Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doing, Teaching, and Dueling

Those Who Can, Do

Went out to the range, walking across a rainy Dedham, trying to improve on last week's pretty good showing. Could not get any kind of consistency, though. Opened with a 23 (of course), and never made any real move to catch up to 25 pace.

No shoulder pain, and not even any real fatigue felt until very near the end. Consistency just eluded me. Some days are like that, and it did not help that I tagged my arm early in the session. Maybe next weekend will be better, and I can pursue a 250 to start a new year.

When all was said and done, I had posted a 227. Good enough to improve on my first scoring round a few weeks ago, but still a loss of 9 points from last weekend.

Those Who Can't, Teach

After I finished shooting, I stuck around (with my bow still set up) and helped some party shooters with their form. There was one little girl who had such an exaggerated stance it was funny. Instead of having her feet shoulder width apart, it almost looked like she was trying to do splits across the shooting line. I spent a lot of ends working with her, helping her adjust her form, and trying to get her to not finish her shots with a flourish (like a symphony conductor), which sends the arrows flying every which way.

When the balloons came out, she did not start well. For the first two ends, her shots were so far off. She popped her neighbor's balloon, then she nearly popped the balloon two lanes away. She was nowhere near her own target, no less popping the balloon.

Then came the final end. Biggest prize at stake, with a bonus for being the first person to pop a balloon and doing it on the first arrow. And lo and behold, this little girl, who a minute earlier seemed to be lucky just to get her arrow within a target width of her lane, took her first arrow and popped her balloon as if it was no big deal and she had been on target all along. I knew she could do it, the little sandbagger.

The Duel in Dedham

As the party was winding down, the question came up on who would take the cross-range shot. Initially, Anthony was going to do it. I had left my bow set up so that I could take it, if given the opportunity, and then it looked like Anthony would do it if I missed with my three arrows. Then it was decided that we would both take the line in lane 1.

Just like in An Archer's Carol, we stepped to the line, Anthony with his wooden traditional bow, me with my (still relatively new) Win&Win. Three arrow shootoff to win everyone in the party a prize. We both knocked out arrows, and took aim. As I was drawing back, however, my arrow slipped off the rest, so I had to reset while Anthony loosed his arrow towards the balloon. Instead of shooting together, we would now alternate shots. Anthony's first arrow missed, and mine followed suit. Second shots each did the same thing. And then Anthony's third also failed to pop the balloon.

I knocked my third and final arrow, all eyes on the range watching what I would do. I don't know how I did it, but I was more relieved than anyone when that balloon popped at the end of my arrow. In this duel, unlike in An Archer's Carol, the Win&Win had won. I don't know if Anthony missed on purpose to put the pressure on me. I know for sure that I was trying to hit it with every shot. And thankfully I was able to do it.

So even without a great score, I still had a pretty good day at the range.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Couple of Archery Posts from Anthony

An Archer's Carol
By Anthony Bellittini

T’was the night before Christmas and all about the range,
Not an archer was stirring – no flying feather or vane.
And I with my quiver stand patiently on line,
With hope that my "friend" will show up on time.

My tab is powdered and string newly waxed,
My shoulders at the ready, I’m set, where’s he at?

Then through the door he came smugly aglow,
Sporting a new Win and Win bow -
“OK I’m here!” he said, - ”Now, let’s get on with this show!”

He set his clicker, and V-Bars, and adjusted his sight,
To myself I thought - Let’s get on with this "fight".

With confidence he stepped into his lane,
Glanced my way and said, “You’ll be sorry I came!”.

So they’re we both were, his new bow against mine,
An old Bear Tamer Lane, that has seen better times.
One end takes all - that was the deal,
A long-standing challenge, today finally made real.

The first shots were his, won by a coin toss,
I didn’t care - I knew he already lost.
He drew and released those 2315’s
To do battle with mine, each one scored a nine.

I lifted my bow and loosed my first arrows,
And just as I visualized them, each flew slowly and narrow.
You see I knew something my dear friend did not,
That into the ten, again, again - my wood shafts were hot!

With the score in my favor, the end result achieved,
I turned to my friend, smiled and said, “its all in how well you believe!”

“It’s the faith in yourself, knowing that you have already won,
that determines the ending even before the competition’s begun.

“I don’t get that”, he said, “I have all this cool stuff!”
“Perhaps, just perhaps, I didn’t buy enough?”

So I bid him farewell and he went on his way,
And I wish you all Great Shooting this year after Christmas Day!

copyright 12/2004

Archery Champion or just another soccer player?
By Anthony Bellittini

Now that Spring has arrived I'm sure many kids will also be participating in other sports such as soccer, baseball, and lacrosse.

It never ceases to amaze me how the coaches of these sports start their recruting in November of the prior year with constant phone messages and emails to families to be certain they have that one more player starting that next spring.

This year, some coaches have increased the ante. Baseball and soccer are BIG Business, and someone has to pay for all those fields. Parents are held in place with threats of their child being dumped from the team if a practice or two is missed.

I've spoken to many parents recently that tell me their son or daughter will have to cut back on archery (or drop archery till fall) because their soccer or baseball coach now has their child practicing two to three hours a day, three to four times a week (essentially locking them out of any other activity - and into theirs), and, not only are they exhausted when they get home, but they hardly have any time for schoolwork.

My heart saddens every Spring because I see such progress in my students cut short because of the high demands of other sports and the parents that give in to them. And then, or if, they return after summer, it's just like starting all over.

I have been coaching archery professionally for almost 20 years. That said, I can assure you that it doesn't take anywhere near that time to know that if an archer practices even 4-6 hours a week- that archer will be a National Champion within a year or two, if they want to take it that far!

Archery is one of only a few sports in which you can accomplish that. That, is what is so amazing about this sport. It's repetitive improvement! It's success that you can be proud of because you accomplished it yourself. You didn't have to rely upon how good another player was, or how much the other team sucked less that day. in order to win.

Archery is a year round sport. Our state archery association and those of our adjoining states all have outdoor tournaments. If one wanted to, you can go to a tournament every other weekend somewhere close by.

Outdoor events are fun! With all the family and team tents, flags, it looks like a modern medieval game.

It's been my goal for a long time, to promote our sport until it becomes as recognized as soccer. So I'm urging everyone not to abandon archery for other sports, perhaps increase your practice time, and keep up with improving your skills!

Thank You,



Climbing Back Up for the Holidays

Spent a long day at the range on Saturday. With the snow coming down, I set off a little late for Dedham. A detour through a couple of shops got me out to the range well after the class had ended, but the range was still empty. Weather had kept a lot of the shooting public away, since no one wanted to be on the roads. I can't really blame them. It was bad enough walking out there, especially considering Dedham dumps all of the snow on their roads onto the sidewalk, making them all but impassable. Have to walk in the streets, staying as close to the sidewalk as I can, keeping a watchful eye on the closest lane of traffic, and getting out of the way as soon as humanly possible.

So I walked into the range, and spent a little while talking with one of the range employees. Because of the Archery USA holiday party, the range was closing at 4:30, instead of at the usual 6, so I finally set up my bow and started shooting. I had no intention of keeping score, but my opening warm up ends were so good, I decided to grab a pen and start counting. As usual, I opened with a 23, and capped my first half round at 124, just a single point behind pace for 250. My sixth end was a solid 25, but I slipped on seven through 10. Ended up at 236, a 13 point improvement over last week, and this time with only myself for motivation (instead of competing with my friends). If I can pick up just 1 extra point every other arrow, I will be right back where I left off in July, at 250.

After I put my bow away, I helped set up for the party. People started trickling in over the next few hours, and then we all sat down in the middle of the archery range to eat a pretty good pot luck. This is an annual tradition at Archery USA, a chance for Anthony to thank everyone for supporting the range, and this year a chance for everyone to welcome Anthony back. This was my first holiday party, and probably my last, as I do not plan to be in Boston next winter. Glad I got a chance to attend this one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back to Normal, with a Little Help from my Friends

Had some guests with me at the range on Saturday. Couple of friends went out to Dedham with me. One even had a car, so didn't have to take the bus or walk across the cold. After a quick lunch, the three of us went in, hoping there would be room on the line for all of us to shoot for an hour. A party was just getting started, and there were some other archery patrons, but we were able to find a trio of lanes, so while my friends got set up with range equipment, I put my bow together, and out to the line we went.

After a couple of warm up ends, one of my friends decided that we should keep score and have a competition. Now keep in mind, I have not had a scoring round since my shoulder started bothering my back in July, so I'm a little apprehensive, but my shoulder has been feeling better, so I agreed. My friends shot at 60 cm targets, while I shot at a 40. It was my suggestion. One didn't really want to go along with it, but in the end decided to go ahead.

Seeing as my friends have shot a grand total of (at most) twice between them in the last four years, it was not much of a contest. They were going at each other for barebow supremacy. I was shooting for a good ten end round. Ended up with a 223, which while not spectacular, is quite respectable for my first scoring round in 5 months. Finally getting seriously on the road to back to normal. Not ready for tournament doubles yet, and won't be for a while, but I was long overdue to return to single rounds. The work will be good for strengthening my shoulder, and I'll have some tangible results to judge my shooting by.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flights, Returns, and Repair Jobs

Three airports, six different security policies, nine kinds of weather, and two coasts later, I have arrived back in Boston with my bow in tow. Dragged it up the stairs to my new apartment, where it promptly sat on the floor for a week while classes started and I got settled. It did make an appearance to show off to my new landlord/roommate, who is interested in learning how to shoot (and made it a condition of my rent that I teach her), but other than that, the case sat in the corner of my room, sitting there, waiting.

Saturday, I returned to Archery USA. Walking down the sidewalk outside the windows, Anthony saw me, and pointed at me as his jaw dropped. Spent the next few hours at the range, back to my usual Saturday tricks.

I finally got around to a much needed repair job on my arrows. I now have 8 newly re-fletched, top-flight condition arrows ready to go. Given the condition of my arrows when I started the repair job, I had enough vanes for 9 arrows, but only enough tape for 8 of them. So at this point, the next time I have to do a repair job on my arrows, I will need to buy a new set of vanes. Another chance to pick colors for my archery set. Taking suggestions as they come.

I did actually shoot on Saturday as well. About a half hour, around 36 arrows (in double ends). Shoulder got tired near the end, and a little sore yesterday, but I'm attributing that to other factors besides shooting. I might even try a scoring round this week. Just one, though. Not quite ready for a tournament double yet.

So I have arrived for my last tour of duty in Boston. The range is still standing, and I feel as welcome there as I did before my west coast hiatus.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

One Last Round in the Park

I did make it out to the range today, my last trip to the GGPark range before heading back to Boston. It was crowded in the park, but I did have a lane to shoot on. It was not measured, though, so I was approximating 70 meters based on the archer in the next lane over. Shot pretty well, though. Some pretty decent ends, putting all 3 arrows in 80 cm scoring rings from 70 meters multiple times. On the downside, I did destroy another couple of vanes, so I'll have to do some reconstruction when I get back to the range in Boston.

In the next lane over, another archer was shooting an Inno from 70 meters. It was a little nervewracking to see him aiming, since from that distance, at such a narrow angle, he could just as easily have been aiming at me. But watching the arrow fly was thing of beauty. You just never get to stand that close to a flying arrow.

There was one frustrating thing on the range today. On one of the paved, measured lanes, a guy was flying a model helicopter. Now I have nothing against model helicopters. I'm all for flying them around. It is just that there are plenty of open spaces all over Golden Gate Park. There is no need to stand in the middle of one of the two paved (and one of the three measured) lanes on the archery range to do it. Take it somewhere else, buddy.

Came home after shooting, and finally decided to replace the latches on my case. Got the old ones removed without incident, but the new latches proved to be a bit of a problem. I could not get the screws to go in straight (or completely). Taking the case back to the locksmith on Monday. Hopefully they can fix the problem and get the latches secured, since I have to fly with the case locked on Tuesday.

But that's a different problem for a different day. Today is about a good and satisfying trip to the range.

Depending on the Kindness of (Semi-)Strangers

After last weekends debacle, I took a trip to the GGPark archery range during the week. I figured that since it was foggy, cool, and Tuesday, I would not have a problem getting a lane. But when I got to the park, lo and behold, every lane was (again) filled. Apparently, City College has an archery class that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. Just my luck.

Fortunately, an archer who I've seen and talked to a few times before saw my situation, and not only offered to share his lane and target with me, he even moved up from 90 to 70 meters so that I could shoot at my distance. Carlo said that he would hate for someone to come all the way out to the range and not be able to shoot, that's why he offered the spot to me.

As for the shooting itself, I started out really well, with a dead center X. After that, I missed that target numerous times, bounced a few arrows off the rubber bottom of the hay bale, and ripped two more vanes off my arrows. Not a great day of shooting, but I did have a good time, and was able to get some ends in.

Back to the range today. Maybe I'll even get my own lane this time. But with the sun out, I'm not holding out TOO much hope...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Gloomy Side of a Beautiful Day

Saturday was a beautiful day in San Francisco. Warm, barely a cloud in the sky. A perfect day to go shooting outside in the park. Unfortunately, I was not the only person to think so. Took a nice drive along the Great Highway, turned right into the park, and realized for the first time I may have a problem. No parking in the park, but I just chalked it up to people going to the park, maybe to the beach or the soccer fields under the nearby windmills.

On my first pass, I drove past the range, and with a quick glance to the right, I noticed that the range looked really crowded. Hard to tell how crowded while trying to not plow into another parked car, oncoming traffic, or the sidewalk, so I wrote it off to the nature of a quick glance and drove on looking for parking.

Found a parking spot on my second pass. Keeping that glance in the back of my mind, however, I decided to not pull my archery case out of the car until I knew there was room for me on the range. So I walked out onto the range, and my heart sank. There were multiple archers on every single lane, with arrows sitting in every single target. I stood out on the range for a while, hoping someone would simply disappear. Of course, that didn't happen.

So I turned around, got back in my car, and drove back along the water. Found a place to stop at Fort Funston and looked out over the ocean for a while. Even without shooting, I could still enjoy the bright, clear, warm November Saturday in San Francisco.

But I really wanted to shoot.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting Out of the Rain

Light rain/heavy mist in San Francisco last Saturday. Not the kind of weather that would normally keep me indoors. But I did not want to stand out in the park in the rain without knowing that 1. it would not get heavier, and 2. I would definitely get one of the concrete lanes.

So instead, I collected a shooting partner/benefactor and went on down to Pacifica Archery. Spent most of an hour pumping arrows into the wall. My first indoor shooting since leaving Boston. Good timing, too, since I am just a few weeks from heading back to Boston and ArcheryUSA.

Not a bad day. Had some good ends. Had some frustrating ones, too. But overall a good reentry into indoor shooting. Takes some adjustments to go from 70 meters down to 18, but once I'm back in the swing of things it should be fine.

Weather looks like it should be pretty good tomorrow, so the plan is to be back in GGPark shooting at a distant target.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Slightly Overdue

Another day in Golden Gate Park last weekend, shooting from 70 meters at my target. Not an exciting day, but a good solid showing nonetheless. A few good ends, but I'm still not scoring-round ready. Need to work on my consistency. Something to look forward to in the spring, after a quarter of indoor shooting back in Dedham this winter.

Missed this past weekend because of rain. Don't really want to stand out in GGPark mud getting wet. Could have gone to Pacifica and the indoor range, and if it is still raining this weekend, that's the plan, but instead just took the weekend off. Not really happy about it, but what's done is done.

Looking forward to getting back to full days at the range, even if I only shoot an hour or so. If only there was an ArcheryUSA West...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Target Practice

Went down to Pacifica Archery before heading over to the range in GGPark. Walked in and asked for a 122 target, but taking one look at the beast that is the 122, I realized that there was no way that would work. It was just too big. The thing would not even fit on the target butt at the range. So instead, I got an 80 cm target. This does a few things. First, it lets me fit the the target on the target butt, making it usable. Second, it saves me a couple of dollars (80s cost 4 where 122s cost 6; hey, every little bit helps!). Third, it makes me tighten things up even further. Someone once told me, when I was trying to shoot 40s instead of 60s at 18 meters, that the center is still the center, and the same holds true at 70 meters. So, if I can learn to shoot well at 70 meters on a 80, imagine how I'll do when I get a 122 out there.

After a stop for a bottle of water, I drove out to the park along the Pacific. A great drive on a beautiful San Francisco day. Drove up to the range, put my bow case down at the 70 meter mark, and walked out to the target butt. I dropped my pen at the end of the lane and put up the target with the pins. Then I walked back down the lane and set up my bow.

First end gave me a 10 and a couple of less than stellar shots. Next four ends (12 arrows) all ended way low on the target. So I finally got around to lowering the sight. The next six arrows were in a horizontal line across the center of the target. In other words, I nailed my vertical alignment, but my horizontal alignment still needs some work. Maybe some v-bars would help. Something to look into this winter when I'm back on the east coast and at Archery USA.

The final end all landed high, but I still felt pretty good about the day. First time shooting at a target at 70 meters, and I didn't completely embarrass myself. Started to figure out the system, and now I just have to fine tune the thing.

Also at the range, helped a couple of guys out, telling them they were shooting with the wrong eye. Reminded me of a day at Archery USA when I could help people out while doing my own shooting. Perhaps I'll go for the instructor's certification this winter, too. In my spare time (Ha. Ha. Ha.).

And when I got home from the range, waiting for me at the back door, was a new set of latches and keys for my case from SKB. And a set of wheels. Don't know why they sent me a set of wheels, but I'm sure I can find some way to use them some day. But the latches are definitely good to have.

Hunting for Targets

So the great target search continues.

I'm sick of just shooting at target butts. If I am going to fine tune this 70 meter thing, I need a target to aim at to make some adjustments (and to see if I actually need v-bars). So instead of passively driving by the SF Archery Shop every weekend and hoping for the best, this week I took action.

A few nights ago, I picked up the phone and left a message at the shop, asking if they actually had targets available. They called me back and said that they do have one (1) 122 cm target available, and they do sell target pins, although I didn't get a price. The 122 sells for $7.50 normally, but this one was used.

"You know, I'm going to be beating up this target, so I don't know if I want one that's already beat up."

"Oh don't worry, it just has..." [pause while he checks the target] "...about six holes."

We also talked about when I might actually catch him at the store. He said if I went by when he was "open," and he was at the range, he has a sign on the store saying to call his cell phone. Well, I tried that last Monday, and couldn't reach anyone on the number.

Not a big fan of this semi-successful back-and-forth, I placed another call that night, to Pacifica Archery. With no problems, and a brief but productive conversation, I found out that they have 122s on sale for $6, and sell target pins for $1 each. For $10 plus tax, I'll be out the door with exactly what I need.

Pacifica, here I come.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Getting it Back, and Getting Back to It: An Archery Play in Two Parts

Part I: Breaking and Entering

Finally broke into my archery case today. Took the case over to a locksmith down the block from the archery shop. Put the case up on the counter and as calmly as I could screamed "HELP!!!"

But in all seriousness, I put the case on the counter and said that one of the latches is jammed, and could they please help me get it open. After about 10 minutes of working one lock and comparing it to the other, the locksmith finally got it open. No need to lock the case until Thanksgiving, so I'll use it as an unlocked latch until then.

$88/hour for locksmith services, 15 minute minimum. Cost me $22 to get to my own equipment. And worth every penny.

Went down to the archery shop afterward, hoping to buy a target. Shop is open, but the sign on the door says the owner is at the range. Try his cell phone, and with no answer, I am still sans rings to shoot at. But at least I have access to my bow again, and can get some shots in.

Part II: 18 Arrows, 70 Meters, and a Feral Feline

Out to the range in Golden Gate Park. Both paved lanes are taken, but one of the field lanes is marked at 30, 50, and 70 meters. The 70 meter mark is all the way back on the path at the far end of the range, right up against the tree and vegetation line that separates the range field from the road. I get my bow set up for the first time in a few weeks, knock an arrow, draw back, aim, and see a small black cat, sitting on the hill that rises behind the target.

Now this is only the second time I've shot from 70 meters. I am relatively confident that I can hit the target, even from all that distance, but I am a little bit nervous that, on the off chance the arrow goes high, I may go bowhunting for the first time in my life, and totally by accident at that.

The cat disappears from my sight, and I figure he has gone up into the trees, so I let fly my first arrow of the day. It hits the target butt with a satisfying thump. And then the cat reappears. First he is next to my target, then sets himself down right in front of it. I walked over to the other archers, asking if the cat belongs to any of them. They tell me he belongs to the park, and not to worry about him. He'll get out of the way when he hears the arrows coming.

Still a little nervous, and not wanting to hunt some urban game, I still set up my second shot. The arrow flies towards the target, and the cat, flinches as the sound hits, far too close for comfort. The next arrow gets another flinch, and the next has him scurrying off up the hill and away. I saw him wandering around for a while after that, but soon enough had disappeared from the range completely.

Shot a pair of double ends and a pair of single ends from 70 meters, for a total of 18. Put them all in the target butt, in some interesting lines and wide groups. If I could get a target on there, I am confident that with a bit of practice, I could get some pretty good groups and some decent Olympic scoring rounds in.

Collecting my arrows at one point, I stopped to watch the other lanes shooting at their targets. There is nothing quite like the sight of an arrow, arcing toward its target. I first saw this on the range in San Diego, when I would arrive as Dakota was firing down range. It is rare to enjoy the view at an indoor range, because the distance and safety requirements limit viewing opportunities. But on the range in the park today, I was able to watch those arrows fly, and enjoy the simple beauty that is the arrow in flight.

A small bit of shaking in the shoulder late in the game, but Still got enough arrows in for a warm up double and a full Olympic round. Feels fine now, hours later. No soreness, and I did not even ice it, although I may regret that later.

Maybe I'll go back to Pacifica Archery, not for any shooting, but to buy a target. Surely they must sell 122s.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Call a Locksmith!

Nothing doing last weekend.

Or this weekend, at least until Monday. Latch is still jammed, although supposedly replacements are on their way. Spent a good amount of time last night trying to un-jam the latch, but no such luck.

Locksmith is closed for the weekend, and as important as archery is to me, I hardly think this constitutes an "emergency," so Monday is the target date for getting the case opened.

Maybe next weekend things will be back to normal-ish, or at least back to the range.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Signs from the Gods

So at long last I get to chronicling my archery misadventures from last weekend. One mishap after another led to zero arrows being fired from any distance. First, massive traffic gave me a frustrating slow drive across the city, across the park, and out into the Richmond, heading for the archery shop.

The web site for the shop said they were open 1-6 on Saturdays. The sign on the shop itself said they were open from some time in the morning (10? 11? 11:30?) until 6 on Saturdays. I got there around 3. The place was closed. Translation? No 122 cm target for an Olympic round.

On to the range. Still figured I would get some practice in at 70 meters. Get myself comfortable there and get some arrows off. But it was not to be. Unlocked the right latch on my archery case, but the left one is jammed. Sat struggling with it for a while. Even broke off one of my keys (don't worry, there are two identical ones). The fun part is I still can't get to my bow or arrows or anything else in there until I get that latch unlocked. Have to get in touch with SKB and get it taken care of.

Between the traffic and the closed shop and the jammed lock, maybe someone was trying to tell me something. I'm just not in the habit of listening when I'm being told to not shoot.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Climbing to 70

Spent the day in Golden Gate Park, most of it about 20 blocks from the archery range. May have actually convinced an old friend to take up archery. He said he's been wanting to start it out, and I offered to give him an opening lesson if he can get his hands on a rental bow at a shop near the GGPark range.

After the morning's festivities (which extended well into the afternoon) ended, I made my way down to the west end of the park and the range. Started out at 50 meters for 3 arrows, then moved back to 60 meters for the next 3. Then I made the big jump. 70 meters. Olympic distance.

I ended up putting 18 arrows in six double ends onto the target butt at 70 meters. Groups could have been tighter, but I was mostly seeing if I could shoot the distance with my equipment, and I got a definitive yes. 24 arrows was a bit much, as my shoulder was shaking pretty heavily for the last arrow or two, but overall a successful day at the range.

Also, at 70 meters, I had my sight set so low on the bar (in the 9.3 and 9.4 range) that my problem from last week took care of itself. The sight aperture ended up below the bulge on the clicker, making it visible again. The problem will still present itself from probably 35-60 meters, but at 20 and 70, there is little to no problem at all.

Maybe I should pick up a 122 cm target and start scoring Olympic rounds. Might be fun to start scoring again. Plus, Olympic rounds are 12 arrows, instead of 30.

Might want to take a look at some v-bars...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Up and Back

I'm sitting with an ice pack on my shoulder after shooting today. Got 21 arrows in, pulling me ever closer to a full scoring round.

The archery range in GGPark has 9 target buts, with 2 paved lanes marked at 10 meter and 10 yard distances back to 90 meters.

I decided to change things up a little bit this week. Instead of shooting at the normal indoor distance of 18 meters/20 yeards, I instead moved back to 40 meters to see what I could do. Also pulled out my good arrows instead of just using the older, heavier ones. Ran into an interesting problem. Because I had to lower the sight in order to hit the target, the aperture was sitting partly behind the clicker, making it difficult to see. I'll have to experiment some to see what I can do about that.

Shoulder felt a little tired, tiny bit sore, but no pain. Feeling pretty good about the results.

Monday, September 8, 2008

And Three More Arrows

Hit the GGPark range yesterday. First couple of ends, shoulder was shaking, but things looked up from there. 15 arrows (instead of 12), some good groups (without an actual target), and no pain. I might just beat this thing yet.

At least that was yesterday afternoon. A little bit of pain last night after ice packs (ironic, I know), and some discomfort today (sans pain killers). But I maintain things are looking up. Closer and closer to a full scoring round...

Maybe I should switch to Olympic rounds...12 arrows and out...Have to go back to 70 meters, though...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

So Close, Yet So Far

Went to the open range in Golden Gate Park for the first time today. Set up my bow for the first time in a few months to try to get a few arrows in to test out my shoulder. Got everything put together, picked three arrows at random (of my old arrows, no need to risk the vanes on the new ones for this kind of round), and started shooting.

I only put 12 arrows into the target, 3 at a time, and I got some pretty good groups. Shoulder was less than stellar, though. As I write this, I've got an ice pack on, and will keep up my strengthening exercises. Back to GGPark next weekend for more of the same. If I can slowly improve, I might be back to scoring tournament doubles by the end of the quarter, but not much before.

Archery for Second Graders

So last November, I did a little archery presentation for a second grade class in San Mateo. I took my (old) bow in, set it up, talked a little bit about this history of archery ("We think of these as toys and recreation now, but for centuries they conquered the world"), and showed them everything except actually shooting an arrow (not a good idea in a classroom).

I got an email from their teacher yesterday. Apparently, my presentation was a good one. One of the kids in the class has taken up archery. I got myself a little convert. Feels pretty good. Maybe I'll run into him at Pacifica or the park.

My friend the teacher took some pictures during the presentation. Unfortunately, a lot of them were taken with me in mid-word. Got a couple of fun ones, though, of me and a second grader holding a bow that is WAY too big for her.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 5

Olympic archery wrap up.

Women's individual competition was an all-Samick affair. Korea took silver and bronze, but a Chinese archer took gold in an upset.

On the men's side, American Vic Wunderle made it through the round of 16, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Men's individual bronze medal match featured Mexico/Hoyt vs. Russia/Inno. Russian closed with a 30 to take the bronze.

Men's final match: Park Kyung-Mo of Korea with a Samick and Shibuya vs. Viktor Ruban of Ukraine with an Inno and a different sight.

Park defeated Luis Gustavo Trainini (Brazil) 116-99, Kuo Cheng Wei (Chinese Taipei) 111-110, Rafal Dobrowolski (Poland) 113-105, Juan Carlos Stevens (Cuba) 108-108 (shoot off), and Juan Rene Serrano (Mexico) 115-112.

Ruban defeated Maged Youssef (Egypt) 111-96, Michael Naray (Australia) 115-105, Jacek Proc (Poland) 114-108, Ryuichi Moriya (Japan) 115-106, and Bair Badenov (Russia) 112-112 (shoot off). Badenov defeated Serrano to take the bronze medal.

1st end: Both open with a 9. Park follows with second one, but Ruban scores a 10. Park adds a 10 on the third arrow, but is matched by Ruban. 29-28 Ruban after 3 arrows.

2nd end: Park starts with a 10, and Ruban scores a 9. Park hits a second 10 to keep the pressure on, and Ruban hits another 9. Park wraps up a perfect 30 end with a third 10. Ruban hits his third 9 in a row. 58-56 Park after 6 arrows. 3 point swing in the second end.

3rd end: 10 for Ruban to open, Park follows suit (his fifth 10 in a row). Ruban scores another 10, while Park hits a 9. 9 for Ruban, 9 for Park. 86-85 Park after 9 of 12 arrows.

4th end: Ruban, down a point, opens with a 9. Park matches it. Ruban hits a second 9. Park hits a 8/9 line shot. Ruban finishes strong with a 10. Park finishes with a 9. The line shot is ruled an 8. 113-112.

Viktor Ruban of the Ukraine, shooting a blue Win&Win Inno, is the Olympic champion.

Ruban: 29-27-29-28 = 113.
Park: 28-30-28-26 = 112.

Korea swept the team archery competitions, and added a pair of silvers and a bronze in the individual ones. China and Ukraine scored the individual golds, with Russia taking the men's individual bronze. Silver and bronze in the team competitions went to Italy and China in the men's competition, and China and France in the women's.

Final thoughts.

The Koreans looked incredible. It seemed that if you spotted them a single point they would beat you into the ground. But both individual archers faltered slightly and came up short in the gold medal matches.

Lot of Innos around the competition, but more Shibuya sights.

Saw a lot of interesting styles and motions. Everyone does something different, but each individual always does it the same way.

The Korean fans are incredible. They drowned out the support for the Americans, and even the host Chinese (whose fans were no slouches either).

Saw some really cool camera work. High speed cameras show the arrow flex as it flies down the range. Because of the 70 meter distance, you can really see the arrow trace an arc, as opposed to the almost straight line it follows down an indoor range. Also saw a view form a pinhole camera in the center of the target. Really makes me want to not piss off an archer. I should make sure everyone I know sees that one.

And one final thought from watching the Olympic archery competition:

I can't wait to get back to the range.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 4

Numerical observations from half of the men's bracket, 1/32 and 1/16 elimination rounds.

Total archers seen: 16.

Equipment counts:

Win&Win Inno
Archers: 7 (1/32 wins - 5, 1/16 wins - 3).
Winners: Ukraine (1/16), Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Russia (1/16), Turkey, Korea (1/16).
Other archers: Egypt, Bulgaria.
Win&Win Inno goes head to head twice in 1/32, twice in 1/16.
Lee (Korea) sets Olympic record with 117 points (out of a possible 120). That is the equivalent of a 292.5 on the 300-max system I am used to.

Archers: 2 (1/32 wins - 1).
Winners: Australia.
Other archers: Portugal.

Archers: 6 (1/32 wins - 1, 1/16 wins - 1).
Winners: Lefty Canada (1/16).
Other archers: France, Malaysia, China, Canada, China.
Hoyt goes head to head once in 1/32.

Archers: 1 (1/32 wins - 1).
Winners: Brady Ellison (USA).
Other archers: None.

Shibuya Ultima RC Carbon sights: 11.

Left handed archers: 1.

Archery on the Front of the Boston Globe Sports Section

An unsung Olympic sport, archery really hits the spot

By Bob Ryan, Globe Columnist | August 12, 2008

BEIJING - Archery is my kind of sport: no judges.

Pick up the bow. Pull back the arrow. Fire. You either hit the target or you don't. You add up the points, and the archer, or team, with the most points wins. No muss, no fuss.

It's one of those Olympic sports that doesn't exactly threaten to muscle football, baseball, basketball, or hockey off the American front pages. But it's one of those sports that produces an interesting mix of competitors. Take, for example, the three-man American men's team, which consists of 52-year-old five-time Olympian Richard "Butch" Johnson, 32-year-old three-time Olympian Victor Wunderle, and 19-year-old Olympic debutant (as the Brits would say) Brady Ellison.

They entered the team competition with the sincere hope of medaling, but it apparently wasn't meant to be, as they were ousted yesterday morning by a team from Chinese Taipei.

"We never expected to go out this early," said Johnson, a Worcester, Mass., native who now lives in Woodstock, Conn., and, when he isn't practicing, works in Hall's Arrow, an archery store in Manchester, Conn. "We were pretty sure we'd make it to the medal round. It just didn't happen today. It wasn't from lack of effort; everyone did his best. We just weren't on our game today."

The team was put in a precarious position in the second "end," or round, when Wunderle, an individual silver medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, could manage only a 6. Chinese Taipei made the Americans pay for that in the third end when Chen Szu Yuan, Kuo Cheng Wei, and Wang Cheng Pang each had bull's-eye 10s. Team USA never was able to catch up.

Wunderle had no explanation for his boo-boo, or the team's disappointing performance.

"We had been shooting very well, been practicing very well, he said. "In this game it comes down to if you're shooting good that day. I was a little off this morning, and the whole team wasn't shooting up to its capabilities."

They had a slim hope of advancement when they came out of the seventh, or next-to-last, end trailing by a 192-189 score. They got 29 out of the maximum 30 when Wunderle and Ellison each came up with a 10, but the Chinese Taipei trio responded to the challenge with a trio of 10s. Final score: Chinese Taipei 222, USA 218.

But it's not the end of the Olympics for Mssrs. Johnson, Wunderle, and Ellison. They will have to see what they can accomplish in the individual competition that begins later this week.

Johnson's great achievement, of course, is simply being here. He's not the oldest Olympian - that honor goes to 58-year-old John Dane III, a member of the sailing team. He got a relatively late Olympic start after switching disciplines, his first Olympics being Barcelona, where his team finished sixth. His peak was teaming with Justin Huish and Rodney White to win the team gold in Atlanta, where they had to survive a technical glitch when the scoreboard showed the US and Korea with identical scores of 250 (under a different scoring system) when it actually should have read USA 251 Korea 249. Fortunately, the error was corrected without the countries taking up arms, and the appropriate medals were distributed.

The soft-spoken Johnson is regarded as the patron saint of contemporary American archers, at least in the eyes of his 19-year-old teammate.

"If he ever retires, he'll be put right up there with Darrell Pace," says Ellison, referring to the two-time gold medalist (Montreal, Los Angeles). "Everyone knows who he is. Think about it. This is his fifth team, but it could easily have been his ninth. It's been an honor to know him and be on the same team with him."

Johnson returns the compliment.

"His potential is unlimited," Johnson says of Ellison. "He's a great talent. He's got a good attitude and great practice habits. And he's only been shooting this style for a couple of years."

Ellison certainly had nothing to be ashamed of, firing an 8, five 9s, and 10s in his final two shots. This was, after all, his first Olympic experience and it was in front of a very pro-Chinese Taipei crowd.

But he offered a quasi-apology, regardless.

"I honestly wish I had gone in there and shot a lot better than I did," he said. "The first six arrows were high left. I kept moving my sight, not enough. Finally, I got the last two arrows in there."

He feels he has learned lessons that can be applied to his individual competition.

"It's one shot at a time, whether it's in team or individual, so I'm going to go in there and shoot my shots," he said. "Hopefully, they hit. I know how I feel in the stadium now, so I was able to learn from that today."

Given his time of service, Johnson is as qualified as anyone to evaluate what he's seen the Beijing Olympics.

"It's very good," he says. "The people are very, very nice and the venue is outstanding. I'd say it's the best combination of everything I've seen."

And, yes, he would like a chance to enter the London Games in 2012 into the evaluation process.

"Probably," he said. "Whether I make the team or not is another matter. I can't see myself stopping. I love this sport and I love competing too much. So I will try out."

That sounds good to Brady Ellison.

"He's an amazing guy," Ellison declared. "To be able to do what he does, to be staying at the top of his game, that's really inspiring. I hope I can do the same."

There's a lot percolating out here in the "other" Olympic sports. It's too bad we only check in with these people once every four years.

Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is

Monday, August 11, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 3

Watching the women's 1/32 and 1/16 elimination rounds. Finally figured out the live stream for the archery competitions. Lots of Hoyt bows, a few Samicks, a couple of Innos. Shibuya sights appear to be the majority. A few Sure-Locs, and a couple of other random choices. And the Koreans just look unstoppable, unflappable, and unbeatable.

On a non-live stream I saw the American men's team lose their opening round match. Have to admit, after hearing and reading about these guys for so long, it was cool to finally see them shoot.

You have to love the Korean cheering section. What a great thing to see people coming out to watch the archery competition. The only people I've had come out to see me were...related to me. I've had friends come shoot with me, but I don't think I've ever actually seen a cheering section, and that includes the two tournaments I've been to.

An 8 closed out this round for Joo Hyun-Jung. And after that, the fans are chanting her name. I can't get over it.

Everyone walks out with two identical bows. Have to have the backup at this level. Of course, they're all sponsored, and no one's paying for their own equipment.

Everyone is right handed.

Four years ago I watched the archery competition in Athens. I just happened to find archery on TV by a random coincidence from my motel room in Arizona. Didn't really understand it, at least not beyond the basics. Now I'm picking out all the different points. Not just the equipment, but the style. "Perfect release." Scored a 10. "You can't hold it that long." Scored a 7 (low for this competition).

They have people pull their arrows for them, who then run them back down the range and hand the arrows to the archers to put back in the quiver. Depths of decadent luxury.

American (Khatuna Lorig) vs. France. Lorig uses a Hoyt bow, with a Shibuya sight. Lorig wins her opening round match 107-105 to advance. American (Khatuna Lorig) vs. Great Britain. Lorig wins her second round match 112-108 to advance to the round of 16.

The Canadian archer is a lefty! Going up against an Indian with an Inno, they both throw down 10-10-9 in the first end. 109-109 (out of a possible 120) after the 12 arrows. Shoot-off time. Lefty Canadian defeats Indian with an Inno 10-8 in the shoot-off. Lefty Canadian in the second round vs. Korean with a Samick. Match up four 9s and a 10 through two ends, but the Korean has a 10 where Lefty Canadian has a 7. Match up 29s in the 3rd end. 10-10-5 to close, against a 10-9-10. Korean defeats Lefty Canadian 114-107. You just can't spot the Koreans a single point. They won't give it back and they will make you pay.

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 2

On the men's side, one of the Ukranians uses a Win and Win Inno, in a slightly lighter shade of blue than mine. At least half of the men are also using the Shibuya sights.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

2008 Olympic Archery, Part 1

I am watching the China vs. Korea team archery competition at the Olympics, and trying to see what equipment they use. It looks like both teams are using Samick limbs, and presumably Samick risers as well. My old bow was a Samick. I am a little surprised the Koreas are not using Win&Win bows, but I should admit I am at least a little biased.

I'm seeing Beiter clickers (like mine), and Shibuya Ultima RC Carbon sights (like mine). Broader view confirms the Shibuya sight. Close up also confirms the Beiter clicker, or at least the same style as my Beiter clicker.

I can't tell what the arrows are. They are definitely carbon with spin wings, but no real way for me to identify the type with what they are showing on TV.

What an amazing thing to see excited crowds at an archery competition.

All six shooters are right eye dominant, or at least shooting right handed.

And shock of shocks (unless you know anything about the sport), the women from South Korea win the gold medal.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On an Olympic Side Note

Apparently, in addition to his broken hand, reigning Olympic gymnastics champion Paul Hamm has the same injury I do: A strained left rotator cuff. Maybe I should not tell people that...

93% Chance that Light is the End of the Tunnel, and Not a Train

Finally. Some good news from a sports medicine doctor. On my follow up appointment, the good doctor said that I can start shooting for real (i.e. with my equipment) in a couple of weeks. Start with 12-15 or so arrows, and work my way up to a full tournament-double. At the same time, I should continue with physical therapy, but he is confident that rest and PT will solve this problem.

Doctor is 98% confident in his diagnosis of a severe rotator cuff strain. And he tells me that 95% of these strains go away on their own (i.e. without surgery). Therefore, I have a 93% chance of this going away on its own as long as I just keep doing what I've been doing. And when I get home, I can keep doing what I enjoy doing: shooting.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Things are Looking Up

My shoulder has felt better the last few days. The abbreviated shooting adventure this weekend did not seem to have any ill effects. My backpack today did, but that goes without saying. My range of motion is improving. I can extend my arm without the pain I was feeling just a week ago. And today, at PT, I was told that I'm just weeks from being able to shoot my own equipment. Of course, I will not be diving into tournament doubles right away, but if I am only weeks away, the day is drawing near when I can start shooting for back-to-back 250s and beyond.

It cannot come soon enough, but at least it is on its way.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Heading Home from the Range

Went back to the range today, for the first time in a number of weeks. Donated my old archery set to the American Archery Union (translation: dumped it off on Anthony to give away so I don't have to ship it westward). Picked up my new set so that I can take it with me when I head back to California.

With PT's permission, I took a bow with a super-light draw weight and fired about 10 arrows. Shoulder actually felt pretty good. I noticed my shoulder felt better at my last PT appointment on Wednesday, too. Only slightly, but any improvement is good. Still taking things gingerly at best, but perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel?

Two more PT appointments this week, plus sports medicine doctor on Thursday. No more trips to Dedham until December, when I will hopefully be 100% and able to get back to tournament-double scoring rounds.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day by Day

PT yesterday. More massage, electroshock therapy, and some range-of-motion work. Woke up with a stiff shoulder today. Does not hurt too much, but stiff. More PT tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

Counting the days until I can shoot again. Pretty sure there will be a trip to the range first. A very depressing trip where I just collect my bow for the long flight across the country.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Where I'm Supposed to Be

It is a Saturday afternoon, and I'm supposed to be at the range. It just doesn't feel right, sitting in my apartment on a Saturday. Weekends are for archery, or at least they have been. I almost have no idea what to do with myself otherwise. I want to be staring down at a target, trying to clear 250 again, maybe do it back-to-back rounds. I'm just missing something today.

And my shoulder hurts.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sports Medicine

Saw the sports medicine doctor this morning. Diagnosis? Rotator cuff strain. And to fix it? Rest and physical therapy. No shooting this weekend or next. Probably not the one after that. My guess is my next trip to the range will be to bring my bow back to Boston so I can take it to San Francisco, not to go shoot.

The good news? Only a 5% chance I'll need an MRI. Most likely rest and strengthening will take care of the problem.

It is going to be a long [insert length of time here] before I can shoot again, and probably December before I can shoot again at Archery USA.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Physical Therapy

Had my first PT appointment (for my shoulder) today. Started out with a bunch of range-of-motion and pain-level tests. Diagnosis? Rotator cuff tendinitis. Tests followed by a warm compress to loosen it up, then a shoulder massage (eerily reminiscent of the ITB massages I used to get and hate), and some strengthening exercises with a stretch band. All topped off with an ice pack covering an electronic pulse machine.

No archery this weekend. That's the word once and for all. Don't think I'll even go to Dedham. I told Anthony one time (when he hadn't seen me take my time on the shooting line) that I wasn't going to go all the way out there to not shoot. After last weekend, I guess I have to modify that: I'm not going to go all the way out to Dedham when I know I can't shoot.

What's the good news in all this? There's no tear.

Sports medicine doctor tomorrow, although the rumor at the PT shop is that his prescription will be PT.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back to Dr. Eli

Went back to the doctor this morning. Told him what happened the last two weekends. His new diagnosis is shoulder tendinitis/bursitis. He gave me two referrals. Tomorrow, I'm going back to the physical therapist for diagnosis and treatment. Thursday, I am seeing a sports medicine specialist to get his opinion (and possible treatment options). More bulletins coming as the information warrants.

Pretty sure I won't be shooting Saturday. I just hope I don't have to miss too many weekends. Its not easy to give this up right now, just as I get all this new equipment. Just as I start doing so well. But this is too important to me to screw around with. I'm going to do this right, and I'm going to get this fixed.

I hope.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Failure to Launch, but Feeling Showy

Skipped last Sunday to rest my shoulder (and watch the Wimbledon final). Went back to the range today, but just could not get anything done. Set up my bow and went out to the line. Drew my first arrow for my first warm up end, fired, and felt it in my shoulder. Fired a second arrow...."Damn it." Shot a third..."There's just no way." I put the bow down and collected my arrows. There was just no way I could shoot with the pain in my shoulder. Spent a few ends shooting a 20# draw house bow (as opposed to my 34# draw), and didn't feel any new pain, but my shoulder still hurt from just those few shots on my bow.

Anthony came out onto the range and asked if I wanted to take a road trip with him to another range up in Acton. A former colleague of his had purchased a range that they used to work at, and Anthony wanted to show him some Win and Win bows. Anthony had a different model to show him, but since I had the only Inno, he asked if I would come along and bring my bow with me. Since I wasn't going to be shooting any more, I decided to tag along.

Took a nice little drive along some Massachusetts roads I hadn't seen (since I don't have a car), and arrived at this unimpressive little building. But when you walk in, even with the ceiling over the lanes unfinished, and boxes of ancient equipment everywhere, there was clearly something good happening there. So Anthony showed the new owners the bows, talked about running an archery business for a while, and then we headed back down the road to Archery USA.

On the way to the bus to get back to Boston, with my shoulder still hurting, I finally accepted that I may be in more trouble than I thought. Time to go back to the doctor, and maybe even to a sports medicine specialist. I'll make the call tomorrow.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ultimate Highs and Worrisome Lows

I did it. I made it. I achieved it. I am a Master Archer.

Alone on the line, I set up on lane 1, right up next to the wall. My first warm up end, I shot six arrows. For the second warm up, I took the three arrows that had the best scores in the first end, and fired again. I wish I had been scoring the second warm up. The three arrows totaled 29 (out of 30 possible) points. With my first scoring end, I put up 23 points (which for some reason always seems to be my first end score). After that, however, I put up a lot of really good scores. All in the mid-high 20s. After 8 ends, one of the range employees came out to the line to talk to me (I was still the only one shooting). I waved him away, saying "Don't talk to me, not now. I'm so close. Give me two ends. Talk to me in six arrows." He walked away without a word, understanding what I was shooting for.

After nine ends, I was sitting on a 230. Just 20 points away, and my worst end so far was the 23 I opened with. My first shot was my worst scoring arrow of the day to that point, a 6. A moment of panic set in, but I took a few deep breaths and calmed myself down. My next two arrows were a 10 and an 8. Even though I am not usually one for loud verbal celebrations, I let out a little celebratory yell. I had done it. 254 points. I had cleared the Master Archer threshold of 250. Finally.

Because of my shoulder, my original plan for the day was to shoot one round, and then assess the situation before deciding on a second one. For two reasons, one logical but wrong, and one full of hubris, I decided to shoot a second round. The first reason was simple. My shoulder felt fine. No pain whatsoever. The second reason was I had just scored a 250, and I wanted to try to back it up with another 250, and get to 500. So after a break, I went back out to the line (no longer on my own), and set up for a second round.

The second round started off OK, but about halfway through, I started to notice a problem. As I drew back the bow, my left arm was shaking. So close to the finish, I decided to shoot through the pain. I ended up with a less-than-stellar score (although still better than with my old equipment), and a pained shoulder. It was suggested that I buy a few feet of Theraband tubing to use as a means to strengthen my shoulder and to practice my form. I did so, and started playing with what is essentially a length of surgical tubing.

Mixed day. Such good news and great success clearing 250, but worries, nervousness, and pain in my shoulder.

Score: 254 + 233 = 487.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Visiting Dr. Eli

After the trip to the gym where I discovered that there was no way I could lift due to the pain in my shoulder, I made an appointment at University Health to see a doctor. After hearing my problem and conducting a quick examination, he made his diagnosis: Shoulder tendinitis.

The good news? He said that I can keep shooting, but should lay off weights for a few weeks, and do some stretches that he showed me.

Walking on thin ice, but at least the news isn't all bad.

A Little Historical Diversion

When I was back in San Diego, Elisa and I would not just shoot at targets for score, or shoot at pumpkins, or dollar bills, or the occasional balloon. We also developed our own archery games. One of them, was an archery version of curling. Today, I found a Wikipedia page on different archery games, and decided to add curling to it.


Developed by two friends in San Diego, California, the scoring is identical to the rules of traditional curling. Archers fire an equal number of arrows (usually 3 or 5) at the same target. Each arrow an archer places closer to the center of the target than his opponent's best shot scores 1 point.

Elisa and I would play semi-regularly, and almost always frustrate the hell out of each other. One of us (often me) would have a series of decent-to-good shots, clearly outshooting the other overall. The other (usually Elisa), would have a series of mediocre shots, and one awesome shot that wiped out most or all of the scoring chances of the decent-to-good shots. Of course, we would both frustrate each other this way, but as I remember it, Elisa would keep gaining one or two points at a time, and because she kept outshooting me with one arrow, I could never close the gap. The rare occasions when I was able to turn the tables were satisfying indeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Eli's Coming

On Sports Night, Danny (one of the anchors) talked about what he always thought the song "Eli's Coming" was about. Casey (the other anchor) told him that the song was about a womanizer, and that girls were being warned to not fall for his tricks. Danny said that he knew that, but growing up he didn't realize it. To Danny, "Eli's coming" meant that something bad was about to happen.

Bringing it back around to me, and to archery, Eli is definitely coming.

Yesterday I went to the gym, getting a new weight routine, but I felt a tweak in my shoulder and could not really lift any kind of weight. Today, I tried to actually implement the workout. Not a chance. Left shoulder could not take any kind of pressure. Bad news all around.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Slight Downturn, and an Ominous Occurence

Lower scores today. Not sure why. Had some frustrations with the way the line was being run. Felt like a sprinter in the blocks just before a race, where the starter says "set" and then keeps everyone waiting for way too long before firing the gun. We kept getting the command for "on line," but then the person running the line took the time to answer a ton of questions, leaving us waiting for him to say "begin." He could just as easily (and much more conveniently) answered their questions between ends, or while they were shooting.

More important than frustration, however, are the first indications of potential problems. Friday I tweaked a muscle in my upper left of my back. It stopped hurting, but was still noticeable. Also, drawing back the bow for a few ends, I felt a pain in my left (drawing) forearm. Not sure what this was about.

Score: 227 + 232 = 459.

The good news: My worst scores with the Inno are better than my best scores with the Mizar.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More Scores

A week in classes where I was mostly thinking about shooting, and then back to the range on Saturday. Nothing especially exciting to report, except for the fact that I was able to log two more rounds in the 240s and tie my tournament double record at 489.

Score: 246 + 243 = 489.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday's Scores

Once again, I just could not stay away. After a solid first round score (second best ever round), I started my second round. Through 9 ends, I was sitting on a 224. I needed 26 out of the 30 possible points in the final end to reach what had for so long been my goal: 250, Master Archery level.

When the three shots were taken, I was looking down at the target from the line. I could see that one arrow was a 10, and the other two were in the red. It looked like both were in the 8 ring, which would give me 26 points and my goal. When I got up to the target, however, I saw to my complete and utter disappointment that one of the "8s" was actually a 7, giving me 25 points for the end and 249 for the round. I was so close to 250 I could taste it, yet so far away.

It was pretty easy to console myself when I realized that I still set a personal record both for a single end (249) and for a tournament double-round (489).

Score: 240 + 249 = 489.

For my first weekend scoring with the new bow, I set my top 4 single round scores (249, 246, 240, 236) and my top 2 tournament double-round scores (489, 482). Not a bad debut.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The First Time Around (With the New Bow)

Kept score for the first time with the new equipment. Draw felt smooth and easy, shots were silent, arrows flew fast.

Score: 246 + 236 = 482.

First round is a personal record. Second round would have been a personal record except for the first round. Needless to say, total score is a personal record.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Can't Stay Away

Slightly obsessed with my new equipment, I had to go back to the range on Sunday to keep firing arrows into the wall. Sighted in and getting comfortable with the bow, the time to keep score was coming near.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Putting it All Together

Got the rest of my new equipment, finally putting together my whole new set. Learned how to put spin wings on carbon arrows. Spent the day pumping arrow after arrow into the wall, and damn did it feel good.

Here's the rundown of the new equipment. An asterisk (*) means that the item is a holdover from my old set.

Win and Win Inno riser, LH, blue.
Win and Win Inno Power limbs, 34#.
Red and blue combination bowstring, handmade at Archery USA.
Shibuya DX plunger button, red.
ARE magnetic arrow rest.
Shibuya Ultima RC Carbon sight, LH, silver.
Doinker stabilizer.
Shibuya folding bow stand, black.
*Beiter clicker.
*Aurora 3-tube quiver, LH, denim.
SKB Compact Recurve bow case.
*Beiter armguard.
*Win and Win 360 Perfect finger tab, LH.
*C.R. Para-Cord finger sling.
Easton A/C/E arrow shafts with pin nocks and LH silver Kurly Vanes.
*Cartel bow square.
*Saunders Recurve bow stringer.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Paying Up

So that Saturday, through a combination of excitement and the T working remarkably efficiently, I arrived at Archery USA especially early. So early, in fact, that the training class was still going on. And there, on one of the locking clamps, was my new bow, with an ugly yellow bowstring. Anthony saw me come in, and I think he may have collected some money from the parents in the class by winning a betting pool on my arrival time. Only the riser, limbs, plunger, and arrow rest had arrived at that point. The rest would show up the next weekend. So I got the arrow rest, plunger, and clicker set up, borrowed a stabilizer from Anthony, temporarily moved my sight to the Inno and started pumping arrows into the wall.

The difference between my Samick Mizar and the Win and Win Inno was like night and day. The draw on the Inno was so smooth. The shots near silent, especially when I twisted the bow string up to raise the brace height. This thing was incredible. I couldn't wait to get the rest of my new equipment the next week.

Oh, yeah. And I put the largest ever purchase on my credit card. But it went through, and all I had to do was wait out one...more...week...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Formal Proposals

My basic research complete, it was time to make my pitch. I knew that the best chance for me to get the money for a new archery set was to ask the powers-that-be to lend it to me. Initially receptive to the idea, I waited a few excruciating weeks while my proposal was considered and numbers were hammered out.

While this discussion was going on, I was trying to decide what color bow I wanted. Initially, I wanted a cobalt blue Inno. The problem with this was that between the two importers of Win and Win products into the U.S., Lancaster Archery Supply and Greatree Archery, only Greatree had even seen a cobalt blue Inno, and that only once at an archery trade show. They did, however, have a blue, left handed Inno, and the 34 pound Inno Power limbs that I wanted, in stock. And they were giving Anthony the right of first refusal on my behalf should someone else try to order it. I really had my heart set on the cobalt blue, though. At least until I saw what "blue" actually meant to Win and Win. The pictures I saw of "blue" where this uninspired and uninteresting light blue bow. When a different Win and Win bow, not the Inno, but a different model, arrived at Archery USA, Anthony showed it to me. This was no ordinary uninspiring blue. This was a deep, almost royal, blue. I was sold.

A few weeks later, I got a phone call from the powers-that-be during a break in class giving me the go ahead, that my funding was in place. I immediately put in a phone call to Anthony (and followed it up with an email due to the possibility that my excitement made the message incoherent) saying that we were go to get the bow. The bow would arrive that weekend. As if waiting out my classes for the week wasn't hard enough.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Bridge: Outshooting my Equipment

After the tournament, scheduling conflicts and an extended west coast vacation kept me away from Archery USA for over a month. I took my bow home for the first time, and did some shooting at Pacifica Archery in Daly City. On my return to Boston, I went back out to Dedham. I was still working on improving my scores, trying to get up to a 250/500. I did make it to a 230, but seemed to plateau in the 210s-220s. I switched to a 3-spot Vegas round target for a while to try to get myself out of my comfort zone, but as 2008 started, I found myself needed to get back to basics and work on all the little details about my form.

For quite some time, I had been hoping that I could get a new set of equipment. My initial thought was to get the ultralight Fiberbow, and the tentative plan was to make it a graduation present to myself in May 2009. My frustration mounted over the course of a few months as no matter what I did to improve, my scores had leveled off. Not that there was any way I could afford the kind of set I really wanted, I started talking to Anthony about my problem, and his comment was that I had started outshooting my bow. The inconsistency of the Samick Mizar, good as it was as an entry level piece of equipment, was not appropriate to the level of archer that my constant practice had helped me rise to.

One day, Anthony was telling a story about this amazing bow he once had, a Yamaha Eolla that was so perfectly tuned with the stabilizer that the vibrations were completely absorbed and the shot was dead silent. I asked him what was the equivalent (or as close as you could come) to the Eolla today, and his answer was the Inno, by Win and Win, one of the top archery companies in the world. I asked him to compare the Inno to the Fiberbow, without a second thought, his told me there was just no comparison. When I got home, I did a little research on my own, and decided that, if I could find a way to pull together the funding, the Inno was the way to go.

The next week, I asked Anthony what kind of money I was really talking about, so he put together a very unofficial quote for everything that I wanted, which was essentially an entirely new set of archery equipment, with the exception of a quiver, as I had grown quite fond of the one I picked up at AIM.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Archery Takes Off, Part 5: Tournament #2: The Bay State Indoor Open

I signed up for the Bay State Indoor Open a few weeks before the tournament. In order to participate, however, I had to be a member of the National Archery Association. Becoming a member of the NAA is not a complicated endeavor, normally. It generally includes filling out a form giving them your name and address, and sending them a check for a stipulated amount of money. Due to some confusion over what amount of money I needed to send the NAA (and a slightly outdated form that caused said confusion), my membership in the NAA would not be confirmed by the time the tournament rolled around. Fortunately, to shoot, membership only needs to be applied for.

The upshot of this NAA membership story is this. After trading phone calls and emails with the NAA over confirming the proper amount to be paid, I was able to get them to start running my one-year membership from the date of payment, instead of from the date of application. A small but significant victory (which required nothing more than asking "Can it start from this date instead of that one?") which means that my NAA membership would still be valid come the 2008 Bay State Indoor Open. I unfortunately will not be in Boston when the tournament date rolls around, but that is beside the point.

And now, the story of the 2007 Bay State Indoor Open, held at Archery USA in Dedham, Massachusetts.

On October 20, 2007, I headed out to Dedham a little on the early side. I was going to be shooting on the 1:00 line of my second archery tournament. When I arrived, the morning line was about halfway through their second round. I set up my equipment, checked in, and watched some of my friends finish up their round.

Then it was time for the afternoon line to set up to shoot. Because the afternoon group was smaller than the morning group, we would all shoot on the same line. I therefore had the choice of the top target row or the bottom. Flipping a mental coin, I pinned my target on the bottom row. The line was divided into groups of four, with a scorer, two scorekeepers (to write down the scores), and a marker, who would put a mark on the target for each hole caused by the arrows.

I discovered one of the most annoying and obnoxious things in archery at this tournament. Each group of four shooters has two clipboards, each with the scoresheets of all four archers. That way, there is one sheet for those running the tournament (and for the State Archery Association of Massachusetts), and one for the archer to keep. Well, when I finished writing the scores for an end, I placed the clipboard on the ground under our targets. Members of a team from a certain range (who shall remain nameless), were not so polite or considerate. Every time they finished with their clipboard, the lot of them would come crashing to the floor. While not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, of course, to this day, months and months later, I cannot fathom why they would make sure to drop the clipboards from such a height, instead of placing them on the ground, which takes approximately one half second longer, and does not cause annoying loud bangs to ring throughout the range at semi-random intervals.

I started slowly, but ended up with a solid performance. Once again, I was able to put all 60 arrows in the scoring rings. For rankings, I finished fifth out of six in the FITA Olympic Senior Male division.

Score: 428, including 3 10s and 12 9s (also known as putting a full quarter of my arrows in the gold rings).

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Archery Takes Off, Part 4: Upgrades and Preparation

I continued my weekly trips to Archery USA throughout my first year of law school and into the summer. As August turned to September, and fall began, I made a big decision, and a few things changed because of it. The decision was to enter the Bay State Indoor Open at Archery USA. The changes were upgrading my equipment, and upping my archery schedule.

Upgrading my equipment went to two items. First, I bought a clicker. The clicker is a draw-check device. Using a clicker properly helps tremendously with consistency, as you know that you are always drawing the arrows back to the same place. The main risk of a clicker is releasing a wayward arrow. Without a clicker, if you draw short, your aim will be slightly off, but most likely points will still be scored. With a clicker, if you draw short, and do not pull the arrow all the way through, the arrow will fly completely off the target, and if you are lucky, you might score one point, but I wouldn't count on it. The reason for this is that the clicker rests on the side of the arrow, and when the arrow is pulled through the clicker, it snaps in (or "clicks") against the riser or a clicker plate, and then you release the string and the arrow flies towards the target. If you do not pull through the clicker, however, it continues to put pressure on the side of the arrow, and will push the arrow in the direction of the pressure. In my case, not pulling through the clicker means the arrow will fly dramatically to the left. It is horribly embarrassing when this happens, but fortunately it does not happen often.

The other upgrade to my equipment was in the arrows themselves. When I got this set of arrows, they had been ordered for someone else, who ended up not needing them. The arrows were long, and had vanes (instead of feathers). Because I did not have a clicker plate for my bow (it having gotten lost at some point along the way), the arrows were too long to use a clicker. Anthony helped me take some measurements of my draw length, and determined that the arrows were actually too long and incorrectly spined for me. To fix the problem, I got my set of arrows cut to the proper length, and refletched with feathers. Things were starting to come into place.

As for my schedule, I upped it from once-a-week Saturday trips to the range to double-weekend trips. I also started running mock-tournaments, keeping score for a double-round each day. I cleared 200/400 (Archer level), and 210/420 (average score of 7 points per arrow). I was getting hints and tips, as well as some unofficial-official timekeeping, making my practice sessions as close to actual tournament conditions as I could. I had my final prep sessions the weekend of October 13 and 14. I was as ready as I would ever be for my second tournament.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Archery Takes Off, Part 3: Cross-Range Shots

At the end of (almost) every party at Archery USA, one of the good archers who happen to be at the range come out to "rescue" the kids in the party. After three ends of shooting at balloons for prizes of cash and candy, many of the young partygoers are left with nothing to show for their efforts. Out comes the hero of the day. Often Anthony, one of his top students, or the employee who is running the party, the hero stands on lane 1 on the far left side of the range, and attempts to shoot the balloon on lane 20. If successful, the hero has won every participant in the party, at least those who did not earn a prize on their own, a candy bar.

As I became well known at the range, I was sometimes given the opportunity to be that hero, and take the cross-range shot at a balloon (reminiscent of my pumpkin-shooting days in San Diego). The thing about cross-range shots, though, is they really are a feast-or-famine kind of situation. To elaborate, the first time I was given the chance, I was able to pop the balloon on the first attempt, earning the instant adoration and gratitude of about a dozen 6-to-12 year olds (the age range for a lot of these parties, as I do not recall the age of the kids in that first party). That first attempt would qualify as "feast." My second attempt, a few weeks later, qualified as "famine." My first shot missed. And so did the second. And the third. It took me seven attempts to pop the balloon, quite an embarrassing situation.

Since those early attempts, I have gone up and down like a yo-yo with my cross range attempts. Sometimes I have been able to get that satisfying pop on my first attempt. Even within three attempts is more than acceptable. And sometimes it takes four or five or six shots. When this happens, you can feel the tension in the room, and it is always a huge relief to actually pop that balloon.

Sometimes the shots have to go through the ladder that is kept behind the post between lanes 10 and 11 in the middle of the range. Sometimes between the ladder and the post. On a few occasions, two archers have lined up on opposite sides of the range, and shot crisscrossing arrows from lanes 1 and 20 into balloons on lanes 20 and 1, respectively.

The cross-range shot is one of the most nerve wracking and most satisfying experiences I have had as an archer. For one thing, it is always fun to shoot at something other than a target (NOTE: I am not at all interested in bowhunting, bowfishing, or shooting at people; by "other than a target," I mean things like balloons, pumpkins, the occasional dollar bill, and the like). For another, it is great to win prizes for kids. The downside is the pressure of every eye in the range being on you, and missing the balloon is not just a possibility, it is a fact of life thanks to the extra distance required to shoot along the hypotenuse of the right triangle that is the cross-range shot.

I keep aiming for it, though. What can I say? It is a great challenge to take on.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Archery Takes Off, Part 2: Becoming a Known Quantity

After showing up and shooting at Archery USA week after week, I started to be known by Anthony and his employees. I always showed up at roughly the same time on Saturdays, shot for an hour and a half, spent some time talking with the people there, and then being on my way back to Boston. I got a new bowstring, as the one that came with my bow was susceptible to stretching out while I was shooting, and occasionally picked up little things like replacement nocks for my arrows.

Going to Archery USA repeatedly, it was no easy task to stay anonymous. Not that I was trying to. The people there were nice and friendly, offering tips on my form when the need arose. And they trusted me. I started to help birthday parties with their opening end, started to answer some questions when the range's employees were busy, and sometimes even got to share in the tips the parties gave the actual range employees. Times were pretty good for me at the range, and archery really became my refuge from classes and readings and homework. And on top of that, I was getting better, which is always a plus.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Archery Takes Off, Part 1: Arriving at Archery USA

Before I left San Diego for Boston, I asked Lloyd about archery ranges in and around Boston that I could shoot at once I arrived. Having just bought a new bow, I was not about to give up the sport. Lloyd gave me a couple of names of range owners that I could email. One of them, Anthony Bellettini, owns and operates Archery USA in Dedham, Massachusetts. After trading emails with Anthony and another range owner, looking at maps of the Boston area, and checking out public transportation options, it became clear that Archery USA was not just the best option, but the only option for me to continue pursuing archery.

On October 7, 2006, I took my new bow out to Dedham and walked into Archery USA. Introducing myself to Anthony as having spoken by email. I asked Anthony if he could set my arrow rest on the new riser, and he agreed to do it. He was even nice enough to not charge me for the setup. I started firing arrows into the targets 18 meters away, and at the end of the day, made my way back to Boston.

The next Saturday, I made a return trip to Dedham. And the week after that, and the week after that. Over and over again, week after week, I put in appearances at the range. With the tips and advice I was getting, as well as finally having regular practice that was more than just social, I was finally starting to develop as an archer. And I had a sanity-maintaining distraction from the experience that is the first year of law school.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Little History, Part 10: On the Road to Replacing the Riser

I drove across the country with my bow on the deck above the back seat of my car. As I crossed the Texas panhandle, I saw a range and all I could think of was how much I would have liked to stop. On I drove, however, across I-40 before turning north up the eastern seaboard. On a stop for lunch in Maryland, I called Lloyd to get the number of Eric Hall at Archery International Marketing (AIM). AIM was the main importer of Samick products in the U.S., and before leaving San Diego, a strange sound had started coming from my bow. Not sure what the problem was, I decided to stop at AIM, which was located in Willimantic, CT, to see if I could get the problem solved. I spoke to Eric on the phone while at that stop in Maryland. I told him I would be in the Willimantic area the next day, and was hoping that I could speak to him. He agreed, and on I went up the coast.

The next day, after getting lost between Meriden (where my friend and I had stopped for the night) and Willimantic, I finally found my way to AIM. Eric was not there, however, apparently having forgotten a prior commitment when I spoke to him the day before. Not willing to leave my bow at that point, I figured I would still take the opportunity to buy a quiver, which I needed. I was taken back into the stacks, picked out a quiver, and after I inquired as to the cost, was told that I could take it because Eric had missed our meeting. I thanked them and set back out on the road to Rhode Island.

A few weeks later, I drove back down to Willimantic from Boston in order to find out what the problem was with my bow. Leaving the riser and limbs behind, I returned Boston to await the news from AIM. When it finally came, the determination was that there was a problem in the riser. AIM was sending me back my limbs, with a new Samick Mizar riser, and a new arrow rest (as my old one was stuck on the problem riser). When the package arrived, I had a full set of equipment, all in good working order. I could finally start the next stage of my archery progression.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Little History, Part 9: Taking the Plunge

After the L.A. Indoor, the next big archery-related event for me was a trip with some friends to Las Vegas. After parlaying a $10 bet in roulette into a nice little bankroll, I had about $300 in profits after covering my costs for the trip. What does this have to do with archery, you ask? Well, nothing. Nothing, that is, until I found a decent entry level archery set for $300. Sounded like a good graduation gift to get for myself, especially having decided that I was going to keep on pursuing this archery thing for a long time to come.

So I put in my order, and close to the end of spring quarter, a package showed up at my apartment containing a Samick Mizar riser, Samick Agulla limbs, and a bowstring. I then bought a set of arrows, a bowstand, carrying case, finger tab, arm guard, arrow rest, plunger, sight, and stabilizer. Around this time, Lloyd had secured for Elisa a used riser through one of his private students. So at the end of spring quarter, and on throughout the summer, the two of us were shooting our own bows on the range every Wednesday. We even considered entering the Cal State Games, but the extra distance (we were used to 20-40 yards, not 70-90 meters) led us to not enter the competition.

And then my time in San Diego came to a close, and I packed my bow, along with the rest of my life, into my car and hit the road.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Little History, Part 8: Tournament #1: The L.A. Indoor

As the calendar turned from 2005 to 2006, Lloyd told us about an upcoming tournament that we should consider entering. The 2006 Los Angeles City Indoor Archery Championship would be held on Saturday, March 4, 2006, at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, put on by one of Lloyd's other student groups, the UCLA Archery Club. Elisa and I worked constantly, including learning to really use sights and running our first serious scoring rounds, in preparation for the tournament. Lloyd refletched a set of arrows for each of us, and we were ready to head up to Los Angeles with a pair of German study abroad students who had joined the class that quarter.

The day before the tournament, I was biking from my apartment to campus when I got a call from Lloyd that our arrows were ready, and asking me to come pick them up. Elisa and I had already packed our bows and other equipment for the trip up the coast, but the arrows had taken a few extra days. So I met Lloyd at the range, put a quiver with two sets of arrows into my backpack, and rode the rest of the way into campus. Then I spent the next few hours walking around campus with a bunch of arrows sticking out of my backpack. Needless to say, I got a lot of strange looks, not to mention a bunch of questions from my friends. Eventually, I got Elisa on the phone (she had been in class), and she took the arrows and put them in her car until Saturday.

Saturday morning I got up bright and early. The Germans met me at my apartment, and we drove up to Elisa's house in north county, San Diego. The four of us then hit the road for UCLA. Arriving at Pauley Pavilion, we checked in, put our bows together, and marveled at our first archery competition. Across the long axis of the basketball court, a line of target butts had been set up with two 40 cm target faces each. Behind the line was a curtain, meant to protect the seats behind from wayward arrows. Elisa and I had been placed, with a few UCLA club archers, on the far side of the line.

Poor Elisa. In the early going, she could not seem to catch a break. On the first practice arrow of the day, a loud bang echoed throughout the gym. The curtain had not quite been long enough to reach all of the targets, and Elisa had missed the target butt and slammed her arrow into the wall. From that point on, the arrow, which also had the knock blown off and the point sheared, was known as the "dogleg arrow" for the distinct bend that it displayed about two thirds of the way up the shaft. It was later used as a bowstand, but its shooting days were over. Once the scoring ends started, things did not get any better, as Elisa's arrow rest fell off her bow on the first competition shot. Declaring an equipment failure, Lloyd secured her a working rest, she was able to make up the shot, and things started to go relatively smoothly after that.

Archery idioms learned at the tournament:

  • Porno shot: Putting all three arrows in the center of the target (XXX).
  • German virgin: Putting all three arrows in the nine ring ("Nein, nein, nein").

    As for me, my goal had been to put all 60 arrows in the 10 scoring rings of the target. I came close to missing an arrow in the late going, but in the end I accomplished my goal. I finished 12 out of 16 in the NAA/FITA Recurve College Men's division, good enough to be the lead scorer on the newly founded (and extremely unofficial) UCSD Archery Team.

    When everything was said and done, we got back in the car and drove back down to San Diego. With as early as I had gotten up that morning, coupled with how late I ended up staying up with some friends, my first archery tournament ended up being part of about a 22 hour day. Not a bad way to spend all that time, if I do say so myself.

    Score: 194 + 175 = 369.
  • Monday, April 7, 2008

    A Little History, Part 7: Disaster Avoidance

    Not everything in the archery class was all fun and games, however. After a while, there were effectively two archery classes. On one side of the range was the new group of curious newcomers who populated the archery class every quarter. On the other side, separated by a line of hay bales, was the group of returning archers, namely me and Elisa. The newcomers' line was being run by the assistant coach, while the advanced group was on our own time. Because of the separation by the hay bales, the lines were on slightly different time schedules, so we were sometimes shooting while they were retrieving, and vice-versa.

    At one point, I was at full draw, ready to shoot, when I noticed something was not quite right. Something was at my target that was not supposed to be there. What had happened was while we were shooting on our side of the range, the beginners were retrieving their arrows. One little girl, about 10 or 12 years old, had walked behind the dividing line of hay bales and right up to the one I was shooting at, just as I was drawing back my arrow. Fortunately for everyone, she had gotten there just in time for me to let down. Had she gotten there about a second later, I would have already fired, and she would have had the daylights scared out of here by an arrow flying near her head. Had she gotten there about half a second later, however, she might have effected my aim, and I do not like to think what might have happened then. Because she got there when she did, I was able to let the pressure off my bow and not fire the arrow.

    In the aftermath of the near miss, the little girl got a hard talking to and a stern warning. The assistant coach was told she needs to pay a lot closer attention to make sure that kind of thing did not happen. As for me, I know that if the near miss had turned into a disaster, my little archery experiment, as well as my life as I knew it, would have come to an abrupt end. As it turns out, I just have a horror story to tell, and nothing worse than that.

    Sunday, April 6, 2008

    A Little History, Part 6: The Great Pumpkin Shoot

    Occasionally, we would have the opportunity to have special archery competitions. Sometimes we would shoot at balloons, sometimes playing cards, and sometimes Elisa or I would put up a dollar bill and shoot at it. On October 26, 2005, the last archery class before Halloween, we had a special treat. We had the chance to shoot at pumpkins. A few archers per pumpkin, we had the chance to puncture the orange fruit with our arrows. And who was the first in our group? That's right. I had the first successful shot.

    After a while, we decided to see how much damage we could do to the pumpkin, and to that end we decided to leave our successful hits in the pumpkin, only collecting our missed arrows and trying again. Needless to say, we did quite a bit of damage. And had a damn good time doing it.

    Saturday, April 5, 2008

    A Little History, Part 5: Moving the Range

    After a summer in Washington and away from archery, I came back to San Diego in the fall of 2005 for my senior year at UCSD. While I was away, they had moved us off of our out-of-the-way, marked, protected range, and onto a new space that was unmarked and open to a cross breeze. I found out later that they had paved the old range and turned it into a parking lot, but for the moment all I knew was that we had been moved to a new setting. It was unfortunate, but we still had a range. Elisa and I were still around, and maybe one other person from the spring quarter, but everyone else had given it up. Archery attrition at UCSD had begun, and the quarter began the way spring had ended: Wednesday afternoons shooting at hay bales and targets.

    One quick story from the quarter (that doesn't rate its own post). I found one of my favorite trinkets in a hay bale on the range. After we had finished an end of arrows, we walked up to the hay bales to collect them. One of my arrows didn't want to come out, however. After finally pulling it out, I noticed that the arrow was jammed up inside an old arrowhead that had broken off in the hay bale. I pulled the head off of the shaft, and put it in my pocket, thinking that it would be a cool little souvenir to have. I promptly forgot about it until that night. Playing poker with some friends, I was about even when I noticed something odd was in my pocket. Remembering the arrowhead, I pulled it out and started using it as a card protector, making sure that my cards were not accidentally mucked if I wasn't paying attention. The very next hand, I nearly busted a pretty good poker player when I ended up with four 10s. I still like to have the arrowhead with me when I am playing poker, although now I just leave it in my pocket unless and until I find an opportune moment to pull it out and tell the story.