Bart is Back

Bart Shortall is an ex-professional archer. He hasn’t shot in the pro division in a few years. Combination of a back injury and shoulder injuries has resulted in him competing in the amateur IBO hunter class category. His last injury and surgery is now behind him and he is once again hitting scores of 300+. (30 targets)

Bart Shortall

Bart owns X-Fire Stings. He coaches other archers and is again able to shoot competitively. His recent shoulder surgery seems to have healed and his cautious (not rushing things) return to competitive 3D is underway.

Bart’s post-op photo

Following Bart’s results on Facebook I read where he’s recently won one and finished second in another 30 target 3D tournament. Bart said to me, “It is all form and focus,” even though he added his “….distance judging is still a bit off.”


It is great to see Bart back. He is one of those inspirational people that loves the sport of archery. He’s also the only person I know that has hit a triple “Robin Hood”.

A Robin Hood occurs 1/10000 shots. I have no idea of the statistical numbers of this – a triple!

Good luck Bart and stop getting injured.

Bart back with Team Trailer Park



More about fitness

Cameron Hanes is a bowhunter that runs a lot. I’d not heard of him until recently. It was by chance that I caught his name. I’d overheard a DVD of him talking about fitness and archery. Seriously, though, he runs a lot.

Cam Hanes on a run

Mr. Hanes runs 100-mile races. That is a haul. Preparation for running in a 100-mile ultramarathon is about the same as training for a marathon.1 Running marathons has been plenty for me. A ½ marathon or 10K is even better. They take less time so I can still enjoy other activities after the run.

Me trying to catch up on a run

Events that take all day or longer are taxing. For example, a full Ironman distance triathlon, 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2 mile run, takes the fastest triathletes between 8 and 10 hours to complete. It is a workday; indeed it is their work. I finish them in more modest times, 12 – 15 hours.

1/2 Marathons are a blast


Recovery is an important part of training

For most people, running 100 miles or finishing a 140.3-mile triathlon sounds like a lot. That is because it is a lot. Training takes hours everyday (exceptions being recovery days – which is a part of training, even in archery). Neither type of ultra race is necessary to be fit or to become fit. Both types of endurance sports are activities that can become a major focal point for anyone. However,  other fitness goals are as meaningful and enjoyable.

Archery isn’t the most physically demanding sport. It is not without benefit. Upper shoulder strength is improved, walking back and forth to collect arrows is good, and the mental focus is paramount. But, as a sole physical activity, archery is unlikely to create the lean body of runners and triathletes.

A very lean Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander speaking with a fan in Hawaii

It does not come as a surprise that the better physically fit someone is the more fit they are mentally.2 Mental fitness is critical for archery. As such, archers may be able to improve their shooting experience by adding a fitness program to their training.

Inexpensive method of working the upper body

Fitness programs aren’t necessarily those requiring an archer training to run 100 miles or  to complete an Ironman. Setting goals like walking 30 minutes to an hour per day(or about 10,000 steps), running a 5K, losing weight and improving diets, cycling 20 miles or swimming a kilometer are activities that can enhance archery. The key is consistency.

Swimming is a great workout

Once a fitness bug has bitten the results are hard to avoid. If you are new to aerobic or cardiovascular exercise see your health care provider before you start a program. Exercise does have an impact but will level off with consistent training.3


Working to put form and focus together

Archers are athletes. Athletes run. Athletes also add other elements of fitness training to their primary sport. You don’t need to be an ultramarthoner or Ironman to be extremely fit. The more fit you become the better for your brain’s fitness – really important for archers. Improved fitness can further assist you in controlling your form. 4 Consider what you might enjoy as an ancillary sport and give it a shot.

Norman Big Weekend
Runner and former cyclist Norman Gustafson shooting an X


1)   Fred HL. The 100-mile run: preparation, performance, and recovery. A case report. Am J Sports Med. 1981 Jul-Aug; 9(4): 258-61

2)   Douw L, Nieboer D, van Dijk BW, Stam CJ, Twisk JW. A healthy brain in a healthy body: brain network correlates of physical and mental fitness. PLo One 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e88202. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone. 0088202 eCollection 2014

3)   Awobajo FO, Olawale OA, Bassey S/ Changes in blood glucose, lipid profile and antioxidant activities in trained and untrained adult male subjects during programmed exercise on the treadmill. Niq Q Hosp Med 2013 Apr-Jun; 23(2):117-24

4)   Fitness for Archery. Topendsports The Sport + Science Resource.

Setting Pins, Again

The last couple of ASA 3D shoots extended my shooting range. For IBO, in my class, if reports are correct, my maximum distance to a target would be 35 yards +/- two yards. I’d been practicing at that distance. At the recent ASA shoots the maximum distance was 40 yards +/- five. Today, I decided to work on sight pins and add five yards distance to my practice.

To begin, I set up a target near the pine trees at the foot of my driveway. Next, using a tape measure I marched off yardage from 20 to 40 in 5 yard increments.  Remains of old arrows became my line markers. To compound the effort I changed my release, again.

The 30 yard line.

My release of choice has been a Scott Pro Advantage hinge release. I also have a Tru-Fire Hardcore Revolution thumb release. I bought the Tru-Fire by accident. I thought I was buying a Tru-Ball. C’est la vie.Both releases feel good in my hand. I wanted to give the thumb release a test and plan to use it during a 3D competition on July 20th. The Tru-Fire changed my draw a little so the variance was going to require calibration of the pins.

My purposeful Scott and accidental Tru-Fire releases

Certainly there are folks that love working on their gear. I am not among that crowd. Once my stuff is set I hope it is set for life. Nevertheless, I tinkered with elevation and windage gradually adjusting my sight.

Working my way “up” at 35 yards

Taking careful aim and copious notes I ended up with professional manicured pin settings or a sight that is “good enough for now”. Changing over to the thumb release only cost me two arrows both in the woods someplace behind my house. I will remain curious of my handiwork for a few days then I get to shoot another 3D course. In the meantime, there is a strong likelihood I’ll switch back to the hinge release and start the pin calibration process over from the beginning. I have a lot of paper to shoot.

Serious note taking

(Late update: six hours after practicing with the thumb release I went back to the hinge. Re-set the top pin just before dark here in Hertford, NC)


TAB Archery “On the War Path” 3D Tournament

One of the advantages to travel is finding different archery competitions in which to compete.  Regardless of where I am, before the weekend has arrived, I have scanned the Internet for local tournaments.  Recently, while in Georgia, I found a nearby 3D shoot in Gray Court, South Carolina.


 The TAB Archery Club had posted information describing their “On the War Path” tournament.  MapQuest indicated the location was 61 miles from where I was staying.  I found a contact for the club, Frank, and called him to verify the information, which he confirmed.  I was set for a shoot.

TAB Archery Club House

 At all the 3D shoots where I compete I arrive alone and hope to team up with  2 or 3 local shooters.  After signing in and paying the registration fee I headed to the warm field keeping my eyes open for other strays like myself. 

The course was a challenge

 On the warm-up range I spied two guys talking that looked as if they could use a third shooter.  Creeping around the guys, listening for a break in their conversation, I butted in and asked if I could shoot with them.  They gave me a wary scowl and rejected me claiming their buddy was on the way.  While I wasn’t actually creeping around, their opinion may have been different or they probably just wanted to shoot with their buddy.

 My second attempt also failed.  That time I attempted to appear open and friendly when I approached 3 shooters and asked if they could use a fourth.  Rejected for a second time.

 My third attempt panned out.  I noticed 2 shooters that were looking for the course entrance.  They’d actually gone way off course and were a little confused.  These where my guys.  They gladly accepted me when I told them I knew where the first stake was located.

Paul shooting for a 12

Paul and Jesse were my kind of shooters. Light and fast we moved quickly over the range playing around slower groups when necessary.  Paul and Jesse aren’t full-time 3D shooters.  Both are more interested in hunting and practice 3D to keep their skills honed during the off-season. They are both excellent archers.

Jesse taking aim

The TAB course was another gem.  Extremely hilly and for the Bowhunter Class 40 yards was a common distance over the 25 targets. One hundred and thirty-one archers competed over the two-day tournament. 

Mathews and Saluda River Archery teams

 The hills were a new experience for me and I appreciated the challenge.  Overall, I was pleased to have existed the course with the same arrows I brought with me.  Jesse and Paul, as in most instances where I barge in, were polite and respectful. The TAB course was one of the finest and most difficult I’ve seen.  Thanks to TAB and to Paul and Jesse for letting me tag along.

BowTech and PSE both well represented

Chris and Rik: Inspirational Archers

There are two archers that have impressed many people because of their dedication to overall health and fitness: Rik Lee and Chris Watkins.  During theirs lives they have been overweight.  Today, they are involved in other sports along with archery. They are the type of individuals that can inspire others.

Chris, before and still going – he is smaller now than when the photo in the brown hoody was taken.

 Chris is a young man that was heavy.  In fact, he weighted close to 400 pounds.  When I met him, shooting indoor league competition, I would never have guessed he’d ever been that big.  By changing his diet and adding aerobic exercise to his daily activities Chis is now around 200 lbs. and has a goal of 185. 

 Chris posts his Garmin tracked runs and bike rides.  His has a nice pace, one that would keep me heart rate up during a run. In fact, we’d planned to run the Firefly 5K together but the event was postponed because of a thunderstorm.  Sadly, the make-up date fell on a time when I was out of town and I missed running with Chris.


Chris said it best, “One year ago today while sitting in the hospital with my son wondering if he was going to live, I made the decision to embark on a Life Changing Journey that would change me in so many ways…” When we shot together a couple of weeks ago he mentioned he has lost nearly 140 pounds.  

Chris and his biggest fan

 Rik is a bit senior to Chris. When I say Rik is a bit senior to Chris, Rik is 54 years old. Not long ago, Rik told me, he too was once a big guy.  As he put it, “My gut stuck out further than the stabilizer on my bow.” 

 “My ‘gut’ measurement was ~10.5″ bigger than it is now so while it may not have exceeded the 12 inch limit in any of the hunter classes it was close!” said Rik.

Rik competing in a duathlon (run, bike, run)

 Rik changed his life style and began running and cycling.  Where cycling is concerned he said, “ I started cycling as an adult on July 1, 2011. I was somewhere between 90-100 lbs. heavier than I am now.”

 Rik is a former ASA State Archery Champion who recently took 3rd place the Philadelphia Cycling Time Trial and 1st Place in the Church Creek 40K Time Trial in Maryland.  For that victory, Rik pedaled his bike at over 25 mph for 40K (24.8 miles).  From experience I know that is not easy!

Rik cranking it on his bike

 Among his other accomplishments outside of archery are: 2013 Hagerstown Sprint duathlon (2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 5k run) – 1:08:41 , 2013 Marine Corp Marathon 4:49, 2013 and 3rd place WV State Time Trial

 Rik is no slacker in archery.  His accomplishments in archery include: 2006 PA I.B.O AHC State Champion, 2007 MD I.B.O AHC State Champion, 2007 Mid Atlantic Championship (MD, VA, NC) AHC Champion, 2007/2008 WV ASA Bow Novice State Champion, 2007 PA I.B.O AHC – 2nd place and 2007 Delaware I.B.O AHC – 2nd place.

 What is inspiring about Rik and Chris, avid archers, is they’ve added another level of fitness to there lifestyle and are excelling.  Each has benefited.  They are examples of what can be done in sports and fitness without giving up one you love – archery.


 As Chris likes to quote, “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” ~unknown author (Said by ShayCarl)



Fourth of July with the Gastin Family

Each year my wife’s family, the Gastins, gathers for the 4th of July at Clark Hill Reservoir, near Tignall, GA. They put on a major fireworks display. This year’s was the best.

Many people celebrate the 4th with a few fireworks. Cities and towns put on elaborate fireworks displays and draw large crowds. The Gastin Family is somewhere in the middle. Their fireworks match that of a small town and aren’t as large as those exploding over major cities. The crowd that watches comes by boat, observes from their docks or sits on the shore of the lake. This display is up close and personal.

Fireworks 1
Partial view of the fireworks

Boats filled with beer infused spectators began arriving between 10 and 15 minutes before the unannounced start of the show. The Gastin Family has been doing this so long it is a tradition and people along the lake either know from experience or have a Redneck’s Sixth Sense and can feel when the explosions are about to begin.

The fireworks are launched from the upper level of a two-story floating dock. As soon as it became dark we loaded a pontoon boat with seven adults and three kids (it is a big boat – 28 feet) and cruised out to view from the water. We were greeted by  7 pontoons, a few ski boats, a bass boat, several Jet Ski’s, a kayaker, Carolina Skiffs and a couple in a canoe.

The show runs about 90 minutes and there were cheers, boat horns blasting, clapping and whistling from a satisfied crowd. The grand finale was the biggest and best ever. When the smoke cleared the crowd gave a final round of approvals and dispersed. The boys on the upper deck piled the debris and everyone headed home.

View from the water

Home for us was a rental house, the Gastin Lake House was too crowded so my wife, daughters, son-in-laws, their 3 children and our three dogs found secondary arrangements. The total crew for the Gastin 2014 Fourth of July was 20 people and seven dogs. The second house was a smart move.

At our rental, sometime after midnight, we were awakened by a call from the “Lake House”. It was reported that the dock had burned but they’d saved the pontoon, Jet Ski, bass boat and the Carolina Skiff.

What had happened was this: Shortly before midnight there were fireworks reporting from somewhere near the dock. Apparently, someone had piled unexploded munitions on smoldering debris. No one on the fireworks detail had thought to check the debris or wet it down with the hose on the dock. Thinking the report was a neighbor’s limited fireworks no one investigated.

Fortunately, the neighbors investigated and discovered the Gastin dock was on fire. One man ran to the Lake House to let the half asleep Gastins know their dock was ablaze.

Reacting to the emergency, Shirley, my sister-in-law, called 911 for the fire department while the local residence and my brothers-in-law ran to the dock to fight the fire. They’d decided not to awaken Ray, my father-in-law and patriarch, needlessly fearing the excitement would be too much for the 86 year old. In retrospect Ray said, “My family decided not to tell me my dock was going to burn down.”

Ray, coming in on his Yamaha Wave Runner
Not your typical 86 year old.

While on the scene of the fire, everyone having vacated the house except a sleeping Ray; the fire department called and woke Ray. They needed more information to find the Lake House. Ray had no idea to what they were referring. Fire department dispatch said, “Your wife (Shirley) called and your dock is on fire” Ray, puzzled replied, “My wife is dead and my dock is not on fire.” Then, he hung up the phone and went back to bed.

Meanwhile, on the dock, the fire was being handled. A local, barefoot amateur firefighter paused in the action to say to my brother-in-law, “Y’all sure do put on a good firework show.” Then, he returned his attention to the problem at hand.

The blaze was contained. The professional firefighters did arrive, post-inferno, and added a stir to the char with a broken hoe handle someone had found. With that stir and a nod they departed for greater glory elsewhere.

In the light of July 5th, the damage was assessed at about 18 – 20 dock boards burnt. The repairs wouldn’t be difficult thanks to fast acting neighbors. How they sensed the fire, seems to me, is part of that Redneck’s Sixth Sense. If there are going to be explosions or fires – we know. The 4th of July 2014 is now in the record book as the best ever.



Going back to Clark Hill State Park

The Elijah Clark State Park near Lincolnton, GA has an archery range. We have a range of our own in Tignal, but I was curious to see what they offered at the State Park. I took a drive over with my archery gear to take a look.IMG_1641

Twenty-five years ago we rented cabins at the Elijah Clark State Park for vacations. We upgraded, buying our own small house that we used often enough to offset the cost of the purchase versus a rental. Those were the days when I shot a recurve and practiced on bales of hay. I didn’t know there’d ever been a range at the park.

At the park gate I spoke with the ranger on duty. He was a helpful talkative fellow that let me pass at no charge since I’d only be able to see the range. He explained the range was a small area where the rangers teach people basics of archery. It was not a place for a compound bow.

IMG_1638 IMG_1639

The drive through the park reminded me of all the swimming, cycling and running I’d done at Clark Hill. River, my dog, and I had run early in the day. The daily temperature here has been near 100°F so running early in best. ‘Early’ means getting to chase deer on the trails. We never catch them, but it is fun for a second. Before I head back to North Carolina I’ll try to get a quick bike ride through the park.

IMG_1636 IMG_1637

There’d be no archery practice at the park so, passing our old ‘Lake House,’ I headed back to Tignal. We’ve set up a nice range and can shoot up to 70 yards or more if we want. For this day my practice would be limited to 40 yards.

Twenty-five yards over the boat trailer

We set the block target against a mound of dirt. The block is positioned at the foot of the mound or on a board resting at the top. There aren’t any 3D targets here. Actually, if I had any I’d move them to our hunting property (679 acres) and set up a proper course. Still, paper targets on block targets are fun.

Forty Yards
It can happen.

It was nice to see Elijah Clark State Park and a bit nostalgic. The days when we rented a cabin for family vacation are behind us, but the great memories remain.



Finding Hills to Shoot

Brenda, my wife, and I drove to Georgia for a  4th of July family vacation. While in Georgia I’d get an opportunity to practice archery on hills, something I get little of living on coastal North Carolina and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

From our balcony in Georgia

Bart Shortall, an ex-professional archer, owner of X-Fire Strings, and part-time archery coach, urged me to do two things when I practice while on the road. First, he said to shoot a lot from 33 – 37 yards, second to shoot on hills. Both of his recommendations are to help me prepare for the IBO World Champions coming in August.

Bart Shortall, owner of X-Fire Strings

In Georgia, I’d get hills. Within a couple of hours of our arrival I’d set-up a target on the driveway, a distance of 26 yards, and uphill. Twenty-six yards was all the space I could free for the moment. It was late in the day following an eight-hour drive; as such, 26-yards would be fine. I got about an hour of practice completed before a thunderstorm drove me indoors.

Shooting in the driveway

Later, I’d move to more open land and greater distance for practice. Here, there is plenty of open land, forest and nearby the Elijah Clark State Park archery range. There are also a lot of – hills.

Thrill in the Hills 2
Thrill in the Hills 1/2 Marathon (me in the green) at Ft. Yargo, near Athens, GA.