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.

Another Wet, Cold, and Windy Day in June

Coco coming to say hello to River and I while running

Before I went out to run and ride my bike I put on warm-up clothes for running and a jacket and leg warmers to ride. It was cold and raining. This is some very unusual weather we’ve been experiencing here on the coast of North Carolina. The rain is not uncommon, the temperature is low for this time of the year.

End of this road while cycling

I spent a few hours out on the 3D range in long pants, two shirts and a sweater. Things weren’t so bad once I was out of the wind. But, it was raining a little and still cold.

The rain eased off a bit during 3D practice

What remains incredible to me, it is June, near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the low temperature has been in the low 50’s with a high in the upper 60’s.

Walking past my 50-meter target, sure it is impossible to pass without shooting it

By tomorrow it will be back into the upper 80’s and we’re expecting low 90’s this weekend. That will be more like it.

Not a Pivotal Day for Improvement

Yesterday, I had to take care of the 3D range. Taking care of the 3D range is mowing; weed whacking, trimming, and then using a commercial leaf blower to knock back debris. The work takes about 5 hours. When it’s done it is very satisfying. Of course, once the chores were completed the 3D practice range became irresistible to shooting.

The Virginia State IBO Championship and World Championship qualifier in Staunton, VA, is about two weeks out. It’s my last chance to compete in an event that leads to the IBO World Championship. The plan is to shoot in Staunton with a hope to move onto Pennsylvania for the IBO’s main event. If my average scores are up to 10.4 points per arrow by the IBO World Championship I’ll give it a whirl. If not, well that’s a costly exercise to drive up to Seven Springs and fling arrows into the sides of a ski slope.

This is only 21 yards. The tress make the shot interesting

So, from now until Staunton there will be more deliberate practice on 3D. Not that I haven’t been focused on 3D but I have been splitting days between 3D and 50-meter.

This little bird hung out next to me for a surprisingly long time.

Having a freshly manicured  3D range beckoning I sat down at my desk and designed a tournament-like practice session. What I came up with was 20 targets to be scored in IBO fashion, not ASA style. I worked out the distance for each target based on what might be expected during a tough event. Those distance/target combinations were recorded on paper. After the 3D challenge on was paper I grabbed my gear and walked over to the range.

On the range I then stood where I thought the exact yardage would be to the target as recorded on the paper. For example, target number one was a bear set for 35 yards, so there I stood as I judged the distance to the bear. Once satisfied that I was standing at the proper distance for a specific target I measured that distance with a range finder to see how well I’d guessed. Finally, I shot the target and recorded the score.

I was pleased with judging the yardage being different by an average of 0.35 yards over all compared to the range finder’s yards. Most judged distances were spot on, 0 variance, with several 1 yard misses and two misses at 2 yards.  All the differences were within the standard deviation for the range finder. I always shot from my judged yardage.

This little rabbit is set up so that it had to be shot at an angle.

The down side of this is that I’ve shot the range so often for so long I pretty much know the distances from where ever I stand. Moving the targets around helps as does changing the perspective of the shot. Still, the experience of seeing other animals and various terrain remains a weakness.

One of my favorite targets. It is interesting to look at and fun to shoot.

Too bad my shooting wasn’t as good as my yardage judgment. I shot two fives, three eights, one eleven and the rest were tens. The first five was on a turkey. The shot was way off center and low right. It was also a close target, only twenty yards.

This, too, is an interesting shot. Several trees in the 35 yards from the stake to impact.

The 5 on the turkey was not a complicated shot. The miss was carelessness. I don’t even think I was looking when I shot. I was daydreaming.

The other 5, a black bear in a black hole 35 yards away, well that one was a challenge. Still, I’ve made that shot hundreds of times since I bought that bear a couple of months ago. The rings are impossible to see and I had examined the shot with binoculars beforehand. Between seeing the mark and shooting my short-term memory took a break.

This is a hard target to see. Dars a bar in dar.

The eights, those too were fairly difficult targets. One of them was a mosquito at 17 yards. Sure, that one sounds close and I should have hit at least a solid 10. I’d have argued for the 10 in competition. In practice I score any pulled line as the lower score. Then, there was a javelina for an 8 at 26 yards and worst of all a mountain lion at 35 yards for an eight. The total for the day a sad 185.

The past few weeks have not been pivotal in the improvement of my 3D shooting. I’ve actually dropped from a season average of 9.7 points per target to 9.45, nearly a full point from my goal for 2017.

After this score, I was also pounding my head.

Well, all there is to be done is try some more. In the meantime, the 3D range is pretty awesome.

Weighted Down to Practice 3D

Walking out to the 3D range this morning, Brenda was watching me go from our front porch. She said, “You are really weighted down.” As usual, she was right.

Going out to the range means carrying a lot of gear. Aside from the standard stuff – bow, arrows, binoculars, release, quiver – this time of year, living in a swampy area, there the need for a Thermacell and a pistol.

That little shed in the background is getting new paint in a week or so. Red with white trim. (The  antenna is connected to a ham radio HF rig, AE4PG)

Sure, you may be an expert archer and consider any poisonous reptile a target, not me. In my experience when crossing paths with a water moccasin my quiver has been empty and my bow was not in hand.

It was long practice today, nothing under 35 yards, This coyote is seen at 40 yards.

There’s a more practical side, if a snake can kill me I want to be able to kill it first and a firearm, even a small 380, beats an arrow. Even so, I’m hiking around the 3D range with 17-inch snake boots.

There are new tracks everyday

Aside from the snakes and mosquitoes, for which precautions can be taken, the range is beautiful. Spending 2 to 6 hours a day there practicing is very relaxing. Granted, it is a lot of work to manage this range, but it is worth it.

Growing wild

I may have to gear up and load up to spend time in the woods but it’s a worthwhile effort and time enjoyed.

Pictures are Worth a Lot of Words

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  There was no way to share this Memorial Day Weekend here in so few words. So, pictures may help explain a fun three days.

The weekend started and finished with archery. In the middle we took a couple of long boat trips with a pause for dinner with friends.

The weekend started off with a North Carolina ASA State Championship qualifier at Roanoke Archery in Plymouth, NC.
After the 3D shoot in Plymouth, Brenda and I decided to take a nice long boat trip. We left from our dock in the Little River. The red arrows on this map are not the Little River. Those are the Perquimans and North Rivers. Little River is west of the Perquimans. The trip was similar to the red lines – only different. We crossed the Albemarle Sound to Alligator River. That’s around 16 miles, each way, from our Dock.
The Albemarle Sound isn’t deep, rarely over 20 feet. But, it is a large body of water.
These old pilings are a good land mark and perch for sea birds.
When we make long trips in our Carolina Skiff, I use the 1/3 rule: 1/3 of my tank of gas to get to the destination, 1/3 for the return and a 1/3 in reserve.
We gave this big fella lots of open space.
Pocosin National Wildlife Refuge on the oppose side of the Sound from where we live.
On Monday we went in the opposite direction, away form the Sound, boating into swampy areas.
This is one large sail boat to have on a shallow River. Little River is not deep, only around 12 feet in the main channel. Get out of that and a sailboat can quickly get stuck.
This Osprey is probably covering up babies
The bird kept a close eye on us as we passed
Some of these little creeks are too tight for a Skiff, but are excellent in a kayak
I’d rather pass a water moccasin while in my boat versus a kayak. I’ve passed them in both.
A rare turtle that didn’t slide back into the water as we slowly motored past. Going slowly is critical to avoid logs.
The finish of the weekend shooting my Carl, a friend that had come down to his vacation home for the holiday.