Evaluating Performance

In my last competition I shot 1.48 points per target below average. Compared to the last time I shot the same course I’d improved by 14 points overall. Nevertheless, the finish was sub-par.

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Shooting one arrow above the other for placement practice

After each competition I evaluate my performance. Why did I shoot better, why did I shoot worse, what were the good shots and why? What were the conditions? Yesterday’s met was not different when it came to taking time to review.

Two days prior to the shoot I needed to change bows. The one that I shoot 3D with needed a repair and wasn’t available. This meant having to use my indoor target bow, a much heavier product. Still, I shoot okay with it.

The arrows I shoot indoors are Easton Fat Boys. These aren’t my favorites for 3D. Outside, the wind was going to be rough so I selected a less thick arrow. This meant some slight adjustments to my sight, rest and loop. Plus, I’d changed from a scope, used indoors, to fixed pins for 3D. Not a problem.

With two days prior to the tournament and re-sighting the bow meant I spent all my time shooting paper – no 3D animals. I have four: a deer, coyote, turkey and a cougar. The week before, two days out from a tournament (which I won) I only shot 3D animals.

Getting the mental image of an animal engrained in my head means shooting at animals. I hadn’t done that even once before this tournament. I think this was the primary error I made coming into the tournament.

Trying to make practice as close to competition helps. I’d been wrong not spending more time on foam animals. This week, I focus more on animals and see where it leads me.

A Challenging Day Shooting 3D

On Saturday I shot in the Roanoke Archers’ 3D tournament. They’re a member of the Down East Archery Coalition’s clubs that hold  3D competitions here in eastern North Carolina. Early in the day the weather promised to make things interesting and fulfilled that promise. The range is tough and the club does not shy away from using all the real estate on the course.IMG_3443

Aside from a challenging course, what I like is that the club is only an hour from my house. I try keeping driving  time for local competition less than 2 hours one way. Spending four hours on the road then adding three to four hours at a range makes for a long day. A one hour drive is very reasonable. Heck, from my house it’s 30 minutes to reach a major intersection.  By major intersection, a country road that interests a state highway.

Driving to the shoot it rained non-stop. The rain continued for a bit once we (River, my dog made the trip)  reached our destination, but stopped pretty much as the forecast had predicted. The rest of the day was beautiful.

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The folks that had come early to shoot had rushed off the range to take cover from the rain and were headed back on course as I approached registration. Patrick and Leon, two guys I’d shot with in the past, were in the clubhouse as I signed in. Leon invited me to shoot with them. We had a trio.

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Leon at the stake while Patrick watches

On the range, the sounds of arrows zipping through the trees attested to the complex nature of the targets. The archers shooting in the Pro Class weren’t missing targets. But, all the pros I talked with had at least one 8.

This course hurt me the last time I shot it. Tis try was better by 14 points, but still 1.48 points per target below my average. Back at the clubhouse I heard that one fellow was 6 up and another 2 up and they were still shooting.

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It’s nice to show -up solo for a shoot and find people to shoot with that aren’t strangers. Shooting with Leon and Patrick made for a fun afternoon even if I got more than a fair share of 8’s.

When I got  home there was still time to get in a bike ride. River, also glad to be home went for a swim while I rode. It’s hard to beat days like this that closed on a high note dinner of fresh baked biscuits and venison chili.

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River Being Proud

Cool, a nice medal from USA Archery and the perfect model to show it off.

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For years, River has “modeled” awards for me. This medal, from USA Archery, arrived today. When I opened the package she immediately tried to put it around her neck. Once it’s on, she seems serious and proud. It makes me wonder about reincarnation and who she might have been. When she sees medals she acts like she knows what they are and wants to wear them.

 

A Great Burger and Tournament in Delaware

On Sunday March 29th, Mid-Del Archery held an IBO 2015 World Championship Qualifier. I was eager to try for a qualifying ticket and looked forward to seeing friends from Delaware and Maryland. Aside from that, I’d been anticipating one of the hamburgers they serve in their clubhouse.

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Mid-Del Archery Club in Harrington, Delaware

Most of the guys I’ve shot with from the Maryland, a group known as Team Trailer Park, had driven to West Virginia to qualify in late 2014. At that time, I was coming off a busy season of shooting in addition to 12 races. On the weekend of the West Virginia competition I was exhausted and decided not to make the trip. I’d gamble on success in Harrington, Delaware.

On Sunday the weather was cold and windy. It had been raining and snowing meaning the range promised to be muddy. That promise was kept. River, my lab, came with me and would need to wait in the truck while I shot.

Clyde and Jim, Officers of Mid-Del, were on hand in the clubhouse to assist with registration. Jim is a very dedicated archer. In addition to his range management duties he is diligent in his support of Delaware Senior Olympics.

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River, tail wagging, happy to see the guys

Clyde may be the best archer in the world, I won’t know. What I do know is Clyde makes the best hamburgers in the world. His burgers are better than any other I’ve ever tasted, they are quite amazing. I have no idea how he does it, but they are really very, very good.

After signing in I found two guys I knew, Bruce and Al, to shoot with. Our group also included Shawn and Anthony. Bruce and Al have been to numerous IBO World Championships. Both shoot in the Senior Hunter Class. Shawn was shooting in the Open Class he’d be a bit further back from the target. Anthony is a paraplegic and would be shooting from the stake in from of Bruce and Al’s.

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Not the groups’ best shots of the day, but pretty good.

The course wasn’t completely muddy but there was enough. Much of the ground was still frozen and hadn’t turned to mud. Anthony had a few tricky spots that required some serious effort to maneuver his wheelchair. Anthony plays Lacrosse, basketball, and tennis so the 3D terrain wasn’t too demanding.

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Shawn in the center, Al on the stool and Anthony in the wheelchair
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Forgot to take a photo before I started eating

Along the way we picked up another archer shooting a traditional bow, Charles. Charles is very experienced and has earned high finishes at the Nationals and has won many major competitions. On one target our compound bow group had practically circled the center 11. We said, “Put it in the middle, Charles!” He did – it was an incredible shot that was followed by yells and cheers.

Finally off the range, my primary objective was one of Clyde’s burgers. River joined me in the clubhouse. She could smell the burgers and acted very hopeful. Neither of us was disappointed. Like I mentioned, I have no idea how he does it but Clyde cooks is one amazing burger.

It was great seeing the  guys in Delaware. I wanted to stay longer but needed to drive back to North Carolina.  I left with the two things I’d come for, a burger and a ticket to the World Championship.

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Another great burger and tournament, thanks Y’all.

A Challenging Course in Beaufort County

On Sunday March 22nd, the Beaufort County Archery Club, near Washington, NC, held its second 3D shoot of 2015. The drive to the range from Hertford was, as usual, a picturesque trip through rural eastern North Carolina. River, my lab, who’d loaded herself into my Ford F-150 and made the trek with me. Once there, she made a few new friends and so did I.

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River keeping a watchful eye on me as I head to registration

On the warm-up range I began the game of finding others to shoot with on the course. I noticed a guy shooting alone and asked if he was waiting on a group.  He didn’t have a group so we began putting together a quartet. Within a short time we’d added two others and our newly minted a band of four was on the challenging course.

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Angelo, John and Carlson

Let me qualify what I mean by challenging.   This was my second time at the Beaufort County Archery Club’s range and what I’ve learned is that they don’t shy away from yardage. The scores posted after the first shoot averaged 157. The Pro average was 189 and the bow hunter average was 160. (Twenty targets)

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Registration

Our group held two shooters taking aim from the white stakes, 45 yards maximum, and two from the red stakes, 40 yards maximum. It seemed the white stake distance variance was usually on the long side. Shooting with pins and hoping for 12’s is a haul from 45 to 50 yards. But, long shots are so much fun and increase the challenge!

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Angelo at the white stake in the foreground. John at the red stake in the distance. Ahead among the pine trees is the target, a boar.

The event gathered a lot of archers. By stake 6, our group, Angelo, Carlson, John and I decided we’d cut over to the back side of the range and shoot targets 15 – 20 in hopes the congestion would thin when we returned for targets 7 – 14. The planned worked and we held a decent pace.

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From stake 5 looking down range 

Our troop harmonized, quickly. It wasn’t long before there was good humor and friendly exchange of legends, accolades and advice. Despite the week’s prior rain we’ve had here on the east coast the range was high and dry for the most part. However, getting off the beaten path, for example in search of a rebellious arrow, would land a stray in mud, muck and swamp water within a matter of a few feet.

During the day I ran into Phillip and his son Hunter who I’d shot with at the Pitt County Wildlife Club last week. True to their form they were all smiles. Hunter was still finding humor in the prior week’s “turkey butt shot.”

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We all had this little guy’s number

Archers that put it on the line during 3D competition are as a rule good folks. Aside from having to be accurate with a bow they must be good at judging distance. All of them have good days and better days. Among them there seems to be an unstated understanding that a good shot or bad shot can be yours at any stake. As such, the people on 3D ranges are for the most part pleasant, humble, and generous. The crowd at the Beaufort County shoot today and the guys I shot with exemplified what is best about sport.

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Time to relax, share stories of victory and get warm

 

Pitt County Wildlife Club’s March 3D Tournament

Sunday, March 15th, was another wonderful day spent shooting outside. The Pitt County Wildlife Club held a 3-D Tournament on their range near Farmville, NC. The course was well manicured and the targets were a challenge. During this adventure, while warming up, I was invited to shoot with a father and son team.

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Pitt County Wildlife Club

Phillip, the father, is a seasoned archer who has competed on the ASA Pro-Am Tour. He says, “Having a family and work made him too busy to compete” and now he shoots for fun. He also coaches his son, Hunter, a 13-year-old, who aside from archery is active in football and baseball. Phillip has two other children, daughters, both in college on academic and athlete scholarships. Hunter, tall for 13, could have a promising future in sports.

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Phillip and Hunter

At the first two stakes there was a mob of archers. It was clear the horde was going to be slow so we decided to jump ahead to stake 3. From there forward it was smooth sailing. We’d pick up targets 1 and 2 on the return trip.

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The Tar River

The 3D range ran parallel with Tar River, which presented spectacular scenery. Before long we added a fourth to our group, Lena a traditional archer from Poland. She shot with us until regrouping with another traditional archer and his family.

Our team of three wasted no time on the range. Although we’d had a late start we completed the 20 targets in less than 2 hours. Throughout the event I was entertained listening to Hunter. He’s huge for 13 but the conversation remained that of a youngster. His optimistic anticipation of, “I hope that they have that polar bear again, they had one last year,” was amusing. And when a foam turkey was position with its head looking away from the stake he couldn’t help but state, “Look, we have to shoot that turkey in the butt!” “Have you ever seen a turkey you have to shoot in the butt?” It was the ‘butt-shot’ that any 13-year-old boy would find humorous no matter his physical size. (Actually, 60-year boys find it funny, too.)

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Farm land on the drive home

I  enjoyed shooting with Phillip and Hunter. Phillip, a friendly guy, seems like a great dad and Hunter is a respectful and courteous young man. I’ve always thought you can measure the results of parenting through the actions of children. While not trying to be judgmental, I’d say Phillip is doing an excellent job.

It was another memorable competition. The range is located in a beautiful spot of eastern North Carolina. Like many other clubs where I’ve competed I’ll look forward to another trip to the Pitt County Wildlife Club.

A Good Start and a Lucky Finish

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Morning of march 7th

Saturday March 7th started off good. The sunrise was magnificent and the weather, which had been cold and rainy, was making a turn for the better. My plan for the day was to drive the Roanoke Archers’ range in Plymouth, NC and take aim at qualifying for the North Carolina ASA State Championship.

Last year, the 3D tournaments that I’d focused on were IBO. IBO contests are hard to find here in NC. ASA is new to me.   Only recently had I sent my membership application and fee to the ASA Headquarters in Kennesaw, GA. They returned to me an ASA number on March 6th. While waiting for that to occur I tried to figure out the ASA rules and divisions.

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Holly Neck Church of Christ Established in 1882. This is one of many country church I pass as I drive in rural NC.

The general rules weren’t difficult to understand. The divisions were less clear. For example, their senior hunter division includes the 50 – 59 ages. The equipment for that group, aside from a bow, is a short stabilizer and fixed pins – got it. There is a division above the senior hunter, the super senior for those archers over 60. By age, I fit into the super senior division.

Because the senior hunter group shot with a hunting set-up I considered shooting there. But, chronologically I fall into the super senior group. I thought I should shoot in that division. I may have chosen wrong.

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There’s a bear 36 yards away from Patrick as he views his target.

I didn’t know the super senior equipment regulations. Was this a hunter class or an open style class? I gambled and left for the tournament with my hunter class rig. I learned, too late, I should have grabbed my other bow; the one with a few more shot refining attachments.

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Even if I’d not been shooting, this would have been a nice hike through the woods

The frustration of having what might be considered a slight competitive disadvantage no doubt weighted on me. I also doubt whether those refining attachments would have been much help. One thing was certain, I couldn’t judge yardage on Saturday March 7th.

On a positive note, the course, like so many others, was excellent. I shot with three folks I hadn’t met, Leon, Patrick and Chris and they all gave me a polite lessons in humility. Despite my rough shooting a bit of luck was with me and I qualified for the ASA State Championship. So a day that started good finished on a high note.

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One of the last targets, a low down gator

 

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.