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.

Enjoying Backyard 3D – Well, Backwoods 3D in this Case

I am fortunate that I have a 3D range on my property.  When ever I want I can head out to my woods and practice.  Admittedly, my urge to shoot foam diminished in 2019 because it became too expensive to make the drives to many of the tournaments.  But, it is truly refreshing to take a break from shooting dots and shoot foam.

Camera zoom at 43 yards
This small boar practiced here at 32 yards

When we lived in Maryland, when I’d just started shooting a bow (6 years, 4 months, and 11 days ago as I write), I could drive to a 3D tournament every weekend in less than 45 minutes each way.  Heck, I could shoot in Delaware in not time flat. (In those States every 3D was an IBO 3D)

In North Carolina the longest ‘routine’ drive for me was an hour and there were often multiple events on any weekend during 3D season.  Of course, if I wanted I could drive further to attend other 3D events and I often did make the longer trek. We lived on the coast and to head to city like Asheville you can plane on 5 1/2 hours of non-stop driving. We’re actually closer to Asheville now that we live in Georgia than we were while living in North Carolina by 2 1/2 hours.

North Carolina is a large state. NC ranks 28th among US states in size. Georgia is even larger at 24th. In Georgia there are plenty of tournaments if I am willing to extend my driving time.

Camping for a tournament 3 hours from home.

If I’m going to a tournament that is 2 hours one way I’d rather take the camper and spend a night or two. What I do for a Saturday tournament is leave on Friday, set up camp then hike in the campground or State Park.  On Saturday shoot then back to the campsite.  I might cookout or go to an interesting local restaurant. Then pack up and head home on Sunday. It is fun but it ain’t free.

I know a lot of folks consider 4 hours of driving to shoot a 3D event is easy.  I’ve done it myself.  But, I’d rather not spend 4 hours on the road to shoot a 4 hour event. That’s the entire day gone for 20 shots (we’re all ASA here in Georgia for those IBO 30 target readers).  No, if I’m driving 2 hours one way it needs to be a destination event where I can camp and do other activities for the effort.

There are frequent spectators on the range

Georgia may have other nearby 3D events I’ve not yet discovered that might reduce the travel.  Too many times, so far in Georgia, I’ve hooked up the camper and made a weekend of attending a tournament. Yes, it is fun.  It is also expensive.

This turkey is in a shadow. It is a pretty tough shot despite being close at 27 yards

Since I retired admittedly I’ve gotten a bit tighter with my purse than I was when I had a flowing disposable income.  Every purchase I make I consider the cost and benefit far more closely than during pre-retirement.  Studying my family’s life expectancies statistically I’ve got 3 to 4 decades left before I kick the bucket.  So, rushing off to every potential cash burning archery tournament could in the long run hurt.

It happens
Zoomed photograph of this little bobcat at 24 yards

Having my own 3D range helps with the fun and costs nothing more than wear and tear on targets and range maintenance.  Most of my targets were purchased before I retired and a number were hand me downs. Each year I fill the old targets with spray in foam and they’re good for another year.

Trail cam got me after pulling arrows on that bobcat.

Every once in a while I move them around the range to change my view of the target.  I also change the shooting position to keep practice interesting.

Badger at 37 yards. Not a long shot but a technical one.
You can see the angle of the arrow on this badger – just getting the ten ring

For example, during the last practice I moved so that I needed to shoot a very clean shot to send an arrow between tightly grouped trees in order to reach the target.  Another time I stood at such an odd angle that arrows either hit the mark, banked off a tree or buried themselves in leaves. To be sure these tough shots have cost me more than one arrow. On this day no arrows were sacrificed.

The arrow marks the spot of this little boar at 34 yards
And these arrows hit the spot

Some of the shots I create I doubt I would ever see; some do represent interesting shots I have seen.  Whether or not 2020 becomes a total Covid-19 bust remains undetermined. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy shooting alone.

To have those arrows hit the spot you have to “Watch out for that Tree”

5% Drop, A Welcome Switch, and Beating Levi

2020 competitive season compared to 2019 is loading up with an overall 5% drop in scoring at 50 meters.  My 18 meter scores dropped 4.3%. My 5-spot average dropped 0.5% with a greater drop on the X count, 15%.

I have no idea why this is happening.  But, it seemed a break might be in order.

By break I mean changing from shootings dots and popping some foam.

Last year, 3D was so frustrating and disappointing it slipped from my routine.  The depressed 3D season had nothing to do with results.  It was entirely a matter of being able to reach tournaments.  This year the Covid-19 has decimated the spring competitive season.  The way I’ve been shooting that is fine with me.

Rather than paying for competitive humiliation my shame remains on my range.  So, switching over to 3D for a break wasn’t going to have me projecting sheepish grins towards fellow archers as they scored my 8s and 5s. Even a miss could remain hidden from everyone other that the guilty party.

Let me say right here how a couple of hours flinging arrows at faux animals while hiking through the woods can be refreshing.  The back and forth hike over a worn trough to pull arrows out of dots can become mind numbing. Fresh uncomplaining faces of foam critters waiting to catch arrows are a nice break.

On top of it all I didn’t perform as poorly as I’d expected.  I returned from the woods with the same number of arrows that were carried into the woods.

Pleasantly surprised I averaged 10.2 points per arrow.  There were two bogies that screwed me up, an eight and a five.  I shot 40 targets at an average of 31.1 yards using a bow hunter tight (short stabilizer and pins). My skewed collection of targets, more small ones, rabbit and bobcat sized, does reign in the distance.

I prefer using a hunting style rig shooting 3D.  I’ve used a scope and long stabilizers for 3D and it isn’t as much fun for me.  When I do that it feels like 3D field archery.  I love field archery but it is nice to add another disciple to shooting using a hunting setup.

Today, 3D was a welcome break.  I can’t image how many 3D events I’ll gather in my quiver in 2020.  But, it is enjoyable to go out and play. (Sorry Levi, I beat you again today)

The Kids Are Home

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in our Georgia schools being closed. We live in an area that has an ample supply of kids.  The surrounding kids continue to increase in number as many of the adults near us are breeders.  There are quite a few farms and ranches in our rural mix and I suppose the adults are planning ahead regarding labor.

Our neighbors aren’t on top of us, but close enough to hear school-free children playing.  Those nearby neighbors and the pile of kids that are grandchildren provide all sorts of insight into parenting.  These whirling dirvishes, the children not the parents (although the applicability is situation dependent in association with the parents), range in age from 4 to 9. Here are a few of the vocalizations from adults trying to ride herd:

Stop it you’re going to get hurt

Stop running in the house

Put that down, it might bite you

Go get that dog

Stop hitting your brother

Leave your sister alone

Get down out of that tree before you fall

Yes, you look like a princess

Stop that or you can go outside and play

That cat is going to scratch the fire out of you

Stop that or get back inside this house

Where’s your brother

Give that back to your sister

Quit poking her in the eye

Get your fingers out of his face

Stop playing in that fire

Yes, that’s a tick – go get me the tweezers

Get that thing out of this house (your guess is as good as mine)

No hitting

No biting

Don’t pick your nose

Don’t wipe boogers on your brother

Did you cut your hair?

Where are your clothes?

Don’t stand in that chair

Take that out of your mouth

Give him back his ball

Put that stick down

Don’t throw that at him anymore

Why are you crying?

No shooting in the face (Nerf gun)

Leave those chickens alone

Don’t pick at your food –eat it

Stop bothering the dog

Granddaddy, Mom is making me do school work

Who said you could do that?

That’s not a toy

What happened to your shirt?

Where are your shoes?

Well, clean that up

Move back from the swing before it hits you (disregarding the warning, a baby tooth lost during the following mishap)

Go wash your hands

Granddaddy, do you want to race?

Lets put a band aid on that

Honey, I think your arm is broken (it was)

And so it goes.

 

Men’s Fashion Boots?

I wear boots.  They help protect my feet when I’m working on my property.  I wear them year round in pretty much all situations that require footwear.

When I was an executive I wore boots.  Those boots were exclusively Lucchese boots made in El Paso, Texas.  These were my ‘fancy’ boots and I didn’t wear them for working on property.  There are Lucchese boots I do wear for outdoor working but I reserved two pair for use with fancy clothes. (One brown and one black)

New work boots – a few weeks old in this photo (Inexpensive Durango work boots)
Here’s one example of a cap that comes damage right from the store

I also wear caps and hats.  A good cover on my head helps keep me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  Caps and hats  keep the sun out of my eyes.  A baseball style hat will last about a year before it begins to disintegrate.  At Christmas I can count on my daughters to resupply me.

Decades ago a friend of mine visited and his hat was showing bare and torn sections on the bill of the cap.  I pointed out, “Looks like you need a new hat.”  He then replied, “I just bought this.” Wait a minute, what? I asked, “You bought a used hat?” He said, “No, it came new like this.”  All I could do was wonder.

Cap I am wearing was I write this. It didn’t come worn out like this. When I got it there was no damage. I’ll have to part with it before too much longer.

My friend had bought a hat that had been roughed up to give the appearance of having been worn during supposedly rugged conditions.  Now, I’d seen people wearing jeans that had been roughed-up or broken-in prior to purchase because somehow that had become fashionable.  But, a roughed-up hat?

I don’t buy jeans that come worn out.  I’ll ruin them on my on – I don’t need help.  I’ll also ruin caps, hats, boots, socks, shirts and all other types of apparel aside from suits and dress up jackets.  The suits and dress up jackets are reserved for weddings, funerals, and church.  As such, those last long time.  My wife has suggested those suits and jackets are “Out of style”  and I should get new dress-up apparel.

I don’t mind being out of style.  No one is going to look at me during a wedding.  If people are looking at me during a funeral it will mostly likely be because I’m the one that is dead.  At that point I won’t care about my suit. If folks are judging my suits or jackets at church then I’d rather they spent their judging moments with their noses reading over what Jesus said concerning judgment of others.

Now, you may think I am judging when it comes to others spending their money to buy worn out clothing.  You may be right – pray for me.  I admit right away I see no value in purchasing clothes that are half way to the recycle bin.

These are being sold ‘new’ in this condition
Still trying to figure these out. Wear these hunting with your buddies or during a 3D archery tournament. I dare you.

On Facebook, I was hit with an advertisement for “fashion boots.”  These are boots that look like they’re soon for the trash bin.  Let me add here I do not like Facebook.  There was a time when it allowed me to stay loosely in touch with friends.  Today, it is too hard to find what my friends are up to because of all the ads, political half-truths or down right lies filling up the FaceBook space.  But, when I saw an ad promoting the purchase of worn out boots I thought –how stupid is this?

(Oh, I periodically polish my boots so they will last longer)

So, I Missed the 1st 3D of 2020

Miami a few years ago (I won)

As with nearly every morning Sunday started with a run.  Before I retired I traveled a lot.  Travel outside of the US was common. Everywhere I traveled I ran.  I’ve run in 49 of the 50 US States and 20 of the 195 countries in the world.  I ‘ve ‘Officially’ raced in US, Italy, France, Germany, England and Japan.  Most of those competitions were on the road.  In England, a 10K, it was mixed trail and road.

10K in the UK (I didn’t win)

Running allowed me to see parts of the world I might not have had I not gotten out for a run.  What I’ve found is that running in cities is a great way to sightsee but running trails has really become a favorite.  I have found memories of trail runs in Australia, Japan and Malaysia. I never got lost on those trails.  I did get lost running in Toronto. Canadians are really helpful and the locals guided me back to my hotel. My morning runs here in Georgia are nearly 100% trail running.

Trails behind my house

Running has become an element of archery training.  I may not sign up for another race anytime soon.  That is unless I find a nearby trail run that happens on a weekend that isn’t filled with an archery event.

Had to hold my bow using a glove during this cold day
Ray, my father-in-law’s practice range

This weekend I missed the first local 3D tournament of 2020.  It was this past Sunday and I’d made plans without having the 2020 3D schedule at my fingertips. Naturally, all my friends who competed posted photos and bragged about how much fun they had shooting.

This is what you get of you aim at the same spot twice.
You can see the targets down range

I still practiced on Sunday and was thankful that my father-in-law has a nice practice range at his house in Tignall, Georgia.  It was cold over the weekend but the weather wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get a nice long practice.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get Him” in my direction

Despite missing the 3D tournament in Shady Dale, Georgia it was a good day to run and do some solo practice.

Sporting my USA Team kit for this charity run in Delaware (Not the hat, I don’t recall how I ended up wearing a South Carolina logo cap)