Three Days of 3D

The past three days on the Eastern Shore of Maryland were devoted to 3D. Two days of practice and a tournament. The tournament was held on Sunday, in Delaware, a short drive from Easton, MD. Practice was at the Schrader’s 3D range on Saturday and Monday.

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This deer at about 32 yards. Look closely and a stake is about center of this photo at 22 yards. Two distances for variance in skill levels
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Having shot this deer on a number of occasions, I have its number.

Practicing at my home in North Carolina on paper isn’t the same as 3D.  3D target sizes vary and distances aren’t known. Schrader’s Outdoors is a quick drive from my home in Easton, MD and where I go to practice on foam.

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This bear is sitting smack on 30 yards and is a straight shot at the end of an open lane

Saturday’s practice was unusual; there were lots of other archers on the range. Typically, the 3D range is empty. With hunting season opening people had dusted off their bows, brought out their shiny new bows, filled quivers with newly fletched arrows and were out to take aim on foam. It was clear many of these would be bow hunters had not practiced in some time.

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This turkey is fairly easy at 20 yards, a straight shot. Someone left an arrow in the tree behind it.

The range at Schrader’s is certainly large enough for safety, but privacy isn’t guaranteed. Walking past clusters of bowmen it was obvious their dreamed of prey would be safe from these seasonal archers testing their skill.

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A more challenging target from this stand. The deer is at the end of the lane and can just be seen

Two young men I noticed seemed more appropriately dressed for golf or tennis than practice on a muddy, tick and chigger infested 3D range. Those boys were going to be a feast for the little parasites infesting the bushes behind the targets. Both of them seemed to be spending a lot time searching for arrows in the underbrush.

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Chiggers are the larval (juvenile) form of a common mite from the family known as Trombiculidae

Following Sunday’s tournament in Delaware I headed back to Schrader’s. I’d be in North Carolina on Tuesday and as yet have no 3D targets of my own. The closest range is over an hour’s drive away. In Maryland the drive to a 3D range is about 25 minutes.  Also,  Monday meant people would be working and I’d have the range to myself.

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Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, MD

On the range I found broken arrows, arrows dropped on paths then overlooked, and arrows sticking in the trees behind targets. While the target placement at Schrader’s isn’t a pushover, the course has stakes placed so that most people can hit foam. Apparently, many peoples’ ego overrode their skill and they shot further out than their expertise could support.

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Someone’s broken Carbon Express left where there was once an antler

When I was in my late teens I worked at hunting club, “Hall Brothers Hunting Club” near Savannah, GA. Frequently, guests would arrive with expensive equipment and no clue how to hunt or shoot. We ensured they left with a trophy if that was their goal even if someone else took the gun from their hands, shot the animal, handed the gun back and exclaimed to the client, “Nice shot!” Watching people on Saturday reminded me of those days. Seeing the remains of their arrows on Monday confirmed my suspicion.

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This elk sits at stake 29.  The next target is a boar 18 yards from the stake.

3D is very different from shooting at flat paper, clearly defined targets and known distances. I enjoy both types of shooting. Each has its own set of challenges. It was good to get back to Maryland to practice 3D and to compete in Delaware.

Skipping West Virginia and Landing in Delaware

The West Virginia State Championship 3D tournament was held this weekend. It was a qualifier for the IBO World Championship. It would be good to qualify early for 2015 and not worry about qualifying during the spring of 2015. Several of my friends were there to compete.   The drive was going to be a bear. For the past few months I have stayed on the road. The night before I was to head to West Virginia I learned the Mid-Del Archery Club was holding a 3D tournament in Delaware. Rather than get up at 03:30 in the morning, to drive for three hours, my plans changed and I’d head to Delaware.

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Delaware borders Maryland and Mid-Del’s 3D tournament was only a 30-minute drive. Their 3D course isn’t the most difficult I have shot but it is one of the most well maintained. Walking their range you can quickly see the work and pride that goes into maintaining the course.

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Jim

As usual, I arrived alone hoping to find a group to team up with for shooting and scoring. Approaching registration I eyed folks looking for a welcome face or group. Entering the clubhouse reception came from Jim and Clyde, two of the Mid-Del officers. Both were working the registration desk and wouldn’t be competing.

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Clyde

After getting the paperwork complete I headed back to the parking lot wanting to find a group with which to shoot. Bart Shortall, an ex-pro was there but not shooting. Bart has recently become the National Sales Manager for 60X Custom Stings and was out promoting that company. Then I recognized someone I’d seen at many tournaments, Steve Dunaway.

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Bart Shortall, National Sales Manager for 60X Custom Strings

Steve is a “big league” shooter. He often travels with a group of archers shooting in the MBO or open class. I’d last seen Steve at the IBO World Championships a few weeks ago. I asked Steve if I could tag alone so my scores could be officially recorded and he welcomed me to come along.

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Steve on his way to a winning score
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Steve and I shooting pair of Xs
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This wolf was deceiving and left us with a pair of 10s

I’d been wanting to shoot with Steve for some time. We’d had brief conversations at other competitions and he looked like an interesting fellow. In his case, the look didn’t deceive. Steve is a great conversationalist and indeed an interesting guy.

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The shadow and light on this deer made for a difficult X

We worked our way over the course slowed only by the group ahead of us. Steve is a tremendous shot and finished the day with a 306. He’d competed the day before at the West Virginia State’s Saturday schedule where he’d been caught in a downpour of rain. The West Virginia State 3D Championship ran Saturday and Sunday.

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The group ahead, the guy sitting is not smoking. He chewed a plastic straw the entire morning

I finished with a satisfactory score, a personal best. I also ended up not making a long drive to West Virginia. There will be another qualifier in the spring. I’ll make one of those in hopes of scoring another World Championship opportunity. Seeing Jim and Clyde was a pleasure. Before leaving Jim and I shot together for a while on their practice range. Aside from shooting well, it was a memorable morning shooting with Steve and seeing friends from Delaware.

PGF Archery and Bumper

PGF is a small archery shop operated out of the owner’s garage. The owner, Bumper Williams, operates his business on a limited schedule. He works full time as a police investigator so archery is a part-time enterprise.

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His shop, while small, is staffed an expert bow technician, the proprietor, Bumper. As yet, the history of the name Bumper is a mystery to me. However, the solid bulk of the man does lead to speculation.

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Bumper Williams

Bumper turned out to be a diamond in the rough of “experts” that have fiddled with my bows. My Mathews Conquest Apex 7 has not shot right or sounded right for months. When I release an arrow is vibrates and rattles so violently I have stopped shooting it entirely.

Seeking help I went to PGF, an archery shop identified to me by Norman Mitchell of Elizabeth City. PGF is near Hertford, NC. There I explained my problems to Bumper.

After a quick visual assessment, Bumper identified a number of problems. He made two fast adjustments that proved positive during the limited time he had available. Later, I’ll leave the bow with him so that he can make further adjustments.  The Mathews Apex 7 is an expensive bow. It is a same not be able shoot it. Sadly, it has been out of commission for about three months.

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A few of Bumper’s “Robin Hoods” on display

With the Apex 7 out of service I’ve been shooting my Mathews ZXT for many 3D competitions. While this is a great hunting bow, it isn’t Mathews’ top of the line, particularly for 3D competition. Bumper, looking at that bow noticed, and pointed out, technical problems, which are repairable.

Accuracy with a bow demands refinement of minor details. My current level of technical expertise is that of a novice. My focus has been on form and practice trusting the technical experts to listen to me and make the perfect adjustments. After sessions with these experts my ‘gut’ told me they were intermediate level technicians at best. I should always listen to my ‘gut’. My ‘gut’ tells me Bumper knows his business.

It was a very nice surprise to find such reliability in a bow shop, PGF. Bumper truly knows his business and I am confident with his workmanship.

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Country Life on Little River

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Sunrise on Little River

Living in the country we don’t have shopping malls, boutique stores, or traffic. The nearest grocery store is a 40-minute drive on back roads. Gas is nearly an hour away. Many people here grow their own produce and hunt for meat, which they process to eat or freeze for future consumption. In fact, my neighbor’s deer stand is about 150 yards from my front door. Life in the country is not like living in a city.

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View of Little River
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Migrants the water

At night we have no artificial noise or light to impose on the natural environment. During the day I can practice archery in my yard, ride a bike practically car free, run unencumbered, swim in the river, hunt, fish and crab from my property.

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Hunting on the water
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A meal for somebody

Neighbors with farms or gardens share produce.  They also share fish, crab and meat.  Of course many of these folks sale their produce and many have roadside produce stands.  We frequently buy from them.  Still others will share their harvest rather than seeing it go to waste. It is hard to beat the taste of a freshly grown tomato sliced and placed on soft bread covered with Duke’s Mayonnaise.

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River pauses on a run to take a sniff

Morning on Little River nearly always begins with a run.  River, a labrador retriever, is my dedicated running partner. She can run then stop to sniff and investigate leash free. After running I typical spend an hour or more shooting at targets placed around my yard. I can shoot flat, off my porch, or from the upstairs deck.

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Frequently, after shooting, I head out on my Carolina Skiff or go kayaking, swimming or paddle boarding.

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Locals enjoying the water

The water is less than 20 yards from my back deck. Here in the South we’re on the water year round.

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Kayaking near my home

Following lunch is the perfect time for a bike ride. I’ve got riding courses planned up to 100 miles and minimal if any traffic with which to deal.

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Passing over a small swampy creek

 

These courses pass over creeks, rivers, through swamps, and small almost forgotten towns. 

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Another local in the water

As the day approaches dusk it is time to practice with the bow, again.  The lighting is different.  Dusk is a good time to hunt and practice at this time of day may pay dividends in the future.

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Stand within 150 yards of my front door

Living in the country there are worries beyond someone stealing the family car from a mall parking lot, the nuisance of loud obnoxious ‘music’, rush hour traffic, and other less pleasing attributes of city life.  

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Coyote shot by Jimmy C in the woods behind our house

In this very rural area we worry that wolves or coyote will eat a pet and take precautions to prevent that from happening. We worry about bears in the yard and deer on the deck eating our plants.

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Photo by Jimmy C, my neighbor.

We’re always on the look out for snakes and rabid raccoons.

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Sitting in a tree on my property

But, at night, we can sit outside, see the stars, hear owls, and listen to water lapping the shore of the river. Life seems better in the country.

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Night on Little River

Archery and Fitness, Part 2

Shooting around the country, I have noticed a number of heavy archers. Being overweight is not isolated to archery.

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Too often we over eat and gain excess calories. These calories add up, putting us at high risk for declining fitness. Improper diet and a lack of exercise lead to becoming overweight and perhaps finding archery more and more difficult to perform. Long term this often results in individuals needing medical attention. Weight control and exercise are excellent low cost methods of preventative medicine. They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and a variety of sleep disorders.

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A good diet is easier than it seems. Count your caloric intake, and measure it against your daily caloric burn. It only takes a deficit of 3,500 calories per week to lose one pound per week. Removing chips, candy, ice cream, and fast food from your diet and adding exercise is a better healthy life style. Of course, you will find excuses to skip exercise and grab a burger at the drive-thru window. Of that, we are all guilty. But, remember, everything comes with a price.

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Trail running is a blast

Someone recently said to me, “I am here for a good time, not a long time.” He is getting his wish. He is 48-years-old, has had both hips replaced, smokes, drinks excessively, is obese, has obstructive sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and the list goes on. I expect he will get his wish – he will mostly likely be here a short time. He has been a hospital patient more times than I can recall. Where is the fun in that?

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Adding a general fitness program to your archery training can improve your overall health

Eagleman Bike

Making time to exercise should be paramount on your list of daily living activities. I travel a lot to compete in archery, which means I must plan my fitness training in advance. There is a YMCA at nearly all my destinations. I use the YMCA to swim. Running is easier; it is always available and cheap. Cycling is more demanding. If I’m traveling by car, I often bring a bike. Beforehand, I search Map My Ride for courses other cyclists have downloaded. Or I call the local bike shop to see if they have a scheduled ride from their shop while I am in town.

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Over the years, I have created a network of friends across the globe with whom I train. This is true for endurance sports as well as archery.

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Someone yelled, “Get Him!” and they were all looking at me.

Talk among the friends you shoot with, start your own fitness group. You will have support and it will promote espirit de corps. Make a plan to become better fit for hunting, 3D tournaments, and the rigors of long indoor competition. Take time for your health; you desire it.

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You may enjoy running in a group, especially if that group’s members are your fellow archers

August reveals continued growth

Retirement doesn’t mean spending days sitting in a recliner watching television. For me it meant freedom to pursue another career, one in sports. The disciple I selected for that adventure is archery.

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My progress is chronicled on this website, Puttingitotheline.com. Aside from blog information, on the site are collections of archery research and short biographies of interesting characters in archery.

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A number of interesting characters in archery

In the six months since the site’s inception there have been 29,238 visits, 53,157 pages read, and 484,332 hits. Thanks to everyone who reads my writing. I appreciate your support and understanding of my mixed grammar, poor punctuation, typographical errors and oversights.

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Stats from GoDaddy.

A day of rest

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Morning on Little River

Training in any sport requires rest days. Rest days are restorative physically and mentally. Resting sometimes means doing nothing very physical. Other times, ‘rest’ is sort of active recovery and enjoying another form of exercise, also a nice break.

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Our paddle boards and one of our 7 kayaks
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Paddling out to the sound

Yesterday was a break from archery, cycling and running. That meant it was a day to enjoy the water. The morning started with a long trip in the Carolina Skiff then a long paddle in a kayak.

Heading east toward the Albemarle Sound on Little River entailed paddling into a headwind. At the beginning of the trip the wind blew at 7 – 10 mph then picked up a near the sound. The wind was appreciated since the temperature was 96° F (35.5° C).

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Being watched by a water turkey

It takes over an hour of non-stop paddling to reach the sound from our home on Little River. The views along the way and the changes on the river are spectacular. Little River isn’t infested with powerboats and jet skis and a trip anywhere on it can be relaxing and quiet.

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Taking a break on Little River

It is not always relaxing and quiet. Although the wind never picked up to greater that 15 mph, the river and sound are shallow. As such, it doesn’t take much to create swells. Yesterday, at the mouth of the sound the swells were only 1 to 1.5 feet. They, however, were choppy and waves frequently sprayed over the kayak. Not exactly white water, but big water and it is important to pay attention while handling the boat.

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About 2 miles from home

On the return a couple guys were out fishing in the heat that didn’t seem to bother them.  Once home River (my dog) ran up, checked out the boat and surveyed the water. It brought to mind how nice it is to have “a good dog, a good boat, and a good hat.” (Credit to the East Point Oyster Boys)

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Nice day to fish, even if they weren’t biting

Finally getting to shoot with Carl

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Carl shooting from his driveway

Carl is a part-time neighbor here in Hertford, NC. He was down for the Labor Day Weekend. Carl hunts anything in season and uses everything outside of his bare hands to bring home game. We’ve often talked about bow hunting and this trip he brought his bow and several targets. Naturally, we shot our bows.

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Carl’s targets

My yard has three targets, two blocks and a bag. The distances have been marked by tape measure at 20 – 60 yards in 5-yard increments. On his property, Carl set up a block, a bag and a foam deer with distances measured by range finder from 20 – 35 yards. All morning he’d been working on his lawn and was ready for a break.

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We started with my targets then moved to his yard. His faux deer was purchased last year and was well past its prime. Shooting we each used 5 arrows per end. Once we reached the deer we took turns shooting it.   Once, Carl called a neck shot. His arrow hit squarely in the neck popping the fake head off and onto the ground.

After an hour of shooting we broke for lunch. I’d started the day with a run and was hungry. After lunch I trained on my Cannondale Slice, my racing bike. Then, it was back to the range.

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Paused on my ride to check out the river

The afternoon wind, always blowing off the water is heaviest in the afternoon and presented a new challenge. On the bike, the headwind was relentless. Shooting, the wind remained a consistent baffling foe. Still working out pin setting adjustments needed since I’d gotten a new string I worked my way to a limited degree of confidence with the setting. They’ll change tomorrow (of course).

It was great to shoot with Carl. We’ll practice some more before he heads back to his home in Virginia. Maybe we’ll get a chance to hunt together this year.

 

 

Shooting with Chief Mitchell

Norman Mitchell is a retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer. Originally from Tennessee, he lives in Elizabeth City, NC. He first encountered Elizabeth City during his naval career and since retirement has made it his home.

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The retired Chief is an active hunter, fisherman, competitive pistol shooter, skeet shooter, archer and golfer. We met through archery. Norman invited me to his group’s, a ministry, indoor/outdoor archery range. Even though the club has an affiliation with the church, the range and conversation were free of testimonials, prayers, and other displays of verbal piety. The overt philosophy was that actions speak louder than words and Norman made me feel welcome – that was enough.

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Chief Petty Officer Mitchell, US Navy, (retired)

His group provides a practice area and holds 3D competitions. The target we set up was at 35 yards.  We shot from inside a large warehouse onto an open area outside.  This played havoc on my pins.  I don’t have artificial illumination on my sight and the dark to bright ambient light turned my pins into silhouettes.

Practicing together for nearly two hours, it became time for me to find lunch. Norman stayed mentioning that other archers would be coming to shoot on their lunch breaks. I headed home to eat and train on my bike.IMG_1899

It remains my general experience that athletes are welcoming and generous. Norman was no exception. Shooting at his range was a challenge and another great experience.

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Weather was nice at my house, 20 miles away was another matter

New String, new loop, and new peep.

The strings I use have been X-Fire. These strings are a combination of art and function. As things go, X-Fire Strings are now gone on to bigger and better business affiliations. I am happy for Bart, owner of X-Fire, but was in a jam for a string. Thankfully, good friends helped me out with a new custom string even giving me the University of Georgia colors in a matter of days.

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Mathews ZXT with new string, peep and loop
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UGA Red and Black

A new string, new loop and new peep meant some adjustments to the pins on my hunting bow, a Mathews ZXT. Adjusting pins can be a laborious process. The short distances weren’t too difficult but beyond 35 yards requires more tinkering than this day afforded me.

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Shooting for the center white gap between the two red lines there across the middle at 20 yards.

Still, it was important enough, even with pins a bit off, to practice 3D. Long shots, 40 plus yards,  were too frustrating and after awhile I only shot at 35 yards or less. Getting slight differences, a tad longer loop for example (maybe a few millimeters) to anchor just right is an aggravation when rushed.

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The turkey and elk all X’s at 20 and 35 yards.  Beyond 35 yards not as rewarding. Granted, the elk Xs are on the line.

After shooting awhile at foam I went back to flat targets. Short distances are right on, longer dropping a bit. Tomorrow, I’ll get back to NC where my yard has the range and there I won’t be as rushed to finish the job of re-setting my pins. I am glad to have been able to get a new string so fast, even happier with the UGA colors. Wishing the best of luck to Bart Shortall, owner of X-Fire Strings in his new business adventure.

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