The Georgia State / USA Archery Indoor 18-meter Championship where I competed, at Georgia Southern University, wasn’t too bad. I didn’t win. I ended in 3rd Place among the Senior Men’s category shooting an Olympic Recurve.
For those that don’t follow archery, men’s senior is 21 – 49 years of age. If I’d entered using my age group allowance I’d been in the Master’s 60+ class. I’ve competed in both age groups shooting compound bow.
At Georgia Southern everyone inside the Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center is required to wear a mask, a precaution against spreading the Covid-19 virus. Since I am approaching 66 years old, a high risk group, shooting where masks are being worn seemed a better choice that the other location in Georgia where the competition was being held.
Some archers feel that a mask interferes with that shooting. I don’t think wearing a mask is much of a problem. Catching Covid-19 has a greater risk of being a problem and dropping a few points in archery because the mask got hung up in a bowstring.
Taking a 3rd place during a pandemic is just fine by me. I am happy to be able to fine a safe environment where I can go play.
Weeks ago my arrows began landing all over the target. During the State 18-meter indoor championship I shot my lowest score ‘ever’ when scoring the inner 10 ring. In the USA Archery Indoor National Championship I earned my lowest score ever at that level of competition.
It all began at the State 25-meter championship. Throughout the tournament my groups expanded. From there it has been all downhill. Sort of reminds me of the recent drop in a coronavirus stock market retreat. Like the money that is sliding away from my retirement reserves – easy come easy go.
Unlike financial matters where all my eggs aren’t in one basket, in an archery tournament there aren’t any cushions. With a missed shot in archery there’s no coming back – those points are gone forever.
In an archery tournament, for example a 3-spot with a maximum score of 600 for a day, everyone starts out with 600 points. Each miss and points are lost. If an investor has 600 bucks in the stock market and it drops 3% that 600 bucks becomes 582 bucks. That investor might be able to wait a while and that 3% drop could become a 5% gain or up to 611 bucks. No such luck in archery.
Or you could consider everyone begins an archery tournament with zero points (which is how it is done) and the better capitalists on the line end up with more points. Those points are earned with a cool head and wise shot placement investments. In any of the scenarios my maximal yields have been hurting.
On the second day of the USA Indoor Nationals my score plummeted into the abyss and a crappy performance reigned supreme. Then, I felt a little something and thought “Oh?” It wasn’t quite clear what I felt hence the “Oh?’. Not pain, good Lord at 65 I don’t want an old geezer orthopedic collapse. The “Oh” was a general familiarization of malformed form. I couldn’t see it or identify the problem. But it was there.
I’d like to report that there was divine intervention and from the ‘Oh’ moment forward I landed all tens. Alas, that is a report I can’t honestly deliver.
The other day at practice “Big John” one of the coaches at Ace declared as I dropped another shot that it was, “A lazy old man shot.” Then Steve, another coach at ACE, a day or so later, pointed out the same error. Being a slow learner it has taken weeks to discover what that ‘Oh’ meant. Big John and Steve both recognized the error immediately. Now I know. I knew before. I did it anyway. Heck, if I’d been coaching me and not being me shooting I’d have seen it as well. What was happening in my head was not translating to my body.
I didn’t make the error as often while practicing today at Ace in Social Circle. Today the arrows landed mostly in the center of the target. I made a effort to listen and do what both coaches had offered. The practice ended up producing my 4th highest X count on a 5-spot. It felt good. Now, I just need to remember to do what the coaches have coached. Much easier said than done.
In Suwanee, Georgia the range for the 2020 USA Archery National Championship was packed. Every line was filled. There were so many archers an additional Friday line was added to help accommodate the athletes.
I’d signed up early to help ascertain I ended up with 1:00 PM times over Saturday and Sunday. Suwanee isn’t too far from Good Hope. Suwanee is on the cusps of Atlanta which means travel to the event can be tricky. One mishap by a driver hoping to get into ATL can screw up precision travel times. I got the 1:00 PM times. Picking 1:00 PM gives me a travel buffer.
The traffic was innocent over both days. Oh, there was a lot of it despite being the weekend but everyone was on good behavior.
During the Saturday shoot I was on the same bale as three women from a college team. Their manners were excellent. These women, however, were not about to slip off a very competition edge and there was minimal talking. Being stuck on an archery range in silence for four hours is punishment as far as I’m concerned. Fortunately, friends were in abundance on adjacent bales so company wasn’t lacking.
The Sunday bale was a whole lot chattier. One of the archers was a woman from the same college. In this case we knew one another and she’s fast to smile and laugh. Prior to the start we discussed when either of us hits three 10s on the same end the archer achieving the 30 points would do a celebratory dance similar to those performed by NFL players following a touch down. She struck first. Before she danced, and yes she danced, she wanted me to loudly call her score.
I complied yelling out her 10 – 10 – 10 score. She did a jig. We thought it was fun as did most of the folks nearby. A few seemed dissatisfied with the performance. When she hit 10 – 10 – 10 again I yelled again and she danced again. This happened a lot. (She only dropped about 9 point) Day two went by faster than day one.
The Sunday bale also had representation from Georgia Tech making me the only non-colligate archer on my bales over the weekend. When Tech showed up I was holding the clip to manually total the scores. I looked at the Tech logo and handed over the clip board saying, “You’re an engineering student, you can do the math.” He seemed puzzled asking, “I am an engineering student how did you know?” I pointed out it was a guess based on his Georgia Tech kit. He got 100% on his addition all done without touching his cell phone calculator for help.
Looking around over the two days noticed the athletes seemed more youthful than the past few years. I over heard one ex-collegiate archer lecturing to a group from Emmanuel College, “This is great now. But when you get out of school and have to get a job things will change.” He was referring to the time he’d had to practice in college prior to getting a job. The current students will, of course, cross that bridge when they get there.
The number one element of enjoyment during the Suwanee version of the Nationals, of course, was mingling with so many of the folks I don’t get to see outside of tournaments. Our conversations became infected with smiles and laughter. Shooting in competition is fun, practice is more fun, and hanging out with good people is the most fun.
It has been raining a lot here in north Georgia. When it rains I’ll typically drive to Social Circle and practice on the indoor range at Ace Hardware. If there’s no rain and the temperature is above freezing I’ll stay home and shoot on my range.
Two days ago there was a nice break, several hours, from the rain. This saved me a drive into Social Circle. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy practicing at the Ace in Social Circle. I enjoy visiting the folks that work at the archery pro shop at Ace. I also enjoy simply walking out back to practice.
Practice at home often includes spectators. Two days ago they were the girls from next door. It is fun when they come over to watch.
The practice is prep for the USA Archery National Indoor Championships. Today I read the local (regional) awards are not being presented after the events. Rather, everyone must wait for the finish of all sections, the results submitted to USA Archery , results verified, and USA Archery will mail awards.
Personally, I like getting a cheap medal for finishing in the top 3. That trinket is the period on a sentence. Waiting months to find final results is less enjoyable. If I’d known they were going to switch this up (learned about it the day before the event) I’d have skipped the indoor nationals and would have headed to Alabama to shoot the ASA tournament being held there.
Here’s the update regarding awards:
National awards will be mailed from the USA Archery national office after final results from all locations are verified and combined. No location medals will be awarded.”
The thought of spending two days competing after a whole lot of preparation knowing the results will be months away isn’t inspirational.
To add insult to injury the update includes information regarding parking. For the first time athletes, in my experience, who have paid to compete must pay a fee to park or take a hike.
From today’s event information (one day before the event):
SSA has paid and unpaid options for parking. There is a $5 fee to park on site in the paved lot. There is additional free parking in the gravel lot across the street at the church. SSA also has additional free parking across McGinnis Ferry Rd. There is a trail from that lot to SSA. Do not try to cross McGinnis Ferry Rd directly. The City of Suwanee Police will ticket for jay walking! Please use the trail to cross safely!”
Honestly, I cannot recall every event where I’ve competed. I can recall the last 140 or so events. Those events covered triathlons, runs, cycling and archery. They ranged from local to international. This USA Archery event is the only one where an athlete, having paid to compete, now must pay $5.00 to park near the venue. ($10.00 over the two days on top of the $80.00 entry fee)
For comparison, I parked downtown Athens a few nights ago. I was parked in a parking garage. I was there for several hours. I’d expected to pay. It cost me $2.00. To park and shoot at the upcoming archery tournament the cost, excluding food, gas, lodging (for some) is now $90.00. Parking is 11.1% of that fee! Of course off site parking is free. Families with kids shooting that might find the extra money harsh will end up the most disadvantaged.
Sure there may be other instances where athletes might need to pay to park once they arrive at the competition. I’m saying have not experienced the requirement to pay a parking fee at over 140 events beginning in 2006 where I was a competitor.
You might not consider this a big deal. I do, it is wrong. The athletes are what fuel the sport. The fees we already pay are enough. Last year, there was no parking fee at the same venue. This year someone decided to stick it to athletes to gain a few extra dollars. Oh, there is free parking available – nearby. For free parking athletes and their families are going to need to walk a way with all their gear. I’m not opposed to a hike. Heck, I ran for nearly an hour this morning. It is the principle.
If there is a specific need for revenue ask for help. Athletes will frequently do things outside of training or competing to support their sport. But, grabbing a bit of last minute cash by adding a new parking fee is low.
I’m reminded of an archer that didn’t compete. I watched him a lot and never once did he miss the X on a vertical 3-spot. I asked if he competed. He said, “Only local events.” He added, “I’m not going to travel and pay to compete at a bigger ones – they’re a rip off.”
Sometimes, it is just more fun to practice in front of the girls.
It shouldn’t even be a conflict – an archery tournament versus the Super Bowl. While I don’t play football I love the game and did play for six years. Had I not raced bicycles and made the choice to focus on racing when I was 18 I’d have played football longer. I wouldn’t have played at one of the big colleges, but I’d have played.
I don’t regret the choice to stop playing football irrespective of being scouted and having talks with a few colleges during high school. Cycling was my choice and it took me further in sport than football might have done.
Cycling took me to World Championships and made me a member of a USA Team. I still ride. But, my competitive ‘fix’ comes from archery.
Sometimes at archery tournaments or while practicing with others I find that should the topic of football arise there’s a smaller group of fans than one might find in a bar on a Saturday or Sunday during the football season. So, it comes as little surprise to me that a major archery event in Georgia has been scheduled on top of the Super Bowl. Heck, the past two tournaments here have been held in conflict with UGA games.
During the University Georgia Football game overlaps with Georgia archery a couple of friends and I managed to get the tournaments in before rushing to a bar to watch the college game. After the game we made it back to the tournaments in time for the awards.
The next archery State Champion, the one on February 2nd, is a minor problem. Picking the morning (0900) shooting line I’ll have plenty of time to make the drive home before game time. Those poor souls that love football who travel further and pick the afternoon (1300) shooting line will miss the televised game, have to record it hoping they don’t hear the score before watching, or listen on the radio. That is unless they stay in a hotel overnight.
Super Bowl Sunday is typically a full day event for my family. This year I’ll have to hold back on the pre-game festivities at least until I’ve shot my 60 arrows from 18-meters. As far as hanging around for any award I might earn – I’ll find it later in the event I place in the top 3.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.