Finding a bow for 3D

3D archery has pretty much fallen off the list for 2019.  At the beginning of the year I had high hopes for the 2019 3D season. Sadly, a few months into the year I no longer had a 3D bow.

I do have a bow.  But, that bow is configured for target archery. I tried shooting 3D with it using those skinny outdoor arrows and a lens.  It simply didn’t feel right to me.  In 3D I prefer using a hunting rig.

It wasn’t as if the skinny arrow arrangement barred me from shooting 3D.  In my mind it subtracts from the spirit of 3D, a discipline developed to simulate hunting.  I’d never hunt with a long stabilizer, scope and sight other than pins.

Of course, I could switch the bow over to a 3D rig and go back and forth with the gear arrangements before practices.  I’ve done it in the past.  But, it isn’t simple and if it isn’t simple it often times simply won’t get done.

I had two bows at the beginning of the year.  One was returned to the manufacturer in hopes they’d either resolve the problem or exchange the bow.  Since the bow was returned there’s been no reply.  Oh, I’ve checked on it. The response has been silence.

Then, I discovered an old bow that shoots.  It is an old Mathews Conquest Apex 7.  It was my first bow, purchased the year before it was discontinued.  I’d sold it.  The person that bought it wasn’t shooting it.  He told me I could “have it” when I asked to borrow it.

On the Friday before a local 3D competition I took the stripped bow to a local shot.  There they added a PEEP (one I had in a tackle box) and I’d already added a pin sight, it still had a D-loop on the string, and I attached a short front stabilizer. I also had an arrow rest; the one removed from the long ago returned malfunctioning bow, and it bow was ready to shoot.

Before leaving the shop the bow was paper tuned and tested.  It shot fine. During the afternoon I sighted the pins against known yardage so that the bow close to being ready to use in a tournament.

When I arrived at the local 3D shoot, Mathews Conquest Apex 7 in tow, the first words anyone spoke to me were from a PSE representative.  He asked, “What is that you’ve got in your hand?”  I explained the situation and he suggested I try on of his products.  I’ve already tried that bow.  It is nice. It doesn’t come for free.  The Apex 7 came for free.

Now, I am certain that over the years since this Apex 7 was developed there have been advances in bow technology.  I know marginal gains are available with advanced equipment.  Since I’ve not been shooting 3D, it doesn’t matter.  I was just looking to have some fun on a 3D range with the bow in my hand.

There’s always that awkward moment with I show up to shoot at a local 3D event.  I’m new here – still – by archery group standards.  As such, I have to do that milling about hoping to find a group with which to shoot.  I really hate that part and miss the group I shot with in North Carolina. Before every 3D event we get in touch with each other the night before to make our plans for the tournament.

My first attempt to connect with a group failed, as did my second. I got lucky and group of two invited me to join with them.  Having only shot about 30 arrows with the Mathews bow, where I was finding the pins and range intersections, I’d hoped to finish sighting the bow before I actually went to the range.  I got 6 shots and was off. The group that offered the invitation was ready and as the leader put it, “I’ve got things to do today.”  I appreciated her sentiment and invitation; beggars can’t be choosers.

Thanks for inviting me (Photo courtesy of Robbie Surface)

The windage was off a bit and the first target was wide to the right.  Wide enough to earn a 5.  No one complained as when I made my only adjustment.  A few cranks to the right and I’d do the best I could with the arrangement.

From target two until target eight there were no problems.  The old bow has minimal let off so I had to really be in the shot. That helped and I was shooting par. Target 8 was a trick.  A javelina sitting down a hill at 38 yards.  As a rule that isn’t too difficult.  But, today, I knew 38 yards was an in between two pins as best as I could guess.  I guessed a bit off and shot another 5 – a tad high just off the eight ring.  Beyond those two shots I ended up with all tens other than two 12s and two 8s finishing with a 190 in the senior hunter class.  (20 targets no bonus target)

It felt a little like a recurve. (Photo courtesy of Robbie Surface)

For the first time in years shooting a bow without a significant let off and shooting a bow for the first time of any merit I wasn’t too upset with the score.  Now that I’ve got this bow maybe I’ll be able to finish the 3D season with a few more competitions. One thing for certain, the arrows float off the bow and there’s little room for yardage error.

Fixin’ Targets and the Range

Spring is time to make repairs to 3D targets.  It is also time to start trimming the growth on the 3D range.

Boar at 33 yards

Of course, before any of those chores started a little 3D practice was called for.

Can this old coyote make it another year?
Center out of my mountain lion

If I can find some local 3D events in which to compete, I’ll not be following with the original 2019 3D plan.  That plan was to use a bow set up for competing in the hunter class – pins and a short stabilizer.  Unfortunately, the target bow I’d been shooting is a bust and the backup bow, used for 3D, is now the primary and only bow.

This bear is empty on the inside

Because there are easy to find outdoor target events that backup bow is now set up with long stabilizers, a sight and scope, and set for skinny arrows.  Those skinny arrows will have to be the arrows used for 3D because I’m just not going to switch things around everyday to practice with skinny versus fat arrows.  So, 3D will be solely for fun being at a slight handicap on arrow diameter.

When I practiced 3D today the skinny arrows did miss a line or two leaving me with a 10 that might have been a 12 with a larger diameter arrow.  It would have been nice to have two bows – well I did have two bows – that is two bows that performed well.

You might think it is all me regarding the “nicer” bow that failed and is now banned from my range.  But, after a solid year of saying to anyone that would listen that the bow wasn’t right I let the numbers do the talking.  Keeping data on both bows revealed the backup bow out performed the ‘fancy’ bow when in my hands (7% better – 7% is a lot of points at 50 meters). For me, the backup bow is much better and that means one bow rather than two for the different archery disciplines.

Even so, shooting on the 3D range is a nice break from flinging arrows at dots.

First 3D of 2019

Saturday was cold enough for a 3D competition.  It was 43°F and a little windy.  I’d debated whether to shoot the 3D event or run a 5K.  3D won because I forgot to enter the race.

Trying to keep my hands warm

The 3D course was excellent. The targets were thoughtfully placed.  But, I’m yet to find a group to consistently shoot with during a 3D tournament here in Georgia.  So, I ended up shooting alone and doing the fun shoot because I had no scoring partners. I can do that on my property.

You can guess what’s out there..
It is an unwritten rule, no javelina less that 30 yards.

There was another fellow shooting alone and I thought about joining with him.  As I approached, I read his body language and decided against asking.  It is almost always awkward to ask, “Can I shoot with you?”  So, I shot for fun.

The trees lining this, the larger ones are easy to see, but there are also smaller ones that make this 35 yard target fun
Really fun shot

That fellow did speak to me once.  We were one adjacent targets.  I was looking for the animal.  Speaking from recent experience he said, “There!” while pointing an arrow at the target for which I’d been searching.  I replied with equal vocal conservation, “Thanks!”

Indeed, the course was fun. It was nice to shoot a course where the animals are not all sitting at the end of a straight open corridor as far away as possible.  It makes the shots more interesting.

It didn’t take long to score, pull and move on.

I shot in the hunter class. After the shot I recorded the distance. The average target was at 32 yards with the shortest at 21 yards and the longest in that class at 43 yards.

43 yards is getting back there for pins. For me it meant an 8 just off the 10 line

During the time on the range it began to sleet a little.  The wind picked up a little and it remained cold.  As the morning progressed more people arrived.  By the time I was at target 15 there was another group of 4 shooting behind me at target 4.  One of those archers was wearing short pants.  Beyond that fact, you can draw your own conclusions.

Yep, those are short pants

I did ask him, “Why are you wearing shorts in this weather?” He said, “I wear shorts unless the temperature gets down into the 20s.”  He added, “I don’t like the way long pants feel.”

I left the range a little disappointed.  I didn’t shoot the score I’d hoped ending up with a 191.  It could have been worse.  While in flight two arrows lost vanes and went forward a tad on the wobbly side. One flew left hitting an eight and the other when high and left landing a five.  In addition, I earned three more 8s, and only two 12s to compensate. Every other arrow, 12 of them, were 10s. If I’d not been shooting for fun this would have dropped me into second in the hunter class, the top score being 202.

Twice, really, twice?

Shooting 3D in 2019 is beginning to look as if it will only be done for fun.  With the Georgia ASA requiring two qualifying tournaments to shoot the State ASA 3D I’ll probably not fool with it.  It comes down to not enough reward for the money and time to meet the addition qualification requirements.  That, and I don’t think there’s a reason to qualify twice. (If this is incorrect, maybe someone will let me know)

Thanks to the folks at Social Circle Ace for putting out a great range!

Some Baggy Pants

It was time to break up practice.  That meant, morning dots and the afternoon 3D.  I’ve been shooting a lot of dots. The difference between dots and 3D is like bicycle road racing compared to mountain bike racing. Or running on the streets versus trail running.  Either way it is all fun.

This new replacement coyote is more like a cocker spaniel

The break was refreshing and will gradually work into a spring training program. The old 3D targets on my range are really beginning to need replacing.  There’s this old coyote that gets shot on his hind end because the original chest area is completely split.  His days of repair are long gone.

This cinnamon bear needs a new center.

There’s a trail camera on the range.  It is on a line with this javelina. This little tayassu tajacuis set so that it can be shot out to around 45 yards.  You know that varmint will show up at all your 3D competitions in 2019 setting at your maximum distance.  Count on it.

At 41 yards, this mountain lion is a fun shot

Anyway, this camera snapped a picture or two of me as I was working back to take aim on the javelina at 75 yards (no I think it was 37 yards.)

I’d ordered some work pants off of Amazon.  They seemed fine to me.  They felt durable enough.  Naturally, they were too long so I had them hemmed.  After bringing the home I wore them the next day.  Everything seemed fine to me. Then, Brenda, my wife looked at me wearing those new work pants.

I didn’t see anything amiss.  Belt was on, no tags left on the pants, both legs matched in length, and the zipper was in proper placement.  I’d not sat in anything nasty or unknowingly ripped the seat.  What could be so funny?

Okay these pants are baggy

Brenda finally pointed out that it looked line my legs were in tubes. Whatever did that mean?

You can bet, no more wearing in public

The trail camera on the 3D range – well, now I know.  Yes, these are some dumb looking pants.  I am embarrassed to admit, I’ve worn them in public.

“On a warm summer’s eve……”

The ASA Super Senior Known class is where I wanted to compete in 3D during 2019.  That just ain’t going to happen.

For USA archery style competition I have a target bow.  Speed of arrows is not a major concern.  The distance is always known. Well pretty close depending on how meticulous the range is set.  In a sport where millimeters matter we all have elevation adjustments to compensate for slight variance in distance.

That target bow will be used throughout the 3D season during non-3D events.  The bow can be switched back and forth to manage skinny or wide arrows. But, practicing dots in the morning then 3D in the afternoon and making switches, tweaks, and turns multiple times a day is a waste of time.  Having two bows, one for 3D and one for dots is ideal.

The 3D bow used for competition in 2018 was set up for hunter class.  There is a short stabilizer and a pin sight on it.  In 2018 I competed in the Senior Hunter Class (archers mostly in their 50s. I never shot against anyone in 3D last year older than me.) Most of the archers in my age group seemed to be competing in the Super Senior class (60 – 69 years old.) I wanted to shoot with them in 2019.  After I considered the additional expense to convert my hunter class rig to match the equipment in the Super Senior class the idea was abandoned.

To compete against those archers would mean a new rest, stabilizers, weights, sight and a scope.  The good stuff could end up costing a heap of money. Once the price tag became visible the Senior Hunter Class summoned me home to a cost savings category.

Using what I’ve got on hand, a cost effective proposition, all I’d do is reset the old 3D bow for fatter non-hunting arrows and compete using the older bow in the Senior Hunter Class for 2019.  Sure, the arrows float off the rest when I release them.  The 3D bow isn’t exactly a fast 3D specific bow.  It is more of a one bow does most type of rig.  Part of the fun for others  shooting with me is being able to watch the arch of my arrow.  It is a rare sight from 20 yards to actually see the arrow’s arch.  At forty yards, people have photographed the flight of my arrow using their smart phones.

You think I’m joking – perhaps just a little.  However, I kid you not, this has been said to me during a 3D tournament, “I love watching you shoot, I can really see the arch of your arrows.” Yes, I am using a compound bow. But, after you’ve watched arrows zoom off at nearly 300 fps then you see a launch at 246 fps, the difference looks extreme. In my case, yardage judgement needs to be just right.  Otherwise, you’d see my arrows fly toward a target then appear to just drop out of the air.

It would be fun to compete in the Super Senior Division.  I could with a hunting rig but it would be a waste of entry fee money.  Super Seniors with target 3D rigs have a distinct advantage. While I’m pretty good at 3D, I’m no fool.  Shooting against the Super Seniors around here with a hunting rig would be like drag racing using my 2006 Ford F-150.  I’d get to the finish line but that would be about it.

Using that old 3D bow, today, I needed to set my elevation and windage for the arrows that I’ll use next weekend in my first 2019 Senior Hunter Class competition.  It was not a good day for precision work.

First of all it was really cold.  Cold doesn’t stop me.  Cold isn’t fun.  Plus, it is hard to be precise wearing every article of clothing you own all at once. For example, my right arm feels funny because I can’t fully draw being limited by short sleeve t-shirts, thermal t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirts, regular shirts, sweaters, vests, and a down filled jacket.  Along with the cold that has descended there’s a 40 mph wind which has joined the mix. Archery, precision, 26°F temperature and 40 mph wind is not a friendly combination. Still, I waddled out to the range moving like the Michelin Man.

The first pin to check was the 20 yards pin.  I started at 10 yards – just in case.  It wasn’t long before the song in my head went from “Eye of the Tiger” to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.

For the record, I lasted nearly an hour until I walked away:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

I’ll get the bow just right later in the week.  Until then, I’ll practice shooting dots on an indoor range.

You’re Never Going to Beat Us

Decades ago I had a decent triathlete give me a slam. I was out of shape having not raced in years. I’d spent a lot of time after I finished racing bicycles to finish my college education. I wasn’t in horrible shape; I was certainly not as fit as the group I was training with on that day.

The comment really pissed me off. I got my racing form back in short order. Afterwards, when I trained with that group I did my best to repay the insult.

Riding a bicycle I used that slight to push me harder when training with those riders. Oddly, in archery, a few months after I picked up a bow I was practicing 3D with a group of close friends. I was an outsider. I wasn’t doing very well; it had been only a few months since I’d picked up archery.

One of the archers said to me, “Just shoot you own game, you’ll never beat us.” I remember that comment. It was loud enough that anyone nearby could have overheard. I considered it rude. I held my tongue knowing that nothing I might say would make any difference.

I don’t see those fellows any longer. Most were fine men. The guy that made the rude comment was nice even if a bit arrogant. I may never see them again. So, I’ll never really know whether the comment was accurate. Well, maybe.

Those guys compete exclusively in IBO fashion 3D. I wondered, what were their recent scores at major IBO events. I checked.

These guys are certainly good shooters. Overall, their average score is 9.32 points per arrow from 35 yards maximum distance. Individually, they scored on average: 9.52, 9.56, 9.22 and 8.98 points per arrow. Like I said, these guys aren’t bad. They’re just not great.

Then, I checked my 3D scores. I excluded the few IBO scores I have since those where just too low and I was truly a beginner. I was interested in the past two years. That allowed me some time to learn to shoot a bow – two years.

Another factor I can’t control for is distance; I have been shooting ASA style. Using the classes where a rangefinder was not allowed I shot at a maximum distance of either 40 or 45 yards. My average score is 9.89. Not bad, but certainly not great.

I have no doubt I can beat those guys today. But, unlike the cycling, I don’t care nearly so much as I did after the triathletes comment.

A Short Bit About Fitness

Coaching Tip

Frequently, I’ll post about sports activities other than archery. Those are primarily cardio workouts. If you look over a USA Archery Training plan you’ll find blocks of time set aside for cardio fitness.

An early run in the woods – River has sprinted ahead
Riding a bike off road you come across neat stuff.

I enjoy running and cycling. Archery is my primary sport, but running and cycling where with me long before a bow. Lately, I’ve been running and riding on trails. Trail running is much more appealing that running on a road. Mountain bike riding isn’t more appealing that road riding. I just like being in the woods.

This mountain bike trail is just right
One of the locals in the woods is giving me the eye

Either way, off road or on road, cardio-fitness is a benefit to health and can keep you, as an archer, in better shape prolonging your enjoyment of archery. If you happen to be a 3D competitor you know some ranges can leave you huffing and puffing when you reach a stake. Should you be a hunter, you will know that hauling a kill out of the woods can be a major physical effort.

An ER Physician friend of mine says, “You’re not having fun until someone is bleeding.” I suppose I was having fun

I write about fitness often. That’s because I cross paths with too many folks, in all walks of life, that are not fit. It isn’t hard to be in shape. It is also better for you in the long term.

Finishing this day with 3D practice

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.

Georgia – The Polite State

If I weren’t a Georgian, I’d be a Texan. I sure enjoyed the time I lived there. But, I’ve got too much red clay in my blood to be a Texan. Although, I could transplant fairly easily to the Lone Star State.

I’ve had the good luck to have lived in a number of states. These include: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California and Texas. California was more like a long visit. I did receive mail there and shared whatever space I could crowd into while racing bicycles and training there in the early 1970’s.

I’ve also traveled to all US States except Alaska. I’ve flown over Alaska. It looks wild and empty when staring down from a commercial flight. In fact, other than the coasts the US, despite the census count, seems pretty empty. There’s a good bit of room in the middle part of the country.

I left Georgia decades ago. I figured I’d end up in Georgia after I retired but nearly didn’t. For a while it appeared North Carolina would see me to my grave. Nevertheless, red clay, Southern Live Oaks and deep roots brought me home.

Being away for some time what I’ve noticed since returning is the politeness of Georgians. Georgia is not ranked number one or even on the podium of surveys that hint at the most polite states.

I think the surveys are skewed by incorrect methods and sampling in the wrong places. For example, if a sample was taken in Atlanta you might not even be sampling Georgians. Savannah is pretty much in the same boat. Although both cities have plenty of native Georgians, there are also plenty of other folks that have migrated to both areas.

The true Georgian is brought up to mind his or her manners. This has been abundantly apparent wherever I’ve been since returning home. What has truly impressed me is the Georgian youth competing and practicing archery.   It doesn’t end with the youth. Adults on the range, whether competing or volunteering have remained true to their upbringing.

It’s not only manners there’s respectfulness. That respect isn’t limited to interpersonal skills.

Last week, I competed in a 3D tournament in Social Circle, Georgia. Not far away from the range is a high school where a baseball game was going to be played. When the National Anthem sounded through the stadiums loudspeaker system it could be heard on the range.

The music was loud and the range was close by. What happened was that every archer, volunteer, and spectator stopped, stood, faced the music, placed their right hand over their hearts and paused while the Star Spangled Banner played. Even the younger people and children respectfully gave their attention. Aside from yes sir, no sir, please and thank you that were commonplace, the respectfulness of our anthem and country was impressive.

Georgia is known as the Peach State. It is because of the quality of our peaches not the production – we’re number three in production behind California and South Carolina. Still, we homegrown Georgians are officially living in the Peach State. We may not be ranked number one in politeness, but in my experience this is the Polite State. (We are number one in peanut production)

Having lived in or visited every state except Alaska I’ll tell you there are degrees or good manners and respectfulness. I enjoyed every state where I’ve lived. I find that people everywhere are generally good folk and bless their hearts. But, Georgians are by practice and custom extremely polite.

Morning 3D Practice

Mornings are typically used for target practice. The afternoons are set aside for 3D practice. The reason is I am more tired in the afternoon and my 3D bow, an Elite 35, is lighter than my target bow, an Elite Victory 37.

My Elite 35 set up for bow hunter shooting class

Usually, in the morning I practice for a few hours and shoot 100 to 150 arrows depending on the distance. I try to be on the range by 8:00 AM, after morning exercise. I’ll stop shooting between 10:30 and 11:00 AM. By then, I am ready for a break and lunch.

After a break and lunch (and a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes), I try to do whatever chores need to be done, ride a bike, and prepare for afternoon archery practice. Two days a week I head to the gym rather than do chores. Sometimes it is good to change things up a bit.

Deer, down this lane bordered by trees at 27 yards

Today, I planned a 3D simulation of a tournament, ASA style. My goal was to not miss a 10-ring and get 12’s when I could. Shooting a bow hunter rig, I planned to make the distances as realistic to what I’ve been seeing in local tournaments. My relocation to Georgia and kept me away from the major 3D tournaments for 2018. (Moving is a lot of work)

A mosquito is a tough shot at 20 yards, I count the center X as a 12 on this target

Locally, I’ve faced a lot of long shots. On my range I have a lot of smaller targets. On those, I didn’t go crazy and try to shoot a rabbit at 40 yards for this practice session. I shot it at 20, a realistic distance should a smaller target happen to be placed on a range at a local event. The exception was a javelina that I shot from 36 yards, a distance that isn’t unexpected for this smaller target.

Javelina at 36 yards

Out of curiosity, I wore a Garmin and recorded the distance I walked, it was 1.02 miles. That included walking while I warmed up. Warm-up was shooting six arrows at a bag from 20, 25, 30, and 35 yards. At 40 yards I shot 12 arrows for a total warm-up of 36 shots.

This “off-brand” less expensive bear shot from 38 yards

It took I hour and 45 minutes to finish the practice, less time than usual for the morning routine. But, it helped me see where I am weak.

I didn’t shoot par. I shot a three 8s and one 12 to finish with a 196 (twenty targets). The average distance for all targets was 29.5 yards. The eights were no surprise.

Another bear, this one at 35 yards

The first was a hen. She’s a tough target at 27 yards. The dark hole where she sits makes finding the small rings difficult. The second was a small pig at 32 yards and the third was the javelina at 36 yards. Both the small pig and javelina are positioned at angles to the stake. The up and down was fine, but in each case I shot a little wider than I should have. From this practice I know these targets need extra attention.

There’s a mountain lion at the end of this 40 yard long lane

It’s good to simulate a tournament to get an idea where you might need some extra work. Shooting ego-easy distances and targets won’t be much help when you’re faced with tough shots on an unknown range.