Clearing the 3D Range

We’re hours away from the packers arriving to begin the process of moving to Georgia. There is still snow on the ground. Luckily, it is beginning to warm up. Despite the snow, 18-meter practice continued. And it was time to bring in my 3D targets off the old range for their relocation further south.

Back and forth and back and forth

Some of the 3D targets are a little on the heavy side. Over the years as I hauled them out to their spots on the range I toted them in a wheel barrel. None are so heavy they can’t be hefted and hauled by hand. But, if there is an easier way to get work done that is the path for me. A wheel barrel is easier. All this snow on the ground meant no wheel barrel.

Back and forth and back and forth – only now hauling some 3D target.
River seemed a little nostalgic

Over the past few years I have spent a lot of time in the woods around here practicing 3D. The “Park”, as it is called, seemed empty without the patiently waiting foam critters. River, my dog, appeared puzzled by the lack of the forest menagerie.

When we get to Georgia, in 5 days (the movers bring our possessions in 19 days) I’ll begin planning how I’ll arrange the section of our land reserved for a new 3D range. It will take several months to get the new range completed. The woods we own in Georgia are dense with under brush. I don’t want to clear it all, I want to leave enough of the woods to make shots difficult and interesting. Each target will take some placement planning.

“Where is everything?”

In the meantime, there are all those spring and early summer USA Archery tournaments. 3D focus may become a 2019 project. That’s not to suggest there will be no 3D in 2018. Just less 3D than previous years.

Starting a pile of foam for the trip to Georgia

It is Freezing Here – No, it’s not that warm.

There’s about eight inches of snow on the ground. The wind is howling. The temperature with the wind chill is 18°F. My targets are frozen together and my bow is colder than ice. All in all pretty miserable.

River has no problem with cold.

I know some folks love the cold. Otherwise states like Montana and North Dakota would have populations less than a city like Atlanta. Oh wait; Montana and North Dakota do have populations less than Atlanta. Still between those two states there’s nearly two million people living in the cold. (That’s still less than the population of Georgia’s Capitol.)

Nope, no archery today

To be honest, I have lived in cold places. I’ve lived in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I’ve also had my primary office in Boston and Mölnlycke (Sweden) where I spent an abundance of time. Right now it is warmer in Mölnlycke than here in New Hope, North Carolina. (34°F in Mölnlycke and 27°F without the wind chill that’s making it feel like 18°F.) Twice I’ve taken trips north of the Artic Circle. From those experiences I know I am not one to love the cold.

Even the birds look cold

Fortunately, as we migrate future south the winters become milder and shorter. Yes, it is cold here at the moment; next week we’re expecting highs back into the lower 60s and upper 50s.

This cardinal is looking forward to some thaw

Despite the current conditions I did go outside. I didn’t shoot or run. I was going to shoot but the stack of three frozen together blocks took the steam out of that idea. Running on ice and snow is dumb. There was no running today. River ran she loves the snow.  Then, she is built for cold. She ran and I walked.

Aside from a few escapes outdoors, I spent the day dealing with changes addresses for our upcoming move to Georgia, where it will be warmer still. My hometown of Savannah, Georgia got a little snow from this storm that hit many of us.  My friends and family there are pretty excited by it. Then, it will be 65°F there with the next 72 hours.  Heck, I expect the snow that arrived there a few hours ago is already gone.

“Mama’s” house on Isle of Hope, Ga. (Savannah) Photo taken by my sister, Cynthia.

Nope, having grown up in the deep South and not owning an overcoat until moving to Baltimore when I was 35 years old, I have no issue missing the cold and snow. (I do own several now)

Mountain Biking, Shooting and Ditching (Not in that order)

Ditching was first on the agenda. Not my agenda, River’s agenda. If you haven’t been a reader here you might not know who is River. River is my Labrador Retriever. I’ve not met a Lab that doesn’t love the water. River is crazy about water.

It rained hard here in Georgia yesterday. Every ditch and creek was brimming with water. River runs with me and this morning we headed out to run a trail we discovered yesterday. Knowing of a ditch that pools with water along the usual run I decided to avoid that direction. I was pretty sure we could get to the new trail a back way. It was an attempt to keep River out of the rain off ditch pool.

River has been smelling a bit ‘above bad’ having had a bath last week. It would be nice if she’d not stink when we’re visiting family. Were here in Georgia visiting family for Christmas. River doesn’t often have ‘nice’ wafting off of her coat. If she goes ditching (Ditching: jumping into a water filled earthy conduit and running as hard as possible) there is going to be stink.

It’s not that she’s naturally stinky. She works hard to reach an apex of olfactory funk. Rather than chance she’d jump into an overflowed ditch that forms such a tempting pool of water we headed in the opposite direction. That didn’t end up as planned.

The run put us at trails that simply called us forward. After nearly an hour of running it was becoming clear we were heading around a wide weaving circle. In the back of my mind a worry suggested we’d come out of the woods at a point where the pool would be between home and us. I considered turning back figuring that might add another 45 minutes to the run. That time would eat into archery practice. We remained on course. Plus, I wasn’t really up for nearly 2 hours of trail running.

It turned out my worry wasn’t unfounded. Once we cleared the woods my fragrant neutral dog hopes dimmed. Within two tenths of a mile there was the pool of rainwater. River was only 10 yards ahead, 30 yards from the water. She stopped as soon as she spotted her wet reward. Slowly she turned back toward me, gave dog grin and made a beeline for the ditch. I sprinted toward her and with increasing volume ordered her to stop. The louder I got the faster she sprinted.

River is a big girl at 105 pounds. She is all muscle. It always amazes me how much water she can displace at full tilt. There was no avoiding the bath to come. I did save time by not circling back only to lose it washing a dog.

Nevertheless, I got a decent ‘afternoon’ archery practice shooting at a 5-spot. The morning archery session was blown to washing River. I’d switched over from a 3-spot for a break. Since August 2  of this year every 5-spot practice has yielded a 300. But, if you shoot 5-spots a lot you know the X count is where the money waits. Only 47 X’s today. Frustrating.

The archery frustration was burnt off during an afternoon riding mountain bike. I wanted to follow the same trails we ran this morning only heading right rather than left (I already knew that was a wide circle) at a Y intersection.

At that point the trail begins to climb. Looking down at my Garmin I noted the mileage at the foot of the climb. That climb went on for one mile. The earlier rain made the path, having a base layer of red clay, one slippery exercise in staying upright and moving forward. Despite the greater than anticipated elevation in heart rate, to match the unforeseen length of the climb, it was a nice way to end the day. That and of course no broken bones or cuts.

Running and Shooting and Waiting Out the Rain

We’re back in Tignal, Georgia for a few days before we had off to Athens for Christmas. River and I hit the road before it rained. Man, has it rained. Running was pretty nice. First of all there was no rain. Secondly, there were lots of trails and double track to cruise.

Running along the sides of country roads isn’t bad primarily because we have minimal traffic. Getting totally off road is even better.

After an hour of trail running it was looking more and more like rain. Needing to get some archery practice in, having missed yesterday when we drove to Georgia from North Carolina, it was a rush to stay ahead of the guaranteed downpour.

This is a blast on a mountain bike

Both running and archery (at least the morning archery practice) were completed. Cycling and a second day’s archery practice now await cessation of rain.

The rain is easing off

The Mental Game in Archery

Don’t look to me for answers. Still, I am offering what I’m going through.

All my life I have been an endurance athlete. Without doubt it was my mental toughness that got me through runs and triathlons. During every run and every triathlon I hurt. My legs hurt, my arms hurt, it hurt to breathe, and my heart was pounding. I never quit a race I’d started. Once, I didn’t show up for a race that I felt prepared for because I was sick. But, I never quit.

During any race when I really started to hurt I go through phases of anger and frustration. There was never doubt. I’d trained and I trusted my training. I could turn anger and frustration into the generation of effort. That led to calm energy and forward momentum.

Archery simply does not work that way. Scoring nines when I’m aiming for tens is amazingly frustrating. Hitting an eight makes me down right angry. I cannot channel those emotions into a calmness needed to shoot well. There’s no conduit to pound it out. The best I’ve come up with is blowing it off and restarting everything anew on the next shot.

For example, say I hit a nine a bit above the ten. Before the next arrow I pause and think about what I did that caused me to land in the nine-ring (aside from the ten ring being the size of a penny). I don’t think, “Don’t do that again.” What I think is, “Okay, your follow though was off, now follow though on this next shot.” Many times, that next shot remains a nine.  Often in the exact same hole was the prior arrow.  Sometimes, the next shot is a ten.

Let’s say, I know from a miss that I screwed up the follow though on a  shot. I know I need to remain calm and have a good follow though on the next shot. On the subsequent arrow, I slow down, and go though each of my shooting steps in my head, then I repeat them as I perform them. Sometimes it works.

It does not work 100% of the time. That well thought out next shot might be another missed ten. If so, I repeat the mental exercise and shoot the next arrow.

If I hit too many nines or an eight frustration becomes anger. Unlike a triathlon where I could channel anger into power I can’t exactly grab my bow harder, squeeze the grip tighter, and draw an arrow more viciously. What works for me is a quiet, under my breath bit of profanity. Then, I blow off the shot (after I figure out what I did wrong.).

During either the frustration or the anger moments I work to not let those emotions turn negative. I also don’t deny the emotional impulse. I feel it, experience it, and let it pass in seconds. That ability comes from shooting a lot.(I am still learning.)

If you shoot a lot you will have the opportunity to miss a lot. You’ll experience the good and bad shots and learn how to best deal with them in your own manner.

With every shot, I go through a process of setting my body to shoot.  Once, I’ve got the dot in the center, I try to go blank (hoping for brain ‘alpha wave’ clarity) and let the shot happen. Thus far, I’ll say my brain gives out before my arms and back during practice.

Certainly, a year from now I could have a different point of view. For the moment, this is pretty much how I try to keep a mental focus on the next shot.

It’s cold and raining – happens every year

Training in the cold and rain is not on the top of my list for enjoyment. I can take the cold or I can take the rain, but cold and rain sucks. Despite the less than wonderful training conditions most of the time I will train though it. Sure, if the weather is seriously bad I stay inside, but unless it’s truly awful I work to get outdoors.

Today the temperature was 49°F while I was running. Not at all bad for running. By the time I was shooting it was still 49°F and was beginning to drizzle. Since I was standing in a shed and shooting out toward the target the rain wasn’t a real burden. The wind, however, was a real hassle. Not so much the wind pushing me, but it was strong enough to impact arrows even at 18-meters. Such is training in the fall here on the coast of North Carolina. We are going to get wind, rain, and cold.

I have to admit, I am glad to have this shed where I can stand. Without it, I’d be driving into Elizabeth City to shoot indoors and get totally out of the weather. The rain has gotten worse, so this afternoon I may need to take a pass on archery.  But, I can hop on a bike and ride the CompuTrainer.

PS.: The rain actually lightened up a bit for the afternoon shooting.

Buttermilk Creek Archery, Burlington, NC

I travel a lot to attend archery tournaments. During those travels it is often necessary to stop at a local archery shop. You can image, not all archery shop’s staffs are created equally.

Certainly, any archery shop where you might stop will be happy to sale you something. There are times, however, when it is just fun to go in and look around. Who knows, you might even find something that you can’t live without.

A couple of months ago I was on the road preparing for a competition. Loading up my gear in the dark I made a mistake and left my quiver, loaded with arrows, leaning against the side of my truck when I backed it away. I heard a crunch. I needed more arrows in a hurry.

The closest archery supply shop had arrows. I bought them. The person I bought them from was so full of himself that I had to bite my tongue, get the arrows and get out before I said anything that might lead to problems.

Other times the experience of a new archery shop and it’s employees or owners is fun. That was my experience in Burlington, North Carolina at Buttermilk Creek Archery.

I was there for the NC State 50-Meter State Championship. Buttermilk Creek has an outdoor range and was hosting the event.

One of the first impressions I had was ‘this place is big.’ It was also cool, I mean it was hot outside and they had great air conditioning. I wasn’t there for the AC. In fact, I was there the day before the tournament. I wanted to be certain I could find then range before I needed to be there.

The shop was a shooter’s paradise. Their products were well displayed so that you didn’t need to rummage about to find things. They are a complete outfitters store.

I was also impressed with the bows on display. Not just compound bows, but also they had a large display of recurve bows. If the bow shop where I bought my first bow, a compound, had had recurves, I’d be shooting a recurve today.

Buttermilk Creek had recurves. There were several clearly not new recurves hanging on a wall next to their indoor range. On the second day of the tournament I asked if those bows were for sale, they weren’t. The bows all had owners. Still I wanted to try out a recurve. All I had to do was ask.


CJ, one of the store’s staff, had one of the bows hanging on the wall in my hand before I knew it. He might have been trying to sale me a bow. It seemed more like he was happy to let me shoot. Before long CJ was shooting as well. Nathan, another shop employee was providing instruction and I was enjoying the shooting. Remember, I’m there for a tournament, I’ve got more shooting planned and not with a recurve. It did not matter, it was too much fun.


Finally, I put down the recurve. Shooting is still shooting and well shooting so I figured I might need to stay focused. In the long run it didn’t matter. In the short run I nearly left with a recurve in my hand. It was seriously tempting to buy one. In fact, I’ll probably buy one soon. When I do, I’ll likely call Buttermilk Creek and order one from them.

I left Buttermilk Creek wishing I could have stayed longer. I made one purchase, Viper arrow lubricant. Thus far, of the dozens of archery shops I’ve visited they are one of the friendliest in addition to having a nice range of equipment and supplies.

Cutting it Short

Work wears you down. It wears me down, maybe not you. But, I know when to take a break. This morning it was time to give it a rest.

I wasn’t shooting poorly, I was shooting tired. The fatigue and tiredness were not solely from shooting. It was a combination of shooting four -five hours per day, running and cycling every day, and in between doing a massive amount of lawn work.

Lawn work includes about 7 miles of mowing. Yes, I measured it with a GPS, it is 7-miles. Those miles are just the ones covered on a John Deere LA 105. It does not include the miles of weed whacking, handling a push mower to get the areas where the tractor doesn’t reach and going over it all with a backpack leaf blower. See the lawn includes my 3D range, so it is a lot of work. Today, it caught up with me.

The morning archery practice started after skipping a run. It went okay, not great. Using a 5-spot, hoping a change in targets would be refreshing; I ended up 300 and 50X. Not getting 60X on a 5-spot was a warning.

It was time to take a break. I might skip practice this afternoon.

Wind, Wind and More Wind

Wind chopping up the river

It has been windy the past couple of days. The wind is not a friend to cyclists or archers. Practicing 18-meters outdoors is tough when it blowing. At least on a bike there is usually a tailwind.

Today, not only was it windy, again, but cool. While out for a morning run, I wore a sweatshirt during the 60°F workout. The temperature felt really nice for the archery practice, but man the wind was a hassle.

These numbers could be better

Hopefully, I can blame the low X count on the wind. Well, I can place blame there whether or not is was the offense to shooting.

Bottoming Out

Ever leave your best shots on the practice range?

Seemed like s start for a good day of shooting.

This past weekend was likely the final 3D tournament for me for 2017. The IBO World Championship remains a possibility however low. It’s not that I can’t go, it’s that the expense might truly not be worth it. I’d have to really be on the mark to place in the top 5 and shoot better than I’ve done all year to be in the top 3. Still, it is a possibility.

From last week: That’s a skunk at about 28 yards. I thought I’d hit the 10 ring. Wrong, it was a 5. Seriously, felt good for a few minutes. And so went the day

I’d go if my practice average hits and remains about 10.4 points per target. The guys that have been winning the IBO World’s I’d shoot against have been winning in the small class for a few years. At this point, they’d beat me – statistically speaking.

My friend, Mike, max’ing out on real estate.

On the other hand, there’s the North Carolina Outdoor State Championship in a few weeks. To win that, I need to focus on 50-meters.

After the 3D tournament, I shot for awhile at 50-meters. Needs more practice.

Plus, despite an important 3D win two weeks ago, I shot my lowest 3D score of the year this past weekend. The results haven’t been posted so I don’t know how I ended up. In any case, regardless of how tough a shoot might have been, I know when I am not shooting in tournaments as well as during practice.

River offering encouragement or using dog telepathy to get a cookie.

Maybe a nice break shooting 50-meters exclusively will liberate my 3D shooting.