The New Park

When we moved here to Good Hope, Georgia a challenge we had was to convert an over grown forest into a Park-like recreation area. It is slowly coming along.

This javelina can be shot from a maximum of 45 yards. I may move him out to 50
One of two old roads that were easily uncovered

Two of the major elements included a 3D range and a target range. The 3D range has evolved and only two more foam-animals need a home. Well, one, a boar, is up as of yesterday. But, I’ve only cleared a lane to shoot the critter. The approach for pulling arrows is going to come from another approach. This way the natural ground between archer and target is undisturbed.

I had a deer up but moved it to make room for 55 – 70 yards. The deer was in the way. The deer will need to have just the right position.

The other of two easily reclaimed roads. Six weeks ago you couldn’t move off this path was so thick with underbrush. The targets, 50-meters from my bow, can be shot from 70 yards. There’s another 20 yards to spare behind the target

Another nice element to the park is a running trail. River, my lab, runs with me. Running in a neighborhood, on public paths, or on sidewalks means she must be on a lease. We now have a trail run behind out house that is about a mile per loop. River can run untethered. A bonus is that I don’t need to worry with poop clean up.

I cleaned up some of the limbs you see here today. Nobody wants a poke in the eye

Today, I started mulching some of the primary paths in the park. That is going to be a chore. I am also considering planting an apple tree to go with the five peach trees we’ve planted. (The peach trees are gifts from my father-in-law.)

River considering the fork in the road

The new park is already great for hikes. Brenda and our two dogs often do a “walk-around” in the park after dinner. Both dogs are free to run in our park. I’ll probably put a picnic table somewhere in the middle of the park.

No, I don’t shoot this target from this angle. But,the lane can be used by rotating the bear to get a new perspective

It is a lot of work. But, being out in our woods is worth the effort.

Getting into the 3D of Things

The range is up. It is raining. I need to practice 3D.

This coyote is fun. The shot looks longer than it was, 38 yards.
Yep, that javelina is in that hole about 40 yards away

When rain seems to have stopped, I head out to practice. Twenty shots later it begins to rain. I head back indoors. Two hundred yards pass along the walk to cover and the rain stops. I turn around, shoot 10 arrows and it starts to rain, again. I head back, go 200 yards, and the rain stops. I gave up stayed outside and got wet.

Zoomed in a bit so you can see the target
Worst shot of the day. I thought I’d managed a center 12. Nope, that’s an 8.

Not everyday has been so much of a weather challenge. Yesterday was pretty good. It was cold and windy. Out in the woods the wind is subdued a tad. My main concern was a limb breaking free and landing on my head. No limb crashed onto my skull.

This is a tough turkey

Practice was by design interesting. Shooting the same targets day in and day out, you need to find training sessions to keep things interesting. This is especially true when you train alone.

Practice on this little target is always, shoot a center 12 and a 14. Don’t move on until the 12 and 14 are shot in sequence.

This day’s training was: the first arrow at an unknown yardage for scoring followed by four others for yardage training. The shortest distance was 18 yards (rabbit) and the longest was 45 yards (deer, bear, and mountain lion.)

This is only 27 yards, but the lane is cleared so the target can be worked out to 50 yards.

3D practice, time per arrow, is slower that 18-meters. Generally, you walk further which slows things down. Plus, it takes a little longer to judge yardage. I don’t find one disciple, 18-meter, 3D or 50-meter, more fun than the other. They are all about the same to me. The major difference is it rarely rains indoors.

This poor ole bear is beginning to wear out in the center.

Shooting 3D for the first time in a while.

Eighteen meters has been my focus for the past eight months. My goal was to score two day total of 1160 at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals.  Then to score a 600 with 110 Xs at the NFAA National Indoor Championship in Cincinnati.  By early December of 2017 I was feeling fairly confident that I’d come close or exceed those marks.

In the meantime, we’d built a new house. The foul fall and winter weather delayed the house’s completion.  This ended up generating a 580-mile move right on top of the end game for my eight months of practice.  By February of 2018 I was scoring lower than February of 2017.  It wasn’t just the move; it was a move, being unable to move right into the new property, then a solid month after the move in to complete construction.

This bear has one of the two ‘wide’ lanes and can be targeted out to 60 yards
She’s in a congested area and can be out up to 40 yards
The pine trees that line this shooting lane narrow as the distance increases. It’s a pretty cool shot the further back you get.

You’d think we move into a new ready to go house and we would have if the builder had been cooperative. He wouldn’t allow refinements to his building to occur until we’d closed on the property. As such, after closing, closets had to be redone, fencing put up, sheds constructed, sod to be installed and land cleared.  Oh, there was plenty of time to have had this done before closing but it wasn’t allowed.  This meant little to no archery practice in the month before the main indoor events for 2018.  I scored fewer point than usual and seemed to find a solid position in second place everywhere other than the NFAA Sectional where I earned a tight 4th and the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati.

This is an interesting shot.

I couldn’t decide if the trip from Georgia to Ohio was worth the investment considering the way I’d been shooting. By the time I made the decision to go for the experience I realized I’d let time get away from me and it was too late to make the drive.

On a brighter note I did get my 3D range up on the 3.25 acre plot behind our house selected for the targets. It isn’t a huge plot of land but it is idea for 20 targets.  I only have 12, but 8 more will fit nicely when I get them.

I am pleased, so far, with how the foam animals are arranged. The are no “give me” shots and all targets can be shot to at least a maximum of 40 yards with other out to sixty.  Sixty yards is more than I need other than for field archery.

Another wide lane for long shots without worrying about overhanging limbs

Last week was the first time in a long time I’ve shot 3D. For that practice I use a hunting rig with pins rather than long stabilizers and a scope.

I admit I was a bit off on a few shots, but no target was missed and there was only one 5. For the first full 3D practice, 3 hours and 63 shots, I averaged 9.3 points per shot.  The mean distance was 33 yards with a minimum of 18 (a rabbit) and a max of 45 (deer, mountain lion, and bear).  Needless to say 9.3 points per shot isn’t good.   This year seems to be all about getting back into the swing of things.  Maybe, that swing will come back in a hurry.

New 3D Range Nearly Complete

After nearly 5 weeks of waiting by the fence my foam menagerie of 3D critters have a new home. Several already have lanes cleared well enough to shoot. Most are in place and need some small trees and limbs cut down to get a shot.

These 3D targets are no longer hanging out next to the fence

This new 3D range is nice. It is significantly tighter than the old one in North Carolina. There are two that have fairly wide lanes for shots over 50 yards. Nearly all have been arranged so that each target can be practiced on out to 50 yards.

It is too late in the day for photographs but I’ll share some soon.

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.

Bottoming Out

Ever leave your best shots on the practice range?

Seemed like s start for a good day of shooting.

This past weekend was likely the final 3D tournament for me for 2017. The IBO World Championship remains a possibility however low. It’s not that I can’t go, it’s that the expense might truly not be worth it. I’d have to really be on the mark to place in the top 5 and shoot better than I’ve done all year to be in the top 3. Still, it is a possibility.

From last week: That’s a skunk at about 28 yards. I thought I’d hit the 10 ring. Wrong, it was a 5. Seriously, felt good for a few minutes. And so went the day

I’d go if my practice average hits and remains about 10.4 points per target. The guys that have been winning the IBO World’s I’d shoot against have been winning in the small class for a few years. At this point, they’d beat me – statistically speaking.

My friend, Mike, max’ing out on real estate.

On the other hand, there’s the North Carolina Outdoor State Championship in a few weeks. To win that, I need to focus on 50-meters.

After the 3D tournament, I shot for awhile at 50-meters. Needs more practice.

Plus, despite an important 3D win two weeks ago, I shot my lowest 3D score of the year this past weekend. The results haven’t been posted so I don’t know how I ended up. In any case, regardless of how tough a shoot might have been, I know when I am not shooting in tournaments as well as during practice.

River offering encouragement or using dog telepathy to get a cookie.

Maybe a nice break shooting 50-meters exclusively will liberate my 3D shooting.

Light makes a difference

You know you’ll see something like the photographs below during your next 3D shoot. The terrain might not be as flat, but the light can be an issue.

Light makes a difference and can make things seem different. A target can be bright or a silhouette depending on its placement and the time of day.

This and the two photos above are the same target in low, medium and bright light

It is a good idea to arrange your training so that you can become accustom to variations of light.

Going Long

Of course, the day started by running with River. We’ve been disappointed for the past few days since Coco has not joined us. Coco has an injured leg and been absent during her infirmary.

River and Coco checking things out on a trail. River has missed her friend over the past few days.

And certainly, next on the list was a bike ride. Riding a bicycle remains one of my favorite activities.  Cycling is as close to flying as we humans can do under our own power.  Yes, I know there are one or two experimental human powered flying machines, but you and I aren’t going to be climbing into one of those things. We can get on a bicycle and ride.

People pay to take tours to view scenery like this. I see this everyday.
More of the swampy areas I passed on my ride

Then, it was down to business – archery. Yesterday’s practice informed me of where I need to train. Long shots. To be specific, long 3D shots. Knowing a big blue, red and yellow ringed level target is 50-meters and hitting yellow is easy. Not know the distance, having all the targets a different color and size, then wedging them among trees over uneven terrain is more difficult. So, today, I didn’t shoot any foam target under 35 yards.

45-yards seemed long enough on this coyote. I don’t care who you are – this is a long shot at a small target using fixed pins. And it feels real satisfying to hit 10 or better.

I shot 10 arrows, two sets of five, at 35, 40, and 45 yards at a lot of fake animals. I didn’t make it to all my targets. I’ll finish them tomorrow and will skip the bobcat and rabbit. Not that I wouldn’t like to try them at long distances, their not positioned to be shot longer than 35 yards.

There’s not enough cleared woods to back off from this target more than 35 yards. I doubt I’d ever see it at that distance. I doubt I ever see it in a tournament. But, I will see a gator and that target’s center ring is lower than this bobcat’s.

It was tempting to shoot from fifty yards. But, I’m not real sure about my 50-yard pin. If my foam animals were larger I’d have tested that bottom pin. It seemed wiser to examine the fifty-yard pin later against something larger than a cinnamon bear. Of course, where the ten ring is on the cinnamon bear there’s a leg below it. If I’d shot low the arrow would probably have ended up in the leg. A high shot and goodbye arrow. I wasn’t up to shooting $18.00 into the woods.

Fifty yards was tempting. I stopped here at 45

What I can say is that after an hour or so, 35 yards seemed close.

Met up with this critter on the run home this morning. The wildlife I see every day here in rural North Carolina is amazing.

Interesting Day In the Heat

This was a long day in the heat. When I stopped for the day the temperature was 93°F. I was sweaty and stinky. It was time to call it quits when I overshot my 50-meter target. But, 50-meter is still secondary at this point in my training. The focus had been on 3D. (50-meter was my second session of the day. 3D was the primary practice session.)

My 3D average has dropped during the year. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who is a competitive pistol shooter. He asked, “Think you’ve developed any new bad habits?” I answered, ‘No, I’m still exploring the old bad habits.”

3D practice was slow and purposeful, today. It was an effort to discover why I’m getting worse instead of better. Worse and better here are relative. Certainly, I’m better than I was, but not progressing at the moment.

For this practice I selected 10 targets: a badger, cinnamon bear, turkey, coyote, small black bear, two small boars, a deer, a mountain lion, and a javelina. Then, I’d shot them each at 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 yards pulling the arrow and scoring each arrow after each shot. It’s slow. I ended up walking 2.15 miles as measured by a Garmin wrist GPS. It took 2 hours and 5 minutes to complete.

I did take a break because of the heat and for lunch. While on a break I paused my GPS in order to get an accurate measurement of the practice distance. That does not mean that breaks in heat are not part of practice. It only means that I did not want to have that time and distance included in my data.

The canopy helps with the heat

The walking wasn’t bad in itself, but I had a two-mile run and 10-mile bike ride in my legs when I started shooting. And it was in the low 90’s. I was  sweating like the pig that knows its dinner despite a canopy of leaves blocking most of the direct sun. But, I’ll take the heat over the cold.

The archery practice alone is good. In order to have it mean more I study my numbers. The data from today’s 3D shots are revealing but not surprising.

At 20-yards I averaged 10.6 points per arrow. At 25-yards the average was 9.9. You guessed it, as the distance increased the average points per arrow dropped. Makes since, the longer the shot the greater skill it takes. At 30-yards, the average was 9.6, and then at 35 and 40 yards, the average was 8.1 and 8.7, respectively. (Yes, 0.6 points better at 40 yards compared to 35 yards.)

This ole cinnamon bear is the first target on the range. It gets more than a fair share of arrows

The targets were medium to small. A javelina at 40 yards is a pretty tough shot. Especially when the varmint is sitting in a dark hole. Throughout all the targets, I try to make them difficult. They’re lined up in tight areas, on logs, across a creek, or with ground cover to make judging yardage more difficult. Some are in plain view because occasionally we get to shoot at targets stuck up in the middle of nothing except wind.

There really is a small black bear in that hole. No, I can’t see it either when shooting as conveyed by an average on this target of 7.8. (Shot two 5s at 30 and 40 yards)

This bit of practice, aside from indicating I need more work at 35 and 40 yards, resulted in an overall average score per arrow of 9.35. That’s lower than my average in 3D tournaments since January 2017, which is 9.45 points per arrow. (My best single day for 2017 was 10.1 points per arrow) The practice today, was also, an average of 2 yards further per all targets than normal.

Indeed, that yardage is an estimate. I try to record, once I get home, the targets and the distances shot during tournaments. I’m getting better at remembering what I faced on a competitive range.

Miss this shot and you can say goodbye to an arrow

My best guess is the average distance per tournament is 28 yards per target. It’s those animals at 35 and 40 yards that have been hurting throughout the year. Since going back to fixed pins for 2017 my maximum distance is 40 yards versus 50 in past years.

I wasn’t alone in enjoying the day

I log and record my archery practices and competitions. Doing so helps set goals as well as prepare training plans. After practice and tournaments I set down and study my data. It does aid in providing insight and plotting development.

On the Road – Staunton, Virginia

I doubt I’ll go to the 2017 IBO World Championship in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. Last year’s event was not a highlight of my archery career. In addition, unless you can average 10.4 points per arrow there’s not much point in spending the money to make the trip. Sure, you could argue, “It’s a good experience.” You’d be right. If you’re willing to fund the trip – I’m there.

Still, I’m in Staunton to shoot an IBO World Championship qualifier. Between now and the main IBO event, who knows, my 3D average might spike.

Staunton is not around the corner from New Hope, North Carolina. It’s about 260 miles from my house to the Augusta Archers’ Club, host of the qualifier. I’d considered making the trip and renting a hotel. Instead, this is being typed from my Winnebago at a KOA Campground.

The KOA was booked online. The site clicked for the reservation was really nice. Bordered by trees and backed up to a small ‘lake.’ It’s not really a lake; it’s a medium (at best) pond. But, the site looked good and it was booked.

Upon arrival the registration clerk pointed out the site’s location on the campground map. The campsite’s position had changed from the clicked on photo shown during the online selection. Now, it was a narrow, treeless mat of gravel backed up to a visitors’ parking lot and bordered by other camping rigs.

The debate to improve the parking situation with the registration agent failed, the clerk claiming all spots were rented. Furthermore, she added with emphasis, “The computer assigns sites and there is nothing that can be done about it.” As proof, she rotated a computer screen for me to view to verify exactly what the 0’s and 1’s had assigned. There’s no arguing with a speechless electronic binary brain. The monitor glowed in my face offering no compromise. Essentially, it was keep HAL’s bait and switch site or KOA retains my deposit and I move on.

(HAL is an AI from 2001 A Space Odyssey. The initials HAL each represent one letter from alphabet moved one space each from IBM. This is being typed on an Apple. If you never saw the movie or read the book this all is meaningless to you)

Deciding that any spot might be better than the Wal-Mart parking lot I backed into the small stony space. Once the truck was unhooked then power, water and sewage were connected I rolled out the RV’s canopy to help keep the sun off the camper. It had to be reeled back in. The site is so tight the canopy extended partly over the road. It was foreseeable that another RV could drive past and rip the canvas extension off the rig.

With nothing else to be done, I took a short practice drive over to the Augusta Archers range to ensure there’d be no confusion in the morning. The drive only took about 18 minutes, a bonus for the KOA.

The grounds, from what I could see on the drive in, were very nice. I’ll find out first hand on Sunday. The IBO qualifier here is held over two days. It was finished for Saturday when I arrived.

A number of competitors were hanging out in the Augusta Archers clubhouse, which holds a decent indoor range. The archers were all men except for one woman. The lady was pretty much the only person that appeared willing to talk aside from the most verbally economic answering of questions directed toward any of the men.

That is until we hit upon Seven Springs. Then, the masculine group all wanted to share and one-up each other on their woeful experiences at the Pennsylvania site. It seems my abysmal adventure of 2016 might not have been the worst in this group.

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll get in zone and shoot over 300. Certainly, I’ll qualify – just in case.