Seven Hot Shots

It has been really hot here in Hertford, North Carolina. Shooting paper targets, not in the woods, means no shade. The sun was so bright the pins on my sight  began to blur. After awhile my bow actually becomes hot.

On Tuesday, about an hour of shooting 100°F temperature chased me into the forest to shoot foam. There I would find some shade, a lot of biting flies, ticks, and six targets.

It was getting late and I’d already practiced on these targets earlier in the day. Despite being saturated with insect repellent the black deer flies were eating me alive. Some days the bugs in the woods are worse than others. This was a bad day.

I made a plan to shot seven shots, not too close, and record each one. I’d also go as slow as and the insects feasting on me would allow. I like to shoot fast, but in tournaments it is never fast.   I was plenty warmed up and this little exercise would give me an idea of what it would feel like during an extremely hot day during a 3D competition.

On the range there are 6 targets. Because the turkey can be shot on its sides and front I shot it twice, making the seven targets.

Here’s how it went:

Shot Number 1

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My little friend the coyote at 28 yards
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He’s rather shot to pieces, but that is a solid 10 or maybe a low 11. Hard to say – there’s not much of his center left.

Shot number 2

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First shot at the turkey target at 32 yards
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That is on the right side of the center ring

Shot Number 3

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The deer is just visible at 43 yards
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Yep, that will work every time

Shot Number 4

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Back to the turkey for a side shot at 34 yards
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Smack

Shot Number 5

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The cinnamon bear is in the center at 38 yards
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11 O’clock 11

Shot number 6

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Wolverine at 30 yards
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Go tell Mama – that’s an 11

Shot number 7

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Mountain lion at 48 yards
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On a roll today

After the last shot, I grabbed my equipment and took my bug bitten self into the house for first aid and air conditioning. (IBO Scoring center ring 11)

Mental Errors

During this season’s 3D circuit I have been focused on the IBO World Championship. Here in North Carolina the 3D archery format is ASA. This means there isn’t an equivalent IBO Pro Hunter Class. So, I’ve been shooting against archers with a bit more gear than I am using on my bow. My bow is equipped with a short stabilizer and fixed pins.

Over this few months I’ve had some good shots and made some dumb mistakes. The dumb mistake I repeated this weekend. The original error was a shot I knew I could hit. The target was a coyote, something I shoot often, that was 35 yards out. My 35-yard pin and my 45-yard pin are both yellow.

I lined my yellow pin up on the center of that coyote and let ‘err rip. My arrow cleared that coyote by at least four feet. Wrong yellow pin. Opps.

The second dumb mistake was a repeat of the first only this time on a mountain lion. I have a mountain lion on my practice range. I shoot it all the time. This particular shot was 34 yards. My red pin is set for 30 yards, my yellow for 35. I carefully lined up my top green pin (20 yards) and my second pin (the red) and shot the mountain lion for 25 yards. My arrow slid neatly under the target.

In both cases I was close on seeing the yardage. In both circumstances we were past the mid-point of the shoot and I was beginning to mentally drift. Both shots cost me points. Both were mental errors.

On average including the two misses my mean score per target is 9.85. Other archers (n=13) shooting at similar distance, the winners only, averaged 0.7 points per target more than me. The range for winners (top scores per tournament at the 45/50 yard max range) was 206 – 218.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds – I almost never shoot for the 12 rings. If I hit the 12 it is a lucky miss of the center 10. The center ring in IBO is an 11 and because my training is aimed at the IBO, their main 3D shoot of the year, I have been practicing for that tournament. It is also not as good as it sounds because I don’t know the number of times I might have scored an 11 versus a 10 under IBO rules.

After August I am putting my scope and long stabilizer back on my bow. Having one point to align with the target, so long as my yardage isn’t off, might end up paying higher dividends. Statistically, one point more would be great.

Two New Targets

PGF Archery was on my list of places to go yesterday. I needed a new block target. My targets are really shot to pieces. They’ve been repacked and duct taped so many times it is amazing they ever stop an arrow.

When I got to PGF Archery I looked over the inventory and thought I might be in trouble. There were no big blocks. There were a few smaller blocks. Sadly, in my experience the small blocks only last weeks before the center has been shot out.

Bumper Williams , owner of PGF Archery, mentioned he had some 3D targets received in error. A local group had ordered 5 Rinehart targets. These targets were shipped and sold. Then, to his surprise, Rinehart repeated the order reshipping the five targets.

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Bumper called to let Rinehart know of they’d made an error. Rather than pay the return shipping, Rinehart asked if perhaps Bumper might sell the targets at cost with an additional discount. That was the deal that crossed my path.

I picked up two of his 5 Rinehart’s, the bear and wolverine. This brings my total to six 3D targets. I am considering buying the remaining three even though only one of them, a hen turkey, is something I want. The other two are a baboon and a mosquito.

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Couldn’t wait to test the bear so I leaned it up against my pile of blocks and bags in the driveway

The bear and the wolverine will be on the range today.

 

Hot Time in the Old South

The temperature was 100° F in the shade. There was no breeze coming off the Little River. Practice was a hot one in the Old South today.

My morning practice got derailed; it was down right cool at 8:00 am compared to 2:00 PM. I am having one of my out building renovated and needed to make a trip to Lowes to put up more material for the ceiling. During that trip there was a stop to pick up a bike, stop to drop a package off at UPS, a stop to buy carpet, stop to buy wine, and a stop to pick up a couple trophies I’d won and not yet collected.

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The 2nd and 3rd place trophies I picked up today.

I’d hoped to get in a couple of hours early and then shoot for an hour or so in the afternoon. Some days the plan doesn’t work. This was one of those days. Because I missed the morning session I spent 2 hours outside shooting at the peak of the heat.

To be honest the heat didn’t feel bad. Now that archery practice is done for the time being I’ll head out for a bike ride and see how 100°F feels while riding.

Another Toasty Day in NC

The thermometer on the porch read 99° F (37°C) when I shot this afternoon. It wasn’t much cooler in the morning because I’d gotten a late start – it warmed up fast today. It felt great. After so many years living in places like Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh this heat is finally starting to thaw my Georgian bones.

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There is a turkey in that dark hole 30 yards away

In fact, it was so hot my black Elite 35 bow was beginning to feel warm. I admit I broke a sweat. But, I got in two nice practice rounds.

In the morning practice was strictly shooting paper. The afternoon was reserved for dark 3D targets in odd lighting. The past few tournaments have been real challenges where light is concerned.

This time of year the foliage and angle of the sun can wreak havoc on pins and scopes. Last week, even though I frequently practice in difficult illumination, a few of the targets were practically all guess since I couldn’t make out rings with my binoculars. By the time I got in the woods today the sunlight was filtering though the leaves backlighting several of my targets.

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This is how I like to hit ’em.

Following the afternoon practice there was plenty of time to get in a bike ride. It had cooled by a degree so the temperature was just about perfect.

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Cycling country roads in New Hope, NC

Hot days in Elizabeth City

The short drive to compete on Saturday was great; the 2nd place was a disappointment. North Carolina has produced some great archers and you can’t expect too many wins shooting outside the 10 ring.

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A scenic hike up to registration

The course was tough with a lot of small targets in dark holes placed “way back out there.” The 20 targets took nearly four hours to shoot because of big groups during which the 94°F temperature along with high humidity was rough on a lot of people. I wasn’t one of them.

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Brandon’s arrow sliced this tree and he still got a 8.

The temperature and humidity were fine for me. I simply blew a couple of shots I should have hit better which hurt at the end of the day. This next week I’ll be focusing on small dark targets in dark holes at 35+ yards.

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This little critter (I walked closer to take this picture after we pulled our arrows) was at 38 yards. It wasn’t the longest shot on the smallest target, in the darkest spot.

When this was all said and done,  it was great to see folks I’d missed for the past month.

Moving, Shooting, Racing and Missing a few Great Events! Go Ben Go!

For the past four days we’ve been packing up our house in Easton, MD to make the permanent move to Hertford, NC. Hertford is the closest major “town” (2- traffic lights) but we’re actually in a smaller community, New Hope. Some of the local here refer to it as No Hope.

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Downtown Hertford

Because of all the packing and moving, which isn’t over, I’ve not shot in four days. I am feeling a bit antsy to get out and shoot. While in Easton I was able to get in some nice early morning running, but no cycling, swimming or shooting. Moving gets into the middle of the day and messes everything up.

When I finally had a chance to check out my emails, back in NC,  and review this website I read a comment from Ben that he and some other archers are doing the Ironman Timberman 70.3 in August. Ben invited me to join then in the race. Oh, the pain of it!

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70.3, my favorite distance to race

Timberman is one of the 70.3 races (I’ve done 11 at that distance) I haven’t done. 70.3 miles is a distance I really enjoy. I checked and discovered the race is still open, which means I could sign up and compete. It is killing me not to enter. However, the IBO World Championship is the week before and to do both I’d probably just stay in New York and Connecticut for the time prior to the IBO through the Ironman event.

August is also when my kids and grandkids are coming to visit us in NC. You know, I’d love to do all of the races and tournaments. Sadly this year I have to miss a few fun competitions. I am just going to have to be envious in 2015. Good luck Ben and please keep in informed. I’ll enjoy hearing about your Ironman adventure. Next year my friends, next year!

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Stay calm, there’s always another race

Creating an ASA Pro K50, Remarks by John Chandler, Levi Morgan and David Lain

On June 2, 2015 my friend John Chandler published the following post on his Facebook page. I repeatedly read it along with the subsequent comments. John and I spoke on this matter and he gave me permission to publish his post on this website. Along with his remarks I included those from Levi Morgan, with permission, and mine.

John Chandler: “First I would like to say Georgia Archers did well in KY this past weekend. We had lots of archers make the top of the list in lots of classes. Congrats to each and every one of you. But I have been scanning social media. I’m not seeing the normal “Great Weekend”, “So much fun,” “Can’t wait for the next one” comments. You know what I have seen? Known 50, Pro 50, Bumper Pro, The Meeting. SMH.

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With 1841 scores posted for the ASA in KY (I counted); what is all the fuss about K50 needing to become a Pro class about? We should be happy with the growth in the sport, the women classes are growing fast, youth classes are bigger then ever, that is a good thing. The known classes (K50) have a place that is a fact (just look that the numbers).

Why does K50 need Pro in the name? That is the question that needs to be answered. Why would making it a PRO class make it better? Contingency money? Will it bring more top archers to the class? Are so you can say you shoot in a pro class?

As for contingency money many of the top companies have already said they will have it next year in that class as it is now. I know some of the biggest names in the archery world have shot this class before: Jesse Broadwater Dave Cousins, Scott Starnes & more. These are Pros in the sport and have shot in the class that didn’t have PRO in the name.

Now for the last question – to say you shoot in the pro class? Well ASA has a pro class that you can do just that. Pay your money and shoot it is that easy. Tim, Dan McCarthy, Levi Morgan & more would not mind at all for you to join them. Oh but you are not good at yardage? Well then work on it. Top athletes in every sport work hard to become what they want to be. They don’t try to change the game to fit what they are not good at.

As some have said Return On Investment (ROI) is the way of business. How would adding a Pro 50 Benefit ASA? Fees for the class would go up for sure if it became a Pro class. Would the class grow? I think the numbers would drop because. Some would not pay the Pro fees.

I think the only way archery will get more money whether it’s 3D, USA Archery, NFAA will be to find outside sponsors. Every other sport that is big has this: NASCAR with Nextel, Golf with FedEx Cup, and Football with advertising. Corporate sponsorships will help more then anything else. The archery equipment companies have done a great job but there is only so much $$ to be spent.

Solutions to problems are what we need, if they’re really problems. That being said what does everyone else think? If you think is should change or not? But is so why and how should it be done?”

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‪Levi Morgan: “I promise you that if the top pros move over – 60 plus up will win every time. If you can’t shoot 60 up on a known course you won’t stand a chance. When we have the simms known we were hitting 9 out of 10 14s almost every tournament. If you give me the yardage or Danny or Tim or any of us for that matter and we miss more than five 12s out of 20 shots something is wrong. If the known 50 guys want to test their shooting skills against the best in the world then tell them to come to Redding, Vegas, or Louisville and do it; only like 4 or 5 ever have. So the rest of you have no argument in my option.

There are already pro known tournaments all over the world and hardly any of these guys are going. … Why? The same reason they don’t shoot in the pro class at an ASA, because they don’t think they can win. I’m not taking about the few that do but the rest. I personally don’t care either way because I will do whatever it takes to compete. And unlike some of you, I have a problem with the “every body deserves a trophy” attitude. You are either one of the top archers or you’re not. Put in the work and if you don’t have the time then guess what – Archery is your hobby… not your job!”

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David Lain: Response to shooting classes, earning opportunity, reaction to advancing  archery to a more public friendly spectator sport, and costs.

In archery the amateurs and the pro compete in close proximity during many tournaments. It is the same in triathlon. In triathlon the pros and the amateurs are essentially side by side, at least until the race starts.

What I notice in this similarity is that in both fields amateurs develop a unique relationship with the professionals in their respective sport. In that association I’ve seen amateur triathletes beat professional athletes – it happens! In archery, I’ve seen amateurs that could easily make money shooting as a professional. The money, however, is an issue.

Earning a financial living as a professional athlete is work. It is also a risk. If you have a few bad days at a regular job you’re not likely to find that job disappears. Pro athletes that have a slump are quickly in jeopardy. Furthermore, the average income (Salary.com) for a professional athlete in the US is $31,922 – not the big bucks of dreams. The income range for professional archers is: $10,000 – $75,000, for Olympic archers: $36,000 – $97,000. While top end of earning looks pretty good, the median in the US for all pro athletes is only $31,922.

If you want to be a professional archer – forget about the money. Do it because you love it. And you will have to put in the work. Take a bit of time and investigate the hours of training per day you’ll need to reach the top level of archery or any sport. When I started shooting a “Hot Shot” approached me to brag how he shot 30 arrows five days a week (That was probably an exaggeration). I assure you he was not a professional caliber archer.

When considering the potential of archery becoming a specator sport – that is a matter of finding the right professional “characters” and sponsors that recognize archery’s marketing potential. It has happened in other more difficult to video record sports.

Take cycling, the Tour de France for example – very difficult to record for television. Consider an Ironman event, even more difficult than archery or cycling to video. In an Ironman, the athletes swim away, next they get on their bikes and ride away, and finally they run away. Yet NBC has televised Ironman events for decades. Why do these sports get the media’s attention?

Think about the charismatic athletes that moved other sports to center stage: Cycling – Lance Armstrong, despite doping the man brought competitive cycling into the homes of America, triathlon – Mark Allen and Dave Scott’s Iron War, Julie Moss’ dramatic 1982 finish in Kona, then modern Queen Chrissie Wellington. The greatest promoter of a sport, and himself, in boxing is Mohammed Ali. If you don’t know at least two of those names you are truly focused on archery. Those athletes have powerful personalities  the media fell in love with them and so did the public. What does the public know about archery figures: Robin Hood, Katniss Everdeen of Catching Fire, or Hawkeye of the Avengers. We need a Tiger Woods or Venus Williams. I think, we have great and charismatic archers on the range – they only need so time to be recognized.

A few of the responses to John’s Facebook post complained about the price to play in archery. Cost, from my perspective is that archery is very reasonable. Let me point out, my entry fee for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii was $850.00. By comparison, my IBO World Championship entry fee – $175.00. Specific to the equipment of the sports, my racing bicycle and wheels cost $7200.00. On the other hand, my current bow cost $900. My old bow cost me $1249.00 ( less than the price of one rear disc wheel for a racing bicycle) Archery is very fairly priced compared to many other individual sports including golf and tennis. None of archery is free. Is there money to be made, yes. Can you make more money doing something else – certainly. It comes down to this, “What is it that you want and what are you willing to give up to get it.”

As Levi Morgan suggests, should you want to shoot as a professional archery, well what is stopping you? And as John Chandler points out, “…don’t try to change the game to fit what they are not good at.”

Circling the X

Before I start getting down to business during archery practice I take several warm up shots. These help get muscles ready and verify my pin sight is on track.

I shoot at paper in the morning since the wind coming off the Little River generally picks up in the afternoon. During the afternoon I practice 3D in the woods where the thick trees and foliage help to block the wind.

Typically I am pretty loose after a few shots. For the most part these are not my “wow” shots of the day. Today started with a number of duds.

While warming up I shoot for the same point. This lets me discover any obvious blemishes on my part. My first four shots missed the mark at each arrow. Clearly, two up to the left and two down to the right – it was me.

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Nope

The next couple moved a tad closer to the X but remained off target.

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Still no but closer

The final two hit the line around the X but both missed center. It was beginning to look as if I’d drill arrows in a circle around the center X. Not my intention.

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OK, on the line, I can start

Some days the arrows seem to flow and others it takes awhile to get into a groove. This morning it took about an hour before I gained focus and started hitting where I’d intended.

Starting a new week of training

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Start of a new day

Frequently I write about sports other than archery. Archery is an individual sport as are the other sports where I competed since my teens. Mark McClusky wrote in his book, Faster, Higher, Stronger that athletes who competed in individual where better at picking up other sports than those that played team sports.

That makes since because as a runner, cyclist, and swimmer I focused on my training and was free of the constrains of team requirements. As a newly minted archer I’ve applied many of the training rules, and made up a few, to reduce my learning curve.  At the moment I am studying marginal gains that can help me.

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Running the back roads of rural NC

Some of the small things I do as a percentage of the aggregate of marginal gains is maintain fitness. Because I have a foundation based on endurance sports, I continue to train, although with less intensity, in those areas that aid sustaining overall fitness: running, cycling, and swimming. It also happens I enjoy those sports too much to ever stop doing them.

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Catch up, River

Today, like other Mondays I am coming off of a weekend of shooting. It began with a run followed by shooting. This morning was one of those epic runs where everything felt good.

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Perfect cool down for a lab.

It is starting to warm up here in the South and I love running in the heat. River, my dog, doesn’t enjoy the higher temperatures and I keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not overheating.

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River, does – no matter the temperature – finish every run with a swim. In fact, today I might add a short swim at some point if for nothing else but fun. Whether or not I get a swim in today, it did start right with a decent run. My morning shooting was a bit off, but there’s always the afternoon to work out the glitches.