3D archery tournaments are a bit like golf tournaments. People move about the course in small bands often consisting of friends shooting (playing) together. A few individuals arrive alone and are teamed up with others by event officials or take the initiative and ask to join a group. On Sunday, I’d arrived alone for the Mid Del Archers’ monthly 3D shoot.
There was a substantial turn out for the competition. The parking lot was nearly filled by 0845. Mid-Del offered a causal start for the event with registration from 0830 – 1030. Clusters of people lingered about, some headed into the clubhouse, while others warmed up, chatted, or were heading to the course. No doubt, packs of archers were already in the woods compiling their scores.
Flying solo I needed to free lance my way into a group of archers. I’ve learned not to rush up to the first group I see and ask to join their party. Strategically, I scan for a familiar face, perhaps someone in my predicament or folks I recognize from other tournaments and ask to step in with them.
The first band I encountered I’d seen before. These boys, I am fairly certain, are hardcore, if not professional 3D archers. They were adorned with serious equipment, porcupine stabilizers, telescopic bows sights, arrows as thick as small tree branches, HD binoculars, and bivouac gear that would make a survivalist envious. Further observation revealed tangible indication of their superior, top dog, status in the manner with which they utilized the warm-up range.
Mid-Del’s warm-up area has multiple targets at 20, 30, and 40-yards. Between the 20-yard and 30-yard targets is a row of trees. One of the top dog archers after shooting on the 20-yard target, shot across the lane, angling through the row of trees, to the 30-yard target. There was another archer currently shooting that exact target. By his surprised reaction to the cross-lane shot it was apparent he was not at the level of the top dog now adding arrows to the aforementioned 30-yard target.
Understandably, so much entitlement comes with the degree of skill and pecking order rank of such a top dog archer. That display of bowmenship, well beyond my capacity, alerted me to not ask to join the top dog group. I abandoned the warm-up area leaving the entitled to their deliberations.
Inside the clubhouse, my search for alliance continued without attainment. Jim and Clyde, officers of Mid-Del Archers facilitated registration. Both of them were friendly and helpful. I have never seen Jim when there wasn’t a smile on his face. Clyde has a quick wit and both fellows so pleasant I’d have been happy hanging out and talking with them all morning. Alas, a course awaited and I remained an archer apart.
On the range I hung back in pursuit of a familiar face. Finally, Andrew arrived with his friend and boss Mike. I recognized Andrew from shooting on another course. I asked to join their duo and they happily agreed.
The course, as expected, was congested. The three of us, fairly fast about our business, worked through the range bypassing stake entanglements. Andrew is utterly a top shooter – he’s been at it since he was seven. Mike has been shooting 3D for several years and is very good as well. I hoped my arrow count was undiminished at the conclusion the day.
Detouring assemblages of archers we crossed paths with the top dogs I’d seen earlier in the warm-up area. Their roving campsite was pitched between targets 21 and 22. At target 21, they were hovering around a foam deer. I am not certain what they were doing behind the deer; they were all bent over digging through the plants. They must have been looking for wild berries of some sort; certainly none of them could have possibly lost an arrow. Our trio left them to their search and moved to another target – later we’d come back to the faux deer at 21.
Mike and Andrew proved me lucky finding such guys to spend a morning with shooting 3D targets. We finished the day with decent scores – Andrew shot 318. The weather had been excellent, bugs were not bothersome, and the Mid-Del volunteers had sprayed the course for ticks, so these little pests didn’t irritate us. They even provided coolers filled with water bottles for those carrying inadequate provisions.
Back home I told my wife, Brenda, about the morning at Mid-Del Archers. She pointed out that 3D shoots sound to her like little adventures. In that, they are.