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.

Rest and Review

Thursday was an off day. I’ve been shooting a lot while trying to hit the target with my new bow. It has been a challenge – one that I’ve not yet surmounted.

Taking the day off is always stressful. If you’re competitive you may understand. It’s easy to fall into the thinking that more is better, when in fact a day off is a necessity.

Because I didn’t shoot on Thursday,  I had time to review my progress as an archer. Scores, form, sponsorship, financial breakdown and equipment maintenance are on the list of items I consider or look over when taking a break from the physical aspect of the sport.

My summary  made a few things clear: I’m going to need to add the long stabilizers and scope to compete for money. I need more sponsors. I need to win more and bigger events.

IBO World Championship 2015

I received my “Official Invitation” to compete at the IBO World Championship in the mail yesterday. It is a leap going from amateur to pro not only in the distance to the target but the price to compete.

My options for qualifying meant shooting as a Master (amateur), Senior Pro without restriction in stabilizers, sights, etc., or in the pro hunter class. The IBO doesn’t have a pro class for Masters. Their senior pro age begins at 50. I chose, this year, to try qualifying in the pro hunter class.IMG_3549

The advantage is that I shoot most frequently with the equipment used for the hunter class. The downside is that there doesn’t seem to be sub-sets for age. The age doesn’t disturb me, as much is the number of competitors that can qualify in what could be a large group.

The price is another big jump – nearly $100.00 more than shooting as an amateur. Still at $170.00 to enter the price is a lot less than an Ironman event. Ironman events range from $650.00 to $725.00 just to enter. But, at least in archery I stand a chance to win my money back.

Shooting in Toccoa, Georgia

When I travel for reasons that aren’t primarily related to competitive shooting I look for a tournament that can be tied to the trip. This trip to Georgia was for my oldest grandson’s birthday. Turning 5 he’ll point out that he’s no longer a little kid. I’d make plans to enjoy a birthday party and find a shoot.

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Sean in control of his celebration

In Georgia, aside from cake, ice cream and presents there was boating, fishing, trail riding by mountain bike and ATV, and a lot of archery. It’s great shooting there. The range I’ve set-up is surrounded by trees and forest and has very little wind. Back in North Carolina there’s wind everyday – the price paid for living on the coast.

Before going back to my home state I asked around in search of a 3D tournament on March 26th. Big John Chandler came through recommending a contest only 63 miles away from the lake house in Tignall. The 3D shoot was being put on by the “Soul Hunters”.

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“Big John” is a man that can be relied upon for help

I’ve competed in a number of “Soul Hunter” events in Elizabeth City and thought “Soul Hunters” was some sort of religious franchise. I learned from Wolfie Hughes that he’d come up with the name “Soul Hunters” and the group in Elizabeth City had asked if they too might use it.

Wolfie, at first glance, doesn’t come across as a ‘softie’. But, talking with the man I quickly learned that his manly-man appearance covers a big heart. He’s sincere about what his group is doing and agreed to share the name “Soul Hunters” with the group in North Carolina.

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Wolfie Hughes – has a heart of gold

I’d spoken with Wolfie by phone prior to making the trip to Georgia to make certain that their 3D event was on and to get directions. The directions were a bit cryptic but after a couple of driving misses I made it to the range.

The group in Georgia rents space from the Lake Russell Wildlife Management to set-up their range and run their shoot. The range is breathtakingly beautiful. The course was in full spring foliage and far from flat. On the coast where I shoot a lot it’s nearly exclusively flat. Here everything was up or downhill. Georgia is one of those states that include an Atlantic Coast line, mountains in the north, and flat land in the middle. North Carolina is similar but I’ve yet to make a shoot on the western hilly part of that state.

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Great location for a 3D shoot

After I arrived at the event and paid my registration fee I took several warm-up shots while doing what I always do – hunt for a party of shooters I can join. Today, that wasn’t really necessary. Before I could even ask, Dwayne and Patti invited me to shoot with them.

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Dwayne and Patti made be feel as if I’d known them for decades

Both are good archers and preparing for upcoming ASA events in Alabama. Dwayne works for Georgia Power and Patti is a chiropractor and a former exercise physiologist. She noticed my Ironman tattoo and that started an interesting conversation.

It turned out that Patti had also done an Ironman as well as adventure racing. She did endurance sports until she broke her knee. Today she focuses on archery.

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The three of us, Patti, Dwayne and I, had many tight groups .

I really enjoy traveling around and meeting other athletes. In 3D archery there’s time to talk between stakes. During indoor events, talking is a bit too distracting for me. But, outside in the woods, the pace is more relaxed. The folks I met in Toccoa at this tournament were welcoming as are most native Georgians.

I enjoy shooting everywhere I compete. But, I really love coming home to shoot. Being back in Georgia is different than going to others states. There’s a feeling I get when I’m home, I suppose I’ve got red clay in my blood. No matter what, it was great to finish this trip with an archery tournament in Georgia.

 

 

If You’re Going to Cheat, It’s Best Not to Get Caught (Yogi Berra)

I’ve been an athlete basically my entire life. Reading this you might think, “Well, so have I.” If you think that, it’s probably true. If you are athletically inclined and you compete, you probably have encountered cheaters; I know I have.

Cheaters cheat over a broad spectrum of sports. For example, in endurance sports like cycling and triathlon performance enhancing drugs or blood doping isn’t uncommon. Mentioning performance enhancing drugs (PED), I’m not referring to the “little blue pill” so popular on television during the evening news and any sports show. (I’m glad my children are grown and I don’t have to try and explain those commercials)

When I write about PED’s I mean the products made famous by the likes of Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, and Marion Jones. When I raced I raced in cycling and triathlon we knew who was doping.

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Someone once told me that the top pros in archery “cheat” by using beta-blockers. Beta-blockers are used to control abnormal heart conditions. They can slow the heartbeat and reduce tremors and anxiety.

In a recent video by Archery TV I noticed they had the heart rates of the shooters displayed. It was clear to me none of these archers were on beta-blockers. Related to reducing anxiety, I think beta-blockers should be allowed. Why?

Well, a great shooter might have amazing “stage-fright” and is at a loss to demonstrate his or her athletic skill because of a psychological problem. But, that’s not my call, and as I mentioned, I’ve not seen any evidence of beta-blocker misuse in archery.

That doesn’t mean I am not aware of archers around me that are taking beta-blockers. Decades of working with patients in the medical field have left me with a pretty good idea of who is likely to be on “prescribed” medications. Of course, I have no problem in that matter. My problem with cheaters in archery is less pharmaceutical and more the plain old fashion, low tech, fudging the numbers.

Fudging the numbers seems to occur in the local competitions. At the major tournaments it is probably impossible to boost a score by entering false data. In the minor meets, it happens. Here are a few examples:

The two man hustle.

You might think this is when two guys are shooting by themselves and each falsely recorded their scores – nope that’s another situation. This is were two guys that know each other have a routine (which may be informal or even undeclared) of adding points to their buddies shots.

In the two-man hustle the companions volunteer to call the score and pull the arrows. This hustle works best when the group contains only 3 competitors. Bonus is when the outside man, now the guy recording the scores, is shooting in a different class. The hustlers have a pattern. The deceitful duo approaches the target. Both somewhat block the view. The fellow calling the score on any close shot boosts the score to next highest level. As such, an 8 near the 10 line, becomes a 10. The fellow keeping the score is often head down trying to get scores right and misses the variance between score called and shot made.

The Big Man Bluff

Not everyone can pull this off. It is best done by someone that has a reputation of getting good shots and works best on paper targets. What happens is that over the course of a contest the center ring become obliterated. (Before one of the judges has a chance to notice and replace the target) A shot that is clearly off the line is challenged by the shooter, “That’s a 10!” He does so with force in his voice. What can happen? Someone in the group might call for the judge and the judge will rule it a nine. If the group is properly intimidated (or doesn’t really give a darn) the Big Man gets his 10 without a judge’s ruling.

The Solo Shooter

This guy is too obvious. Now, he’s not exactly shooting alone. He’s in a small group and often has the biggest personality (at least in his mind). Frequently he’s a fast talker and in a group of one or two other shooters. He’ll say something like this, “Let’s just keep our own scores.” Others, perhaps feeling awkward at the request, and feeling a sense of pride that they can be responsible to keep an honest score, agree. Solo shooter is a pretty good shot, but rarely as good as his scores. When solo shooter can’t manage to retain possession of his own card, he’ll be proclaiming what a bad day he’s having.

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The Score Keeper

These guys might be a good shots and you will certainly not be a better shot based on your score. The “Score Keeper” manages all the cards (this doesn’t work where there are two score keepers). He’ll see that your occasional 10 becomes an 8. This works best if you happen to hit more than one 8. His scores may include a few extra points and so might his friends’ scores. It’s not so much that he has to win, rather you have to lose.

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Range Hounds

Range hounds are those folks that pre-shoot a course. Here I am not referring to the volunteers that help set-up targets. Those guys have a very slight advantage in that they’ve seen some of the targets beforehand. On a 30-target course, the volunteers might put up 3 – 5 targets each. They might even recall the distances. I’ve helped set-up a course. It did help a little, but not a lot. If volunteers have a very slight advantage – they deserve it. The Range Hound is different.

These guys are at their worst on long standing indoor or private ranges. They own the course – sometimes literally. They will have practiced on it so often have the distances memorized.

During one indoor contest I watched a few of these shooters. They’d shoot the first target, then without hesitation, adjust their sight’s elevation, then shoot the next and so forth. I suppose if the range is yours and you allow others to come shoot that is fine. But, if you’re going to charge a fee for a tournament, well, that person, the Range Hound,  really should remove himself or herself from the event or at least not compete against the paying shooters.

There are likely dozens of other methods to enhance a score that don’t require accurate shooting. What I’ve written about here are only those I come across a time or two. Should you be one practiced in the art of score enhancement, I’m not going to call you out. I shoot for the fun of it and don’t want the stress of pointing a finger. Truly, for those guys that select more nefarious scoring techniques, I don’t care too much for you.

The Best Laid Plans

Some days are harder than others. Saturday was one of those days. There was an indoor 3D shoot and an organized bike ride and I wanted to do both. Neither would pan out as I’d hoped.

Rather than begin with the ride, it was not a race rather a fundraiser, I started with the indoor shoot. The shoot would be over by noon and I might make the ride if I could get on and off the range before noon.  So, in order to do both, I’d shoot then go do the ride.

When I arrived at the range I almost decided not to shoot. I took one look are realized I could barely make out the targets.  It wasn’t the distance, it was the lighting.

What they had done, with what I am sure were the best intentions, was to have opened a large side bay door at the back of the range to let light natural  illuminate the massive arena. The problem was that the ambient light washed out the overhead lamps and made silhouettes of all but the last row of animals.

The dark targets, javelina, skunk, a frog, a turkey and other dark objects were nothing more than dark shapes.  It made for a seriously challenging exercise. A challenge I considered avoiding and moving cycling to the primary spot on my morning’s activities. In fact, after my first glance, I got back into my truck and began to leave.

However, I decided to shoot.  Not every contest is going to be ideal and this one was going to be hard.  The shoot lived up to my expectations.  I finished with a disappointing score but only 0.3 points below my per shot average.  What was disappointing was that I should have shot better.  Not a single shot “felt” good. Still was wasn’t all bad.

The highlight of the competition was one good-natured young man. The kid was polite, all smiles, and working in earnest to see that everything ran smoothly. He did an exceptional job throughout the morning.

The shoot took so long, there was a large crowd, that by the time I got home, even leaving as quickly as possible I missed the organized ride. Instead of trying to make the ride, which I wouldn’t have, I had lunch, and then took a bike ride solo. Some days plans just don’t work.

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.