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.

Shooting on Pearl Harbor Day at Mid-Del Archers in Delaware

It was a cold and windy day of 3D competition in Harrington, DE on Sunday December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day. Mid-Del Archers put on another excellent tournament. The course is not super difficult but there are no easy X shots. And as usual there were plenty of great shooters on the range.

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The temperature wasn’t unbearably cold at 37°F (2.7°C) but it was the wind that hammered us. The wind speed was 16 – 19 mph with gusts up to 29 mph (26 – 30 kph with gusts to 46 kph). On the front side of the range the trees and bushes are tighter and the wind had less of an impact. The back half was another matter.

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The back half of the course is more open and distances to the target were longer. On several shots just before releasing the arrow more than one archer smartly let down when hit by a gust of wind.

As has become my practice, I showed up solo and hoped to connect with a group that had room for another shooter. This method of “free-ranging” has always led me to a group of friendly competitive shooters. This tournament was no different.IMG_2622 2

A party consisting of granddad, dads, a son and grandson invited me to shot along with them. They’d been on the range the day before and helped set up the targets. The youngest was very pleased with having set up a foam pig so that its X was on its rear end. He was particularly proud of his ingenuity.

When the shoot was over I hadn’t scored a personal best (although it was a PR for this range) but I had shot my coldest tournament thus far. At the clubhouse I turned in my scorecard and thawed out. A number of people asked if River, my dog was with me – today she wasn’t; I felt it would be too cold to leave her in the truck. In the clubhouse chili was the meal being served. I declined the food so I could have lunch with Brenda, my wife, when I got home.

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Archers mingling and reviewing scores as they are posted

It was another fun shoot with the Mid-Del Archers. Their Christmas party is coming up no December 21st. Sadly, I’ll miss that since I’ll be in Georgia to hunt and compete. But, Mid-Del remains one of my favorite places to shoot.

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Fountain of Life Sportsmen’s Indoor 3D tournament.

Our house in North Carolina is being completely renovated. This means the property is a construction site. We’d stay away from this house except for periodic reviews of the progress meaning a few one night stays. Our first one night stay turned out to be building site bivouac and occurred during our trip from Georgia to Maryland. We stopped in North Carolina so that I could compete at the Fountain of Life Sportsmen’s Indoor 3D tournament in Elizabeth City, NC.

In September I’d visited the “Soul Hunters” indoor range where they were constructing the facility to house a 3D course. The work was impressive. There I was introduced to Woody and Cliff by a mutual friend retired US Navy Chief Norman Mitchell. The work underway made it obvious this was going to be an exciting range on which to shoot.

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Sign in for the event

Brenda and I left NC for GA to hunt and get out of the North Carolina work zone that was once our abode. After several weeks in Georgia we needed to head north, to Maryland, to check on our property in Easton. We’d been away about 6 weeks and it was time to visit and for a race. Rather than drive straight through, we stopped in Hertford in order to shoot in the 3D tournament.

The night tournament was held on Friday with a causal start from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM. As archers arrived, they would be assigned groups of five. That group would then take shots at four foam animals in front of five stations for a total of 20 shots. Each archer had 2 minutes to compete four shots. My last tournament gave me the same 2 minutes, but at 3 targets of a known distance – 18 meters. This was going to be a bit more difficult. Arriving early I was placed into the first group along with my friend Norman Mitchell.

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Norman, hitting a 12

Before the first arrow was fired, Cliff gave an opening prayer.  Cliff,  delivered a sincere, friendly, and concise heavenly offering. Later, I congratulated him on a prayer well said.

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Cliff

After Cliff’s prayer the tournament was underway. Having never competed in an indoor 3D completion, I made one mistake – I broke out my binoculars. On this range, binoculars are not permitted and Woody quickly and politely let me know.

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Woody, score keeper for the event

Shooting indoor 3D was a blast. The turnout seemed good, at least, based on my experience. There was plenty of good food that I resisted considering I’d need to hurry through the course and return home. Brenda was there and would be pleased if I got back sooner rather than later.

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Archers mingling in front of the range

Because I rushed I wouldn’t be around for awards. I’d been shooting pretty good and thought I might have earned a place among the top archers. Norman let me know he’d heard my score that was much lower than I’d anticipated, so missing the awards wasn’t going to hurt.

I said my goodbyes and headed back to Hertford, NC. Shortly afterwards I heard from Norman. He’d asked for a recount of my totals. The new count improved my score by 30 points and moved me into second place. It was good news and Norman let me know that for the second time, he’d collected my trophy. Thank you, Norman!

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Brenda and I would be back on the road  on Saturday. I still had a race to complete in Preston, Maryland on Sunday. The stop in NC and the tournament in Elizabeth City was well worth the effort. The friends and fellowship among this group is pleasant and made for an excellent evening regardless of the competitive results.

Wonderful Tournament in Madison, GA

The EAC 1st Annual Star FITA Indoor was on Saturday November 8th in Madison, GA. Archers came from Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia to compete. The competition was held the Morgan County Elementary School Gym.

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During my last hunting trip to Georgia, a few weeks ago, I discovered the event while searching for a shoot on the Internet. We would be returning to Georgia for more hunting and to attend Grandparent’s Day at my grandson’s school in Athens. I signed up for the event.

On the day of the tournament I arrived early so I could watch the morning shooters, sign in before the crowd and get some lunch. There was a 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM start time for shooters.

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Morning group checking scores

The two sessions had archers shooting at 60 cm or 40 cm faced targets. There were up to four targets per backstop. These backstops are large. I hoped I’d be assigned one of the lower targets. I got an upper target.

The foursome I shot with was from Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama. Mike, from Alabama is tall. He must have been 6 feet 8 inches. He got an upper target and was pleased with the arrangement. I am a foot shorter than Mike, I was not so pleased.

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Mike, the tall fellow, me in the red hat.

My displeasure wasn’t the placement of the target; the problem was I could just reach the top arrow. Even on tiptoes I could barely grab the arrow. All of them were high and they were a struggle to remove. Following each end there was an awkward moment or two where I couldn’t pull the arrows with any finesse. Mike helped a lot which eased my suffering and kept us moving along.

Aside from those end following struggles the tournament ran well and ran fast. The judges focused on delivering shoot specific rules and information and didn’t use their positions to make small talk or try to entertain. Sixty arrows with a full house isn’t a sprint and needless monologues can make a long day. Everyone appreciated the judges’ professionalism.

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(L-R) Andy, David, John, and Mike

I ended up shooting 21 points lower than my average scores since March. Still, I walked away with a 3rd place in the Masters division. But, the main highlight was that my cousin, Neil, drove over from Conyers, GA to watch.

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River proudly wearing my medal She does this with all my medals: triathlon, cycling, running and archery

The last time we’d seen each other we were in our teens. During the tournament I noticed him in the bleachers. I kept looking at him thinking, “Who is that guy?” At the break he walked over and asked, “How are you shooting?” I told him, “Well, I’m not hitting the lights or bouncing arrows off the floor, so pretty good.” He then asked, “Do you know who you’re talking to?” I guessed his brother, Payson.

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Couple of ‘Boys”, Neil and me.

After the tournament we had dinner together. There was not nearly enough time to catch up – 45 years covers a lot of ground. Neil’s a bit underweight at the moment (50 pounds). He’s had a tough time with a serious surgery but is on the mend. It was an unexpected treat and I really appreciated his effort. What a great day.

Three Days of 3D

The past three days on the Eastern Shore of Maryland were devoted to 3D. Two days of practice and a tournament. The tournament was held on Sunday, in Delaware, a short drive from Easton, MD. Practice was at the Schrader’s 3D range on Saturday and Monday.

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This deer at about 32 yards. Look closely and a stake is about center of this photo at 22 yards. Two distances for variance in skill levels
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Having shot this deer on a number of occasions, I have its number.

Practicing at my home in North Carolina on paper isn’t the same as 3D.  3D target sizes vary and distances aren’t known. Schrader’s Outdoors is a quick drive from my home in Easton, MD and where I go to practice on foam.

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This bear is sitting smack on 30 yards and is a straight shot at the end of an open lane

Saturday’s practice was unusual; there were lots of other archers on the range. Typically, the 3D range is empty. With hunting season opening people had dusted off their bows, brought out their shiny new bows, filled quivers with newly fletched arrows and were out to take aim on foam. It was clear many of these would be bow hunters had not practiced in some time.

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This turkey is fairly easy at 20 yards, a straight shot. Someone left an arrow in the tree behind it.

The range at Schrader’s is certainly large enough for safety, but privacy isn’t guaranteed. Walking past clusters of bowmen it was obvious their dreamed of prey would be safe from these seasonal archers testing their skill.

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A more challenging target from this stand. The deer is at the end of the lane and can just be seen

Two young men I noticed seemed more appropriately dressed for golf or tennis than practice on a muddy, tick and chigger infested 3D range. Those boys were going to be a feast for the little parasites infesting the bushes behind the targets. Both of them seemed to be spending a lot time searching for arrows in the underbrush.

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Chiggers are the larval (juvenile) form of a common mite from the family known as Trombiculidae

Following Sunday’s tournament in Delaware I headed back to Schrader’s. I’d be in North Carolina on Tuesday and as yet have no 3D targets of my own. The closest range is over an hour’s drive away. In Maryland the drive to a 3D range is about 25 minutes.  Also,  Monday meant people would be working and I’d have the range to myself.

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Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, MD

On the range I found broken arrows, arrows dropped on paths then overlooked, and arrows sticking in the trees behind targets. While the target placement at Schrader’s isn’t a pushover, the course has stakes placed so that most people can hit foam. Apparently, many peoples’ ego overrode their skill and they shot further out than their expertise could support.

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Someone’s broken Carbon Express left where there was once an antler

When I was in my late teens I worked at hunting club, “Hall Brothers Hunting Club” near Savannah, GA. Frequently, guests would arrive with expensive equipment and no clue how to hunt or shoot. We ensured they left with a trophy if that was their goal even if someone else took the gun from their hands, shot the animal, handed the gun back and exclaimed to the client, “Nice shot!” Watching people on Saturday reminded me of those days. Seeing the remains of their arrows on Monday confirmed my suspicion.

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This elk sits at stake 29.  The next target is a boar 18 yards from the stake.

3D is very different from shooting at flat paper, clearly defined targets and known distances. I enjoy both types of shooting. Each has its own set of challenges. It was good to get back to Maryland to practice 3D and to compete in Delaware.

Day 2 of the IBO World Championships

The second day of the IBO World Championship was better than the first. Neither day ended exactly as I’d hoped but certainly within the statistical range I’d calculated, albeit on the low side. Despite an abundance of 5’s and economy of 11’s the experience was worth the trip.

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Earned a 12 o’clock 10 on this shot

Many archers that I’ve shot with and against over the past year convened in Ellicottville, NY to test themselves against the best in the world. At a minimum I heard Canada, Australia, and South Africa were represented. Other competitors from outside the US may have been in NY but I’ve not read an official tally. The State of New York, judging by the tags on vehicles, was well represented.

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The Mathews camp

Aside from their skill shooting archers are great social athletes. Each archer puts it on the line when they shoot 3D. Good shots brought excited praise and congratulations. A poor shot was never ridiculed and competitors sympathized and consoled. Each knowing the next weak shot could be theirs. Teasing, when done, was good-natured and without malice.  Archers weren’t the only people with whom I interacted.

Having spent decades in business I wanted to assess the archery companies. For example, how did their representatives intermingle with customers, what marketing focus did I notice, were there obvious times when management used this competition to run focus groups.  Assemblies, like the IBO World Championships, are excellent venues to get close to key customers (in this case archers).

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The top brass of the IBO

I left NY having made many new friends. Several  promised an interview to place under the archery characters tab of Puttingitontheline.com. The experience was perfect prep for 2015.

TAB Archery “On the War Path” 3D Tournament

One of the advantages to travel is finding different archery competitions in which to compete.  Regardless of where I am, before the weekend has arrived, I have scanned the Internet for local tournaments.  Recently, while in Georgia, I found a nearby 3D shoot in Gray Court, South Carolina.

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 The TAB Archery Club had posted information describing their “On the War Path” tournament.  MapQuest indicated the location was 61 miles from where I was staying.  I found a contact for the club, Frank, and called him to verify the information, which he confirmed.  I was set for a shoot.

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TAB Archery Club House

 At all the 3D shoots where I compete I arrive alone and hope to team up with  2 or 3 local shooters.  After signing in and paying the registration fee I headed to the warm field keeping my eyes open for other strays like myself. 

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The course was a challenge

 On the warm-up range I spied two guys talking that looked as if they could use a third shooter.  Creeping around the guys, listening for a break in their conversation, I butted in and asked if I could shoot with them.  They gave me a wary scowl and rejected me claiming their buddy was on the way.  While I wasn’t actually creeping around, their opinion may have been different or they probably just wanted to shoot with their buddy.

 My second attempt also failed.  That time I attempted to appear open and friendly when I approached 3 shooters and asked if they could use a fourth.  Rejected for a second time.

 My third attempt panned out.  I noticed 2 shooters that were looking for the course entrance.  They’d actually gone way off course and were a little confused.  These where my guys.  They gladly accepted me when I told them I knew where the first stake was located.

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Paul shooting for a 12

Paul and Jesse were my kind of shooters. Light and fast we moved quickly over the range playing around slower groups when necessary.  Paul and Jesse aren’t full-time 3D shooters.  Both are more interested in hunting and practice 3D to keep their skills honed during the off-season. They are both excellent archers.

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Jesse taking aim

The TAB course was another gem.  Extremely hilly and for the Bowhunter Class 40 yards was a common distance over the 25 targets. One hundred and thirty-one archers competed over the two-day tournament. 

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Mathews and Saluda River Archery teams

 The hills were a new experience for me and I appreciated the challenge.  Overall, I was pleased to have existed the course with the same arrows I brought with me.  Jesse and Paul, as in most instances where I barge in, were polite and respectful. The TAB course was one of the finest and most difficult I’ve seen.  Thanks to TAB and to Paul and Jesse for letting me tag along.

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BowTech and PSE both well represented

Tuckahoe: A Perfect Day for 3D

Sunday was a perfect for a 3D tournament at the Tuckahoe Bowmen Club in Queen Anne, MD.  The day was sunny, temperature in the upper 60’s, and very little wind.  Paul and his henchmen arrived early to set the targets.  The registration table was manned and parking was nearly filled before 8:00 AM.  At my home, we’d had company for the weekend and topped off this visit with a series of libations on Saturday night.  I was late pulling in for the tournament.

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Heading to register for the shoot

It became evident I was one of the last people to make the shoot.  Everyone appeared to be on the course.  The calls of birds, voices and laughter floated from woods.  Fortunately, Mevko and Dave (two companions just entering the course) were at the first target.  If I rushed I could join their group.  Quickly signing in, I snatched my gear and took one warm up shot at 20 yard.  Smacking a bull’s-eye, taking it as an omen, I jogged to catch up. The impotent omen shot was my best of the day.

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The impotent 1 warm-up shot

Paul has a reputation for setting up a challenging course. There is a legend of how he once placed a raccoon target inside the hollow of a tree.  Today, Paul was true to form.  The first three targets were big, clear, level, long shots – easy for pros. Of these targets, Mevko did the best, Dave lost an arrow, and I hit a 5, 10, and 5.  However, it was target number four where Paul’s creative genius shined.

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Paul, master designer of tough 3D courses

On target four there stood that infamous, hollow dwelling raccoon, snarling at us from down in a steep dark ravine, positioned slightly twisted, 32 yards away.  The critter’s eleven spot was so small it was nearly impossible to make out with binoculars.  As each of our group silently murmured an obscenity, we in turn approached the shooter’s stake, secured as best as possible our footing (fearing a slip would land us at the little furry bandit’s perch below), took aim and let loose an arrow.  Mevko smacked a 10, Dave got and 8, I embedded my arrow into a stump.

Mevko and I had afternoon family obligations so we hurried over the course.  He had a birthday party to attend and I had friends waiting at home. It didn’t take long to catch the group ahead of us, Paul’s.  In this mix were the “Big” boys, among them Wes, Lee and Norm.  Bart, another ace shooter, unable to compete because of recent shoulder surgery, was among the entourage, there to practice sighting distances.

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Paul looks on as Norm sizes up the target

These men are all shooters.  On bad days as a whole their average score will hover above 300.  Lee and Norm were attired in their Whitetail Outpost professional archer’s shirts. Paul was adorned in a T-Shirt obtained from competitor’s swag during an IBO World Championship. Wes’ apparel was less intimating, his shirt respectful of the Master’s underway in Augusta.  As Mevko, Dave and I played through, I silently prayed for a non-embarrassing shot.

Walking away, I overheard these professional archers in conversation, Bart, “What if I woke up in the morning and was an …..hole? What would I be then?” Norm, “Well, you would be Paul” Next, a call directed toward our group, “Hi, can y’all take Bart with you?” Such are the words of wit and wisdom exchanged by professionals.

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Mevko’s fletching sliced by Dave’s arrow

Mevko, Dave and I continued to miss-fire over the course. Mevko and Dave hadn’t shot since the end of deer season.   Overall, we had as many 11’s as lost arrows.  I finished the day with a new record low having left one arrow stumped in the woods.  Paul had done his worst to us on this beautiful Sunday.  Nevertheless, the pro-guys left the course high in both spirit and score.

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Traditional archers pausing after completing the course
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Mevko, after the shoot and before the birthday party

 

Carlita’s Toes

Today, while running, my brain cleared – it didn’t take long, there wasn’t a lot of clutter floating around upstairs.  When my head opens thoughts and ideas pop into mental view.  On this run what popped in to my consciousness was Carlita’s foot apparel worn during Sunday’s 3D Tournament at Mid-Del Archery in Harrington, Delaware. (This isn’t weird in the way you might think)

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Running and “Trying” to think

The 3D tournament was an IBO Qualifier held at the Mid-Del Archers’ range.  It had been raining for weeks and the course was a mud hole.  Carlita is married to Wes and both are archers.  They were shooting during the tournament and grouped with a couple friends, John and Paul.  All four are excellent archers.

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Carlita

The tournament was a major event and as such the course was crowded.  There were assemblies of four or five archers weaving and crisscrossing the range to avoid the mire and standing water.  The soaked course could not be circumnavigated so some folks were shooting the front 15 targets then retracing their steps to the back 15 and vica-versa.  Sloshing about, I’d started on the back 15; I crossed paths with Carlita’s assembly on the front 15.  I hadn’t seen the four of them since we’d finished the Indoor League Competition at Cypress Creek.

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Wes

They are a wholesome group of people.  All of them are friendly, helpful, encouraging and quick to laugh.  I was pleased to see them.  The guys were ready for the potential of a muddy day having worn rugged footwear.  (Among all the competitors I noticed an abundance of work boots and knee high rubber boots.)  I’d chosen incorrectly and worn running shoes.  Having stopped to say hello to the quartet, I happened to glance down and noticed Carlita’s feet.

Carlita was wearing white, slight, flat, girly-strapped sandals.  They and her feet we mud free.  My mental conclusion was that someone, perhaps Wes, had been giving her piggyback rides.  What I’d tactlessly blurted out was, “You are wearing those!” Rather than a comment from anyone in the crowd in agreement with the obvious sandal blunder, Paul immediately focused onto Carlita’s possible need to have her toenails painted. Paul had initiated a toenail painting controversy!

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John

As argument and pontification on proper toenail artistry elevated it was suggested that: 1) She could have her toenails painted professionally, 2) she should paint them, or 3) Wes could paint them.  It was observed that since Wes was shooting so well, exemplifying steady hands, that he could certainly paint Carlita’s toenails.  The choices being debated, each with merits and detriment, heads bobbed from feet to speakers, the cluster of compadres centered on toes and painting. Meanwhile, their ignored arrows protruded from a headless coyote target 30 yards away. The conversation seemed mismatched to the mud, the guys, the bows, the targets, arrows and the swampy outdoors.  All I could do was listen and wonder. Paul smiled with satisfaction having ignited a fuse that threw vocal flame toward silent toes.

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Paul

Eventually, the debate floundered so that arrows and scores could be collected and recorded.   We moved away in oppose directions allowing more stoic archers’ to approach the headless canine. While I slopped along in mud I glanced back to see if Carlita was indeed being carried or if she was somehow levitating above the muck.  She was on her own, skillfully ambulating the high ground.

The shoot in Delaware was fun and aside from the muddy course a nice day.  I will have to ask, when I next see Carlita, how did her feet and shoes fare over the back 15. Such are the thoughts that float through my head while I run.

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