A Third Career

My first career began in medicine. It started early when I worked under a child labor permit in pathology at a teaching hospital. My final days of pure clinical, in hospital, work were over in 1990. In March of that year, I moved into the medical industry.

Today, while reading a paper, Reliability of Displayed Tidal Volume in Healthy and Surfactant-Depleted Piglets, I realized how much I don’t miss working in the medical profession.*  When I moved into industry a hospital administrator where I’d been employed said, “We’re not giving your office to anyone. You’ll be back in less than a year.” He was wrong. I’d started my second career. When I left my first, I was 35 years old and had spent 21 years in hospitals.

Working on ways to prevent iatrogenic lung injury in 1988.

The second career moved me me around the globe. It paid for law school and set me up to retire at 57 years old. Not a bad gig that ran for 21 years.

Press release photo from my medical business days, 2011.

Throughout those first two careers I’d been involved in sports. Considering I worked since I was 14 years old I’d performed well as an amateur athlete.

At one point I had an opportunity to race bicycles professionally in Europe. But, the deal left too many unanswered questions and provided little security. I stuck to my academic-based plan that developed and worked out for the best.

On the bike at the 2008 Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI

The nagging thought for decades is what might have happened if I’d have moved across the Atlanta and raced bicycles. What would it have been like to live the life of a professional athlete?

Three years ago I got my hands on a $78.00 recurve bow. I shot it in my front yards at a bale of hay. It was so weak that the hay stopped the arrows. Still the arrows landed pretty much where I’d aimed. So, since I wasn’t working, I decided to buy a better bow.

To be honest I did not want a compound bow. But, that was all I could find to purchase, so that’s is where I went. If I could do it over (actually I could) I would have worked harder to find a better recurve. Shooting a compound bow is where I now have 3 years of practice and I am not too interested in starting over, yet.

While shooting my new compound bow it occurred to me that I might be competitive if I got serious. Today, I’m serious and shoot more than most people. In fact, I practice for hours every day, except the 1 in 7 or 1 in 10 days, which are assigned as rest days. Then, I locked on the idea of a 3rd career – that career being the goal of becoming a professional athlete in archery and earning money.

Trying a 3rd career, 2016

I’ve shot in the professional class a number of times and gotten soundly beaten. I’ve also shot in the amateur classes and been beaten just as soundly. Here’s the thing, those beating are less punishing today than they were yesterday.

We’ll see how the third career progresses. What I can positively say at this point, this adventure would not be possible had it not been for the first two careers.

*Honestly, I do not miss working in the medical field. I am however, looking for an EMT Course in which to enroll. That is a matter of improving our safety here in rural countryside. I do miss doing research, but satisfy that need by playing with archery and other sports science data.

That Yell Wasn’t Meant for You

Archery competitions are generally quiet.  Today was a Saturday morning league event.  Yesterday’s practice had me hopeful for a high score.  By high, I was aiming for all tens. (Aren’t we all)

On the range at 18-meters, my warm-up shots suggested I was on track.  The first three arrows for scoring were 10, 10 and 9.  Oh well, that’s how it goes.

Still, the day wasn’t going badly.  Not great, but things seemed to be headed for a decent score.  With two ends to go, I felt six tens coming my way.

On the first shot of the next to last end I was feeling it.  Then, someone yelled, “Whoa” or something to that effect.  Loud and in my ear I loosed the arrow in synchrony with the holler, totally not aimed, trying to pull away from the target.

I had no idea why the yell had occurred. I still don’t.  All I know is that from an apologetic shouter, “Oh, that wasn’t intended for you.”  It didn’t matter, sound travels, not unlike a wild arrow.

That one shot cost 10 points. There was no reason to piss and moan about it – although I was a bit surprised by the shout. It seemed two guys were clowning around with each other.  I stayed, shot the final end, took my score card, wadded it up and tossed it away.

There’s a reason for quiet when putting in golf.  Then, in golf people are shooting golf balls. There’s a more important reason not to yell on the line in archery. The people there have bows in their hands are shooting arrows.

22 Degrees This Morning

River, my running companion, has hurt her front left leg.  Occasionally, she limps.  So, she’s not running with me until she’s better.  Still, we walk through the woods after which I drop her off at the house and run.  She hates it.  That doesn’t mean I am running without four-legged friends.

Poor River having to take a walk as opposed to going for a run

The friends seem to like me as much as River.  We gather on an almost always empty road where my trail path cuts out of the woods. This morning I was joined by a furry pair that seemed to enjoy human company as much as I enjoy canine company.

22 degrees F this morning

Coco, River’s great friend seemed a little disappointed that I was alone running.  She quickly got over missing River and we were soon joined by another guy on the road.

Coco is the lab. I don’t know the other fellow’s name, but he’s often around on runs and sometimes comes to our house for a cookie.

Coco, who seems to have no interest in anything other than a good time, does not hesitate to jump in a ditch are creek no matter how cold it is outside.

There is no reason to be in this ditch except for a trickle of water and mud.

When the running was done, it was time to shoot.  Once again, I am very happy to have a heater in my shed near where I stand during practice. There will be more cold morning runs and archery practice. But, this is the South and the cold won’t last long.

Yep, this is how I’ve been rolling.

Thanks for the Nudge, Dr. Waugh

Dr. Jonathan Waugh


Dr. Jonathan Waugh has been my friend for over twenty years. Together we conducted research, prepared and published medical manuscripts, and traveled the world lecturing audiences regarding our work. Over those decades we only once lived in the same city. During that time we had nearly weekly meetings at a favorite Indian restaurant, Haveli’s in Atlanta.

Haveli on Spring Street.

Each year he or his wife, Linda, has never failed to send their annual Christmas newsletter. My wife and I read them and hang onto them for a while before they become misfiled somewhere in my office.

Me (in the center behind the computer) preparing for a presentation in Nagano, Japan.

Aside from the typed news, that everyone who receives the Waugh Family Christmas message reads, there is often a hand-written personalized note to me. This year was no different; there was a note and a question. The question is, “What new thing do you plan to learn next year?”

Among our last collaborations we dealt in end-tidal CO2 monitoring

I’d once told Jonathan that every year I pick a new academic subject to learn. That’s true, I do. Some years the topic may expand to multiple years as did law school. Others are less structured, for example I once spent a year studying the Civil War. During another year I enrolled at Liberty University and completed a graduate course on Biblical Studies. I’ve also done accounting, math, art, Spanish as a language (that failed); learning amateur radio (I’m AE4PG for those who understand), sleep medicine, and took a regulatory affairs program to better myself concerning FDA matters. That is not a complete list. All of those were completed after I’d earned my doctorate.

Most people are done with school with a terminal degree. For me it was not about earning another degree. Heck, when we moved here to North Carolina, my wife and I both tossed our diplomas not wanting to deal with the continued storage of the framed piece of egocentricity. They’d been in an attic for decades and were relics.

Nope, it isn’t about more degrees, it is the mental challenge to learn something new and different or to augment a foundation of learning. I am ashamed to admit, this year I can’t decide between taking a paramedic course or earning a computer science degree. I want both.

I need the paramedic program because we live in the sticks. I taught in a paramedic program at Georgia Southern in Statesboro, GA but was never a student. I know, having been around paramedics I am ill equipped in that field. The primary motivator is where we live. If something really bad were to happen to someone here getting emergency medical support will be too slow. It wouldn’t take much for me to catch up with the knowledge and skills, but it means some time having reduced travel freedom to attend the local college where the program is offered.

Computer Science the other selection and it would be a major benefit to me. I took three or four computer science classes in college. It was required. When it comes to computers, I’m as good as the next nerd that isn’t a computer geek. But, so much has changed since my schools days (my first course used Basic) that I know I’ve lost ground. I could apply new computer skills in so much of my personal work and this website that it would be advantageous. In addition, there are still so many medical and physiological assemblages that I can’t help but think about where more computer skills would help me in discovery.

Sometimes, it’s hard to think

Each year I make a plan. I make one for sports, I’ve written about it here, and one that is academic. Each path offers challenges in time, effort, focus, and concentration. My sports plan is so far underway it is being refined. The academic one, well if I had more brains it would be done by now. Thanks, Jonathan for the nudge. (And to answer the question, I am leaning toward the paramedic program that starts in the spring)

Rainy Days at PGF Archery and Outdoors

It’s been raining here on the coast of North Carolina. It turned a bit colder as well. Naturally, it’s windy. Not ideal for shooting a bow. Thankfully, there’s an indoor range a little more than a 30 minutes drive from home. The range was there last year. Then, it was under the name of ‘The Cutting Edge.” As “The Cutting Edge” the shop, a hunting and fishing supply store that dealt in archery gear decided to close it doors.

Cold, wet and windy – heading into the big city

In the meantime, “PGF Archery” in Hertford was looking to expand. The proprietor, Bumper Williams had been operating his archery business from a small shed behind his house. When the “Cutting Edge” was preparing to close its doors, those doors opened to “PGF Archery” now doing business as “PGF Archery and Outdoors.”

Before hitting the range: swimming, lifting weights, and treadmill running. This bottle of TriFuel will be empty when all the training/practice is done.

The range remained open and from what I see “PGF Archery and Outdoors” is busy. The inventory seems to be turning over – no doubt the archery inventory is moving. I don’t pay a lot of attention to their other stock. But, a quick glance of their stock, when I enter the store to pay for use the attached archery range, does seem to wax and wan. I do my best to spend a bit of cash there every week.

Much of what I need can be bought online or from other friends that own archer businesses. Bumper, is a local guy and I really do like supporting local businesses. It’s the least I can do for a friend and what little I can to support that wonderful indoor range – a rainy winter day harbor on the coast.

Starting to Come Together

I’ve got this 2014 Mathews Conquest Apex 7. Mathews no longer makes that bow. I’d sold it to a friend, and then got it back from him. My coach Charlie Sneed, a Level 4 USA Archery coach,  has encouraged me to shoot the Mathews rather than the Elite 35 Energy that had replaced the Apex 7. Statistically, there is no difference between my shooting regardless of the bow. There may not be enough data to measure the interactions of the numbers recorded for the bows. To complicate the math, I’ve improved over time. I’ve also changed arrows, releases, sights, scopes, and stabilizers. All of those variables make the math tough. I enjoy math so I’ll play with the number more later.

What I know is that I have been in a slump. While in this slump I changed bows. Whether or not the switch back to the Mathew made a difference I honestly cannot support with data. In two days of practice I shot my worst and best scores with the bow.

To clarify, I have not been shooting the Mathews bow. My plan was to use it only as a 3D practice bow so I wouldn’t have to mess around with changing my sight/scope setting between shooting paper targets and 3D targets. I use different arrows for 3D than used for indoor shooting. My objects are yardage practice as well as general practice. Changing arrows with the same bow means wasting time aligning the scope/sight after 18-meter shooting.

The past two competitive 18-meter shoots have resulting in two 2nd place finishes. Each time I shot below par. Last night, while reviewing my notes on those contests my errors popped into clarity. Today, I planned to verify my finding. I did it with the Mathews bow.

To start, and a potential error in my test, I used 3 pistol targets arranged like a Vegas 3-spot. What I intended to do was isolate the center ring. On those pistol targets the center 10 is orange and all other rings are black. Essentially, there’s a real clear frame of the center ring. The 10-ring and nine ring are the same size as the archery target.

This desk is a cluttered, but there’s room to record notes on shots.

Next, I worked through 25 warm up shots to get a feel for the wind that was kicking up off the river. I ended up having to shoot from inside my shed out toward the target.  Then, I shot 75 arrows of which 66 were tens and 9 were nines. Sadly, I didn’t get an arrangement where I had 60 tens in a row.

My pistol targets with a highly visible center ring in a Vegas 3-spot arrangement. (Looks about right)

The better shooting was even more of a surprise since this was ‘arm’ day at the gym.  It was also swim day and run day.  I always swim before I lift. Trying to swim after lifting weight is tough, archery after swimming and lifting can be a bear. The weight lifting and swimming can lead to fatigue during the afternoon archery practice session.  Today, it didn’t appear to be much of a bother.

What I did get was a more confident feeling, which is all-important. I also worked to eliminate the form errors that have been plaguing me of late. I suppose the Mathews bow is what I’ll be shooting during the upcoming events.

“What the heck am I doing.”

There are days when I think, “What the heck am I doing.” The past few days have been among them.

Archery is a humbling sport. Just when you think things are getting good well things fall apart. Lately, my shots have been flying all over the place. That is all over the yellow ring and just away from the center. To be fair some arrows land in the center. To be sure, not of enough arrows have been landing in the center. It leads to a degree of frustration.

That level of irritation is complied with the pressure of knowing I have not been shooting enough 3D. All the time being spent on 18-meters has limited the occasion where 3D takes priority.

From around 9:00 AM this morning until noon I flung arrows 18-meters. Back and forth I walked to collect arrows that seemed to land all around the center. Only 12% of the 100 plus projectiles smacked home with all the others scoring nines. It was truly aggravating.


Of the last six shots the first 2 landed in the nine ring and then an X. The next 3 were all Xs. I decided to stop on a high point, rest and head back out after lunch.

Reversing a Downward Spiral

The past few weeks have been a flurry of competitive shooting.  It began with a USA Archery Sanctioned Indoor 18-meter event in Columbus, NC.  That was quickly followed by two leagues shoots and a Christmas Tournament in Elizabeth City, NC.

All four of these were interposed on other forms of sports training. Not to mention hours of archery practice everyday. After competing today, my wife Brenda mentioned, “You look tired.” Well, I admit, I was a bit tired. Maybe that had a little to do with shooting below par, maybe not.

The four shoots mentioned are not ‘A’ events.  They are all ‘C’ level events.  I rank competitions based on the goal of the contest.  Certainly, it is nice to win, but the primary objective in a ‘C’ is to discover what it takes to win.  In that effort I often try something I’ve practiced that I am not 100% comfortable with.  Examples of this are: a change of my release, my anchor point, or weight distribution on stabilizers.

During the all events I make notes, sometimes during the shooting, but always afterwards on problems or about things that worked.  What I know from the data is that I have been dropping points at each shoot.  Not horribly, but definitely moving in the wrong directions.  Reviewing my notes and data indicated the point degradation was associated with change I made in my release. It probably wasn’t a matter of fatigue as Brenda’s earlier comment suggested.

After shooting another low score today, dropping 19 points at 18-meters, it seemed clear there needed to be an adjustment.  I made one, another, then another, and after shooting to verify those changes I set up to test the modifications.

River checking my groups between playing catch

Those modifications weren’t huge, the misses had not been that far from center.  It turned out on a test at 18-meters in my yard and at that point 3 hours of shooting behind me, my test results revealed an improvement of 8 points, still down 11 by moving in the right directions.

Tomorrow I’ll be back on the front yard range hopefully continuing to move a positive direction.

A Typical Training Day

This is how it rolls:

Up at 0600. Cook or prepare breakfast. Today it was prepare (not a hot meal). The first meal of this November day was yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, maple syrup, coffee and orange juice. That eaten it is outside to run with River.

The first range time begins at 0730. This morning the practice is focused on paper targets shooting from 20 to 40 yards.

At 0930 it is time to leave for the YMCA. The workout there begins at 1000. That session begins with a swim, followed by weight lifting and running on the treadmill.

Home by 1230 and time for lunch. After lunch there’s a short nap from 1300 to 1335.

From 1335 until 1430 check emails. Let sponsors know I am still interested and will complete their paperwork soon.

Afternoon archery practice session number two begins at 1430 and runs until 1600.  The paper distance was 35 to 55 yards then shift to 3D. It ended early because it started to rain. Usually I shoot until it is too dark to see during the fall and winter months.

Finally, on the bike and ride the Computrainer – 1630 until 1730.

Dinner, news, write some for this webpage, watch a couple of episodes of some Netflix show, hit the hay, read (Moneyball by Michael Lewis), fall asleep around 2230.

And that’s a day.

Finding a Coach

Michael Phelps, everyone knows of his Olympic and swimming success, has a coach. I’ve written a number of times about coaches. I believe in face-to-face one on one coaching.

A friend of mine, Andy, is not a professional coach. But, he can coach. He’s an ex-college quarterback and pitcher. He has a degree in psychology. He coaches people everyday in business. He coached me in golf.

I like golf but no longer play the game. I played for the social aspects of the game. (A lot like 3D archery) Once on a course with Andy, I found myself wedged in a trap. Before I could swing, and before making matter worst, Andy asked if I’d like some advice. He instructed me on how to get out of the jam. Following his instruction I laid down one of the best swings ever and put the ball inches from the hole. Andy’s first words were, “Man, you are very coachable.”

Well, I’ve had decades of being coached. Archery is one area where finding and keeping a coach is important. What decades of athletics have taught me is how to recognize a good coach.

For triathlon I had a good swim coach. He was not a triathlete; he was a collegiate swimmer turned coach. He was good, nationally ranked before he became a coach. He didn’t make me much faster, but he did make me a lot stronger. For the distances I raced, coming out of the water strong was important. And, after his coaching I did move up in the swim field from the bottom 25% to the top 25%.


Other coaches were not so good. There is one key element to weeding out a bad coach. That is, does that coach ‘coach’ or spend your money lecturing on his glory days. If the coach you have hired is more focused on himself or herself – find another coach. Remember, the lesson you are paying for is about how to make you better.

(To my prior archery coaches – this is NOT about any of you)