There’s a snake on my butt

I’ve had all manner of critter intersect with my target during practice.  There have been rabbits, squirrels, owls, hawks, dogs, cats, horses, raccoons, turkey, chipmunks, chickens, turtles, mice, frogs, lizards and snakes.  Several of them have hung around long enough to sit for a photograph.  Some of those pictures I’ve posted here.

I find it odd that so many and such a variety of animal has taken time out of its day to pause near where I am shooting arrows.  Only one has reached an accidental end. A tree frog was unseen and too close to an arrow.  The arrow was the last thing that went through its mind.

 

If snakes such as moccasins or copperhead slithered past they were always greeting with an unfriendly welcome.  If one of those passed within range of the pistol I carry for just such encounters it would eventually be shot.  That is so long as it held still long enough.  Copperheads being stubborn have been the easiest to reach with a bullet.

Today, I was using one of my target butts as a desk to record shots.  On it I laid a pad and pen.  After each end I’d record the results.

On the last end as I was recording the shots I noticed out of the corner of my eye the target butt edge was moving. Looking in the direction of the motion there crawled a black snake.

I have no idea how long it had been there.  Using an arrow I scooted it away.  Believe me I was pleased it wasn’t a rattlesnake.

Nothing Like a Rattlesnake to Bring Neighbors Together

Our next-door neighbor sold his house.  It took only a short time and sold for over the asking price.  It seems like good news that the house sold so fast and the value had increased substantially.  Of course that sent us to Zillow to see what it reported about our house’s potential value.  Indeed, it had risen.

However, we’re not in the market to sale and buy another house.  This means we’ll be getting new neighbors.

A few days ago I noticed one of the new owners outside in her new backyard. They’d not moved in while the interior was being repainted to suit their tastes.  I walked over to introduce myself.

On that meeting I learned the couple, about the age of Brenda and I, were adding a pool, clearing some of the woods for open a parking space for their 38 foot long RV, and putting up a privacy fence.

As my new neighbor explained, the fence was to keep their two dogs at bay not because they were unsocial.  I’d considered the privacy fence and pool then suggested inherent opportunities for nude bathing while avoiding prying eyes.

In fact, she was very pleasant despite avoiding my humour, again lost or ignored by the intended target. She mentioned her husband was overseas and due home soon. Appareltly, making slight off color joke can send up needless alarms. We exchanged phone numbers and I offered my help if they needed it. That exchange left me believing our post-joke conversation had satisfied her that I am safe.

A few days later, at night, I received a phone call from her.  It went like this, “Mr. David, do you own a gun?” I replied, “Yes mam, this is Georgia, everyone owns a gun.”

Indeed, at least one town in Georgia has a law that the head of the household owns a gun and has ammunition for that gun. (1)

The call continued, “Well, we’ve got a rattlesnake out front.  Can you come over and kill it?” she asked.  “I’ll be right there.”

It took a minute or so to get the key to my gun safe, retrieve a .410 shotgun and some snake shot.  Once collected my armament I headed over to shoot the snake.

I’d seen video of people shooting snakes with snake shot.  Large snakes seemed annoyed by the shot.  I’d always felt those were rare cases.  Snake shot did good work on the moccasins and copperheads around us when we lived in North Carolina. I was about to learn a lesson.

When I met the snake it wasn’t a small one.  This snake turned out to be just over four feet long and weighted several pounds.  My .410 is a double barrel and I shot it twice with the snake shot.  That really pissed it off.

I walked back home and grabbed a couple of shells with four shot.  I figure that would do the trick.  That is if I shot it in the head a couple of times.

Two shots later, now four shots had been delivered, the snake’s head was pulp.  A group other neighbors had gathered to witness the execution.  Prior to the final shots there had been calls to wait while pictures were taken and requests not to shoot it in the body so the skin could be salvaged.

When the task was complete the crowd that had gathered stared at the massive snake. A great deal of advice regarding snake prevention was bantered about. A father lifted the dead timber back  with a stick allowing his boys to touch the undamaged skin. It turned out no one wanted to take the body home to remove that skin.  A hole was found to be used for the monsters headless body’s final resting place.

The crowd slowly dispersed everyone mumbling about the rattler.  What I took away from the event is that next time I’ll gather up a 12 gauge.

Reference:

(1) In 1982 Kennesaw, GA passed an ordinance [Sec 34-21]:[21]

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

Dang, that was windy

I’d planned to start at 70 yards (not meters).  Then work out to 70 meters. It was cool with the temperature around 51°F. That would have felt pretty good except for the wind. Morning practice was going to be a challenge.

It was windy. The wind was blowing steady at 12 mph with gusts up to 28 mph.  I can shoot through that – I thought.

The problem was the gusts blew my target over twice.  On the second crash, one of those gusts, which felt like more than 28 mph, I moved to a heavier target.

The heavier target is smaller and without the overhang clearance of the larger less wind adaptable target. I have lots of trees along the range lanes and some still need to be trimmed.  So, I moved closer.  It was still frustrating.

My light introductory level recurve arrows, Easton Vector 1000s, aren’t ideally suited for gusts of wind.  Trying to time a steady wind with the intermittent gusts was good practice should I, or rather when I, find myself competing is such conditions. Before any major tournament I imagine I’ll need an arrow upgrade.

I got in 70 arrows before I had to move on.  I’d lost some time setting up a blown over target twice so I didn’t get the 90-arrow practice completed.  This afternoon the wind is forecast to drop to 6 mph.  That should be a more humane practice.

Time for New Running Shoes

When Hurricane Sally’s remnants passed over us there was a lot of rain.  There was a pause in the rain around the usual time I go running every morning.  Taking a chance, River and I, headed out to the trails.

The rain was only a slight drizzle as we left our yard, passing through a fence gate to start pacing through the woods.  Our first path led to ponds of water that aren’t usually on the path.  Back tracking we found a clear path and headed deeper into the woods.

Less than a mile in the drizzle was getting louder in the trees.  Gambling we ran on.  The gamble was a loss.  Within minutes the rain was a torrent.  We turned around and ran for home.

There was no point in sprinting we were going to get soaked no matter what we did.  River did pick of the pace.  She’d gallop ahead, pause to look back to make certain I was still behind her. Once we made eye contact she was off again.

You can take the nerd out of the lab, but not the lab out of the nerd. What a goober.

As soon as we reached home the rain slacked up a bit.  Nevertheless, both dog and man were drenched.  Worse for wear were my tired old Nike shoes.

Those shoes had finally given up the ghost.  They were 15 months old!  The soles had been re-glued three times.  The black rubber bottom heels were worn to the white foundation of the bottom rubber.  But, man did they feel nice running trails – they were seriously broken in.

Slogging through puddles had been the last gasp of the amateur shoe repairs. Still, 15 months for Nike’s least expensive (or near about) shoes, at $50.00 a pair via Amazon, is a deal.  Those shoes didn’t owe me a thing.

Rather than pull out the Elmer’s and try to bleed another few weeks from the shoes I guessed it was time to reorder.  Coincidentally, my most recent issue of Runner’s World (RW) had arrived in the mail a few days prior to Sally’s arrival.  On page 63 RW has an article meant to help me, “22 Best Shoes You Can Buy Right Now”.

Pictures of sleek sneakers are runners’ porn.  There was a time I invested in really extravagant shoes thinking I’d shave a few minutes over a marathon or salvage a toenail.  I don’t race beyond an occasional 5K so my elaborate spending isn’t necessary.  In fact, it probably never was needed.

The average price of the 22 best shoes, as advertised in RW, is $140.68.  Shamelessly, I have spent that and more on a single pair of running shoes.  In fact, I have two pair of big money shoes still in their boxes.  I don’t wear them; they are too expensive to waste for everyday training.  I’ll save them for that day I might enter a race, again. (Even though I expect they won’t help me run any faster at this point.  At least I can still look serious)

I’ve even got a pair of old track shoes.  I raced wearing those in just one race years ago at the US Track & Field Masters Indoor National Championship. Now, they are just a relic from days gone by.

There’s no way I’m forking out $140.68 for shoes when my old $50.00 pair lasted 15 months.  I went back to Amazon to reorder those same shoes.

It took a second to change that plan.  Those $50.00 shoes are now $80.00.  As a running shoe goes the $50.00 spent was okay.  Certainly, the $50.00 shoes were not worth $80.00. The toe box was just a bit off, the rubber sole hard, and heel was sloppy.  Fair for $50.00 but a rip off at $80.00.

Instead, I searched and found a pair of ASICS for $45.00.  ASICS is a trainer that in the past I’ve used for 1000s of miles of running.  I invested the $45.00; the new shoes should be here in a few days.

Years ago, well more than a decade, I was running in ASICS.  A fellow I was working with on a project was one of their athletes.  He’d won a Gold Medal in the Olympics and his ASICS shoes looked comfortable to me so I tried a pair. (Not his, I bought my own)

They were just fine.  I ran wearing them for many years. (ASICS never did contact me with a contract.Do they sponsor archers?)

2008 Beijing Olympic, Gold Medal, Decathlon: Bryan Clay.

When I was running in high-level events I did pay a premium for shoes.  Now a-days, I run a few miles each morning because I enjoy it.  The old Nikes had about 1600 mile in them. That is a heck of lot more miles than I once got out of a pair of shoes running roads.  Running roads I’d have been lucky to get 600 miles out of a decent pair of running shoes.  Trails, at least mine that are mostly pine straw covered hard pack, have been generous to the life of my shoes.

I’ll date the $45.00 ASICS when they arrive and see whether they hold up as well as the $50.00 Nikes did.

The old Nikes will go to the trash, soon.  I always takes me a few days to say goodbye to old friends that have supported me.

Who Is Out There?

We live in the country.  From my yard I can hear cows bellowing, coyotes howling, and smell chicken poop fertilizer when applied to fields nearby.  Within 0.3 miles there’s a barn going up for horses with 11 acres for their pasture.  At 0.8 miles there’s a cow pasture in addition to pre-existing pasture about 0.2 miles away.  Throughout the day and night there are critters passing across our property.

The other day as I was walking ‘out back’ with my dogs we intersected with a roll of armadillo.  There was a chase.  The big dog, River, lost interest soon.  The little dog, Nixie, a dachshund was in the fight for good.  She’d separated one armadillo from the roll and was working to send the armored beast to its maker.  That was a struggle requiring human intervention.

With the clearing of more farmland nearby many local non-human residents have migrated to our property hoping to set up camp.  Wanting to see how active our land is becoming with these displaced animals I put out two trail cameras.

After only a few days this is who’d walked past to be photographed:

We don’t own a cat

The ASA State Qualifier that Wasn’t

The range at today’s Georgia ASA State 3D Championship qualifier was awesome.  On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the most realistic set this one would have been a 5.  Another bonus is the shoot was only 30 minutes from where I live.  In fact, I’d had it on my calendar for months.

There was some doubt about going because of the Covid-10 problem. I went anyway and did my very best to social distance.

When I checked it I wore a mask and gloves.  I signed in with my own pen. I had triple checked that the event hadn’t been canceled before I took the time and chance to compete. It remained, un-canceled, on the list of qualifiers at the ASA website the night before the event.

A number of qualifiers had already been canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I wrote the ASA asking if a waiver for people wanting to compete in the State Championship might be warranted for 2020.  I didn’t get a reply. So, it was this qualifier or more than likely I’d have to skip the 2020 ASA State Championship.

There are two other state qualifiers still available aside from today’s.  Each has problems connected with attending.  One means a long drive that goes through Atlanta to get to west Georgia the other a longer drive that means an overnight stay. No, the one remaining shoot for a qualification to compete at the State Championship was the one today.

In 2017 I won an IBO State 3D Championship. The IBO has an age group that more narrowly fits my age bracket. The following 2 years, competing in the Senior Hunter Division under ASA rules I’ve taken 2 third places finishes.  Under the ASA rules I compete with archers of a broader age category.  I compete against archers whose ages more closely match my adult children’s ages. I don’t really mind the only handicap I have is vision looking at dark targets in dark holes.  As we age our eyes don’t pick up light as well.

The Covid-19 problem encouraged me switch my focus to 3D because those events are outside and more easily controlled for social distancing. Practices going into today’s event have been good.  The actual competition went well, too.  I ended up at 10.3 points per arrow.  Not great and not bad.  An average of 10.3 generally lands an archer in the Senior Hunter division in the top 4 or 5 spots and maybe higher at the State level.  When I got home I took the distances, I’d written them down after each shot, and found that the average yardage was 33.2 yards.

Turns out it didn’t really matter.  The tournament, I learned as I was leaving the event, was no longer an ASA qualifier.  It was a tremendous let down.  Thankfully, it was a short drive.

Switching Things Up

Occasionally, it is nice to switch up training schedules. Over the past week I’ve made some alterations in my training plans.  So far, it seems like a nice change.

Thes trails are nice in the morning

Prior to the change my training went like this: run/archery mornings, cycling/archery afternoons. Essentially this was it without the detail. Last week I changed to: Run/cycling morning, archery afternoons.  Still without the details.

So far it has been fun.  It is like doing 2/3 of a duathlon.  That got me thinking about doing a duathlon. If I could find one that started at 0900 that was nearby I’d probably enter.  I did find one that nearby that started at 0700.  Transition and packet pick-up opened at 0500 on race day.  Transition closed at 0630. Start of the race is at 0700.

River had been running ahead. She’s probably wondering way I stopped. Once I showed her the little camera she understood.

Even a local event with these start times means getting out of bed at 0430 to prepare to race.  I can do it; I’ve done it countless times. But, do I want to do it again?

One really nice thing about archery is the start times. Local events start during humane hours.  It is one of my favorite things about archery.  You can’t start too early for outdoor events because you can’t see the targets. A built in cushion for decent start times.

This is 5.57 miles from my house by road. I may be one as the crow flies. This is a section of one of my bike ride courses.

Over decades I did get up at those puke of dawn hours to race.  I miss the racing; I do not miss the early mornings.  Even training meant my typical wake up time of 0530 including the weekends.

I will say I do get out to run nearly every morning by 0800.  Now with the added cycling that follows I won’t finish until 1030.  For two and a half hours I admit it is really nice.  Knock several hours off that 0800 run time and it becomes less appealing.

Afternoon on the 3D range

The afternoon archery exclusive is also nice.  I can shoot without thinking about cycling.  So far, a pretty nice switch.

Another rough day on the practice range

This seemed like an easy 31 yards shot

When I practice 3D I try to make the shots realistic to what I might find on a range during a tournament.  Some days I work long shots.  By long shots I mean distances from 32 to 43 yards.  The short 32 yards target is a coyote in a hill.  There’s a tree that blocks me from increasing the range. Today, I tried to shoot at distances that seemed typical for the target as I might see it during an actual tournament.  I didn’t finish well.

Nope, missed the area where I’d called for a 12 by a fraction
This little fellow made for an interesting target at 21 yards

Prior to the tournament style practice I warmed up from 20 to 50 yards before heading to the first 3D target.  A few days ago I started without a warm-up to practice for the time when I’ll not have a chance to get a feel for my bow before scoring.  It happens.

Still ended up with a 10
This turkey is a tough target even at a close 24 yards

The weather was ideal temperature wise but it was windy with gusts in the 20 mph range.  I wish I could blame today’s results on the wind.  I can’t.  Once in the woods the foliage was enough to diminish the impact of wind.

At 24 yards I just cut the 10 line

 

It takes about an hour and an half to walk my range shooting targets once and moving on.  The warm-up took nearly an hour.  I shot 40 arrows during my warm-up.  Warm-up felt good.  I use a 5-spot on a bale and figure if the arrow is in the white it is probably a 10 on a foam animal.

There’s a javelina in them trees
Practice this one a lot. You will see it

Starting out on my first target a black bear at 30 yards was a 12.  The next was a strutting turkey at 37 yards for a 10.  Then a badger at 30 yards scoring an 8. I ended up with one 5 on a tiny backyard coyote from 21 yards. The final tally was a disappointing 185.  We all know an average of 9.25 points per arrow will not land you in a top position.

The average distance only 29.8 yards, a factor mostly associated with the abundance of small targets I have on the range. That and I didn’t shoot further out than 40 yards.

The ranges per target

The positive from this is I didn’t break any more arrows. (This practice used a bow hunter rig. Practice geared to ASA Senior Hunter, 40 yard max distance.)

I ended my day better than this poor fellow. He wasn’t there this morning during my run.

Social Distance 3D Game

I’d been upstairs at my desk working out a plan.  The plan completed I headed downstairs. My wife, Brenda, was sitting on a couch in our sunroom trying to watch a recording of “48 Hours” as I passed through on my way outside. “I made a game, I’ll be out back shooting if you need me,” I explained.  Brenda, remote control in hand aimed at the television responded with a bored, “Okay.”

Brenda and I are in our mid-60’s.  We’re not interested in testing our immune systems against the Covid-19 even though I suspect we’ve already done so and passed. We don’t know for sure if we’ve had the virus and getting a test to discover whether or not we’re loaded with the proper antibodies remains undone. So, we social distance and find ways to break the boredom.

The social distancing is more of a burden for Brenda than it is for me.  Many of the sport activities I enjoy, over the years, have become exercises I can do alone.  Brenda, on the other hand, teaches yoga.  Her yoga studio is closed and she’s less inclined to practice yoga solo than I am to run, ride, and shoot without company.

The created game I’d made was simple: Twenty 3D targets, no warm up, score and review.

Target 1: Black Bear at 34 yards
Target 2: Turkey at 32 yards
Target 3: Badger at 30 yards
Target 4: Bobcat at 20 yards
Target 5: Mosquito at 20 yards
Target 6: Mountain Lion at 40 yards
Target 7: Coyote at 30 yards
Target 8: Cinnamon Bear at 40 yards
Target 9: Buck at 35 yards
Target 10: Hen at 25 yards
Target 11: Rabbit at 20 yards
Target 12: Turkey butt at 25 yards
Target 13: Small boar at 27 yards
Target 14: Javelina at 32 yards
Target 15: Deer at 40 yards
Target 16: Medium boar at 35 yards
Target 17: Deer at 40 yards
Target 18: Cinnamon Bear, again at 40 yards
Target 19: Mountain lion, again at 40 yards
Target 20: coyote at 20 yards

You might think,’why not take a warm-up?’ Well, most of the time I do warm-up.  Prior to a tournament or scoring practices, I’ll shoot a dozen or so arrows at various known distances to verify my sightings for the lighting and loosen up my arms and shoulders. However, there have been tournaments where a warm-up might not have been possible for one reason or another. Not having a warm-up is one of the situations you can plan for and practice for when it does occur.

This is how it panned out

I ended up with a score of 202. The average per arrow was 10.1 points. An average of 10.1 might sound good, but to win at many tournaments in the Senior Hunter division 10.4 is a minimum required for a top 3 finish.  There are times when 10.8 points per arrow average is needed to be in one of the top positions.

Senior hunter division, for anyone who does not know, means short stabilizer and pins used for sighting.  You shoot a ‘hunting’ style bow setup. The maximum distance, for ASA, is 40 yards. The IBO counterpart is 35 yards.

You can see on the score paper photo two dots next to ‘Deer Old’ and ‘Med Boar.’ On those shots, a 12 and a 10, respectively, the dots represent absolutely lucky shots.  The arrows could have just as easily have been a miss.  With both, the shot went off at a point where I’d lost my focus. I had been holding for the release and my mind sort of went blank.  Not that good kind of alpha one brainwave pattern blank, the bad kind of mental blackout.

The ‘C’ next to the last target means 12 points for a center ring.  The last target is such a small coyote that, prior to scoring, made the determination to go with a center 12.

Reviewing the targets you might notice how I’ve  tried to make them interesting.  Many of them are surrounded by trees that create a higher degree of difficulty. Still, there are enough of the long open shots to match up with what we see during competition. There’s also an abundance of small targets.  The population of small targets is purely the result of target pricing.

I need to shoot a few of the targets more than once to get 20 shots.  On those I take a different angle so I’m not simply repeating the prior shot. I only have 16 3D targets.  I have space for four more.  Perhaps, those potential new targets will appear after my US Economic Stimulus money arrives.

Keeping the average distance and average score per arrow up, in both instances, is tough with the abundance of small targets on the range.  In this case the average distance was 31.25 yards.  Shooting small targets, like mosquitoes, badgers and rabbits, at long yardages is unrealistic.  First, I’ll probably never see them in a major event and second I’m running short on 3D arrows.  I only have 8 remaining functional 3D arrows. No point in taking a chance on wasting an arrow.

The javelina is small and it was set at a distance of 32 yards for this game.  I will shoot the javelina out to 40 yards a lot.  That little target seems to be a favorite used to show off real estate. A couple of years ago I did see the badger at 40 yards over in North Carolina.  I’ve not seen the badger since. The javelina, on the other hand, will pop-up at maximum range, secured on a log, in some dark hole, there to embarrass you every weekend.

I haven’t bought any new 3D arrows in three years.  Over the course of 36 months I’ve lost a few and broken more.  This past week I lost the tips out of four arrows, left behind when I pulled the arrow free of foam.  I had two tips in my shed among surplus archery parts and those have been loaded. There are two more arrows without a tip.  Getting a couple of tips will bring me to 10 useable arrows.

In 3D you only need one arrow most of the time.  Occasionally, you will lose a tip, get your arrow broken by another archer, and rarely fire off a miss then bye bye arrow.  The biggest problem in creating this dwindling pool of 3D arrows is, during practice, shooting more than one arrow at the same spot.  You do lose a lot of nocks that way as well as the intermittent Robin Hood which might cost you two arrows. Three years ago I had 24 3D arrows. Time to bite the nock and buy some more regardless of economic stimulus relief.

Granted, this was fun even if it isn’t as much fun as shooting with other folks.  But, it beats the heck out of trying to find something on TV to watch.