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.

Time for new targets

It has just been four years, nine months and one day since I picked up a bow. Over that time I’ve shot a lot of targets. Of the sponsorship that would be nice a manufacturer that makes 3D animals would be good.

At 3D tournaments I typically get handed my lunch. Sure I win some of them. Mostly I don’t win. It isn’t because I don’t practice.

In 3D there is the practice associated with shooting and the practice associated with judging yardage. Where I get hosed is judging yardage. It is typically the ups and downs that score me an eight. When I’ve shot known yardage, well that’s another matter.

Three years ago it became clear that having a 3D range would be beneficial. So, I began putting together a foam menagerie. Most of my targets are on the small side. The big targets are bigger in price, hence the small targets.

Heck, even paper targets are pricey. Say a paper 3-spot is around a buck. Go through 40 of them in a month and you’ve shot away some cash. My recent package of twenty 3-spots from order off of Amazon cost $13.99, which was a pretty good deal. Either style, foam or paper, targets are’t cheap.

This poor coyote is just about to split in half. Time for repairs – again

My targets stay outside year around. There are covers you can purchase to protect 3D targets from the elements. My poor critters are naked to the elements.

Over time the poor 3D animals are taken a toll. A few of my faux-animals have been amateurishly repaired more than once. Many now need more corrective surgery.

I suppose I could order a new core. Maybe filling this hole with a commercial foam will buy me some more time.

Yes, a bow sponsor that lavished their latest and greatest on me would be nice. But, free 3D targets would be better.

Missing a short shot

Finally, there was a target that was at close range. All day our group had been plugging foam that was never close. Until this really close target the shortest distance shot had been 28 yards. Here in front of us was a javelina, on flat ground, at 24 yards. I called an upper twelve.

I needed another twelve to balance out a few eights. It was a tough range, but a fair range. Shooting pins at 40 yards isn’t hard if you’ve practiced and I felt confident. The few eights where quickly balancing with twelve’s. There it was the twelve I needed just 24 yards away.

I have a javelina on my range. I’ve shot it over 1000 times. I bought it out of necessity. Everywhere I’d been competing the little varmint was there. It would be sitting between 35 and 40 yards. So, I bought one and practiced.

My little friend

On this day the critter was only 24 yards out. I was practically laughing when I reached the stake. With confidence I called, “Upper 12.”

I took my time. Studied the shot. I got my feet perfect. Loaded and nocked an arrow. I raised my bow, drew my arrow, bending at the waist (better than dropping an arm) took aim, and landed a high 5.

I knew it before the arrow hit. Just before the shot I had a brain-fart, lost the target, and before I could stop and think to let down I’d shot the target – shot it high.

Sometime I watch golf. I see professionals on TV do things while putting I’d never do. They walk up to a close shot, sort of lean over on one foot and knock the ball into the pin. One day I’ll watch one of these guys brain-fart and miss the put.

There are no “gimme” shots in archery. Each shot counts. Sure, we all have an occasional brain-fart. But, the fewer the better. (I still finished good enough to win. But, below what I should have shot. And perhaps there was a little luck involved.)

The Week that Began and Ended in Social Circle, Georgia

It was a long week. Starting with an archery tournament and ending with another both in Social Circle. In the middle there was a big family gathering and one huge birthday party.

The start was a competition I nearly didn’t shoot. It wasn’t the difficulty of the shooting that created some pause, it was the hour. It tournament didn’t start until 7:30 PM. But, it was shooting near home, about 25 minutes away in Social Circle. Being so close it is hard to pass up archery contests such a short drive down the road. Heck, if it got too long I could always just go home.

Going home was a drive for others that came to the tournament. Archers from Atlanta, Decatur and Kennesaw were on the line. The line was at 50 meters and the lines were full.

Yes sir, it was a long tournament, but I didn’t leave even though this event went well past my bedtime. The crew from ACE Apache, led by USA Archery Level 4 Coach Big John Chandler, did a great job of organizing and running the show.

I did leave before the awards were presented. I’ll go out on a limb and say I won my age group (over 50). The chance projection is based on the semi-final Olympic Round where when I was finally eliminated – the other few remaining archers seemed no older than 30 years. I made it home at midnight. I was so keyed up that there was no sleeping until after 2:00 AM.

We camped for the “Party”

Even though I didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00 AM, our dogs insisted that I was up by 6:00 AM. Dogs have no mercy when it comes to human sleep requirements. It took three days to get over the break in my sleep pattern.

Little Roy and Lizzie playing

With that to endure there was no time to ease up. There was a birthday bash to follow. By birthday bash, I mean catering, a live blue grass band and a good percentage of the Town of Lincolnton, Georgia attending. This shindig was put together in part by his friends in Lincolnton and his family. It was Ray’s, my father-in-law, 90th birthday.

View from our campsite

Aside from lawn maintance my role was to smoke a ham, two large Boston Butts for pulled pork, and grill about 12 pounds of sausage.

After long days at Ray’s it was nice to get to a piece of quiet

At the end of a long week I got to pick up a bow and shoot another tournament, this time a 3D competition. What I can say about the crew at ACE Apache in Social Circle, the put together a 3D range that was perfect. I won that on as well.

Yes, this was nice

It was a long week. It was fun. I am tired.

Georgia ASA State Championship

I camped for this tournament at Hamburg State Park

Alas, life is full of disappointment. Among them, for me at least, was this past week’s Georgia State ASA Championship. One thing that was not remotely close to disappointing is the Po Boy’s Archery 3D range near Mitchell, Georgia.

On the road to Po Boys Archery

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from my campsite

The Po Boy’s 3D range is one of the finest I’ve seen in my nearly five years (4 years, 8 months) of archery. It was such a nice range I wanted to ask if I could shoot it again for fun. I didn’t, the range was full of archers, young and mature, giving clinics on how to shoot 3D.

Smacked with two 12s and two 10s at 40 yards

The competition was so strong that if you messed up on a single shot you’d more than likely be out of the run for a first place award. That was me, only I managed it on a few shots. But, there was only one that was strictly unrecoverable – a big hog.

I have a couple pigs on my 3D practice range. The hog on range ‘A’ was honestly one of the easier targets. It was a giant of a pig at least 3 times the size of my largest and my downfall. It was sitting behind two trees which bordered it.  It was a great target. It looked so close.

I misjudged that hog by 10 yards. I knew it in the millisecond before my arrow released. And there flew any chance for a descent finish. You know, a giant hog at 38 yards looks a lot like a small pig at 28 yards – at least it did for me. Despite a very solid second round, on range ‘D,’ my tournament was over on range ‘A’ target 10. Unless there would be others that might botch a shot.

On range ‘D’, the second of the two ranges I’d been assigned, I hit seven upper 12s. I knew I’d hit them before I shot. I never called them. The fear was that if I called them I’d shoot an eight and I needed to be conservative and finish with all 10s. The hope being that the other archers in my class (Senior Hunter) would screw up. They did not provide me any help. I finished a sad third place.

These “Po Boys” put on one excellent tournament on a spectacular range

My plan going into the tournament was to finish even. Shoot for tens and maybe pull out a 12 here and there. It seemed that 2 to 4 up would win the day in the Senior Hunter class. Shooting even might even bring home a fancy belt buckle.* If I could have stuck with the plan it would have worked. If I’d shot range ‘A’ like range ‘D’ it would have worked. If I’d just shot range ‘A’ a bit tighter. If only, if only….

Yes sir, you can expect to find this little fellow somewhere between 32 yards and 38 yards these days. Our little buddy here was at 36 yards.

Believe me, these archers in Georgia aren’t going to cut anyone any slack. The average (eyeball measurement from Facebook posted scores) winning score was 8.7 up with a couple division winners hitting plus 28. If you shoot yourself into a hole there is little opportunity to dig back out.

Mike, another archer, also camped at Hamburg State Park. We met as we were leaving.

Once again, there’s next year.

I’ll return to Hamburg State Park
  • As it turned out shooting even would have won the Senior Hunter division.  It is a tough class with a 40 yard maximum yardage, using a hunting rig, and at unknown distances. The winner took the prize at 8 down.

Reviewing Practice

During practice it is a good idea to take notes. A small pad or folding piece of paper is adequate for making notes on shots.

Coaching Tip

I carry a small pad in my quiver on which to record my notes. Here is what I am reviewing from this mornings practice.

First off, today’s morning practice was a mock 3D tournament. This means, in ASA style, 20 targets. There are times when warm up isn’t possible, so to make this practice more complicated I did not take any warm-up shots.

The twenty targets included three bear, three pigs, three turkey, three deer, two javelina, two mountain lions, badger, mosquito, bobcat and a rabbit. All these targets are either small or medium sized.

All targets were shot without the benefit of a range finder. A range finder was used after the shot to compare its measured distance with the distance I selected for the target.

Notes from this morning

The final score was not overwhelming well – 181 or 9.05 points per target. I shot three 5s which need attention. The first 5 was a small black bear at 33 yards. The elevation was fine and the range finder was in agreement with the distance I’d judged. The problem – I rushed the shot and pulled the shot right. The next 5 was a badger at 28 yards (ranger finder 29 yards). The arrow was perfect right to left; I’d judged the yardage well. But, I’d had poor placement of my aim. I attributed this to the early morning lack of light and overcast sky. Perhaps, if I’d approached the shot more slowly I might have had a better score.

The worst 5 was on a target I typically hit in the 10 ring. This was a cinnamon bear at 32 yards. The error was a major, my worst mistake, judgment of distance. I shot it for 38 yards, it was only 32 yards.

I did have 3 twelves. One each on a javelina (26 yards), a deer (30 yards) and a small pig (32 yards.) The other scores were eight 10s and five 8s.

This afternoon I’ll go back to the range and shoot most of these targets again from 20 to 45 yards in 5-yard increments. The very small targets, bobcat and rabbit for example I’ll not shot from over 30 yards because their shooting lane isn’t long enough. But, my notes reveal where I need work. Without the notes I’d be guessing at areas where I need to improve.

Keeping notes doesn’t take much time and reviewing them for weaknesses then working on them is important to improving your scores.