March Edition of the Buckeyes 3D in Social Circle

It has been raining a lot here in Georgia. I half expected the Buckeyes 3D archery tournament in Social Circle to be canceled. Having no way to verify the shoot I made the 80-mile trip in hopes the rain would break. Their course is always a challenge and it would have been a shame to not compete in this last of four events over the past 8 days.

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Early registration
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Gretchen dressed to stay warm in the wet 36 degree weather

When I arrived at the range and turned my car off the rain stopped. There weren’t too many archers practicing or at registration. My friends David Alligood and Gretchen Pruett were working the desk. Both wore heavy coats and welcoming smiles.

A few competitors were signing in when David asked me, “Do you have anyone to shoot with?” I didn’t and Hunter, who was checking it, invited me to join their group of three.

That matter out of the way I headed to the warm up range. I shot six arrows hitting my mark twice each at 20, 30 and 40 yards. I thought I was ready, I was wrong.

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Feeling confident at 40 yards

On the first shot in woods I missed the target. My judgment of yardage was off more than usual today.  Throughout the shoot my rights and lefts were fine, my ups and downs were today’s weak points. Sadly, there isn’t much that can be done to offset a miss.

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Careful examination will reveal a mountain lion in the distance

In our group was a youngster that Hunter was instructing. The little guy was a good shot. He also appreciated splashing in puddles and digging his rubber boots in the plentiful red clay mud holes. Although Hunter made attempts to avail the nipper of proper range etiquette, the puddles and mud were too tempting. Employing forced discipline I remained separate from the obvious pleasure of squishing muck.

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With Hunter’s back turned, mud mischief was underway

Coming off the course my score wasn’t as horrible as I’d supposed but certainly below my average. I’ll need to wait to learn how I faired overall. Unlike the few archers that had gathered earlier the range was now filled with shooters. These late arrivals will certainly knock me down in the standings.

After packing my gear I said my goodbyes. This is a very nice group of athletes here in Social Circle. Their course is particularly challenging and a great place to train or compete. I’ll look forward to my next tournament at the Buckeyes. Driving away, the rain renewed its drenching of Georgia.

Horse Collars

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One of my practice targets here in Georgia

This year, at least for the first eight months, my competitive events range the east coast from Florida to New York. Traveling I frequently visit wonderful places. Yesterday, I stopped in Carlton, GA. and Comer, GA adding two more scenic side trips to this tournament expedition.

Because I am primarily here to shoot, on non-competitive days I practice in the morning and afternoon. Wednesday is typically my longest practice and I’ll shoot for hours during the two sessions. Thursday I begin tapering for the weekend’s competition. After the morning practice on Thursday, Brenda, Ray, her father, and I took an excursion further into northeast Georgia.

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Jimmy, Owner at “Neat Pieces” Antiques in Carlton, GA

In Carlton there is an antique shop, “Neat Pieces”  Brenda had wanted to visit. There we spent an hour or so digging and found a few treasures. She collected a several old bottles and I bought two vintage horse collars. The leather horse collars were gray with dirt and filth. Later, a few hours of cleaning and polishing would have them looking fairly decent.

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Vintage horse collars (after cleaning and polishing)

Leaving Carlton, we loaded our treasures and drove to the covered bridge at Watson Mill in Comer. It has been raining a lot here, so the river was up. The covered bridge was built 130 years ago and later restored in 1973.   Standing near the river, I wished I had one of my kayaks with me.

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Watson Mill Bridge

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Traveling around the US and competing in sports is a great way to earn one’s living.  It gives me time to meet more people and make friends. It also allows me to find adventure and enjoy America.

 

Sitting Good in the South Eastern Region

Unofficial results from this weekend’s USA Archery National Indoor Championship has me 1st for the South Eastern Region in my division. This is a big tournament lasting over several weekends. Final scores won’t be available for weeks. For now, it’s probably best to forget about it and focus on next week.

The weather prediction for the upcoming 3D event is for rain. The day before is a running race. Weather prediction – rain.

USA National Indoor Championships – Day 2

The Snellville version of the USA National Indoor Championship has completed here in Georgia. It will be at least a month before all the results have been tallied according to one of the officials. Still, the contest was a great kickoff to another trip to Georgia.

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During big tournaments I often forget to take photographs, today a good example, I took one photograph. To bad because there were some amazingly shot out centers on the 3-spots. Sadly, I shot enough nines to have left my centers nearly intact.

A number of shooters at Snellville I recognized from Archery TV but didn’t know their names. Again, I shot next to Roger Willet, Jr. who is a very pleasant man. It turns out we live in the same area,  which led a short fishing discussion.

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This has nothing to do with the tournament. Inserted for the sole purpose of creating fishing envy.

Now that this event is behind me I’ll be heading out to hunt over the next several days. I am hoping to get a few pigs and a coyote or two. Both species have become serious pests in our neck of the woods. When I am not hunting, I’ll be practicing for next week’s tournament in Social Circle, a 3D shoot, and training for next Saturday’s race in Winder, Ga.

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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.

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).

 

Downeast Archery Coalition’s 2015 3D Season Opener

The Downeast Archery Coalition’s 2015 3D schedule opened on February 7th with a tournament held by the Beaufort County Archery Club in Washington, NC. From my home in New Hope, near Hertford, North Carolina, the drive to the Washington competition was just under two hours. I made the scenic drive along the east coast of North Carolina to the tournament was pleased I did.

imagesDespite being a magnet for hurricanes, the northeast corner of the Tar Heel State is a beautiful place to live. Along the drive to Washington from New Hope I’d crossed the Chowan River, viewed the Albemarle Sound, passed farmland, and went over the Pamilico River. The forested Beaufort County Archery Club’s 3D range was nearly as impressive.

When I arrived the first thing I did was to park in a restricted area. It looked like a good spot for my 2006 Ford f-150. Before I’d opened the door a marshal was shooing me away.

I get to compete on a lot of courses all over the US. This means I don’t know the local rules. What I do know is that there is always someone to offer instruction and for the most part politely corrects my faux pas. This parking blunder was not an exception. Finally making it to the correct parking area, about 30 yards away, I had two initial objectives: sign in and find and port-a-potty. (Not necessarily in that order).

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The registration area was becoming crowded as other archers arrived. Following payment I worked my way over to the warm-up range. Aside from warming up, I use this area to try finding a group of two or three shooters willing to accept another. My first attempt failed but the second try worked out. The archers I ended up with consisted of a local teacher of agriculture and two of his students.

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The one low shot was worth pausing for the photo.

The three weren’t very experienced with 3D and we spend a lot of time looking for arrows. One of them lost all of his arrows. When we existed the course the club president asked if I thought the course was too easy, just right, or too hard I said, “It seemed like a fair course.” When all the scores were released I reviewed them. That review suggested the course may have been tougher than I’d originally judged.

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Miss this pig and the arrow ends up in water

Overall, I wasn’t crushed and finished the day with a 3rd place and all of the arrows in my quiver with which I’d entered the maze of foam animal. I’ll look forward to tackling this challenging course again.

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Taking aim on one of the final targets of the day. (Photo by Will Preslar)

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth City Indoor 3D Tournament

On Saturday January 10, the Fountain of Life’s Soul Hunters Archery Club held an indoor 3D tournament in Elizabeth City, NC. A large crowd of shooters and supporters turned out for the event that lasted from eight in the morning until noon. For those people spending hours at the competition food cooked on a grill was available and despite the outside cold temperature the indoor range was toasty warm.

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Registration

The course consisted of twenty targets and five shooting stations. These station, they’d be stakes if they were outside, stood 12 to 34 yards from the targets. The yardage “sounds” fairly shootable, however, the masters of the course have worked to make the shots a real challenge.

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On the first four targets the set up was: first a deer laying down at about 12 yards, then a coyote at 18 yard, over the rear of the coyote was the really tough shot, a skunk at 22 yards, and the final deer at 32 yards. To increase the difficulty binoculars are not allowed.

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Over the rear of the second target, there is a small dark spot – that is the third target, a skunk at around 25 yards.

The animals are placed in rows. Each of the rows contained at least one unusually difficult shot. The exception being the final row that held two very tough shots.

On the final the final row the second target was a large wolf. The next two animals, a coyote and a deer, where angled so that the wolf and a tree made hitting a center shot on the final two targets most difficult.

The weather, as happens every winter, was cold outside. The large propane powered heaters had the cavern within which we shot warm. Actually, by mid-morning, it was quite comfortable.

On this day the competitors from North Carolina and West Virginia ranged in age from around 6 years to 83 years old. It seemed  everyone knew one another despite the size of the crowd attending the tournament. There was a lot of joking and laughing throughout the day.

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Awards were presented to the top three finishers. After the awards ceremony everyone was invited to stay and shoot another round for fun. A great way to spend the morning and ten dollars.

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The winners

 

Buckeyes 3D Tournament in Social Circle, GA

The Buckeyes 3D tournament didn’t pan out as I’d hoped. Nevertheless, I met some nice folks – as are most archers I’ve crossed paths with since I began this adventure. To help matters, the rain (it had been storming for days) stopped just before noon. Aside from the red clay muck on the practice range, the course was excellent.

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High booted archers retrieving arrows on the warm-up range

IMG_2759Entering the Buckeyes Plantation archers pass a pond, which I learned is filled with bass. The pond extends beyond the trees in the photo to a dam and beyond. Archers are often outdoorsmen and fishing is another sport enjoyed many among our alliance. It is a pretty awesome entrance to the course.

The Buckeyes tournament is an ASA event. I shoot ASA and IBO. Basically, I’ll shoot anybody’s tournament. This one, I entered in the “Open Money” group even though I’d be using a hunting set-up. An event official, David (an easy name to remember), teamed me up with Corey Bryant, a Factory Pro for Mathews.

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David helping people register. Notice the red clay on his boots.

The targets weren’t impossibly difficult and there were no giveaways on the course. One was my favorites was a boar in a ditch at the far side of a ridge. The open-money stake was down an opposite side of the embankment. This meant the archer was shooting just above ground level, over a mesa-like plateau, into a partially visual boar. It was a cool shot.

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Deer target with an arrow placed in the 12

Corey and I were first onto the course and second off. A pair of traditional shooters played through. We were lucky to have gotten on the range when we did. As we exited the course it was plain to see a lot of folks had arrived as the rainy weather had departed. There was a moderate backup being created as shooters entered the course. Still more were warming up on the practice range.

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Corey on his way to a victory

Corey ended up winning the ‘Open-Money’ class. Even though I shot below my average I got a great sense for the longer distances during actual competition. Hopefully, I’ll get to return to the Buckeyes Plantation for another tournament this year.