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.

Le Petite Slam

There were a number of archery tournaments I wanted to win in 2017. These were: the North Carolina State Indoor 18-meter Championship, North Carolina State Outdoor 50-Meter Championship, USA Archery National Indoor Championship (Snellville, GA), and the Virginia IBO State 3D Championship. These competitions were my “Le Petite Slam”.  They don’t make up a Grand Slam, but they represented a nice collection of archery venues. I won them.

USA Archery North Carolina State 50-Meter Championship

Once before I tried a 50-meter event. It did not go well and for a while I swore I’d never do another. It wasn’t the distance or weak shooting that caused me to curdle. It was the hours and hours and hours of sitting around, shooting a little, and sitting some more. Never in my life had I experienced a sporting event as miserable. In fact, after around 6 hours of the mess I packed my gear and went home. A year later, I decided to give it another try at the North Carolina State 50-meter Championships.

Camping near Burlington at Jones Station in Mebane, NC

The second try compared to the first was about as different as night and day. We shot 12 warm-up arrows, 72 qualifying arrows, took a 40 minute lunch break in the middle and were still finished in about three and a half hours.

Smashed my thumb while setting up the campsite. I promise, thick leather gloves are a real skin saver.

Prior to this episode I practiced a lot at 50-meters. Fifty meters is not an awfully long shot, but long enough that is you don’t practice you’ll be losing arrows or sticking them in the blue rings when it matters.

During practice it was often hot and humid here on the eastern shore of North Carolina where I live and train. I was glad I’d never let the weather conditions keep me off the practice range since there were nearly (or possibly) record-breaking temperatures in Burlington, NC during the two-day tournament. A fellow archer had an electronic thermometer with him and recorded the temperature at 100°F. That evening the local weather woman agreed and then expanded the claim broadcasting an achieved heat index of 111°F.

Folks getting their tents up. When everything is in place it looks like something out of the Renaissance.

The heat didn’t bother me too much; I was acclimated to the temperature. Heat has never really caused me to suffer as much as it seems to impact others.

This fellow was looking for a shady place to nap
Hard to believe this was a decade ago

In 2007 at the USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon* qualifier for the World Championship it got asphalt melting hot. I earned a spot on the team because I outlasted faster duathletes in the heat. The World Championships were another matter. It was so cold on race day I was cramping before I’d even started the first run. I don’t think I ever warmed up on that day. Getting warm was not a problem in Burlington.

Two of the biggest problems I had were the slope of the field and the sun. Neither was a major issue, I prepared for each possibility. But, the main problem was four minutes versus five minutes.

Somehow I’d gotten the impression we had five minutes to shoot six arrows. I’d trained with a stopwatch to maximize the 5 minutes. Opps, we only had four causing a few anxious ends – like 12 of them. More than once I’d look at the clock to learn I had 57 seconds or so to shoot two arrows. I rushed a lot of arrows.

The result was that I ended up shooting subpar hitting several eights and one seven for the day. Honestly, I can’t remember hitting a seven prior the one I hit rushing to beat the clock. The seven wasn’t even the final arrow of an end – I had plenty of time.

River, showing off my medal and blowing a kiss

When it was all done I did not shoot as well as usual. I also didn’t hit rock bottom. Best of all, I shot well enough to win.

*A duathlon is a multi-sport event consisting of a run segment, a bicycling segment and lastly another run segment.

Extra Effort by a Tournament Official

The 2017 North Carolina State 50-meter Outdoor Championship was a hot one. The heat index was estimated a 111°F. The measured ambient temperate on the range was 100°F. The temperature is not what impressed me. It was the head judge that impressed me most about the tournament.

Tents starting to go up about an hour before warm-up

George “Guy” Hutcherson was the main ‘everything’ for the tournament in Burlington, NC. From organization to awards, he did a lot. He didn’t do it all, he had help. But, Guy was the guy. He kept it all running smoothly.

Guy was everywhere! He set out targets, drew lines, set stakes, helped with check-in, answered questions, and ran the show. For a minute I wondered whether Guy had a twin. No, he did not have a twin and his red face was evidence of how hard he was working in the heat.

Never once, did I hear a short answer or abrupt comment come from Guy. He helped everyone in need. He ran a smooth tournament that did not become bogged down.

When it was all over with surely the man was exhausted. I hope he has a break to recover. Guy Hutcherson – I appreciate all the work you put into this NC event. It was hard; anyone watching could not have missed how hard you worked. Thank you.

North Carolina State Outdoor Archery Championships

I’m headed to Burlington, NC for the USA Archery North Carolina State Outdoor Championships. This will be nearly a first for me, that is a 50-meter tournament.

I’ll be camping at Jones Station near Mebane. The Winnebago is hooked up and ready to hit the road. The campground is about 15 minutes from Burlington.

Once before I tried a 50-meter tournament, but walked off the range before it was completed. That one was in Georgia. It was really a sporting experience that remains hard to believe.

In Georgia, after six hours of judges trying to get archers through 72 arrows we were still shooting. It was truly amazing. Heck, I had to leave – I had to get home. Home was another 3 hours on the road. Later, I learned the event wasn’t completed until 11:00 PM. I’d arrived at 2:00 PM. That soured me on 50-meters.

During that tournament the sky was clear, very little wind, and a tad on the hot side.  To this day, I have no idea why the officials could not keep that tournament rolling. In hindsight, it was a waste of time.

I’ll give it another try this weekend. The posted start times gives me the impression that shooting 72 arrows is not going to take six hours.