The Georgia 25-meter Indoor Championship is about three weeks away. It is being held that the Georgia Southern Shooting Education Center in Statesboro, Georgia. Aside from poor lighting, fluorescent bulbs high above the floor, it is a nice facility.
This year is a bit different. First only 24 archers are allowed to compete during any of the three times offered. Spectators are not allowed in the building. Archers must wear a mask at all times and temperature checks will be taken before competitors are allowed inside the building. All of this is understandable considering the current state of this pandemic.
While I have no issue with the conditions, I admit shooting while wearing a mask is a challenge. I’ve been testing masks to see how it goes during practice. It doesn’t go well. Wearing a mask my average score at 25-meters drops 26 points!
On a poor day shooting my average will fluctuate about 10 points. Ten points is my worst drop off from my average. That is unless I am wearing a mask. The difference from my high score at 25-meters and low score is 27 without a mask. The difference with a mask is 49 points. The low score without a mask was shoot over a month ago and was my first attempt at 25-meters. It was also the 69th day of shooting a recurve bow. Even that score is higher than any score I’ve achieved wearing a mask.
Obviously, more practice is needed while wearing a mask to bring up my score when wearing a mask.
In a few weeks Georgia Southern University is hosting the Georgia State 25 meter Championship. Over the past two years, since moving home to Georgia, I competed in that event in the Masters 60 Age Group using a compound bow. I won it once and took a second place (losing by 1 point).
This year is different. First, I switched to Olympic Recurve, second I am shooting in the Seniors Division, and third archers must wear a mask at all times during the 2020 25-meter event even while shooting.
The first two differences, the recurve and competing as a senior (the younger group) versus the masters (the 60-69 year old division) aren’t issues. The mask on the other hand is a problem.
I practiced while wearing a mask a few days ago. It was awful. I shot 54 points lower than my mask free 25-meter average. I tried again today and landed 43 points lower than I scored while not wear a mask on the same day.
I’ve had all manner of critter intersect with my target during practice. There have been rabbits, squirrels, owls, hawks, dogs, cats, horses, raccoons, turkey, chipmunks, chickens, turtles, mice, frogs, lizards and snakes. Several of them have hung around long enough to sit for a photograph. Some of those pictures I’ve posted here.
I find it odd that so many and such a variety of animal has taken time out of its day to pause near where I am shooting arrows. Only one has reached an accidental end. A tree frog was unseen and too close to an arrow. The arrow was the last thing that went through its mind.
If snakes such as moccasins or copperhead slithered past they were always greeting with an unfriendly welcome. If one of those passed within range of the pistol I carry for just such encounters it would eventually be shot. That is so long as it held still long enough. Copperheads being stubborn have been the easiest to reach with a bullet.
Today, I was using one of my target butts as a desk to record shots. On it I laid a pad and pen. After each end I’d record the results.
On the last end as I was recording the shots I noticed out of the corner of my eye the target butt edge was moving. Looking in the direction of the motion there crawled a black snake.
I have no idea how long it had been there. Using an arrow I scooted it away. Believe me I was pleased it wasn’t a rattlesnake.
It wasn’t horribly cold this morning. The temperature was in the low 40s. It wasn’t bad during my morning run. I didn’t even notice the wind during the run. Archery was another matter.
Heading out to the range to practice 25 meters I needed to make an about face. The apparel I was wearing for practice was inadequate for the temperature. The more I wear the warmer. The down side is the bulky warmth inhibits accuracy when shooting.
Even with the extra layers for protection against the cold the wind seemed to breeze right through. After 30 arrows I was miserable. In addition to being cold the down filled puffy outer vest was snagging my bowstring. The cold and wind were only adding insult to injury when considering the frustration of warmth versus satisfying shots.
Today’s practice was supposed to be a 25-meter tournament game. That is a game where I work to duplicate the timing of a tournament. As such, I was shooting a vertical 3-spot the same size as those for a 25-meter event.
By the time I’d competed my ‘warm-up’ shots it was clear I wasn’t warm. Nevertheless, the show was going on.
My first three arrows were a 9, 7, and then 6. I recognized the problem with the puffy vest and tried to compensate. The next three shots, 10, 10, and a 7. Then, 10, 9, 9. Those were followed by a 10, 10, 9.
With only four ends completed it was apparent today wasn’t going to be a highlight of my week’s work. The colder I got the less accurate I became.
The wind didn’t ease throughout the practice. I because less careful with the puffy vest. In fact, my goal for the practice changed.
Initially, I head in mind a specific goal of every arrow in the yellow. The colder I became the more relaxed the goal – eventually, don’t miss the target face seemed enough. At both levels, I failed.
Outdoor practice as winter approaches is slightly better than when winter arrives. Thankfully, I have an outdoor propane heater, which really helps during chilly morning sessions. The heater was a gift that I continue to appreciate.
It wasn’t all that cold this morning. It was 43°F, not too bad. The heater, a hand warmer, and layers of apparel helped. The clothes felt constricting but there’s really no other solution aside from trying to suffer through the lower temperatures while wearing less. Perhaps those of you, north of the Mason-Dixon Line find this quaint.
Still, practice must continue. During that training one spectator appeared. Perhaps he was trying to figure out what I was doing in the cold. Or he might have been hoping I’d leave his hunting ground and stop being a disturbance. Eventually, we both left.
It feels like a long time between major archery tournaments. The last one was an outdoor championship in September – the 15th and 16th to be exact. Since then there have been a few league shoots. This weekend, finally, there is a major tournament in the State.
The Georgia State 25-meter Championships is today at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. I’ve never shot a 25-meter tournament. So, this is pretty cool. A bonus is that the competition is being held at the Georgia Southern University Shooting Center.
There are 149 archers competing as of December 6th. So, when I say major tournament, I am speaking on a State level. This tournament isn’t like a National Championship or a Vegas sized competition.
I drove from our home near Athens, Georgia for this Statesboro, Georgia shoot a day before the Championship. On this trip I didn’t travel with my RV. The weather forecast is for rain, ice and a little snow. Not the idea conditions for pulling an RV. It will mean two nights in a hotel.
Regardless the outcome, and despite the hotel stay, competing at 25-meters seems like it will be a lot of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Backyard archery isn’t as controlled as shooting indoors. Shooting outside is great and ideal for 3D practice or long shot archery. Its fortunate that I’ve got room for long shots, up to 100 yards, and practicing 3D. But, those short shot practice sessions, when conducting the work outside, can be a bit of a challenge.
A major part of the problem is a level archer’s box. My property slopes and rises. That’s great for 3D. It isn’t so great for shooting dots.
At intervals from the target I have little flags stuck in the ground for distance. Each flag, in 5-yard increments out to 80 yards (at the moment no flags from 80 to 100 yards). Every flag drops in elevation from the target. At all of the flagged positions my left leg lands a little higher than my right, which makes for some lope-sided shooting.
In order to remedy the awkward stance I use a hoe and level the field. That makes for better shooting and less frustration.