When I look at the archery tournament schedule I can only stare and wish. Yes, there is a tournament in August here in Georgia. There is also an increase in the Covid-19 here in Georgia where we reached 104,000 cases or just about 10% of the population passing this bug around. (GA- DPH 6/11/21)
Clearly archers have been gathering on ranges and at tournaments here in the Peach State. I know because they post there group pictures snapped by cell phone. No masks and the six feet apart recommendation abandoned for the photo-op.
While I’d really enjoy a competition I’d rather wait and lower my risk of catching the virus. A friend of ours from Florida wanted to come up for a visit. We passed on that request even though we’d like to see him. He pointed out that my wife and I are on good shape. Was that supposed to mean that if we caught a virus that might travel up from Florida we’d probably only experience mild symptoms and most likely not die? I can wait to see him.
Practice still rolls on. Today I was an easy day and I enjoyed shooting 145 arrows in 90-degree weather. All were close range as I am considering switching my distance up to 20 meters hoping that by the time indoor season rolls around we’ll have a vaccine. For my part, I doubt I’ll be lining up close to a bunch of archers from around the State to shoot an outdoor event. I don’t expect archers’ boxes to be placed six feet apart.
When it comes to shooting along with a pile of archers during a pandemic – I can wait.
I’ve not picked up a bow in weeks. It has been a good time to accept an unplanned recovery. It has also been time to repair targets and clean the range.
I did a 3D tournament in June. The Covid-19 social distancing wasn’t strictly followed. I planned to continue competing but put that plan aside until the dust has settled a bit.
Over the Memorial Day weekend we didn’t head out into crowds of carefree people. I predicted we’d see a spike post-Memorial Day and we did. I expect the increases we continue to see are associated with Memorial Day and protests.
I’m 65 and in good health. I expect if I get Covid-19 my symptoms would be mild. In fact, I’d not be surprised to find I have the antibodies found among people that have been exposed to Covid-19 and not had more severe symptoms. I don’t know because I’m not paying $300.00 to find out.
While I wait for less contagious times I continue to prepare. There is a State Championship in August but that one might be a skip. Still, I’ll restart practice in a few days in the event the August date appears safe – which I don’t expect.
I will mention this – running and cycling have been going really well. And you can bet my range looks nice.
On Facebook at local group posted that in a few weeks they will be offering an ASA State 3D Championship Qualifier. I’d nearly tossed in the towel on 3D for 2020 before I read the post.
After learning there would be no easy access qualifier for my area I canned 3D other than shooting on my range for fun. Instead, I grabbed my target bow and began practice shooting dots at longer yardages.
The recent addition of the nearby qualifier had me pulling out my 3D hunting style rig for practice.
I’d shot well last weekend in a local 3D event and expected to pick up where I’d left off. That didn’t exactly pan out.
In the morning I refreshed my memory with the 3D bow and shot paper focusing on yardage from 40 to 50 yards. In the afternoon I went out to shoot faux animals at 40 yards then 35 yards.
The average yardage was 38.2. If the 40-yard practices and the 35 yards practice shots had been equal the yardage would have been 37.5 for those of you wondering about the 38.2 yardage. The actual yardage for the long shots was 40.3 and the short shots were 35.
Longer distances with pins are tough. Using a scope 40 yards isn’t a bother. Using a scope I’ve had to make 100-yard shots. In 3D using a hunter division rig 40 yards is the maximum distance in that class.
That’s probably a good thing considering how I performed at 40 yards today. My average arrow score was 6.2 at 40 yards. At five yards closer the average was 10 with one 12 and one 8.
Last week’s tournament had an average distance of 33.2 yards. I ended up with four 8s and seven 12s. The rest were 10s. I do remember a couple of shots being long. The last target, a wolf, was at 40 yards. I also recall a turkey at 35 yards. Overall, it was a fair course.
The problem is when I shoot 8s and 5s. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that is every archer’s problem. Shooting 12s and 10s isn’t a problem. Today was a mess with 5s (all at 40 or 41 yards). The single 8 at 35 yards landed in a javelina.
Hitting a 3D target well on close shots isn’t hard. Still, you have to make the shot. Getting comfortable at longer yardages is mandatory to finish well.
Even though Georgia’s Covid-19 restrictions have been eased I’m a bit hesitant to jump into the middle of a crowd. In my mid-60s I fit into a high-risk category. Still, solo archery practice and training moves forward.
Today, I was thankful for being socially distance. In this way, no one other than the archer could view the 3D practice. It was ugly.
It wasn’t like I hadn’t prepared. On yesterday, using my bow hunter rig, I worked on precise shooting. The practice used tape measured distances moving from 20 yards to 45 yards in slow progression over and over and over.
The idea was that on today I’d work longer yardage aiming at foam animals. The average distance was 36 yards with the minimum at 35 yards and the maximum at 45 yards. Turns out that the 45-yard target was my best of the day, my only 12. Aside from that I averaged a miserable 8.75 points per arrow for a score of 175. Like I said – ugly.
Heck, 45 yards is a chip shot with a scope and long stabilizers. At 50 meters (55 yards) I hold a state record using target style equipment. In 3D I prefer using a hunting rig and competing in the hunter class. This does mean I compete against archers that aren’t much older than my children. But, I don’t mind if they don’t. I do find that the younger guys here in Georgia are more inclined to pull the arrows, giving the old fellow a break. And, without exception good manners and “Sir” prevails in conversation. I do appreciate that even if it does, at times, remind my of he age difference.
If I’m going to shoot using a target bow then, for me, that is field and target archery. In 3D, it is like playing using a hunter rig and in my opinion meets the spirit of its origin.
I know long distances using pins is killing me. Long distances in 3D with low poundage and a short draw means my arrows float toward fake critters. My calculated FPS is 243, so I need to be precise when I place the pin. This is why on yesterday I worked specifically at aiming.
I’ll repeat it all tomorrow and the next day. Because, I expect that in the near future I’ll be able to get back into a tournament. In the meantime, all anyone can do is stay focused and keep practicing.
Today’s 3D practice was just a little better than yesterday’s. The prior practice yielded an average points per arrow of 9.75. Today the average was up by 0.85 points per arrow or 10.6 points per arrow.
While the increase in points seems good the kicker is the yardage was slightly less down from 34.3 to 32.4. At first glace it seemed like today’s yardage might have ended up closer to yesterday’s. When I did the stats on today’s yardage I discovered the increase in score, 212 versus 195, is likely a result of the 1.9 yards on average closer to the targets.
Today the number of targets taken in the gap between pins was greater today. Yesterday the distances that corresponded to pins was 14 out of 20. Today, the pin alignment was good for 8 targets all others being in the gaps.
No matter it is nice to be able to go outside and shoot.
The Governor has made it clear that Georgians can go outside and play so long as they social distance, wear a mask, and stay indoors if you are 65 years old or older or have an underlying health condition. I fall into the 65 and older group that seems more susceptible to Covid-19.
Archery tournaments aren’t about to keep people 6 feet apart. 3D archery has a better chance that folks can remain 6 feet apart.
There’s a Georgia ASA State Championship qualifier minutes away from where I live in a week. So, do I take a chance, go to the qualifier, qualify, catch Covid-19 and end up dead? If I end up dead I won’t be able to compete in the Georgia ASA State Championship. Dead people never get to compete in archery.
In the meantime, I have found a sliver lining – my current practice scores suck. Today, at an average distance of 34.3 yards (range 25 yards to 40 yards) I scored 195 on the 20 targets. That’s 9.75 points per arrows. With an average like that I might as well hang out in the back yard and practice. Perhaps, when I can comfortably return to competitive archery I’ll have that average a tad higher.
Occasionally, it is nice to switch up training schedules. Over the past week I’ve made some alterations in my training plans. So far, it seems like a nice change.
Prior to the change my training went like this: run/archery mornings, cycling/archery afternoons. Essentially this was it without the detail. Last week I changed to: Run/cycling morning, archery afternoons. Still without the details.
So far it has been fun. It is like doing 2/3 of a duathlon. That got me thinking about doing a duathlon. If I could find one that started at 0900 that was nearby I’d probably enter. I did find one that nearby that started at 0700. Transition and packet pick-up opened at 0500 on race day. Transition closed at 0630. Start of the race is at 0700.
Even a local event with these start times means getting out of bed at 0430 to prepare to race. I can do it; I’ve done it countless times. But, do I want to do it again?
One really nice thing about archery is the start times. Local events start during humane hours. It is one of my favorite things about archery. You can’t start too early for outdoor events because you can’t see the targets. A built in cushion for decent start times.
Over decades I did get up at those puke of dawn hours to race. I miss the racing; I do not miss the early mornings. Even training meant my typical wake up time of 0530 including the weekends.
I will say I do get out to run nearly every morning by 0800. Now with the added cycling that follows I won’t finish until 1030. For two and a half hours I admit it is really nice. Knock several hours off that 0800 run time and it becomes less appealing.
The afternoon archery exclusive is also nice. I can shoot without thinking about cycling. So far, a pretty nice switch.
When I practice 3D I try to make the shots realistic to what I might find on a range during a tournament. Some days I work long shots. By long shots I mean distances from 32 to 43 yards. The short 32 yards target is a coyote in a hill. There’s a tree that blocks me from increasing the range. Today, I tried to shoot at distances that seemed typical for the target as I might see it during an actual tournament. I didn’t finish well.
Prior to the tournament style practice I warmed up from 20 to 50 yards before heading to the first 3D target. A few days ago I started without a warm-up to practice for the time when I’ll not have a chance to get a feel for my bow before scoring. It happens.
The weather was ideal temperature wise but it was windy with gusts in the 20 mph range. I wish I could blame today’s results on the wind. I can’t. Once in the woods the foliage was enough to diminish the impact of wind.
It takes about an hour and an half to walk my range shooting targets once and moving on. The warm-up took nearly an hour. I shot 40 arrows during my warm-up. Warm-up felt good. I use a 5-spot on a bale and figure if the arrow is in the white it is probably a 10 on a foam animal.
Starting out on my first target a black bear at 30 yards was a 12. The next was a strutting turkey at 37 yards for a 10. Then a badger at 30 yards scoring an 8. I ended up with one 5 on a tiny backyard coyote from 21 yards. The final tally was a disappointing 185. We all know an average of 9.25 points per arrow will not land you in a top position.
The average distance only 29.8 yards, a factor mostly associated with the abundance of small targets I have on the range. That and I didn’t shoot further out than 40 yards.
The positive from this is I didn’t break any more arrows. (This practice used a bow hunter rig. Practice geared to ASA Senior Hunter, 40 yard max distance.)
A few days ago I ran a game where I shot a solo 3D tournament. I’d tried to make it realistic for a Senior Hunter class event. I scored 202 or an average of 10.1 points per shot. The yardage was an average of 31.25. In this game I included all my small targets and shot them between 20 and 25 yards. The larger, medium sized targets, ranged out to 40 yards. Still, the resulting distance average was 31.25 yard. That seemed a bit short.
A distance of 31.25 yards seems short. There were some longer shots, seven at 35 to 40 yards, and some medium range shots, 4 at 30 to 34 yards, the rest were from 20 to 33 yards. So, 11 shots at greater than 34 yards and 9 between 20 and 33 yards.
To see what might happen at slightly longer distances, using a bow hunter rig, I repeated the exercise but made the distances longer, an average of 37.5 yards. There were two short shots at 23 yards aiming at a foam mosquito and a bobcat. Aside from those two small targets all others were between 30 yards and 45 yards.
What happened to my average per arrow? It went down by nearly a point, to 9.4 points per arrow or minus 0.7 points per arrow on an average.
In my experience, here in Georgia, the limit of 40 yards for Senior Bow Hunter is merely a suggestion. Yes, everyone needs to shoot the same targets and everyone gets a chance to enjoy the extended real estate. But, the top guys still average greater than 10 points per arrow.
This means I’ve got some work to do aiming at longer distances if I expect half way decent finishes whenever I get to compete, again.
I’d been upstairs at my desk working out a plan. The plan completed I headed downstairs. My wife, Brenda, was sitting on a couch in our sunroom trying to watch a recording of “48 Hours” as I passed through on my way outside. “I made a game, I’ll be out back shooting if you need me,” I explained. Brenda, remote control in hand aimed at the television responded with a bored, “Okay.”
Brenda and I are in our mid-60’s. We’re not interested in testing our immune systems against the Covid-19 even though I suspect we’ve already done so and passed. We don’t know for sure if we’ve had the virus and getting a test to discover whether or not we’re loaded with the proper antibodies remains undone. So, we social distance and find ways to break the boredom.
The social distancing is more of a burden for Brenda than it is for me. Many of the sport activities I enjoy, over the years, have become exercises I can do alone. Brenda, on the other hand, teaches yoga. Her yoga studio is closed and she’s less inclined to practice yoga solo than I am to run, ride, and shoot without company.
The created game I’d made was simple: Twenty 3D targets, no warm up, score and review.
You might think,’why not take a warm-up?’ Well, most of the time I do warm-up. Prior to a tournament or scoring practices, I’ll shoot a dozen or so arrows at various known distances to verify my sightings for the lighting and loosen up my arms and shoulders. However, there have been tournaments where a warm-up might not have been possible for one reason or another. Not having a warm-up is one of the situations you can plan for and practice for when it does occur.
I ended up with a score of 202. The average per arrow was 10.1 points. An average of 10.1 might sound good, but to win at many tournaments in the Senior Hunter division 10.4 is a minimum required for a top 3 finish. There are times when 10.8 points per arrow average is needed to be in one of the top positions.
Senior hunter division, for anyone who does not know, means short stabilizer and pins used for sighting. You shoot a ‘hunting’ style bow setup. The maximum distance, for ASA, is 40 yards. The IBO counterpart is 35 yards.
You can see on the score paper photo two dots next to ‘Deer Old’ and ‘Med Boar.’ On those shots, a 12 and a 10, respectively, the dots represent absolutely lucky shots. The arrows could have just as easily have been a miss. With both, the shot went off at a point where I’d lost my focus. I had been holding for the release and my mind sort of went blank. Not that good kind of alpha one brainwave pattern blank, the bad kind of mental blackout.
The ‘C’ next to the last target means 12 points for a center ring. The last target is such a small coyote that, prior to scoring, made the determination to go with a center 12.
Reviewing the targets you might notice how I’ve tried to make them interesting. Many of them are surrounded by trees that create a higher degree of difficulty. Still, there are enough of the long open shots to match up with what we see during competition. There’s also an abundance of small targets. The population of small targets is purely the result of target pricing.
I need to shoot a few of the targets more than once to get 20 shots. On those I take a different angle so I’m not simply repeating the prior shot. I only have 16 3D targets. I have space for four more. Perhaps, those potential new targets will appear after my US Economic Stimulus money arrives.
Keeping the average distance and average score per arrow up, in both instances, is tough with the abundance of small targets on the range. In this case the average distance was 31.25 yards. Shooting small targets, like mosquitoes, badgers and rabbits, at long yardages is unrealistic. First, I’ll probably never see them in a major event and second I’m running short on 3D arrows. I only have 8 remaining functional 3D arrows. No point in taking a chance on wasting an arrow.
The javelina is small and it was set at a distance of 32 yards for this game. I will shoot the javelina out to 40 yards a lot. That little target seems to be a favorite used to show off real estate. A couple of years ago I did see the badger at 40 yards over in North Carolina. I’ve not seen the badger since. The javelina, on the other hand, will pop-up at maximum range, secured on a log, in some dark hole, there to embarrass you every weekend.
I haven’t bought any new 3D arrows in three years. Over the course of 36 months I’ve lost a few and broken more. This past week I lost the tips out of four arrows, left behind when I pulled the arrow free of foam. I had two tips in my shed among surplus archery parts and those have been loaded. There are two more arrows without a tip. Getting a couple of tips will bring me to 10 useable arrows.
In 3D you only need one arrow most of the time. Occasionally, you will lose a tip, get your arrow broken by another archer, and rarely fire off a miss then bye bye arrow. The biggest problem in creating this dwindling pool of 3D arrows is, during practice, shooting more than one arrow at the same spot. You do lose a lot of nocks that way as well as the intermittent Robin Hood which might cost you two arrows. Three years ago I had 24 3D arrows. Time to bite the nock and buy some more regardless of economic stimulus relief.
Granted, this was fun even if it isn’t as much fun as shooting with other folks. But, it beats the heck out of trying to find something on TV to watch.