Summer Arrows

summer arrows

Hurricane Arthur is passing offshore of us and it is pouring, pouring, pouring. I am reminiscing of how sweet last weekend was, when I was nestled amongst the gardens, feeling the sun, in my world, letting go of arrow after arrow.

On days like those, archery feels like meditation. I think it is the intense, and single focus on target and or shot sequence, that allows the mind to push everything else aside. I feel centered, and with every arrow, I’m letting go.

There aren’t that many things that I do that allow me that “in the zone” sort of experience. Does archery ever make you feel that way? Let me know, leave me a comment if it does.

 

Focus, Focus, Focus…

This past weekend’s shoot was at Central Maine Archery. I like shooting at their range as it is large, well set up and the owners Tom and Jess Hartford run a good shop.

P1020549

This shoot was a little different for me because my inlaws, Laurel my wife and my kids were coming to watch. I wondered if this would affect my shooting knowing I had an audience as I usually go on my own, I was very appreciative of them taking time out of their lives to come out and support me so I figured it’d be what it would be.

My in laws George and Greta showed up first and between ends I explained what was going on, practice ends, and next would be the first scoring end.

The  first scoring end started and it was on like Donkey Kong (always wanted to say that).  I scored fine on the first end then I heard the door open and someone else coming in, some whispered voices and I could hear a camera clicking away and I figured it had to be Laurel and the kids, and this my dear friends is the whole point of this little tale, I let my focus wander.

I’ve been learning (the hard way) that when your focus is not all about the X twenty yards away that it just doesn’t go as well. This little event providing ample proof. My five arrows for that end were X, 4, 2,2,2 for a 15 out of a possible 25 per end.

P1020530

I’m the recurve guy.

I rallied in the right direction with a 20 on my next end then shot another 15 – 4,4,3,2,2, as my son would say “OMG!”

After this I settled myself focused on shot  sequence, shut the world out and sure enough my scores went up with all my ends in the 20 + range, on the 8th end I shot a  23 with 3 X’s – X, X, X, 4, 4. Perhaps this made me feel confident as I lost my focus on the following end with a dissapointing 17.

Scoring

Scoring

Overall this wasn’t my best shooting but it did provide a valuable lesson. Focus is  just as important as any of the other components of your shot. I spend a fair amount of time practicing these components but other than to put myself in competitive situations I have spent little time practicing focus, can’t say I even know how to practice it but it is on my list.

Let me know if you have found ways to improve your focus on the range.

Steve Dunsmoor – Lakeside Archery

I got to the Sunday shoot at Lakeside Archery in Yarmouth, Maine early. It was snowing and nobody else had arrived yet, although it looked like someone had already been up and plowed the long driveway to the range.

I stepped out and walked into the range, there was Steve Dunsmoor, the owner of Lakeside archery numbering scorecards with lane assignments. The range was neat, clean and organized, the practice targets were up and everything was ready for the day’s competition.

Steve Dunsmoor owner of Lakeside Archery, scorecards in hand and ready for the upcoming shoot.

Steve Dunsmoor owner of Lakeside Archery, scorecards in hand and ready for the upcoming shoot.

Steve is a pretty dedicated guy and provides Maine archers not only his services as a level 4 coach and proshop owner but also a heck of an archery facility. With a 16 lane indoor range, an outdoor range out to 80 yards, and a full fledged 3D and  field course. There isn’t another facility like his in the state, very likely there aren’t too many in New England.

Having great facilities is not the end though, Steve also runs a very active JOAD program, league nights, hunting safety courses, is a Maine tagging station and hosts a variety of archery competitions at his facility.

Did I mention how helpful Steve can be??

Steve always seems to have Allen wrenches in his pocket to help somebody out with, or a suggestion, kindly put, often in the form of an example or a small story that illustrates the point and leaves you a better archer. I for one have benefited from many of his golden nuggets.

You can find Steve and Lakeside Archery at:

55 Cumberland Road, North Yarmouth, in Maine.  Phone:(207) 829-6213

Some of the upcoming events at Lakeside Archery are:

  • 2013 3rd Annual Lakeside Archery Amateur Classic  –  (3rd Leg of MAA Triple Crown Event)  January 27, 2013  9:00AM

  • 2013 2nd Annual Lakeside Archery Traditional Classic. March 17, 2013 9:00AM – All you trad guys and gals this is your chance to compete!

I’ll be at the Traditional Classic, I hope to see you there!

A tale of winter archery

When it comes to archery, I can relate to the post office motto:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

 The version I go by is a little different:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, stays this archer from the completion of his practice rounds”

So, I practice at night, day, early morning, winter, summer, inside, outside and while the inches pile up.

P1020425

The comical part of this to me is that I’m currently practicing for “indoor archery competition” outdoors…

Winter archery both fills my need to be outside and satiates my, dare I say, addiction to this sport.

There are pluses to being out with ol’ man winter:

It’s beautiful out. It is great to be out in the world hearing the sounds and seeing the sights, whether they be animal, bird life or the snowflakes accumulating on the tip of your stabilizer.

How many times in our lives will we get to experience this while letting go of arrows?

I get that this has the potential to be a cold and uncomfortable experience, but by stacking the cards in your favor and dressing for the event, one can be comfortable and happy outside, so, dig out that long underwear and pile on the layers, use a neck buff or scarf, insulated boots and good socks and turn a potentially miserable experience into an enjoyable one.

Snowy arrows

Snowy arrows

One of the minuses of shooting outside in winter for an archer is dealing with your hands.

Whatever you have in contact with the string whether it is a tab or an archery glove will have an effect on arrow flight, so wearing nice, warm, insulated bulky gloves is not really an option if you are trying to pile them into the bullseye.

I compromise by using thinner gloves and realize that I will be out there until my hands can’t take it and I need to go inside. They are the weak link in this winter endeavor.

I use fleece gloves which aren’t as good as their insulated companions but good enough to get practice time in. For my string hand, I took an old beat up glove and cut off the middle three fingers. Then I wear a 3 finger leather Damascus archery glove beneath. This does the trick for me.

100_2638

My winter solution to archery gloves

I’m on a hiatus from using a tab so I haven’t tried using one over gloves, if you have, please leave me a comment with how you fared.

If I am shooting a compound bow and a release I use good fitted fleece gloves (LL Bean fleece glove a size small) which work fine with the release I use.

P1020433

One last benefit for those of you that live in the cold climes. When it is cold, dreary and miserable out, it’s easy to make the choice of staying indoors. I don’t know about you but this sometimes leads me to cabin fever. It leaves me restless and makes me lethargic. Getting out and pounding arrows into a target or stump or whatever you’re into is invigorating and will put some pep in your step!

It breaks up that winter monotony and gets your blood pumping, it also makes the coming indoors that much sweeter.

Why not give it a try this winter?  Bundle up, get out of the house and watch your arrows arc through the snowflakes, quietly making their way through the snowy stillness.

P1020440

Colorado and Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut

I’m just back from Colorado Springs where we visited family and attended my cousin’s wedding, although by this writing she and her hubby are somewhere in Mexico, sipping cold drinks and enjoying newlywed bliss.

While there we spent time exploring, hiking, catching up with family and getting some mundane tasks done that I never find time to do in my regular working life, like buy shoes, etc.

The family at Helen Hunt falls

Of course, I took my bow along. You can see a picture of my custom bow case below.

Custom bow case

I was glad to see everything in the “custom case” traveled fine and after reassembling the bow and getting my kit in order I looked around for an archery range. What comes up on the web right away is Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut, so I grabbed my bow and went.

Bill Pellegrino’s is on the east side of Colorado Springs, just east of Powers and Platte. I walked in and was impressed right off, the shop is clean, well stocked with bows and archery accessories as well as having a knowledgeable staff and a service pro shop where they were busy tuning bows for customers. I paid for range time which is a good deal at $ 7.00 for all day shooting. Your 7.00 bucks includes a paper target, your choice of style. I picked an NFAA indoor blue face target and walked out to the range.

The range is large with 29 lanes, quality Block brand target butts, floor quivers and plenty of bow racks, 10 yard, 18 meter and 20 yard lines are clearly marked. I could also see 3-D animal targets on the side of the range, so I imagine they have indoor 3-D shoots in the off seasons.

Well appointed 29 lane range

There is a separate section on the opposite side of the range where there are 4 close-range target butts. The staff is constantly using this area to paper tune bows, measure draw weights and help clients.  I also spied a chronometer set up in that area.

I was allowed to use this space (during a break in the action) to  blind bale practice, as I’ve been working on smoothing out my release and follow through.

A customer paper tunes his bow.

They also have a JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) program on Saturday mornings 8-10:00 for $10.00 per session. Which by the way is a good deal for JOAD.

A young lad gets set up with a new bow, dad is in the background looking on.

Staff helps a client fine-tune his sight.

The shop appears to primarily be a compound bow shop. They absolutely have recurves and other types of bows and accessories for them but their bread and butter seems to be the modern compound bow, which makes sense given the popularity of compounds for target and hunting, which is huge in this area.

Overall my impressions were very good, this is a clean, well organized shop, with a great facility, reasonable prices and knowledgeable staff. They are definitely worth checking out if you either live or find yourself in the Colorado Springs area looking for a good shop.

Travelin’

I am in Rhode Island for schoolwork related to my job, I thought that I’d bring my compound bow along, something to do in the evenings after class at the local ranges. I was however worried about walking up the hotel’s front desk for check in with a black lethal looking compound bow and a quiver full of arrows and thought that having a case or bowbag would be a good idea. I looked around a bit to see what prices where but with my archery budget sorta maxed out I wasn’t hopeful. Then Laurel suggested why not make your own. In the past I’d made any number of different types of bags and other stuff usually related to boats and sailing.

Off to Joann Fabrics in Topsham for cloth, webbing, foam and velcro. The ladies there spotted me as the lost looking guy right away and helped me out. They were very knowledgeable and gave me a lot of suggestions on making the bag that I hadn’t considered.

This is Alistair and I sewing it up. It looks like that short stint in sailmaking finally paid off. Here’s a picture of the bag itself.

I’m staying just at the border of Mass and Rhode Island in a town called Westport, since I’ve been here I’ve had a chance to shoot at a couple of ranges. The first is Buckley Family Archery. This is a small start up family shop with 10 and 20 yard lanes, they are in the 2nd floor of an old mill in Fall River, Mass at 126 Shove St. Tel. 774.627.4091

Brian showed me around, set me up to shoot, and told me a bit about his business. He has an extensive JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) program and lots of support from parents and families involved in archery. He also setup his chronograph and let me shoot through it to see what my bow was shooting for arrow speed.

Brian setting up his chronograph for me to shoot through.

The chronograph recorded 263 feet per second, that is with a 70 lb Bowtech SWAT that has been powered down to 50 lbs and a 364 grain arrow. It was really nice of him to do that, he didn’t charge me for it, although I’d gladly would have paid him, he just did it as we chatted about his range and plans, great guy.

Yesterday I went to Trader Jan’s Archery Pro-Shop, they have a full pro-shop plus 20 to 40 yard lanes for shooting plus a 3D archery shooting range. They are located at 288 Plymouth Ave in Fall River, Mass. Tel. 774.627.7743

40 yard shooting lane

Pro Shop

I’d spent some time shooting on the 20 yard lanes and I went to switch to the 40 yard lanes, I chatted with another archer who was shooting there, then picked up my bow, set up on the line and dry fired it! Dry firing a bow is to shoot a bow without an arrow. This is the biggest no-no in archery, as you can damage a bow very badly, the bow needs the resistance of the arrow to be ok.

I think I was distracted, who knows.. The string jumped the cams on the bow and broke some of the serving (tight wrapping around the bowstring) on the upper part of the string, it also distorted the peep sight, (small plastic circle on the string that helps you aim). Don and Jill at the shop were great, they put it in the bowpress right away and checked it out and told me they could have it for me the next day.

I went straight from school the next day and Jill had done a beautiful job, she also put on a new peep for me, she is obviously very skilled. Don seemed to be the front of the house and I watched him helping kids and new archers, giving them tips and setting them up, nice guy. He also showed me his Bowtech Destroyer with custom strings from Jill which he is selling, so if you need a bow…

Jill and Don

I spent an hour shooting at the 35 yard line, happy that I lucked out and the damage wasn’t great and that I’d been fortunate to be in good hands.

Beginnings

My journey into archery starts with my father who as a young man was deeply involved in archery and bowhunting, and although I was not yet around during that part of his life. These things have a way of emerging within us decades later and for no apparent reason, one of life’s neat little tricks.

Among some of the bows that my father used were a longbow, a Hoyt recurve, a Drake recurve and a shorter 50 lb “Tox” recurve hunting bow.

The 1st picture shows dad with his 45 lb recurve Drake bow, and a nice buck in New Jersey, circa 1958. You can tell he is right proud! The 2nd shows dad him with his longbow and a marmot. He also ventured into bowfishing.

The fish are carp which are still one of the big gamefish for folks who are into bowfishing. The bow is his hunting Tox, notice the bowfishing attachment at the front of the bow. You can also see the shortness of the Tox in this picture, meant for navigating through the woods and brush in search of quarry.

I got interested in archery just a scant few months ago, when it struck me how archery could fit so well in our lives. We could do it together as a family or as a solo feed the soul sport, just for relaxation in the backyard or to beat the winter blah’s at the local archery range, plus with it’s long history it is just plain cool to be counted as part of the archery brotherhood, so guess what I got for Christmas? – I’ll leave that for my next entry!