Wild Tales from the Old Line State

When I return to Maryland after an extended absence I look up a few friends. Most work regular jobs  during the day I can’t visit them. A few are employed at shops where I’ve purchased gear for triathlon and archery. These ‘friends’ are easy prey for my intrusions.

A bike shop was my first attempted visit. Sadly, since my last return to Easton it closed and consolidated to another location. The second attempt was an archery shop where I’d spent many hours shooting indoors.

So far in 2015 I haven’t shot there. To be honest I’ve not been in “Old Line State” too often or for too long at a time since January. But, I’ve dropped in for a visit during each trip back. The guys always have stories of super human feats that have occurred since my last call. This time was no different.

During this encounter I learned the deer in Maryland had exceeded all prior known records. I also heard of local adventurers who’d traveled the globe seeking rare and exotic prey and of three demi-god archers that competed in their winter indoor league.

Everyone naturally agrees that the verbal expression of facts and figures associated with massive deer and super-mutations are undisputable. And, I think anyone can agree that the typical hard working hunter can drop work and family to jet around the globe in search of and bagging lost world dinosaurs with a bow and arrow. But, demi-gods on the planet? Here’s the tale of this next generation of hallowed archers.

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It seems that a few months ago two young boys, mom chauffeured, arrived at this particular bow shop. Each purchased an “Elite” bow and neither had until that day participated in archery. With the purchase the boys were shown how to shoot an arrow. Having school homework on which to concentrate the two young men (by order of mom) cut the archery lesson short and were driven away. Later, they returned with a friend, an unfortunate boy, so that he could buy a bow. This one was less wealthy and had to settle on a lower priced Bear bow.

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The boys weren’t seen again for many weeks. Then, out of the blue (or to be precise – out of the cold), one of their mother’s drove them back to the archery shop in order that they might compete in the  evening league competition. The event lasts six weeks and the targets were the 5-spot from 20 yards. The boys were prepared with a partial archery coaching session, hunter style “Elites,” a “Bear,” their arrows, several weeks of bow ownership and wrist strapped trigger releases.

Over the course of the contest one boy’s or the other’s mom would drive them to shoot on a weekly basis. Throughout the six weeks, the two youthful “Elite” contestants never missed the center X, each scoring perfect 300’s week in and week out. The “Middle-Schoolers” had schooled the more senior and practiced competitors.

The trio, aside from the rigors of eight grade academics held part-time employment. Their weekend jobs had become the source of their responsible savings and cash (parent subsidized) for their archery purchases. Sadly, the one kid (lacking parental cash flow) who failed to purchase an “Elite” and got the entry level Bear wasn’t as mythical. The Bear owner hadn’t acquired enough money for an “Elite” and to his humiliation only shot a nightly 299 for each of the 6 league shoots.

What amazed me was how straight faced the storyteller remained throughout his recital of these amazing children. He spoke of them with reverence. Now, understandably, the previous tale of a 475-pound Maryland white tail buck must be true, who would ever exaggerate, but I found it a bit of a stretch regarding the boys. Obviously, there was no point in questioning the legend, the speaker was a true believer, and so I kept my thoughts unspoken.

Before I left, the storyteller tried to sale me an “Elite.” I departed financially intake.

Practice in the cold rain and snow

On March 27 it was cold and raining in Easton, Maryland. The next day it was colder and it snowed non-stop. Back in Savannah the Azaleas are blooming, the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade has past. There on the 27th and 28th it rained and the temperature was 74° and 60°, respectively. At our place in North Carolina, the same two days reached 64° then 43°. But, I was in Maryland until I drove onto Harrington, Delaware where I’d compete for a spot to compete at the 2015 IBO World Championships.  In Maryland it was freezing. (Actually, it wasn’t that warm)

Before the world qualifying 3D shoot I had to wait in Easton, Maryland. There are places where I could go practice on indoor ranges. However, shooting paper at 20 yards doesn’t help me judge yardage on a 3D range. Despite the nasty winter-that-won’t-go-away weather I drove to Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, Maryland to practice on their 3D range.

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The Club House, photo taken on a nicer day.

Schrader’s has decreased their number of targets. They’ve taken the old animals that are shot to pieces off the course. The old targets were piled up against the side of the clubhouse. Before I headed back to North Carolina I’d talked then out of a coyote, a mountain lion, and a turkey. If I’d had more room in my truck I’d have tried to pick up a few others.

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This bear, or one of his kin, is often at the max distance.

Over the 20 targets that remained on the range I shot  each 3 – 4 times from the hunter class distance then from the open class distance. The rain on Friday wasn’t too bad while I was shooting and the snow on Saturday, when I repeated Friday’s session, was a non-stop flurry. With a major qualifier on Sunday, and Sunday’s weather forecast was more cold and wind. It was good to practice in the bundle of clothes and gloves I’d need to wear on Sunday.

Spring isn’t making an overwhelming effort to break through this year. Thankfully, I was able to spend a great deal of time in Georgia over the winter. The cold and wet of Maryland weren’t enough to keep me out of the woods or off the range. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to feeling my toes thaw out.

Sometimes I forget, has it ever happened to you?

All my life I have competed in sports. Beyond high school athletes I’ve competed in cycling, running, duathlon, triathlon and now archery. One of the concerns I always had is showing up for an event and not having all my gear.

That happened to me once in cycling. At a race from Jacksonville, Florida to St. Augustine, Florida and back, around 80 miles, I discovered just prior to the race I’d forgotten my cycling shoes. This was in 1973 and we still raced using toe clips and straps (those cages on the bike pedal that you stuck your foot into and tightened it in place with a strap). Thanks to that pedal arrangement I was able to compete wearing my well-worn Converse All Stars. It rained for about 30 of the 80 miles and I recall water squishing out from a hole at top my shoe near the big toe on my right foot.

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In a triathlon it can be tough finding your stuff even when you have all of it.

That is the only time I’ve forgotten gear needed for any competitive event. However, more than once I’ve forgotten something while rushing to a training session. I have forgotten my swim trucks (jammers) and had to skip swim training. I’ve forgotten my bike helmet and couldn’t ride (I don’t ride without one) and have shown up for a run without my running shoes.

Today, I drove from Hertford, NC to Easton, MD. That is a 5-hour drive. Before I left I made certain I had all my archery gear for a 3D tournament being held in Delaware this weekend. When I got to my house in Maryland I unloaded my bags. One of them contained my quiver and release. My bow and arrows were safely packed in the truck and not removed.

Once I checked on things at the house there was plenty of time to drive over to Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, Maryland and get an hour or two of practice on their three 3D range. It would mean another 35 minutes of driving each way, but it would be fun. I loaded River, my lab, back into my Ford F-150 and we once again hit the road.

When we got to the range, River was really excited. She knows the property, enjoys the 3D range and was eager for the opportunity to run around while I shot. We parked got out of the truck then walked to the clubhouse to check in for the range. After signing in we returned to the truck so I could collect my gear.   That’s when I realized I’d left my quiver and release in the bag I’d unloaded back in Easton.

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There was nothing to do other than hop back in to the pick-up and go home. River was almost as disappointed as me. This won’t be the last time it happens.

All Day Playing Outside

Yesterday, Tuesday March 24, the weather was slightly warmer and the wind slightly less. It was a pleasant day for being outside and I took full advantage.

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Up before sunrise I took my coffee and walked out onto the dock. As the sun broke through geese that have become permanent residents honked past, a few ducks swam by and eagles pasted overhead. Sunrise on the water is a great part of any day.

After breakfast, River and I headed out for a run. Friends naturally, greeted her and one followed us home in search of a cookie.

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“Cookie, cookie, cookie” – River’s rather crazy friend

Cookies provided and dogs gone, I took my bow out for practice. The wind was blowing with a bit more force with occasional gusts to 15 mph ( 24 kph) and a rather constant 10 mph (16 kph) push coming off the water. Aside from 3D events, which are often protected from the wind being held in forested areas, I’ve never shot an outdoor competition. With all the practice I’ve had shooting outside and dealing with wind I should find a field archery tournament and give it a try.

After morning practice I was able to get in a decent ride on one of my bikes. This one was a retro steel frame Peugeot that covered the bumpy country rides like a luxury car.

Back with plenty of time for afternoon shooting I took a foam deer and moved it around in the woods to get various shots at unknown distances and have some protection for the afternoon wind.

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This deer is out there a ways
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There he is…

It was another nice day for playing outside. I got to shoot, run and ride – my kind of day. It was followed by a good night’s sleep.

Dealing with Winter Storm Ultima

On Thursday as Winter Storm Ultima approached the Mid-Atlantic States the temperature dropped and wind increased. Being outside meant dressing warm. Finding a spot from where to shoot meant finding buildings or trees that could act as a wind barrier.

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Despite the harsh conditions there was plenty of time to practice archery. With a storage shed as a wind barrier I was able to take aim at a foam deer from 20 to 30 yards. My porch provided a well protected and elevated 27 yard shot. Occasionally the winds would decrease enough that I could shoot from open ground out to 50 yards.

The weather is predicted to be worse on Friday (that prediction turned out accurate) so Thursday I stayed outside as long as possible. In fact, I got in about 4 hours of shooting broken up into three sessions.

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Saturday the weather should begin to improve and by Sunday, tournament day, conditions are forecasted to be sunny if a bit cold. In the meantime, from my office I’ll keep an eye open for a tropospheric lull with hopes of brief escapades outside.

 

Some differences between city life and country living

Living in a city is okay. I’d done it and found it enjoyable. Living in the country is good as well. There are obvious differences.

When I write that I’ve lived in a city I mean in the heart of the city. When I lived in Atlanta I was near Buford Highway, inside the parameter, but in 1976 not the center. Later, living in Kennesaw, GA it was a little like living in the country, however, by the time I lived there, mid 90’s, Kennesaw was the suburbs for Atlanta. A good example of the heart of a city was when I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. There I lived at 12th and Euclid, pretty much the SA Node of the city.

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Hertford, NC

When I write that I live in the country I don’t mean suburbs. From my home in North Carolina, the closest town, Hertford, is 14 miles away. Hertford has a population of 2176, about that of a large apartment complex in Atlanta.

City life was fun. There was always something to see and do. If you don’t mind crowds and have patience with traffic it’s a good life. Riding a bicycle can be a challenge, but there is always a path to follow. Shooting a bow means an indoor range or driving to a club outside the city limits. IMG_3334

In the country there is also a lot to see and do. The scenery and activities are different from a city. Riding a bicycle is easier – there are a lot less cars. In fact, during my ride of 20 miles yesterday only 2 cars and one truck passed me.

Another country life advantage is that if I want to shoot all I need do is step out of my front door. In fact, I can shoot from my front porch at two sets of targets. It certainly makes practice convenient. Other unique advantages to where I live is I can fish and crab from my bulkhead or off my dock. And, if inclined, I can hunt from a tree stand after a 4-minute walk from my house into the woods.

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The down side is if we need anything that has to be purchased I’m making a long drive in the truck or car. Despite this very slight inconvenience, I find living in the country is generally better. If I need to get back to a city, I’ll make the drive knowing I’ll be back in the woods or on the river momentarily.

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Éirinn go brách

It was practically hot this St. Patrick’s Day, 80° F (27°C). It felt great and I was outside all day. This is a summary of my play.

It started with an hour and a half of shooting a 3D deer from 20 to 50 yards distance. Afterwards I wrote for a bit, had lunch, and then napped under several large oak trees in my yard. Following my break I checked my email for directions to this weekend’s 3D tournament, which had arrived. A nice surprise among my email was a message letting me know how much I’d won in last week’s competition. Not a lot of money but better than a sharp stick in the eye.

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Then it was time to go kayaking. Brenda, my wife, and I paddled from our house several miles up river. We paddled into the wind going out so we’d have a tail wind coming home. In the smaller creeks that are bordered by trees wind isn’t a factor. Out on the Little River, the wind can kick up waves. In fact, on the trip home we had small waves as the wind had begun to increase. The waves weren’t high enough to surf a kayak but definitely sufficient for bit of a lift and push.

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Once the kayaks were stored I headed out on my bike. I only rode 20 miles since the kayaking had eaten into my cycling time.

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Cycling merged into my afternoon archery session and I practiced for another hour before heading back to the river to toss toys for River, my lab, to retrieve.

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The day wound down with a dinner of corn beef and cabbage, a St. Patrick’s Day tradition for our family. Éirinn go brách

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Another New Week

On Monday, following a competition, I reset my week in preparation for the next event. By starting early, I have less wind to content with during morning archery practice. My second session in the afternoon is almost always windy. That is also the time I train on my bike where I look forward to the tailwinds.

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Getting out of bed early has its rewards

Winter is slowly giving way to spring and yesterday was a warm 70° F (21°C). My upcoming archery events are all 3D and practice during the calm morning was excellent. Because I’d ramped up to a shoot on Sunday, I only practiced an hour for each Monday session to promote active recovery. Wednesday is my long day where I’ll spend 5-6 hours shooting before tapering for the next event.

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Three good at 50 yards – I’ll take these any day.

I don’t simply go out and shoot for same set amount of time on every day. Neither do I shoot a set amount of arrows. I have light days and heavy days. I’ve set up my archery training similar to how I’d set up a race-training plan. The archery plan includes other fitness activities.

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This 1997 LiteSpeed remains my favorite road bike

The main non-archery fitness activity on Monday was a moderate bike ride with a few harder efforts. I didn’t get on the LiteSpeed until 4:30 PM and it was windy. Wanting to enjoy a moderate to fast effort I rode into the wind until my turn around at 15 miles. The ride was 15 miles of windy work followed by 15 miles of pure exhilaration pushing my biggest gears. The ride home was 12 minutes faster than the ride out to give some idea of the resistance I faced cycling out followed by the push during the return.

My afternoon archery session had been strictly for amusement. The wind blowing off the river meant shooting any other way than for entertainment would be a frustrating endeavor. I have one 3D target in the yard and I shot it from all sorts of distances and angles. My wife watching me shoot my foam deer at 40 yards challenged me to, “Shoot it in the eye.” The challenge was irresistible. I hit it about a centimeter high on the nose and nearly lost an arrow. I’ll ‘probably’ not try that a second time. But, it was fun.

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Opps

Recalling Mondays when working the medical profession I recognize how my effort during that career paid off. Today, I work at archery and sports with the same determination and enjoyment. I’ve never dreaded Mondays. Monday is the day to reset and begin fresh.

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The ZXT

The Mathews ZXT isn’t their top shelf product. I bought this one for hunting. The price was right and its size meant carrying it in the woods and up a tree stand would be easier than a longer heavier bow. The reviews on the product for 3D competition aren’t the best I’ve read and the bow speed isn’t the fastest. But, I really like this bow.

IMG_1379While practicing with my Mathews Apex 7  I felt my arrow placement was faltering. My ZXT was in my truck so I left the indoor range and got that bow. I decided to shoot it for a bit to see how it felt.

I took a few shots to sight it – I hadn’t shot it indoors weeks.  Once I got it sighted I took ten shots on a 5-spot.

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Every arrow was in the X or cutting the line. Not a bad light quiet bow for a decent price.  Later, I learned from an experienced bow technician that Ider wheel (cam) on the top limb of the Apex 7 is leaning a bit off center.