Extra Effort by a Tournament Official

The 2017 North Carolina State 50-meter Outdoor Championship was a hot one. The heat index was estimated a 111°F. The measured ambient temperate on the range was 100°F. The temperature is not what impressed me. It was the head judge that impressed me most about the tournament.

Tents starting to go up about an hour before warm-up

George “Guy” Hutcherson was the main ‘everything’ for the tournament in Burlington, NC. From organization to awards, he did a lot. He didn’t do it all, he had help. But, Guy was the guy. He kept it all running smoothly.

Guy was everywhere! He set out targets, drew lines, set stakes, helped with check-in, answered questions, and ran the show. For a minute I wondered whether Guy had a twin. No, he did not have a twin and his red face was evidence of how hard he was working in the heat.

Never once, did I hear a short answer or abrupt comment come from Guy. He helped everyone in need. He ran a smooth tournament that did not become bogged down.

When it was all over with surely the man was exhausted. I hope he has a break to recover. Guy Hutcherson – I appreciate all the work you put into this NC event. It was hard; anyone watching could not have missed how hard you worked. Thank you.

North Carolina State Outdoor Archery Championships

I’m headed to Burlington, NC for the USA Archery North Carolina State Outdoor Championships. This will be nearly a first for me, that is a 50-meter tournament.

I’ll be camping at Jones Station near Mebane. The Winnebago is hooked up and ready to hit the road. The campground is about 15 minutes from Burlington.

Once before I tried a 50-meter tournament, but walked off the range before it was completed. That one was in Georgia. It was really a sporting experience that remains hard to believe.

In Georgia, after six hours of judges trying to get archers through 72 arrows we were still shooting. It was truly amazing. Heck, I had to leave – I had to get home. Home was another 3 hours on the road. Later, I learned the event wasn’t completed until 11:00 PM. I’d arrived at 2:00 PM. That soured me on 50-meters.

During that tournament the sky was clear, very little wind, and a tad on the hot side.  To this day, I have no idea why the officials could not keep that tournament rolling. In hindsight, it was a waste of time.

I’ll give it another try this weekend. The posted start times gives me the impression that shooting 72 arrows is not going to take six hours.

Training and Tapering

I wasn’t tired. My arrows were hitting fine. But, there’s a point where you need to be careful not to over do it. I stopped after just 132 arrows for the day. I eased back on purpose.

I’ve gone into tournaments tired. Fatigue earned from shooting and other activities such as running, riding and swimming.

Tapering in archery is a skill I have yet to master. Trying to equate it to other sports does not work. I tried to cipher a top dog coach’s plan and incorporate his suggestions. His work was a general-purpose plan that he provided to all his athletes.

At the onset of training for a new sport one plan fits many is fine. As athletes gain skill those plans need to change. No two athletes are alike. The master coach’s plan (master level coaching skill rank assigned by the coach) became apparent had been created by evaluating a running schedule and adapting it for archery. That won’t work – I know I tried.

My statistics of each practice seem to be equating to some degree with heart rate and effort for running. That is, I’ve observed peaks and valleys well enough to see trends. I’m not sure if the variance in the stats is as much a result of physical fatigue as a combination of physical and mental. The range in the variance is about 3%.

No matter what, I felt like 132 arrows (50-meter) over two practices session was enough for the day.

There’s not a lot of cheating in archery – or is there?

To be sure, I’ve not noticed any of the people I shoot with cheating. I hear about cheating from time to time. But, the stories are pretty much as far as it goes. Old legends about someone that others claim to have known of or heard about that didn’t shoot by the rules.

There’s a tale about a father and son that had multiple scorecards, a second set to complete in privacy before submitting to judges. The couple would hang around after shooting and listen for incoming scores. Once they gathered enough intelligence they’d slip away, create winning numbers on their backup scorecards and turn those theorized results over to officials.

There’s the story of fans delivering yardage information to their favorite archer. That seems to be a method of foul play that might be easily detected. It’s hard to imagine one archer in a foursome that is being whispered to by a spectator before the shooter approachs a stake in 3D and that not being suspicious.

“The deer is at 32 yards”

Another unlikely way to cheat that people have written about is the sprint and pull. This is where an archer jogs ahead of others toward a target that has been shot. The sprinter arrives at the faux-animal, pulls his arrow, and yells back to the scorekeeper his preferred score. This too seems an unlikely activity. There’s not an abundance of joggers competing in archery.

The miss-call of a line cutter is sometimes employed. It rarely works. This is when one archer, the shooter for example, claims his arrow is cutting the line. Whether it is or isn’t becomes a group decision. Maybe the line cutter can gain a point with a strong debate. Maybe not. If the point or two is given, based on a group consensus, then I don’t think this is cheating. I’ve gathered that lawyer/archers have better success using the miss-call debate technique.

The “Special” arrow is another technique that has floated around the range gossip. This is where an archer has a “special” arrow that is outside the weight range of a 3D competition. The “special” arrow is kept hidden in the quiver.  Should a judge ask for an arrow to check the weight a regular arrow is provided. The “special” faster arrow is never offered to the judge. On the range, however, the “special” arrow is employed to sink top marks on target after target. Seems a bit desperate.

No, I still think there is very little cheating in archery. There is sandbagging, where archers win time and again in a specific class and refuse to move to more advanced shooting. Even that isn’t too big a deal.

The biggest problem I see is doping. Yep, doping. And that’s not even an issue for IBO or ASA. USA Archery probably turns a blind eye to doping in the age groups over 50. The reason being the dope of choice for archers is a beta-blocker. It also happens to be a drug that helps keep a whole lot of archers over 50 from dying due to their hypertension. You can’t require folks with high-blood pressure to stop taking a potentially life prolonging drug in order to play.  If you did, you’d lose a lot of participants.

Cleary for archers, the dope of choice is a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers lower the heart rate, reduce anxiety and decrease muscle tremors. That is why FITA, ISSF and the USA Archery ban drugs like propranolol in archery. FITA and ISSF ban them during and outside of competition.1

From a competitive standpoint, this is what makes beta-blockers so interesting: they seem to level the playing field for anxious and non-anxious performers, helping nervous performers much more than they help performers who are naturally relaxed.2

Part of the problem is, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure, or about 1 in 3 adults. About 7 out of 10 people with high blood pressure take something, like a beta-blocker, to treat their hypertension. And, high blood pressure is on the rise, up 13% since 2001.3-7

If you compete in USA Archery events, have high blood pressure and are on medication to reduce your odds of dying from that condition there may be a therapeutic exemption. I don’t know, I didn’t check.

The IBO’s statement on this matter is:

“Using performance enhancing drugs. Recognizing the IBO/3-DI affiliation with FITA; the IBO is developing a substance abuse policy. We may be recognizing guidelines along the same structure as those utilized by FITA in their International competitions. Be advised, these guidelines may be implemented in the near future and may come into use with no further warning after this advisory” 8 That’s fairly vague.

I could not find any statement from the ASA and I didn’t check NFAA. It didn’t matter that much to me to search any longer for the ASA and NFAA. I think that if you have a blood pressure problem it is more important to treat it than to worry whether or not you have a potentially slight competitive advantage, unless you are making a living through archery. Then, there is a problem; because it is highly likely you will perform better with the beta-blocker.

Of course, very few people are actually making a living-wage as a professional archer.  Most of those are in a lower risk group for hypertension.  The older folks earning money shooting may or may not be on beta-blockers.  But, we’d rather have them shooting and on beta-blockers than putting their lives on the line to earn a few thousand dollars a year. If they’re older and not on beta-blockers and still winning, well they’re just that good and the hypertensive archer is not an issue.

Can someone tell if you are taking a beta-blocker? Well, not without evidence. But, it isn’t hard to guess, especially for someone that’s spent decades studying hypertension. Rather, a medical professional can tell who is likely to have high blood pressure; whether or not they are treating it can’t be told by looking. For that, you’d have to pee in a jar.



  1. FITA, ISSA Statements
  2.  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/08/in-defense-of-the-beta-blocker/306961/
  3. Merai R, Siegel C, Rakotz M, Basch P, Wright J, Wong B; DHSc., Thorpe P. CDC Grand Rounds: A Public Health Approach to Detect and Control Hypertension. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Nov 18;65(45):1261-1264
  4. Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2015 Update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015;e29-322.
  5. Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123:933–44.
  6. Palar K, Sturm R. Potential societal savings from reduced sodium consumption in the U.S. adult population. Am J Health Promot. 2009;24:49–57.
  7. Guide to Community Preventive Services. Cardiovascular disease prevention and control: team-based care to improve blood pressure control.
  8. IBO rules

Today was that day

First 6 warm up arrows. Hey, I know the target looks weak. It stops the arrows.

The morning went like so many others, run, ride, and then shoot. The running and riding only took about 90 minutes. Shooting was another 90 minutes before I stopped.

Paddling my Current Concepts “Storm”. It’s a big boat at 17 feet and 1 inch.

Archery practice was 50-meters. Things were going well. Well enough until I shot a 5. The shot was so off I was surprised I didn’t miss the target entirely. Mentally, I’d run out of steam.

Brenda in one of our 2 Necky Looksha boats.
Osprey nest or Lorax nest?

It was only the 48th arrow of the morning. Still, it was time to take a break. I’d have lunch, take a nap and get back to it around 2 in the afternoon. I didn’t make it back.

Just up river from our house. I suppose we are on the wrong side of it.

Instead, Brenda and I took a couple of kayaks and headed out for a long paddle.

Can’t get a Carolina Skiff into that opening but a kayak fits
At 90 degrees today, I am happy to have been on the water and not in that tent

There are days when it is good to have a diversion. Today was that day.

I’ve ridden my bike on this pier entering on the land side.
Here it is from a bike

2017 Virginia State IBO Championship and IBO World Championship Qualifier

The Virginia State IBO Championship and IBO World Championship qualifier is in the books for 2017. The Augusta Archers near Staunton, Virginia hosted the tournament. The event attracted a large number of shooters, I was among them.

The Augusta Archers have an excellent place for an outdoor range. Their land is a thickly covered hilly old Southern forest. Old is a guess based on the number of hardwoods on the property.

It was certainly a hilly course located between the scenic Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains near the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. My campsite for the few days I was there was just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As dense as the forest was the ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects were not a problem – a pleasant surprise. The hills, I knew were going to present a challenge for me since 99% of all the 3D targets I’ve ever shot are on flat land.

The Augusta Archers’ range did not disappoint. All targets were placed to make them interesting and realistic. Clearly, a lot of thought had gone into the arrangement.

I love shots like this one. This photo is zoomed in so you can see the animal. It took us a few minutes to locate it from the stake. If I recall I shot it for 33 yards and got a 10.

Of course, the range designers set it up to give us a few brainteasers. One of the best was a two shot sequence. The first was a huge bedded elk. The elk was placed across a deep gorge. From the shooters’ stakes the terrain dipped down the steep ravine of around 20 yards in depth. The elk was then sitting 10 yards up the other side between 32 and 43 yards from the archers in my group depending on their class. The next target was a turkey staked around 24 – 32 yards away standing on rocks in a small stream. From huge to small the targets made you think.

This might be the largest target I’ve ever shot

Aside from me the group I shot with consisted of a mother/daughter team in the FBO class, Ginger and Sarah, respectively. Jay, an advanced hunter class shooter completed our quartet.

Zoomed in to see the target. It was close, 27 yards. The angle and trees make it interesting and fun.

The range was large. Our group was the second out in the morning on Sunday. We were never forced to wait for a target and moved along without stopping other than to shoot. The 30 targets still took over four hours to complete. There was a lot of walking. This is not a complaint. The land was so picturesque the trek is worth repeating.

Jay checking out a coyote in a dark hole. This was a long shot at a small target. Our group left the stake with an 11, a 10 and two 8s

Part of the slowness was time lost to hunt arrows that missed the mark. As tough as the course was I was happy not to have been one of those that ended up with a zero. Aside from the misses I witnessed, I heard a few other arrows zipping past their intended goal and banging off trees.

So, the course was hard, but certainly manageable and every target had a very clear line -even if it at times it was tight. Ideal to sort out archery skills. For me, where I had shots that I wanted to take back it was never the distance, target, or its location.  My biggest problem was the lack of experience aiming and balancing on ground that wasn’t as level as I am used to standing on when shooting.

After the last target, a badger on stake 30, we returned to the clubhouse and submitted our scorecards. There were two officials laboring over a pile of scorecards, papers, forms and documents. It was impressive how much paperwork goes into managing a competition such as this tournament. I, for one, appreciated their hard work.

It was a challenging and beautiful course. If there’d been time, I would have enjoyed shooting it again for fun. Seriously, one of the most beautiful ranges I’ve shot.

I brought home a new belt buckle to hold up my pants

On the Road – Staunton, Virginia

I doubt I’ll go to the 2017 IBO World Championship in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. Last year’s event was not a highlight of my archery career. In addition, unless you can average 10.4 points per arrow there’s not much point in spending the money to make the trip. Sure, you could argue, “It’s a good experience.” You’d be right. If you’re willing to fund the trip – I’m there.

Still, I’m in Staunton to shoot an IBO World Championship qualifier. Between now and the main IBO event, who knows, my 3D average might spike.

Staunton is not around the corner from New Hope, North Carolina. It’s about 260 miles from my house to the Augusta Archers’ Club, host of the qualifier. I’d considered making the trip and renting a hotel. Instead, this is being typed from my Winnebago at a KOA Campground.

The KOA was booked online. The site clicked for the reservation was really nice. Bordered by trees and backed up to a small ‘lake.’ It’s not really a lake; it’s a medium (at best) pond. But, the site looked good and it was booked.

Upon arrival the registration clerk pointed out the site’s location on the campground map. The campsite’s position had changed from the clicked on photo shown during the online selection. Now, it was a narrow, treeless mat of gravel backed up to a visitors’ parking lot and bordered by other camping rigs.

The debate to improve the parking situation with the registration agent failed, the clerk claiming all spots were rented. Furthermore, she added with emphasis, “The computer assigns sites and there is nothing that can be done about it.” As proof, she rotated a computer screen for me to view to verify exactly what the 0’s and 1’s had assigned. There’s no arguing with a speechless electronic binary brain. The monitor glowed in my face offering no compromise. Essentially, it was keep HAL’s bait and switch site or KOA retains my deposit and I move on.

(HAL is an AI from 2001 A Space Odyssey. The initials HAL each represent one letter from alphabet moved one space each from IBM. This is being typed on an Apple. If you never saw the movie or read the book this all is meaningless to you)

Deciding that any spot might be better than the Wal-Mart parking lot I backed into the small stony space. Once the truck was unhooked then power, water and sewage were connected I rolled out the RV’s canopy to help keep the sun off the camper. It had to be reeled back in. The site is so tight the canopy extended partly over the road. It was foreseeable that another RV could drive past and rip the canvas extension off the rig.

With nothing else to be done, I took a short practice drive over to the Augusta Archers range to ensure there’d be no confusion in the morning. The drive only took about 18 minutes, a bonus for the KOA.

The grounds, from what I could see on the drive in, were very nice. I’ll find out first hand on Sunday. The IBO qualifier here is held over two days. It was finished for Saturday when I arrived.

A number of competitors were hanging out in the Augusta Archers clubhouse, which holds a decent indoor range. The archers were all men except for one woman. The lady was pretty much the only person that appeared willing to talk aside from the most verbally economic answering of questions directed toward any of the men.

That is until we hit upon Seven Springs. Then, the masculine group all wanted to share and one-up each other on their woeful experiences at the Pennsylvania site. It seems my abysmal adventure of 2016 might not have been the worst in this group.

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll get in zone and shoot over 300. Certainly, I’ll qualify – just in case.

Ninety in the Morning

I have this friend that competes in a lot of archery tournaments. He’s shot in Europe and the US. He’s been at it for decades and he’s good. But, I don’t buy into his training plan.

Now, I do have an advantage over him. I can practice 3D, 18-meter, outdoor and field by walking to whichever range I need to practice. By friend has to make a drive to a range.

Living out in the country does beat living in a city.

When he’s on the range, say outdoor 50-meter, he’ll stay for hours and shoot around 400 arrows. It works for him. The better way, in my opinion, is to break up practice session.

Generally, I practice twice a day. Some days I’ll shoot three times. Mostly, though, it is morning and afternoon. If I know I’ll have a mid-day shoot time, I’ll add a third practice to my schedule to become accustom to shooting through or around lunch.

Each of my practices lasts between one and a half to three hours, depending on how much walking is involved. I’ll shoot between 60 and 120 arrows each practice. That is unless I am doing a mock-tournament where I shoot exactly the way I’d be required to shoot in the tournament. This morning I stopped at 90. I’ll get the second 90 this afternoon.

Shoot 5 arrows, back-up and repeat

The problem with shooting hundreds of arrows without a break in both physical and mental. Physically, we fatigue inviting small errors that can become problematic to correct. Mentally, the brain needs a break.

As nice as this is, a couple of hours and it is time for a break

My friend lives in Europe. Hopefully, we’ll be competing against one another during of the major tour events in 2018. I do keep an eye on his scores for 18-meters and 50-meters. His last 50-meter score beat mine by 10 points.

Ending Another Road Trip

The trip to Georgia for the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM wasn’t 100% about archery. There was a lot of archery with practice “on the lot” and competition “done there at that park.” In addition, we had running, kayaking, visiting with one of our daughters and her son, and hanging out with my father-in-law. We missed our son-in-law. He’s not yet retired.

River along for a run

We also didn’t make it to Savannah. So, I didn’t see Mama, my brother, sister or the pile of nieces and nephews that live there. Nor did I have time to visit my cousins that live only a few hours away or many good friends that are in our home State of Georgia. Alas, time is too short and we must return to North Carolina.

On the trip home we drove nearby the old Lain farm. We didn’t stop and visit our cemetery packed with buried relatives, as is our travel practice. If the timing is correct we’ll pause in Florence to eat at the Thunderbird Inn. The timing was correct.

The Thunderbird serves a buffet that is okay. It’s not the food that brings us back it is tradition.

While I began the process of package and stowing gear I thought about the shoot over the past weekend. It was my second major ASA event the first the same from the prior year. I leave disappointed with Saturday and pleased with Sunday.

What the disappointment taught me was to shoot the way I train. On Saturday I shot sloppy. Not sloppy because of the rain. Sloppy because I too often didn’t follow my complete sequence for each shot on every shot. Sunday I slowed down and thought through what it was I needed to be doing on each shot. It made a difference. Primarily, I made no big errors, like using a 40-yard pin to shoot 30 yards. Such erroneous placement of a pin, both yellow in this case, only yields positive results where enough other errors are in place to compensate. In other words, “Dumb luck.”

I’ve been friends with Brian, in the Bowtech jersey, for a couple of years beginning through Facebook. He’s appeared here, at Putting it on the Line, before. We met face to face in Appling. Pretty cool.

After the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM I compared it to the 2016 edition. One of the primary highlights was visiting with people. Three years ago I didn’t know any of them. This year when we met it was all smiles and handshakes. Three years and eight months ago, I didn’t own a bow. That whim purchase brought the bonus of new friendships and experiences. Not a bad deal for what was a fairly expense purchase, a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 – now obsolete. That’s a darn shame; I’d like another just like it. The bow worked just fine in 2017.

One activity that does stand out is the meeting of friends that one only sees during archery tournaments. Some are competitors, many are in different classes. It’s reassuring to see fellow archers from home. Here in Appling I saw many, all with smiling faces on the morning before the first day of shooting. Missing them on Sunday I am currently unable to assess Saturday’s outcomes since no ‘home’ faces were available for reading results. Hopefully, the smiles remained in place.

Calling Foam

I was feeling good about my shooting on the second day the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM. So confidant that I began calling the upper twelve.

Typically, I skip calling an upper twelve. It’s a matter of skill. At 3D there’s another element to shooting that isn’t a skill factor at indoor 18-meter or outdoor 50-meter shooting. You know what it is, judging yardage.

You don’t need to call the lower twelve. Rarely do I even make a specific shot with a lower twelve my mark. I’ll go for it, but I give is a little elevation. That way if I miss I hit a ten and if I hit it – well lucky me. Hitting it means I miss-judged the yardage on the low side a little. Hitting a ten as a ‘miss’ isn’t a significant error. Missing a twelve and hitting an eight is a significant error.

Sure there are a few shots where the twelve is so clear, so obvious, that it is the primary spot for arrows. Those, I’ll shot for a twelve and hope the arrow lands where I aimed. Last weekend, Sunday to be exact, there were upper twelves that where too good not call. So, I called them. Some I got, some I didn’t.

But, at that most recent tournament, there were an abundance of nice black targets setting at the maximum yardage. I got one of them during the shooting rotation putting me up first. On that target I called my shot. Turing my head away from the target, while standing at the stake, I got eye contact with the others in my group.

When I had their attention I spoke, “I’m calling foam.”