When I practice at home River is along side for the session. River is an eight and a half year old lab. She has been accompanying me during practice since I started shooting four years and five months ago. She’s even joined me on some 3D competitions where she’s been welcomed to tag along.
It used to be that River got very impatient during practice. The stick game, shoot three arrows – throw a stick, gave her some satisfaction. These days we’re practicing at 50-meters so sticks can be tossed less frequently.
On occasion River searches out her own stick. Picking just the right stick she’ll relax on a pile of pine straw and gnaw her treasure. It is clear when she’s interested in finding her own stick and she’s free to explore while I practice.
Sometimes she’ll return with an entire limb that’s been cut down. The limb may be a dead branch or one with green leaves. I don’t understand her palate.
She’s also returned from a quest with an animal’s limb. She’s not killed an animal. The limb is a bit of remains from someone else’s meal. Once she brought to my feet an entire deer leg. Today, it appeared to be rabbit.
She was appalled when I took the leg and buried it. Burying a leg is a pointless and perhaps dumb exercise with a dog. The second I walked away to pull arrows she dug it up. There’s probably nothing wrong with River eating a raw leg, she is a dog after all. But, not wanting to chance it I put the little leg up in a tree. Poor River did all she could to express her disappointment.
I suppose, if you were a dog, you might prefer raw leg to a stick, too.
Hurricane Florence didn’t have much of an affect on Georgia. But, she did have enough of an influence on the weather to impact archers shooting at the Georgia Archery Association State (GAA) FITA Outdoor Championship.
It has been nine months since we moved back to Georgia. This is our home State and we’d made the move from our vacation home turned permanent residence in North Carolina.
The NC home was great. Off our front deck the distance to the bulkhead was just 18 yards. The bulkhead separated our property from Little River, which feeds into the Albemarle Sound. The views and water access were amazing. Our pier and dock led us at our boatlift 50 yards from shore. It was wonderful, except for the hurricanes.
Every year we’d have some storm spinning up our river. Most years there were multiple storms. Rarely, did we have a huge amount of damage. Always there was some damage and a general clean up. Sometimes there was a real post-storm mess. As with all storms we either rode them out or we headed to the hills. It depended on the category.
Florence didn’t do much to our old place in North Carolina. Of course, we sold it in May of this year so it wouldn’t have been our problem should there have been damage. Nevertheless, we loved that place and keep tabs on the storms that might intersect with our old home. We still have friends living on the Little River and we stay in touch.
What Florence gave to the Peach State was a rainy windy day for the second half of the Georgia State Outdoor Championship. For me, it meant I wouldn’t surpass my personal best score of the 1440 possible points that could be earned over two days shooting 144 arrows. Despite the second day’s wind and rain I exceeded my lowest score finishing 8 points below my average practice score. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for when the pre-storm weather forecast suggested warm clear days and 5 mph winds. That forecast didn’t hold.
The first day was rainless and the winds were around 7 to 10 mph – not bad. Day two of the weekend tournament brought rain and wind at 8 – 14 mph with gusts up to 22 mph.
Compared to what our Tarheel friends were going through the less than ideal conditions for archery was not very meaningful. It is a coastal North Carolina fact of life that hurricanes are going to happen and they’ll often bring real damage and suffering.
During one storm when we stayed to face it, a Category 1 Hurricane that have been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, I needed to head out during the storm to save boards on my dock and pier. The water had risen to near level with the dock and pier, about four to five feet higher than normal maximum. As the waves crashed into the boards they were eventually breaking lose. Trying to stave off a loss of boards I grabbed a battery operated drill a box of deck screws donned foul weather gear and went into the tempest hopefully to save parts of my pier and dock they seemed to be fighting to escape. Walking toward the pier I thought of Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump” during a hurricane yelling to Heaven, “You call this a storm?”
On the pier and dock I played a wet version of Whack-a-Mole trying to drill boards back down or pulling them free to reduce the pressure on the structure. The winds were high, waves often crested over me when I knelt to secure a board, but I didn’t lose a single board or my drill, and only a few deck screws found their way to Davey Jones’ locker. The hat I’d been wearing didn’t make it back; sadly it was a favorite that been given to me by one of my daughters. (If both of you are reading this think Christmas 2018 for a replacement.)
During Hurriance Florence as I watched some weather guy rocking back and forth being punished by unyielding wind I thought about that dock and pier. I also wonder what the weekend weather would do for the Georgia Archery Associations tournament. Still watching the reporter and wondering I pointed out to my wife, while seeing this poor fellow on the television reporting live, that he sure seemed to be having a tough time keeping his footing. It seemed a bit exaggerated.
Archers got some wind while shooting in that GAA tournament over the weekend. The storm was certainly a point of conversation. The weather guy’s rocking and rolling in the wind was a hot topic. Many viewers of the weather reporting had reach the conclusion that the guy was faking it.
The reporter’s performance had been inadvertently spoiled by a couple of guys calmly and easily walking around behind him oblivious to the wind impacting the reporter.
While he is on camera there is another tale-tell sign of the actual wind speed. It was being displayed live on the upper left of the television screen. The sustained wind was 29 mph and the maximum was 42 mph.
Storms have hit many people over the years. When one comes along families have to worry, leave home and pray that everything turns out for the best. For some those prayers aren’t answered in a manner they’d hoped. For others everything turns out fine. For a few that stay put to ride it out the storm becomes their last ride. Amid the real news of the impact of such storms as Florence, there is no room for make believe.
If an insect has a stinger I seem to be, to them, the fun thing on which to use it. I’ve been stung so many times I rarely even worry about it. At our old home, in North Carolina, there was a campaign between yellow jackets, wasps, and me. At times I wondered whether the wasps and yellow jackets were keeping score. Here in Georgia, I remain the target for a sting.
During practice two days ago some stinging bug landed on my bow hand just as I was aiming. I didn’t let down – I shot a nine. I also, did not get stung just then. Rather than sting me on the hand, the bug came back for a dive bomb and attacked from the back piercing me on the shoulder. I never saw it coming. I heard it buzzing.
Buzzing no longer bothers me. No longer do I dance about searching for the source of the buzz. I know, sooner or later, when the buzz stops that will be the moment to react.
The sting of a yellow jacket doesn’t hurt as badly or as long as that of a wasp. Wasp stings burn then itch. Yellow jacket stings simply burn and after a few minutes the burn stops.
It seems everyday, while I am outside practicing, there is a squadron of insects searching. They find me. Most days, they just buzz about. Some days I get stung.
Mornings are typically used for target practice. The afternoons are set aside for 3D practice. The reason is I am more tired in the afternoon and my 3D bow, an Elite 35, is lighter than my target bow, an Elite Victory 37.
Usually, in the morning I practice for a few hours and shoot 100 to 150 arrows depending on the distance. I try to be on the range by 8:00 AM, after morning exercise. I’ll stop shooting between 10:30 and 11:00 AM. By then, I am ready for a break and lunch.
After a break and lunch (and a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes), I try to do whatever chores need to be done, ride a bike, and prepare for afternoon archery practice. Two days a week I head to the gym rather than do chores. Sometimes it is good to change things up a bit.
Today, I planned a 3D simulation of a tournament, ASA style. My goal was to not miss a 10-ring and get 12’s when I could. Shooting a bow hunter rig, I planned to make the distances as realistic to what I’ve been seeing in local tournaments. My relocation to Georgia and kept me away from the major 3D tournaments for 2018. (Moving is a lot of work)
Locally, I’ve faced a lot of long shots. On my range I have a lot of smaller targets. On those, I didn’t go crazy and try to shoot a rabbit at 40 yards for this practice session. I shot it at 20, a realistic distance should a smaller target happen to be placed on a range at a local event. The exception was a javelina that I shot from 36 yards, a distance that isn’t unexpected for this smaller target.
Out of curiosity, I wore a Garmin and recorded the distance I walked, it was 1.02 miles. That included walking while I warmed up. Warm-up was shooting six arrows at a bag from 20, 25, 30, and 35 yards. At 40 yards I shot 12 arrows for a total warm-up of 36 shots.
It took I hour and 45 minutes to finish the practice, less time than usual for the morning routine. But, it helped me see where I am weak.
I didn’t shoot par. I shot a three 8s and one 12 to finish with a 196 (twenty targets). The average distance for all targets was 29.5 yards. The eights were no surprise.
The first was a hen. She’s a tough target at 27 yards. The dark hole where she sits makes finding the small rings difficult. The second was a small pig at 32 yards and the third was the javelina at 36 yards. Both the small pig and javelina are positioned at angles to the stake. The up and down was fine, but in each case I shot a little wider than I should have. From this practice I know these targets need extra attention.
It’s good to simulate a tournament to get an idea where you might need some extra work. Shooting ego-easy distances and targets won’t be much help when you’re faced with tough shots on an unknown range.
It is raining again here in Good Hope, Georgia. The plants are loving it. For humans seeking outdoor fun the rain isn’t as welcome. On the bright side it wasn’t a hard rain when I went for a run then practiced archery.
If you are an athlete who competes you know that sooner or later you’ll be playing in the rain. It is easy to postpone outdoor training when it is raining. Unless the rain is simply unbearable I don’t let it stop me. This morning was one of those where I headed out and got wet.
Over the years I’ve raced bicycles, run races, done triathlons and shot in the rain. During the Tokyo Marathon a few years back it was both cold and pouring rain. It was miserable. But, there I was in Japan and there was no turning back.
In 2017 at the ASA in Augusta it rained, I shot poorly. The second day of the tournament the weather was fine and I shot great. After that decided to not let rain keep me away from archery practice.
If you can manage it, it is a good idea to practice under adverse conditions. You can’t control the weather, but you can learn how to deal with it. Raining falling on your bow while you’re trying to shoot can affect how you perform. Having experience in rain before a competition can help you understand the feel of your equipment when it’s wet and give you confidence knowing you’ve practiced this and are prepared.
I was at the range fifteen minutes before the start time. It was last year at the Virginia IBO State Championship where I’d last competed at 3D. Arriving early I hoped there would be other archers at the range with a similar plan. That plan was to get onto the course before too many other folks showed up and the pace slowed.
In North Carolina I shot with two friends that liked to shoot first, shoot pretty fast, finish and go home. If you’ve every spent 6 hours on a 20-target 3D course you understand the reasoning.
Being new to the area here I don’t have a group with whom to attend 3D events. In North Carolina when I began shooting there it was the same. Over time I developed friendships with a coupe of guys that like me wanted to not spend their entire day waiting to get through 20 targets. As it turned out, I waited the self-imposed maximum wait around time and when no one arrived I headed into the woods for a fun shoot.
Before I started I was told I could turn my scorecard in and that no one would care that I shot alone and scored my shots. That maybe the case but I wasn’t going to test those waters.
I don’t mind shooting alone. For ten bucks I got to practice on a course other than mine and at some targets I don’t own.
When it comes to 3D I prefer using a hunting rig. In the ASA format it seems that target or field rigs are the bow set-ups of choice. That’s fine and I have shot 3D using long stabilizers and a scope. I may do it again considering how 3D ranges are being laid out.
What I’ve noticed is that the designers of this 3D range (fancy way of presenting the people that go out and set up targets and stakes) leaned toward distance. That seems to be a trend.
For example, in the hunter class the maximum distance is 40 yards. Of the 20 targets up on Saturday for the hunter class I think two were under 30 yards, both around 27 yards. Many of the hunter stakes were next to the Open class stakes or within a few feet of those, which in theory, are the longer distance stakes. As you might guess, yesterday’s hunter class scores were on average significantly lower than the Open or Known 45 (shooting at the same distance as the Open Class) classes. It only makes sense that a group of archers using pins will have less accuracy than archers using a scope.
Yesterday’s archers in the known/open classes had an average score of around 198. At nearly the same distances, without knowing the distance, and using pins the hunter class had an average score of 163. My score is not included with the other hunter class archers’ scores. For the unofficial record I shot a 198, five 12s, 6 eights and nine 10s.
What I take an issue with on the course lay out was that “hard” shots translated to just long shots.
Being curious, I did a random number generation for 20 3D targets set up for hunter class versus Open. The results were an average distance of 31 yards for hunter class and 34 yards for the Open class. Not much difference. However, when I looked for average distances where archers claimed they’d shot an animal while hunting the average distance was 23 yards with a range of 6 yards to 37 yards. (1)
Personally, I don’t care whether the targets are stretched out or not. We all, in each class, shoot the same target. What I am saying is that having the hunter class so closely match the Open class in distance can be discouraging for archers competing in the hunter class.
Making the hunter class distances more realistic will improve the scores for that class. Shorter distances can be interesting when natural obstacles are used to arrange targets. For example having a foam animal partially obstructed by a tree.
I understand that setting up a range is a fair amount of work. I’ve done it many times. It is easier just to stick targets ‘out there’ and pound some stake into the ground. I also know that archers should come to a 3D event expecting to compete under similar conditions to hunting especially when competing in a hunting class. Shooting at a javelina at 40 yards, for me, will generally result in a 10 so long as I get the distance correct. But, in real life, if I were to shoot at a javelina, I’d probably skip a 40-yard attempt.
3D is more of a challenge for me that target shooting. That’s not to suggest that at either discipline there isn’t a great deal of hardship. Hitting the X ring whether it’s at 18 meters, 50 meters, 80 yards or hitting a 12 ring on a deer at 40 yards, each target offers unique requirements for a good shot. I don’t say a perfect shot. You don’t need a perfect shot to hit an X. A really good shot can hit the X. A perfect shot is a rare occurrence in my experience. So, to prepare for an upcoming 3D tournament I’ve been focused on foam animals.
Today, rather than practice on my targets I headed over to the Walton Public Dove and Field Archery Range near Social Circle, Georgia. There I could practice on targets I don’t own.
Because the targets are set up in a line, I started with a bison and worked my way down the line. Each target I shot at 40 yards. I shot each until all shots were in the 10 ring. The exception was the last target in the line, a turkey.
Shooting with pins and without magnification made the turkey a really tough bird.* I adjusted my practice for that target and shortened the distance to 35 yards. At 40 yards there was always at least one arrow in the 8 ring.
Of course, as part of my archery training, I did cardio as in running and riding. The morning trial run was uneventful. Riding brought me into close proximity with a dead deer and a feast on the dead.
*When it comes to 3D i prefer pins and a hunting rig.
The morning started as usual. River and I hitting the trails I’ve cut in our woods for a run. The plan for training and practice was pretty much the same as it is every Thursday with the exception of practicing 3D rather than shooting at paper targets.
During the run River took off in another direction for longer than usual. She gets to free range in the woods unless she’s out of sight to longer than I am comfortable not being able to see her or hear her.
When that happens I whistle and she returns. Today, when I whistled she returned with gusto. There was a big dog smile on her face. And for her, she was smiling with good reason, a reason she shared.
River had found something particularly smelly and nasty to roll in. She came barreling at me and slammed her chest against me thereby transferring some of good stink onto me. That, of course, meant we’d both get hosed off as soon as we returned home. It was exceptionally nasty.
River having a bath was kept off the 3D range after the run. It is a bit lonely without her but I wasn’t taking a chance that she’d return to whatever gross mess it was that she’d found earlier.
I’ve not shot in a 3D tournament since last year and am planning to compete in one this weekend. Yardage has been the focus of the past few days of practice. That and making shots interesting.
I’ve been shooting the same targets for a few years now and creating ways to keep them lively helps make practice enjoyable. For example, I’ll position myself so that there are narrow lanes or longer distances (50 yards is the max with my pins) can keep me on my toes during practice. Hopefully, this will pay dividends this weekend.
Being fit and healthy is a good way to extend your career as an archer. To be sure, archery is not a sport that is heavy on fitness requirements. However, if you find yourself carrying excess weight then long tournaments can become a physical strain.
There are a number of ways to improve your general health such as walking, running, and bicycling. The list of supplemental programs to improve your general health and fitness is tremendous.
Bicycling is one way to improve leg strength, shoulder and arm strength, and add cardio conditioning. It is also a fun way to enjoy the outdoors.
Riding a bike will burn around 800 calories per hour. An hour riding a bike passes quickly. When you were a kid you probably had a bicycle that was your ticket to freedom. Hop on a bike, take a spin, you may find that youthful feeling of freedom returns.
(Photographs were taken during yesterday’s bike ride near Good Hope, Georgia)
Routine is good for training and practice. Many of you focus on archery as your sole means of fitness training. You won’t get a lot of cardio using that approach. You may not want any cardio. Archery may be the only sport that you can find time to fit into your schedule. At least you’re out on a range walking about a mile a day. Well, you’re probably not getting in a mile of walking. You may be coming close.
It is good to have a routine for your training. In my routine I add running and cycling. If I cut out the running and riding I doubt I could get much more archery practice completed. I shoot several hours a day and physically that’s all I can handle.
For instance, yesterday I shoot 90 arrows in the morning. Thirty at 60 yards, thirty at 50 yards and thirty at 40 yards. That took an hour and forty-five minutes. During the afternoon I fired off another 60 arrows on the 3D range. I didn’t shoot at all my foam animals. Instead, I worked yardages and difficult shots.
By difficult I mean interesting. All shots are the same when it comes to difficulty. The interesting part was the complexity of judging yardage. Although I practice 3D often I have not competed in a 3D tournament since last summer. Soon I will compete in 3D and judging yardage is my greatest weakness.
Other than that I did run and ride my bike. Running is an early morning activity whereas I ride in the afternoon between 1 PM and 3 PM. The goal is to have a routine so that I can create training plans to fit a schedule. It is getting close and next week I’ll have specific training plans that agree with out recent move back to Georgia.
Routine and training don’t mean doing exactly the same thing over and over. Although, being able to do the same thing over and over is a requirement for archery. More about this later.