Nice Thing to Say

If folks have said nice things about me, well I don’t really recall any.  I mean, who says nice things to someone’s face other than a loved one. Honestly, when I have received a compliment in public what I recall is that it made me feel awkward.

There was a time in my career where I was often called upon to give talks.  During those times someone would introduce me and say lots of flowery things about my accomplishments and education.  I didn’t like those, either.  In fact, it got pretty old and I eventually gave whoever was introducing me a written introduction to read.  It was prepared, short, and not so ingratiating.

Last week, during an archery tournament, I was shooting with three kids.  There were enough older archers competing that I’d been bumped down the line and was on a target with kids younger than my children.  Two of them were in college and one was still in high school.

Archery is a big equalizer among sport disciplines.  Age isn’t a major factor when it comes to skill.  I mean, if I’d been competing against similarly skilled athletes in, say running a mile, a high school aged track star and two college track runners they would smoke me.  But, in archery it is another matter.

At that tournament, at 3-spot, a professional shot 118 Xs out of 120 arrows. His was the top score. (He’s younger, at 41, than my oldest daughter.) The next best score came from a 15 year-old clearing 116 Xs.  Back to my target.

Of the four of us, the high school student was shooting the best.  I’d changed bows the day before and had finally gotten it sighted and was shooting Xs.  On one end I shot two Xs and a nine.  The next end was three Xs.  Then, I repeated the sequence.

That’s when the high school student said to the college students, “That’s how an old pro does it!” He wasn’t saying it to me directly, he was providing evidence to the other two students.  It cracked me up. (I laughed on the inside rather that risk embarrassing anyone and said nothing.)

I don’t know if the speaker had intended me to overhear.  It wasn’t spoken loudly; more told in a tilted head conspirator softness. But, I heard it.  The speaker may have figured because I’m old my hearing isn’t so good.

At first, the word that grabbed me was “old.”  But, compared to them, I’m old.  Generally, it was a compliment.  And as I said, it cracked me up.

Georgia State Indoor Championship

It started badly.  The first arrow – 7.

In all honestly, I can’t recall the last time I shot a seven.  That is, if I don’t think about last Sunday at the Georgia Southern University Sport Shooting Center. And there it was as big as life, arrow 1, end 1, points 7. (The next two arrows were fine)

Shooting one bad arrow doesn’t necessary mean you can’t manage a good finish in an archery tournament. Nope, now that I’ve written that sentence, no –if you shoot one bad arrow you’ll pretty much be done, at least against the boys I compete against.

If you shoot a bad shot, your only reprieve is hoping: 1) you don’t do it again, and 2) everyone else in our division returns the favor.  You really only have control over item number 1.

There are quite a few fellas here in Georgia I know will be stubborn with their points. We all get 600 point to start; it becomes a matter of how many you can keep.

Sure enough, neither did much to return my favor. On the line that morning there was one guy that I knew would be tough – Bob.

Sure enough, Bob was tough. He tried to help me a couple of times and we finished tied.  He beat me on the X count.  As we were turning our scores in he asked about the other shooters in our division. (Bob was looking at a Gold medal)

There was still a whole bunch more shooting before any victory could be claimed.  I answered Bob’s inquiry about the other archers, “There’s David from over in Atlanta,” I told him, “He could easily outscore us.”

I’ve been watching David at other tournament.  He’s hard to miss; he’s about six feet and seven inches tall.  The rumor is he was a competitive archer for 27 years, took a little time off, and started back training last year.  Or he was a competitive archer 27 years ago and has picked up the sport again.  Either way he can shoot a bow. Sure enough, he shot on the last line of the day and took the Gold.

I know David and Bob are great archers.  I’ve seen them shoot, looked at their past scores and realize that giving them any points isn’t smart.  Despite every other arrow I shot being either a nine or a ten, I ended up third.

Congratulations to David and Bob.

When Competition Becomes a Learning Exercise

It was a local fundraiser.  The drive to the indoor 3-spot tournament was less than 30 minutes from our home in Good Hope, Georgia.  It was held in one of my favorite towns, Madison, Georgia. The ‘turn out’ was excellent and the range was filled with archers.  My bow seemed to be back in order after a new string, re-tuning and checked for every possible malady. My last practice had been a good one.  It seemed the planets were aligned for a good score.

One of the many restored antebellum homes
Morgan County Court House in Madison, GA

Madison, Georgia is a beautiful historic Southern town.  It is one of the major historic attractions in the Peach State with around 100 antebellum homes that have been restored.  When we moved back to Georgia it is one of the towns we searched for a home.  In fact we found one, however it was in the city limits and there is a law against shooting a bow within city limits.  Had that not been the case, we’d have likely ended up living in a restored home.  We didn’t and archers will understand the decision not to settle there. Madison is close enough to where we ended up building that we can visit on the spur of the moment.

Downtown

The tournament was held in the new Morgan County High School gymnasium. Arriving an hour early I was lucky to have gotten a parking place that wasn’t a half of a mile away. At first I thought I’d gotten my information wrong – there seemed to be too many cars. But, no the morning line was packed full, as were the bleachers.

Ready for Christmas

The Morgan County high school gym in no way compared to my high school’s gym.  This modern gym was more like what I’d experienced in college.  Not all the bleachers were open. The upper bleachers behind the line were packed with friends and family that had come to watch the tournament.

Obviously, the bleachers down range are empty

The target of the day was a 3-spot.  I’ve been practicing against a 3-spot for over a month.  While my scores have been mimicking the Stock Market, my more recent practices had diverged and begun to rise. I knew I’d be shooting against some good archers in the 21-49 year old age group.  I felt ready, and I was for a while.

My first twelve arrows had all been smack in the center.  Number 13 followed suit, as did arrow 14.  At full draw on the third arrow of the end, with 40 seconds on the clock the whistle sounded. Three blows of the whistle.  It wasn’t time to pull arrows.  Did something happen and the next two blasts got halted due to some injury?  No one knew.  We all stopped shooting.

Looking down the line at the judge he made no comment of gesture.  Everyone waited.  Then, we waited some more.  The clock was down to 26 seconds, 25, 24, 23 – people began shooting.

Not me. I was worried.  Whatever had happened something was wrong or had gone wrong. Ten seconds.  I looked toward a friend on the line and he  shrugged and said, “Just shoot.” Eight seconds.  I shot with 1 second remaining.  Eight.

I knew I was now out of it.  An eight against these archers meant I was now on the range for practice.  For a flash I considered packing my gear and heading home I was so disappointed.  I didn’t, I stayed and worked though the 8.

I don’t know if the whistle hadn’t have incorrectly sounded whether or not the day would have gone better.  I expect it would have been better.  What it did do was provide a teaching moment, albeit a rare one.  Still, having a major distraction and getting through it was good practice.

Coaching tip

In any competition things outside of your control can happen. An athlete needs to be prepared to deal with the distraction, block it and move forward. I doubt I’ll have this sort of mistake happen a second time.  If it does, I’ll be better prepared.

Well, it is the bow.

There seemed to be something off during my last competition. In fact, my arrow placement has been dropping. It was so bad during last week’s tournament I shot two eights at 18 meters.The last tournament was scored with the inner ten equaling 11 points. Despite a recent slump I was optimistic.  Before long it was apparent something was clearly amuck.

Things started pretty good but didn’t last. Before I’d shot nine arrows I knew the monkey was on my back. My arrows were flying all over the place. My first thought was that I’d hit rock bottom. My second thought was that something was wrong with my equipment.

The equipment should be fine. It had been checked out in the previous week. Still, when I got home I took my stabilizers and scope off my Elite Victory X and put them on my Elite Energy 35. Low and behold – the arrows were landing more or less where I wanted them to land.

The arrows are Easton 2018s. The Victory X is a 60lb bow set up for around 54 lbs. The Elite Energy is a 50 lbs. bow giving me 52 lbs. I’d shot 2014s with the bows in the past and moved over to a stiffer arrow few weeks ago. With the Victory things had been looking good. Then, things didn’t look so good.

At last year’s Georgia 50 meter State Championship, I was training with the Victory. Prior to the Championship I went back to the Energy and won the event setting a new State record. I did the same for the next outdoor tournament and again set a new record* using the Energy. When shooting the Victory the arrows just seem to shift. I’d have to adjust windage when there was no wind.

Following that I took the Victory to the local bow shop where I’d purchased the bow explaining that something seemed off with the bow. I also contacted Elite looking for help. Elite didn’t respond.

Indeed, the limbs had somehow loosened and one was no longer matching the other. Corrections were taken and the bow performed well. Well, for a short while.

This latest problem was soon chased back to the bow. The Victory, set at 54 lbs. was tested and found to have a draw weight of 46 lbs. Forty-six pounds from a bow that has a maximum draw weight of 60 is seriously out of whack. At the Indoor Nationals last year (the tournament for which I’d bought the bow) during bow check in I discovered the bow had dropped the poundage. I’d assumed it was a variance between measuring devices.

The Victory X is a nice bow. Mine is nine months and 5 days old. I shoot about 100 arrows a day on average. My Victory X seems to have some issue with staying tight.

The recent discovered change in draw weight isn’t the first time – it is now the third. The first, I blamed it on variance of measuring devices. The second time, well no fault was assigned. This third time, well it is the bow. The third time is also the charm.

Today, while practicing, I had to pause and tighten the locking screws that are on the sides of the limb pockets. At this point I have no idea why this bow gets loose. But, I do hope it can hold together long enough to compete this weekend.

*Unofficial record. No higher score can be found online and I have contacted the State officials to verify – they’ve not yet responded.

 

Something has clearly gone afoul

Heading out early on Saturday morning I was on the way to practice at Ace Hardware’s Indoor Archery range in Social Circle, GA. The weather has been sort of tough for practicing outside. So, I’d purchased a month’s supply of practice time on the range. The temperature wasn’t bad on this morning; it was the downpour of rain that herded me inside. (The forecast was for 3-5 inches over the next several hours)

Arriving at the range I was surprised to discover the parking lot nearly full. It isn’t too much of a surprise; Ace’s archery pro-shop is often really busy, especially on the weekend.

Collecting my gear, heading into the building, it was pretty much packed with people. Seriously, there was minimal space to simply walk. A voice called out in my direction, “What are you doing here?” asked a friend. “I came to practice,” was my reply.

It turned out there was a tournament underway. Warm-up was just started and I figured I’d sign up if there was room. Seemed like a great form of practice and I got the last unassigned lane.

I got assigned a great spot to shoot from, 8D. There was a lefty in 7D – ideal. As an aside that lefty is ranked number one in the world. He’d just returned from competing in Argentina. I was pleased to be able to compare my shooting to his.

Ace is a great place to shoot and just down the road.

Well, I was pleased for the comparison at the beginning. What started off to be a decent performance soon dropped into the depth of near embarrassment. To be fair, I wasn’t bouncing arrows off the floor or sticking them into the ceiling. But, I did fire off two eights and a boatload of nines. There was a fair share of X’s and 10s at the beginning, but those shots migrated to the lower scoring rings after short time.

After a few days of trying to figure out what went wrong, I remain at a loss. The day after the failure to win, I took a critical look at form and equipment. I did discover the lens of my scope had rattled loose and my rear stabilizer had shifted a tad. Neither of those minor conditions should have led to an eight, much less two eights. What I do know is that my average scores have dropped from around 290 (small ten ring, 30 arrows) to around 280 over the past 10 days. Ten days ago I’d moved my 30-arrow goal to 295, now I’m messing around with 280s. What is just as concerning is that over the last 1000 arrows I’ve shot three eights. Something has clearly gone afoul.

The day after the poorly executed tournament I took a critical look at my equipment. It seemed okay, but I’m not 100% certain there isn’t an issue with the limbs of my target bow. That concern will need to be addressed by a professional bow technician.

At any rate, there is one more practice league competition, and one more major practice session before heading out to Statesboro, Georgia for the State 25-meter championship at Georgia Southern University. There are also two easy practices and on rest day scheduled for the week. After that, I’ll have to be as ready as I’ll be for Saturday’s big event.

Well, that was fun!

It was a pretty exciting day. It was cold and it started with stretching an indoor activity. It wasn’t long before River, my lab, and I hit the trails to run. By then, it had warmed to a toasty 28°F.

There are some big mushrooms in these woods. (My shoe is a size 10 for reference)

For sure, I’ve run when it has been colder. When I lived in Cleveland during the winter temperature around 0°F wasn’t uncommon. Still, I got up and ran.

Lake Erie in the winter

Running here, back home in Georgia, temperatures are as rough in the winter. Heading out on single track or animal trails through the woods is plain fun.

But, archery outside in 28°F isn’t a lot of fun. You just don’t work up enough internal combustion to stay warm. Wearing everything you own to stay warm while practicing is too cumbersome for me. The other night, after league shooting, a fellow and I were heading to our vehicles. It was around 8:20 PM and already getting cold. He bragged about the temperature not being cold to he – being from Boston and all.

For seven years I had an office in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I worked for extended periods of the winters in Sweden. In all of those places, I ran in the morning before work. I understand cold. Spend a winter or two in Uppsala, Sweden and Boston winters seems cute.

Uppsala, Sweden

After running it was off to Ace Hardware is Social Circle, Georgia to use their indoor range. Yep, Ace has an archery pro shop and very nice indoor range. They are also the major sponsor for an archery club, where I am a member, in this area.

Mornings at the hardware store archery range often mean the early risers can have their choice of lane to use. I try to get to the shop as soon as possible. I’m never entirely alone, other shooters come in, fling some arrows, and leave. As a rule, I do have a solid place to practice away from the cold.

Perfect for winter practice

On this morning I used a new target after the first 50 or so arrows. I moved it higher on their archery butt to take some time shooting the top target with a bit more elevation. On my second end on this new target I screwed up.

My shoulders were all wrong, my anchor felt off, my peep had rotated, so I needed to let down and start over. As I was becoming aware to let down I blinked. It seemed that something hit me in the eye. Naturally, with my eyes closed and my braining thinking, “Ouch” the arrow launched away.

All I could do was wait to here the arrow crash into the wall above the target. But, that’s not the sound I heard. I was lucky I heard the arrow hit the archer butt.

Looking for a five at best I didn’t immediately notice the arrow. Looking off the target entirely I still couldn’t find the arrow. Then, no, that is too lucky – the arrow hit the X. Not only hitting the X but it couldn’t have landed more perfectly. It was probably a one in a million shot.

The top arrow, eyes closed, the arrow got away, but seems like a well trained arrow

The weather “person” promised rising afternoon temperatures. So, after the morning at 18-meters I hoped to practice at 25-meters in the forecasted warmth. Sure enough, after a short cold afternoon bike ride, the temperature peaked into the 40s. On top of that, my new target arrived.

The sad, old, poorly repaired, block targets on my range could no longer do their jobs. Sure arrows slowed down, but there was no stopping them. I’d resorted to shooting a bag, which isn’t a great butt for a 3-spot. On the bag I use a vertical 3-spot is too long and the Vegas style target has only on sort of flat target. It was time for a new butt.

Target are expensive. It is one of the items on which I hate spending money. I know that before long the purchase by using it will end up wasted. You can shoot a bow over and over, you can use arrows over and over, but anything you shoot an arrow into eventually is gone.

What I’d been looking at for a replacement cost over $300. The same item was available on Amazon for $260. Amazon also had another brand that was a little smaller, a few inches, but a third the price. I figured for around $100 I’d take a chance.

In this case, that chance paid off. The target is very high quality as good as or better than the more expense products. The bonus is that it arrived about 30 minutes before I was planning to practice 25-meters.

Found on Amazon for around $100. It is heavy, 70 pounds.

During 25-meter practice daylight began to fade. The range is on a cleared area in the woods behind our house. In those woods, off not too far, I could hear coyotes howling. Usually, I’ll carry at least a pistol with me on the range; particularly in the summer as defense against rattlesnakes and copperhead. During winter months I don’t always bring a pistol. Those coyotes were too close for comfort even though I had a bow.

The coyotes marked the end of a fun day. There was running and riding and shooting. Granted, it was all part of training to do well in archery, which is sort of like a fun job.

A Little Outdoor Adventure

The trails on my property at 0545

This morning, like the others lately, it was dark when I ran. Running trails in the dark is fun. Afterwards, I was at Ace Hardware in Social Circle, Georgia shooting at 18 meters. Again, a lot of fun.

Ace in Social Circle, Georgia

Here’s the thing, aside from archery, there are other ways to get outside. Actually, this morning I was inside while shooting. But, mountain bike riding is pretty much an outdoor activity and I chose to hunt for riding trails near my house during my midday workout.

2.68 miles from my driveway

So far I have only found a few. I can take my mountain bike over to Hard Labor State Park and ride; they have plenty of trails. That means time wasted making a drive. If I can find trails out here near my home, that is better and a time saver.

Most of these trails are short or blocked

Right now, I can pretty easily get an hour of mountain bike riding if I include a gravel road less than a mile from my driveway. That’s not too shabby. From that gravel road I can cut off onto several trails in the woods.

Several old buildings and what might have once been a church are falling down in the woods near my home. I wish I knew the history of them.

That’s what I did for an hour before heading home.  The trails are okay, they seem to have be made by ATVs. I’d have taken more time looking through the woods on those trails by there’s an afternoon archery practice waiting at home.

So, now that I’m off the bike, had a snack, I’ll head back into the woods and practice 3D.

Some Days I Get the Range Pretty Much to Myself

Typically, I practice archery at home. I’ve got a really nice range. The archery butts are a mess. But, a short walk versus and 30 minute drive to shoot at an indoor 18-meter range is a real pleasure.

When it is raining I’ll still shoot at home unless it is just too much. With Hurricane Michael bringing wind and rain I decided to make the drive to stay dry.

The range,at Social Circle Ace Hardware, is nice, has good lighting, the butts are in pretty good shape and arrows are easy to pull. There’s always a bit of friendly conversation from the pro-staff. It is a bit of a drive but the atmosphere makes up for the hour round trip loss of time.

All arrows shot from the same position.

It is usual to find a few other shooters at the range. The past two days, I’ve pretty much had the place to myself. Other archers came in, shot a few arrows and left. I don’t think anyone came in and practiced more than 15 minutes. They seemed to be simply checking out their equipment for hunting.

No matter, I was there for a good long time and got my money’s worth. Oh, that’s the other thing; at home I don’t have to pay an extra fee to practice. (It isn’t too pricey)

Four Years Ago in Virginia

Facebook occasionally pops up an old photograph on a user’s timeline that Facebook thinks has some historical importance to the user. As a user you are able to re-post the image. Like all Facebook users I get them. I’ve never re-posted one.

One such image that did pop up on the 8th of this month, February,  got me thinking. It was a photograph I’d take at my first archery tournament. It was the Virginia State Indoor Championship. The photograph was four years old.

I’d only been shooting a bow for 12 weeks. I’d hired a coach and he suggested I attend the tournament and compete. To encourage me he said, “I think you could be competitive.” The stroke to my ego was all it took – I entered the tournament. My equipment was a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 set up with a Trophy Ridge 5 Pin sight and a short stabilizer. I seriously had no idea what I was doing.

The ‘historical’ picture did get me wondering what my score was on that day four years ago. Checking my data I read the score – it was bad. But, from that event I did learn a number of things: 1) bows can have scopes, 2) bows can come with long stabilizers, 3) judges blow whistles that announce things archers should do, and 4) archers stand really close to one another while shooting on a line.

From that experience my bow has evolved and now has a scope on the sight, long stabilizers and lots of weights. I now know what the whistles mean. I rarely poke other archers on the line with my arrows or bang them with my bow. Yes that does occasionally happen, that is my gear might touch another shooter. But, that is only while everyone is jostling around before folks have found their space within their box.

A couple of other things have changed during this 48-month period. The inner 10 ring is now “the” ten ring for USA Archery and there is now non-stop music playing during indoor tournaments. Neither came to me with any welcome. Over time, both became fine with me. The music is mostly enjoyable, so long as I don’t have to hear a Taylor Swift song. And the small ten ring seems to be getting bigger all the time.

That tall fellow is some ‘Big-Time’ archer. I have no idea who he is but some of the folks there seemed to be impressed so I took this picture.

Although the Facebook pop-up image will appear here, I’ll not be posting it as a separate piece of history on Facebook. On Facebook, you’ll only see my logo when I share this post.

Second Place at the Georgia Indoor Championship

I knew the move to Georgia would have an impact on my shooting. I was right. My shooting has been off.

At the Georgia State Indoor Championship this past week I took second place. The second place isn’t the issue – my score is the problem. It doesn’t take long going without practice to drop an average score by a lot of points. I’ll blame, the packing, moving, closing on the new house, unpacking and putting things where they belong, and inability to practice for the drop in accuracy.

It has been said in sports one of the greatest abilities is availability. That is too true.

A packed arena at both shoot times: 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.

Getting back into a routine will bring my shooting to moving in the right direction. For the moment, the scores are reflective of the stock market.

A real positive is that the tournament was amazingly well run.  In and out in under four hours. Excellent. Home in plenty of time to watch the Super Bowl.