So, That Took Too Long

It started at 10:00 AM. Five plus hours – sixty arrows. Over five hours shooting sixty arrows at a 3-spot. After five hours I did not care how I’d placed. I knew how I’d shot and figured it would be good enough for a top three finish.

Before the tournament, Brenda, my wife had come to see the range. When one of the owners of the range asked if she’d be back tomorrow to watch Brenda politely said no. I think archery could be a spectator sport. Presently, I don’t think it is a spectator sport. Brenda definitely is not an archery fan. She could be, she loves sports.

A sport where athletes stand real still needs some pizzazz. Live announcing, music, and of course, keeping the flow of arrows flying toward targets. Excessive pauses in the action are not spectacles for fans.

In retrospect, the two-minutes used for flinging arrows down range was strictly enforced. There were, at this five-hour plus contest, lengthy delays in addition. Three digits seem to be a remarkable feat of totaling for many. Believe me, 10 + 10 + 9 does not require a calculator. Double digits, like, 29 + 28, can be cyphered in your head. Heck, I can even deal with less accomplished shooting, where values of 8 + 6 + 5 appear on the target without a smart phone supplement.

No, at this contest it was our arithmetically vulnerable youth where the time began to accumulate. My wife, a retired teacher, when I pointed this out to her, went into one of her rants about the dumbing down of our youth by schools. The ubiquitous smart phone calculator in the hands of youthful shooters working out simple addition is a sad sign of math education.

Any day, I prefer a calculator to a slide rule. Yet, I loved my old slide rule. But, it wasn’t a tool for addition. For years I owned a Casio Scientific calculator. It was my favorite. It was stolen from me in Brussels, Belgium. I am certain the thief never appreciated the value.

As the precession back and forth to the addition line continued, I’d occasionally mark the time. By 11:00 AM we’d shot 12 arrows. The tournament started at 10:00 AM. By the break we’d lost a few archers – those having late afternoon appointments. One archer, in a panic of time, departed without his bow. Lucky for him, his friends said they’d take it home for him.

By 3:10 PM I was packing my gear. I’d called Brenda at 2:30 PM and told her we’d be done in twenty minutes, there were two ends to follow when I called. As I was packing my bow I recalled a day a couple of years ago.

On that day, in the morning, I swam 1.2 miles with a group of 2000 other triathletes. Next, we pedaled bicycles for 56 miles, and then ran 13.1 miles. It took less time than shooting 60 arrows and walking forty yards after every three arrows. (The prior sentence contains some math to ponder)

Archery requires a lot of patience.

Shorter Days and a Little Rain

After a day off, a rest day, I was eager to train. It rained. Nevertheless, River and I headed out the door at around 0630 for a run. Fortunately, it was a light rain. But even a light rain is a burden when shooting 18-meters outside.

With a tournament this weekend, and having that worry about the other archers that didn’t take a break day, I needed to shoot. So, it was off to PGF Archery in Elizabeth City to use their indoor range. For $6.00 I had the range to myself.

Four of my arrows ready to be picked up from PFG Archery

During this practice, I used a timer and played music. The last time, a few days ago, when I timed my shots I ended up having an average of 23 seconds remaining of my two minutes for three arrows. Today, I had on average 26 seconds remaining or about a second faster per arrow. That can probably be attributed to becoming more comfortable with my new Spot-Hogg arrow rest. The music, which I didn’t like a whole lot when I was first introduced to it, is something I practice with all the time indoors when I’m alone. It has taken a while to get used to music in the background.

Darrell, a World Class shooter

While shooting at PGF Archery a friend showed up unexpectedly. He’s an elite shooter and has won more titles shooting than I can image. In fact, he was just in the local paper, again, for winning another major tournament. In his case he does it with a shotgun. He was there on an errand for his brother.

As I left the range, the rain had stopped. It was still cloudy and cold. Those conditions didn’t stop a nice bike ride in the afternoon before my second archery practice.

Shoot three arrows, stand by the heater, warm-up, shoot three more.

Despite the lack of sunlight I shot better in the afternoon. These shorter days do put a damper on being outside.

It’s hard to find the dot when there is no light

Time those shots

Two minutes seems like plenty of time to shoot three arrows. Really, it is more than enough time most of the time. Still, on a line in a tournament there will be the occasional archer that screws up and loses ten points to the clock.

Last year, I came close to being that guy. After archers were called to the line the judges failed to blow the start whistle and had started the clock. The clock running without a whistle was making the line get antsy. Finally, someone figured it out, but the judges didn’t blow the whistle, they just yelled to start shooting.

Once everyone got the message and began flinging arrows, I joined along with less than a minute on the clock. Talk about taking away the mental game.

I nocked my first arrow with 58 seconds on the clock. Rounding up to 60 seconds that’s about 20 seconds per arrow. On the final shot of the end I was the last archer on the line. There was a crowd watching and they began a count down, “10, 9, 8,7…”

With a room full of people counting down I flung my final shot at the target as the audience paused between 2 and 1 and scored a nine. It was exciting, but an excitement I can do without.

However, I do want to use as much of my two-minutes as I need and not rush. So, at times I practice using a timer. To amplify my  need to rehearse my shooting times, I changed my arrow rest. What I have now is one of those fixed blade tournament style rests. It is requiring some practice to keep the arrow on that rest while I am drawing.  The result is I am drawing much more slowly. That eats up a few seconds on every shot.

Several times a year while practicing I will use a stopwatch to monitor my shooting time. The new arrow rest encouraged me to check out my times this week. The data I collected showed that I am shooting more slowly by an average of ten seconds per arrow. Using the old rest I had an average of 33 seconds remaining on the clock after my last arrow. Using the new rest the average time remaining is 23 seconds.

There’s not a lot of time left over after shooting three arrows off the new rest. Still 23 seconds ought to be a nice cushion. By taking the time to check my shooting time and know what I have to work with it reduces tournament anxiety over not knowing.

Time to Head Home

We’re leaving Georgia in the morning to head back to North Carolina. It has been a very nice trip. On this visit to our home State, Brenda and I stayed with our oldest daughter and her family for a few days. There we enjoyed an early Halloween party that was the best ever.

I, also, got to visit my friend Big John Chandler at his archery shop attached to the Ace Hardware in Social Circle, Georgia. It is always good to see John.

After leaving our daughter’s home, in Watkinsville, GA, we drove to Tignall, GA to stay with Brenda’s father for a few more days. There, River and I ran trails and gravel roads. She helped me practice archery by slowing me down between ends. River was adamant about the between shots stick game.

18-meter practice

It became obvious; I didn’t leave an adequate supply of paper targets here in Georgia. There were only two remaining in the garage. I’ll need to bring a fresh supply when we head back in November.

The last target

One thing for sure, we ate well while we were here!

A Good Day to Play

It was a good day to play. There was early morning running with River and Coco. Both have gotten over leg injuries and are nearly 100%.

The morning’s highlight, running with River and Coco

After running I drove into Elizabeth City to shoot indoor 18-meters with friends. Of all the fun things I did today, archery did not rank number one.

I shot all over the place, including a few tens. But, mostly nines and a couple of eights. It was just a royal pain.

Archery was so disappointing that after I got home I took my stabilizers and sight off my Elite and grabbed my Mathews Conquest Apex 7 and started from scratch. I’ve never done well with the Mathews bow. But, I really needed a change.

Cycling was the high point of the outdoor play. Seriously, riding a bicycle is such a source of freedom. I suppose some people feel that way about running. Sure, running is pretty good, but for me a bike is a tough act to follow.

About 2 miles from home I rode though all this glass. I didn’t notice it until I was in the middle of it. Made it home without a flat.

More archery followed the bike ride. It was not as much fun.

Shooting Well and Frustration Don’t Mix

Wind and Rain Messing Up the Game

Shooting well and frustration don’t mix for a good score. There are some coaches that advocate stopping when a level of frustration reaches some un-quantified peak. Where that point floats is likely below the apex of today’s aggravations.

First contributing factor, nothing controllable, the wind. Second, intermittent rain. The impact a disappointing 568 with only 19 Xs. It might not have been as irksome if the 9s had been a bit wilder. But, so many 9s so close to the X was galling.

Too many 9s

Sure, there is advice that suggests putting the bow down, taking a break, and starting fresh is the prudent course of action. I can’t quite envision offering a plea to a judge that might allow for such a break during a tournament. I shot though understanding, from past experience; there will be tournaments equally infuriating.

Just how the practice rolled

Le Petite Slam

There were a number of archery tournaments I wanted to win in 2017. These were: the North Carolina State Indoor 18-meter Championship, North Carolina State Outdoor 50-Meter Championship, USA Archery National Indoor Championship (Snellville, GA), and the Virginia IBO State 3D Championship. These competitions were my “Le Petite Slam”.  They don’t make up a Grand Slam, but they represented a nice collection of archery venues. I won them.

River Wearing Gold

My 2017 NC State Indoor Archery medal arrived yesterday. I hadn’t waited for the results the day of the event. I’d shot in the morning and there were still more start times yet to begin throughout the day. It was going to be many hours before results were known the awards presented. When I learned I’d won, about a week later, I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope so the organizers could mail the medal to me.

River wearing gold

River, as she always seems to be, appeared happy to see it. With every medal I’ve brought home River wants to wear it. She recognizes a medal then approaches in the manner she does when she puts her collar on. That is she calmly walks forward and dips her head a little. I always hang the prize on her.

She doesn’t go dog crazy while wearing it. She stays calm and has her picture taken a time or two. She acts so proud. But, when I go to remove it, she drops her head, grabs the medal in her mouth and tries to avoid returning the award. All of this surpasses my ability to explain and I can only report my observations.

Harder Than It Needs To Be

When I go to the “Big” tournaments this is what I’ve learned: 3D is harder than and indoor is more frustrating than practice.

Shooting indoors at 18 meters is the same distance on all ranges. Sure, there are those that might debate an inch or two. What I find is the main perplexing variable is the lighting.

As we age, the lens of our eyes changes. The change, I am sad to say but can confirm, means the lens lets light pass differently the result being that older people need more light than younger people to see. Knowing this I do what I can to practice indoor shooting where there is poor lighting.   Older people are also more susceptible to glare which can be a problem from time to time.

Targets in shadow are tough on older eyes

To learn how big of impact lighting has on me I reviewed my practice notes. Those notes contained reference to the light on the range. My scores were an average of 14 points higher on ranges where I noted the light was good. You know that 14 points is huge when it comes to indoor shooting. (60 arrows)

When the light is bad, the dot that I aim is essentially a shadow. Sometimes it takes a few seconds just to identify the dot. It is frustrating. So, in order to deal with this physiological fact of aging, I practice in poor light as well as good light.

3D is another matter. I do have a practice range where I could become really good a shooting my targets if I didn’t change things up in practice. I know for sure that the range masters setting up competitive events will not create an equivalent 3D range to mine. So, I change things around a lot.

Shadows, light, and more shadows complicate shots
Taking a shoot at an odd angle makes it more difficult and interesting

Plus, my range is flat. Thus far all the “Big” 3D tournaments where I’ve shot have been hilly. There’s not much I can do to create hills. I do what is reasonable, shoot from my porch, off the upper deck, and while standing on a dirt mound created by an excavation. Still the elevation and shooting conditions don’t match with the slopes or footing in the hills.

Underbrush adds another element of difficulty to judging yardage.

To make matters more difficult I take long shots, shoot at targets wedged between trees and aim for foam-animals that are separated from the stake by underbrush or creeks. Those training measures make it more difficult to judge yardage.

This bear, in a shadowed hole at 40 yards, is a target arrangement likely to be seen at a tournament

By working to make conditions more difficult during practice, you will find yourself better prepared for those weird things that just seem to happen. Like finding out that I have to shoot at 0730 at the Augusta Pro/Am. Which means getting up at 0430. Guess I’ll have to practice getting out of bed before 0600 – which is early enough.

Familiarity breeds contempt–and children. (Mark Twain)

I shot in an 18-meter indoor competition today. Targets were set at the usual distance. The crowd was not the usual.  Today, there was an abundance of children probably exceeding the adult count. Children know how to pass time between ends. Their efforts to fill any void in time or motion with activity were on display and exemplified two boys.

The boys are brothers. You would know this without asking by way of their fighting. The older, as usual at this early stage of development had the physical advantage. The younger fortified with spirit.

Between ends, one activity was balancing. In this event, the younger positioned himself prone across two stools. The trick, as the three-legged stools were narrow topped, was not to fall off while depriving the senior brother of a place to sit. A younger mind not thinking ahead missed the potential that a chest would be a perfect place for a brother to seek comfort. That game was up when the prone child complained, “I can’t breathe!” The weight of the larger child was resisting rib expansion.

The whine for air caught the ears of some of adults, who sat by and watched as they thought through proper words of scolding. The older boy took pity, and with experience reminding him that nearly killing his little brother led to trouble in the past, lifted from the smaller thorax, allowing air to return to squashed lungs. The adults’ silent musings ceased upon the release and their mature eyes returned to several pairs of blank ovals the momentary hope of providing a scolding now empty.

In an accident while pulling arrows the bigger of the two boys was injuried. Details of the incident remain unclear as facts are often relayed from perspective. In some fashion the older boy, subsequent to the chest crushing of the younger, was stabbed in the back of the neck with a nock. The nock broke skin and there was minor bleeding.

The abrasion looked painful and did bring tears to the eyes of the injuried. In sympathy the uninjured smaller child looked squarely in his brother’s eyes and said, “Suck it up, Buttercup.” One must admire the courage of the smaller boy to pronounce such a crass remark. Buttercup’s eyes showed that this too would have a debt. The debt soon paid by the theft of arrows.

This sort of give and take lasted the entire competition. Fortunately, there was only the one bloodletting and no bones were broken. Albeit, several adults seemed disappointed having to conceal a mentally rehearsed after-the-fact reprimand.