The Last Hoorah for 2015 in Plymouth

August 1st was the last 3D competition of 2015 for the Down East Archery Collation. The club sponsoring the shoot was the Roanoke Archery Club in Plymouth. Like all other competitions, I arrived early and ready to play the ‘find a group’ game.

It didn’t take long before I recognized a fellow I’ve shot with in the past. He’s a Marine that drives up from Camp Lejeune. Typically, he too is trying to connect with other shooters.   When I asked if he had a group he replied he was waiting on another guy and that I could join them.

When other guy showed up and I was hoping we could get on the range. Some of these events can take a very long time if you don’t get on the course early. The other guy didn’t have the same appreciation for time. He was interested in talking. During his socializing he’d increased the size of our group to 5 – not good.

Looking around, I spied group of two. Immediately, I offered to reduce the load on our five and begged into the group of two. The shooting duet welcomed me and it turned out to be a very lucky move.

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Our band moving from target to target

The new group was a father shooting with is 12-year-old (“Going on 13”) daughter. Along with them they had an entourage of: Mama, Granddaddy, Grandmama, and brother. Adding me made us a band of seven with only three shooters.

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They’re not shy about making shots difficult in Plymouth. Yes, the black boar is down those shadows

Mama was the official scorekeeper. Our trio of archers held a rapid pace moving over the targets. Before we’d finished, I felt almost like a cousin to this family. It was very enjoyable getting to spend time with those folks.

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We told her, she didn’t have to stand on the log. At 12, going on 13, it’s all a game.

As we approached the final target, I passed my friend, the Marine, moving slowly in the opposite direction. His group was going to be on the range a very long time.

Back at the clubhouse, I turned in my scorecard, ate a slice of hot pizza and loaded up for the drive home. Driving home I took a slight detour to visit historic Plymouth. Part of the fun of attending archery tournaments is the journey. I was glad I’d gotten though the tournament so fast, it meant I wasn’t rushed to get home and got to see a little of Plymouth.

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The CSS Albemarle (Ironclad replica).

Stressful day on the range

On Saturday, July 11th the Fountain of Life Soul Hunters Sportsmen’s Ministries sponsored another outdoor 3D shoot. They’ve conducted several indoor shoots and recently moved their targets to an outdoor venue. Aside from the good folks that manage and compete in their shoots, there is major bonus in that all their events are within 30 minutes of my home. There is little that will keep me away from these tournaments.

One of the things that might keep me away is an illness. My dog, River, have been extremely ill. She’s been struggling with a bug bite. That bite introduced a neurotoxin that eventually paralyzed her rear legs.

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River’s recovery is a top priority

There are two well-established causes for such a paralytic condition, a tick-borne toxin and Coonhound paralysis. The Coonhound version is related to raccoon bites or raccoon salvia. It can be more serious and takes longer for recovery. River’s paralysis is rapidly decreasing and she’s back on her feet, albeit wobbly. Considering her progress I headed to the Soul Hunters shoot, despite a lack of sleep and near exhaustion.

Prior to reaching the range I stopped at the New Hope Country Store for a bottle of water. The store is 3 miles from my home and is what you’d expect in a local small country store. Their shelves are stocked with the essentials: bread, eggs (fresh from the owner’s chickens), milk, and other staples. They also sell worms and minnows for fishing.

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At this friendly country store they have a small flat screen television. The establishment is frequented by a collection of locals talking about their day, getting started with their day, and at times pausing to watch the little TV. Saturday morning I was surprised to see what was being watched, in our extremely rural community, it was the Tour de France. Having once been a competitive cyclist, racing in the US and Europe, I’ll be the first to admit, seeing hard core overall wearing, tobacco chewing, rebel flag and deer tattooed good ole boys watching the Tour was a surprise. While I’d have enjoyed staying for a while and watching the race I had an archery tournament to shoot and my water.

I wanted to finish the archery competition as fast as possible. I was worried about River. Even though my wife, Brenda, had things under control I felt remiss being away.

When I arrived the first archers of the day were heading onto the course. After I checked-in and paid my registration fee I began looking for a group where I could be the 3rd or 4th shooter.  Near the registration desk, under a tent, was my friend Norman. I asked if he had some folks to shoot with, if so was room for another, and were they ready.

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Retired Chief Petty Officer Norman

On all accounts the answer was yes. We immediately headed onto the course; I took my first warm up shot on target number 1. It was a five.

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The rest of my shoot resulted in an abundance of 8’s, a fair share of 10’s with a sprinkling of 12’s. My final score wasn’t close to my recent scores being a full point per target lower than average. It wasn’t an unsetting score and neither was I in the top 3. Considering I wanted to leave at target 7 to get back to River, shooting wasn’t all that was on my mind.

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Archers waiting their turn at the stake

This is way I stayed – the stress. I was under a huge amount of personal stress. There will be a time when I’ll need to shoot under a lot of stress.  Saturday was a way to evaluate how I’d perform under adverse personal strain – not too good.

You might think – man she is only a dog, you can get another. Not true. River has been at my side pretty much non-stop everyday since she was 6-weeks old. Granted, there are other dogs and good ones, too. But, like my Mama says, “River is a once in a lifetime dog.” I agree and it was difficult shooting and not being at her side for a few hours.

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Jeremiah, Hoyt ProStaff, in our group made this great pin wheel shot from about 37 yards.

After the last shot I didn’t even turn in my scorecard  – I signed it and asked Bubba, the scorekeeper in our group to please return it. He said he would, so I jumped in my truck and headed home.

In the truck I called home immediately and asked Brenda about River. She said, River was doing better and getting up on her own. That was a relief. We’d been helping her up then supporting her while she walked. I was anxious to be home and measure the progress she’d made during the past several hours.

On the drive home I noticed a group of cyclists in the parking lot at the Ruritan Club about 11 miles from my house. I knew the group; they’d invited me to join this particular ride earlier in the week. (Before River become ill.) I’d declined out of preference to archery. These days, I do most of my cycling alone.

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River City Cycling Club

Despite my eagerness to get home I stopped to say hello. Driving away I thought it strange that Saturday’s  archery tournament was sandwiched by the Tour de France and the Elizabeth City Cycling Club.

Since Saturday, River has continued her rapid improvement. She’s swimming, trotting a bit, and fully capable of getting around on her own. Throughout it all, she never lost her appetite. When I gave it a thought I realized I’d spent a morning surrounded by things I love: my wife, my dog, cycling and archery.

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River enjoying the company of archers and their food

Why worry about alleged cheating?

On April 16th I posted an article describing cheaters. For the most part I rarely notice cheating. Sometimes I do, but honestly it seldom concerns me. On July 5th, one of the archery-focused groups on Facebook where I’m a member went crazy regarding an alleged cheat.

When I have noticed or suspected liberal scoring I’ve sometimes confronted it on the range. Once, during an indoor shoot I knew a 10 was a 9 but in that case said nothing – even though it happened a few times. What I did was “suggest” the shooter get a new target. He’d shot out the center ring, which made accurate scoring impossible. Let me emphasize, “He’d shot out the center ring on all three targets.” Not a bad strategy if you can pull it off.

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This is how I look at competition: If I am not hitting 10s or higher, in 3D, I am off. I’m off from time to time. But, those times are becoming less frequent. Indoor shooting if I hit a 7 I’m off, when shooting a 3-spot. If someone has to cheat to keep up, it is unlikely they’re someone that worries me. Actually, on the range no one worries me. Off the range I do keep up with how the guys I shoot against are performing.

Of those archers, no one cheats. Their scores are too good and everyone sees their shots. If you are not shooting in a competition where key archers are being closely watched, not for cheating but to admire their performance, then you are shooting for fun.

So, shoot for fun. If your attention is on a trophy, you’ve probably lost that award before you started. That said, the Gold Medalist shooter (rifle) in the 1976 Olympics had an attitude regarding the medal. Before he fired his first shot he knew the Gold Medal was his, so he shot relaxed, in his mind he’d already won, and consequently he walked away with the Gold. When you walk onto a range and you’re worried about winning the trophy or that someone allegedly cheated you out of a trophy, especially a local shoot, well you were never really in the competition.

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Mental Errors

During this season’s 3D circuit I have been focused on the IBO World Championship. Here in North Carolina the 3D archery format is ASA. This means there isn’t an equivalent IBO Pro Hunter Class. So, I’ve been shooting against archers with a bit more gear than I am using on my bow. My bow is equipped with a short stabilizer and fixed pins.

Over this few months I’ve had some good shots and made some dumb mistakes. The dumb mistake I repeated this weekend. The original error was a shot I knew I could hit. The target was a coyote, something I shoot often, that was 35 yards out. My 35-yard pin and my 45-yard pin are both yellow.

I lined my yellow pin up on the center of that coyote and let ‘err rip. My arrow cleared that coyote by at least four feet. Wrong yellow pin. Opps.

The second dumb mistake was a repeat of the first only this time on a mountain lion. I have a mountain lion on my practice range. I shoot it all the time. This particular shot was 34 yards. My red pin is set for 30 yards, my yellow for 35. I carefully lined up my top green pin (20 yards) and my second pin (the red) and shot the mountain lion for 25 yards. My arrow slid neatly under the target.

In both cases I was close on seeing the yardage. In both circumstances we were past the mid-point of the shoot and I was beginning to mentally drift. Both shots cost me points. Both were mental errors.

On average including the two misses my mean score per target is 9.85. Other archers (n=13) shooting at similar distance, the winners only, averaged 0.7 points per target more than me. The range for winners (top scores per tournament at the 45/50 yard max range) was 206 – 218.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds – I almost never shoot for the 12 rings. If I hit the 12 it is a lucky miss of the center 10. The center ring in IBO is an 11 and because my training is aimed at the IBO, their main 3D shoot of the year, I have been practicing for that tournament. It is also not as good as it sounds because I don’t know the number of times I might have scored an 11 versus a 10 under IBO rules.

After August I am putting my scope and long stabilizer back on my bow. Having one point to align with the target, so long as my yardage isn’t off, might end up paying higher dividends. Statistically, one point more would be great.

Stinking up the range

When Brenda and I were first married she did my laundry. That lasted about 5 years when I offered to wash my own dirty clothes. The offer wasn’t because I am such a nice guy and wanted to do my part of the domestic chores; she kept losing my socks.   In the thirty years since, when I’ve washed and dried my clothes I’ve never lost a sock. However, there are other laundry matters where I have failed. One of my washing and drying short falls became apparent this past weekend shooting at the Lenoir County Archers ASA Qualifying 3D competition.

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Even though we got on the course early, it was already backed up

I have a simple policy regarding laundry. Essentially, if it fits in the washer the requirements for a load of clothes is complete. I do not raise any issue of prejudice based on color. Dark and light apparel are washed together. All receive the same treatment, cold water only, detergent nearest to reach, and never any bleach. For 30 years, this approach has served me with only an occasionally noticeable flaw. That flaw is I sometimes forget I’ve put clothes in the washer.

For example, on Thursday I may discover my clothes are in the washer. Then, I can’t remember for certain when I washed them. They get a sniff test and if the wad of nearly dry clothes doesn’t smell sour, they’re probably good for the dryer. Even a minor sour smell can be fluffed out by a dryer.

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We had some good shots, 2 twelves and 2 tens on this one.

In fact, the dryer has salvaged many loads of slightly off sniff clothes. When the drying is done the smell is most of the time barely noticeable. In the winter months any lingering foul aroma is not a serious problem. In the hot humid summer days of the South, perspiration is a catalyst for throwing off the dryer embedded stench. That was exactly my problem yesterday.

The t-shirt I’d worn for shoot was one that had sat in the washer for an amount of time that was hard to determine. However, it passed, just by a small margin, the sniff test and was dried along with all the other contents from the washer. After drying, all the clothes, t-shirt included, seemed okay, again by a slight margin.

The problem on the range became noticeable after only 3 targets. It was very hot and humid day. I was sweating like the pig that knows it’s dinner. At the third stake I began to notice the earlier olfactory mistake in judgment.

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There is a standing black bear at the end of this lane. We faced some long shots on this range. I guessed this at 47 yards for a 10.
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Finally on the road to home

Had I been alone I wouldn’t have been too concerned. But, people surrounded me. When saying hello and shaking hands I’d lean into the hand extension stretching my arm and keeping my shirt and reek as far back from the unsuspecting nose distal to the approaching hand. While waiting for a stake to clear I’d keep my distance from the other people in my group.

By the time we reached the mid-point of the range the fog around me was so thick I considered leaving for the sake of the others. Now, no one said a word. Heck, no one else may have noticed. To be fair someone in a nearby group, it was crowded on the range and there was little to no wind, had what appeared to be a nonstop gastrointestinal disruption that at times was audible. In that matter, it wasn’t my concern and my funk seemed the more offensive.

Despite the concern over my aromatic malfeasance I did find moments to enjoy the course – one of the most challenging I’d shot. Even though I’d previously qualified for the ASA State Championships wanted to try for a different division. I don’t know the results, yet, as soon as we shot the final target I turned in my scorecard and high tailed it home for another shower and change of clothes.

Hot days in Elizabeth City

The short drive to compete on Saturday was great; the 2nd place was a disappointment. North Carolina has produced some great archers and you can’t expect too many wins shooting outside the 10 ring.

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A scenic hike up to registration

The course was tough with a lot of small targets in dark holes placed “way back out there.” The 20 targets took nearly four hours to shoot because of big groups during which the 94°F temperature along with high humidity was rough on a lot of people. I wasn’t one of them.

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Brandon’s arrow sliced this tree and he still got a 8.

The temperature and humidity were fine for me. I simply blew a couple of shots I should have hit better which hurt at the end of the day. This next week I’ll be focusing on small dark targets in dark holes at 35+ yards.

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This little critter (I walked closer to take this picture after we pulled our arrows) was at 38 yards. It wasn’t the longest shot on the smallest target, in the darkest spot.

When this was all said and done,  it was great to see folks I’d missed for the past month.

Moving, Shooting, Racing and Missing a few Great Events! Go Ben Go!

For the past four days we’ve been packing up our house in Easton, MD to make the permanent move to Hertford, NC. Hertford is the closest major “town” (2- traffic lights) but we’re actually in a smaller community, New Hope. Some of the local here refer to it as No Hope.

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Downtown Hertford

Because of all the packing and moving, which isn’t over, I’ve not shot in four days. I am feeling a bit antsy to get out and shoot. While in Easton I was able to get in some nice early morning running, but no cycling, swimming or shooting. Moving gets into the middle of the day and messes everything up.

When I finally had a chance to check out my emails, back in NC,  and review this website I read a comment from Ben that he and some other archers are doing the Ironman Timberman 70.3 in August. Ben invited me to join then in the race. Oh, the pain of it!

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70.3, my favorite distance to race

Timberman is one of the 70.3 races (I’ve done 11 at that distance) I haven’t done. 70.3 miles is a distance I really enjoy. I checked and discovered the race is still open, which means I could sign up and compete. It is killing me not to enter. However, the IBO World Championship is the week before and to do both I’d probably just stay in New York and Connecticut for the time prior to the IBO through the Ironman event.

August is also when my kids and grandkids are coming to visit us in NC. You know, I’d love to do all of the races and tournaments. Sadly this year I have to miss a few fun competitions. I am just going to have to be envious in 2015. Good luck Ben and please keep in informed. I’ll enjoy hearing about your Ironman adventure. Next year my friends, next year!

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Stay calm, there’s always another race

Good Day in Plymouth, NC

Good day in Plymouth.  Set a PR at a max distance of 45 yards using pins. Starting to get the hang of the new bow. Lots of 12s and 10s. Next step, all 12s.

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During the tournament I wore my Garmin Forerunner 310XT.  The distance walked over the course was 1.38 miles in about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Often it takes longer to complete the 20 shots at 20 targets but this day I ended up on the range early.  It is a bit like mountain bike racing or trail running.  Get into the woods first and fast and you’ll end up with a good time over the course. In today’s case a fast time and a good score.

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Yes, this race was cold, wet and muddy.

May 9th Beaufort County Archers’ 3D Shoot

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Despite the earlier start time for the shoot, I awoke as usual

Saturday was another 3D tournament at the Beaufort County Archers Club near Washington, NC. With tropical storm Ana headed our way the shoot start time was moved up an hour earlier. A lot of people stayed home thinking they’d at a minimum get rained on. In that, at least, they were correct.

Living on the coast of North Carolina we’re going to be hit by hurricanes. Tropical Storm Ana didn’t reach hurricane force. However, when it passes over house today it will be a tropical depression. On Saturday Ana was only a slight nuisance and brought a bit of rain and wind.

During the tournament we got sprinkled on twice and soaked once. Fortunately for our group the downpour coincided with the final target. We rushed to the clubhouse and by the time we reached it the rain had stopped. Everyone was dry within a short time.

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I noticed a few bear tracks in the mud and fed a lot of mosquitos

I shot with pins and my new Elite 35 for the first time. The max distance for me, in this event, is 45 yards. I did better on the first 10 than the second. When I left for home there remained others on the range that could push me out of first. Scores aren’t yet posted, so I’ll have to wait for the results.