That was hot!

The weekend of the Georgia Cup in Conyers, Georgia was a hot one.  The temperature was in the low 90s.  It wasn’t the hottest outdoor archery tournament that I have shot in but it was near the top of the list.

The field of sweaty (soon to be sun burnt) archers was impressive considering the overlap with the ASA Pro/Am being held a few hours away near Augusta, GA.  The tournament moved along as fast as possible in the heat.  There were times when walking back from pulling arrows seemed to take longer than usual.  No one was running wind sprints to return to the line. Of course, the slower people walked the hotter it became with the day bearing down on us. Shade was a precious commodity.

I show up at tournaments here in Georgia as a solo athlete so I don’t bring one of those nice pop-up canopies.  Bringing a canopy for one person seems excessive.  Thankfully, there is usually a group under a canopy that offers shade. At the Georgia Cup that shade was provided by a group of archers I’ve gotten to know over the past year shooting here.  I was thankful.

The Georgia Cup is a two-day event put on by the Georgia Archery Association. Last year I lost to a friend from Savannah, Georgia who took first on the final few arrows. Paul, last year’s winner, got into a flow and just couldn’t miss the X.  He was absent for the 2019 version.

Day one is the qualifying day.  That is, for any that might not know, 72 arrows at 50-meters for bracketing on day 2 during the elimination rounds. Day two archers are paired into brackets based on qualifying score.  Those pairs shoot against one another.  Eventually, some lose and have to sit down; others shoot on until there is one archer that wins.  If you score high enough on day one you may end up with a bye or two for the eliminations on day two.

Day one earned me a couple of byes.  As such I didn’t have a competition round until two and a half hours after the eliminations began.  That was a long hot wait. When I was finally up the first archer I had to shoot against, Buddy, has beaten me a number of times.

Typical of Buddy, on the first end he shot X, 10, 9 and typical of me I shot 10, 9,9.  I like Buddy, it always a challenge shooting against him.  At each tournament, we’ve already shot against one another at 3 in 2019, he always asks, “Have you been shooting?”  I always rely, “Yes.”  The he adds, “I haven’t picked up a bow since the last time I saw you.” Right.

He’s a State record holder and isn’t going to make too many mistakes.  It was tight going into the third end when Buddy gave me a couple of points.

They way I look at it, in archery we all start with the maximum allowable number of points.  In elimination round, during each head-to-head competition, each archer is given 150 points.  You shoot to keep those points.  To keep them all you need to do is put your arrow into the 10 ring. Every time you don’t do that you give away a point or more.

I gave Buddy a few points, he gave me a few points and by the time it was over I was less charitable with my points.

Making it into the final match for Gold or Silver there stood Jerry in the lane next to me. Jerry has been flinging arrows for over 30 years.  Going into the second end I had one point on Jerry.  With three more ends to shoot against an opponent with significantly more skill and training I needed to not let my mind drift over to the potential advantages Jerry has over me.

With his experience and skill  Jerry’s earned a Mathews kit, a brand new Mathews bow and top-level arrows. Thirty years in the business of shooting arrows gets you top-level support.   On any given day Jerry can beat me.  But, I had this one point advantage and that pirate saying in my head, “Take what you can; give nothing back.”

Not really.  There was no pirate mantra in my head.  I was thinking, “Just shoot your game” and “Perfect form equals a perfect shot”, and “Don’t rush the shot” and “Paul is not here this year” and “stance, hook and grip, set-up, set…” and “Brenda (my wife) is going to not like this is I lose,” and “feel the Force,” and “see the arrow landing in the X,” and “the kids and grandkids are coming over to celebrate my birthday this afternoon” and “Mama will be proud if I win,” and “My father in law will be disappointed if I lose,” and, “please wind stop” and “man, it is hot,” and “is that a squirrel on the range,” and “I’m thirsty” and  “silence your thoughts” (that one didn’t work).

When the final tally was complete Jerry had been too generous with his points. It was still hot.

Finished the day with a Gold Medal and self-portrait drawn by one of my granddaughters.

It Started Off Great

Fresh paper for a new day

It started off great; it didn’t last.

That felt pretty good
That felt even better. (Note that is a backstop in place)

Once again, hoping for a personal best, judging from the first 6 arrows, things  – like accuracy – began to diminish.

Alas, it didn’t last long

To be fair, the wind, which at the onset of practice had been non-existent, picked up. It picked up enough to blow my back stop over.  I finished the practice 13 points below my personal best.

Wind is no friend to archers or cyclists. You can see the back stop is on the ground.

That has kind of hard

After a while shooting dots can become routine.  To keep it fresh changing targets helps.

Shooting at the larger outdoor target face for 50-meters is about the same as shooting at the target face used for 18-meters. The colors are the same, the size changes. It does become a tab repetitive firing arrows into the same color.

Trying something new I used pistol targets.  They’re black with a small orange center.  Sounds good – it wasn’t.

55 yards

The sun, for this practice session, was over my back. The sight I’m using is a small monofilament on a narrow stem.  You guessed it, the pin didn’t illuminate.  Aiming a black stem onto a black target is rough.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I used the set-up, anyway.  Might as well practice something a bit harder than it has to be in the event that one day I find myself in a similar situation during competition.

Pollen

Trudging back and forth to pull arrows I was staring at my feet.  To be exact I was staring at the boots on my feet.

It had already been a long day.  I’d skipped the morning archery practice in favor of a longer run and washing the truck. The truck needed washing badly. Running over trails is fun and I was craving a long haul. So I amended my training plans.

The truck has been doing a lot of hauling and was dirty inside and out.  As a bonus the car got washed as well.  So, during archery practice my head has hanging during those hikes to pull arrows.

What my hanging head noted was the color of my boots.  Pollen yellow boots.

That’s a bit of pollen

It is that time of year where pollen is everywhere and on everything here in Georgia.  If you’ve got allergies to pollen this is not a place for you.

Well, that was dumb!

During 3D I shoot, mostly, with pins.  More than once I’ve put the wrong pin on a target and messed up the shot.  You’d think this wasn’t too smart and you’d be right.

This morning, shooting from 55 yards, I put scrolled my sight in at 45 yards.  No matter how perfect your form might be it is not going to be a good shot.

Dial in at 45 yards then shot from 55 yards makes for one less arrow to carry around

Dumb things happen from time to time.  One of the dumbest is shooting at a target twenty yards away for your first shot of the day when you last shot of the day before was at 60 yards and not adjusting your sight. Do that and you’ll probably never find that arrow if you’re shooting outside.  I left a number of arrows in the woods near our old home in North Carolina having not learned my lesson the first time or two.

Dial in at 55 yards and shot from 55 yards is better. You can see where the 45 yards arrow stuck into the brick. Another 10 yards on the arrow and it would have been just fine.
River could have cared less. It’s hard to ignore a fresh bone.

When I do these dumb things I’m often glad no one is around to witness the mistake.  That doesn’t stop me from writing about those mental farts. The only witness to my practice screw-ups is typically a Labrador retriever, River.  If she’s gnawing on a bone she doesn’t even notice.

River’s Bone and Stick Pile

When I practice at home River is along side for the session. River is an eight and a half year old lab. She has been accompanying me during practice since I started shooting four years and five months ago. She’s even joined me on some 3D competitions where she’s been welcomed to tag along.

It used to be that River got very impatient during practice. The stick game, shoot three arrows – throw a stick, gave her some satisfaction. These days we’re practicing at 50-meters so sticks can be tossed less frequently.

River has chewed every stick here

On occasion River searches out her own stick. Picking just the right stick she’ll relax on a pile of pine straw and gnaw her treasure. It is clear when she’s interested in finding her own stick and she’s free to explore while I practice.

We had some wind today and it kept pushing my arrows right

Sometimes she’ll return with an entire limb that’s been cut down. The limb may be a dead branch or one with green leaves. I don’t understand her palate.

She’s also returned from a quest with an animal’s limb. She’s not killed an animal. The limb is a bit of remains from someone else’s meal. Once she brought to my feet an entire deer leg. Today, it appeared to be rabbit.

This vertebra didn’t provide much meat

She was appalled when I took the leg and buried it. Burying a leg is a pointless and perhaps dumb exercise with a dog. The second I walked away to pull arrows she dug it up. There’s probably nothing wrong with River eating a raw leg, she is a dog after all. But, not wanting to chance it I put the little leg up in a tree. Poor River did all she could to express her disappointment.

River can’t get to this leg, now

I suppose, if you were a dog, you might prefer raw leg to a stick, too.

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.

Beaten, Again!

Headed to Statesboro, GA

The Georgia Cup, in Statesboro, Georgia was held at the Georgia Southern University campus this past weekend, March 21st through March 22nd. I was really hoping for a win. I’d certainly been putting in the hours practicing. But, then, there’s too often (here in 2018) that guy.

Early morning crowd setting up for a long day.

At the Georgia Cup, that guy was Paul. Paul and I typically do not compete against each other. Heck he’s not much older than my oldest daughter. We’ve competed near one another a few times in the past. We’ve talked a little during those events. This weekend we talked more, we had plenty of free time between ends to wait and talk.

Before the waiting line gets packed with bows

You’ve probably said this yourself, “It’s a small world.” In the case of Paul, I am still smiling at how we run into people that when there is time to talk great discoveries are made.

Paul is from Savannah, so am I. Paul however is a bit younger than me, so our childhood paths would not have crossed. During one of our ‘behind the waiting line’ talks I over heard someone mention Memorial Medical Center, a major hospital in Savannah. I interjected, “I have fond memories of Memorial, I essentially grew up there.”

Certainly, the first thoughts to such the comment must have led to “that poor man, he must have had some terrible disease which he survived thanks to medical care he received at Memorial.” I quickly added, “I started working there, in the lab, when I was 14.” That is true. I was a smart-ish geek and was recruited to the lab to learn by the head of Pathology. After a few months I had a Child-Labor Work permit and was employed doing simple things. Those things became more complex over time.

During that time, I spent a total 14 years at Memorial; I learned while talking I’d worked with Paul’s parents. I remembered when his mother has pregnant with Paul. I admit, I am still smiling thinking of his parents and one of his brothers that came to work at Memorial before I left. The shooting was fun, talking to Paul was worth the trip and expense even more so that the competition.

Is that an 8?

On the second day, the Olympic Round, Paul and I ended up shooting in the Gold medal match. Paul had been on all day. I struggled a bit in the quarterfinals and had to come from behind to win. In the final, I couldn’t believe I was paired against Paul.

With six arrows to go, I had a four-point advantage. Paul joked with me that he was going to have to go home and, “..tell my mother that David Lain beat me.” That was not to be the case.

On the final six arrows, Paul hit five tens and one nine. I fell apart meaning he could go home and let his mother know he’d beaten an old colleague of hers.

It was windy. Target 17, where I shot on Saturday, notice our flag has blown away. Also, target 19 pulled free of one of the pins.

Years from now I will not remember this Georgia Cup for the archery. I will remember it was extremely windy. Aside from that I’ll remember the pleasant walk down memory lane with man who’s mother remains a respected and admired scientist I was fortunate enough to have worked with.

Another 2nd Place.

(Jack L. If you read this, send me a message and I’ll give you the last name. You know them as well)

The New Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

River considering the fork in the road

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

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

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

This Is How I Practice for 50 Meters

Fifty meters is a fairly long shot. It includes a lot of walking back and forth. Twenty meters is a faster practice because of the shorter walk to reclaim arrows. Now, the walking isn’t a real endurance work out, it just slows things down. Having a 50-meter range behind my house is a bonus.

50-meter practice, for this session, meant about a mile of walking and took nearly two hours.

Being slow in archery isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rushing a shot is a bad thing. When I practice I’ll frequently set a timer and measure how many seconds remain following a six shot end.

The thick lines are the trek back and forth pulling arrows

During practice, I could fire off more than 6 arrows – I don’t. I try to make practice close to tournament conditions. That means: shoot 6 arrows, walk to the target, record my scores, pull the arrows and repeat. Practicing with a timer gives me confidence that I’ll get my arrows off with a routine buffer of time. I don’t want too much unused time. On the other hand I don’t want to be thinking about the clock during competition.

On average I have ample time left on the clock after six arrows. Between each shot I use an 8 count as I go through the shooting process. Using an eight count, I go through it 3 times. Each set of the 8 count associated with the shot process. Counting slows me down and clears my head. Since each set of eight has parts of the shooting process associated with the count it makes me aware of the steps to getting off a good feeling arrow. By the time I reach the third and final 8 I am ready to release the arrow. After the first 3 arrows, I make an effort to take a conscious pause before shooting the final three arrows.

When planning a practice I vary it to some degree. The practice may be two sessions a day at 84 arrows, 12 warm up and 72 for scoring or shorter sessions three times a day at 42 arrows, 6 warm-up and 36 for scoring. I almost always record my shots and make notes. I carry a pad in my quiver to making records. My notes and measurements are later transferred to an Excel spreadsheet. (Some days I’ll purposely not record anything and shoot for fun only)

A spotting scope is a handy tool for longer distances. (This one an early birthday present from one of by daughters, her husband and one of my grandsons.)

There are also days where I’ll practice for 50-meters by shooting from 60, 65  or 70 yards.  Fifty meters is roughy 55 yards.  The extra yardage makes 50-meters feel easy when I return to that distance.

When it’s cold I wear a thin glove

Everyday practice isn’t always possible. For instance, it stormed yesterday. Today, despite it being the middle of April it was cold. Cold does not prevent practice. Neither does wind and today it was windy. Even when it rains, other than down pours, I’ll be on the range. (It is important to note that everyday practice does include a recovery day. Taking a day for rest is an important element to any sport. That recovery day for me is on a 7-day and 10-day cycle)

My bow setting at the 50-meter mark.

Practice and shooting 50-meters presents outdoor challenges we don’t face during indoor competition and training. Space for a range is a problem for many archers. When we built our new house having enough land for archery was a must. Finding a local 50-meter range then getting to it does add another burden to long-range practice. (Not unlike finding a pool to practice swimming – they are available.  It is nice when it is a simple walk to practice.) Fifty meters ranges are available, it sometimes takes a bit more effort but it can be done.