I travel a lot. Not as far or as often as before I retired. Some folks enjoy travel. For others it is a necessity.
While traveling for work I was frequently on the road with a friend, Andy. Andy was a great travel partner. He’d attended college on a dual scholarship as a quarterback and pitcher for Wake Forest. Andy is a large man and not an obese man. To look at him you’d easily cast him as an athlete. Physically we are pretty different. Although I’ve been an athlete all my life at just over 5’7” I am rarely thought of as an athlete.
One thing we do have in common is a love for good barbeque. On our trips we’d make it a point to seek the best barbeque we could find. More often than usual we ended up with weak BBQ. Too often the BBQ was simply awful.
After nearly a decade of travels we parted ways. I left the company and headed into the riskier section of business, smaller startups. Still I continued our quest for good BBQ. He’d do the same and we’d intermittently share notes on where we found good and bad food.
It has now been a few years since I’ve spoken to Andy. If I do talk to him soon I’d have to let him know about Malson’s BBQ in Kingsland, GA.
While staying in St. Mary’s, Brenda, my wife, and I decided to look for BBQ. Malson had great reviews online so we chose it to try. It can be an adventure searching for BBQ. This wasn’t an exception.
The ‘shack’ was seriously a shack. Malson’s isn’t a fancy sit down joint. With BBQ never let the appearance fool you. Often a real shack means real good food. Malson’s fit that bill.
Brenda and I both ordered a pulled pork meal with Cole slaw and baked beans. It is a traditional meal and one that best allows a common denominator for comparisons. We were both pleased. It was some of the best pulled pork I’ve eaten. Frankly, off the top of my head I can’t recall purchasing a better pulled pork.
There are a lot of points scored over an archery tournament. The last event I competed in, the Georgia 25-Meter State Championship had a maximum (Perfect) score of 600 possible points. I lost, landing in second place, by a 1-point difference.
Excluding 3D (where I shot mostly for fun and the scores are hard to find) I looked over the events where I’d lost. There were 3-second place finishes and one-third place. The third place was a fluke. Here I define a fluke as poor shooting associated with a yet undiagnosed equipment problem. The bow’s cam bearings had cracked which resulted in some funny shots. The data remaining, the 3-second place finishes, were lost by an average of 1 point.
The last loss, the 25-meter event, was a surprise. The surprise was not the person who won, Bob. Bob beaten me three out of four times in 2019. I beat him once with the same score, same X count and took the win by the 9 count.
Now Bob’s good. A few weeks ago, during my only 2019 win against Bob, we shot in the Masters 50 age group. There was no Masters 60 age group at that event. This is when I won as the score came down to the nine count. The fellow that won the 50-year-old group, Paul, took first place by two points. The top three compound bow scores for that tournament where from Paul, myself and Bob, in order of finishing positions. (Fall Classic, Georgia Southern University) All of us in the 50 year old group.
Going into the last tournament, the 25-meter shoot, I honestly expected a score in the range of the US record, for my age group. I’d been shooting that in practice. I didn’t come close during the tournament. But for one bad shot, Bob might have broken that record. Sadly, we’ll both have to wait until next year to give it another go for the record.
In the meantime, I admit, I’d rather be on the winning side of those 1-point finishes.
The past few weeks have encompassed camping, travel, and archery. August and September include more of the same regarding archery. The results of all this work over the past four weeks have been under whelming: two second places and a third.
The two second places where hard pills to swallow. In one I’d shot well enough to surpass the prior State record in field archery only to be bested by a friend that set the new bar 3 points higher. The other second was nothing more than being schooled by a better archer. He topped me by 9 points for the Southeast NFAA victory in field archery.
What really did me in was the Georgia ASA State 3D Championship. There’s no class in my age group for those selecting a hunter rig during competition. This meant I’d be shooting against athletes up to 15 years younger. Taking third in this event felt like a new low.
Before the first warm-up arrow at the 3D contest flew off my bow I considered not competing. It wasn’t because I felt off shooting or was overly concerned competing against younger athletes. As soon as I arrived at River Bottom Outdoors’ range near Franklin, Georgia, host of the tournament, my truck malfunctioned.
It was a minor flaw that could have serious consequences. The driver’s side window partially lowered and froze in place. With rain in the forecast, being nearly four hours from home with a camper in tow archery was the minimal of my concerns.
Being at the range I gambled and shot. After the first 12 targets the sky looked like it was going to open up at any second. In the Ford there was a towel covering the back set, a protection from River, my lab, when she’s riding. I’d come up with a plan to run back to the truck, cover the window using River’s seat protector and run back to whatever stake the group was shooting from should it begin raining.
It never did rain and I was spared a sprint. I wasn’t spared too many 8s and not enough 12s. Well, I’d hit ten 12s on the second range, only problem was I hadn’t called the upper. The thing is on every one of those shots I knew I’d hit the upper. My mind and confidence were lost on a wayward window.
Regardless of the electronic malfeasance sitting in the parking area I did my best to subdue the problem while I shot. I truly can’t say how much if any the F-150s ailment contributed to all the 8s I shot. The final score was actually my running average points per arrow for 3D. I’d been practicing for a peak performance not an average. The second and first place winners of the Senior Hunter division bested my average per arrow without apparent pause.
As soon as the tournament concluded I hopped into the truck and headed to find a remedy for the window. So far, it hadn’t rained and I’d been lucky. (Well lucky regarding rain, no luck in archery) The search for an auto mechanic reached a dead end so I hooked up the camper and headed home. There I could park the truck in the garage to save the interior from the forecasted rain.
It did rain. In fact it poured the very next day. I had made the right decision to leave early. (I’d made the wrong decision not calling the upper that same day) Fortunately, by then the truck was at the dealership and out of the weather.
Forty percent of all competitive archers are over 50 years of age. That’s approximately 3.12 million competitive archers. If you’re going to win in this crowd you can’t make mistakes or have your mind elsewhere.
We’re at another campground, an old favorite, Hester’s Ferry near Lincolnton, Georgia. Here we have all the toys: bikes, running shoes, archery equipment, kayaks and a pontoon boat. Plus, we’ve been spending time with the grandkids. Well, three out of four of them.
Nice thing is there are all sorts of ways to play. No time to write.
Brenda, our two dog and I took a short camping trip to the mountains. Less than 2 hours from our home in Good Hope we ended at Don Carter State Park near Helen, Georgia.
The Don Carter State Park is on Lake Lanier and is the newest of the Georgia State Parks. It is in a great location, on the Lake and close to Helen and Dahlonega. Both towns are about a thirty minutes drive from the campground.
The park has nice boat ramps and 8 miles of paddling trails. We didn’t bring kayaks on this trip but next time the boats are coming along. There are 12.5 miles of trails which River, my lab, and I spent hours investigating. More than once we walked up on deer. I was glad we didn’t cross paths with any bear.
Even though the trip was short we learned that camping nearby could offer a change of scenery and easy access to trails, water, and cool Georgia towns.
Traveling to archery competitions can be rough when staying in a hotel. Making the trip using a camper and staying at a State Park is significantly better. At the moment, I’m camped at the George L. Smith State Park in Twin City, Georgia.
The park is about 45 minutes from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. That’s where this weekend’s shoot is taking place. There was a tournament at GSU two weeks ago and I stayed at a hotel for that event. The hotel was nice, one of the Hilton properties, but it was still a box.
The tournament tomorrow and Sunday is an indoor 5-spot State Championship and NFAA Sectional. I know the folks I’ll be shooting against. I expect any score outside of 300 per day will fail to make it to the top. This tournament will likely come down to X count and maybe even inner Xs versus outer Xs.
Whether I finish on the podium or not, what I can say is this Georgia State Park makes the trip worthwhile.
Two scores – vastly different. Each practice was against a Vegas style 3-spot scoring the inner ten. There was a drop of 4.12% between the scores. One day resulted in 42 tens, the next 21 tens. That’s huge drop. What happened?
Day one the good day – zero distractions to take away from archery. Day two – music, a timer, and a break to play with dogs. Although, the dogs aren’t much of a distraction, they’re good dogs and mostly remain quiet during shooting. The music and the timer, well that’s another matter.
During USA Archery tournaments there is music and a timer. Without a doubt both can be distractions. A good song comes over the air and it floats through your head. You glance at the timer to see you first two shots took longer than usual or less time than usual. It distracts.
“Practice the way you compete,” says my coach Big John Chandler. Adhering to that policy during many practices there will be music playing and a timer ticking. Both of these elements of competition are distractions until you learn that they’re not.
We know that there will be a distraction or two during competition. If you don’t “Practice the way you compete” little things like a timer and music may impact competitive performance.
We just returned from a four-day adventure. During that time there was Bluegrass music, eating, camping, ATV riding and hunting. It was a quick trip but with all the activity it seemed longer.
Our youngest daughter has moved back to Georgia. For her it is the beginning of a great adventure. She, her husband, and their three children are planning to take the next five years, travel the country and station themselves periodically near work projects. Jason, my daughter’s husband, has a job where he works with a team to repair historic sights. This will take them to exciting locations across America. For the next six months are so they’ll be in Georgia as they prepare for their journey.
Our four-day mini-adventure began by a visit with them. Before the visit began we stopped at Tabor Baptist Church in Tignall, Georgia. The church was established on 1827 and a friend of ours is the “Preacher”. The Preacher is also the Sheriff. No one acts out in church.
It was homecoming for the local Baptist member and to celebrate Li’Roy and Lizzie’s Bluegrass Band played. This is an award-winning group that recently won the Bluegrass/Country/Roots Song of the Year, “Dinner on the Ground.” Lizzy was also recently inducted into the “America’s Old Time Fiddler’s Country Hall of Fame”. During the service, the band succeeded in playing long enough in the packed church to avoid a sermon.
After church, we drove into Lincolnton for lunch at the Home Café, owned by Richard. I don’t know his last name, but I know most of his staff by their first names. Ray (Papa) eats there several times a week. I eat there when we’re in town. You will not get fancy food. Richard will, however, serve you good Southern food and your plate will be filled.
Because our daughter is, for the moment, staying with her Grandfather, Ray (Papa to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren) Brenda and I camped at Hester’s’ Ferry campground. There is currently no room to lay our heads at “Papa’s.”
Hester’s Ferry is one of our favorite campgrounds and this time of the year we had the place to ourselves.
This is also hunting season. Last year, with our move from North Carolina home to Georgia, I didn’t get to hunt. I did get out into the woods a lot. Just not for hunting. I’ll hunt with either a rifle or bow. Right not I am still using my bow. I may stick with it all year. There are areas where I hunt I know I’ll not see a deer within 50 yards. When I am there I’ll go to a rifle.
I did get to hunt on this trip and I did see one buck. In fact, that deer, a young buck with a medium sized four-point rack, showed up about 40 minutes after I’d settled into the stand. Despite a perfect opening for an arrow this buck stayed behind branches for about 30 minutes avoiding the opening. He meandered around and snacked until he moseyed out of range.
After calling it a day of hunting I headed back to “Papa’s” to ride grandkids though woods on ATVs. Even though these children have lived in Pittsburgh their entire lives, my daughter (a true Georgia Girl) has had them outdoors pretty much non-stop. During the ATV trips my oldest granddaughter, seven years old, was able to pick out animal tracks and name the animal that had left it behind. In this instance she pointed out: deer, turkey, raccoon, rabbit and squirrel without assistance. She, as are all our grandkids, is extremely comfortable outdoors.
It was a nice four days. Camping, hunting, riding ATVs, and good Southern food make for a successful adventure. With hunting, I don’t need to shot something to call the trip a success. It is more about being outdoors, enjoying family and friends. Live Bluegrass Music from one of the top groups in the business is a bonus.
We took a week for vacation. Granted, Brenda and I are officially retired. Still, she teaches yoga and I work hard trying to become a seriously competitive archer and archery coach. While there’s little money in those endeavors, they each represent a form of work. As such, we needed a vacation from our normal routine. Hence, a vacation.
Vacation was a trip down to Panama City, Florida. We loaded the Winnebago and headed south. Along the way we stopped in Cordele, Georgia and camped at the Veterans Memorial Park. On reaching Florida we met up with our life long friend Ken who was camping as well.
Before we hit the road, I’d been looking at a disturbance in the Caribbean. At that point it was only rain and a little wind. But, the pattern suggested that sooner or later it could become a hurricane. I was thinking, maybe we’d make it through vacation before this area had a chance to turn into a storm.
For a few days vacation was wonderful. We visited parks, springs, ate great food and hung out on the beach. On Monday, October 8th, I said to Brenda and Ken, “You know, I think we should get out of here. That storm is going to come this way.”
I could tell Brenda didn’t want to head home. Ken wasn’t too eager to leave early, either. Actually, Ken had plans to depart and head northeast in his motorhome toward Savannah, Georgia in a few days from Monday.
It took only a small amount of effort and showing them the track of Hurricane Michael before we decided to part ways with Panama City. As Ken looked more closely at the potential path of the storm he remapped his planned trip and headed northwest – away from the projected path.
By Monday afternoon Brenda and I were in Cordele, Georgia, again. Hurricane Michael was now a Category 3 storm and aimed directly at the campground we’d left earlier in the day, or so it seemed. By Tuesday, Michael was a Category 4 and passing through Florida aimed at Cordele. On Tuesday we were back in Good Hope, Georgia, just outside of Athens. On Wednesday night Michael was knocking down limbs, flipping over trees and pouring rain on us. Michael’s punch was merely glancing for us but enough to feel we’d be chased.
It was a long week. Starting with an archery tournament and ending with another both in Social Circle. In the middle there was a big family gathering and one huge birthday party.
The start was a competition I nearly didn’t shoot. It wasn’t the difficulty of the shooting that created some pause, it was the hour. It tournament didn’t start until 7:30 PM. But, it was shooting near home, about 25 minutes away in Social Circle. Being so close it is hard to pass up archery contests such a short drive down the road. Heck, if it got too long I could always just go home.
Going home was a drive for others that came to the tournament. Archers from Atlanta, Decatur and Kennesaw were on the line. The line was at 50 meters and the lines were full.
Yes sir, it was a long tournament, but I didn’t leave even though this event went well past my bedtime. The crew from ACE Apache, led by USA Archery Level 4 Coach Big John Chandler, did a great job of organizing and running the show.
I did leave before the awards were presented. I’ll go out on a limb and say I won my age group (over 50). The chance projection is based on the semi-final Olympic Round where when I was finally eliminated – the other few remaining archers seemed no older than 30 years. I made it home at midnight. I was so keyed up that there was no sleeping until after 2:00 AM.
Even though I didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00 AM, our dogs insisted that I was up by 6:00 AM. Dogs have no mercy when it comes to human sleep requirements. It took three days to get over the break in my sleep pattern.
With that to endure there was no time to ease up. There was a birthday bash to follow. By birthday bash, I mean catering, a live blue grass band and a good percentage of the Town of Lincolnton, Georgia attending. This shindig was put together in part by his friends in Lincolnton and his family. It was Ray’s, my father-in-law, 90th birthday.
Aside from lawn maintance my role was to smoke a ham, two large Boston Butts for pulled pork, and grill about 12 pounds of sausage.
At the end of a long week I got to pick up a bow and shoot another tournament, this time a 3D competition. What I can say about the crew at ACE Apache in Social Circle, the put together a 3D range that was perfect. I won that on as well.