing your bow and punching your release. Oh, you can punch a hinge. Just try snapping your wrist back to activate the hinge.)

Don’t rush. Take your allotted time. That doesn’t mean walk up to the stake and fire up a cigarette (I’ve seen it). Start taking time before you approach the target. Take time to judge yardage. Notice where the other arrows have hit (if you are not the first shooter) and see if the other arrows are going to highlight the point where you want to place your shot. In archery, slow is good.

This is an easy pearl for archers – eat. So much of archery is governed by the brain that keeping it supplied with energy is critical for a long tournament. The brain’s primary source of energy is carbohydrates. Take sometime to eat, beef jerky is not a carbohydrates, to provide the carbs your brain wants and stay hydrated. (I have nearly bonked during long tournaments. I know on those times I lost points by not paying attention on my calorie needs. Archery has demands other than those experienced in long distance running, cycling or triathlon. Nevertheless, if you get hungry during a tournament your shooting will suffer.)

The ‘lesser’ practice range at the lake.

None of these little pearls should be new to you. You know them and sometimes you (and I) forget them. When you practice pay attention to these little pearls and your scores will reflect the effort you made to improve your shooting.

New State Record

Copied from the Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association email. It refers to the GBAA State Target Championship. It was nice to win and now to officially receive notification of setting a new State record (by 29 points)

“The following new GBAA Records were set (10 * total):

Rhonda Ryals            AFFS

Christopher Willard    AMBB

Tiffany Slaton            AFFSLR

David Lain                 SSMRLS

Austin Allen              YAMFS

Anna Lentz               YAFBHFS

Madison Steinau       YAFFSLR

Caitlin Willard           YFBB

Brodie Hicks             CMFS

Ally Baughn              CFBB”

First 3D Shoot in Nearly One Year

I was at the range fifteen minutes before the start time. It was last year at the Virginia IBO State Championship where I’d last competed at 3D. Arriving early I hoped there would be other archers at the range with a similar plan. That plan was to get onto the course before too many other folks showed up and the pace slowed.

In North Carolina I shot with two friends that liked to shoot first, shoot pretty fast, finish and go home. If you’ve every spent 6 hours on a 20-target 3D course you understand the reasoning.

Being new to the area here I don’t have a group with whom to attend 3D events. In North Carolina when I began shooting there it was the same. Over time I developed friendships with a coupe of guys that like me wanted to not spend their entire day waiting to get through 20 targets. As it turned out, I waited the self-imposed maximum wait around time and when no one arrived I headed into the woods for a fun shoot.

Before I started I was told I could turn my scorecard in and that no one would care that I shot alone and scored my shots. That maybe the case but I wasn’t going to test those waters.

I don’t mind shooting alone. For ten bucks I got to practice on a course other than mine and at some targets I don’t own.

This is one of my favorite targets. If I recall correctly this shot was from 37 yards.

When it comes to 3D I prefer using a hunting rig. In the ASA format it seems that target or field rigs are the bow set-ups of choice. That’s fine and I have shot 3D using long stabilizers and a scope. I may do it again considering how 3D ranges are being laid out.

When the Open Class stake and the hunter stake were not touching they were close to each other

What I’ve noticed is that the designers of this 3D range (fancy way of presenting the people that go out and set up targets and stakes) leaned toward distance. That seems to be a trend.

For example, in the hunter class the maximum distance is 40 yards. Of the 20 targets up on Saturday for the hunter class I think two were under 30 yards, both around 27 yards. Many of the hunter stakes were next to the Open class stakes or within a few feet of those, which in theory, are the longer distance stakes. As you might guess, yesterday’s hunter class scores were on average significantly lower than the Open or Known 45 (shooting at the same distance as the Open Class) classes. It only makes sense that a group of archers using pins will have less accuracy than archers using a scope.

This is becoming common.

Yesterday’s archers in the known/open classes had an average score of around 198. At nearly the same distances, without knowing the distance, and using pins the hunter class had an average score of 163. My score is not included with the other hunter class archers’ scores. For the unofficial record I shot a 198, five 12s, 6 eights and nine 10s.

What I take an issue with on the course lay out was that “hard” shots translated to just long shots.

Being curious, I did a random number generation for 20 3D targets set up for hunter class versus Open. The results were an average distance of 31 yards for hunter class and 34 yards for the Open class. Not much difference. However, when I looked for average distances where archers claimed they’d shot an animal while hunting the average distance was 23 yards with a range of 6 yards to 37 yards. (1)

Personally, I don’t care whether the targets are stretched out or not. We all, in each class, shoot the same target. What I am saying is that having the hunter class so closely match the Open class in distance can be discouraging for archers competing in the hunter class.

Another 37 to 38 yard shot. I placed my pins so that the 35 yard was at the top of the 10 ring and 40 was at the bottom of the 10 ring. The arrow dropped just right.

Making the hunter class distances more realistic will improve the scores for that class. Shorter distances can be interesting when natural obstacles are used to arrange targets. For example having a foam animal partially obstructed by a tree.

I understand that setting up a range is a fair amount of work. I’ve done it many times. It is easier just to stick targets ‘out there’ and pound some stake into the ground. I also know that archers should come to a 3D event expecting to compete under similar conditions to hunting especially when competing in a hunting class. Shooting at a javelina at 40 yards, for me, will generally result in a 10 so long as I get the distance correct. But, in real life, if I were to shoot at a javelina, I’d probably skip a 40-yard attempt.

Reference:

(1) http://forums.bowsite.com/tf/bgforums/thread.cfm?threadid=356206&forum=36

2018 Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association State Target Championship

Last weekend I competed in a two-day archery tournament. I was on the morning line, which shot at 9:00 am. The afternoon archers shot at 3:00PM. Both days were idea for archery. The event was one of those outdoor NFAA 900 contests where over the two day a maximum number of points that could be earned is 1800. To earn those points archers shot 6 arrows per end, with 30 arrows at 60 yards, 30 at 50 yards and 30 at 40 yards. Then, on the next day repeated the sequence.

It rained a little the first day. The second it was clear and a bit warm. It was also my first event of this style. What I didn’t know is that three to four archers would shoot at the same target. I was on a target with two archers, both very good shooters. Of the 540 arrows we shot into that target only three or four landed outside the yellow ring.

That meant there were a lot of arrows, 18 after each end, in the X, 10 or 9 rings. Here’s where my lack of experience hurt.

I thought we’d be shooting our own target. I carried enough arrows to give me spare ones should I hit one of my arrows and break something. With all those arrows from the other guys all hitting in same spot you can guess a lot of arrows got damaged.

Yet again, a great photo of me shooting. (That’s me in the light blue. You can just make out my right arm and a bit of my right side.)

Now, this is not a complaint. It was kind of fun. The only down side was that is seemed by arrows were taking the blunt of the arrow busting intersections.

Talk about a little stress. Before we were half way through the first day I was down four arrows. Thankfully, I made it with one extra arrow left in reserve after day one.

On day two I brought every arrows I owned for that style of archery. Overall, 7 of my arrows were damaged. I got three of their arrows. I was kind of exciting. While not shooting we’d watch the target and yell out when fletching or a nock would fly off an arrow following contact. At one point we had 18 arrows all wedged into the ten ring. We only did that once, on the remainder the ends there would be one or more arrows sticking in the nine spot. (Except for the few eights.)

It was fun shootings arrows even if I took the most damage. Tomorrow I’ll be headed to the archery shop at Ace Hardware in Social Circle to get arrows repaired.

So, you got old, but they’re making you shoot with the youngsters.

None of us are as young as we once were and we’re getting older. Those of us that have been involved in sports deal with aging in whatever ways are best for ourselves. Some athletes turn to coaching. Others quit being competitive. Some take up a new perhaps less demanding sport as a pastime.

All sports that I am aware of have age groups wherein an athlete can compete against their peers. Archery provides the same arrangement. Archery does one thing I’ve not experienced in other sports. If an archer is in an age group that doesn’t have enough competitors, in archery, they’ll bump that athlete down to a younger and perhaps more competitive age group.

I don’t think this occurs at a major tournament. For example, if a 90 year old found that she was the only competitor at a USA Archery event I don’t think they’d bracket her into the 50-year-old division. She can voluntarily move down to a younger class.

However, at smaller tournaments, local events, archers in their 50’s might discover their group is light. That, too, has not been my experience, there seems to be an ample supply of archers shooting into their 50s. There does appear to be a thinning, not just of hairlines, of archers in the 60+ classes. (I’m in my 60’s if you didn’t know, for even care.)

The result of the limited number of archers over 60 means that I more often than not am competing either in the Senior or Master 50 age classes. In fact, I compete in my age class only 13% of the time.

Shooting against younger archers can’t become a problem for me. For some maturing athletes competing in classes they’ve already passed through is a problem. If it becomes a problem for you, you could end up with a defeatist attitude before letting your first arrow fly. Be assured, archery is one of the few sports where older competitors are pitted against younger ones. If you livelong enough it will happen to you –  find your way to deal with it.

In triathlon, for example, I think it would be tough to place if I raced against a 45 year old triathlete. And just because an athlete “ages-up” that does not mean they get to race a shorter distance. An Ironman race is an Ironman, you can either do it or you can’t. Plus, there are cut off times for each discipline. That means you can’t be a great cyclist and awful swimmer and still make the cut. In archery, the tournaments sometimes decrease the distance Masters’ archers need to shoot to hit the target. Thus, they make it easier for the older folks to hit the target. That is not the case in triathlon or running. I mean, a 10K is a 10K no matter what your age.

She’s racing the same distance under the same time restrictions as the Professionals

For me, I still like competing at the senior level. For me, if I do another Ironman, I’ll be racing the same distance as the Pros and be subject to the same cut off times. Two weeks ago, when I raced a 5K, I ran the same course and distance as the University track star that won the event. (I won my age group and was not the only runner in the class)

If it bothered me compete against archers younger than me I’d have trouble every time I shot with other people. I am almost always the oldest archer in the crowd.

If you are lucky enough to have the problem of being forced into a class that you passed though, because you’ve out-lived your opponents, consider yourself fortunate. Shooting with younger people will help keep you sharp. And know this, at the major championships; there will be enough old people to go around.

A Raw Deal to a Group of SHC Archers

On Facebook I read a post by an older archer who complained of an event organizer that eliminated the Senior Hunter Class (IBO System) after a series of planned events had begun. The writer of the post is one of the Senior (over 50 years of age) archers impacted by the decision. He was not pleased with the event organizers dropping a class wherein he’d been competing since the initiation of the competitive series.

From what could be gathered throughout the Facebook conversation regarding the elimination of the Senior Hunter Class, it appeared there were not enough Seniors competing to supply a large enough pool from which to have a winner surface. The set of Seniors included three archers.

I do understand that having only three Seniors means there is a guaranteed place for each archer: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The organizers reasoned that was not enough people to truly make for a serious competition.

To some degree that is true. However, the organizers opened the class at the onset of the tournament series and as such should have kept it open until the finale. Instead, well into the series they combined the Senior archers with the Men’s Class (men 21 to 49 years old). The unilateral decision to drop the Senior Hunter Class angered those Senior Hunters that had been competing against each other. The anger, in this situation is warranted.

The move to drop a class of shooters after an agreement to open the class was wrong. On the other hand, I understand that if only 3 archers show up then that is not much of a competitive crowd from which to have an eventual champion. But, the archers can only compete against those who show up. It is not there fault if organizers have not created a market incentive to draw more shooters.

It boils down to this: The organizers had a duty to keep the Senior Hunter Class open through the event series regardless of how many archers competed in the class.

(No, I am not one of those displaced Senior archers. I am not that young. If those folks in their 50s think their competitive pool is dwindling let them wait until they are past 60. More on this later.)

Beaten, Again!

Headed to Statesboro, GA

The Georgia Cup, in Statesboro, Georgia was held at the Georgia Southern University campus this past weekend, March 21st through March 22nd. I was really hoping for a win. I’d certainly been putting in the hours practicing. But, then, there’s too often (here in 2018) that guy.

Early morning crowd setting up for a long day.

At the Georgia Cup, that guy was Paul. Paul and I typically do not compete against each other. Heck he’s not much older than my oldest daughter. We’ve competed near one another a few times in the past. We’ve talked a little during those events. This weekend we talked more, we had plenty of free time between ends to wait and talk.

Before the waiting line gets packed with bows

You’ve probably said this yourself, “It’s a small world.” In the case of Paul, I am still smiling at how we run into people that when there is time to talk great discoveries are made.

Paul is from Savannah, so am I. Paul however is a bit younger than me, so our childhood paths would not have crossed. During one of our ‘behind the waiting line’ talks I over heard someone mention Memorial Medical Center, a major hospital in Savannah. I interjected, “I have fond memories of Memorial, I essentially grew up there.”

Certainly, the first thoughts to such the comment must have led to “that poor man, he must have had some terrible disease which he survived thanks to medical care he received at Memorial.” I quickly added, “I started working there, in the lab, when I was 14.” That is true. I was a smart-ish geek and was recruited to the lab to learn by the head of Pathology. After a few months I had a Child-Labor Work permit and was employed doing simple things. Those things became more complex over time.

During that time, I spent a total 14 years at Memorial; I learned while talking I’d worked with Paul’s parents. I remembered when his mother has pregnant with Paul. I admit, I am still smiling thinking of his parents and one of his brothers that came to work at Memorial before I left. The shooting was fun, talking to Paul was worth the trip and expense even more so that the competition.

Is that an 8?

On the second day, the Olympic Round, Paul and I ended up shooting in the Gold medal match. Paul had been on all day. I struggled a bit in the quarterfinals and had to come from behind to win. In the final, I couldn’t believe I was paired against Paul.

With six arrows to go, I had a four-point advantage. Paul joked with me that he was going to have to go home and, “..tell my mother that David Lain beat me.” That was not to be the case.

On the final six arrows, Paul hit five tens and one nine. I fell apart meaning he could go home and let his mother know he’d beaten an old colleague of hers.

It was windy. Target 17, where I shot on Saturday, notice our flag has blown away. Also, target 19 pulled free of one of the pins.

Years from now I will not remember this Georgia Cup for the archery. I will remember it was extremely windy. Aside from that I’ll remember the pleasant walk down memory lane with man who’s mother remains a respected and admired scientist I was fortunate enough to have worked with.

Another 2nd Place.

(Jack L. If you read this, send me a message and I’ll give you the last name. You know them as well)

Georgia Cup

The Winnebago is connected to my King Ranch F-150. Reservations are secured at Parkland RV campground in Statesboro, Georgia. In the morning I’ll finish packing my gear and hit the road. I’m packing to head to Georgia State University to compete in the Georgia Cup, an outdoor 50-meter archery tournament.

The campground is only 3 miles away from the Georgia Southern University range where the Georgia Cup is being held. Talk about convenient!

Brenda and the dogs are staying home. Archery is yet to find its place as a spectator sport. However, a friend that lives in Statesboro is going to come and watch for a while.

Saturday, during the qualification round the weather is going to be nice. On Sunday, during the Olympic Round there is a 50% chance of rain and wind at 13 mph. Nothing can be done about that and we all have to compete under the same conditions.