The GBAA and NFAA Section in Statesboro

In Georgia, I have lived in these cities and towns: Savannah, Isle of Hope, Tybee Island, Thunderbolt, Statesboro, Augusta, Lincolnton, Columbus, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Kennesaw, and now Good Hope.   This past weekend, I drove from Good Hope to Statesboro to shoot in the GBAA State Championship and NFAA Indoor Sectional. Driving though the State, passing so many familiar places was nostalgic.

Much has changed during the past eighteen years when we’d not lived in Georgia. Augusta and Statesboro have grown. So has every other town I passed though during the trip.

We lived in Statesboro in the early 1980’s. I’d not been back to Statesboro in decades. It has really changed. Georgia Southern University seems to have moved up the polished University ladder. The GSU campus was impressive. The archery tournament took place on the GSU campus at their Sports Education Shooting Center.

Georgia State University, Shooting Sports Education Center

Over the past 51 months of shooting a bow I’ve seen some nice and not so nice ranges. The GSU Shooting Center is a whole level above the other ranges. There was ample  storage room, space and chairs for archers to sit down when not shooting, spectators had bleachers, and there easy access to clean rest rooms. All shooting lines were either full or close and it did not feel cramped. Before the tournament some folks had warned me the lighting wasn’t great, it seemed just fine to me.

Another bit of information I’ve been noticing since returning to Georgia, overall everybody seems to shoot “real good.”  From Cub level to Pro 300 for one day and 600 two-day total score was common. Inside-out X count was a necessary tiebreaker for many classes.

That’s me standing next to the giant.

For me, I lost again by one point. Still, things are improving following the transition for North Carolina to Georgia. Something I am not getting over is how nice it is to be back home.

A Great Day to Play

The weather was great, today. Sunny with very little wind and not too cold. It was a good day to train.

For the 2018 Duathlon National Championships I’m using a modified triathlon training plan. There’s no swimming in a duathlon so those workouts are replaced with more running. It’s no big deal since running is a daily activity pretty much regardless of a formal training plan. In other words, I’m not running too much.  This is a modified plan that I’m following so there is flexibility.

There are lots of sport training plans available for purchase. There are an ever-growing number of coaches for hire through the Internet. What they offer are programs available to you sight unseen. Perhaps, if you are new to a sport an online coach you never see can provide a starting point. After decades of sports, in my opinion a face-to-face coach is a better investment. I’m making no investment. I took a plan I’d created years ago and adapted it for the upcoming race.

I’ve had some great coaches in cycling, football, and track. I’ve also spent decades studying sports physiology and feel fairly confident I can put together a plan that will get me across a finish line. Of course, there are the hours of work that need to be completed and today was ideal to add to those hours.

In an abridged overview my general training goes like this: Run, shoot, rest, shoot, cycle, and sometimes run again. It was hard not to do a second run today, the weather being so nice. It was the archery practice that pushed me away from a second run.

The second practice with a bow was going just fine. Well, good enough for second practice. That session was planned for 60 arrows at a 3-spot followed by 30 at a 5-spot. The morning was just 60 arrows into a 3-spot.

The afternoon 3-spot when okay with 32 Xs and 28 nines. Sure, Reo Wilde doesn’t need to be worried for the moment. But, not too bad. Then, I put up a 5-spot.

Man, those X rings looked huge on that blue and white paper. I shot 10 arrows and called it a day. As big as the X is on a 5-spot I was doing good to hit white. It was time to stop. While I didn’t feel tired, my arrow placement suggested otherwise. It also indicated I’d had enough exercise for the day, so not second run. Instead, a hike in the woods was perfect to wind things down.

Tomorrow the weather isn’t going to be so nice. I’ll have to go into Elizabeth City to shoot. I’m glad there is an indoor range within a 40-minute drive. Still, I am looking forward to moving to Georgia where on days like tomorrow promises to be, that drive becomes 15-minutes.

The X-Count is Killing Me

A five spot seems like an easy target. The X-ring is huge. Shooting a five is practically a no brainer. A 300 score is a given.

Compared to the NFAA Indoor Nationals in the Professional Men’s Division, my 300 scores don’t mean a thing. Even a 60 X, in the case of the mentioned tournament, hitting the X 120 times means you are competitive. You need to drop down 16 places among the pro men before you find the first missed X out of 120 arrows per archer. My averages over the past few months lands me around 106th place in the men’s professional class.

5-Spot scores since January 2014

You simply can’t miss the X on a 5-spot be remain competitive at a National level among the top professional archers.

And on a personal level, it doesn’t matter. It is the 60Xs I want and as yet haven’t mastered archery to the point where I’ve obtained the mark. Over 120 arrows I’ll score 600 points, but only hit on the mid-80s when it comes to X-count.

X-count over the past few months

Occasionally, an arrow misses the X that for all over indicators, I think, it should have been an X. I walk  up to the 5-spot to pull arrows and see a shot that has missed the line. Not off by a mile, just off. Certainly, a blown shot could easily lead to a blueberry, 4 points rather than 5. That’s rare, but it can still happen. It can happen to anyone. A momentary brain-fart and there’s an arrow smack in the middle of the blue rings.

There are times on poorly illuminated ranges were my single pin does not pick of enough light to radiate. During those shoots I rely on the shadow of the pin to take aim. Not a good way to go.  Makes me wonder whether I’ve chosen the best dot (in my case a single mono-filament pin) to use for lining up my sight. The sight issue extends to my other gear.

I honestly don’t now what is best for me. Partly because during the past four years, four weeks and 10 days of trying to become a competitive archer I’ve probably not gotten the best technical advice available.  Some advice has been good, some has been seriously bad to down right wrong. Too often advice seems more like a sales lead toward a purchase starting with a new bow.  I don’t think I’ve ever walked into a bow shop where someone didn’t try to sale me a new bow.

There is a point where equipment does become a factor in success. Maybe, I’m at that point. For example, the bow I use isn’t exactly a target bow, or a 3D bow, or a hunting bow. It’s a very good general-purpose bow.

It’s a bit short axil-to-axil for targets, kind of slow for 3D and a little too long axil-to-axil for hunting. But, it shoots nice. The let off might be too much for optimal stability. Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know, it is time to look into equipment changes or adjustments that might improve accuracy beyond the archer.

There are certainly better releases than what I use.  The “better” releases must be better, they cost about twice as much as what I paid for mine.  But, mine feels good in my hand.  The trigger is so lethargic that I can put pressure on it, move it, change my mind, stop and start over without the arrow releasing. This obviously is a reference to a release other than my hinge releases.

I really enjoy shooting with a hinge.  I’d do it all the time if there was only a way to set the release point so that it is just right.  Mind hinge release does not have any calibration marker for setting the release point.

Currently, the hinge release is too hot.  You may have the temperament to fidget with a release to get it just right.  If so, good for you.  Mine has been so frustrating I sent it back to the manufacturer begging for help.

I’ve got all sorts of questions about arrows. The last ones I had made for 18-meter shooting were changed by the builder and I was sent a different spine and tip weight.  When I asked about the changes, he said, “Oh, I changed that because I thought it would be better?” Really? How did you come up with that thought? I had to pay before I got the arrows.  He had my money. I had something I hadn’t ordered because the builder had a thought.  He assured me he was an expert.  Months later, without refreshing his memory we spoke again.  His opinion of himself had expanded, my opinion of him diminished.

Frankly, I know what I am shooting is not the best.  I am shooting what I is probably the best I could come up with. But, I know, from decades of competition in other sports, I am at a point where equipment is becoming a factor. Maybe some equipment tweaking will bring that X count up a few points. Or maybe, not.

(To my good friend Bumper – The arrows mentioned above are NOT ones you built. This is about those arrows build by someone else and you had to replace 100% of the vanes.  To the reader, a dozen arrows 36 vanes fell off upon arrival. Caveat emptor.)

So There’s This Rabbit….

There’s this rabbit. It comes out during afternoon practice and hangs out about seven yards from my 18-meter target. It eats, keeps an eye and ear on me and seems not to have any concerns.

Sure, it’s a rabbit. Not the smartest of God’s creatures. It has no understanding of archery. It does understand dogs. When River, my lab, is with me the rabbit knows better. Today, River was lounging in the air-conditioned house since the temperature with the heat index was 111°F. Otherwise, River would chase the rabbit, go swimming, and demand I go swimming with her. Today, however, this rabbit exhibited no worries in the world beyond a twitch or two with its ears in my direction.

Of course, there was a flash of thought that put an arrow into the rabbit. The thought never went any further. I went on shooting a 5-spot and the rabbit enjoyed a hassle free afternoon meal.

Blame it on the Mosquito

Today was ‘the’ day for 60X on a 5-spot. You know when you get on a roll and you feel like you can’t miss the X. It was, as it turned out, almost that day.

Block Tower

Practice began on paper left still tacked to a Block from the afternoon of the day before. With 25 shots remaining the paper needed to be changed, the center shot to pieces on all 5 spots. Not to suggest that all my prior shots had landed within the inner ring. Still, the old paper had been hit, in or near the inner ring, around 180 times.  (125 within the inner ring – I kept a count – zero in the blue for those working on the math or seeking controversy)

Clean paper is really nice. No holes, new and flat, no warps from morning dew or overnight humidity. (Even though this is 18-meters, the targets are outdoors here at the house). It feels good to stick 5 arrows into those center rings on new print. It feels even better when they keep landing within that small amount of archery real estate.

New paper. That middle arrow did eventually stop.

The new paper shooting started right even though the center target ended up perched before at a weak area and arrows threatened to pass though the old Block. I move the targets around on the Block hoping to buy a little more time, and resistance, before the Block is greeted with earned retirement.

Sometimes, there’s no satisfying paper placement. Some areas are better than others for catching and holding arrows. Since the Blocks aren’t inexpensive I’ll wait until there is simply no choice other than replacement where upon this old Block will work again as a lifting foundation for the soon to be savaged new cube of foam.

There were only 25 more arrows to shoot before calling it a day. Only 25 more Xs to call it 60X.

I’d like to blame it on the mosquito that landed on me a millisecond before I released the arrow. In fact, that is where I will place the blame.

Dang it!

The bug had been bothering me for some time. I’d let down and go for a killing slap succeeding only in receiving a slap.  The bug would be long gone from its intended meal. Then there was the one shot when I decided not to pause and swat. Toughing the pest out with stoic manliness, the mark was missed.

After that near line cutter the mosquito returned for blood.  That time I didn’t miss the insect. It was a fair trade.

A New Matrix

Three spots at 18-meters remains a tough call for me. Scoring a 600 shooting the inner ten continues to elude me. Nevertheless, things are improving. My goals for 18-meters have not changed. Currently, the intermediate goal is to shoot a constant 580 to 590. Once I land on 590 the goal will change.

Five-spot is another matter. I closed 2016 shooting an average of 296. In 2016 I was aiming for a 300. That changed once I began practicing on a 5-spot in 2017. Since 5-spot training began (for 2017) 300 is the only score. The problem is not 300 it is 60X. In practice, 50X has been common. You know, 50X, even with a 300 total, is an unlikely winner.

It’s not so much a problem; 60X is an attained objective. I’ve adjusted my data analysis to more closely monitor those 60X’s and what happens when I drop a few of them. It’s the new 5-spot matrix.

Indoor 5-Spot Followed by 3D

Brenda has driven up to Maryland to visit her friends. Many of them are teachers and they are a long weekend. I remain in North Carolina with the dogs. There are just some trips where husbands aren’t necessary. This is a girls’ weekend.

Choptank River, Cambridge, MD

Home alone it takes little effort to make a mess. Before Brenda returns I’ll have the place almost acceptable. In the meantime, I’ll do the usual, shoot, ride, and run.

Little River, here at home

Today began an archery double. That is, indoor 5-spot league on Saturday and 3D on Sunday.

The league competition was my final exercise in release decisions before the USA Archery Indoor Nationals. I shoot with a hinge or a thumb release. Last week, at the NC State Indoor Championship I used a thumb. During the following days I practiced with a hinge. There is little difference in the outcome.

My problem with this thumb release my be associated with it being a very inexpensive product. It has no way to adjust the trigger pressure. It is a one size fits all. It seems that a lighter touch might offer an overall improvement. Of course, that means purchasing a new release. Not something I’d do so close to the Nationals. At least, that’s my current thinking.

The problem with a hinge is not the device itself. For me, it’s eyesight and light. I have fine vision. It’s not a bother except under fluorescent lighting. It appears that my dot becomes a blur under fluorescent lights. When that happens my focus is on trying the see the dot not on relaxing and making the shot. With the thumb I feel I have a little more flexibility controlling the dot to get the best image possible. At least I’m not worried about it.

That proved to be case today during the 5-spot competition. Yesterday, with the hinge shooting a vertical 3-spot in my yard and with wind I ended up with a personal best. What occurred to me was how defined my dot was under natural light.

At the indoor range today my dot was a blur barely perceptible. After three ends I’d only shot three Xs. In addition, I shot three 4s. In frustration I soon switched to the thumb. Despite the thumb and hinge being slightly different where the sight is concerned I was able to fire off thirty-seven Xs after tweaking the sight a bit. That made my decision for the Nationals.

Back home, and having stopped for a buffet lunch at Golden Corral, I took a bike ride. It was such a nice day here that it would have been criminal to have not ridden. Then, I grabbed my back-up bow and got it sighted for 3D. Once that was done, I headed over to my 3D range for an additional three hours of practice.

Not exactly a 5-Star, but good food, filling, and inexpensive.

Because I’ve been spending so many hours shooting paper at a known distance 3D practice wasn’t stellar. In fact, I lost one arrow when I relied on a rangefinder versus my estimate of the yardage – I was right, it was wrong.

What I’d been doing was starting at 20 yards and working my way out to 45 yards. The pin system I have on my backup bow only has pins to 45 yards. I could switch over to primary bow and use a sight and scope, but I don’t want to mess with anything on that bow before next weekend.

So, the 3D practice was pins shooting several arrows from 20 to 45 yards at 5-yard increments. The exercise took 3 hours on a rather fast pace to get through all the targets.

A Good Start

The miss (and subsequent lost arrow) was on a turkey hen positioned at a tough angle that is obstructed making the shot more difficult. My range finder read 27 yards, I estimated 22 yards. I went with the range finder skimming the arrow over the back to the target.

I’m guessing this faux-rabbit isn’t going to last long

It was also the inaugural practice for my latest 3D target, another small one, a rabbit. The spot I’d originally picked for the rabbit was limited for space. Where it would have been positioned meant a maximum of 30 yards. I found a better area where I can get an easy 50 yards of distance. You know, somewhere there will be a time when a small target is sitting 50 yards away. Most likely a bobcat, turkey, badger or javelina.

Nope, this is only 30 yards; you know it’s waiting somewhere out there at 50.

It was a good day of shooting. The temperature was ideal. Thankfully, Brenda left me some pasta in a Tupperware container so I’ll have decent dinner.

Letting the Numbers Decide – Maybe

Over the past two years I’ve kept data on the various targets I’ve practiced on or shot during competition. By January of 2014 I had been shooting a bow for four months. Initially, I didn’t keep the data.  Initially, I wasn’t certain I be shooting a bow for very long.  By most standards, I still have not been shooting a bow very long. Throughout this ongoing collecting of data,  3-spots remain dominate – I mean I have the most data on 3-spots. The past month I’ve shot twice in competitions where 5-spots were the target. Saturday was one of those days.

Going into Saturday’s event I was expecting to shoot a 300. I dropped seven. Four of the shots were simply off. Minutes before we shot my stablizers slipped and had to be tightened. The side bar was not exactly right and I shot a few arrows a little wide to the left, still 5’s, before recognizing the problem.

It took a few more scoring shots to find the problem and adjust. I shot one 4 while preparing to let down. I was shocked I hit the four. Another four came when someone’s arrow smacked into the back wall which was a surprise. The bang caused just me to twitch and that was all it took to release the hinge.

This and other 5-spots are recorded and entered into an Excel Spreadsheet.  I am working toward finding the right choices for me between a Mathews Apex 7 and Elite Energy 35 using a thumb versus hinge release. The data collected during this 5-spot tournament were, of course, entered.

Reviewing the data I can see my average score with the Elite is 298 versus 293 with the Apex 7. The data further reveals that the average thumb release score is 296 compared to 294 with the hinge.

Today I shot with the Apex 7 and a Scott Pro Advantage hinge. I ended up with a 293, average. The prior time I shot I used the Elite and a TruFire thumb release. Then I scored a 294, below average for the Elite. Both were in competitions.

Line graph of 5-spot scores from Jan 2015 through Jan 2017

Statistically (the math part only) there is not a significant interaction among the bow/release variances. But, in competitions where one point can separate 1st from 2nd place it means a lot.

I’ll keep on with the Mathews for a few weeks along with the hinge. I feel like that might be a better combination in the long run. But, I’ll be objective and let the numbers decide.


Third Annual Trip to Wildcat.

Three years ago, while in Savannah, GA, I discovered Wildcat Archery in nearby Pooler, GA. Naturally I visited the shop where they informed me there would be an indoor league competition during my stay in Savannah. An archery novice I had never shot in a competitive situation. It seemed like it would be fun so I joined the event.

Wildcat Archery in Pooler, GA

In that – for me inaugural – tournament the targets were paper screened with animals. I recall being nervous, I didn’t even know how to score. After the shooting was completed I was quietly happy to have not missed an entire paper animal.

A year later, another trip to Savannah, and again on the path to Pooler to practice at the Wildcat indoor range. Their range is small and can handle a line of about 6 archers. But, it’s well illuminated and their backstops are nice. It’s an ideal range for practice.

December 2016 now in my third year of shooting ( actually three years, three months, and 4 days) I found myself back in Savannah. I also learned Wildcat Archery’s 5-spot league was having their final night of competition during my hometown visit. Pooler was again on my itinerary.

I like 5-spots because shooting a 300 seems somewhat possible. Hitting a 60X 300 is a  challenge, but a whole bunch easier than getting a 60X 600 against a 3-spot using the smallest ring as the ten (the USA Archery scoring method.) That 60X/600 remains elusive to me for now.

My practice of late has been exclusively shooting a 3-spot. This in preparation for the USA Archery Indoor Nationals. I expected to shoot well at the Wildcat Archery’s event.

The Wildcat’s final league shoot was scheduled to start at 7 PM. I’d planned to leave from Windsor Forest in Savannah a little before 6 PM. The 18-mile drive should take around 30 minutes according to Mapquest and my Garmin GPS.

Inside Wildcat Archery

Since moving from Savannah in the 80’s a lot has changed. I’m rarely there and retain my Old Savannah traffic memory.  I’ve been stuck in a lot of nasty traffic in cities like: London, Boston, Atlanta, Paris, Singapore and New York. Those cities stand out as miserable places to drive. Of smaller cities Norfolk, Virgina takes the bad traffic prize.

I’d allowed an hour and 10 minutes for the Wildcat drive.  It seemed ample time to make an 18-mile journey leaving plenty room to pay the $10.00 registration fee and take some warm up shots.

The plan to arrive early was a flop.  Traffic was shockingly bad – not how I’d remembered Savannah.  The trip to Pooler felt more like a drive in Norfolk.  Still, I arrived it in time to pay my ten bucks and have a few practice shots before our five shot official practice prior to scoring.

When it was all over I didn’t shoot a 300.  I was seriously disappointed.  I’d let an off centered target get the best of me as we began.  After a few frustrating shots, I figured, ‘oh well, I’m a bit off line’ and ended up with a 296.  I’ll wait to see what it is that will draw me back to Wildcat Archery in Pooler in 2017.