Ending Another Road Trip

The trip to Georgia for the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM wasn’t 100% about archery. There was a lot of archery with practice “on the lot” and competition “done there at that park.” In addition, we had running, kayaking, visiting with one of our daughters and her son, and hanging out with my father-in-law. We missed our son-in-law. He’s not yet retired.

River along for a run

We also didn’t make it to Savannah. So, I didn’t see Mama, my brother, sister or the pile of nieces and nephews that live there. Nor did I have time to visit my cousins that live only a few hours away or many good friends that are in our home State of Georgia. Alas, time is too short and we must return to North Carolina.

On the trip home we drove nearby the old Lain farm. We didn’t stop and visit our cemetery packed with buried relatives, as is our travel practice. If the timing is correct we’ll pause in Florence to eat at the Thunderbird Inn. The timing was correct.

The Thunderbird serves a buffet that is okay. It’s not the food that brings us back it is tradition.

While I began the process of package and stowing gear I thought about the shoot over the past weekend. It was my second major ASA event the first the same from the prior year. I leave disappointed with Saturday and pleased with Sunday.

What the disappointment taught me was to shoot the way I train. On Saturday I shot sloppy. Not sloppy because of the rain. Sloppy because I too often didn’t follow my complete sequence for each shot on every shot. Sunday I slowed down and thought through what it was I needed to be doing on each shot. It made a difference. Primarily, I made no big errors, like using a 40-yard pin to shoot 30 yards. Such erroneous placement of a pin, both yellow in this case, only yields positive results where enough other errors are in place to compensate. In other words, “Dumb luck.”

I’ve been friends with Brian, in the Bowtech jersey, for a couple of years beginning through Facebook. He’s appeared here, at Putting it on the Line, before. We met face to face in Appling. Pretty cool.

After the 2017 ASA Leopold AAE Pro/AM I compared it to the 2016 edition. One of the primary highlights was visiting with people. Three years ago I didn’t know any of them. This year when we met it was all smiles and handshakes. Three years and eight months ago, I didn’t own a bow. That whim purchase brought the bonus of new friendships and experiences. Not a bad deal for what was a fairly expense purchase, a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 – now obsolete. That’s a darn shame; I’d like another just like it. The bow worked just fine in 2017.

One activity that does stand out is the meeting of friends that one only sees during archery tournaments. Some are competitors, many are in different classes. It’s reassuring to see fellow archers from home. Here in Appling I saw many, all with smiling faces on the morning before the first day of shooting. Missing them on Sunday I am currently unable to assess Saturday’s outcomes since no ‘home’ faces were available for reading results. Hopefully, the smiles remained in place.

9.9 Not Yet There

Still working to get my 3D average score per arrow to 10.6. It is creeping up. You know it only takes a little momentary lapse to change a 12 to an 8 or worse a 5.

Yesterday, I shot in Plymouth, North Carolina and started poorly. The first 5 targets were two tens and three eights. To recover, I began what a friend calls range management. Rather than continue to head down the tubes I aimed for tens. Tens are easier than twelves.

Easy shot at 22 yards than I shot high. It wasn’t a yardage error, it was a poor release.

Shooting for 10 takes a little pressure off and gives time to get that ‘feel’ or move into a ‘zone’ while recovering from eights.

Not the longest target of the day, but by this point I aiming for 12’s rather than 10’s.

It took a few more shots to recover from the bad start but I ended with 4 twelves, 11 tens, and 5 eights. But, to get my average up, I need to shoot better on the first few targets, especially when those are shots less than 30 yards.

18 Meters, 3D, and a New Bear

It’s that in between time of year. 3D season is ramping up, indoor shooting is on the downslope, and the outdoor main events are only a few months away. Training at the moment is like attention deficient archery.

The present practice is 18 meters in the morning and 3D in the afternoon. After Saturday practice will be 60 meters in the morning and 3D in the afternoon. I’m not headed to the USA Archery Outdoor Championship this year but plan to do well at the NC State Outdoor Championship.

Yep, there’s that brain fart.

There’s one more indoor shoot where I am taking part because it is just up the road. When that one is done, I’m moving outside all the time until August. In August I’ll pick up 18 meters, again.

It’s turn green, it’s wet, warm and swampy. Ideal for water moccasins.

Shooting at 60 meters is a bit like shooting 3D except 3D is closer and I don’t know the yardage. Perhaps, 60 meters will make me more comfortable with those longer shots that crop up.

That will give you an itch

To spruce up the 3D range I’ve added a new bear. This one I placed so that there is a lot of ground cover in front of the target. The only draw back is that, for the moment, the maximum range for this bear is only 38 yards. There are lots of other targets on the range where 60 or more yards are possible. Whether or not I can hit them is another story. Actually, since I am shooting with pins this year 50 yards is the furthest where I have a pin to align with the target.

The new bear. Photo taken at 25 yards zoomed in a bit.

During the afternoon, today, it rained a little. Not enough to chase me inside. My worry wasn’t so much the weather it is the water moccasins that start coming out this time of year. I’ve seen a few snakes one of them was a moccasin. That one was lucky, I was unarmed when we met.

Don’t be afraid to win during a tournament.

Don’t be afraid to win during a tournament. Sure that sounds dumb. If you’ve practiced enough to reach a point where you can shoot excellent scores what is there to stop you from winning? You.

It’s not really all that dumb. There are a lot of people who “choke.” We all get nervous before significant events. Those events can be athletic, academic or social. The more exposure to the situations that make you nervous the more comfortable you get in that situations.

Even so, some folks frequently think that they’re not as talented as some well know star in any field. To balance this thought there are many people who believe their ability is unmatched but don’t really have the skill to line up with that image of themselves.

As you practice record your progress. This way you have an objectives to measure of your shooting ability. If you shoot regularly 590 out of 600 possible points, you can expect to shoot around 590 out of 600 points during a tournament.

It does not matter whatsoever the level of scoring your opponent has been achieving. Your opponent is not shooting for you.

Don’t expect a miracle. If your average score is 590, that means on occasion you shoot more than 590. You might sometimes shoot a 600. It’s not a miracle. It comes from a lot of hard work and practice.

Then, during a tournament, you end up scoring 574! What happened?

Everyone has that momentary brain-fart where you end up hitting a wide nine or even an eight. Once done, that shot is over and there is nothing to change it. Don’t let any poor shot change you. Trust your training and let those tens start again on the very next shot.

Don’t beat yourself. If you shoot in practice an average of 590+ then during a competition you should shoot just as well, maybe a few points better. For some people competition brings out their best and the stiffer the competition the better they perform.

Put your mind away from anything that isn’t positive and focus on one shot at a time. Never think that your opponents are better than you. If you are scoring an average in practice of 590 or higher it is unlikely that the competition is better than you. Sure there are a few archers that are consistently scoring 596 or better but once you reach an average of 590 count yourself among them. Actually, go to your events with a comfortable attitude and visualize yourself leaving with the first place award.

The number one element to winning is confidence. Don’t be afraid that others are better archers. If you are putting in the practice and averaging high scores there is no physical reason that will not be the case during a tournament. And with practice comes confidence.

A Solo Day During a 3D Competition Turned Fun Shoot

The weather wasn’t great; it was cold, windy with a chance of rain. Certainly not the worst conditions for a 3D archery tournament. But, I was seemingly among the minority that held that opinion.

It was windy

When I got to the range hosting the event, there were only a few trucks parked around the entrance. The shoot was scheduled from 1000 to 1400. It was 0945 when I signed in and paid my fee. Mine was the first name on the sign in sheet. It wasn’t encouraging.

As normal I showed up hoping to find a cluster of 2 or 3 archers and beg my way into joining their group. So, waiting I took a few shots on the warm-up range. Taking those shots wasn’t part of my plan for this day. The plan was to head out to the range and start shooting without any warm-up. Not that warming up isn’t good; it is that most of the major events on my list may not offer the time or circumstances for a warm-up. Therefore, this event, as will all others be, needed to be done without a warm-up. But, I was wasting time and getting bored so I shot a few arrows at 20, 30 and 40 yards – the three distances where there were targets on the warm-up field.

A nice 12 from about 32 yards

As another 30 minutes passed it was becoming obvious today wasn’t going to one where I’d get to shoot with other people. Three traditional guys, who’d been waiting inside a clubhouse had hopped on a golf cart and headed onto the range. There were only three. I considered running and trying to catch up with them. They’d already had a significant lead before they gunned the cart and would likely have been at target 3 before I’d catch them. They got clean away before I could react. So, I waited some more to no avail.

In the woods, on some shots the 10 ring was the choice. The limb in front of the 12 was too much.

Finally, I walked over to target one. I stood there waiting and watching the parking lot through my binoculars. Still not another archer had arrived.

Another bear, at around 38 yards and another 10.

Having paid my fee I was hugely disappointed. The event was part of a coalition and each shoot counts for their Shooter of the Year competition. Had I known in advance I’d be shooting solo I’d have entered the “Fun” shoot and possibly saved a few bucks. I’d have been the only person having any fun, but it would have been less expensive –or so I think. I believe the fee for a “Fun” shoot is only $5.00. It’s not so much a matter of the extra cash laid out, but there’s no sense in wasting it. And since points or competition weren’t on the line it was disappointing. (There must be at least 3 people per group for proper scoring protocol)

Top of the 12 on this one

Without another archer in sight I begin my solo trek. There was not a person in front of me or behind me. The tradition guys were off the range – I’d heard their cart rolling off the course as I entered. Maybe they weren’t shooting and just riding around.

At target 5 Charles, a new fellow whose moving here from Maine, looking for Joe, his friend, walked up and inquired whether I’d seen Joe. I told him no. He asked, “Are you just practicing?” I explained that now, “I was.” Despite the cold and wind, Charles, from Maine, was dressed lightly. He was easy to recognize as someone not from the South.

Yep, they like their real estate

The course was not a disappointment. In an unusual set-up they had 5 bear targets. I like bear targets. The first four targets, a pig, two deer and a bear, were out in the open and the wind made them difficult. I shot those, rather simple shots, ( 22, 26, 34 and 38 yards) all 8s. I blamed those 8s on the wind and being a little pissed having driven so far (Nearly two hours), paid, and realizing I’d get no points to add to my total for Shooter of the Year. I miss a lot of the coalitions events traveling to other competitions. I’ve already missed several and needed this one. Having no points to contribute will pretty much take me out of the running. Which may be good, I can head over to the central part of the State without concern of missing any points here on the coast. In the central part of NC there are plenty of hills. Here on the coast, it is flat. I need to practice on hills.

This was a center 12, for me shooting today in the Hunter Class, only 21 yards
At 21 yards, about the same as shooting 18-meters, only using pins and a short stablizer

Once in the woods, and perhaps feeling a bit less frustrated, I improved – no more 8s, but only three 12s. I ended up 2 down for the day.

As I walked back from the last target, over a mile to the clubhouse, there weren’t any other shooters on the range until target number 4. There at the beginning of the targets, the field containing targets 1 – 4, were two groups, one with four archers the other with three.

Like I said, they like their real estate – actually that’s not a far as it looks – 37 yards scored a center 10.

In the clubhouse I explained to the judges that had taken my money that, “I suppose the weather keep people away today,” and “Since I shot alone I can’t turn my score card in, it was just for fun.” I wondered if they’d get the message and return some of my money. They didn’t get the message or a fun shoot costs the same as shooting for points. Even if they’d had offered an exchange, I’d have not accepted. By now I was feeling pretty sorry for them. A lot of effort had gone into setting up a nice course. Perhaps a crowd showed up later in the day, some time before 1400.

The hike out, like the hike in, empty


Rough Day in Beaufort County

Today was not my finest hour or two and a half hours, shooting at the Beaufort County Archers in Washington, NC. Compared to my last few 3D shoots it was almost like two different people shooting.

The 3D range at Beaufort County has never been an easy course. Saturday’s lay out was tricky. It left me with my lowest score in quite awhile, an abundance of eights and only three twelves.

Finally, on the last target – three 12s

The two other archers in my group, Jeff and John, weren’t tearing up the range either. None of the targets were overly difficult. All seemed a little misleading.

It did give me some ideas to improve my course only a little – to make it more difficult. All in all, it was just an off day.


One more day off and back to the range.  Brenda and I spent the day fishing with her dad.

Fishing wasn’t as productive as we’d hoped.  Only three stripers and we threw one back.  It was too small. The other two were big enough to provide use with a couple of meals.

It was cold on the water.  We spent seven hours doing our best to find fish.

Oh well, like my father-in-law said, if we alway came back with a lot of fish they’d call it “catching” rather than “fishing.”

Oh, and time to start running, again.


Considering Past Pain While Taking a Break

Over the past few days I’ve been taking a break. No doubt, I needed a rest. The past six months have been fairly intense. Days have been filled with fitness and archery training.

That training consisted of two to six hours a day of archery. The archery was supplemented with another 8 to 10 hours a week of running, cycling, swimming and weight lifting. Granted, there were small breaks, a day off every 7 to 10 days and time off for holidays. The target of those efforts was an indoor archery tournament held in Snellville, GA. Now, that it’s behind me, I’ll enjoy this break and move into my 3D season.

While on this break I’ve been thinking about some of the hardest sporting events where I competed. Archery and racing are very different disciplines. In sports, they are about as opposite as possible.

If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know it is not just heading out to take a leisurely run. Even if you’re not a fast runner, the miles take a toll. At the 2011 Tokyo Marathon I was prepared and very fit. Then, in Japan, on race day, the temperature plunged to freezing with pouring rain. The conditions became the force driving in every runners’ head urging them to drop out. At around mile 18 the rain stopped but it never did warm up. It was not the hardest sporting event ever for me.

Of the Ironman events I raced, not one of them reaches the peak of pain. At 2008 Ironman in Hawaii with around six miles left to run (the race is 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, and 26.2 run) I was pacing with an ex-professional athlete. But, not an ex-pro triathlete, he was Jeff Conine, member of two Baseball World Championship teams. The conversation was pleasant and baseball never came up although a camera crew in a convertible Ford drove slowly next to us asking related questions. It was quite cool.  Still, I mostly listened – I’d didn’t have enough breathe for a conversation. It’s amazing how much communication can come from grunts.  Still, not near the most difficult physical / mental effort of my life.

The most difficult was a race where everyone shared the pain. All runners watched out for one another. Everyone gave encouragement to his or her opponents. It even seemed the other athletes were far less the opponent. The opponent for us all was the racecourse. The race was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The run up to the peak of Mt. Evans, over 14,000 feet, was on North America’s highest paved road. We started the race in near 60°F temperature surrounded by trees and finished on a barren mountaintop being snowed upon at 26°F. It stands out as the most difficult sports event of my life. It was as much a physical strain as a mental strain. The higher we got, the lower our oxygen saturation.(1) The thought to stop never once entered my head. I thought I might die did, which would have been a good reason to have stopped running.

Archery is very different. There’s a massive degree of mental exercise along with the physical elements that makes the sport difficult to frustrating. One little mental error and that 10 becomes an 8. But, it’s not physically painful. Still, over months containing many long hours of practice it’s best broken by a bit if rest.


(1) http://respiratory-care-sleep-medicine.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/High-Altitude-Respiratory-Distress-A-RTs-Personal-Experience.aspx

The Waiting Game

When I was racing triathlons Brenda, my wife, occasionally came along to support me and enjoy watching the race. Typically, these were the larger races, Ironman events and a couple of World Championships when she attended. The shorter races, sprints, she came less often.

It was more fun for her when a group of us traveled together and competed in the same race. In this way she had friends to hang out with during the race. The Ironman Eagleman 70.3 was the most fun and there was a party throughout the event that she enjoyed while I swim, biked and ran.

At Ironman Lake Placid a group of us where racing. We’d rented at house for ten days with another couple, good friends, and neither one was racing. The house was smack on the bike course leading into Lake Placid. It was an ideal location to set up chairs and watch the athletes ride past.

At the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, I flew out first to get acclimated to the weather and time changes. Brenda flew out a few days later. Even though that race is the SuperBowl of triathlons, she was alone at the finish line while she waited for my to complete the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and the 26.2 mile run. Admittedly, I worried about her the entire day.

Brenda hanging out at Kona, HI.

Throughout all of that day I was concerned about her being alone. After that race, I began doing most of the triathlons solo. At the Ironman Kentucky in Louisville she stayed home. In the off-season I competed in running races, again solo. There were exceptions when a group of us would sign up for a marathon, rent and house, and turn the race into a social event.

It’s an exciting event for fans where tens of thousands line the course to watch

After a few years I began to become eager to get home after a race. Once after finishing a 24-hour World Championship Ultra-cycling race I took a shower, loaded my gear and drove straight home – a haul of 18 hours after racing 24-hours non-stop. I didn’t even wait to see how I’d placed. That method of finishing and heading home become my standard operation procedure from then.

Golf certainly gets a huge crowds of fans following. Both the athlete and the fans knows the score.

At the shorter races I frequently placed in the top 3. There was never any money involved since I didn’t race professionally. But, there were trophies or medals, at times very nice ones. If I wanted the prize, and I’d left before the award ceremony, I’d send the races organizers a check to cover the expense and their time to mail the award to me. None of the awards are on display in my home; they are all in a storage closet or in a gym bag.   Still, it is nice to have them. That has held with archery.

There is a difference; Brenda does not ever attend archery tournaments. I can’t say that I blame her. Unless someone is ‘into’ archery the sport is dull compared to a triathlon. It’s slow and there is a lot of sitting around looking at the backs of athletes standing still. It’s even difficult to see the arrow placement of a cherished athletes performance from the spectator seats (when seats are available).

The waiting around is tough for friends and family that want to support an athlete. Years ago at the USA Track and Field Masters Indoor National Championship my start time (for a short race) kept getting pushed back. Brenda was with me and I could see she was bored to tears. Heck, I was bored to tears and nearly left before my start.

There was a span when I race a lot. By a lot I mean one race per month for 8 straight years. Additionally, those where years when I worked and with work traveled globally. So, spending any more time that required away from home was bad. Hence, I’d race, finish and head home.

Occasionally the race was a short trip others required a plane flight. Either way I got home post-race as fast as possible. Once home, if I didn’t know how I’d finished, I’d go online and check it out. When possible I let the race organizers know I’d be leaving immediately following the race if I was expecting to win or place. They’d have the results almost immediately and just hand me my prize.

Many people don’t consider that athletes, especially those not getting paid to attend, often have other obligations. Having a family that’s home waiting for the return of their competitor is a big draw to leave. Having to wait for results is a big push away from a sport.

Working hard, hour’s everyday, paying (at times a large registrations fee), adding an expense to travel for an event, then days later unable to find a result is frustrating. At one tournament in Georgia, a long haul from North Carolina, the results are still unavailable – nearly a year after the event.

Talking to the father of a young man that competes in the JOAD ranks he mentioned to me it had been a week since they’d last traveled to an archery tournament and still no posted results. Personally, I’d like to write that I don’t care whether or not I find out how I performed in a sporting event. I can’t – I do like to know. Otherwise, I might as well save my money stay home and shoot in the yard.