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.

General Training

I’ve mentioned that I ride a bike, run and swim. I do one or more of these activities as part of my training 5 days a week. Archery is practiced 6 days a week, including a day where I compete. I reserve one day for rest and recovery.

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Rest is important

Exercising to stay in shape and promote health is a daily endeavor for me. I doubt I’ll race as often in the future as I did in the past. I’ll try to complete 5 to 10 races a year, which is plenty. These days, I race for the t-shirt. I’m frequently in the top 3 finishers in my age group and ahead of most in the overall. For, me at 60 years old, racing is more about the fun than the finish time. Archery is where I get my competitive fix. Archery isn’t as age dependent as many other sports.

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Race bibs and 3rd place medal from a few weeks ago

In archery I train five days a week and compete on the sixth day. I leave one day for recovery. On many days I shoot, then either run, ride, swim, or a combination of those activities.

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View along one of my training rides

Often, I run in the morning, then shoot, take a break, shoot some more then go for a bike ride. The result is I am outside a lot and stay in pretty good shape. Also being outside (versus sitting around indoors) and staying fit can help longevity in archery.

If you haven’t added a supplemental form of exercise to your archery training, give some consideration to incorporating a fitness program. In the long term you’ll be glad you did.

Paying Dues to the Wind

Shooting outside is almost always fun. There are days when cold, rain, snow, and wind make it more of a challenge. Today was one of those challenging days.

In my yard I have targets ranged up to 60 yards. The plan for today was to shoot at unmarked and marked distances from 20 to 50 yards. One look at the chop on the river was enough to tell me that training this morning was going to be rough.

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Early morning chop on the Little River

The 51°F temperature wasn’t bad; in fact it was pretty good even if a tad bit cool. It was the wind, as indicated by the turbulent surface of the Little River that was going to be a problem.

Wind constantly raging at 15 mph with gusts to 20 mph will rock your body and mess with your shots. On my range, at 40 – 50 yards there was nothing to block or in anyway inhibit the wind. As a result I held my maximum yardage to 35 yards.

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A Jolly Roger flag at 47 yards

The wind’s force blew my poorly balanced faux-deer over a time or two so I moved it to a secondary position. Here the fake deer had more support and I had better wind barriers.

Moving the deer to a bag-supported stance I banged its legs into the ground. From this area of my property I can shoot from my porch or near a storage building that lends protection from the non-stop wind.

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From that harbor the maximum distance is only 26 yards. Twenty-six isn’t a long, but I have made some poor 26-yards shots in the past. So, I worked this distance for about an hour.

I will always have wind to reckon with, it’s part dues paid to live on the Atlantic Coast. There are ways to deal with wind and it is a small price to pay to be on the water.