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.

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.