Should have stayed in bed

Fishing Creek’s rain make-up shoot was Saturday. Their range is one of my favorites. Looking forward to the shoot I was up by 0530. It was going to be a memorable day.


Bill (standing), Greg and Bryan

The 80-mile drive from Hertford to the Fishing Creek Archery Club near Rocky Mount has little traffic and good roads. Arriving early I hoped to get on the range in front of slower groups. Bill, Bryan, and Greg accepted me as a fourth and our quartet was underway by 0920.

All three of these archers are quite accomplished. Bill has been competing on this year’s ASA circuit. Bryan and Greg, Advanced Hunter Class, are also top shooters; the three of them exchanged war stories from stake to stake.

One of those stories was of an archer dry firing his bow during a 3D tournament. Apparently, intensely focused, the archer, judged his distance, got his footing, stance, drew, aimed and fired. Upon the release everyone realized he’d forgotten to notch an arrow. I’d never heard of such an accident during competition.

At target 12 I was first up. The target was a lion, one of my favorites. I could feel the yardage. My footing was perfect. Mentally, going through each step: feet, butt, core, shoulders, draw, aim and release – I fired. POP!

I can’t say if it was the story about the fellow who dry fired his bow during a 3D shoot. Don’t know if it was the excitement of a foam lion where I seemed to have a real sense of the yardage.  What I can say is I’d neglected to notch an arrow.

Talk about feeling stupid. As I exited the range the President of the Fishing Creek Club passed and asked, “ Are you done?” I said yes and explained. He was quick to point out, “Too bad your forgot your arrow, it would have been a 12, right?” I replied, “Of course.”

Repair was nearby at ‘Shooters’ in Rocky Mount. Thankfully, only the string slipped and no damage was done. After 5 minutes and $15.00 my ZXT was back in service.

Impressive display of bows at Shooters in Rocky Mount, NC

The reparation was so quick I could have returned to finish the final few targets. But, I decided to hide my disgrace, tucked tail and headed home. I’ve done some dimwitted things in archery but this tops the list (thus far). I probably should have stayed in bed at 0530.  Another way of looking at it – this was so asinine odds are I won’t do it again, at least not for a long time, or so I hope.

Practice then on the water

Of course I practiced today. There are five 3D shoots within a couple of hours drive from me this weekend. So, I can’t get too cold of judging range – not that I am all that hot at it to begin with. But today was also about having some fun on the boat.

Impossible to keep “River” out of the water

The water looked pretty smooth so a trip to the Albemarle Sound was just about right. Brenda and I headed toward the Outer Banks then decided to go up the Pasquotank River toward Elizabeth City, NC.

Looking from the Pasquotank River toward Kitty Hawk, NC

We paused at TCOM, where they manufacture dirigibles (blimps). The blimps made in Elizabeth City are used for surveillance. We often see them in the sky north of our home on the Little River. We didn’t stick around; the wind was picking up on the Sound and our 19.8 Carolina Skiff will rock your bones in a chop.

This hanger is huge

The ride back was choppy. There were white caps on the Pasquotank, in the Sound, and at the mouth of Little River. After a couple of miles travel up Little River it was, once again, smooth.

Brenda catching some sun on the boat

It is always an adventure in the rivers and creeks around the Albemarle Sound. From my boat to woods filled with deer tracks is only 130 yards. Living here is quite cool. In Hertford, nearly every day is spent outdoors, much of that on the water.

The chop easing up as we head up Little River

World Championship Number 5

Reflecting on the 2014 IBO World Championship I recalled the two other world championships. In those I placed 24th then, a year later, 4th. What I’ve learned from other sports I’ll apply to archery and see where it leads. Considering another two other world championships, duathlon and triathlon, it occurred to me I’ve been lucky in sports.


Cycling was good too me and for me. Through cycling I got to experience my first National Championships and race outside of the US. It also provided a foundation to expand into other athletic endeavors.

Eagleman Bike
Racing in Maryland in 2013

Some friends I trained with decided they’d do a triathlon. I’d trained with the top triathletes in the world while cycling, four of them world champions, two considered the greatest of all time and one the greatest age group finisher, Bruce Buchanan. All of these folks were very fit.  I joined my friends’  group of would be triathletes.

Triathlons require swim, bike, and run training

While they trained for a triathlon, I relearned how to run and swim. Running I could go great distance at a slow pace. That paid off at a long course duathlon. The race was a qualifier for the USA Team to the World Championships. The day was hot, nearly 100 degrees, temperatures I’d trained in all my life. Essentially, I got lucky; the heat didn’t bother me as much as the faster athletes. I placed 3rd place, qualifying for the USA Team.

Wearing my USA Team gear at a charity event in Delaware

That World Championship was an experience. Being in the parade of countries during the opening ceremony, the colors, and the fans were amazing. As amazing as it was it didn’t compare with the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI.

The Ironman World Championship is the Super Bowl of triathlons. Thousands of fans line the course and the finish on Ali’i Drive is iconic. For many it is an experience of a lifetime. The race is hot, beautiful, exciting, long, painful, fun, emotional and windy. Crossing the finish line and being greeted by my wife, she escorted by crowd of dancing children was truly remarkable.

Finishing on Ali’i Dr

Shooting at the IBO World Championship was number five of the world championship events I’ve competed. Honestly, I wasn’t ready. Still, I’d qualified, could drive to the event and it would be great preparation for 2015, when I hope to be more ready.

Day 2 of the IBO World Championships

Of these five world championships my best finish, cycling, was 4th. My worst finish was in archery. The longest training effort to reach a world championship was cycling while he shortest was archery. The results align with the time and effort. But, like the duathlon championship, I got lucky and was able to compete. Opportunities like a world championship are few, I figure if you can take the shot.





On the road again…..

Since I didn’t need to stay in NY on Sunday, I hit the road. The drive was perfect. Only two slow downs, one somewhere in Pennsylvania and the other at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. As a result of smooth driving I was able to get two nice naps along the way. Both times considerate people in adjacent lanes awakened me. They gave me pleasant toots with their horns to keep me straight.

One last look at NY

Three shoots to select from next weekend. Two in NC and one in MD.

Day 2 of the IBO World Championships

The second day of the IBO World Championship was better than the first. Neither day ended exactly as I’d hoped but certainly within the statistical range I’d calculated, albeit on the low side. Despite an abundance of 5’s and economy of 11’s the experience was worth the trip.

Earned a 12 o’clock 10 on this shot

Many archers that I’ve shot with and against over the past year convened in Ellicottville, NY to test themselves against the best in the world. At a minimum I heard Canada, Australia, and South Africa were represented. Other competitors from outside the US may have been in NY but I’ve not read an official tally. The State of New York, judging by the tags on vehicles, was well represented.

The Mathews camp

Aside from their skill shooting archers are great social athletes. Each archer puts it on the line when they shoot 3D. Good shots brought excited praise and congratulations. A poor shot was never ridiculed and competitors sympathized and consoled. Each knowing the next weak shot could be theirs. Teasing, when done, was good-natured and without malice.  Archers weren’t the only people with whom I interacted.

Having spent decades in business I wanted to assess the archery companies. For example, how did their representatives intermingle with customers, what marketing focus did I notice, were there obvious times when management used this competition to run focus groups.  Assemblies, like the IBO World Championships, are excellent venues to get close to key customers (in this case archers).

The top brass of the IBO

I left NY having made many new friends. Several  promised an interview to place under the archery characters tab of The experience was perfect prep for 2015.

Day one of competition – IBO World Championships

Archers in the queue to shoot

Being realistic I’d calculated my expected target point average for the IBO World Championships. I also know, using statistics, where I can expect to finish. The objective here wasn’t to shoot for a miracle but to set a bar from which to improve relative to the best shooters in the world. Day one went pretty much as planned.

There are self-motivating confidence building slogans and sayings. Having heard them all and studied the science behind sports, the myelin building process and experience requirements for a world championship event, this being my 5th in four disciples, I have a pretty good idea of what I am up against. Simple statistics determined my first day’s results. My calculations were 0.2 points away from the actual result.

This doesn’t suggest I gave away any shot.   The terrain was so different from my experience level, which I’d considered beforehand, my goal was to shoot my best and try for an 11 with each attempt. Math won the day.

The group I shot with were seasoned archers.  These boys are in it for the fun and solid results. Their finals for day one were among the top scores.


What I can say about the course, it was world class. Dark targets in confined nearly as dark holes were the norm. One coyote, certainly one that will be talked about, was small, spotty, across a road and positioned high on a steep embankment 30-plus yards out. The adolescent sized canine provided our group an 11, two 10s and an eight. At times the steepness of the hills challenged holding your stance and retrieving arrows. Mountain lions were a favorite on range “I” and one required a rope to haul you up to the target. By stake 14 climbs were so difficult as to slow down the pace. As such, our group made use of the time sitting and eating. Our 10:20 am start time had us on the range during lunch.

Yep, that’s a black bear in that hole
Norman Big Weekend
Norman Gustafson

“Pop”, Kirk Tull, Sr. was in the group just behind me. Meeting him afterwards he explained he’d only had one poor shot. A good day tomorrow should award him a high finish. Of the others among the group from Maryland, I understand Norman and Wes finished one up. No results on the others as yet.

Wes Pritchett








IBO World Championships Trade Show and Practice

Registration and some of the vendors

The IBO World Championship is a competition and trade show. Registration is like any competition or convention. That’s where the similarities end. Clearly, my attire for the day was incorrect. I felt a bit like a fish out of water. Fortunately, help came from two new friends and several old friends.

Walking around the exhibit hall I understood what it was the sales people, those manning their booths, were experiencing. I can’t begin to recall the trade shows I’ve attended. Upper level managers were huffing about while their staff worked to promote the company’s products. Overhearing some of the conversations, it was the universal language and cliché of sales.

Obvious was the attire of the competitors. While no actual competition was underway, attendees were decked out in shirts, t-shirts and hats as banners for their selected equipment. Understandably, since many of the “non-professionals” are factory staff members and may receive discounts or free supplies from their sponsor. My t-shirt, like most I own, was a race perk from a run, today’s from St. Michaels, MD.

Archers, as a group, are not the most fit of athletes  and my attire too often earned a smug stare.

Opps,a running T-shirt at an archery competition

Fortunately, the snobbery was not universal and I found two people to practice with on the “Defense” course. I’d misunderstood and thought the “Defense” course was an archery safety seminar. My friend Norman, now of Tennessee, explained the “Defense” course was the 3D practice range. I grabbed my bow and queued up for the ski lift to practice.

Transportation from registration and vendors to the 3D ranges

Once at the Defense course, the lines were impossibility long and slow. The price was $10 to shoot and I paid before recognizing practice was primarily an exercise in patience.

I was fortunate to meet two people, Scott and Shannon with whom I traveled the slow circuit. Scott and Shannon are famous and highly skilled archers.  Scott offered a few tips on training.  Interestingly, his tips were not different than those applied in upper level cycling, running, swimming and triathlon.

Shannon and Scott

Existing the Defense course meant another ride on the ski lift. The distance was easily walkable but an IBO official claimed walking back was prohibited by the host. As such, I sat and waited for my turn on the lift.

While waiting an amateur photographer standing behind me backed into my bow knocked it over and stepped on the sight. Following the ride down I rushed to the “bag” target range to reset the sight that appears to have had little damage beyond a few scrapes.

Heading back to my truck I crossed paths with Team Trailer Park(TTP)  from Maryland. They were a sight for sore eyes. I was invited have  dinner with them; they’d rented a condo.  The meal was grilled Sika deer, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes and salad. Everything was good and the deer excellent.

After dinner the TTP held Corn Hole competitions and practiced with their bows. Several of them had brought bags to shoot. I was satisfied my sight was functioning before departing to Olean and the Hampton Inn.

Day Two of the IBO World Championship Travel

Festivities are underway at the Holiday Valley resort, host of the IBO World Championships. Competition begins on Friday. The drive to Olean, 17 miles away from Ellicottville, NY was my destination where Hilton Honors Points redemption set me up at the local Hampton Inn.

Looks like “Sprinter” was ill named

MapQuest projected the drive to take less than seven hours. Ubiquitous road construction, traversing a small town and a wreck added forty-five minutes to the drive. Near the Village of Trout Run, Pennsylvania I stopped for gas. Spinning around in an attempt to re-secure Route 15 I ended up in the parking lot of Bittners Sporting Goods.IMG_1762


There I met Janet who proudly explained they were getting reading for hunting season and for me to not miss the big bow outside. I’d already missed it, but headed back for a second look.

Janet providing a tour of Bittners Sportng Goods

The big bow is a landmark, sort of like the big chicken in Kennesaw, GA or the biggest ball of twine in Cawker City, KS. Janet explained the big bow was once owned by another archery supply store. That store went out of business. “We picked up the big bow for cheap”, she explained. Hopefully, this treasure of Trout Run will bring Bittners better fortune than the previous establishment.

The Big Bow

Eventually, I rolled into Olean’s Hampton Inn. For the record, their wall unit air conditioning and heating system sucks. Experience taught me to never travel without earplugs – I will need them; my room is across from the hospital’s helicopter pad. Olean, also, seems to practice significant conservation of functioning mufflers, a fact that announces itself every few seconds. Or perhaps the absence of a muffler is the local equivalent of a mating call.

Finding a local restaurant in Olean meant Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut or Talley’s Irish Pub. I chose the latter, which served up decent wings and Guinness. Eating at the bar I found a newspaper, The Villager, where the IBO made front-page news.


It was a long drive to reach Olean. Tomorrow, I’ll make by way to Holiday Valley in Ellicottville.


Day one of the drive to NY

For the past decade I traveled every week. Traveling to NY for the IBO shoot isn’t too bad. Primarily, I don’t have to get on a plane. Still, it is a haul from Hertford, NC to Ellicottville, NY by truck.

Looks like it is going to be a hilly course

On the bright side the drive is particularly beautiful from NC to my layover in Easton, MD. The Chesapeake Bay Tunnel is masterpiece of civil engineering. Crossing the bay there is the possibility of spotting a US Navy ship entering or leaving Norfolk, which is very cool.

An aircraft carrier, among the many ships we’ve seen while crossing the bay

River, my dog, made the drive with me as far as Maryland Shore Pet Resort where she’ll be hanging out until Monday. She’s not a fan of kennels so she was treated to a Hardee’s burger before she got there. This isn’t her first stay; she spent a month there being trained as a “gun dog.” River seems to prefer archery to guns. Archers seem to enjoy feeding her.

River especially enjoys the food associated with archery

Rather than stopping in Easton, I drove directly to Schrader’s Outdoors to get one more 3D practice in before I head to NY tomorrow. There they have two stakes at each animal. A green stake, the hunter class, with a max distance of 35 yards. The other is a blue stake, open class, with a max distance of 50 yards.

Maryland Shore Pet Resort

Schrader’s has a sign posted at the entrance of the range with a rule that only one shot is allowed per stake. Following that rule, I shot each animal, once at the green stake and once at the blue.

Schrader’s Outdoors

When I finished it was time find dinner, Mexican food (traveling alone so no risk of offending a passenger’s olfactory nerve), then lay over at the Easton homestead. There I tallied my score and did some stats.

If the IBO World’s consists of 20 targets per day and there are two days then there are 40 targets. (Easy math). Using the scores for both green and blue stakes I reached a value. Both green and blue were used since the IBO World in my class has a 35-yard max, but the difficulty should be greater. Allowing for variability over the course and the average for today my result should place me between 75th and 49th place. A narrower subset is 60th to 49th. The ranges are a comparison from the 2013 finals in the senior hunter class. Not where I’d like to be, yet.


Nevertheless, it was nice to end the day with some practice. Being stuck in the truck for 6 hours is a pain in the butt. Tomorrow the drive is a bit longer.

Just relax and go with the flow



Final decisions before World’s

The Mathews ZXT has mixed reviews related to 3D shooting. The Mathews Conquest Apex 7 is promoted as one of the best competition bows available. Shooting with each, using a hinge release or a thumb release I’ve made my choice for the IBO shoot next weekend in NY.


Neither bow breaks speed records especially at my draw length, 26 inches. Both bows are equivalent when I shoot indoors at 20 yards. They are both similar shooting outside up to 60 yards, at least at my skill level. The major difference is the let off, length and weight.


The ZXT is about a half pound lighter, not too much of a difference. The Apex 7 is nearly a foot longer (10 inches). The ZXT let off is 80% versus 65% with the Apex 7. The ZXT is IBO rated 6 fps faster than the Apex 7, again not a big deal. But, I am more comfortable with the ZXT.

About a month after I begin shooting I switched from a finger to a back tension hinge release. That changed a few weeks ago when I bought a thumb release. Following some difficulty shooting the thumb release I finally got it – that is I stopped shooting my arrows everywhere other than the target. The biggest advantage is mental. I can relaxed more knowing that if I need to let down, jerk the bow, or “slip” I am less likely to release the arrow using the thumb release.

Shooting the Apex 7 (tired a finger release on this shot)

The arrows haven’t changed. In fact, I ordered a dozen new ones, the Beman ICS Hunter brand, for the tournament. Despite meticulous care when ordering, repeating the shaft length they arrived 0.5 inches shorter than what I have been shooting for the past year. Par.


Going to the IBO World Championship is currently a contest above my skill. Nevertheless, it is an experience that will help in future competitions.   As such, my goals are: 1) shoot as comfortably and relaxed as possible,  2) leave the course carrying the same arrows with which I entered, and 3) enjoy the experience. Which means, the ZXT and a Tru-Fire Hardcore Revolution release.

Shooting Beman