New State Qualifier and Getting Back Into a Groove

On Facebook at local group posted that in a few weeks they will be offering an ASA State 3D Championship Qualifier.  I’d nearly tossed in the towel on 3D for 2020 before I read the post.

After learning there would be no easy access qualifier for my area I canned 3D other than shooting on my range for fun.  Instead, I grabbed my target bow and began practice shooting dots at longer yardages.

The recent addition of the nearby qualifier had me pulling out my 3D hunting style rig for practice.

I’d shot well last weekend in a local 3D event and expected to pick up where I’d left off.  That didn’t exactly pan out.

In the morning I refreshed my memory with the 3D bow and shot paper focusing on yardage from 40 to 50 yards.  In the afternoon I went out to shoot faux animals at 40 yards then 35 yards.

The average yardage was 38.2.  If the 40-yard practices and the 35 yards practice shots had been equal the yardage would have been 37.5 for those of you wondering about the 38.2 yardage.  The actual yardage for the long shots was 40.3 and the short shots were 35.

Longer distances with pins are tough.  Using a scope 40 yards isn’t a bother.  Using a scope I’ve had to make 100-yard shots.  In 3D using a hunter division rig 40 yards is the maximum distance in that class.

That’s probably a good thing considering how I performed at 40 yards today.  My average arrow score was 6.2 at 40 yards. At five yards closer the average was 10 with one 12 and one 8.

Last week’s tournament had an average distance of 33.2 yards.  I ended up with four 8s and seven 12s.  The rest were 10s.  I do remember a couple of shots being long.  The last target, a wolf, was at 40 yards.  I also recall a turkey at 35 yards.  Overall, it was a fair course.

The problem is when I shoot 8s and 5s.  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that is every archer’s problem.  Shooting 12s and 10s isn’t a problem. Today was a mess with 5s (all at 40 or 41 yards). The single 8 at 35 yards landed in a javelina.

Hitting a 3D target well on close shots isn’t hard.  Still, you have to make the shot.  Getting comfortable at longer yardages is mandatory to finish well.

Some Things You Just Can’t Control

3D is likely done for 2020 for me.  That’s a shame. I enjoy 3D and will continue to practice on my range.  However, the one qualifier within my means turned out not to be a qualifier.  It is now time to switch gears and go back to dots.

Covid-19 resulted in several of the State’s qualifiers being canceled. 3D seems a good way to compete and kept some distance between each other. Admittedly, I considered the situation as it related to sports and 3D came up a winner.

American is big.  When we see the huge numbers of US  Covid-19 cases compared to other countries it seems alarming.  No one wants to get sick or get the virus and pass it along to someone else that may end up in worse shape thanks to the sharing. We’ve got a lot of cases in the US. We’ve got more than any other country.  This is where you can pause and consider the size of the other countries.

For example, Sweden has roughly the same population as Georgia.  The Covid-19 cases are also roughly the same. The Florida has roughly the same population as the Netherlands.  The Florida and the Netherlands have 40,982 and 42,788 cases of Covid-19, respectively.  The Netherlands does have more deaths associated with Covid-19 than does Florida. You get the point, the US is large and some states have populations that are country sized. Still we all want to be careful.

This is especially true for me at 65, my wife at 66 and my father-in-law, who we visit weekly who is 91. We don’t want to get Covid-19 and we don’t want to pass it around. 3D seems like a great way to get outdoors and have potentially less exposure to the virus than grocery shopping.

The Covid-19 put a huge hole in my archery plans.  I made adjustments to focus exclusive on 3D for the viral period of social distancing. I’d focus on the Georgia State ASA Championship.  During this Covid time a number of State ASA 3D Championship qualifiers were canceled. This began to make me a bit nervous.  Luckily the one I intended to shoot remained available.

Attending that qualifying event after weeks of practice I shot one of my better scores in the hunter division.  On the 19thtarget I learned this qualifier was officially no longer a qualifier despite the listing at the ASA webpage claiming otherwise.

Years ago I was competing at the Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point, Georgia in a USA Cycling State Championship.  I’d won the pursuit and the kilo.  After the races just prior to the awards one of the USA Cycling officials announced the Championships would not be awarded.  She claimed one the required forms remained un-submitted and everyone would need to return in a few weeks to do it all over.

All winners and medalist screamed suggesting she submit the form and then apply the results.  We’d all been under the impression throughout the day’s events we were competing in a Championship – as we’d been told. The official refused to live up to the spirit of the games.

I couldn’t come back in few weeks.  Instead, I was going to be competing at the USA Cycling National Championships in Fresno, Texas.  I got 8th at the Nationals in the pursuit and would have preferred the Gold Medal in Georgia. (I scratched the kilo being called to Washington for a meeting with the FDA) These were races where one second can separate 1st place from 8th place. They are hard to win.

The ASA State Qualifier felt the same way – disappointing.  I won the division by 11 points.  It didn’t matter much like the Georgia cycling event.  It became basically a fun shoot.

They ended up combining all hunter groups since I was probably the only Senior Hunter competing (those archers over 50). I ended up grouped with 11 other archers all who are quite good.

I copied and pasted the results. I X’ed out the other athletes names since I didn’t ask them if I could post their result even though they are posted online elsewhere.

I am pleased with my score from the event.  Hoping to find something else to shoot as a qualifier I checked the ASA website to see if there was another qualifier within my ‘day’ drive radius and the answer was no.  You can bet in the future I’ll be shooting the first qualifier within my drive radius in 2021.

I could haul the camper to the next event and spend the weekend there.  It remains a consideration.  It comes down to the budget.  It would be an extra expense outside my financial plans in the range of $300.00. ($271.00 approximately)

It must be hard for Olympians having to wait another year to compete at the Summer Games in Tokyo. That isn’t as bad as President Carter’s boycott of the Summer Games in Moscow in 1980.

Over the decades I’ve competed in 100s of sporting events.  I was even fortunate enough to represent the USA as a Team member during a World Championship.  However, it doesn’t matter to me if the event is a World Championship, the Olympics, or a State Championship when something occurs that means it is no longer possible to compete. It is a let down.

While competing at the USA Masters National Indoor Track and Field Championship I faulted out of an event I was about to win.  That didn’t bother me as much as it would have had some situation prevented me for competing.  In fact, I’ve competed globally and only in Georgia has some unforeseen occurrence held me back from winning or qualifying. Faulting out during competition is my error and it was an error I knew might be a problem for me.

(A taller running I was trying to pass kept swinging his elbow toward my nose. He’d already hit me a number of time. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was 3000 meters and we had less than 100 meters before the finish. The officials disapproved of my passing remedy.)

What I can do is make new plans for 2020 and look forward to outdoor target archery beginning in July.

The ASA State Qualifier that Wasn’t

The range at today’s Georgia ASA State 3D Championship qualifier was awesome.  On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the most realistic set this one would have been a 5.  Another bonus is the shoot was only 30 minutes from where I live.  In fact, I’d had it on my calendar for months.

There was some doubt about going because of the Covid-10 problem. I went anyway and did my very best to social distance.

When I checked it I wore a mask and gloves.  I signed in with my own pen. I had triple checked that the event hadn’t been canceled before I took the time and chance to compete. It remained, un-canceled, on the list of qualifiers at the ASA website the night before the event.

A number of qualifiers had already been canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I wrote the ASA asking if a waiver for people wanting to compete in the State Championship might be warranted for 2020.  I didn’t get a reply. So, it was this qualifier or more than likely I’d have to skip the 2020 ASA State Championship.

There are two other state qualifiers still available aside from today’s.  Each has problems connected with attending.  One means a long drive that goes through Atlanta to get to west Georgia the other a longer drive that means an overnight stay. No, the one remaining shoot for a qualification to compete at the State Championship was the one today.

In 2017 I won an IBO State 3D Championship. The IBO has an age group that more narrowly fits my age bracket. The following 2 years, competing in the Senior Hunter Division under ASA rules I’ve taken 2 third places finishes.  Under the ASA rules I compete with archers of a broader age category.  I compete against archers whose ages more closely match my adult children’s ages. I don’t really mind the only handicap I have is vision looking at dark targets in dark holes.  As we age our eyes don’t pick up light as well.

The Covid-19 problem encouraged me switch my focus to 3D because those events are outside and more easily controlled for social distancing. Practices going into today’s event have been good.  The actual competition went well, too.  I ended up at 10.3 points per arrow.  Not great and not bad.  An average of 10.3 generally lands an archer in the Senior Hunter division in the top 4 or 5 spots and maybe higher at the State level.  When I got home I took the distances, I’d written them down after each shot, and found that the average yardage was 33.2 yards.

Turns out it didn’t really matter.  The tournament, I learned as I was leaving the event, was no longer an ASA qualifier.  It was a tremendous let down.  Thankfully, it was a short drive.

Archery: 10% Mental, 90% Trying Not to Quit

Even though Georgia’s Covid-19 restrictions have been eased I’m a bit hesitant to jump into the middle of a crowd.  In my mid-60s I fit into a high-risk category. Still, solo archery practice and training moves forward.

Today, I was thankful for being socially distance. In this way, no one other than the archer could view the 3D practice.  It was ugly.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t prepared. On yesterday, using my bow hunter rig, I worked on precise shooting.  The practice used tape measured distances moving from 20 yards to 45 yards in slow progression over and over and over.

The idea was that on today I’d work longer yardage aiming at foam animals.  The average distance was 36 yards with the minimum at 35 yards and the maximum at 45 yards.  Turns out that the 45-yard target was my best of the day, my only 12.  Aside from that I averaged a miserable 8.75 points per arrow for a score of 175.  Like I said – ugly.

41 yards – yes, ugly

Heck, 45 yards is a chip shot with a scope and long stabilizers.  At 50 meters (55 yards) I hold a state record using target style equipment.  In 3D I prefer using a hunting rig and competing in the hunter class.  This does mean I compete against archers that aren’t much older than my children. But, I don’t mind if they don’t. I do find that the younger guys here in Georgia are more inclined to pull the arrows, giving the old fellow a break. And, without exception good manners and “Sir” prevails in conversation. I do appreciate that even if it does, at times, remind my of he age difference.

If I’m going to shoot using a target bow then, for me, that is field and target archery.  In 3D, it is like playing using a hunter rig and in my opinion meets the spirit of its origin.

I know long distances using pins is killing me.  Long distances in 3D with low poundage and a short draw means my arrows float toward fake critters.  My calculated FPS is 243, so I need to be precise when I place the pin.  This is why on yesterday I worked specifically at aiming.

I’ll repeat it all tomorrow and the next day.  Because, I expect that in the near future I’ll be able to get back into a tournament. In the meantime, all anyone can do is stay focused and keep practicing.

A Little Better

Today’s 3D practice was just a little better than yesterday’s. The prior practice yielded an average points per arrow of 9.75.  Today the average was up by 0.85 points per arrow or 10.6 points per arrow.

While the increase in points seems good the kicker is the yardage was slightly less down from 34.3 to 32.4. At first glace it seemed like today’s yardage might have ended up closer to yesterday’s.  When I did the stats on today’s yardage I discovered the increase in score, 212 versus 195, is likely a result of the 1.9 yards on average closer to the targets.

Today the number of targets taken in the gap between pins was greater today.  Yesterday the distances that corresponded to pins was 14 out of 20.  Today, the pin alignment was good for 8 targets all others being in the gaps.

No matter it is nice to be able to go outside and shoot.

Trying to Focus on 3D

The Governor has made it clear that Georgians can go outside and play so long as they social distance, wear a mask, and stay indoors if you are 65 years old or older or have an underlying health condition.  I fall into the 65 and older group that seems more susceptible to Covid-19.

Archery tournaments aren’t about to keep people 6 feet apart.  3D archery has a better chance that folks can remain 6 feet apart.

There’s a Georgia ASA State Championship qualifier minutes away from where I live in a week.  So, do I take a chance, go to the qualifier, qualify, catch Covid-19 and end up dead?  If I end up dead I won’t be able to compete in the Georgia ASA State Championship.  Dead people never get to compete in archery.

In the meantime, I have found a sliver lining – my current practice scores suck.  Today, at an average distance of 34.3 yards (range 25 yards to 40 yards) I scored 195 on the 20 targets. That’s 9.75 points per arrows.  With an average like that I might as well hang out in the back yard and practice.  Perhaps, when I can comfortably return to competitive archery I’ll have that average a tad higher.

Another rough day on the practice range

This seemed like an easy 31 yards shot

When I practice 3D I try to make the shots realistic to what I might find on a range during a tournament.  Some days I work long shots.  By long shots I mean distances from 32 to 43 yards.  The short 32 yards target is a coyote in a hill.  There’s a tree that blocks me from increasing the range. Today, I tried to shoot at distances that seemed typical for the target as I might see it during an actual tournament.  I didn’t finish well.

Nope, missed the area where I’d called for a 12 by a fraction
This little fellow made for an interesting target at 21 yards

Prior to the tournament style practice I warmed up from 20 to 50 yards before heading to the first 3D target.  A few days ago I started without a warm-up to practice for the time when I’ll not have a chance to get a feel for my bow before scoring.  It happens.

Still ended up with a 10
This turkey is a tough target even at a close 24 yards

The weather was ideal temperature wise but it was windy with gusts in the 20 mph range.  I wish I could blame today’s results on the wind.  I can’t.  Once in the woods the foliage was enough to diminish the impact of wind.

At 24 yards I just cut the 10 line

 

It takes about an hour and an half to walk my range shooting targets once and moving on.  The warm-up took nearly an hour.  I shot 40 arrows during my warm-up.  Warm-up felt good.  I use a 5-spot on a bale and figure if the arrow is in the white it is probably a 10 on a foam animal.

There’s a javelina in them trees
Practice this one a lot. You will see it

Starting out on my first target a black bear at 30 yards was a 12.  The next was a strutting turkey at 37 yards for a 10.  Then a badger at 30 yards scoring an 8. I ended up with one 5 on a tiny backyard coyote from 21 yards. The final tally was a disappointing 185.  We all know an average of 9.25 points per arrow will not land you in a top position.

The average distance only 29.8 yards, a factor mostly associated with the abundance of small targets I have on the range. That and I didn’t shoot further out than 40 yards.

The ranges per target

The positive from this is I didn’t break any more arrows. (This practice used a bow hunter rig. Practice geared to ASA Senior Hunter, 40 yard max distance.)

I ended my day better than this poor fellow. He wasn’t there this morning during my run.

Longer Distance, Lower Score

A few days ago I ran a game where I shot a solo 3D tournament.  I’d tried to make it realistic for a Senior Hunter class event. I scored 202 or an average of 10.1 points per shot. The yardage was an average of 31.25.  In this game I included all my small targets and shot them between 20 and 25 yards. The larger, medium sized targets, ranged out to 40 yards.  Still, the resulting distance average was 31.25 yard.  That seemed a bit short.

A distance of 31.25 yards seems short.  There were some longer shots, seven at 35 to 40 yards, and some medium range shots, 4 at 30 to 34 yards, the rest were from 20 to 33 yards.  So, 11 shots at greater than 34 yards and 9 between 20 and 33 yards.

To see what might happen at slightly longer distances, using a bow hunter rig, I repeated the exercise but made the distances longer, an average of 37.5 yards.  There were two short shots at 23 yards aiming at a foam mosquito and a bobcat. Aside from those two small targets all others were between 30 yards and 45 yards.

What happened to my average per arrow? It went down by nearly a point, to 9.4 points per arrow or minus 0.7 points per arrow on an average.

In my experience, here in Georgia, the limit of 40 yards for Senior Bow Hunter is merely a suggestion.  Yes, everyone needs to shoot the same targets and everyone gets a chance to enjoy the extended real estate.  But, the top guys still average greater than 10 points per arrow.

This means I’ve got some work to do aiming at longer distances if I expect half way decent finishes whenever I get to compete, again.

Social Distance 3D Game

I’d been upstairs at my desk working out a plan.  The plan completed I headed downstairs. My wife, Brenda, was sitting on a couch in our sunroom trying to watch a recording of “48 Hours” as I passed through on my way outside. “I made a game, I’ll be out back shooting if you need me,” I explained.  Brenda, remote control in hand aimed at the television responded with a bored, “Okay.”

Brenda and I are in our mid-60’s.  We’re not interested in testing our immune systems against the Covid-19 even though I suspect we’ve already done so and passed. We don’t know for sure if we’ve had the virus and getting a test to discover whether or not we’re loaded with the proper antibodies remains undone. So, we social distance and find ways to break the boredom.

The social distancing is more of a burden for Brenda than it is for me.  Many of the sport activities I enjoy, over the years, have become exercises I can do alone.  Brenda, on the other hand, teaches yoga.  Her yoga studio is closed and she’s less inclined to practice yoga solo than I am to run, ride, and shoot without company.

The created game I’d made was simple: Twenty 3D targets, no warm up, score and review.

Target 1: Black Bear at 34 yards
Target 2: Turkey at 32 yards
Target 3: Badger at 30 yards
Target 4: Bobcat at 20 yards
Target 5: Mosquito at 20 yards
Target 6: Mountain Lion at 40 yards
Target 7: Coyote at 30 yards
Target 8: Cinnamon Bear at 40 yards
Target 9: Buck at 35 yards
Target 10: Hen at 25 yards
Target 11: Rabbit at 20 yards
Target 12: Turkey butt at 25 yards
Target 13: Small boar at 27 yards
Target 14: Javelina at 32 yards
Target 15: Deer at 40 yards
Target 16: Medium boar at 35 yards
Target 17: Deer at 40 yards
Target 18: Cinnamon Bear, again at 40 yards
Target 19: Mountain lion, again at 40 yards
Target 20: coyote at 20 yards

You might think,’why not take a warm-up?’ Well, most of the time I do warm-up.  Prior to a tournament or scoring practices, I’ll shoot a dozen or so arrows at various known distances to verify my sightings for the lighting and loosen up my arms and shoulders. However, there have been tournaments where a warm-up might not have been possible for one reason or another. Not having a warm-up is one of the situations you can plan for and practice for when it does occur.

This is how it panned out

I ended up with a score of 202. The average per arrow was 10.1 points. An average of 10.1 might sound good, but to win at many tournaments in the Senior Hunter division 10.4 is a minimum required for a top 3 finish.  There are times when 10.8 points per arrow average is needed to be in one of the top positions.

Senior hunter division, for anyone who does not know, means short stabilizer and pins used for sighting.  You shoot a ‘hunting’ style bow setup. The maximum distance, for ASA, is 40 yards. The IBO counterpart is 35 yards.

You can see on the score paper photo two dots next to ‘Deer Old’ and ‘Med Boar.’ On those shots, a 12 and a 10, respectively, the dots represent absolutely lucky shots.  The arrows could have just as easily have been a miss.  With both, the shot went off at a point where I’d lost my focus. I had been holding for the release and my mind sort of went blank.  Not that good kind of alpha one brainwave pattern blank, the bad kind of mental blackout.

The ‘C’ next to the last target means 12 points for a center ring.  The last target is such a small coyote that, prior to scoring, made the determination to go with a center 12.

Reviewing the targets you might notice how I’ve  tried to make them interesting.  Many of them are surrounded by trees that create a higher degree of difficulty. Still, there are enough of the long open shots to match up with what we see during competition. There’s also an abundance of small targets.  The population of small targets is purely the result of target pricing.

I need to shoot a few of the targets more than once to get 20 shots.  On those I take a different angle so I’m not simply repeating the prior shot. I only have 16 3D targets.  I have space for four more.  Perhaps, those potential new targets will appear after my US Economic Stimulus money arrives.

Keeping the average distance and average score per arrow up, in both instances, is tough with the abundance of small targets on the range.  In this case the average distance was 31.25 yards.  Shooting small targets, like mosquitoes, badgers and rabbits, at long yardages is unrealistic.  First, I’ll probably never see them in a major event and second I’m running short on 3D arrows.  I only have 8 remaining functional 3D arrows. No point in taking a chance on wasting an arrow.

The javelina is small and it was set at a distance of 32 yards for this game.  I will shoot the javelina out to 40 yards a lot.  That little target seems to be a favorite used to show off real estate. A couple of years ago I did see the badger at 40 yards over in North Carolina.  I’ve not seen the badger since. The javelina, on the other hand, will pop-up at maximum range, secured on a log, in some dark hole, there to embarrass you every weekend.

I haven’t bought any new 3D arrows in three years.  Over the course of 36 months I’ve lost a few and broken more.  This past week I lost the tips out of four arrows, left behind when I pulled the arrow free of foam.  I had two tips in my shed among surplus archery parts and those have been loaded. There are two more arrows without a tip.  Getting a couple of tips will bring me to 10 useable arrows.

In 3D you only need one arrow most of the time.  Occasionally, you will lose a tip, get your arrow broken by another archer, and rarely fire off a miss then bye bye arrow.  The biggest problem in creating this dwindling pool of 3D arrows is, during practice, shooting more than one arrow at the same spot.  You do lose a lot of nocks that way as well as the intermittent Robin Hood which might cost you two arrows. Three years ago I had 24 3D arrows. Time to bite the nock and buy some more regardless of economic stimulus relief.

Granted, this was fun even if it isn’t as much fun as shooting with other folks.  But, it beats the heck out of trying to find something on TV to watch.

All that work and….

A whole bunch of archery tournaments have been canceled or moved.  Some of the new dates might not work out.  We’ll see how it goes.

2020’s spring competitive archery season isn’t going the way it was planned.  Oh well, there is nothing that can be done aside from continuing to practice.

To change the practice pace I switched over to 3D leaving dots for another day.  Actually, tomorrow I may start shooting dots in the morning and 3D in the afternoon.  That’s how I done in the normal years.

The problem I am facing, as a result of a lot of 3D archery, is a quickly lowering quantity of arrows.  No, I am not missing targets and losing them.  Tips and nocks are becoming a problem. I lost three tips, left behind in foam, and busted a couple of nocks. Later today I’ll dig around to see if I’ve got a reserve stash of tips and nocks.  Once upon a time I did – Lord knows where they are now.

Archery isn’t the only area of concentration leaving me wanting more.  When this pandemic hit the news there were cries for more respiratory therapists.  I am a therapist, among “other things”, but I’d noticed the State I was retiring and didn’t renew my license.  Wanting to pitch in I began the process of reinstating my license.  No small task considering I had to compete 30 hours of continuing education prior to submitting my paperwork.

Yesterday, out of curiosity I checked to see where I might help as a therapist locally. I did find hospitals in my area needed help.  There were two jobs posted: one for night shift and the other in neonatology.  I’ve done night shift and I’ve done neonatology.  To be honest I expected to find more positions available.

This got me thinking about the Covid-19 problem and the need for therapists.  I checked a number hospitals around the state and found 39 openings: 31% of them were PRN (primarily in Atlanta), 14% are part-time only (no shift indicated), 17% are for day shift (Augusta, Atlanta, and Savannah), 24% are for night shift.  The remainder of the openings, the other 14% were for therapists to work in pulmonary function/sleep or weekends only.

Having a PRN pool makes since in that the hospitals have a number to call folks in should it become necessary.  None of the PRN positions were local.  I stopped looking before I checked Macon, Columbus, and Albany.  Considering all the work I’ve been doing to reinstate my license it now seems about as critical as the spring archery season.

I’ll keep up the archery practice.  When it comes to reinstating my license I’m considering going ahead and fork out the cash.  On the other hand, maybe I’ll just have all the paperwork and continuing education done and ready to submit if the need every arises. If it were simply a matter of wanting to earn some cash, the “other things” pay a whole lot better. But this license reinstatement was never about money.