A couple of weeks ago I competed in the Georgia Archery Association’s State Field Championship held by the Kennesaw Archery Club (KAC). The KAC has a very nice outdoor range. It is located not too far from where we once lived in Kennesaw, Ga.
As I drove to the tournament I couldn’t help getting that feeling of nostalgia as I passed familiar landmarks. On the ride in during the morning I decided to take a side trip to go see our old home after the tournament.
The home isn’t really old. We built it in 1995. It is one of my favorite places we’ve lived. The house sits on a small hill in a quiet area of Cobb County.
When everyone finished shooting and after the awards ceremony I hopped into my ole’ 200,000+ miles Ford F-150 and headed toward the house. I got about 5 miles and within a few when I threw in the towel.
I’d have loved to see the old place. But, the traffic around Atlanta was absolutely insane. Trying to weave my way around it was no use. The roads were clogged in every direction.
It was nice to get another win. It would have been nice to have seen our old home in Kennesaw. I will admit I do not miss living near Atlanta. The traffic is crazy.
The past few weeks have encompassed camping, travel, and archery. August and September include more of the same regarding archery. The results of all this work over the past four weeks have been under whelming: two second places and a third.
The two second places where hard pills to swallow. In one I’d shot well enough to surpass the prior State record in field archery only to be bested by a friend that set the new bar 3 points higher. The other second was nothing more than being schooled by a better archer. He topped me by 9 points for the Southeast NFAA victory in field archery.
What really did me in was the Georgia ASA State 3D Championship. There’s no class in my age group for those selecting a hunter rig during competition. This meant I’d be shooting against athletes up to 15 years younger. Taking third in this event felt like a new low.
Before the first warm-up arrow at the 3D contest flew off my bow I considered not competing. It wasn’t because I felt off shooting or was overly concerned competing against younger athletes. As soon as I arrived at River Bottom Outdoors’ range near Franklin, Georgia, host of the tournament, my truck malfunctioned.
It was a minor flaw that could have serious consequences. The driver’s side window partially lowered and froze in place. With rain in the forecast, being nearly four hours from home with a camper in tow archery was the minimal of my concerns.
Being at the range I gambled and shot. After the first 12 targets the sky looked like it was going to open up at any second. In the Ford there was a towel covering the back set, a protection from River, my lab, when she’s riding. I’d come up with a plan to run back to the truck, cover the window using River’s seat protector and run back to whatever stake the group was shooting from should it begin raining.
It never did rain and I was spared a sprint. I wasn’t spared too many 8s and not enough 12s. Well, I’d hit ten 12s on the second range, only problem was I hadn’t called the upper. The thing is on every one of those shots I knew I’d hit the upper. My mind and confidence were lost on a wayward window.
Regardless of the electronic malfeasance sitting in the parking area I did my best to subdue the problem while I shot. I truly can’t say how much if any the F-150s ailment contributed to all the 8s I shot. The final score was actually my running average points per arrow for 3D. I’d been practicing for a peak performance not an average. The second and first place winners of the Senior Hunter division bested my average per arrow without apparent pause.
As soon as the tournament concluded I hopped into the truck and headed to find a remedy for the window. So far, it hadn’t rained and I’d been lucky. (Well lucky regarding rain, no luck in archery) The search for an auto mechanic reached a dead end so I hooked up the camper and headed home. There I could park the truck in the garage to save the interior from the forecasted rain.
It did rain. In fact it poured the very next day. I had made the right decision to leave early. (I’d made the wrong decision not calling the upper that same day) Fortunately, by then the truck was at the dealership and out of the weather.
Forty percent of all competitive archers are over 50 years of age. That’s approximately 3.12 million competitive archers. If you’re going to win in this crowd you can’t make mistakes or have your mind elsewhere.
Savannah, Georgia in July is hot. It’s hot in Savannah every July. I grew up in Savannah and every summer it was hot. This July continues to meet expectations of heat. Regardless of the heat archers showed up to compete at the GBAA State Field Championship.
Most everyone if not everyone shooting was from the South. There was little complaining about the heat. If you’d grown up with Southern summer heat despite the 100% relative humidity and 97°F temperature you might have thought this is a pretty nice day. There was an occasional breeze, archers were mostly under the shade of tall pine trees and it didn’t rain. Overall, a really nice day for archery.
Before coming to the tournament I’d looked over the past years’ results at the GBAA website. My friend, Jerry had set the record for our age group in 2017. I expected Jerry to show up and he did. So did Bob.
I consider Jerry and Bob friends. I look forward to seeing them at tournaments. We live too far apart to get together aside from archery unless someone is willing to make a 4-hour drive. But, they are welcome faces whenever I see them. I also know I’ve got to shoot against them.
At the recent Georgia Cup Jerry and I went head to head for the first place finish. Then, there’s Bob. Bob beats me and sometimes I beat Bob. It comes down to mistakes. That is, which one of us is going to make the most mistakes generally loses. Bob and Jerry are not all that generous at giving away points.
During the first day that started at 0900 and ended at 1730 I was lucky and assigned to a group with Bob, Jerry and Tony. Tony had driven to Savannah from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When Tony mentioned Winston-Salem my thoughts went to Wake-Forest, my grandfather that once lived there and our former home near the Outer Banks. I do miss our place on the water but don’t miss the hurricanes.
Day one moved amazingly slowly. You know if you shoot field or 3D there’s often that group that bogs down the pace. Yes we had such a group and long backups. All I can add and remain polite is at least it didn’t rain. There was thunder in the distance on day one and afternoon storms are not uncommon on the coast but we were spared that misery only needing to suffer through body aging blood pressure lifting waiting. Before long each new stake began to feel like the first shots of the day.
Let me say the Ogeechee Bowman, who put on the show, are really lucky to have such a great place to shoot. The range, county owned, is maintained by the Ogeechee Bowman and truly nice.
Jerry thankfully was with Bob and I. Jerry is an expert on all things archery and can explain, at least to me, what to do without making me feel stupid. Of course, I’d read the rules of field archery before hand and had purchased some field archery targets for practice. Still, there’s a lot of moving around and shooting at different targets from the same stakes or walking up (getting closer) to targets. There are further different colored stakes and a variety of distances depending on the shooting trial for each third of the competition. Reading the rules and putting them into practice are different.
One observation about the sunbaked archers is that there was a lot of grey hair on their heads – those that had hair. I counted to learn 42% of the archers were over 50 years old while only 6% were included in the Cub and Youth divisions. Now, back to Bob and Jerry.
At the onset of shooting Jerry was the record holder in this field archery competition. I had no idea how Bob was going to shoot aside from it would be good. Beyond that, I didn’t know really know what to expect. The plan was to simply shoot my shots. That is all anyone can do.
Jerry had traveled further to get to the shoot and Bob mentioned he’d not been sleeping well. On the other hand I was rested and felt good. I felt I had a little edge on both of them.
On the field round let me say Bob was very stubborn and possessive with his points. He kept more of his than I did of mine. In return, during the animal and the hunter portions of the event I kept more of my point than Bob did of his. So, (Paul, if you are reading this please share this with Bob) I beat Bob 2 out of 3.
Sadly, that isn’t the way Field archery is scored. I will say Bob, at least on one target where his brain was elsewhere, did open a door for me. He quickly closed that door. His recovery was something that would have been television worthy and crushing to those of us that despite doing very little wrong couldn’t keep up.
When the day was over Jerry, who’d kept us in line, had broken his former State record. I’d broken Jerry’s former record and his new record. But, then there’s Bob. Bob took the grand prize and set a new State Record. Jerry’s old record was bettered three times in one day. (Paul, I know you read these – please let Bob know he only won by 0.2% if you do the math.)
Certainly, I wanted to win. But, when I don’t it isn’t so bad that Bob or Jerry wins. The GBAA State Field Champion was Bob’s win. I know next time we meet up we’ll enjoy competing against each other and we do make each other perform better. (Deep down – I’d rather have won – dang it, Bob)
The 2016 3D archery season is, for me anyway, finished. Now it’s time to begin planning next year. While planning 2017 I noticed a few other tournaments that aren’t exactly in my backyard, but not that far away. For example the North Carolina State Field Archery Championship has popped up.
Naturally, I am drawn to the competition. The event is 7-days from today. Sure I could adjust my bow to handle the different arrows, thinner in diameter than what I’m currently shooting. Sure I could pack the Winnebago and head to the western part of the State.
But, I just got home after nearly a week on the road shooting. Since June, I’ve spent 34 days on the road for archery tournaments. While I decide whether to make this ‘unplanned’ trip I’ll continue to work on the 2017 schedule.
At the NFAA Sectionals, here in North Carolina, it was hot. Not record setting hot, but the second highest temperature that had been recorded for these two days. Shooting in 95°F was hard on a lot of people. The heat combined with the rugged terrain was more that some people could handle.
The first day was the hardest since there were three rounds. Two were field rounds and there was one animal round.
The field round, as expected, had plenty of long shoots. There were eighty-yard targets, mixed in with 70, 60, and 50 yarders. The second day was a “hunter” day and the distances remained the same. Lots of long shots. Long shots are fun shots. There’s something audibly rewarding to loose an arrow then wait awhile to hear the pop of it striking home. It’s visually rewarding to land on a center ring.
There were no freebees. When there was a short target it was often arranged at a difficult angle. One such was a “walk-up” where the first shot was only 11 feet away. After taking the short 11-foot shot, archers walked closer until four arrows had been fired.
Initially, it sounds easy. It wasn’t easy. The target was at an angle such that archers needed to contort creating a radical bend from the waist simply to see the target. In fact, it was a fun target.
The heat and rugged terrain did take a toll. On the second day there was a pronounced reduction in competitors. It was a tournament of attrition.
This was my first field archery event. I look forward to getting into as many of these as possible. (238 shots in 2 days -very cool)