Run Around and Run Around

Athletes run.

I’m a pretty good archer.  I’m a better cyclist and better runner.  Since beginning archery cycling and running have been adjuncts to archery training. Since beginning archery I’ve better at archery and less good running and cycling.

Certainly, I do not log the miles running and cycling I did before shooting arrows. Nevertheless, I run almost every day and ride up to 6 times a week.  But, I do both to stay fit for archery.

Now, you may be 25 years old and don’t yet see the reason to do either in order to shoot a bow well.  Hear me now and believe me later, your youthful fitness will not last unless  you work to keep it. If you don’t use it you lose it.

If I am going to miss one of the two, running or cycling, during a day it will be cycling.  Running is a demand by River, my lab.  She will herd me out the door.

Nice way to begin a morning – trail running
On a trail with River whose spotted something to chase

River is 9 years old and runs as well as she did at 2.  We run trails, which avoid traffic.  We both enjoy it.

Running can pay back in archery tournaments.  Those long hours standing on a range are rough.  There are times I’d rather have been running rather than standing and slowly walking for three and a half to four hours.

If you head out early enough you can catch some nice views

Archery over long periods of time takes a mental toll.  As you fatigue from a lack of fitness mental mistakes are more prone to appear.  Running can improve your fitness and may reduce the possibly of an error that is associated with being physically drained.

New Neighbors Decrease by 50%

Recently, a couple purchased one of the lots in our development.  The lots are all nice sized ranging from around 10 acres to as small as 3 acres.  All back up to undeveloped land or farmland.  It is the country.

If you move to the country you are choosing a life style.  Unlike city life where activities of daily living such as buying groceries or getting gas are just a short distance away being in the country means a trip into town to fulfill such chores.

Town might not mean a large metropolitan conglomerate.  In fact, our closest town has only two stores.  One is a Dollar General and the other is the “Good Hope General Store” which has stood in its location since the early 1900s.  The “Good Hope General Store” offers a limited supply of groceries, has a deli, and sells gas on the side.  Major grocery shopping for us means a trip to Watkinsville, Madison, or Athens.

Downtown Good Hope

Good Hope is the closest town to where we live and the where the recent couple built their new home.  Good Hope has a population of 288. The Atlanta metro area (a little more than an hour away), by comparison, has a population of 5.6 million.

The lady, who amounted to 50% of the pair of our new neighbors, was accustomed to a more metropolitan area.  When she settled into her new home she noticed her Internet reliability and speed were mediocre. Admittedly the Internet here in the country is substandard.  But, those of us that prefer the country are willing to deal with inferior Internet.

If you’ve never lived in the city then you don’t have a frame of reference.  City life offers high speed Internet, easy access to food of all sorts, and plenty of entertainment if you’re willing to pay for it.

We’ve lived in Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta, Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.  Savannah and Augusta don’t really come up to big city standards but are indeed cities that seem massive compared to Good Hope. We’ve also lived in Easton, Maryland a great small town.

We moved to Good Hope, Georgia from New Hope, North Carolina that has a population of 3104.  We sold that New Hope house to a couple from South Carolina preserving the population balance.  The Internet was better in New Hope, but we were further from gas or groceries.  We lived on the fringes.

In New Hope it wasn’t unusual for horses to roam into our yard, escapees from down the road, and chickens that weren’t ours were common visitors.  We also knew most of the local dogs by name. It is a truly country area.

There are chickens here in Good Hope as well.  Once again, not ours that roam our property.  There’s a rooster that crows a lot which I don’t mind.  In fact, I enjoy his declarations and his cocky attitude.  Many days while I’m practicing archery he or some of his harem of hens drop by to watch and peck.

Our new lady neighbor didn’t like the rooster.  She made a point to visit the owners of the chickens to issue a complaint.  Honestly, you can’t hear the rooster if you’re indoors.  If you go outside you might be hear his melodies floating over your background. Roosters aren’t for everyone.  This one wasn’t for the new neighbor.

Possum taking a short cut at night across our front porch

Then, there are the dogs.  In the country people have dogs.  Dogs bark.  Here in our development we’re far enough apart that occasional barking isn’t a bother.  There are no psychotic hounds yelling all night.  There are occasional night barks because there are occasional visits by critters out of the woods who are less tame. Barking dogs warn those visitors away.

This fox is getting a bark

The new lady wanted to learn, by asking, who is everyone in the area that owns a dog.  She didn’t explain why she needed that information. There are 16 houses out here and 9 of them come with a dog or dogs.  A few folks have two or three dogs.  One family has three dogs and a few of pigs.  Pigs don’t bark and don’t bother people with loud vocals.

Cows grazing very near us

There are also lots of cows around us.  They can be heard at night and during quiet days.  Cows don’t bother most people.  Somehow the cows got on the former city dwellers nerves.

Not only were the cows audibly offensive to her they contributed to an olfactory insult.  I believe that sense’s infringement was imaginative.

What she most seemed to abhor was gunfire. One night a chicken house raid a by a skulk of foxes led to four blasts from a shotgun.  The urban transplant was out in her nightclothes demanding whether or not the chicken protection crew knew the time.  It was dinnertime for foxes and they had not be invited to enjoy a chicken dinner. (The human time was 9:45 PM)

Later, she was heard to complain about some boys being taught to shoot by their father.  The boys had been armed with BB guns, a pellet gun, and dad held a 22, the calibrations ascending with age.  They weren’t learning near her house but the reports could be heard.  That event led to police being called.

The officer responding explained that in rural Georgia gun owners could shoot their guns.  He explained the father of the boys was supervising them and their targets were safe.  She left in frustration; the officer took a few shots with dad’s 22 before continuing on his rounds.

Our lady friend may have reached her limit after giving grievance to innocent dog owners regarding howling that went on during the night.  No dog had been left outdoors the unfairly accused pleaded.  Her country neighbors explained what she’d heard wasn’t a pack of dogs. She’d stood out in her backyard during the night fuming over coyotes.

I’m not a dog

Our new neighbor, the one that remains, is a bachelor.  His ex-wife offered a non-contested divorce and has fled to Jacksonville, Florida.  Perhaps, she’ll have a simpler life dealing with traffic, hurricanes, flooding, and power outages.

Again at Hester’s Ferry

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.

View from our campsite
Nice running trails

 

These trails also work for cycling
Plenty of time for archery
Those targets at 45 yards, the chair is at 35 yards

 

This old bike is steel – man steel is so nice. (Reynold 841 tubing)

 

Well, that works

 

Yep, that works, too.
Night at the campsite
Had to get a tire plugged. This sign was in the shop.

Nice thing is there are all sorts of ways to play. No time to write.

Another archery tournament, another road trip.  

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.

Getting Lost

This was a time-trial I had in the bag.  A time-trial on a bicycle is where each cyclist races individually against the clock over a set distance.  The distance for this race was 40 kilometers.

I’d started 3rdfrom the last, a good position.  Typically, cyclists are placed in the race line-up based on prior times. The faster cyclists start near the bottom of the order.

There was a light rain when the race started.  The rain increased and was coming down pretty good by the time I was off.  Many of the riders ahead of me were being cautious to protect against crashing on the wet roads.  Because I’d trained and raced often in rain I was more comfortable and it wasn’t long before I was passing other riders.

During a race on the roads there are often arrows spray painted on the pavement to alert riders that a turn is ahead.  This race was no different.

Continuing to work my way past the line of other cyclists that had started before me I’d spot one, overtake him, and move to the next.  Then, I ran out of other riders to catch.  It was, by now, pouring rain.

Approaching an intersection, which I felt was near the finish; I looked for the arrows on the pavement to know where to turn. The rain had either washed them away or they were covered by water.  I made the wrong turn.

I got lost for a while. I lost the race finishing so far behind that the officials were preparing to come search for me when I came to the finish line from the opposite direction.

At the IBO World Championship several years ago it poured rain.  Being in the first group out we had no idea that the tournament has been postponed until the storm passed. There was no horn that sounded. Apparently, the officials had forgotten our group was on the range.  We got turned around because the storm had blown away trail markers. You never want to find yourself walking out of the woods between a stake and a target.

I’ve been lost on training rides, runs, once in a race, and briefly during an archery tournament. Think it’s hard to get lost on a bicycle?  Go ride 100 miles and see how winding roads over unfamiliar ground seems then think again. Or do a 20 mile run in an unfamiliar city.  That can be especially nerve racking where English isn’t the local language.  Believe me, completing a 120 kilometer bicycle race in Italy and afterwards being unable to find the way to your hotel is extremely frustrating.  Heck, I had to ask for directions here in Georgia just a few weeks ago when a road construction site put me off my planned route.

Getting outside and doing things can sometimes present a directional challenge. You can find yourself having a little unplanned adventure.  But, in the end, you’ll probably find your way home.

It Is Cold

There were some nice warm days in December and January – until now.  It has turned cold.  The indoor range where I practice is closed while the folks that work there enjoy the ATA Meeting.  I’m practicing outside. It is awful.

First stuff these into my pockets

Unlike my nice warm shed I had in North Carolina, here in Georgia when I can’t get to practice indoors there’s winter in the raw.

Next, turn on the little heater

Sure, it isn’t like winter in say Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Baltimore. I’ve lived in all those places and winter was an entirely other animal compared to a Georgia winter.  Nevertheless, cold is cold.

Get ready and warm

Because the cold here in Georgia isn’t in the same league as a north Ohio winter, yesterday I tried to practice wearing as little clothing as possible to stay warm and not make the shots more difficult.  That was a total failure.  Three layers weren’t enough.

This didn’t last

What started off as a good day quickly rolled downhill into shoot, thaw by the little outdoor heater, then shoot again.

Distractions, A Stink Bug, and a Little Luck

Last week, on an indoor range, I was practicing at 18-meters.  There weren’t many other people there at that time.  Steve was there. Steve’s a coach and was working with a student.

I’m accustomed to practicing while coaching is happening around me.  I listen to what is being said between ends.  I’ve picked up more than one free tip from Steve while he’s coaching.

Anyway, I was working away at 18-meters. I’d been shooting pretty good. Then, on one shot I hit a 9.  Now a 9 isn’t bad but I’d been hitting 10s. Here’s what happened – Steve walks over to grab arrows from a ground quiver about 2 inches from me.  The distraction was all it took to miss the 10.

I laughed and said, “Thanks, Steve!  That 9 is on you.”  He, too, laughed and added, “You need to learn to block distraction.” Of course he’s right.  Who knows, I may have hit the 9 regardless of Steve nearly knocking me over.  (Yes, Steve that’s how I telling it) I mean, it wouldn’t have been my first 9.

Distractions happen. They really can’t be allowed to mess with your shooting.   The other day I had another distraction.  A stink bug.

This stink bug hopped off my bow after the shot. He stayed around for a photo opt.

Practicing at 18-meters on my outdoor range I was again doing pretty good.  At full draw, all focused, letting my brain relax, finding silence, being one with the arrow and channeling my inner Yoda, this stink bug lands on the lens of my scope. Yep, the arrow was off in the millisecond of bug to glass impact.

I heard the arrow hit the target.  I was expecting to find it some where in the white and glad it didn’t sail off into the woods.  I lifted my binoculars to find the arrow.  What I found was a real surprise.

100% luck

The shot turned out good. Sometimes luck is a good thing to have.

Rain, Rain and More Rain During Practice

A rainy night in Georgia
A rainy night in Georgia
I believe it’s rainin’ all over the world

It’s been more than a rainy night.  We’re on pace to break a record for annual rainfall here in Georgia.  The weather report two days ago said we only needed another 1.5 inches to set a new record.  It hasn’t stopped raining since that report.

Rain is not an archer’s best friend.  If you’ve done more than a few outdoor archery tournaments you’ve probably been caught in the rain.  Shooting in the rain is a mess.

It wasn’t a downpour, but it was coming down

I just left my outdoor range.  It was raining while I was practicing.  It is December and the rain and cold are a miserable combination.  Luckily, the temperature isn’t bad, it was 54°F – nice for December.

Still after an hour I stopped.  I was wet and the rain was getting worse.  The paper targets were disintegrating and my scope was covered with beaded drops of water.

It wasn’t the practice I hoped to get completed.  I’d hoped for a pause in the rain.  Being wet at 54°F isn’t bad if you’re running, but it is bad when you’re trying to stand still. There was, however, specific work needed to be done.

Didn’t want to run my little heater in the rain

Today, practice wasn’t only about hitting the X.  It was about getting a feel for 2 minutes.  Often, I’ll use the timer on my phone and practice against the clock. What I want to do is maximize my arrow shot process flow, see that I have ample recover time between shots, take my time on each shot, and have some time left over.

Practicing against the clock does a several things: 1) You learn how long it takes you to shoot 3 arrows, 2) You become comfortable with a timer counting down the seconds, 3) you learn not to rush your shots, and 4) you learn about how much time you have to regroup after an error like dropping an arrow off the rest.

Dropping an arrow off your rest during a tournament is going to happen.  For me it has happened when I was letting down.  The arrow had slipped off the rest while I was drawing. Rather than take my finger and put the arrow back on the rest I prefer to start over with the shot process.  Once or twice the arrow came off the string during competition as I was letting down. If that happens to you, don’t lean over and pick up the escaping arrow – let it go.  Collect the arrow after the whistle blows to stop shooting. A simple drill get comfortable if this situation – rather when this situation – occurs:  Using a clock, time 3 minutes, shoot 3 arrows, but have a 4th and intentionally drop an arrow so that up must use the 4th arrow within the two minutes. It’s an easy exercise and you’ll get a good understanding of the timing for when you do drop an arrow.

An arrow on the floor or ground doesn’t get under my skin.  I know that when this happens and I draw another arrow to start over I’ll still have time remaining to calmly get off all three shots. Generally, I have around thirty seconds remaining on the clock after I shoot three arrows.  That means it takes me about 30 seconds per arrow. So, I can easily get four arrows off in 120 seconds or 2 minutes.

When one arrow is dropped, I’m essentially adding a 4thshot.  It’s happened to me a few times during an event. I have gotten that 4tharrow, including the on the floor, fired leaving a second or two on the clock when I released the final shot.  But, I’ve never lost points for shooting after the whistle blew.

Today, in the rain my cell phone timer was getting pretty wet.  I have a protective case on the phone that is supposed to be water resistant. The protective case might work but a soaked phone was another reason I called the morning practice to a halt.  Additionally, it is New Year’s Eve and we’re having a party here this evening.  It was time to cut practice short.

Coaching tip

The rain may or may not let up.  If it does and I have time I’ll get in another practice.  For now, I did get some practice during the rain, which is good. I got to work against a clock and that too is a good.  I’ve been rained on bin the past during competition and it will certainly happen again. Having practiced in rain teaches me how to perform during inclement weather.

Running in the Dark

Often you’ll read at this website that I post articles about fitness.  Many of those posts include stories about running.  While cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t essential to pick up a bow and shoot it, it does improve one’s health and ability to maintain an athletic posture during long archery tournaments.

During hunting season I wear orange every time I run trails

Among the exercises I do as part of my training regime, running is a major element.  One manufacturer of running shoes once had an advertisement that read, “Athletes Run.”  Whether or not archery is part of my life, I believe running will always be a part of it.

One of the running pleasures I find most appealing is trail running in the dark.  In the winter months running in the dark is easy – it’s dark when I get up to run. In the warmer months this isn’t the case.

A head lamp is a must for running in the dark. River, my lab, has a little read clip-on light on her collar.

For some, the thought of running through the woods in the dark might bring to mind some scene from a horror movie. Not the case for me.  I do run with a light – getting smacked by a tree or limb isn’t on my bucket list.

Some mornings we finish running just after sunrise

Running in the dark is peaceful in my mind.  The woods are quiet and calm.  Occasionally, I run in the direction of some critter and that can be startling, but never horrifying.  I do run with my dog, River, who’s a big girl who provides a sense of ease when I cross paths with an unexpected animal.

Find this at night and you’ll wake right up

There’s a 1.3-mile loop behind my house that cuts a perfect trail to travel whether running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll run it in the morning and hike it in the afternoon.  I try to cover a few laps each time, more laps when running.

I understand not everyone that reads this site runs beyond being chased.  If you do run and have access to trails try running in the dark it is an entirely new experience compared to running during the day light. Oh, carry a light, bring your dog, and watch how you plant your feet. Also, let someone know where you’ll be running and when to expect you home. Plus, carry your cell phone just in case.  Before you run a trail in the dark run it several times during the lighted part of the day to learn the trail.  If you happen to get off the trail it isn’t difficult to get turned around.  If you happen to get lost, wait where you are until the sun comes up to regain your bearings.  Clear lens running eye glasses are ideal for not getting an eye poked out by a low hanging pointy limb. Now that I think about, maybe you shouldn’t run in the dark – you’d probably get hurt.

River’s Bone and Stick Pile

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.

River has chewed every stick here

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.

We had some wind today and it kept pushing my arrows right

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.

This vertebra didn’t provide much meat

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.

River can’t get to this leg, now

I suppose, if you were a dog, you might prefer raw leg to a stick, too.