Bragging a Bit

The other day, in the mail, I received a medal for an archery competition.  River, my dog,  likes to wear medals and have her picture taken.  Why she seems to enjoy this I do not know.  After her photo-op, the medal was placed in a drawer where I store similar sports awards.  The drawer contains only medals collected from 2006 – 2014.

River proudly showing off a new medal

A little more than a quarter are medals for podium finishes. Most of the medals in the drawer are finisher’s medals, memoirs of the event. Some are more meaningful because they took more effort to complete or made a lasting impression.

All competitive experiences are memorable to some degree but a few stand out.  Among the standouts is the Mt. Evans Ascent, a running race that begins at 10,600 feet and finishes 14.5 miles later at the summit, an altitude of 14,264 feet.  It claims to be America’s Highest Road Race.  That race really hurt.  Actually, at mile 9, I thought I was having a heart attack, and was looking forward to it.

Medal and awards picked up over the past 8 years

Other memorable races  include the Tokyo Marathon for the massive crowds and awful weather – it was cold and rained the entire 26.2 miles. Across the globe the Bristol 10K in England stands out because of the bazaar warm-up.  Prior to the 10K in England,  someone announced to “warm-up”. The Brits queued then squared with military precision in order to start synchronous calisthenics. I’d had never seen anything like it nor have I since seen anything similar.  Once, racing in Italy, I was in a break away (cycling) and feared that if I got dropped I would get lost.  I didn’t get dropped, placed 2nd, then got lost going back to my hotel.

Ironman Hawaii left two lasting memories.  First, my wife, Brenda, sitting on top of a dumpster screaming  and cheering as I cycled through Kona. Her acrobatics were later shown on NBC Sports.  And there was running with Jeff Conine the former major league baseball player.  Not so much because he was on a World Series winning team but because while we were running he was being interviewed during the marathon segment of the race.  A reporter, and her camera crew, riding in a Ford Mustang convertible  (Ford is the race sponsor) with the top down were talking with Conine while filming. We weren’t running fast and were 6 miles from the finish.  I was dying and cramping but refused to stop while the camera was rolling.  As soon as the Mustang and its posse drove away I walked.  I never saw Jeff Conine again.

Jeff Conine beating me by 11 minutes in Hawaii

The people I’ve met while collecting these medals have enriched the experience.  I worked with Bryan Clay, Olympic Gold medalist (Decathlon), and trained with Dr. Bruce Buchanan.  Bruce is listed as one of the Top 10 Ironman Kona age-group finishers  having won it 6 times and set a course time record (50-54 year age group) which remains unbroken. There are many others, especially the coaches,  to mention here and still do them justice.

Jeremy Synder (the tall guy), Bryan Clay and me (center) at a meeting in New Orleans.

What is prevalent in elite athletes is their drive; that desire to put themselves on the line to win. That characteristic can be applied whether it is done through work, in activities of daily living, or in competition. It is trait found among the athletes I have met in archery.

The recent archery medal is now in the medal drawer.  Aside from the photo in this article I expect it will rarely be seen, again.  It is the next medal and the new experiences which I look forward to.







Shooting with Sean

To sustain and increase proficiency in archery nearly daily practice is required.  An off day or two in a training cycle is good for recovery.  The other day my grandson, Sean, was visiting.  While practicing he joined me to advise, question and critique. Sean is serious about archery.

Sean accompanied me during my 18-meter practice. He is four and an expert on many topics, including archery. I assumed that he would become bored with me and my limited shooting skills, then move on to more important matters.  The practice did not proceed as I’d predicted.

The target was a FITA 3-spot, and my bow for this session was an Apex 7.  Sean stood behind me to my left and observed as I shot 6 arrows, two per spot.  For those six shots he was unusually quiet. I mistook his silence for boredom.

18-meter FITA target

After shooting the six arrows, we walked forward to retrieve them.  Once I’d pulled the arrows Sean decided he’d be the official ‘arrow holder’ from that moment forward.  His arrow management included driving them into the ground, through the gravel driveway.  It took a little convincing that he was not treating the arrows properly.

For the second end*, as I prepared to release an arrow, Sean yelled, “GO!, SHOOT! NOW! GO!” Sean, I said, “I have to concentrate, you need to be quiet.” His response was an escalating whisper, “Now, shoot, go, Go..GO!” and so forth until each arrow was freed. There was no abating his vociferous enthusiastic attempts to coordinate the release of each arrow with his command. Each end was shot, retrieved, and arrows tendered to the official holder.

During one end, as I was aiming I felt a tap on my rear.  Sean, wielding  an arrow said, “I got your butt.”  “Sean,” I replied, “you can’t hit me while I am shooting.”


Breaking his silence, “Granddaddy, what if you shot one into the woods?”  Lowering my bow, “Well, Sean I’d lose an arrow if I did that.  I don’t want to do that”


Again, arrows were shot, collected and the process started anew.  His next command, “Granddaddy, shoot it in the middle” .

I hit the top middle.

“Nah,” said Sean.

“What do you mean, Nah?” I asked.

“You missed,” he explained.  In debate, we approached the target and examined the center shot.  Using his finger he touched the ‘center’ of the paper target.  The ‘center’ being the white portion of the paper which is surrounded by the three targets.  We regrouped and shot for the ‘center’ of the paper.

Blue requirements and “Center” shots per Coach Sean (which excluded anything in the yellow)

Sean then demanded I hit a red ring and then a blue ring.  I complied as best as I could. Not being satisfied, he borrowed a pen, approached the targets and drew, in fine point, two tiny points for me to hit surrounded by a slightly larger scribble in two red rings. “Shoot here, Granddaddy,” he instructed.

I shot for his scribbled lines, hitting off center.  Upon review Sean exclaimed “Nope.” He insisted upon dead center hits; the little taskmaster was relentless. Collecting the ‘Nope’ arrows we set up to try again. With each shot, absolute dead center remained elusive.

Sean’s inked targets on the two red rings

Sean, the arrow holder, patiently handed me the arrows while patiently waiting for success.

Then, “Granddaddy, did you name your bow?”

“No, Sean.” I replied

“Well, I named mine, mine is named ‘Sticker’, you should name your bow” Sean said.

“I’ll think about that, Sean.” I said.

“I have blue suction cups on my arrows” Sean added.

“I can suction that,” he said, pointing to his inked center marks as I continued to miss them.  Of course, he was referring to Sticker’s arrows with the blue suction cups.

Sean never grew bored with shooting. He also never stopped talking about archery, Sticker, my misses, neither did he stop ordering me to “GO, SHOOT, NOW” when he supposed my aim was on target. All in all, it was a good practice.  Having a four year old to reinforce a practice session does add another level toward maintaining focus.  When it was over, Sean, was disappointed I didn’t shoot one into the woods.

* end: For those of you that aren’t archers an End is – A round of arrows shot during an archery event (rarely more than six arrows). Although, shooting with Sean was not a tournament, I’ve used the term ‘end’ to describe 6 shots.

Striper Fishing – It’s Not Just About the Bow

Everyday in Georgia was not an archery day.  Everyday was not a day to go hunting. One day was set aside strictly to fish.  The fishing would be a sleep-deprived event.

When most people have a birthday, going fishing is not their first choice for a celebration.  However, Brenda, my wife is not most people.  For her, a fishing trip was one of her birthday requests.   As such, her father, Ray, and I chartered a boat and guide to find striper.

Joe heading out for striper

Brenda loves catching striper or any fish for that matter. Even though Ray has a Carolina Skiff, a Triton Bass Boat, and G3 Pontoon (not forgetting his jet ski) and we fish from all these boats, it is nice to hire a guide service that provides the boat, gear, and bait, and let them handle the prep and cleanup – especially when it is a birthday present.

IMG_0283 Resized Resized
Bill Sasser of Sasser’s Guide Service

The plan was to meet Joe, our guide, Thursday at 6 AM.  Brenda said that was too early and opted for 8 AM.  For her, catching the fish is part of the pleasure; she gets nearly the same enjoyment from simply being on the water. The bonus, we’d get to sleep late, and we were certain we’d catch plenty.  Ray, 86, didn’t complain but I felt confident he’d have been first up for the earlier time.  The monkey wrench for the extra sleep was a less accommodating surprise.

Brenda focused on fish

The Wednesday before the fishing trip we were expecting the delivery of Polaris Magnum ATV.  The ATV arrived in the evening, around 8PM.  It had been hauled to us on a Ford F-350 that also towed a large trailer.  All was well until the driver, Clinton, backed away, turned to drive off and ran his right front wheel into a ditch.  His leaning, sedentary truck ended up perpendicular to the road blocking both directions.

Nobody at our house had any idea of the man’s predicament.  We were busy inspecting the new toy. We learned of Clinton’s wedged wheel when I took River, my Labrador retriever, out for a run.  Under River’s watchful eyes, Clinton and I disconnected the trailer and tried using the wench on a Bad Boy Buggy to provide extra pull to free the Ford.  That was a no go.  At 9 PM, I called AAA.  They said no problem; help would be here in 45 minutes.

An hour later, AAA called to say help was on its way and would be here in 45 minutes. After another 45 minutes past, now nearly mid-night, AAA called to report they couldn’t get help until Thursday – our fishing trip day, our passage blocked by a truck.

The wasted time and false hope waiting on AAA had made matters worse.  It was now very late and help would be harder to find and potentially more costly.  Clinton, using his GPS found a non-AAA tow company, Davis Classic and Collision, in Washington, GA.  Ben Davis said he’d never leave anyone in such a jam and would be right out. True to his word, Ben arrived and freed Clinton from the self-imposed roadblock.  Being worthless to provide any additional physical help, Brenda and I offered encouragement from the house.  We got to sleep around 1:30 AM.  The alarm, for our extra sleep went off at 5:30 AM.  By 8:00 AM we were on the water and after catching several fish, I was asleep on the bow. At 2:00 PM, all of us feeling the shortage of sleep, we decided to call it a day.

Ray, surveying for a good spot

Despite the sleep deprivation the fishing was a blast; Brenda really enjoyed it. Once ashore, our fish were cleaned and we headed home to eat them and watch Braves Baseball.  I fell asleep in the 3rd inning with a belly full of fried fish, hush puppies, cole slaw, speckled butter beans and sweet tea.








Tignall Turkey Trot, Part 2 – “No Turkey for you!”

The deer had no problem stepping away from their cover and an arrogant coyote stared at me just out of bow range.  Eastern box turtles were mosying about, as were black snakes. However, the Tignall Turkey stayed away from this hunt.

Better to see these guys than rattlesnakes or copperheads

We know the property is thick with turkey.  If we were not interested shooting them they would be strutting in plain view.  They are not shy about poising for trail cameras.  But while hunting today, turkeys are not what ventured out to taunt me.

The first to sneer at me was a coyote.  Flanking a trail ‘road’ it watched as I gathered my gear to hike in to hunt. He was smart enough to make his observations before I had my bow together. Scanning him through binoculars I could have sworn he was spitting out turkey feathers.  Coyote are a problem here in Georgia, and these critters are not on any endangered list. This one moved off with plenty of time to spare for his personal safety.

Wyllius Vermitius Coyotium

After Wyllie Coyote trotted off, it was time to walk to the area where we’d seen lots of turkey tracks and where they had had their glamour shots taken with trail cameras.  Embedded in the red clay, remained dozens of deer and turkey tracks.  Following the tracks they led past the stand from where I’d hunt.  Feeling optimistic, I climbed into the stand, and once concealed, prepared my gear.

For hunting I use a Mathews ZXT, Axcel 7 pin sight, and Maxima Blue Streak Carbon Express arrows.  The turkey calls I use are a MAD Boom Box and a Knight and Hale Long Spur.  Before I started calling, I sat in the stand listening and watching.

After about 20 minutes, the sun was up, and a few deer wandered into an opening near me.  They probably knew I was in the stand and were aware that it isn’t deer season.  Working the Boom Box was enough to get them to meander back into more densely forested area.

Response to my turkey calling

The Boom Box and Long Spur are great calls.  With a little practice they really make a decent mimic of various turkey sounds.  They worked so well that within a short time I heard return gobbling in a thicket 50 yards in front of me to the right and 25 yards to my left.  But, the boys would not buy it.  Practice and patience did not pay off today.  Using the calls, I clucked, putted, tried assembly calls and purred to no avail.   I just could not sale it; they refused to avail themselves for an arrow.

After a few hours I called it a day.  Walking out I passed a box turtle that showed little worry by my passing. As far as turkeys are concerned, I remain optimistic and have even lined up a taxidermist for my trophy.* There is still time to get that turkey before I head back to NC and MD. Plus, it is hard to beat spending time in the woods.

This turtle barely paused to be bothered by me

(*Taxidermy in Washington, GA by William Lloyd Johnson III, known for his personalized service and attention to detail, has won Best of Category at State, Regional and National Competitions and is a SCI Official Measurer. A master taxidermist certified state and nationally in all categories, Lloyd has won over 150 awards. First in the nation to win the WASCO Award for The Most Artistic Entry (Currently a 4 time winner). City, state and federally licensed to receive and mount trophies from around the world, you can be assured that your trophies will be mounted with the finest quality materials and techniques available.

Setting Piggy Free

Wild hogs, Sus scrofa, are harmful vermin. They eat the eggs of bob white quail and wild turkey. They also eat roots and acorns, reducing the supply of acorns for deer; they destroy vegetation and tear up cornfields. When food supply is low nomadic feral pigs will move to a new territory in search of food and can become a threat to humans and domestic livestock.1 We do what we can to help reduce the population of them on our property, as such, we trap them, and get rid of those captured – most of the time.

Sus scrofa

“The wild swine in Georgia are descendants of pre-Colonial time, when the early settlers released European swine. Hernando DeSoto, the Spanish explorer who meandered across the South in the 1500s, is reputed to be one of the first to inadvertently add feral hogs to the native mix of North American wildlife.”2

“A survey by the Wildlife Resources Division and University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study shows the destructive pests are capturing territory faster than previously thought. The results were stunning: portions of 137 of the state’s 159 counties now have feral hogs, with more areas likely to be invaded in the future. ‘These animals impact at least 100 species of native wildlife, easily,’ Kammermeyer, of UGA, said”.2

There are plenty of pigs to harvest. However, we are not inclined to shoot them without plans to eat them. Another method to control their population is to capture them and move them. It is not illegal to move wild hogs because they are not natural wildlife.

For us, moving wild pigs means finding someone to take them and that person will need to have the pigs seen by a veterinarian. Typically, these pigs then can be vaccinated, raised, and harvested under control. The small pigs we capture are perfect to give to someone that will properly manage them. So, we trap them and give them away.

Trap for wild pigs

Our trap is a large pen with a one-way door. Inside the pen we place corn – they eat corn like pigs.  The varmints enter the door, eat the corn, root around, and find themselves trapped.  We keep the pen under constant watch so animals aren’t left trapped for very long.

Today we had one nice pig, not large, a good size to eat, but no one wanted to eat him. It was this little piggy’s lucky day. We set him free with a belly full of corn and no worse off for the temporary inconvenience. We’ll reduce their population on another day.

One Lucky Pig


1) Christine Dell’Amore: Wild Pig Explosion May Spread Disease to Humans, National Geographic News pub May 2, 2011.

2) SavannahNow, Savannah Morning News, Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Country Ride Commentary

With each shoot an archer puts it on the line.  Many things we do of significance can put us on the line.  How we handle those gambles, whether a business venture, sporting event, or social opportunity help define us as an individual.  (I won’t get anymore philosophical) Of all the activities, beyond science and medicine I’ve enjoyed, cycling has been a major pursuit and sometimes it requires a bit of stepping out of my comfort zone.

Today, the weather was warm, 78 degrees, and sunny, so I headed out for a bicycle ride.  I know some of my friends shoot and ride.  Others shoot and run. Some do one or the other and neither.  In any case, today’s ride was worth a short commentary because it became one of those defining moments.

Entering Wilkes County


View across rural Georgia

Cycling out of Lincoln County into Wilkes County Georgia the roads cover rolling hills and have minimal traffic.  Although these roads are almost void of traffic, they are heavy with dogs.  Dogs here are free range and will give chase.  Most get winded after a few hundred yards of sprinting to catch me.  One such fellow managed to misjudge his angle and distance and got too close.  Realizing his mistake he tried to hit the brakes, but his footing failed him and he slid into my rear wheel.  Neither of us crashed but my rear wheel’s spokes on his ear gave him a bite he’ll have difficulty explaining to his buddies.

The dog and bike confluence was the most heart-pumping interval of my ride.  Of the more sedate exchanges was a short meeting with two Wilkes County residents sitting on the porch of their modest home.  When I rode past them the first time, we exchanged a wave.  They waved as I was making the return trip.  Pedaling away for the second time, I decided to turn around and speak to these apparently friendly country folk.

Local residents enjoying the weather

Riding up to the house I hoped two things: 1) they would not put their dogs on me, and 2) I would not get shot.  Meeting people while wearing Lycia is a bit uncomfortable in most settings, particularly in extreme rural environments.

A short hello and introduction displaced all anxieties.  I think they were more suspicious of me than I of them. Sitting outside they explained they were, “enjoying the nice weather.”  They talked about their dogs, their daughter, and cautioned me to be careful while riding.  Nice enough people, easy to talk to and quick to make a new friend.

In rural Georgia the range of homes and property is enormous.  Stopping again I briefly spoke with the owner of a magnificent estate and acreage where cows and horses grazed over massive fields.  His hearty hello and down home conversation was just as congenial as my previous interactions.  When I went to leave, his five dogs wanted to give me a close up chase but were barred by a fence.

Not so atypical of the homes in rural Georgia

It is a bit of a risk, a bit of putting it on the line, speaking to strangers out here in the country.  But, the risk is low for personal harm, and as a rule, people are welcoming. Meetings with strangers, even brief, are often enriching and opening yourself up to the opportunity can enhance an already enjoyable activity.

Putting it on the Line

Tignall Turkey Trot, Part 1

Driving from Easton, Maryland to Tignall Georgia is a haul.  For my wife, Brenda, our two dogs, and me, the drive began as a three-week adventure to look at property, ride bikes, go fishing and hunt in our home state.   Because it rained during the final two hours of the drive, unloading the truck meant soggy gear and tracking Georgia red clay into my father-in-law’s lake house.

Gear and provisions included two bows, one gym bag of clothes, a tackle box of archery tools, another gym bag containing photography equipment, a bicycle, bicycle gear, running gear, and dog food.  Brenda’s provisions were contained in one carry-on style suitcase and an overnight bag.

We arrived in Georgia too late to check out our 679 acres (the Calloway Track) where we’d hunt turkey.  We’d get up bright and early the next day to survey potential sites from where to begin our hunt.

One of our less substantial stands
One of our more substantial stands

Bright and early meant up no later 9:00 am. Brenda and I were up at 5:00 AM and again at 6:30 AM. The Tignall homestead was filled with a crew for Easter and hunting.  Well, mostly for Easter, only Ray, my father-in-law, and I planned to hunt.  (Brenda, Ray and I also planned to fish) Among the entourage were:  My wife, her two brothers, Wade and Ron, two of our nephews, Drew and Colin, her dad, Ray and four dogs, River, Nixie, Penny and Molly.  Later that day, Heather, one of our daughters, her husband Bill and their son Sean would drive over from Athens.  The two nephews, both allergic to morning, rose sometime just before lunch. The exact time was undocumented because, Brenda, Ray, and Ron and I left to purchase more provisions.  Wade, who stayed behind, recorded no account of the awakening  event.

River, one dog that refuses to be left behind

For additional foodstuffs we drove to Elberton, GA and shopped at Ingles.  Grocery shopping at Ingle’s was a $210.00 affair, which made everyone hungry.  We were so hungry; in fact, we couldn’t make the return trip without stopping at ‘the’ restaurant in Tignall, The Kum Bak Café.

The Kum Bak Cafe in Tignall, GA

The Kum Bak Café will never be reviewed in “Fodor’s” but you can be assured of a belly full of gravy slathered chicken fried steak, hamburger steak plate, and decent sweet tea (served by the pitcher that remained on the table). Friday night fried catfish was on the menu. Kum Bak Café is basically a calorie oasis between Elberton and Lincolnton.

Inside the Kum Bak Café patrons, including our party, socialized in typical small town southern fashion.  Even though tables separated groups, conversation soon overlapped the room and included calls to and from the kitchen.  Food was ordered and served, sometimes incorrectly and plates were shifted from table to table, but eventually we were all eased of our hunger pains and could continue our drive in pursuit of turkey.

The good staff at Kum Bak Cafe
Getting served at the Kum Bak Cafe

The pursuit of wild turkey sent us back home to drop off groceries.  There we added another truck and Bad Boy Buggy, needed for the rugged terrain, to our turkey convoy. Before we could head to the woods, full from our meal at Kum Bak Café, we paused so our food could settle.  After we awoke from our digestive naps, took care of our biological needs, we finished loading one of two Bad Boy Buggies and headed to the hunting land about 15 miles away. The afternoon woodland adventurers were Ray, Wade and I.

One Bad Boy Buggy ready to go

As mentioned, it had been raining in Georgia. If you are familiar with Georgia you know about red clay.  Wet red clay is tough to drive on and the inexperienced can quickly find their vehicles sunk in the mess.  Once we reached the land and drove off the road we slid around a tad but neither truck was ever in danger of becoming trapped.

Unloading onto red clay

Over the next couple of hours we checked stands and the pig trap.  The recent rain, wetting the clay, recorded fresh deer and turkey tracks throughout the woods. While taking stock of fresh signs, Ray retrieved the memory cards from several trail cameras.  The Bad Boy Buggy, with is low torque handled the mud, wet red clay, and water without pause as it bounced us through the woods.

Bad Boy Buggy cutting through mud and water

As late afternoon approached we decided to head back to the trucks and trailers.  Tacos were on the menu for dinner and our Kum Bak Café lunch was long behind us.  Arriving at our vehicles, we loaded and headed back home, the thought of Mexican cuisine activating our salivary glands.

Fire ant mound – you don’t want to mess with these guys
Wade posing without his banjo (think Deliverance)
An empty wild pig trap

This first day of the turkey hunt we didn’t actually see any turkeys. We did see tracks and when we down loaded the trail camera, images verified the woods were filled with turkeys.  We’d be back for them very soon.  In the meantime, we spent time perfecting our turkey calling using a MAD Boom Box turkey call and shooting arrows around our outdoor range. There’s plenty of turkey in the woods, we’ll catch up them tomorrow. (The tacos were delicious)

The slide home to tacos





Trying to hide from the wind.

Living on the water means living with wind. Wind and water are a good mix for sailing.  Wind and archery are not such a great mix.

On Wednesday and Thursday at our home near the confluence of Little River and the Albemarle Sound the wind blew non-stop. It was steady at 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.  The sun was shining; the temperature 43 degrees, not too bad for October, but it is mid-April.

Chop on the Little River

Trying to find a place out of the wind to practice was a failed exercise.  Extending a bow, drawing, then being punched by wind gusts up to 35 mph has an impact on accuracy and patience.  Determined to get in some shooting  here is what I did:

First, I set up my target at 20 yards.  The target’s stability was a problem; the wind kept knocking it over on its side. I was able to steady it with a forty-pound cinder block. Once the concrete fortified target stopped falling over, the challenge was wind oscillating off the river.  Getting in harmony with the undulations I tried to match my motion to the center of the cinder block reinforced target.  The twenty-yard arrangement did not work.

The cinder block is just visible behind the target. This was a fresh target with I started. All the holes are new. It was rough.

Next, I backed up to 35 yards, stood between azalea bushes and some other green plant (no idea what type of plant) with my back toward the house.  The side wind did me no favors. It didn’t matter; my wife chased my out of her plants. The porch seemed like a better location.

Actually the porch made a pretty decent wind block. It didn’t last – my wife chased me off the porch.

Shooting off the porch was good while it lasted

So, I climbed up onto our upper deck near the chimney (out of view of my wife). The wind there was a vortex and blew off my hat.   After retrieving my hat I decided to climb onto the roof, position the chimney to my right side and see if that would do the trick.  On the roof, the only trick I could envision was an ambulance ride to the hospital.  I hopped back off of the roof and moved the east side of the house.

Shooting off the top deck and roof didn’t work

At the east side of the house I took up a firing position next to the HVAC and across from the boat trailer.  That turned out to be another hat sucking wind tunnel.  So I backed further away from the target (50 yards) and stood at the summer kitchen.  Again, nope.

Positions near the HVAC and summer kitchen

I tried to find a spot in the woods. However, I was losing the enjoyment of hiking around with a target and its cinder block support brick. It was in the woods I gave it up for the day.

Last try in the woods

There will be days where the wind is not going to cooperate while shooting outdoors.  The past two days have be those days and there was simply no hiding from the wind.  Despite the wind hindrance it was better than trying to shoot in the wind and rain. An unplanned benefit of the wind experience was the resistance training acquired while hauling around a cinder block.


Tuckahoe: A Perfect Day for 3D

Sunday was a perfect for a 3D tournament at the Tuckahoe Bowmen Club in Queen Anne, MD.  The day was sunny, temperature in the upper 60’s, and very little wind.  Paul and his henchmen arrived early to set the targets.  The registration table was manned and parking was nearly filled before 8:00 AM.  At my home, we’d had company for the weekend and topped off this visit with a series of libations on Saturday night.  I was late pulling in for the tournament.

Heading to register for the shoot

It became evident I was one of the last people to make the shoot.  Everyone appeared to be on the course.  The calls of birds, voices and laughter floated from woods.  Fortunately, Mevko and Dave (two companions just entering the course) were at the first target.  If I rushed I could join their group.  Quickly signing in, I snatched my gear and took one warm up shot at 20 yard.  Smacking a bull’s-eye, taking it as an omen, I jogged to catch up. The impotent omen shot was my best of the day.

The impotent 1 warm-up shot

Paul has a reputation for setting up a challenging course. There is a legend of how he once placed a raccoon target inside the hollow of a tree.  Today, Paul was true to form.  The first three targets were big, clear, level, long shots – easy for pros. Of these targets, Mevko did the best, Dave lost an arrow, and I hit a 5, 10, and 5.  However, it was target number four where Paul’s creative genius shined.

Paul, master designer of tough 3D courses

On target four there stood that infamous, hollow dwelling raccoon, snarling at us from down in a steep dark ravine, positioned slightly twisted, 32 yards away.  The critter’s eleven spot was so small it was nearly impossible to make out with binoculars.  As each of our group silently murmured an obscenity, we in turn approached the shooter’s stake, secured as best as possible our footing (fearing a slip would land us at the little furry bandit’s perch below), took aim and let loose an arrow.  Mevko smacked a 10, Dave got and 8, I embedded my arrow into a stump.

Mevko and I had afternoon family obligations so we hurried over the course.  He had a birthday party to attend and I had friends waiting at home. It didn’t take long to catch the group ahead of us, Paul’s.  In this mix were the “Big” boys, among them Wes, Lee and Norm.  Bart, another ace shooter, unable to compete because of recent shoulder surgery, was among the entourage, there to practice sighting distances.

Paul looks on as Norm sizes up the target

These men are all shooters.  On bad days as a whole their average score will hover above 300.  Lee and Norm were attired in their Whitetail Outpost professional archer’s shirts. Paul was adorned in a T-Shirt obtained from competitor’s swag during an IBO World Championship. Wes’ apparel was less intimating, his shirt respectful of the Master’s underway in Augusta.  As Mevko, Dave and I played through, I silently prayed for a non-embarrassing shot.

Walking away, I overheard these professional archers in conversation, Bart, “What if I woke up in the morning and was an …..hole? What would I be then?” Norm, “Well, you would be Paul” Next, a call directed toward our group, “Hi, can y’all take Bart with you?” Such are the words of wit and wisdom exchanged by professionals.

Mevko’s fletching sliced by Dave’s arrow

Mevko, Dave and I continued to miss-fire over the course. Mevko and Dave hadn’t shot since the end of deer season.   Overall, we had as many 11’s as lost arrows.  I finished the day with a new record low having left one arrow stumped in the woods.  Paul had done his worst to us on this beautiful Sunday.  Nevertheless, the pro-guys left the course high in both spirit and score.

Traditional archers pausing after completing the course
Mevko, after the shoot and before the birthday party


The Puke of Dawn


Some folks relish being up before sunrise.  They head out of their homes for to run, swim, ride a bike or attend a spin class while others of us sleep.  It is part of their fitness lifestyle. For those other people, hitting the fitness trail is better accomplished after 9:00 AM or  during the evening.  Subsets of both groups enjoy friendly competition. Sadly, for those after-niners, most races start at 7:00 AM or earlier. In archery, start times are much more humane.

You might be an early riser. You love getting up before the sun and birds, having your coffee, reading the paper, taking care of your morning constitutional, then heading out for a run or other activity.  You might even be that hunter in the stand or blind before your prey has any suspicion.  If so, great for you, the world needs people like you.

On the other hand, you might be a “let me sleep” person.  You see no reason to race the sun or beat a bird to the worm. That is not to imply you don’t maintain a fitness program; your program is tailored to a less “up and at ‘em” lifestyle.  If this is you, well God Bless you!

Not yet fully awake

For decades I have rolled out of bed between 5:00 AM and 5:30 AM in order to train.  On race day I’ve dealt with start times from 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM.  Those days I needed to climb out of bed around 4:00 AM.  This “puke of dawn” rise time is applicable to some hunters and fishermen.  If 4:00 AM matches your physiology, well carpe diem.

My circadian rhythm is justly more laid back.   Granted, I have unjustly forced myself to meet the demands of early risers, but I prefer a lenient approach to daybreak.  What I have discovered is that archery offers a more benevolent attitude toward sport and morning.

Indoor archery tournaments offer a selection of shoot times.  3D Tournaments are frequently “show and go” events with archers entering the course over several hours. League competition is typically in the evening.

3D Shooting while wide awake, around noon

With other competitions my primary stress was never the race, it was always the start time. In archery, start time stress is essentially non-existent. Where hunting is concerned, I’ll go with my father-in-law, he heads out to his property to hunt at an informal pace.  He might not get the early bird (or deer or pig) but he’ll bring home the less eager to get shot game. We apply a similar rule to fishing.

Fishing or hunting with Ray (Father-in-law) can be done well after sunrise
Rolling out of bed late can still net a good catch

As tournaments grow in size and prestige, I may need to put it on the line earlier in the day.  One thing I know for certain, shooting outside won’t occur before sunrise.  I still train in the morning, but rarely before 7:30 am.  I still race often, that still sucks the life out of morning.