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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
The 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM is done, at least for me. This final day started early, 0730, on Sunday. It was over before I knew it. I was out of the woods and home by 1115. The weather, perhaps remorseful of the conditions presented on Saturday, redeemed itself providing textbook perfection for the final volley of arrows.
Starting early, like I mentioned above 0730, at first seemed nightmarish to me. Such an early time is reminder of triathlons. Those events also begin at the ‘puke of dawn.’ Triathlons are more likely to start before 0700 rather than later. While the time itself doesn’t sound awful, the start time is misleading. To make an early start time for a sporting event, the athlete has to be up even earlier to eat, prepare, then travel to the event venue. For me this meant a wake up call, three alarms set, for 0415 – an hour and forty-five minutes earlier than normal. As it turned out, none of the alarms activated all being disarmed minutes before their assigned announcements.
My favorite meals of the day are breakfast, lunch and dinner. I arose little earlier so there’d be ample time to prepare a good breakfast. Today, that pre-dawn meal was a fresh spicy hamburger sized sausage patty on an English muffin with coffee and orange juice. An easy 500 calories. All ingested before 0500. There was leftover time to take River for a short outing where she chased a fox. Then, I wished Brenda, rationally still in bed, Happy Mother’s Day and hit the back roads leading from Tignal to Appling.
The drive to the ASA Augusta was just fine, the roads nearly vacate. Last year, when I turned onto Dogwood Lane entering the Wildwood Park, home to the tournament, the line of traffic was backed up crawling along at a stupidly slow pace. This year the ride was as smooth as silk and I didn’t stop until I landed in the same excellent parking slot I’d had on Saturday. As far as similarities between the two days I hoped that these events weren’t prophecies that my Sunday’s shooting might agree with my Saturday’s. Parked, outfitted for archery I readied my self and headed to range G to join my group on stake 12.
Our group of four, Phil, Randy, Buddy and I were at our stake in good order. The ASA officials reminded archers that stake time was going to me monitored and to keep pace. Their incentives had everyone shooting at a good clip. Our group was off the range, along with everyone else, in three hours. Consider, 20 stakes per range attended by 4 archers per stake. That’s eighty shooters. We were at ranges H and G. That’s 160 athletes. We started at 0730. At 1030 scores were being forwarded to the judges. One can only praise the organization and management of the ASA at moving so many archers through the woods with such efficacy.
However, the course though the woods, today, was not entirely smooth travels. Granted, a 3D competition does not cut through a forest at the pace of a mountain bike race. Mostly, people stand a little, walk a bit, sit down, and creep along. In between shots, I sat or stood and stared glassy-eyed while daydreaming of what might have been in reflection of Saturday. Some of those, “Oh, well..” moments of self analysis.
During one those moments, not really being visually focused, my head was aimed toward a group of female archers, all standing still or sitting down, to my right. Presently, my eye’s glaze was interrupted by one of the women archers.
Rather than holding her statuary mimed posture she began flapping and slapping her arms, spinning about, and twirling her head, all while her legs thrashed in fits River Dance choreography. It was a distinctly festive exposé brought forth following the introduction of a yellow jacket swarm. The local community alerted we keep a vigilant scan of our proximate skies.
Only the dancing archer was directly involved in the aerial combat being just slightly wounded by a single sting. The stinging insect yielded to a high pitched verbal assault of language most often associated with Chief Petty Officers and Drill Instructors. In the manner of good sportsmanship, I turned my head before laughing as restrained as possible to prevent personal injury. Under such conditions, belly laughs can be misunderstood exposing the laugher to deflected rage – not good with the inciting object has a weapon at close hand. Always good to err on the side of caution.
Aside from this only occurrence of inter-species conflict ranges H and G moved along without further incident or compromise. Birds chirped and foliage cast shadows over densely covered foam animals. There were good shots, better shots, bad shots and missed shots among all groups conveying bows and arrows. ASA representatives politely monitored and encouraged people to shoot and move without ever seeming aggressive or confrontational.
If only, if only, Saturday had gone even close to normal. There’s no point to what ifs in sport. It leads to empty wishes at best or grief over possibilities now past. Neither serves a meaningful purpose. Certainly, a do over means doing it all again at another time another place and from the first shot. Between doings there will be more and more practice.
If you’re an archer then you know how to find scores. So, there’s no point in commenting Sunday’s results. All I’ll add is it is a crying shame that on Saturday I didn’t do the same or even nearly the same or maybe just a little better. Oh, well another opportunity is just around the corner. Until that appointment –ave atque vale my friendsfrom the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, Georgia.
The ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM was off to a good start; I got a parking spot 250 steps from the entrance to my range. The rain was holding off, the temperature was in the mid-sixties, and there was no wind. Perfect conditions for a high score. The promising morning didn’t last.
It started raining and rained a long while. It was never really bad but seemed to have a little negative impact. I sort of enjoyed it although my shooting gave no indication the wet conditions were in any way a favor. The rain stopped about half way through the 20 target range.
A few shots into the program I discovered the class I was shooting in was not the class I thought I would be shooting in. There are so many ASA classes it is a maze for anyone new to the ASA. Before I signed up I called the good folks in Kennesaw and asked for help. Taking their advice and explanation I signed up incorrectly. Nevertheless, it had no impact on my score.
My score was a sad number. My lowest of 2017. Prior to today I knew my averages at similar distances. I ended up nearly a point lower per arrow than normal. It came down to one shot that blew my average. It was an easy shot and a very clear target. It was only 31 yards out.
The error was totally mental. There are two yellow pins on my sight, one for 30 yards the other for 40 yards. I shot over the 30-yard target. A total blank. I knew immediately. You might guess which of the two yellow pins I used for aiming. You can’t miss and be in the game. Unless you have a heroic comeback and a bit of help from the other shooters.
Sunday starts at 0730. There is no rain in the forecast. But, today’s shooting means tomorrow is high-level practice. A major plus is the course is excellent and I know where to park.
This morning, River and I took the 40-minute drive over to the ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, GA from Tignal, GA. I compete this weekend. I wanted to find my ranges for Saturday and Sunday. I’d forgotten my little tournament registration postcard, received a few days ago by mail, that exhibited ranges, start times and starting stake numbers in North Carolina. So, I’d need to pick up another from the event organizers.
The drive was without incident. There is a five-dollar fee on top of the registration fee to enter the venue. Park rangers manning a booth at the entrance take the money. Once paid you can drive forward taking care not to run over archers shooting on either side Dogwood Lane, the main entrance road. Going slowly it isn’t difficult to miss hitting them.
As we passed the walkers, all ornamented in the bowling/archery supply collared shirts and toting bows and chairs, we reached the flagman for parking. We were directed to a slot about two tenths of a mile from the initial parking representative’s post and maybe a half mile to registration.
I gathered what I needed, which included a lead for River, and made the hike to registration. There the queue was clearly going to be a 15-minute shuffle to the head of the line. It took just 10 minutes to realize my wallet was in the truck. We walked back to the truck.
By now, River was getting a little hot so on the return trip we veered left and headed to the lake. There she took a cooling swim before getting back on course to registration.
Along the trek back to registration River was greeted by a pair of youngsters eating snow cones. The boys thought River was happy to see them. They were both around 12 years old and not worldly when it comes to Labrador retrievers and anything eatable. River’s good nature availed her to provide a teaching moment for the boys. It went well, boys and dog were satisfied. Sharing snow cones is acceptable for young men and mature dogs.
River, now lake cooled and snow cone refreshed, joined me in marching on to registration central. At making our mark I noticed things had changed since we last visited. The queue now, two lines, being five deep each. Considering the earlier pace of advance toward the payment window meant this was going to take close to an hour. If my estimations on yardage tomorrow are as close to my shuffle timing guess I will be golden. I swear, the closing for my last house took less time.
Before I paid, standing on Southern sunbaked blacktop poor River was beginning to heat up. I removed her lead and positioned her under the canopy extending a few feet past the elevated money handlers. There she stood between the lines of melting archers.
River’s not a dumb dog and understands shade. She was happy to stay put. While ahead of me by two archers I noted she was looking to her right then left. Was there another dog approaching? If so, I might need to reattach her lead.
That was not the case. She was still wet from the swim. The matter was her need for a shake. River is aware of the result of a good water removal shake. She held it as long as any dog would consider fair warning then began the rapid sideways roll of her coat spraying both lines of potential 3D shooters with dog inspired rain.
Moments like these leave little to say or explain. Fortunately, all splattered were understanding or so worn from standing, heat, and line misery no one bothered to complain. It seemed there was a gleam in River’s eyes.
Thus, avoiding calamity I was happy to reach the window. There I explained I’d left my range assignment postcard at home in North Carolina. All I needed to replace it, as informed by a voice above, was my ASA number, which I have memorized. The wallet with identification was not necessary. However, the dollar penalty fee to replace the 5-cent post card did necessitate the wallet.
Seriously, one dollar to replace the postcard? Surely this was not an attempt to generate revenue unless hundreds of archers forget their postcards. I half expected the official in the registration box to order me to sit in time out for my error.
Freed from judgment and one dollar with postcard in hand, River and I decided to take a brief tour to find where ranges H and G, my weekend’s starting assignments, were located. Moving through a crowd of archers it was soon clear River had more admirers and most. I’d hear, “Is that, River?” directed to her but asked of me. While patted a lot her social highlights included meeting a beagle, a basset hound, and a large mixed breed.
Her gastronomic highlight was delivered at lunch. We’d been on the hunt for H and G when it was approaching time to eat. River eats twice a day, not three times a day. So, lunch is not on her menu. I ordered a sandwich from one of the food vendors located in the “Tournament Village.” “Tournament Village” is a clear attempt at marketing the vendor location. The name being more grandiose than genuine.
My sandwich arrived along with a hot dog, no bun, for River. Once again, she’d displayed pleading falsely hungry eyes and earned a jackpot.
Our need for substance met we renewed the H and G hunt. There is a map of the ranges laid on a table new a vendor tent. It is not to scale. In fact, it is more a cartoon of a map than map. Despite the caricature challenge we discovered H and G. The only further starting points from parking are ranges A and B. But, all ranges are within a civilized walking distance and there is no need to clamber on a tractor drawn cart, ski lift, of tram to arrive at the appointed starting stake.
One last stop before we returned to the 2006 F-150 King Ranch for the trip home was to visit with a specific equipment supplier. I had questions I needed answered by an authority before the NC State Outdoor Championship in July. I’d already found the vendor’s booth and made two measures of the area. Each effort found the booth devoid of humanity. Alas, the third try was the charm; there was a sales person at his station and not a sole in sight. I made my move.
Upon arrival I stood and waited to be addressed. The representative seemed to be asleep, head bowed, or in prayer. Respectful of the latter possibility I stood by in anticipation of an Amen.
Either totally exhausted or in deep repentance for sin, the head did not lift. I grabbed and fondled gadgets and widgets. No response. Hoping for help, I snapped my fingers for River to stand and put her paws on the merchandise display table. Always compliant she was over happy to stand two legs on the tarmac and two on the table. No response. How do you ignore a 107-pound Labrador retriever eyes’ looking down on you is beyond my comprehension.
Perhaps the sales representative, one I’ve met in the past, was in a diabetic coma. I did not verify for vital signs. I refer I’ve met him in the past while applying the term liberally, similar to “Tournament Village.” But, I’ve made this attempt to gain information on the displayed products in the past. Same company, same representative. As before, I departed the booth, sales representative’s head unmoved, my questions unanswered.
On the final leg of our hike around the ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, GA, River took one more cooling swim. Then, we boarded the truck and made the 40-minute drive back home. Tomorrow it is suppose to storm all day.
At the ASA in Augusta, in 2016, it rained. The rain worked out so that it didn’t impact the event. Now, 2017 the weather looks to seek retribution for its failure to mess with archers. Saturday’s prediction is 85% rain and thunderstorms.
Still working to get my 3D average score per arrow to 10.6. It is creeping up. You know it only takes a little momentary lapse to change a 12 to an 8 or worse a 5.
Yesterday, I shot in Plymouth, North Carolina and started poorly. The first 5 targets were two tens and three eights. To recover, I began what a friend calls range management. Rather than continue to head down the tubes I aimed for tens. Tens are easier than twelves.
Shooting for 10 takes a little pressure off and gives time to get that ‘feel’ or move into a ‘zone’ while recovering from eights.
It took a few more shots to recover from the bad start but I ended with 4 twelves, 11 tens, and 5 eights. But, to get my average up, I need to shoot better on the first few targets, especially when those are shots less than 30 yards.