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.

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.

NC State Indoor 18-meter Championship

The 2017 USA Archery North Carolina State Indoor State Championship was held this year at Droptine Archery in Advance, NC. Now, I’ve not lived in North Carolina my entire life. I grew up in Savannah, Georgia, specifically on Tybee Island then Isle of Hope. So, I didn’t know where Advance was in the Tarheel State.

It turned out to be nearly in the middle of the state and NC is a big state. Actually, it ranks only 29th in square miles. But, it is the widest state, 560 miles, east of the Mississippi. Since I live about as far east as one can, excluding the Outer Banks, it was going to be a haul to reach Advance terminating in an overnight stay at some hotel.

If the weather had been a bit warmer I’d have taken the Winnebago. Freezing temperature and a winterized camper that I didn’t want to de-winterize landed me at a Hampton Inn in Bermuda Run.

Hampton Inn, Bermuda Run, NC

I am extremely familiar with Hampton Inn and all the other hotel brands in the Hilton chain. While working I traveled a lot and Hilton brands were my hotels of choice. Before retiring I was a Diamond member of their frequent sleeper program. I’d also earned precious medal ranking among several of their competitors since Hiltons weren’t always available to me. Hampton Inn isn’t Hilton’s top shelf hotel but it is reliably clean, quiet and inexpensive. The one in Bermuda Run was no exception.

The Hampton’s pool was nearly big enough for laps

The indoor competition in Advance was only 0.6 miles from the hotel. That can’t be beaten for convenience. Before checking into my room I drove over to Droptine Archery to see the facility.

Droptine Archery, Advance, NC

The owners, Robert and Pam were extremely courteous. When I inquired if I might shoot a few arrows to sight my bow to their range and get a feel for the lighting they invited me to go ahead – gratis.

Some of Droptine’s merchandise

The lighting was exceptionally good. On their range they have placed additional lights above and aimed toward the backstop. This means the light is brighter on the target. Many ranges only have overhead fluorescent lamps. The fluorescent set-up in that manner washes out my dot making it more difficult to aim. The Droptine system provided crisp down range illumination that defined the dot on my lens.

Notice how the range is illuminated! Very nice.

The tournament was scheduled for 3 range times on Saturday and one on Sunday. My shoot time was 10:00 am. On the line and between shots “kids” surrounded me, all apparently in their late teens and early 20’s. All of them were very well mannered.

One thing I’ve learned is that if an older archer is going to worry about getting out scored by youngster they’ll be assured of a needless and negative worry. It will happen.

My first 30 arrows were below my average in score. Not an embarrassment but not good. Here’s the thing – they played music the entire time we shot.

I’ve never shot with music in the background. There’s a good reason, I play an instrument, a trumpet. When music is playing I hear the music. I don’t hear the words if it is a song, I hear the instruments and sounds. My insular cortex goes directly to the notes. In college, where I took music (not as a major)  I could name a musical composition after hearing only a bar to two of a score. I still can to some degree.

Before we began shooting a judge asked if anyone minded the music. No way was I going to be the only person that raised a hand in defiance. And yes, the music was a real problem for me, at least for the first 20 or 30 arrows.

The 2:00 PM shooters. It was crowded, but there was a decent amount of room to shoot.

The insular cortex, a part of our brain, is the central governor of subconscious. For example, playing a trumpet, reading notes, moving fingers, is too much to do consciously and simultaneous. Shooting a bow, aiming, holding form, and releasing an arrow are also best done subconsciously. The music and shooting were a bit much for me. I never approached the line without music floating in my head.

If you’ve ever been a musician, say played longer than 10 years (I started when I was 8) you might understand the dilemma. For me, when music is on, it becomes an active involvement and I have difficulty concentrating on anything else. Even when I drive, unless on a straight highway, I have typically have the music off.

It took some time before I figured out how to deal with the music. There was no way to block it. So, I gave up and enjoyed it hoping my insular cortex would deal with it. While I didn’t completely succeed, I did improve as the shooting continued. In the future I will occasionally practice with music in the background.

There is music in my head (Photo by Adrianne Williams)

A number of archers from the east coast made the drive. Of the four of us that competed we left with two Gold Medals and one Silver Medal. Perhaps in 2018 we’ll have a larger group heading back to Droptine Archery in Advance.

Couple of guys from the coast of NC getting their game on mentally (Photo by Adrianne Williams)

PS: Driving home I had the radio on. Despite a fairly straight shot to the Atlantic Ocean, I missed a turn infuriating the woman that lives within the GPS.

To Go or Not To Go

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.

Well, that was exciting

The North Carolina State Indoor Championship (USA Archery) didn’t end up like I’d planned, but it was exciting.

Shoot times were at 10 and 2. Filled to capacity and I understand some folks were turned away.

I’ve noticed that at races and shooting tournaments, I’m often listed in an every decreasing category. That is, there are less and less competitors.  What I’ve seen is that the folks that are competing in my age group are; well, really fast and really good. However, the group I shot with here in NC was big enough. And in fact it got bigger by one. Apparently one 50 something guy was listed in the 49 and below age group. That is the Senior group. The mistake was corrected. (I’d entered the 60+ class.)

In North Carolina, the winner of the Master’s 50+ Age group had the second highest score of all adult male archers. As a matter of fact, among the men the Masters(those of us 50+ guys) group held 3 of the top four men’s scores. It makes some sense; these guys have been shooting for a while.

In the case of archery versus other sports where I’ve competed for decades I am a newcomer. Frankly, I’m still trying to learn all the rules. Basically, I try to figure out the target and shoot it. One new experience for me in NC was a shoot off.

I’ve never ended up in a dead heat in any sport. In this tournament, I had the exact score, in every consideration as Tim, a guy also shooting in the 50+ Masters. We had the exact same number of 10s and 9s.

The judges, in hurry to get the next group shooting, decided we’d shoot one arrow – winner takes all. They lined us up, side-by-side, instructed us which targets we’d get, and someone yelled – Shoot! We shot. Tim scored a dead center 10; I hit an off center 9. I lost. (The littlest circle, the old X-ring, being the 10)

Tim and me after the shoot off.

I wasn’t overawed with my score even though it was decent. I’d shot against guys with a lot more experience and done well even though I ended up one point outside of a podium finish. If there had been a 60+ group, I’d have hit pay dirt -being the only competitor.

Shooting against younger people doesn’t typically doesn’t bother me. In this case, it did because it was a State Championship and they offered my age group at registration. Sadly, no other 60+ guys showed up, so I ended up shooting against the 50+ guys.  Still, I ended up in a shoot off for what, at the time we were shooting, we thought was for 2nd or 3rd place. It wasn’t until the results were posted that I discovered there was a Senior archer who had been moved to Masters.

Granted, I shot the best I could on that day. Until the shoot off I was tied for the 3rd highest score of the day. Heck, if I’d not been shooting and scoring each end with Tim I’d have walked away tied for 3rd. C’est la vie.