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.

Shooting Before a Crowd

It was only practice, not some big ‘to do’ in a converted warehouse, gymnasium or arena. No, practice took place along side of my yard. Nevertheless, spectators were right on top of me.

These hard to see dragonflies lighted on my 50-meter stake only inches away from me

One shy onlooker watched me from a distance and was quick to duck away if we made eye contact for long or when I began to approach.

This is a large turtle that popped up in the river to watch archery practice – or so it seemed

Then there was this crowd in the bleachers. It was a noisy group in constant motion.

The feathered onlookers were dive bombing me

And finally, the one fellow that sat off shore a few yards and watched. Once we made eye contact, he to ducked away.

This guy watched from his boat, he left when I began to approach him.

Overall, an interesting practice session.

 

 

Harder than I Thought it Would Be

I’d been shooting well for 50-meters. It seemed a bit too good. I measured the distance using a range finder from the stake – 52 yards. I thought it was suppose to be 54 yards.

Double-checking, 50-meters is 164.049 feet. Using a tape measure I learned why my shots had been so good- the distance was six feet short. Six feet doesn’t should like much. Still it gave me a rough time for a couple of hours after I made the distance correction.

The yellow is off center to my left to avoid hitting the tripod’s support legs

To make things more different, I rotated my target. I can’t shoot an arrow into my target back stop if the foam block is sitting centered. The arrows end up with about a 1/3 to ½ poking out the rear of the foam block. The arrows in the center smack the center leg of the tripod, which flattens or bends the tips. So, I position the paper target where arrows clear the tripod’s supporting legs. Then I spin the target so that I get to practice on the corners. A few more feet in distance and the lower right corner gave me a fit.

This lower right was getting me worried

The pain didn’t last, thankfully. During my second practice on the same set-up I shot as well as I had been doing before I made the changes.

50-meters and Snake Hunting

In a post about 50-meter practice I mentioned the extra time it takes to walk the 100-meters to pull arrows, compared to 18-meters or 3D, and return to the shooting line after each end. During 50-meter shooting I fire off six arrows before I pull. So, there’s a lot of time spend walking back and forth. Overall, it breaks down to around 2 hours on the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon of 100-meter out and back walks. (84 arrows each session)

A scenic hike to pull arrows

After that post a good friend of mine, Jack, responded with a question. Jack is not an archer. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and I have met a lot of smart people. Let me qualify smart: I have two doctorates and a master’s degree, much like Dr. Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang. Some people have said I’m smart. I’ve never felt smart. Believe me, I have been surrounded by others that made me feel like a microcephalic. Jack is a member of that crowd of mental wizards that have often left me slack jawed and wide-eyed at their gift. Back to Jack’s question:

“Do you use the walking time to visualize your techniques and relax, or does your mind just wander….which can also be a form of relaxation?”

There you go, thoughtful. Jack’s question is probably one that other expert archers would have given a nearly philosophical response. They’d have shared how they use the walk to evaluate their performance, adjust form, and clear their minds to enter the Force during their next end.

Of course, I answered Jack honestly, “I use it to hunt for snakes.”

This snake was so “Green” I had to bring it home for a few minutes to show Brenda. I put it back near where we met.

Yes, that is exactly what I’m doing as I hike back and forth to pull arrows. I frequently find them – at least several times a week. The non-poisonous snakes I mostly leave alone. Sometimes I catch them and bring them home to show my wife, Brenda, before setting them free. The nasty water moccasins and copperheads are what I am really hunting. I want to see them before they bite me. (I do always practice with 17-inch snake boots on during the snake months)

Heading to the range wearing 17-inch Lacrosse snake boots and carrying a Ruger .380

In a way, snake hunting is relaxing. It certainly slows my pace and my mind does wander during the hunt. Here’s the kicker, since April I’ve shot one copperhead and five water moccasins. That’s about two snakes per month. Two have gotten away; each of those was chased away with a long heavy limb since I wasn’t carrying a pistol when we met.

After a rain this area reveals just how swampy it can get

There are probably readers that employ a more live and let live opinion of snakes. In some circumstances that is fine. When it comes to the variety of snake that has no compulsion against biting and maybe killing me, well I am less tolerant.

But, snake hunting does clear my head. Maybe during the upcoming 50-meter tournament in Burlington, North Carolina, I place some rubber snakes on the pathway I’ll be hiking to make it feel like home.

50-Meters

50-meter practice is slower than 18-meters. Well, think about it – you have to walk back and forth a lot and each trip is 100-meters. There is something really enjoyable about practice – letting loose an arrow that’s going to fly 50-meters. That is just a bit addicting.

Time for new paper

There’s only 9 days until I try my hand at a 50-meter event. Honestly, I have no idea what it will take to have a winning score here in North Carolina.

I do know 720 is a perfect score – I’ve not yet broken 700. I also know that the top pros are shooting between 702 and 714. Right now getting 6 arrows in the 10-ring is goal.

This bee hung around, landed on arrows, and seemed interested in what was happening on the paper

I’ve come close, 5 out of 6, 4 out of 6 in the X or 10-ring. But, thus far I manage to drop an arrow or two in the yellow of the nine. This morning I ended up with 35 tens, 35 nines and two eights. It was a little disappointing – not my lowest score, not my highest, pretty much in the middle. (681 for those counting) But, I don’t like shooting an 8 much less two of them. Maybe this afternoon will be better.

(Afternoon practice – Nope. Started out looking great.  But, it fizzled out.)

July 4th, 2017

We’re one the road and in Georgia. It’s our annual 4th of July celebration. We’ve been doing this for decades. Since I’ve been writing on this site this marks the third year where our 4th coincidenced with archery. We have a big production here at the Lake House.

Sean and River anticipating their next swim

My father-in-law, Ray, is the primary instigator of the celebration. He’s retired Army and retired ROTC teacher. The 4th is particularly meaningful to him.

To get to Georgia we stop along the drive and camp. We used to make the drive in one shot. Since we bought our Winnebago, it’s more fun to take our time and enjoy the view.

View from our campsite at Little Pee Dee

Our first stop was at Little Pee Dee Campground near Dillon, SC. This makes our third stop at that Campground. Because our trip was just before the weekend of the 4th, we had to settle for the last open campsite. It was really tight. That’s not to mean it wasn’t spacious, it was tight with trees requiring extremely careful parking of the RV.

That was tight

I needed to be perfect backing in because two trees bordered the entrance. One of them leaned in allowing just inches of clearance. Once in the space was just excellent.

Tight but no one is on top of us at Little Pee Dee in SC

In Tignal we camped at Hester’s Ferry Campground. Having a Winnebago means no one has to rent a place for the overflow of family that comes to enjoy the lake, food, and fireworks.

Hester’s Ferry campsite in GA

The trip is not a vacation from archery.  We have a field where I practice with my bow and Ray practices with his crossbow. This trip I brought a large block. There are two blocks here, both shot to pieces. The bigger block, carried here in the truck, has two sides that will stop arrows. The larger sides don’t even slow arrows.

The block was hauled to the field, balanced on a smaller block that rested on a chair. Once the paper target was attached to the old block I used a 100-foot tape measure to wheel out 50 meters. Before long the range was open for business.

In the past, I’ve said that I prefer warm weather to cold. Well, I got my wish. I think the coolest day during this trip peaked at 93°F. That’s not to too bad. We get similar temperatures on the coast of North Carolina all the time. Sure, archery practice can be a sweaty business.

Cycling, in the case of this trip, was done pretty early and the heat was not a factor. Even bike rides later in the day didn’t feel as hot as did standing still in the sun shooting. Riding a bike creates a nice breeze.

The final day of 50-meter practice here was the hottest of all – over 100°F. The forecast was for 100°F and we surpassed the prediction. Hiking to pull arrows I made sure to put my bow under the shade of a tree otherwise after an hour or so the bow gets really hot. A black aluminum bow is a great thermopile. Still as hot as it was, I’ll take it over the cold.

Got to keep this bow in the shade

We begin our trip home tomorrow. Another 4th is history. Thousands of dollars for fireworks blasted. A mess of great food was eaten. I’ve finished a short bit of writing to remind me about it in the future and I am sharing with you.

In a final note there is group of archers on western shore of Maryland who banned me from their site when I shared my 2014 4th of July post with them. To them I say, “Happy 4th of July! And may the blue rubber suction tips on your arrows always hold true.”

Novice 50-Meter Practice

Well, crap – I didn’t see that coming.

I’ve signed up for the NC State Outdoor Championship. From what I understand it is a two-day event. The targets are set 50-meters away from the archers. Everyone shoots 72 arrows then you do something else.

I have no idea what the something else might be or why this tournament needs to take 2 days. Two days means extra time on the road and more expense.

I tried an outdoor 50-meter tournament once before in Georgia. Among the instructions was a recommendation to be at the range by 2:00 PM. I arrived at 1:00 PM to make sure I knew, at least, where the event was being held. The complete directions were somewhat cryptic.

On that day, I left before the event was completed. It was 7:00 PM when I threw in the towel. It was the dumbest sporting event I’d ever attended.

Later, I heard that soon after I drove away the sprinkler system under the field where the archers were shooting activated. This cleared the range and caused a significant delay. They finished shooting under lights at 11:30 PM. When I learned this, I decided 50-meter competition might not be for me.

The primary time suck, leading to the sprinkler and archery intersection,  at that 50-meter contest orginiated with judges and officials having stories to tell and a captive audience. Here’s the thing for an event official that has a story, a sagely bit of advice, a weather report, short comic routine, or sermon – keep it to yourself.

From that day I sort of remember how to score. Sure, it seems easy; an X ring counts 10 points, then a 10 ring that counts 10 points, 9 ring, 8 ring, etc. But, the little X ring on the indoor target is no longer an X ring, it counts 10-points, it’s the sole remaining 10 ring, leaving a larger yellow 9-ring. Has USA Archery made a similar change for outdoor shooting?Whatever, I’ll shoot what everyone else is shooting and try to put my arrows into the center part. I just hope it doesn’t take 6 hours to shoot 72 arrows.

For practice, I ordered, what I think is the outdoor target people shoot toward when firing arrows from 50-meters. I was shooting pretty good today, at least what I think might be good since I have no idea what is a decent score until I had a run in with a snake.

River not patrolling for snakes, prefers chewing on a stick while waiting for me to finishing practice

Now, I see a lot of snakes out here. Mostly, we meet, I look it over, and the snake flicks its tongue at me. And for the most part we go our separate ways. Today’s snake was not so liberal – you know, live and let live. It had an attitude and fangs.

If I need to cross paths with the locals. these are just fine with me.

It wasn’t large, maybe 18 inches, but the snake, a water moccasin, was coiled on the edge of the shooting lane, in grass and preparing to bite me. Now, I admit, I always wear snake boots in these woods this time of year and I had them on. For one second I considered stomping on the snake with those boots. (Yes, we were that close to each other) I reconsidered, noting to myself there really is no reason to “test” the boot manufacturer’s marketing claims. Imagine a failure:

“Dear Mrs. Lain: All of us here at Big Bite Snake Boots want to offer our sincere condolences regarding the recent incident between the late Dr. Lain and an alleged snake bite. Our attorneys have reviewed the matter closely and determined our products are not labeled or warranted or designed to stomp on snakes.  We regret your loss. Enclosed please find a 25% off discount coupon good for your next purchase. Valid though the April 2018.”

Instead of stomping, I shot the snake with a pistol.

If shooting 50-meters is anything like shooting a snake with a pistol then I need to stay home. The first shot was so far off the snake didn’t even move. The second got its attention. The third caused it to move a little. Shots four and five did the trick. Now, the pistol is only a 380 and I am not shooting snake shot or rat shot. I heard snake shot and rat shot causes the Ruger 380 to jam.

These little ‘Rough Green Snakes’ are not a worry

So, you might ask, like a friend of mine did, “Why didn’t you just shoot it with an arrow?” You may even think that would be your first choice. Before you commit to arrow versus bullet let me give you the setting.

You have a compound bow set for 50-meters. Your arrows are those skinny ones that all the field archery specialists and 50-meters experts shoot (only yours are the less expensive variety because you’re not to sure about 50-meters and you don’t want to waste money).

Next, this isn’t a huge snake, only 18 inches of pissed off water moccasin. (You didn’t piss it off; it is that way in general.) This angry viper is clearly intent on biting you. It’s also at the edge of some tall grass.

The taller brush is next to a creek. Snake paradise.

Lord forbid, but say you fire an arrow at the snake and miss. Say you miss and it slithered off. Remember, tall grass. Now, when are you going to reach your hand it those weeds and retrieve that arrow? By the way, I’d bet money, you’d miss even though the snake was just three feet away. Why would you miss? Well, have you ever practiced shooting an object that is maybe two inches thick and 18 inches long from three feet? No, you haven’t – miss!

Even if you hit it, you’d probably screw up an arrow shooting it into the ground. One last thing, that bow is twenty-five yards away right where you left it sitting when you went to pull arrows. You do have six arrows in your hand. Trying to poke a water moccassin to death with a field tip would really piss it off.

Nope, bullets are inexpensive and plentiful. Heck, I shot at it five times and hit it twice for good measure. After that I shot 18 more arrows at 50-meters and took a break having completed my morning quota of archery shots. During the afternoon practice, I carried a 410 shotgun loaded with Remington 6-shot. I always get snakes on the first shot with that gun.

Still, after shooting 50-meters, 84 arrows in the morning, 84 in the afternoon I’m not sure about the upcoming State Championship. Oh, I scored only 72 arrows during each practice. I shot 2 ends of 6 as a warm-up because I think that is how they are going to do it the day of the competition. The afternoon was snake-free. Snake seems to know when I am carrying that 410. They are braver when I have that little pistol.