Usually, mid-day break is lunch a nap then more practice. We decided to break the routine when Brenda, my wife, suggested, “Let’s go to the beach.” And we did.
We left home right after I showered from morning training. It’s still hot and archery can be a sweaty business when practiced outside. We left with plans for lunch at Virginia Beach. Afterwards we’d spend some time on the boardwalk.
Virginia Beach is nice. If you’ve never been there and can plan a trip, do so. It is different compared to the Outer Banks. They’re both about the same distance, around an hour drive, from our home on the Little River at the Albemarle Sound.
We didn’t go to the beach to get into the water. The water a few steps away from my front door is enough for me and it is a lot warmer than the Atlantic at this latitude. But, the waves off the ocean made me wish I’d brought my surfboard. Believe me, I’d have worn a wet suit if I’d gone into the water with a board. Alas, the board was at home next to a wetsuit.
After hiking about 5 miles on the beach we headed home – back by 3:45 PM. Time enough to get a full afternoon archery practice completed. Not bad at all!
In a post about 50-meter practice I mentioned the extra time it takes to walk the 100-meters to pull arrows, compared to 18-meters or 3D, and return to the shooting line after each end. During 50-meter shooting I fire off six arrows before I pull. So, there’s a lot of time spend walking back and forth. Overall, it breaks down to around 2 hours on the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon of 100-meter out and back walks. (84 arrows each session)
After that post a good friend of mine, Jack, responded with a question. Jack is not an archer. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and I have met a lot of smart people. Let me qualify smart: I have two doctorates and a master’s degree, much like Dr. Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang. Some people have said I’m smart. I’ve never felt smart. Believe me, I have been surrounded by others that made me feel like a microcephalic. Jack is a member of that crowd of mental wizards that have often left me slack jawed and wide-eyed at their gift. Back to Jack’s question:
“Do you use the walking time to visualize your techniques and relax, or does your mind just wander….which can also be a form of relaxation?”
There you go, thoughtful. Jack’s question is probably one that other expert archers would have given a nearly philosophical response. They’d have shared how they use the walk to evaluate their performance, adjust form, and clear their minds to enter the Force during their next end.
Of course, I answered Jack honestly, “I use it to hunt for snakes.”
Yes, that is exactly what I’m doing as I hike back and forth to pull arrows. I frequently find them – at least several times a week. The non-poisonous snakes I mostly leave alone. Sometimes I catch them and bring them home to show my wife, Brenda, before setting them free. The nasty water moccasins and copperheads are what I am really hunting. I want to see them before they bite me. (I do always practice with 17-inch snake boots on during the snake months)
In a way, snake hunting is relaxing. It certainly slows my pace and my mind does wander during the hunt. Here’s the kicker, since April I’ve shot one copperhead and five water moccasins. That’s about two snakes per month. Two have gotten away; each of those was chased away with a long heavy limb since I wasn’t carrying a pistol when we met.
There are probably readers that employ a more live and let live opinion of snakes. In some circumstances that is fine. When it comes to the variety of snake that has no compulsion against biting and maybe killing me, well I am less tolerant.
But, snake hunting does clear my head. Maybe during the upcoming 50-meter tournament in Burlington, North Carolina, I place some rubber snakes on the pathway I’ll be hiking to make it feel like home.
We’re one the road and in Georgia. It’s our annual 4th of July celebration. We’ve been doing this for decades. Since I’ve been writing on this site this marks the third year where our 4th coincidenced with archery. We have a big production here at the Lake House.
My father-in-law, Ray, is the primary instigator of the celebration. He’s retired Army and retired ROTC teacher. The 4th is particularly meaningful to him.
To get to Georgia we stop along the drive and camp. We used to make the drive in one shot. Since we bought our Winnebago, it’s more fun to take our time and enjoy the view.
Our first stop was at Little Pee Dee Campground near Dillon, SC. This makes our third stop at that Campground. Because our trip was just before the weekend of the 4th, we had to settle for the last open campsite. It was really tight. That’s not to mean it wasn’t spacious, it was tight with trees requiring extremely careful parking of the RV.
I needed to be perfect backing in because two trees bordered the entrance. One of them leaned in allowing just inches of clearance. Once in the space was just excellent.
In Tignal we camped at Hester’s Ferry Campground. Having a Winnebago means no one has to rent a place for the overflow of family that comes to enjoy the lake, food, and fireworks.
The trip is not a vacation from archery. We have a field where I practice with my bow and Ray practices with his crossbow. This trip I brought a large block. There are two blocks here, both shot to pieces. The bigger block, carried here in the truck, has two sides that will stop arrows. The larger sides don’t even slow arrows.
The block was hauled to the field, balanced on a smaller block that rested on a chair. Once the paper target was attached to the old block I used a 100-foot tape measure to wheel out 50 meters. Before long the range was open for business.
In the past, I’ve said that I prefer warm weather to cold. Well, I got my wish. I think the coolest day during this trip peaked at 93°F. That’s not to too bad. We get similar temperatures on the coast of North Carolina all the time. Sure, archery practice can be a sweaty business.
Cycling, in the case of this trip, was done pretty early and the heat was not a factor. Even bike rides later in the day didn’t feel as hot as did standing still in the sun shooting. Riding a bike creates a nice breeze.
The final day of 50-meter practice here was the hottest of all – over 100°F. The forecast was for 100°F and we surpassed the prediction. Hiking to pull arrows I made sure to put my bow under the shade of a tree otherwise after an hour or so the bow gets really hot. A black aluminum bow is a great thermopile. Still as hot as it was, I’ll take it over the cold.
We begin our trip home tomorrow. Another 4th is history. Thousands of dollars for fireworks blasted. A mess of great food was eaten. I’ve finished a short bit of writing to remind me about it in the future and I am sharing with you.
In a final note there is group of archers on western shore of Maryland who banned me from their site when I shared my 2014 4th of July post with them. To them I say, “Happy 4th of July! And may the blue rubber suction tips on your arrows always hold true.”
I’ve signed up for the NC State Outdoor Championship. From what I understand it is a two-day event. The targets are set 50-meters away from the archers. Everyone shoots 72 arrows then you do something else.
I have no idea what the something else might be or why this tournament needs to take 2 days. Two days means extra time on the road and more expense.
I tried an outdoor 50-meter tournament once before in Georgia. Among the instructions was a recommendation to be at the range by 2:00 PM. I arrived at 1:00 PM to make sure I knew, at least, where the event was being held. The complete directions were somewhat cryptic.
On that day, I left before the event was completed. It was 7:00 PM when I threw in the towel. It was the dumbest sporting event I’d ever attended.
Later, I heard that soon after I drove away the sprinkler system under the field where the archers were shooting activated. This cleared the range and caused a significant delay. They finished shooting under lights at 11:30 PM. When I learned this, I decided 50-meter competition might not be for me.
The primary time suck, leading to the sprinkler and archery intersection, at that 50-meter contest orginiated with judges and officials having stories to tell and a captive audience. Here’s the thing for an event official that has a story, a sagely bit of advice, a weather report, short comic routine, or sermon – keep it to yourself.
From that day I sort of remember how to score. Sure, it seems easy; an X ring counts 10 points, then a 10 ring that counts 10 points, 9 ring, 8 ring, etc. But, the little X ring on the indoor target is no longer an X ring, it counts 10-points, it’s the sole remaining 10 ring, leaving a larger yellow 9-ring. Has USA Archery made a similar change for outdoor shooting?Whatever, I’ll shoot what everyone else is shooting and try to put my arrows into the center part. I just hope it doesn’t take 6 hours to shoot 72 arrows.
For practice, I ordered, what I think is the outdoor target people shoot toward when firing arrows from 50-meters. I was shooting pretty good today, at least what I think might be good since I have no idea what is a decent score until I had a run in with a snake.
Now, I see a lot of snakes out here. Mostly, we meet, I look it over, and the snake flicks its tongue at me. And for the most part we go our separate ways. Today’s snake was not so liberal – you know, live and let live. It had an attitude and fangs.
It wasn’t large, maybe 18 inches, but the snake, a water moccasin, was coiled on the edge of the shooting lane, in grass and preparing to bite me. Now, I admit, I always wear snake boots in these woods this time of year and I had them on. For one second I considered stomping on the snake with those boots. (Yes, we were that close to each other) I reconsidered, noting to myself there really is no reason to “test” the boot manufacturer’s marketing claims. Imagine a failure:
“Dear Mrs. Lain: All of us here at Big Bite Snake Boots want to offer our sincere condolences regarding the recent incident between the late Dr. Lain and an alleged snake bite. Our attorneys have reviewed the matter closely and determined our products are not labeled or warranted or designed to stomp on snakes. We regret your loss. Enclosed please find a 25% off discount coupon good for your next purchase. Valid though the April 2018.”
Instead of stomping, I shot the snake with a pistol.
If shooting 50-meters is anything like shooting a snake with a pistol then I need to stay home. The first shot was so far off the snake didn’t even move. The second got its attention. The third caused it to move a little. Shots four and five did the trick. Now, the pistol is only a 380 and I am not shooting snake shot or rat shot. I heard snake shot and rat shot causes the Ruger 380 to jam.
So, you might ask, like a friend of mine did, “Why didn’t you just shoot it with an arrow?” You may even think that would be your first choice. Before you commit to arrow versus bullet let me give you the setting.
You have a compound bow set for 50-meters. Your arrows are those skinny ones that all the field archery specialists and 50-meters experts shoot (only yours are the less expensive variety because you’re not to sure about 50-meters and you don’t want to waste money).
Next, this isn’t a huge snake, only 18 inches of pissed off water moccasin. (You didn’t piss it off; it is that way in general.) This angry viper is clearly intent on biting you. It’s also at the edge of some tall grass.
Lord forbid, but say you fire an arrow at the snake and miss. Say you miss and it slithered off. Remember, tall grass. Now, when are you going to reach your hand it those weeds and retrieve that arrow? By the way, I’d bet money, you’d miss even though the snake was just three feet away. Why would you miss? Well, have you ever practiced shooting an object that is maybe two inches thick and 18 inches long from three feet? No, you haven’t – miss!
Even if you hit it, you’d probably screw up an arrow shooting it into the ground. One last thing, that bow is twenty-five yards away right where you left it sitting when you went to pull arrows. You do have six arrows in your hand. Trying to poke a water moccassin to death with a field tip would really piss it off.
Nope, bullets are inexpensive and plentiful. Heck, I shot at it five times and hit it twice for good measure. After that I shot 18 more arrows at 50-meters and took a break having completed my morning quota of archery shots. During the afternoon practice, I carried a 410 shotgun loaded with Remington 6-shot. I always get snakes on the first shot with that gun.
Still, after shooting 50-meters, 84 arrows in the morning, 84 in the afternoon I’m not sure about the upcoming State Championship. Oh, I scored only 72 arrows during each practice. I shot 2 ends of 6 as a warm-up because I think that is how they are going to do it the day of the competition. The afternoon was snake-free. Snake seems to know when I am carrying that 410. They are braver when I have that little pistol.
There are all sorts of critters that hang out on my 3D range. Deer during the day have occasionally walked within a hundred yards. Of course, there are plenty of squirrels, rabbits, turtles and snakes. Coyote were a problem but seem to have migrated toward chicken coops about a mile up the road.
Practice in the woods one always has to keep an eye on the ground for copperheads and water moccasins. I’ve not encountered any rattlesnakes but have heard that they are out and about.
Turtles are about as abundant as frogs. The birds, including turkey, and constantly in the trees, bushes or pecking at potential meals on the ground.
At night, possum, raccoon and fox are everywhere. I’ve not seen any bears and I am okay with their absence. The bears are nearby, I know from the complaints of local farmers.
You know, it is a very nice place to practice archery.
Yes sir, it has been hot. How hot? I have no idea. Brenda told me with the heat index was over 100°F two days ago. Beyond that, I have not checked. There’s no need since I can’t make it cooler. And believe me – I am not complaining!
When I think back to winter and shooting out of my shed while standing next to a wall heater trying to stay warm, well I’d rather be hot.
There may come a time when I can no longer take the heat. I’ll have to wait and see. Until then, bring it on.
There’s no need to be foolish in hot weather. Stay hydrated, run more easily, and push a little less intensely on the bike.
During archery practice the biggest problem is sweat. It makes my grip slippery. It’s only a concern for a few seconds. Since the bow is just resting on and against my hand, not really being gripped, once it settles into place all is right on the range. The sweat is a bit more of a problem when it drips into an eyes.
Catfish falling from the sky! An osprey had it. An eagle wanted it. If the fish wasn’t available, osprey tastes good if you’re an eagle. In the osprey position, drop the fish and fly away, live to fish another day.
This was a long day in the heat. When I stopped for the day the temperature was 93°F. I was sweaty and stinky. It was time to call it quits when I overshot my 50-meter target. But, 50-meter is still secondary at this point in my training. The focus had been on 3D. (50-meter was my second session of the day. 3D was the primary practice session.)
My 3D average has dropped during the year. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who is a competitive pistol shooter. He asked, “Think you’ve developed any new bad habits?” I answered, ‘No, I’m still exploring the old bad habits.”
3D practice was slow and purposeful, today. It was an effort to discover why I’m getting worse instead of better. Worse and better here are relative. Certainly, I’m better than I was, but not progressing at the moment.
For this practice I selected 10 targets: a badger, cinnamon bear, turkey, coyote, small black bear, two small boars, a deer, a mountain lion, and a javelina. Then, I’d shot them each at 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 yards pulling the arrow and scoring each arrow after each shot. It’s slow. I ended up walking 2.15 miles as measured by a Garmin wrist GPS. It took 2 hours and 5 minutes to complete.
I did take a break because of the heat and for lunch. While on a break I paused my GPS in order to get an accurate measurement of the practice distance. That does not mean that breaks in heat are not part of practice. It only means that I did not want to have that time and distance included in my data.
The walking wasn’t bad in itself, but I had a two-mile run and 10-mile bike ride in my legs when I started shooting. And it was in the low 90’s. I was sweating like the pig that knows its dinner despite a canopy of leaves blocking most of the direct sun. But, I’ll take the heat over the cold.
The archery practice alone is good. In order to have it mean more I study my numbers. The data from today’s 3D shots are revealing but not surprising.
At 20-yards I averaged 10.6 points per arrow. At 25-yards the average was 9.9. You guessed it, as the distance increased the average points per arrow dropped. Makes since, the longer the shot the greater skill it takes. At 30-yards, the average was 9.6, and then at 35 and 40 yards, the average was 8.1 and 8.7, respectively. (Yes, 0.6 points better at 40 yards compared to 35 yards.)
The targets were medium to small. A javelina at 40 yards is a pretty tough shot. Especially when the varmint is sitting in a dark hole. Throughout all the targets, I try to make them difficult. They’re lined up in tight areas, on logs, across a creek, or with ground cover to make judging yardage more difficult. Some are in plain view because occasionally we get to shoot at targets stuck up in the middle of nothing except wind.
This bit of practice, aside from indicating I need more work at 35 and 40 yards, resulted in an overall average score per arrow of 9.35. That’s lower than my average in 3D tournaments since January 2017, which is 9.45 points per arrow. (My best single day for 2017 was 10.1 points per arrow) The practice today, was also, an average of 2 yards further per all targets than normal.
Indeed, that yardage is an estimate. I try to record, once I get home, the targets and the distances shot during tournaments. I’m getting better at remembering what I faced on a competitive range.
My best guess is the average distance per tournament is 28 yards per target. It’s those animals at 35 and 40 yards that have been hurting throughout the year. Since going back to fixed pins for 2017 my maximum distance is 40 yards versus 50 in past years.
I log and record my archery practices and competitions. Doing so helps set goals as well as prepare training plans. After practice and tournaments I set down and study my data. It does aid in providing insight and plotting development.