Ending Another Road Trip

The trip to Georgia for the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM wasn’t 100% about archery. There was a lot of archery with practice “on the lot” and competition “done there at that park.” In addition, we had running, kayaking, visiting with one of our daughters and her son, and hanging out with my father-in-law. We missed our son-in-law. He’s not yet retired.

River along for a run

We also didn’t make it to Savannah. So, I didn’t see Mama, my brother, sister or the pile of nieces and nephews that live there. Nor did I have time to visit my cousins that live only a few hours away or many good friends that are in our home State of Georgia. Alas, time is too short and we must return to North Carolina.

On the trip home we drove nearby the old Lain farm. We didn’t stop and visit our cemetery packed with buried relatives, as is our travel practice. If the timing is correct we’ll pause in Florence to eat at the Thunderbird Inn. The timing was correct.

The Thunderbird serves a buffet that is okay. It’s not the food that brings us back it is tradition.

While I began the process of package and stowing gear I thought about the shoot over the past weekend. It was my second major ASA event the first the same from the prior year. I leave disappointed with Saturday and pleased with Sunday.

What the disappointment taught me was to shoot the way I train. On Saturday I shot sloppy. Not sloppy because of the rain. Sloppy because I too often didn’t follow my complete sequence for each shot on every shot. Sunday I slowed down and thought through what it was I needed to be doing on each shot. It made a difference. Primarily, I made no big errors, like using a 40-yard pin to shoot 30 yards. Such erroneous placement of a pin, both yellow in this case, only yields positive results where enough other errors are in place to compensate. In other words, “Dumb luck.”

I’ve been friends with Brian, in the Bowtech jersey, for a couple of years beginning through Facebook. He’s appeared here, at Putting it on the Line, before. We met face to face in Appling. Pretty cool.

After the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM I compared it to the 2016 edition. One of the primary highlights was visiting with people. Three years ago I didn’t know any of them. This year when we met it was all smiles and handshakes. Three years and eight months ago, I didn’t own a bow. That whim purchase brought the bonus of new friendships and experiences. Not a bad deal for what was a fairly expense purchase, a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 – now obsolete. That’s a darn shame; I’d like another just like it. The bow worked just fine in 2017.

One activity that does stand out is the meeting of friends that one only sees during archery tournaments. Some are competitors, many are in different classes. It’s reassuring to see fellow archers from home. Here in Appling I saw many, all with smiling faces on the morning before the first day of shooting. Missing them on Sunday I am currently unable to assess Saturday’s outcomes since no ‘home’ faces were available for reading results. Hopefully, the smiles remained in place.

Calling Foam

I was feeling good about my shooting on the second day the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM. So confidant that I began calling the upper twelve.

Typically, I skip calling an upper twelve. It’s a matter of skill. At 3D there’s another element to shooting that isn’t a skill factor at indoor 18-meter or outdoor 50-meter shooting. You know what it is, judging yardage.

You don’t need to call the lower twelve. Rarely do I even make a specific shot with a lower twelve my mark. I’ll go for it, but I give is a little elevation. That way if I miss I hit a ten and if I hit it – well lucky me. Hitting it means I miss-judged the yardage on the low side a little. Hitting a ten as a ‘miss’ isn’t a significant error. Missing a twelve and hitting an eight is a significant error.

Sure there are a few shots where the twelve is so clear, so obvious, that it is the primary spot for arrows. Those, I’ll shot for a twelve and hope the arrow lands where I aimed. Last weekend, Sunday to be exact, there were upper twelves that where too good not call. So, I called them. Some I got, some I didn’t.

But, at that most recent tournament, there were an abundance of nice black targets setting at the maximum yardage. I got one of them during the shooting rotation putting me up first. On that target I called my shot. Turing my head away from the target, while standing at the stake, I got eye contact with the others in my group.

When I had their attention I spoke, “I’m calling foam.”

If Only, If Only – Oh, Well (ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM, Final Day)

The 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM is done, at least for me. This final day started early, 0730, on Sunday. It was over before I knew it. I was out of the woods and home by 1115. The weather, perhaps remorseful of the conditions presented on Saturday, redeemed itself providing textbook perfection for the final volley of arrows.

Headed toward Lincolnton then onward to Appling. (Yes, I stopped the truck to take this picture.)

Starting early, like I mentioned above 0730, at first seemed nightmarish to me. Such an early time is reminder of triathlons. Those events also begin at the ‘puke of dawn.’ Triathlons are more likely to start before 0700 rather than later. While the time itself doesn’t sound awful, the start time is misleading. To make an early start time for a sporting event, the athlete has to be up even earlier to eat, prepare, then travel to the event venue. For me this meant a wake up call, three alarms set, for 0415 – an hour and forty-five minutes earlier than normal. As it turned out, none of the alarms activated all being disarmed minutes before their assigned announcements.

My favorite meals of the day are breakfast, lunch and dinner. I arose little earlier so there’d be ample time to prepare a good breakfast. Today, that pre-dawn meal was a fresh spicy hamburger sized sausage patty on an English muffin with coffee and orange juice. An easy 500 calories. All ingested before 0500. There was leftover time to take River for a short outing where she chased a fox. Then, I wished Brenda, rationally still in bed, Happy Mother’s Day and hit the back roads leading from Tignal to Appling.

Phil taking aim on a deer around 40 yards out.

The drive to the ASA Augusta was just fine, the roads nearly vacate. Last year, when I turned onto Dogwood Lane entering the Wildwood Park, home to the tournament, the line of traffic was backed up crawling along at a stupidly slow pace. This year the ride was as smooth as silk and I didn’t stop until I landed in the same excellent parking slot I’d had on Saturday. As far as similarities between the two days I hoped that these events weren’t prophecies that my Sunday’s shooting might agree with my Saturday’s. Parked, outfitted for archery I readied my self and headed to range G to join my group on stake 12.

Our group of four, Phil, Randy, Buddy and I were at our stake in good order. The ASA officials reminded archers that stake time was going to me monitored and to keep pace. Their incentives had everyone shooting at a good clip.  Our group was off the range, along with everyone else, in three hours. Consider, 20 stakes per range attended by 4 archers per stake. That’s eighty shooters. We were at ranges H and G. That’s 160 athletes. We started at 0730. At 1030 scores were being forwarded to the judges. One can only praise the organization and management of the ASA at moving so many archers through the woods with such efficacy.

ASA ran a tight ship. With so many archers it was amazing how fast we cleared the range. Honestly, quite pleasant.

However, the course though the woods, today, was not entirely smooth travels. Granted, a 3D competition does not cut through a forest at the pace of a mountain bike race. Mostly, people stand a little, walk a bit, sit down, and creep along. In between shots, I sat or stood and stared glassy-eyed while daydreaming of what might have been in reflection of Saturday. Some of those, “Oh, well..” moments of self analysis.

Yep, there is a target out there.

During one those moments, not really being visually focused, my head was aimed toward a group of female archers, all standing still or sitting down, to my right. Presently, my eye’s glaze was interrupted by one of the women archers.

Rather than holding her statuary mimed posture she began flapping and slapping her arms, spinning about, and twirling her head, all while her legs thrashed in fits River Dance choreography. It was a distinctly festive exposé brought forth following the introduction of a yellow jacket swarm. The local community alerted we keep a vigilant scan of our proximate skies.

Only the dancing archer was directly involved in the aerial combat being just slightly wounded by a single sting. The stinging insect yielded to a high pitched verbal assault of language most often associated with Chief Petty Officers and Drill Instructors. In the manner of good sportsmanship, I turned my head before laughing as restrained as possible to prevent personal injury. Under such conditions, belly laughs can be misunderstood exposing the laugher to deflected rage – not good with the inciting object has a weapon at close hand. Always good to err on the side of caution.

Squeezing in 4 upper 12s

Aside from this only occurrence of inter-species conflict ranges H and G moved along without further incident or compromise. Birds chirped and foliage cast shadows over densely covered foam animals. There were good shots, better shots, bad shots and missed shots among all groups conveying bows and arrows. ASA representatives politely monitored and encouraged people to shoot and move without ever seeming aggressive or confrontational.

If only, if only, Saturday had gone even close to normal. There’s no point to what ifs in sport. It leads to empty wishes at best or grief over possibilities now past.  Neither serves a meaningful purpose. Certainly, a do over means doing it all again at another time another place and from the first shot. Between doings there will be more and more practice.

If you’re an archer then you know how to find scores. So, there’s no point in commenting Sunday’s results. All I’ll add is it is a crying shame that on Saturday I didn’t do the same or even nearly the same or maybe just a little better. Oh, well another opportunity is just around the corner. Until that appointment –ave atque vale my friends from the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, Georgia.

Saturday at the ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM – Augusta

The ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM was off to a good start; I got a parking spot 250 steps from the entrance to my range. The rain was holding off, the temperature was in the mid-sixties, and there was no wind. Perfect conditions for a high score. The promising morning didn’t last.

250 steps away from range H. Excellent

It started raining and rained a long while. It was never really bad but seemed to have a little negative impact. I sort of enjoyed it although my shooting gave no indication the wet conditions were in any way a favor. The rain stopped about half way through the 20 target range.

Only a light rain at this point. It was never really a hard rain.

A few shots into the program I discovered the class I was shooting in was not the class I thought I would be shooting in. There are so many ASA classes it is a maze for anyone new to the ASA. Before I signed up I called the good folks in Kennesaw and asked for help. Taking their advice and explanation I signed up incorrectly. Nevertheless, it had no impact on my score.

One our our nicer groups

My score was a sad number. My lowest of 2017. Prior to today I knew my averages at similar distances. I ended up nearly a point lower per arrow than normal. It came down to one shot that blew my average. It was an easy shot and a very clear target. It was only 31 yards out.

The error was totally mental. There are two yellow pins on my sight, one for 30 yards the other for 40 yards. I shot over the 30-yard target. A total blank. I knew immediately. You might guess which of the two yellow pins I used for aiming. You can’t miss and be in the game. Unless you have a heroic comeback and a bit of help from the other shooters.

There were a fair number of long shots.

Sunday starts at 0730. There is no rain in the forecast. But, today’s shooting means tomorrow is high-level practice. A major plus is the course is excellent and I know where to park.

If this archery thing doesn’t work out – there’s always another sport

Checking in: ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, GA

This morning, River and I took the 40-minute drive over to the ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, GA from Tignal, GA. I compete this weekend. I wanted to find my ranges for Saturday and Sunday. I’d forgotten my little tournament registration postcard, received a few days ago by mail, that exhibited ranges, start times and starting stake numbers in North Carolina. So, I’d need to pick up another from the event organizers.

The drive was without incident. There is a five-dollar fee on top of the registration fee to enter the venue. Park rangers manning a booth at the entrance take the money. Once paid you can drive forward taking care not to run over archers shooting on either side Dogwood Lane, the main entrance road. Going slowly it isn’t difficult to miss hitting them.

Dogwood Lane, heading in

As we passed the walkers, all ornamented in the bowling/archery supply collared shirts and toting bows and chairs, we reached the flagman for parking. We were directed to a slot about two tenths of a mile from the initial parking representative’s post and maybe a half mile to registration.

Friends from NC heading to retrieve arrows at known 50

I gathered what I needed, which included a lead for River, and made the hike to registration. There the queue was clearly going to be a 15-minute shuffle to the head of the line. It took just 10 minutes to realize my wallet was in the truck. We walked back to the truck.

By now, River was getting a little hot so on the return trip we veered left and headed to the lake. There she took a cooling swim before getting back on course to registration.

Along the trek back to registration River was greeted by a pair of youngsters eating snow cones. The boys thought River was happy to see them. They were both around 12 years old and not worldly when it comes to Labrador retrievers and anything eatable. River’s good nature availed her to provide a teaching moment for the boys. It went well, boys and dog were satisfied. Sharing snow cones is acceptable for young men and mature dogs.

River, now lake cooled and snow cone refreshed,  joined me in marching on to registration central. At making our mark I noticed things had changed since we last visited. The queue now, two lines, being five deep each. Considering the earlier pace of advance toward the payment window meant this was going to take close to an hour. If my estimations on yardage tomorrow are as close to my shuffle timing guess I will be golden. I swear, the closing for my last house took less time.

Before I paid, standing on Southern sunbaked blacktop poor River was beginning to heat up. I removed her lead and positioned her under the canopy extending a few feet past the elevated money handlers. There she stood between the lines of melting archers.

River’s not a dumb dog and understands shade. She was happy to stay put. While ahead of me by two archers I noted she was looking to her right then left. Was there another dog approaching? If so, I might need to reattach her lead.

That was not the case. She was still wet from the swim. The matter was her need for a shake. River is aware of the result of a good water removal shake. She held it as long as any dog would consider fair warning then began the rapid sideways roll of her coat spraying both lines of potential 3D shooters with dog inspired rain.

Moments like these leave little to say or explain. Fortunately, all splattered were understanding or so worn from standing, heat, and line misery no one bothered to complain. It seemed there was a gleam in River’s eyes.

Thus, avoiding calamity I was happy to reach the window. There I explained I’d left my range assignment postcard at home in North Carolina. All I needed to replace it, as informed by a voice above, was my ASA number, which I have memorized. The wallet with identification was not necessary. However, the dollar penalty fee to replace the 5-cent post card did necessitate the wallet.

Seriously, one dollar to replace the postcard? Surely this was not an attempt to generate revenue unless hundreds of archers forget their postcards. I half expected the official in the registration box to order me to sit in time out for my error.

Freed from judgment and one dollar with postcard in hand, River and I decided to take a brief tour to find where ranges H and G, my weekend’s starting assignments, were located. Moving through a crowd of archers it was soon clear River had more admirers and most. I’d hear, “Is that, River?” directed to her but asked of me. While patted a lot her social highlights included meeting a beagle, a basset hound, and a large mixed breed.

Her gastronomic highlight was delivered at lunch. We’d been on the hunt for H and G when it was approaching time to eat. River eats twice a day, not three times a day. So, lunch is not on her menu. I ordered a sandwich from one of the food vendors located in the “Tournament Village.” “Tournament Village” is a clear attempt at marketing the vendor location. The name being more grandiose than genuine.

My sandwich arrived along with a hot dog, no bun, for River. Once again, she’d displayed pleading falsely hungry eyes and earned a jackpot.

Our need for substance met we renewed the H and G hunt. There is a map of the ranges laid on a table new a vendor tent. It is not to scale. In fact, it is more a cartoon of a map than map. Despite the caricature challenge we discovered H and G. The only further starting points from parking are ranges A and B. But, all ranges are within a civilized walking distance and there is no need to clamber on a tractor drawn cart, ski lift, of tram to arrive at the appointed starting stake.

One last stop before we returned to the 2006 F-150 King Ranch for the trip home was to visit with a specific equipment supplier. I had questions I needed answered by an authority before the NC State Outdoor Championship in July. I’d already found the vendor’s booth and made two measures of the area. Each effort found the booth devoid of humanity. Alas, the third try was the charm; there was a sales person at his station and not a sole in sight. I made my move.

Upon arrival I stood and waited to be addressed. The representative seemed to be asleep, head bowed, or in prayer. Respectful of the latter possibility I stood by in anticipation of an Amen.

Either totally exhausted or in deep repentance for sin, the head did not lift. I grabbed and fondled gadgets and widgets. No response. Hoping for help, I snapped my fingers for River to stand and put her paws on the merchandise display table. Always compliant she was over happy to stand two legs on the tarmac and two on the table. No response. How do you ignore a 107-pound Labrador retriever eyes’ looking down on you is beyond my comprehension.

Perhaps the sales representative, one I’ve met in the past, was in a diabetic coma. I did not verify for vital signs. I refer I’ve met him in the past while applying the term liberally, similar to “Tournament Village.” But, I’ve made this attempt to gain information on the displayed products in the past. Same company, same representative. As before, I departed the booth, sales representative’s head unmoved, my questions unanswered.

I didn’t take any practice at the ASA event. I took personalized coaching back in Tignal.

On the final leg of our hike around the ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM in Appling, GA, River took one more cooling swim. Then, we boarded the truck and made the 40-minute drive back home. Tomorrow it is suppose to storm all day.

It was all fun and games in Appling, but River was glad to be on familiar turf

Revising and Finishing the Plan for 2017

The 2017 Indoor Archery season is done, at least for me. There is a National 5-spot tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio in a few weeks. Five-spot targets are fun – the X ring is huge! But, it was not on my 2017 plan and as tempting as it is I am sticking with the plan. The plan now moves to 3D.

At the moment, however, it is a scheduled break and recovery period. My bow is sitting a few yards away and targets are not much further away. I’d like t go shoot, but I’m sticking with the plan. Tomorrow starts a little active recovery – kayaking followed by fishing. Then, this coming weekend I’ll pick up a bow and head out to shoot in a 3D contest totally unprepared. By that I mean having not shot a bow in six days prior to the tournament.

It’s not my first 3D tournament of 2017. Thus far, I’ve shot in two with minimal preparation and using a back-up bow. They were on the plan and considered exclusively for fun events. For the past few months, practice has been intensely 18-meters.

Looking at the 3D season and the goals for 2017 I’ve had to make adjustments. Specific tournaments, when the schedule finally appeared, fell during times where Brenda, my wife, and I planned family outings. To make adjustments I found other similar events to take the place of the original. The past four hours have been spent working on scheduling and registrations.

The 2017 plan, now revised, is complete through August. August was tough. There’s the ASA Classic the first weekend and the IBO World Championship the next weekend. That’s a lot of traveling to shoot at both. The IBO is closer to home. I chose the IBO.


New Breed Archery/ Leupold ASA Pro/Am Appling, GA – It’s Hot!

We’ve lived in Augusta. Right now we’re up at the Lake house in Tignall. We’re here for the ASA Pro/Am in Appling. It’s like coming home to shoot.

It’s home and it’s hot. We drove over the Appling to check out the ASA action on Friday. The tournament is at Wildwood Park and the Park was packed with archers, families, vendors, cars, and lots of sweat.

Packed ranges for the team competition

Tomorrow it is going to be even hotter. Most of the accents I heard where from the South. Certainly, many folks competing here over the weekend will be accustom to the heat. One thing for certain, it is a lot hotter here than some of the northern states where I shot during the summer.

Brenda drove over to Wildwood Park with me. When she climbed out of our Ford F-150 she said, “It is so nice not to be cold.” The thermometer in the truck read 92° F (33°C). It was toasty. Good luck to everyone shooting this weekend and stay cool.

Cars and trucks were parked everywhere and baking in the sun.