Archery and Running with the Big Dogs

We’ve got a bit of winter bothering outdoor archery practice here in eastern North Carolina. Along the coast it’s not a bad as in the western mountains of the state. Still, it has been too cold and windy to shoot outside. The weather hasn’t had a negative impact on running, in fact, it has been great. River and her friend Coco, as always, have a blast while running with me. I have as much watching them as they seem to have with each other.

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River and Coco turn every run into a game. There’s a lesson in their pleasure.

Shooting in breezy cold conditions can be frustrating. The temperature warmed from a high of 29°F to 51°F yesterday. Today it will again be in the 50’s and tomorrow we may hit the low 60’s. But, with that warmth we are expecting rain.

The weather sent me into Elizabeth City, NC to practice on an indoor range. I try to shoot inside about once a week. Indoor lighting is very different compared natural light so I head inside to stay accustom to the dissimilarity. Usually, I’m there by 10:00 AM and have the range to myself. This week, on both occasions, I ended up shooting inside at around 2:30 PM. On those occasions, I was not alone on the range. Two small groups were already hard at practice. A set of sisters, monitored by their Mom and a young fellow with his Dad.

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My usual view of the range

This week during both of my indoor sessions on the range  there was Mom overseeing her two daughters’ practice. I asked them how was it that they weren’t in school. Mom replied her children were home schooled. Part of their educational activities included physical education. Encompassed in that course is 1 hour of archery practice every school day.

The oldest of the two girls, probably 13 or 14 was a terrific archer. Shooting a Vegas style 3-spot she rarely hit anything lower than a 9. The younger child, maybe 9 or 10, was less accomplished but clearly on her way to catching her older sister.

On the second day of indoor shooting  another family was at the range, a father and son. Where the girls were shooting “beginner bows” the Dad and his 14ish year old son had the most expensive gear. Dad told me he’d  gotten a deal on the bows. I got the whole story of their equipment acquisition, along with more information and talk than I needed or wanted.

Dad knew equipment; well Dad proclaimed he knew a lot about equipment. The father – son duo, singularly were geared with tackle that exceeded the cost of mine and the girls combined.

Dad asked me how I liked my bow and I replied, “It seems fine.” He explained how he’d, “Looked at that bow but decided against it.” From there he offered an oral dissertation of what made my bow inferior. Dad further complained that one of the world’s top archers had recently announced he’d switched from his famous brand to my inferior brand bow. Dad further doubted that the world-renowned ace archer had in fact simply picked up the new inferior bow and shot a perfect 300. Personally, if the pro was shooting a 5-spot, my guess he is had shot a 300.

Despite the substandard equipment of the other archers on the range, if I’d had to place a bet on who’d score over the others, minus me, my money would have been on the older home schooled young lady. She was clearly a better archer despite her $200.00 bow and discount arrows.

There was a major difference between the two middle schoolers. The boy, a pretty good shot, was decked out and looked like a professional. Lancaster Archery towel adorned quiver on this waist, expensive $25.00 arrows, $1600.00 bow, cap and shooting glasses. Aside him Dad was coaching him between shots. The boy would shoot, they’d hike to the target, take out a pen, mark the shots, record the count, and discuss.

The older young girl, Wal-Mart arrows (3) supported by the range’s PVC holder, no cap, long-sleeved t-shirt displaying an ad for some band, holding an inexpensive bow and conducting an on-going dialogue with her sister. The subject ‘not-archery’ was some heated debate that volleyed back and forth with too much speed and fury for me to follow. Somewhere during the deliberation the youngest sister got the hiccups and now the argument became a game of some sort – judging from the giggles. Mom sat reading the paper oblivious to her students’ verbal battle.

Aside from the vocal differences of the pairs, the equipment variances, and the boy’s ‘correct-look’ what I observed was the girls playing, having fun. The boy didn’t appear to be having as much fun. He seemed to be working hard to present a ‘look’ while the girls had fun shooting. He seemed very serious if not a bit cocky.

Part of any sport is the pleasure derived from playing. The girls weren’t stressed. They really didn’t seem to have a care and they both shot really well. The older, as I mentioned was better, the younger not far behind. The young boy, determined and serious, seemed to be working toward projecting an image and perhaps missing the point.  Or maybe his real target was on the opposite side of the range wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt. He appeared to be missing on that goal as well.

When it was time for me to leave I pulled my target in order to put it in the trash. I headed back to the bench where I’d left my coat. I’d laid my paper 3-spot on the bench. Dad came over to once again ensure I realized that my bow was inferior in every aspect of archery. I’d had a pretty good day of practice. While Dad was lecturing me I picked up my target and rather than crumble it I folded it, hoping Dad would notice all three centers were missing. I doubt he noticed and if he did he made no comment that might interrupt his criticism of the bow that so offended him.

Like running the most fun and best results seem to come when we simply enjoy what we’re doing and not worry too much about the outcome. Something River and Coco try to teach me everyday.

Football, TV and Commercial Breaks

The past several days have been busy. We’ve been putting away Christmas decorations, getting the house back in order, running, shooting and cycling.  But, on Sunday it means football in the afternoon and evening.  I really enjoy football so adjustments are necessary.

I played football from little league through high school. I was a starter at a large high school, H. V. Jenkins in Savannah, GA.  I even spoke with a few college scouts in my junior year. The growth spurt that might have gotten me a scholarship never happened. To make matters worse during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school I spent it training for and competing in for long distance bicycle races. I actually lost about 15 pounds before the cycling season ended. I remember one scout looking at me and asking me if I’d be ill. In the long haul I got a lot more from cycling than I’d have gotten out of football, but I never stop loving the game. Many of my friends earned college scholarships and a few ended up playing pro-football. For the majority, physcial

participation in football ended after high school.

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First 3 shots, in a zone, anticipating Game Day

For most of my former teammates, all sports ended after high school. A few stayed active but by far not the majority. Even the few guys that played pro had short careers – a common theme for pro-football players.

On Sunday none of it matters. Sunday means watching games. I get my training done early so I can relax and watch the televised action on the gridiron. This past Sunday was the final week of the regular season. Still, there were some important games as they related to the playoffs. For example, a Steelers win and a Jets loss put Pittsburgh into the Wild Card spot. I kept my fingers crossed as I watched the Steelers win over the Browns and the Jets lose to the Bills.

We also watched the Redskins beat the Cowboys and waited in anticipation for the outcome of the Vikings – Packers game to see who would end up playing Washington.

The local paper had picked the Packers to win. I doubted that would happen even though I like the Packers. The problem with the Packers, the left side of the offensive line was totally devastated. I just didn’t see how Rodgers and the Packers could compensate for that weakness. In the end the Packers lost to the Viking and are headed to Landover, Maryland to meet the Redskins next week.

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Pedaling hard and fast – can’t miss the kick off

In preparing for the games, I did an early 3-mile run, got in about 80 arrows worth of archery practice and cranked out twenty – five miles in a big gear on my Computrainer. I napped off and on during the 1 PM game, only in the 1st half. Afterwards, I was wide-awake. Then came the TV commercial hellhole.

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Stretched out on the couch watching highlights waiting on the games

It was the first quarter of the Vikings – Packers game, Minnesota had been moving the ball. On third down, Green Bay stopped them. Commercial break. Back from what seemed an awfully long run of commercials the Packers had the ball. What happened? I didn’t see a punt. Oh, the score was Vikings 3, Packers 0. I guess I missed a field goal. Perhaps, I’d not been paying attention.

Or, did a field goal just get preempted for commercials? No way, I must have missed it. Maybe I’d had a small stroke.

Now, the Packers have the ball. They’re moving down the field. It’s 3rd down and they don’t convert. Commercial break. The game finally returns after I’ve been encouraged to drink beer, buy a new car and a truck, get a new cell phone, take Viagra, get a new laptop, change my cable plan, and treat diabetes with a new drug. (I don’t have diabetes.) Following the encouragement to spend more money, the game returns – tied, 3 to 3. What?! Obviously another field goal this time for the Packers.

The commercials were absolutely unbearable. My wife, who also enjoys football and I became fed up. It felt like we were watching 10 minutes of commercials for every 5 minutes of football. I love football but there is a point where I can wait for the results. In the second quarter of the Vikings – Packers game, we threw in our terrible towels and changed to Netflix.