“There Are No Water Moccasins in North Carolina”

I have been busy. So busy there’s been limited time to write much for this website. The tight schedule isn’t going to ease off anytime soon. Until then I’ll try to post stories you might find interesting.

If you’ve been a reader you know not 100% of my articles are specific to archery. This is one of those articles. This one has to do with a puffed up fisherman that knows it all.

Now being a know-it-all is good if the claim to knowledge is true. I’ve known a few real know-it-alls. They were truly remarkably brilliant. These (three people) weren’t just wizards in math and science, these three had common sense and could do anything. Seriously, anyone one of them could talk about science, history, and current events, renovate a house or clean a deer.

The particular false know-it-all knew a lot of stuff much that he shared during a striper-fishing trip. He was extremely confident in all proclamations and orations. It didn’t take long until his lectures had the same impact that a freshman chemistry professor has while in front of a white board – he was making me sleepy. In fact, and in addition to absolutely zero fish in the boat other than bait, I stretched out across the bow of the boat for a nap.

In turn, the angler-lecturer on board increased his volume so that I might not miss important or key points. A series of facts he began disseminating while I tried to drift away dealt with US Geography and snakes.

Near Elizabeth City, NC

Among this gospel is that, “There are no water moccasins in North Carolina.” This piqued my retort button. Disagreeing with his claim I pointed out that I’d had encounters with a good many water moccasins in North Carolina.

Near Hertford, NC (Photo provided by Jimmy C my neighbor in NC)

His response was to assure me that I had not actually crossed paths with a water moccasin in North Carolina. To be sure, those snakes had been harmless water snakes.

One of those harmless NC water snakes eating a dove ((Photo provided by Jimmy C my neighbor in NC) (For folks without a sense of humor – this is not a brown water snake)
For those that don’t know

The way I see things is that it takes two people to argue. If the fellow with all the knowledge believes there are no water moccasins north of South of the Border on I-95 who was I to debate the matter. However, I did recommend that should he ever be in North Carolina and run up on one of those harmless water snakes he should either get away or shoot it.

 

Getting into the 3D of Things

The range is up. It is raining. I need to practice 3D.

This coyote is fun. The shot looks longer than it was, 38 yards.
Yep, that javelina is in that hole about 40 yards away

When rain seems to have stopped, I head out to practice. Twenty shots later it begins to rain. I head back indoors. Two hundred yards pass along the walk to cover and the rain stops. I turn around, shoot 10 arrows and it starts to rain, again. I head back, go 200 yards, and the rain stops. I gave up stayed outside and got wet.

Zoomed in a bit so you can see the target
Worst shot of the day. I thought I’d managed a center 12. Nope, that’s an 8.

Not everyday has been so much of a weather challenge. Yesterday was pretty good. It was cold and windy. Out in the woods the wind is subdued a tad. My main concern was a limb breaking free and landing on my head. No limb crashed onto my skull.

This is a tough turkey

Practice was by design interesting. Shooting the same targets day in and day out, you need to find training sessions to keep things interesting. This is especially true when you train alone.

Practice on this little target is always, shoot a center 12 and a 14. Don’t move on until the 12 and 14 are shot in sequence.

This day’s training was: the first arrow at an unknown yardage for scoring followed by four others for yardage training. The shortest distance was 18 yards (rabbit) and the longest was 45 yards (deer, bear, and mountain lion.)

This is only 27 yards, but the lane is cleared so the target can be worked out to 50 yards.

3D practice, time per arrow, is slower that 18-meters. Generally, you walk further which slows things down. Plus, it takes a little longer to judge yardage. I don’t find one disciple, 18-meter, 3D or 50-meter, more fun than the other. They are all about the same to me. The major difference is it rarely rains indoors.

This poor ole bear is beginning to wear out in the center.

What is a “Professional Archer?”

What is a ”Professional Archer?” That was the question that recently circulated among people that subscribe to ArcheryTalk. I read a few of the responses. The question wasn’t novel. Every so often someone tosses that question out. Each time similar reactions occur. That is, a bunch of folks response with a bunch of opinions.

Being more long winded and having my own website I decide to put in my opinion here. It has no more value or greater clarity and the other opinions offered at ArcheryTalk. It may be less important to you than your own opinion.

First, to compete in a pro division, for the most part, all that is required is to pay a more expensive entry fee. That’s right, the Pro divisions cost more than the non-pro divisions should you want to shoot against the best. You know if you’re ready to make that investment. You know because you know your scores.

Say, you want to shoot in the Pro class at a 3-spot indoor event. You generally score a 600 with 55 to 59 Xs. By all means you are ready, pay up and shoot your best. Does this make you a pro? Nope.

I haven’t checked, but I heard that the NFAA now requires an archer to shoot a 300/48X minimum to enter the pro class during one of their 5-spot indoor events. Even if you can just do that, keep your money. A 300/48X in the senior men’s pro division will not land you in the top 10 by a long shot. Should you wait until you always score 300/60X?  No, but wait until you are nearly there and mostly there. What I mean, by that is a 300/60X is not a rare score for you.

3D seems to have a lot of archers that compete in Pro divisions. Most are adding their entry fee to the pot to support the winners. Will you improve your shooting by competing in the pro divisions? No, you’ll improve your shooting by practicing. Really, you should know before you show up at an event pretty much how you’ll place. If you are a Professional you will know.

Certainty, things can happen that might cause your score on any given day to fluctuate a percentage point to two. Professionals know that range as well as their average score and X count. This knowledge does not make one a professional.

Professionals often know a lot more about their shooting, training, and tournament performance than amateurs. However, some amateurs know just as much about their abilities. Still, this knowledge does not make one a professional.

It is my opinion, despite all the professionalism displayed in the Pro divisions, is that unless you are earning a living wage as a Professional Archer, the sport is a past time. There are professional archers. They make a living wage competing. Their competition earnings along with sponsors that pay them and endorsements do provide the athlete with a good annual income.

I pointed out that Professionals are “paid” by a sponsor. Having a “Pro-Staff” shirt that you paid to wear and shooting a company’s equipment you bought with a 25% “Pro-Staff” discount does not make you a professional. It makes you a marketing asset. Nothing wrong with that as it is, in this sport, a first step on a pathway to earning a living wage for many archers.

On that pathway there is a lot of practice and training. If you can shoot about 30 arrows a day four to five days a week enjoy your dream but keep that day job.

If you are not earning a living wage as an archer but earning a good bit of money on the side shooting that’s great. Is archery you’re full time job that provides a living wage? No, well you are still not a professional archer.

There are very few professional archers in this sport. There are very few professional basketball players. There are very few professional athletes. You see that point – right? It is rare to be a professional athlete.

There are a whole lot of really great archers. Many are just as good or are very close to performing as well as the top elite professional archers. But most know there are better ways to earn more money. Those professional level archers enjoy the sport, get the ego stroking cash prize from time to time and support their families with their day job.

Most of all, whether you are a professional, consider yourself a professional or are a weekend warrior, remember why it is that you have chosen archery as your primary sport.

Shooting 3D for the first time in a while.

Eighteen meters has been my focus for the past eight months. My goal was to score two day total of 1160 at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals.  Then to score a 600 with 110 Xs at the NFAA National Indoor Championship in Cincinnati.  By early December of 2017 I was feeling fairly confident that I’d come close or exceed those marks.

In the meantime, we’d built a new house. The foul fall and winter weather delayed the house’s completion.  This ended up generating a 580-mile move right on top of the end game for my eight months of practice.  By February of 2018 I was scoring lower than February of 2017.  It wasn’t just the move; it was a move, being unable to move right into the new property, then a solid month after the move in to complete construction.

This bear has one of the two ‘wide’ lanes and can be targeted out to 60 yards
She’s in a congested area and can be out up to 40 yards
The pine trees that line this shooting lane narrow as the distance increases. It’s a pretty cool shot the further back you get.

You’d think we move into a new ready to go house and we would have if the builder had been cooperative. He wouldn’t allow refinements to his building to occur until we’d closed on the property. As such, after closing, closets had to be redone, fencing put up, sheds constructed, sod to be installed and land cleared.  Oh, there was plenty of time to have had this done before closing but it wasn’t allowed.  This meant little to no archery practice in the month before the main indoor events for 2018.  I scored fewer point than usual and seemed to find a solid position in second place everywhere other than the NFAA Sectional where I earned a tight 4th and the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati.

This is an interesting shot.

I couldn’t decide if the trip from Georgia to Ohio was worth the investment considering the way I’d been shooting. By the time I made the decision to go for the experience I realized I’d let time get away from me and it was too late to make the drive.

On a brighter note I did get my 3D range up on the 3.25 acre plot behind our house selected for the targets. It isn’t a huge plot of land but it is idea for 20 targets.  I only have 12, but 8 more will fit nicely when I get them.

I am pleased, so far, with how the foam animals are arranged. The are no “give me” shots and all targets can be shot to at least a maximum of 40 yards with other out to sixty.  Sixty yards is more than I need other than for field archery.

Another wide lane for long shots without worrying about overhanging limbs

Last week was the first time in a long time I’ve shot 3D. For that practice I use a hunting rig with pins rather than long stabilizers and a scope.

I admit I was a bit off on a few shots, but no target was missed and there was only one 5. For the first full 3D practice, 3 hours and 63 shots, I averaged 9.3 points per shot.  The mean distance was 33 yards with a minimum of 18 (a rabbit) and a max of 45 (deer, mountain lion, and bear).  Needless to say 9.3 points per shot isn’t good.   This year seems to be all about getting back into the swing of things.  Maybe, that swing will come back in a hurry.

New 3D Range Nearly Complete

After nearly 5 weeks of waiting by the fence my foam menagerie of 3D critters have a new home. Several already have lanes cleared well enough to shoot. Most are in place and need some small trees and limbs cut down to get a shot.

These 3D targets are no longer hanging out next to the fence

This new 3D range is nice. It is significantly tighter than the old one in North Carolina. There are two that have fairly wide lanes for shots over 50 yards. Nearly all have been arranged so that each target can be practiced on out to 50 yards.

It is too late in the day for photographs but I’ll share some soon.

The GBAA and NFAA Section in Statesboro

In Georgia, I have lived in these cities and towns: Savannah, Isle of Hope, Tybee Island, Thunderbolt, Statesboro, Augusta, Lincolnton, Columbus, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Kennesaw, and now Good Hope.   This past weekend, I drove from Good Hope to Statesboro to shoot in the GBAA State Championship and NFAA Indoor Sectional. Driving though the State, passing so many familiar places was nostalgic.

Much has changed during the past eighteen years when we’d not lived in Georgia. Augusta and Statesboro have grown. So has every other town I passed though during the trip.

We lived in Statesboro in the early 1980’s. I’d not been back to Statesboro in decades. It has really changed. Georgia Southern University seems to have moved up the polished University ladder. The GSU campus was impressive. The archery tournament took place on the GSU campus at their Sports Education Shooting Center.

Georgia State University, Shooting Sports Education Center

Over the past 51 months of shooting a bow I’ve seen some nice and not so nice ranges. The GSU Shooting Center is a whole level above the other ranges. There was ample  storage room, space and chairs for archers to sit down when not shooting, spectators had bleachers, and there easy access to clean rest rooms. All shooting lines were either full or close and it did not feel cramped. Before the tournament some folks had warned me the lighting wasn’t great, it seemed just fine to me.

Another bit of information I’ve been noticing since returning to Georgia, overall everybody seems to shoot “real good.”  From Cub level to Pro 300 for one day and 600 two-day total score was common. Inside-out X count was a necessary tiebreaker for many classes.

That’s me standing next to the giant.

For me, I lost again by one point. Still, things are improving following the transition for North Carolina to Georgia. Something I am not getting over is how nice it is to be back home.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Well, it wasn’t what I planned. It wasn’t part of my visualization. It was not how I’d trained.  I wasn’t even close. But, hey – there’s always 2019.

For months I worked, practiced and trained through all sorts of weather. I shot on average 120 arrows per day. All in preparation for one archery tournament. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to win. Although I did want to win. More than that, I wanted to hit a specific score. I was on track to do so…..

Then, we moved and for six weeks before the USA Archery Indoor Nationals in Snellville, GA practice was impinged.

When I did get to practice I was off. My scores dropped and have remained low. There seems to be a relationship between practice and scores.

If the National tournament hadn’t been so close to our new home I’d have skipped it entirely. The event was just 40 minutes away from our new home. So, I went and I lost.

Second Place

Soon practice and routines will be back in place. And before you know it, it will be 2019.

Getting the Dope On

I am not new to international sport competition. I have a medical background (PhD). I am fairly new to archery.

For decades I competed as a junior, senior and an age grouper in running, cycling and triathlon. I was pretty good on a local and regional level in the US. I’ve gotten on the podium a few times at National events and earned a place on the USA Team for the World Championship Long Course Duathlon.

I did okay racing in the smaller events in Europe. I have trained or raced in: England, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Israel, Australia, and Japan. Racing, however, is not the sole area my interest in sports and health.

I have published a good many peer-reviewed medical manuscripts most on medical aliments, some on sports physiology. I was on faculty at a major medical school where I did much of my research. I’ve also given medical presentations of my academic work in those same countries where I’ve trained or raced. After over four decades of sports competition and medical research I have gotten pretty good at spotting dopers. (I have never pointed anyone out I suspected. Although, some I suspected in cycling and triathlon did get caught.)

In age group competition, the doping is bad. In archery is seems worse than other sports among age groupers. I understand that banned substances may be necessary for the well being of many age groupers. However, it does give them, what I consider, an unfair edge in archery.

Being athletic is good. Shooting a bow isn’t all that phyically demanding compared to competing in an Ironman or running a marathon.  Archery requires a different kind of skill.  Still, archery practice combined with a program to improve physical fitness will benefit an athlete.

It isn’t easy to remain fit for a lifetime.  It is less easy to be an athlete.  It becomes increasing hard for amateur athletes and professionals where income from sport do not provide a living wage.  For them work gets in the middle of the day meaning training becomes more of a scheduling trick. It is possible.  Athletes that take on the extra effort to remain fit enough to reach a podium without banned supplements shouldn’t be, in addition to their work, put into a position where they must surpass other athletes unwilling or unable to adapt a total fitness program.

Some age group archers that are not physically fit yet practice consistently have an advantage over athletes who shoot and combine healthy life choices with competition. The poorly conditioned archery age grouper that is able to consistently practice shooting can have the competitive advantage of drugs used to compensate for high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.  Those drugs assist both the patient’s condition and shooter’s ability. As such they do not need to approach archery as a complete athletic process. Rather, they can practice with their bow, be in miserable overall fitness (non-athletic) and have the advantage during competition of their prescribed drugs.

Individuals that are on beta-blockers may be able to receive a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).  In many cases, beta-blocker use might be reduced or eliminated through healthy choices and exercise.

Dr. Sheps of the Mayo Clinic writes:

If you’re overweight, losing even 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) can lower your blood pressure. As you slim down, it may be possible to reduce your dose of blood pressure medication — or stop taking your blood pressure medication completely. Don’t make changes to your blood pressure medication on your own, however. Do so only after getting your doctor’s OK.

Remember, high blood pressure isn’t a problem you can treat and then ignore. Even if you’re able to stop taking blood pressure medication, it’s still important to maintain healthy habits. Here’s how:

  • Eat a healthy diet — the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an effective eating plan for lowering blood pressure.
  • Get 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your doctor to make sure you’re keeping your blood pressure in check. (1)

Being new to archery I have found it frustrating to train hard and enter an event on an unleveled playing field. Shooters are clean or they or not. If an age grouper is taking a beta-blocker at a minimum they should have a TUE. But, so long as USA Archery allows the unchecked use of beta-blockers by age-groupers during competitions it is not promoting the overall health of the sport.

I doubt that USA Archery is going to put much effort into screening age groupers using banned substances without a TUE.  For age groupers that are fitness focused they need to shoot well to win knowing that similarly trained unfit archers talking prescription drugs have an edge.

From USADA and applies to WADA:(2)

Substances Prohibited in Particular Sports

Some sports have additional rules about the use of beta-blockers. If participating in any of the following sports, please consult the current WADA Prohibited List or Global Drug Reference Online (GlobalDRO.com) before using beta-blockers.

P1. Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers (including, but not limited to atenolol, bisoprolol, carvedilol, esmolol, labetalol, metoprolol, propranolol, sotalol, and timolol) are prohibited for the following sports:

  • Prohibited At All Times (in-competition and out-of-competition): Archery, Shooting
  • Prohibited In-Competition Only: Automobile, Billiards, Darts, Golf, Skiing/Snowboarding in ski jumping, freestyle aerials/halfpipe and
  • snowboard halfpipe/big air, and Underwater Sports as specified.

References:

1.) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure-medication/faq-20058056

2.)

Athlete Guide to the 2018 Prohibited List

Nice shooting Mr. Lain and here’s your lunch…

I’ve been practicing archery with a new crowd. Well, they’re new to me. They all know one another. Each one seems to have a fairly easy time hitting Xs. This group practices at Ace Hardware in Social Circle, Ga. From what can be guessed most are still in high school.

There are a few veterans in the Social Circle mix. These old war horses smack X after X.  On the line you’ll hear them, “$5.00 on the last arrow closest to the X.”  Then, “Okay.” There will be six Xs .  The last arrow closet to the X, meaning dead center, wins $5.00. As yet, I remain apart from contributing $5.00.

I’ve been practicing with them on Tuesday and Thursday nights. It is a downright humbling experience. There’s generally at least one archer that will shoot a perfect score. The others will come close.

For me, a perfect score has yet to happen. There are occasional nice ends. Those are always acknowledged by the youngsters with, “Nice shooting, Mr. Lain.” Then, they skip off, laugh and giggle, and check their smart phones, before lining up to shoot three more Xs and repeat.

Reo Wilde in the Elite T-shirt. Winner of 9 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 bronze at various World Archery Championships. (1)

Then, there are those fellows that show up and shoot perhaps a hundred or more Xs in a row. Being around such good archers does help to raise the game to a higher level.

(1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reo_Wilde

Starting to Settle In

We’re so close to being completely into our new house. There are still several projects on the list.

The land behind the house still isn’t cleared enough to put out a 3D range. We’re waiting on a builder to put up a second shed for the lawn tractor and kayaks. These are the remaining two big projects.

River enjoying a deer antler while I practice. Practicing with a brand new Elite Victory 37.

Then, we still have things, including our RV, at our place in North Carolina. That means a trip to haul those things down to Georgia. In the meantime, I am trying to get in archery practice and maintain decent cardio workouts.

Finally, I do have a nice area to train for 18 meters. I will have a nice 50-meter range near my 3D range when the land clearing is completed. There is also a nice place to run, nice road cycling and really nice off-road biking right from my front door.

Still getting a feel for my new bow.

The road riding is great. Empty roads, little traffic, and rolling hills. There are dogs. Yesterday, one four legged sprinter gave me two informational gathering bites on my left foot. It wasn’t painful nor did the bites break skin. I was more worried about this little dog getting hung up in a wheel and knocking me down and his teeth. This was the first time a dog has ever bitten me.

I really think it was the dog trying to figure out was I was. The bites seemed not very aggressive. Dogs get a lot of information through taste. Stinky human foot took this microcelphalic a couple of tastes to learn I wasn’t a threat. On the return home I made certain I was carrying enough speed so that sprint as he might, the varmint of the Jack Russell variety couldn’t catch up.

All in all we’re starting to settle in at our new home in Good Hope.