Monday, September 23, 2019

2019: The Year in Review

I figured my indoor season might suffer this year when I made the choice to switch bows. I decided it was time for me to shoot a cable-stop bow again and figured the indoor season would give me plenty of time to get used to it and figure out if it was a good choice.
  I struggled a little bit in the beginning but not with the things I normally struggled with indoors. It took me a while to get used to the way the bow aimed with a “softer” wall. I also quickly realized that cable-stop bows don’t show any mercy when you fail to make an aggressive shot. You will pay the price quickly, and over the last few years, I believe I might have gotten a little lazy while shooting higher let-off, limb-stop bows.
  I headed to Nimrod for the annual New Year’s Day shoot and was able to shoot my average. I got to shoot between Jason Kennedy and Barry Gates, and we had a great time. I won my first match or two, then got eliminated by Joe Santos after shooting 10 xs out of the 12 arrows. That was easy to take. I couldn’t have shot much better.
 In the few weeks after that event, I shot the Ti Yogi and Guan Ho Ha annual tournaments. I didn’t shoot a great score at either tournament, but I felt like I executed well. Unfortunately, I was still battling the hand tension that has kept me from achieving things that I knew I could achieve without it.
  Heading into Lancaster, I knew my scores weren’t at the top of the class, but I figured I would make the elimination round if I did my thing and had a decent round. I just wasn’t clicking on all cylinders yet, and my high scores weren’t close to what they had been in the past. 
  When the buzzer sounded to begin shooting at Lancaster, I felt a little nervous. Levi Morgan was on the same butt, which made it interesting. I got out of the gate like a horse headed for the checkered flag; I couldn’t miss. After the first five ends had passed, I had only missed one 11. I was shooting relaxed shots, and they were all finding the center of the target. After a few distractions gathered my mind’s attention, the easy, relaxed shot execution and aiming went out the door. I began to fight and claw to hang on until the end. Although it seemed like I was making good shots, the arrows weren’t finding their way to the center. 
  Luckily, I made it to the elimination matches, and I felt good about my chances. During my warmups, I couldn’t miss. Every arrow found its way into the middle of the target. In the back of my mind, I figured this was the year, I would make it to the final four and appear on the live-feed in the shootoff. Well, that all went out the window after I shot my 12 arrows in my match. I never made a bad shot, but I couldn’t get one to land in the 11-ring. I walked away from the tournament wondering how I could prevent that from happening in the future. I knew that much of it was linked to tension in my release hand. It wasn’t drastic, but it was just enough to affect where the arrows were landing. I knew I had improved a lot from the battles with the same problem in the past.

                                 The NFAA Mid-Atlantic Sectionals
  Going into the sectionals, I felt good about my shooting. Things had finally started clicking, and I was aiming and executing well. I knew if I stayed relaxed and focused on the process, I would put up a decent number. I shot well and ended up shooting 300 56xs the first round and 300 57xs the second round, a great overall run for BHFS, 600 113xs and a tie for first, losing the inside/out x tiebreaker. My confidence came back after that tournament, and I went on to shoot two 450s over the last half of my indoor winter league  

                               Winter Can-Am Classic

  Since I never have a bow set up for 3D in the winter, I didn’t have much interest in attending this tournament, and I probably won’t attend next year due to that reason. It’s not fun if you’re not running a rig that you don’t think gives you a chance to win. I showed up with my hunting bow. The last thing I had done with it besides getting marks in my driveway for this shoot was to put an arrow through a deer in Illinois.
  The night before heading to the tournament, I borrowed a Tru-Ball Execute release from Jeff Frasier after shooting it in his shop. Although I’ve always been able to shoot a caliper, I haven’t shot one much since defeating target panic in the early '90s. I shot it that night at my indoor league and ended the night with a 300 56x round… and I barely had to work to shoot that well. I knew with a little practice I could really dial it up a notch.
  Then and there, I decided to use it the next day. I got new marks at the bale and gave it a whirl. Although the draw was a little off, the release felt great – no hand tension and easy to execute. When all was said and done, I made the elimination matches but ran into some bad luck, which led to me being eliminated. I felt confident with the change and decided to use the caliper for a few weeks to see what would happen.

                                    The Beast of the East

  After using the release for a few weeks in my league and performing well with it, I decided to use it at the Beast of the East Tournament at Turning Stone. The tournament always gives a laid-back atmosphere, which makes it a lot of fun.
  After the tournament started, I began getting into a groove. I was feeling it, and it felt good. My shots had never broken so crisply, and the arrows were pounding the center out of the Vegas target. There are very few times when us Joes can say we are truly in the “Zone,” but I can say that I was in the zone that day. When all of the cards had been handed in, I learned that I had shot the most Xs of any archer who participated, and there were some good pros in attendance. Unfortunately, I shot three 9s, which kept me from being on the podium. My X count was good enough to land me in first if the tournament had used Lancaster scoring. With the New York State NFAA Championship coming the next week, I knew that I would have a good chance at taking home a win.


                      The New York NFAA State Championship

  This tournament went well for me. I never got into a groove, but my newfound ability to shoot a relaxed shot with the caliper kept me from shooting any bad shots. Since my aiming pattern was slightly larger than normal, I had to fight to keep the arrows in the 10-ring. When everything was done, I ended with a 447 and took home the state title in BHFS. I knew that all my work during the indoor season had paid off, and I saw the results on the scoreboard. I was ready for the outdoor 3D season.

                                    3D Season Starts

  I found myself on the 3D range in April without any practice. The winter extended into the spring, and the snow wouldn’t leave to allow me to get outside to practice. I showed up at the Southern Dutchess IBO qualifier and thought I would do alright. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Although, I got through the first eight targets in good shape, the wheels quickly fell off the bus. I couldn’t hold the bow steady, and my sight picture wasn’t not pleasant. Instantly, I realized I needed to do something, and I needed to do it before the IBO Massachusetts State Championship being held the next weekend.
  I made quick work of the problem and went back to “old reliable,” a bow I knew I could shoot well without any time behind it. I threw the rest and sight on it and headed to Massachusetts. I struggled a little bit with getting my shot to fire, but I aimed well and felt good that the arrow hit behind the pin on every shot. When I got done, I didn’t think I could’ve shot any better. I came away with a W and knew I had made the right choice about the bow. 


  After the Massachusetts shoot, I shot the Rhode Island and New York state shoots the same weekend. It was a lot of traveling. I shot well at both shoots and knew there was no possible way I could’ve shot any better in Rhode Island. Sometimes you just get beat, and that shoot is one of them. I shot to the best of my ability and ended way up. I got beat by two points. 

  I had better luck at the New York shoot, winning it handily. I executed all good shots that day but the high let-off on my bow was starting to give me fits. While I could hold it well, I couldn’t get the release to fire. With the first leg of the National Tripe Crown approaching, I knew I had to change my strings. The serving on my string was beginning unravel, and it wasn’t in a good place. It was in the groove of the top cam, so I knew there wasn’t much life left in it. I decided to give it one more week and shoot it at the Maine state shoot. Once again, it held up and I did my part. The bow shoots, and that is the bottom line.  At the same time, I knew the string had seen enough. I just couldn’t trust it any longer, so I decided to change it. After making the change, I couldn’t get the bow back in spec. I struggled with the feel of it but never got comfortable. When I encountered this issue, I lost a lot of the confidence that I had been building since the indoor season. Anyone who has played this game long enough knows that almost everything involving success revolves around confidence.

                        First Leg of the National Triple Crown

  I didn’t want to attend this shoot because I couldn’t get the bow back to where it needed to be. When my dad told me he wanted to go, I decided to tag along. Although I knew my chances of doing well were minimal at best, I also knew that I might pull a rabbit out of the hat. I decided to head to West Virginia with my hunting bow, which had a drop-away rest on it. The only thing I changed was the sight. I too the pins off and put a moveable on. With two days behind it, I didn’t expect much. 
  I got off to a decent start. I was teetering on getting into trouble, but after I smoked a long, downhill coyote, I thought I would be alright. I never got into a groove on my first 20 and ended up in a hole that was too deep to crawl out of. Not being used to the bow, I couldn’t explain why a few arrows hit where they did. It was frustrating.
  Going into the second 20, I just wanted to stay afloat and se if I could come off the range without losing anymore points. The rest of the way, I shot one 8 and ended up on the plus side. I felt good about my recovery but disappointed about the overall score. My shooting was definitely better than the score. On the way home, I thought about a lot of things and realized that I needed to do something quickly. I had a few bows I wanted to trade, so I began fishing around online to see if I could find someone with whom I could make a deal. It didn’t take long. I traded one of my bows for a PSE Evoke 35. 

  It got to be late one week, and I didn’t have time to set it up before heading to the Vermont state shoot. I used the one that I had shot earlier in the year. I actually shot a great round for the course, but a guy from Canada who left, came back and went out with his buddies handed in a score that totally humiliated any other shooter who shot the course for the weekend. It seemed quite unbelievable and searching around the internet afterward, it seemed even more unbelievable when some past results were pointed out to me. A bunch of us laughed it off and realized that I had a pretty good day, a better day than everyone there -- except Mr. Canada. 
  The next weekend, I broke out the PSE Evoke 35. It definitely had a different feel to it, and I knew I would have to get used to it. I decided to shoot the New Hampshire state shoot without a lens. I had some issues with glare due to the verifier I used to clear the pin. Besides that, the bow shot great. I was pleased with the result and the shooting. I figured this bow would probably work well for me for the rest of the year. 
                               The Summer Progresses
  As the weeks started flying by, I put all of my time into the Evoke. I could never get the bow to group like I wanted it to group, but it seemed to shoot better on 3D targets. I can’t explain the reason behind this. I might have been trying too hard or the arrows might be a tad to weak for my setup. I’ll have to look into the reasons before next season. That will be the bow I will shoot next year. When I shoot bows for a few years, I seem to get used to them and what I can get away with.  I’m still in that phase with this bow. I know I can’t get away with any type of weak shot. This bow just won’t have any of that. 
                                      Finishing the Year

  Since my dad wanted to go to the third leg of the IBO National Triple Crown, I decided to tag along. I felt confident going into the shoot, and my confidence carried me through the first 10 targets of the tournament. I shot a solid round and felt good about it. Halfway through my next 10 targets, I was in good shape. Then, the wheels fell off the bus. In a three-target span, I dropped 10 points and held on for my life. After finishing the first 20 targets, I was in decent shape but knew I would have to make up some ground.
  When the dust had cleared, I did everything I could to pull off a win. I had a winning performance but had to settle for a runner-up finish. I shot the most 11s of anyone on the range, getting over half of them. My bow aimed well, and I executed my shots better than I had all year.

  A few weeks after that tournament, I competed in the New England IBO Championship and was lucky enough to come out on top. It was a difficult range and had a little bit of everything to test a 3D archer’s skills. I got off the range and felt good about the result, gathering another win at the New England Championship.

  A few days after that shoot, I hurt my shoulder and had to go see an orthopedic surgeon. I was physically unable to shoot my bow. Thinking I was going to need surgery again, I prepared for the worst. The doctor told me that I should heal okay, but it would take a while. It was suggested that I stay away from my bow for as long as possible to give the shoulder time to heal. I passed on shooting the NY State Series Championship, but I did attend the IBO World. 
  Without any expectations, I decided to give it my best shot. I practiced my yardage judging and figured my shot was good enough to carry me through the round if my numbers were close. 
  At the end of the first day, I found myself in the top 3, even with one horrendous 5 due to wind. After 40 targets had been shot, I went into the shoot-off in second place. A few mental mistakes cost me some points early in the shoot-off, and I paid the price. I lost ground in the shoot-off and finished in fourth place. It stung a little bit more than normal because it was the first time I’ve made the shoot-off and finished at a worst place than where I had started. I gave it my best, but my best wasn’t good enough on that final day.

  I ended the year with the Royalston, Mass., team money shoot with Jacob. Neither of us shot up to our ability, but we did have a good time, and we came out on top. I was glad to put my bow down after that shoot. I decided to rest my shoulders until mid-December and give them time to heal. I’ll hope for the best, but at this point in time, I’m not overly optimistic. 

                                           Next Year
  A lot of people have asked me what I’m going to do next year. Right now, I just hope I’m able to shoot. I know I can shoot enough to bow hunt, but I’m not sure if I will be able to shoot enough to compete. 
  If I can compete, I would like to shoot in the Senior Pro class, but realistically, I don’t have the funds to do that. I would just like to see if I could hold my own, which I think I could. 
  When the indoor season rolls around, I will probably still shoot a Bowhunter Freestyle setup. Although I might change my mind as time moves forward, that is my tentative plan. I’ll have to see what gives as the new year approaches.
 I’d like to thank all of you for following along this season. I hope you gained a few things during the journey of this Angry Archer. Congratulations to all of you who got your first big win this year and to the others who made steady progress toward achieving your goals. Until next year -------------àshoot straight and have fun doing it.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Royalston Team Money Shoot & An Intro to ASA in New England

  I've had a rough couple of weeks since returning from the IBO World. My shoulder and arm haven't been reacting too well since I fell on it a month ago. I've tried my best to stay away from overdoing it with the bow, but I did shoot a few arrows before heading to Shawn Couture's annual team event. I wanted to make sure my long distance marks were good since I hadn't shot many arrows over the last month.

  I met John Vozzy at a park and ride, and we headed down the highway and picked up Jacob. My ass was dragging, as I had gone to the Washington County fair the night before and didn't get to bed until after midnight. I got up at 4:25, so my 50-year-old body wasn't feeling it on the ride over. Jacob went to bed around 2 a.m., so John and I had a few hours on him.

  When we arrived at Shawn's club, it felt good to see a lot of the guys whom I hadn't seen in a long time. There's something about our archery family in New England that brings a smile to my face. It's pretty cool that everyone gets along and has a good time doing what we love.

  We warmed up with everyone for a few minutes and headed onto the range. The first target had a backup, so we all chit-chatted while waiting to start. After drawing cards, Jacob and I earned the right to decide if we wanted to shoot first or second as a group. We chose to shoot first. There was a little wind blowing across the field, and the large alert McKenzie deer I was aiming at was in my wheelhouse. The pin settled nicely, and I broke a good shot. When the shot fired, I was certain I had smoked the 11, after all, I've been shooting McKenzies for the better part of 30 years and own about 60 of them. Stepping away from the stake and glassing the target, I saw that the arrow was sitting perfectly under the 11-ring by about an inch. Jacob shot after me and put one as close as he could to the 14 but didn't hit it. We both felt good about our start. Sean's arrow landed next to mine, and John smoked the 14... they were off and running.

  As we moved to the second target, a bomb of an uphill antelope, the target probably had the ability to intimidate an inexperienced archer, but I try my best to approach each and every target exactly the same, whether it's a 20-yard elk or a 48-yard coyote. When I drew the bow, the pin instantly found itself where the white meets the light brown on the shoulder. Almost instantly, it fired and landed in the 10 ring. Once again, Jacob would have an opportunity to shoot at the 14. He settled in and executed a good shoot, but the arrow landed a little to the right of the 14, nothing to sneeze about at a target of that difficulty level. Of course, he wasn't happy with the result, but we were glad to escape with 10 points. Once again John, Sean lead off with a solid 10, and John smoked the 11... the boys had game. They feed off from each other and shoot well as partners.

  When we got to the third target, a long uphill Rinehart ram, the target had seen better times before we got there. In the process of people pulling arrows out of it, the target had gotten pushed over, which made it difficult to shoot. I led it off and hit behind the pin. With the target leaning backward, the arrow didn't make it into the 10-ring and landed right at the bottom of it but just out. Jacob made quick work of it and bailed me out. That's why we tend to work well as partners. We somehow have the ability to bail each other out when we have to. We never get too high, and we never get too low. We have very similar personalties when it comes to that.

  As we continued meandering through the woods, we just couldn't seem to get going. Neither one of us was shooting poorly, but we also weren't increasing our score very much from the even mark. We both felt fortunate to get through the first three targets without being down any points -- a first for us at this shoot. We always start slow at Shawn's shoot, and it takes us a while to get in a groove.

  When we got to the downhill mountain lion on the power line, we both started feeling better about shooting and began our trek up the mountain, a mountain that Sean and John were well on their way to the summit. Jacob and I were slogging along the trail behind them. While we could see them on the trail ahead, we weren't worried about sprinting to them. We figured we would just keep walking and, hopefully, reach the summit before them. You never know in this game, especially when the hikers in front of you are killing it. After shooting a long downhill Mckenzie HD, we felt good about our progress. The next target, a Rinehart rubbing buck, was set on a flat spot at the bottom of a gentle grade. I enjoy shooting that target and always do well on it. Before shooting, I noticed some greenery hanging a little ways in front of the target. In my mind, I had a feeling I might hit it, but I ignored it. My pin settled nicely, and I broke a great shot. I knew I had it.  As I waited for confirmation from the guys that the arrow had found the middle, I heard a few gasps and someone saying, "the arrow hit those leaves." Looking at it with my binoculars, I could see that it landed to the right of the 10-ring. I guess my height-deficient body and the speed of my bow didn't cooperate with putting the arrow where it belonged. We were a little disappointed, but once again, my teammate bailed me out.

  When we came off the first half, neither of us had shot the way we normally shoot 3D targets, but we shot well enough to put up a pretty good number, especially for starting as slowly as we did. We were at 18 up and had finally caught the hikers, Sean and John, in front of us. We had a 10-point lead on them and didn't have a clue where anyone else stood. We knew we had left a few points out there that we normally would've gotten.  I wasn't happy about the first half, but Jacob told me we would be fine if we kept doing our thing. His confidence in himself and me never ceases to amaze me in these team events.

  Headed to the second half, we hoped to repeat last year's performance. Last year, we took a while to get going, but when we started clicking on all cylinders in the second half, we felt like we would never miss. This year, we got a good start on the first target of the second half when I put one in the 10-ring, giving Jacob a chance to work his magic. When his shot broke, he knew it was a good shot but also knew the pin was a hair below it, which is where the arrow landed.  Once again, John nailed it and instantly closed the gap to 7.

  Knowing I had to lead off the next target, a standing bear, I felt confident. I always center punch standing bears, and I knew this one would be no different. The pink 14 stuck out like a sore thumb and seemed larger than any 14 we had seen up to that point. My pin sat nicely in the middle of the bear's chest, but the release fired when the sight dipped, and the arrow hit just below the 10 line, licking at it but out. Jacob bailed me out once again. Up to that point, anything I had missed was barely out the bottom. I seemed to be hitting low for the majority of the day. As I knew I messed up, because I was certain Jacob would have centered that pink dot, I watched John smoke another 14... cutting our lead to 4. Quickly, within a few targets, the lead had shrunk to one. Jacob and I were treading water, hoping to somehow find a way to get on a roll. When I shot the woodland boar, I finally broke a great shot. After I shot the arrow, I realized that I had been thinking about my shot and the things I needed to do instead of just aiming my bow and letting the bow shoot itself. Suddenly, everything clicked in, and I felt like I might be able to turn a subpar day into a day in which I might be able to eagle a hole and possibly chip in a few birdies on the way into the clubhouse. Jacob had been lugging around my clubs and his own clubs all day. It was time for me to join the party.

  When we made the turn near the end of the road, my shots started to feel really good. I began executing better than I had all day and my arrows began finding their way into the 11 and not straying out of the 10. Suddenly, our less-than-average day turned into what we normally do. When we got into the field and looked at the wolf that looked like a pot-bellied big due to the distance, I felt calm and confident, after all, I had just shot my snarling wolf a few days earlier and shot 4 10s on it at 65 yards. In the same neighborhood for distance, this one was easy. I had flat footing and a wide open sight picture. The pin settled and the shot broke, sending the arrow on its way -- bottom of the 11. Not to be outdone, Jacob stepped up and centered the 14.

  When we got to the boar inside the baseball field, I felt confident again. I could see where I wanted to hit, but there was a little bit of wind I had to battle. My hold wasn't the best, but when the shot broke, I thought I had it. When the arrow landed, the heckling gallery claimed the the spotting scope revealed an 8, just out low. I have Leica Geovid binoculars, and I could've swore it was cutting the 10-line at 6-oclock. John has high end Swarovski glass, and he said it was out. Sean and Jacob were both on the fence. None of us could convince the other that we were right. Finally, Jacob decided to avoid shooting at the 10. He played safe and shot his arrow, making sure we wouldn't lose any points -- and we didn't. When we scored the target, we learned that my arrow had caught the bottom of the 10 ring, and it wasn't even close. It was a full shaft into the line. Not being familiar with that target, it gave us a hard time from 60 yards determining if the arrow was in. I felt badly because Jacob had been a roll, and I felt like he would have surely gotten that one if he had shot at it. We had the same thing happen a few times throughout the day. I continuously hit everything low throughout the day, many of them landing at 6'oclock.

  When we got to the final target, a 70-year McKenzie mule deer, we learned what everyone had shot in the first half and found out we had a nice lead. I made a good shot and hit at 6 o'clock again. This time, however, the arrow was just out. Jacob decided to shoot at the 14 and missed it a shade to the right.

  When the rest of the shooters came off the range, we found out that we were lucky enough to come out on top. Here's the damage from all of the shooters.

                                                                  My Take on the Day

  Many people think this team stuff is easy for Jacob and I because somehow we get lucky enough to win. Yes, people, Jacob does carry my ass through most of these. I never have been and never will be his caliber. It's an absolute pleasure to watch him shoot a bow and arrow. But when you shoot in an event like this one, both teammates need to pull their weight. While I didn't have a bad day, I definitely didn't have one of my better days. Jacob wasn't on point like he normally is either. Both of us enjoyed a really good year, and we were both spent going into this. He continuously told me to keep doing what I do, and we would be fine. It's funny how your teammate can build your confidence by uttering a few words here and there. That's probably why we usually shoot well when we shoot together in individual events and team events.

  Everyone noticed I was hitting everything low throughout the day. While most of them caught the 10-ring, a few of them landed barely below it. When we got to the end of the road on the second half, where we started turning it on, Jacob told me to add two yards to my sight on every shot. He said I would be fine and not to worry about it until I shot an arrow out the top. Well, that's when we turned the corner. I shot a fair number of 11s, which took pressure off from both of us, allowing us to shoot carefree and relaxed like we usually do.  As 3D shooters, when we get on a roll, I know we become hard to beat. If only one of us is doing his job, it makes it much more difficult. This might have been one of the most satisfying team events I have shot with Jacob. I learned even more about him at this one than I had in the past. It's awesome to watch him.

  John Vozzy's performance blew my mind. I just can't get over the fact that I was in his basement on his indoor 30-yard range just 8 months ago when he was telling me he didn't know what he would ever do if he could no longer shoot a bow. After all, he had just gotten a new plastic shoulder put in and didn't know if he would be able to draw or shoot his bow ever again. He has worked his ass off and has overcome all odds. What a story. I can't explain to any of you how amazing it is to watch him to what he has done and come back to the same level. It's hard for me to believe that nobody has covered his journey. It's not a minor miracle; it's a major one. Congratulations, John on doing something that mere mortals could never do. Having had major shoulder surgery, I totally get it.

  Throughout the day, I had a hard time getting going because I wasn't allowing my subconscious mind to shoot my shot. When I finally put my conscious mind in timeout, everything changed, and shooting became easy. When shooting is easy, it makes it difficult to miss. I never figured out why I was hitting low all day. It might just be because I was aiming in the wrong place, or it might just have been one of those days. The shots felt good but maybe they were a little weak. When I got home, I checked my marks to make sure they were okay. I shot a few groups on a Vegas target at 50 yards, and this is what happened........ I guess my marks were good. Far too many people blame their equipment when things go wrong. I very rarely blame my equipment. Sometimes, to a fault, I put the blame on myself, but I know more times than not, the issues are due to a form flaw.

  The best part of this shoot for me was when Shawn and Braden donated money to he Jimmy Fund. I can't say how happy this makes me. This is a stand-up act, and these guys deserve a huge pat on the back. All of you who attended should know that you were a part of this, too. Thank you for helping them do what they did.

                                                       New England's Intro to ASA

  I'd like to give this a long write-up, but I've already rambled on long enough, and I'm sure most people are probably sick of it by now. All I can say, is that it felt kind of cool to jump into the time machine and go back 20 years to my days of shooting the national ASA tour. I was lucky enough to win a lot of money on the tour and have a great time doing it. Today reminded me about how much fun I had back then. I like the different approach, and the gambling always fit my style. I also liked it because my normal IBO speed back then was 276, so I never had to change a thing. It really showed who could judge and who couldn't. Heck, there weren't any marked yardage classes, so everyone was judging.

  I was spent when Dad picked me up. I'm just sick of shooting competitive archery for the year. He shoots ASA tournaments all winter in Florida when he's down there, so he wanted to go. I love my dad, so I went too. When I got there, I was already mentally checked out. Mark Myers has told me that my concentrations skills are what allow me to shoot well under different circumstances, and I've always taken pride in that. Well, today my concentration skills were lacking and not present. We spent the day shooting with Sean Roberts and his boys. We had a great time and enjoyed the day. My buddy Don Doherty even came to the club and walked with us for a while. I love him like a brother, and I was really glad to see him.

  When I got home, I realized that my card was still in my case. I must've stuck it in there when I was packing my stuff up and not turned it in. In case anyone was wondering, I shot the black stake and shot two down. I was all over the 12 ring and basically shot at the vast majority of them. I felt good about it. I did shoot my fair share of fives. Although the score doesn't sound too poorly, it's a prime example of what happens on some days to some people. My heart and mind weren't into it today. Jacob told me he wasn't attending because he was done. His mind couldn't handle it. I learned today that I should have followed his lead. In the end, I'm glad I went just because of the memories that it brought back.

  Going forward, I hope all of you take advantage of all of the shooting opportunities that will be available to you in the future in your region. You guys are the reason that this sport keeps moving forward. We are all family, and it's always great to see each other and catch up with one another. I got to talk for a while today with Ray Chartier, and it was good to hear about how his day went and what he thought about things. I always like visiting with Ray. He has great stories, and I enjoy listening to him. I also got to talk with John Cislak. It was cool to see a picture of the big buck he will be chasing in a few weeks. I hope he gets a look at it. I'd like to see the before and after picture. John has really taken an interest in promoting archery this year, and he has enjoyed learning different things. It was refreshing to listen to him talk and hear the excitement. I also enjoyed seeing many of the antelope pictures this week from the Beastmode guys. Kudos to a great time for all of you and thanks for sharing your hunt with all of us. It gives all of us a little incentive to get out there and take advantage of any opportunity we might get. Great job with the updates and hats off to Mike and Eric. Way to get it done.

  I look forward to seeing where this goes and hope that everyone continues supporting. Yes, family members tend to argue with one another from time to time, even archery family. I saw it today with Sean's kids. They're good kids, and they made me laugh. I also saw how quickly one can get under the skin of the other. After they took a step away from each other, they struck a deal and the older one promised to play with his younger brother for the next two months if the younger one gave him the gold shotgun casing he had. Everything has a way of working out. They were both happy at the end of the day. Thanks, Sean, for bringing the boys. Dad, Donny and I had a good time with them. Also thanks for all fo the volunteers today and thanks to Shrewd, Nunzio and X-spot. X-Spot, you have some of the best guys out there representing your shop. Rob, Jeremy and Matt are good guys whom you should be proud to have on your staff. They do a tremendous job representing your business. I've gotten to know them over the last few years, and they truly show what it's all about to represent a business.

I apologize for all of the typos tonight. I know I shouldn't be this way, but I'm hanging it up for the night. Thank you to everyone who was a part of my weekend the last two days. It was good to spend tie with all of. you. Shoot straight and enjoy the hunting season.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

2019 IBO World Championship

  This 3D year has flown by, but the good years almost always pass more quickly than the bad ones. Having had a good season, I really didn't want this one to come to an end. Since the IBO World Championship came to a conclusion yesterday, I've had a little time to sit back and reflect on it. I'll share some thoughts with you about the weeks leading up to the tournament and my journey through it once it started. I hope you enjoy the ride.

                                   The Week After the New England IBO Championship

  After shooting a tough course at the the New England Championship, I knew I was ready. I came off a good finish at the last leg of the National Triple Crown and followed it up with another great ground on a brutal course. I was firing on all cylinders. I couldn't wait for the following week to compete at the NY State Series Championship.......... and that's when my archery world came crashing down around me.

  In the middle of the week, I had a playoff game in my softball league. During the game, I fell onto my surgically repaired shoulder. Although the operations took place almost seven years ago, the surgeon warned me that falling on it could do me in for good. After all, I was lucky enough to be able to shoot a bow again after three different surgeons told me I would never shoot a bow after surgery.

  Instant fear coursed through my veins when I hit the dirt. I knew I was in serious trouble. I could feel it in my arm. I decided to keep ice on it and pump the Advil down regularly. While it relieved the pain, the feeling inside the shoulder stayed the same, causing me to make an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.

  He couldn't get me in until the Monday of the week of the IBO World. I went to the NY State shoot with Jacob, George  and Gary and walked the course with them. I judged as they shot, and I had really good numbers. It killed me not shooting my bow, but I couldn't draw it. I continued judging throughout the next week, and my numbers were really good. I was grooving the numbers every day. I was looking at my own targets and also did some ground judging. I also set a course for Jacob for the weekend before the world.

  He came up on Saturday, so I decided to see if I could shoot a few arrows. I hadn't attempted to shoot an arrow in two weeks. As we walked through the course, I attempted to shoot some arrows. I couldn't hold the bow very well at all, and my shoulder popped, crackled and had a lot of pain in it on every shot. I shot 20 targets so I knew I would be able to shoot a 20 target range at the world and be okay. Afterward, I iced it and dealt with the pain. It wasn't the smartest thing I've done, but I love shooting my bow. Unless the doctor told me I couldn't shoot, I planned on shooting. Jacob pounded the course but was still battling some questionable issues with his equipment. It wasn't a good feeling.   It's always very difficult to shoot when you aren't confident with your equipment.

                                    Monday's Visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon

  On Monday afternoon, I headed to the doctor's office. After having a bunch of X-rays and waiting in the room, I didn't know what to expect. When the doctor came in and ran some tests, I felt a little bit of relief go through me. I was told that I have some things going on in the shoulder joint, and I had also aggravated the area on my bicep tendon where it had been operated on. The doctor told me I couldn't hurt it more by shooting but recommended that I leave it alone to let it heal. I was told it would take 6-9 months to fully heal. I had severely strained the tendon in the area where it had been reattached  to my upper arm. But.......I got the okay to shoot, just to shoot as little as possible.

  I went to Dad's house after the Dr's visit and shot 10 targets. I did the same thing on Tuesday. I had to take a fair amount of weight off my back bar and an ounce off my front bar. Still, I couldn't hold the bow steady. It was not a goof feeling. In the process of shooting 10 marked yardage targets, I shot two fives because I couldn't hold the bow like normal. Although I left on a sour note, I was glad to know that I would be able to shoot at the World. My great year wouldn't end the way I wanted it to, but in the back of my mind, I have a lot of confidence and felt like I could overcome the bad luck. I have the ability to succeed through any sort of difficulty. I would have to rely on the mental attitude to get me through.

                                                The Trip to the Shoot

  I worked from 4:30am to 9:00 am on Wednesday. We got on the road as soon as I got out. After picking up Wade, we headed down I-88 before connecting to I-81. When we got near Harrisburg, Pa.,  we came to a stop on the highway. An accident claimed the lives of two people and seriously injured two others. Traffic was backed up for miles upon miles, putting us on a 3-hour delay. We ended up getting to Snowshoe around 11:30pm. The trip made me realize the life is fleeting, and we should take advantage of every second we have. We should pursue the things we love and keep the ones we love the closest to us. Live for yourself while living for others. I'm fortunate to be able to share all of these archery memories with my father. There's not one person I'd rather share them with.

                                                   Day 1: Game Day

  My start time was 9:50. I went to the butts and shot four arrows at the 10-yard butt with my dad. We went from there to the practice range to shoot a few 3D targets. We shot 7-targets. I shot two 11s and five 8s. During the round, I added and subtracted weight trying to get my hold to somehow steady out. Without having shot in 3 weeks and having a lot of pain in my shoulder, I knew it was going to be rough. It's hard to have fun when you look back on a fantastic year and see it come crashing down in front of you.

  When I got to the starting tent on top of the mountain, the wind was whipping around a little but not too drastically. I shared pleasantries with a lot of people I've shot with in the past and wished everyone luck. When my group got called, I felt calm and ready to go. As we walked to the first target, we became acquainted with each other and got ready for our round. Eric, from my home state of New York, said he Googled my name when he saw who he was shooting with. He said, "Holy shit, I knew I was in trouble when two pages of shit came up when I Googled your name. Mountain Main, holy cow, I'm shooting with Mountain Man from Outdoor Life. How do I stand a chance?"

  We all laughed about it. Our first impressions of each other were good. I had a great group to shoot with, which is sometimes very difficult to find. I believe your group has a lot to do with our success -- or failure. I was also lucky enough to have Justin Krotine in my group again. After meeting him at the third leg last month, we seem to hit it off, and I shoot well with him in my group. He's one of those guys who is a calming influence to me and shows a lot of support. He is also very athletic and understands things on the same terms as me. We think in an athletic-type mind. It's kind of cool. I'm glad I was lucky enough to meet him last month and feel even luckier to have shot with him at the World. I also love the fact that he manages the staff for Rogue bowstrings and never pushes the product on anyone or trashes other players' products. He's positive in every aspect and is a great person to be around. I appreciate that. He knows that I've had a longstanding relationship with Eric Griggs of GAS bowstrings, and he respects that. He talks highly of all other string makers, too, which is a first-class act. I really respect the guy.

  When I drew on the first target, I had the typical anxiousness you find when you start a tournament. I was certain my number was right, and when the shot broke, the arrow found its way into the center of the 11. I was off to a good start.

  When we got to the third target, a snarling wolf set back in the woods, I knew I wouldn't be able to see it that well. When I drew the bow, I couldn't see it. I had to let down and start over. Eric and Chad were talking a little bit as they were right behind me while I was at full draw. Although I should't have let it distract me, I did. I ended up shooting an 8 on a target that I never should've shot an 8 on. I wasn't too happy about it. I politely told them not to talk while someone was at full draw, and they understood. I like shooting with people who understand the how's and why's behind the scenes. Justin and I were helping them learn, and they were helping us have a good time. We never had a problem with that the rest of the way because we addressed it in the beginning of the day. That's all it takes sometimes.

  As I made my way down the mountain, my shot felt good. Amazingly, my hold wasn't too terribly bad, either. It still made me nervous having such little weight on my stabilizers, but for the time being, I had to do it to make things suitable for me to attempt to shoot well.  When we started shooting a few shots in the wooded area between the ski tows, I lost my yardage. When I came upon a bedded buck, the target looked close but the ground made it look a long way away. Although I knew I was giving it too much, I left my sight where I set it and shot. As soon as the arrow hit a half inch out the top of the 10, I was pissed. I knew I had just given points away because I had gotten lazy and didn't do anything about it. I've always been guilty of that over the years. It seems to bite me every now and then........and this bite stung.

When I got to the eighth target, I saw a turkey. It was a long downhill shot that would have uneven footing. The yardage instantly stuck out to me, and I knew I was going to get it. I always gain points on turkeys, and I knew this one would be no different. I had shot Barry's turkey at this same yardage two times before I left for the shoot. I 10d it both times. I had it. Eric shot first, and his arrow landed squarely in the 11, giving me a great aiming reference. When I drew my bow, the pin settled onto his arrow, and I began pulling. In the middle of my execution a wind gust caught me and blew me to the right. Before it could correct itself, the arrow fired. It barely missed staying in the 8-ring and found itself on the outside looking in. It was out no more than a fingernail width once again. I couldn't control what had happened and knew I had to make the most of my next two shots. I ended up getting both of the last two targets. I was happy to sign the sheet with a 201. The five got me, but I still finished in the hunt. I would later learn the I was tied for third.

                                                         Day Two: Moving Day

I never look at the scores after the first day. After all, the first day doesn’t mean a damn thing. I knew that I hadn’t lost the tournament on the first day and figured I was definitely near or at the top from everything I had heard. With the cancellation on the second day, word made its way back to be about my placement. Having been in the same place many times, it wasn’t difficult to get a good night’s rest. I can remember a few times early in my career when the rest didn’t come easy after that first day of shooting. Now, I just try to follow my process and stay in the zone throughout the second day.
  I shot three arrows at the practice butt, then headed to the defense range with Wade. We shot 10 targets and most of my arrows found their way into the 10-ring. My hold was worse than it had been on the first day. I did a lot of playing around with weights but never got it where I felt comfortable. 
  When I approached the first target of the second day, I was relieved to see that it was a medium buck, a target I have always excelled on. Everyone in the group in front of me hit it low, so I tried going to school on that. It’s always hard to do that when you don’t know the people or their shooting ability. Thinking I had a good number, I executed a good shot. I was surprised when the arrow landed in the bottom of the 10-ring. The shot was great, but the number was a tad short. 
  With the first target of the day out of the way, I felt relieved – until I walked down the hill and up a road to the next stake. When I looked up the hill, I saw a long wolverine on the side of the slope. Instantly, I knew it was one of those separator targets that you see at national events. It was placed there to separate the field. It was an uphill shot, with the target on a side hill… and it had some distance on it for the size of the target. 
  It was my turn to lead off. When the pin settled into the area below the white indicator mark that points to the top of the 10 on the wolverine, my shot broke. “Yup,” nailed it I thought. Stepping away and glassing it, the arrow was dead center in the 11-ring. A genuine feeling of relief and calmness found its way into my body.
  As I sat on my chair waiting for the other shooters to shoot, I glanced down the hill and saw a caribou. I felt good about my start. Thankfully, when I got to the caribou and drew my bow, I was lucky to be the last shooter. I couldn’t see any part of the animal, but I could see two nocks and knew where they were located. I made the adjustment to the nocks and executed another good shot – 10. 
  Over the course of the weekend, besides battling the issues with my shoulder, I was constantly chasing my blood glucose levels. I think I was getting the spikes due to adrenaline, even though I didn’t feel overly nervous. I could see that my blood was going down, as my sensor had one down arrow appear, which is cause for concern. It means your blood level is rapidly dropping. 

  Within minutes, I was fighting to hold it off. I slugged down some Gatorade, but I knew it wouldn’t start working for 10 to 15 minutes. Unfortunately, it happened when I was on what I thought was one of the tougher shots, a long and uphill black panther. The number stuck out to me, but the long uphill shots would wreak havoc on me with my blood being so low. I didn’t let down much all weekend, but I had no choice on that target. I just couldn’t hold the pin remotely steady, and I really couldn’t identify the pin that well: my blood was hanging around 45 according to my sensor……..most people wouldn’t have been functioning at that level. Having had Type 1 diabetes for 45 years, I don’t recognize symptoms like many other people. Finally, I got the shot off, and it wasn’t good. I felt lucky to hit the target but unlucky that I was dealing with the situation. I got a five. I couldn’t complain about it. It’s just one of those things I face with this silent disease that nobody sees from the outside. I took it on the chin and moved forward. By the time I got to the next target, a short uphill impala, my blood had almost gotten back to 60. I was still shaky and felt good enough to get a 10, even though I really should have shot an 11 on the target. For as unsteady as the hold was, I accepted the result and moved on. 

  When I got to the next target, a long downhill gator, I felt decent again but battled a slight headache from the aftereffects of low blood sugar. I smoked the gator, making a perfect shot and watching the arrow land in the middle of the 11… back on track after saving the train from crashing off the rails due to something out of my control. Every day on the range, I face small obstacles that most others can’t understand. When I look back at my success over the years, I often wonder how I ever did it before I had a sensor to tell me exactly what my blood sugar level was at that point in time.
  Continuing through the range, the wind began howling, which made it difficult to make accurate shots. Most of the shooting took place on the ski slopes outside of the woods. When I poked out of a piece of woods at the hallway point and saw a Big 10 buck down the hill, I felt relieved. It would be good to start the second half on a big target, and looking at it, I could easily ballpark the number. 
  Thinking the pin was in a perfect spot, I executed one of my best shots of the weekend. I couldn’t believe it when the arrow struck about ¼ of an inch below the 10-ring. I had perfect line, too. Standing there in amazement, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I would now have an uphill battle to hold my own and get out of the hole I was digging – four down for the day with nine left. 
  As the last nine targets progressed, my shots were breaking like I was in my backyard. I felt good. In my head, I felt like I could 11 every target I had left to shoot. After all, I have shot 9 up on a 10-target national course, so I knew I had the ability. 
  When I got to target 6, I could see that it was a downhill mt. lion, and the footing wasn’t going to be good. The wind was howling, and I knew it was going to be difficult to keep it in the 10-ring with those factors working against me. As I drew the bow, the wind was gusting. When the pin hit the target, it sat still for a second before the wind helped it drift to the left. Unfortunately, that’s when it fired. It landed halfway between the 10-line and the 8-line. I wasn’t happy about it, but I know that we can’t prevent those things from happening. It just comes down to luck sometimes. In a moment of bad luck, the ground I had been gaining was quickly lost. I would have to fight with all my might to hold on… five targets left. 
  I made great shots on the next few targets, barely missing 11s on all but one of them. I came within a fingernail width or two of shooting three 11s in a row. Sometimes you get them, and sometimes you don’t. I was highly disappointed but realized I was making good shots. I tried to feed off from that.
  Approaching the last target, I saw that it was a long bedded doe across the lift and into the woods. It was one heck of a set. It was put in that place to test the mental skills of people who knew they had a chance to make it to the dance. The number stuck out to me as soon as I looked at it. I was going to have to battle the wind again and hope for the best. When the shot fired, I thought I had missed it to the left. Stepping away and glassing it, I was happy to see that it was a 9 o’clock 10. 
  I knew that morning shooters definitely had an advantage due to calmer conditions, and I’ve shot enough of these courses to make accurate guesses. Originally, I figured I would be number four or five to make it to the shoot-off, but after really looking at the people behind me and thinking about the course, I figured I might stay where I had started for the day. And that’s what happened. I would be going into the shoot-off tied for second place but with a bunch of guys a point or two behind. I also thought I was probably the only one who had shot two fives and finished at the top, same as I did at the last leg of the triple crown. Those two fives cost me there, and I thought these two would come back to haunt me here, too. The part that annoys me the most is that out of the four fives over the two shoots, not one of them were because of misjudged yardage. 

                                                                       The Shootoff
    Everybody who goes to the IBO World dreams of making the shoot-off. Very few people look beyond that, though. I’ve always dreamed of being the winner. I have to say that I neglected my mental game training this year, and I believe that’s what failed me on the final day as compared to other years. During other years, I had always kept my performance journal updated. I always ended it with, “I’m a multiple time IBO World Champion because I perform better than anyone else under pressure. I win because I am a winner. I win because I’ve done it in the past. I shoot every arrow as if the impact point has absolutely no importance.”
  Unfortunately, I didn’t do that this year, and this is the first time in 25 years that I’ve made the cut and lost ground. I’ve never gone backward. So where do we start?
  I slept in a little bit and felt good about things. I wasn’t too amped up and knew that I would shoot well. After all, I’ve shot well all year, so why would 10 more targets be any different? I got to the practice butts and did something I hadn’t done since leaving the doctor’s office on Monday: I shot a lot of arrows. I probably went too early and shouldn’t have shot so many arrows. I could feel it in my shoulder, but my shots were going off like a hot knife through butter. I hadn’t made shots that good all year. They felt incredible. 
  When I made it to the bottom of the mountain, I saw that many groups were backed up and things were running behind. I took advantage of it and talked to many of my friends. It felt good to talk to Bill Burns. We met in the ‘90s in peer groups for the national triple crown and have remained friends since then. Luckily, we’ve both found a lot of success over the years, so we can usually speak each other’s language when we see each other. I feel fortunate to have met people like him during my years of shooting. 
  We always have those people who we admire from a distance, but we really don’t know them. We just know their names, and we know they have game. Well, I’ve always known who Mike Guraly is, and I also know he’s one of the guys to beat if you want to win anything. He was standing with Bill, and I finally got to meet him and talk to him. What a nice guy. There are a lot of great shooters out there, and we never get to meet some of them. I’m not sure if Mike ever knew who I was, but I knew who he was, just as many others do. I think I’ve been lucky enough to remain anonymous and blend in with other people who have no clue what they’re doing. I kind of like it that way, and I’m pretty sure that I’m probably just another face in the crowd, one of the shooters who everybody thinks has never accomplished anything. At the same time, I have a lot of good friends at the top of the ranks in all of the classes, including SPM, PMR and PSR, whom I have shot with in peer groups over the years in SPM and MBO, back in my glory days of the late ‘90s.
  When we finally got going, I felt good about things. I made a good shot on the first target and scored an 11 on a Big 10 buck. The aim was a little shaky, but the shot was good. I made another good shot on the next shot, a Corsican ram, hitting just left of the 11. 
  As we made our way toward the next target, we heard a little commotion. Then, we saw what the fuss was about. The target had fallen off the stand it was on and was almost unshootable. Well, you could shoot it and easily skip off kill zone and shoot a zero. The feet of the animal were pointing directly at us, and the target was near the max distance, a little short of it. 
  Everyone, including spectators, started hemming and hawing about it. Seeing that nobody was going to do anything, I offered to walk back to the tent to have it addressed by an official. Within minutes, an official came to the target and couldn’t believe what had happened. The screws on the stand had come loose and fallen out, which knocked the target completely over. He did his best to fix it by putting a stick in the soft sand and trying to prop it up to hold it in place.
  I would be the first shooter in my group. I knew my number would keep me safely in the 10-ring. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out what distance range the target fell into. I might hit it high 10 or low 10, but I was absolutely sure I had it dialed. 
  With everything that had gone on the last few minutes (walking back to the tent, having all of the spectators in close vicinity talking after every shot, the range official doing his thing) I got distracted and lost my mental focus for less than five minutes. When the pin hit the black mark in the 11-ring on the coyote, it didn’t hold steady. I tried fighting it and it bobbled at the last second and fired. I knew I was in trouble before the arrow got off the rest. I earned the five. It didn’t have a chance from the get go. I learned many lessons on that shot, lessons that will haunt me. Granted, I’ve won this tournament more than once and have been on the podium in other places, but this one shot will haunt me forever. For anyone who his reading this, please remember that you need to follow your process. I should’ve let one of the spectators walk back to the tent to get an official or one of the other competitors. I should have followed the process and let down when the aim deteriorated. I should not have been paying attention to the chatter all around me. Unfortunately, I paid the price. I probably wouldn’t have won the shoot, but I’m guessing I would have stayed in the same spot I entered the shoot-off if I had stayed true to the way I do things when I’m successful. I simply lost focus for a few minutes and paid the price.
  It was a hard pill to swallow, but I’ve also been in enough of these things to know that you must keep fighting. I figured if I could get on a roll, I could eliminate that and end up even. I had seven targets left. Being the last shooter on the next target, a white ram, I felt a little unsure of my number. There was an arrow in the 11 and one just below the 10 line. The nock on that arrow was above the point, so at first look, the arrow appeared in, but after a closer look, it was out.  When my shot broke, I heard a loud cracking noise. I knew I had smoked the arrow in the middle. When I heard a few comments from the spectators, I learned that wasn’t the case. I had ricocheted off the bushing of the low arrow, sending my arrow downward. Hoping it stayed in the 10, I realized that wasn’t the case when I got closer. It was a fingernail width out. The wheels were quickly falling off the bus and rolling down the pavement beside the empty shuttle. I still didn’t give in. If I could 11 every target left, I would be even. I’ve 11d six targets in a row in the past, so I knew I had the ability. 
  As we crossed a road on the course, I could see that my buddy Sean was walking down the road. It was somewhat of a relief to see a familiar face. I felt kind of outnumbered on the walk through the range, maybe a little out of place for some reason. Not that it bothered me, it just felt different.  Sean talked to me for a bit, and I quickly regained focus and executed some of my best shots of the tournament while he watched. Earlier in the year, I wrote about how I usually don’t shoot well with him in my group for some reason. Well, today his presence got me back on track. I was able to make two great shots on an uphill turkey and an uphill fallow deer.
  When the guy who was tied with me going into the final round shot a five on the last target, I knew if I stayed in the 10, I would beat him due to X count. I made a great shot to end my IBO tournament year, and the arrow hit nicely between the 11 and top of the 10. Walking to the tent to hand my card in, I was hoping that I salvaged a podium spot. I wasn’t confident in it, but I also didn’t know what the other groups had done. I knew that, like the night before, I would be on the bubble. When the dust cleared, I learned that I had finished in fourth place, a stunning disappointment for the way I felt at the beginning of the round and the way I finished the round.
  I was happy to see Ted and Sara Kay standing by the tent when I finished. I learned that Sara had kept her spot and finished in second. I was happy for her. As I was headed to the tent to start my round the day before, Sara asked me what I would do if I were in second place and had a lot of ground to make up. I told her to stay focused and think back on times when she had great performances. You must be confident that you can produce those performances when you need them. I’ve done it more times than I’ve failed, so I always feel confident no matter how far behind I may be at the time. I always try to draw from my past to help people. While I’m not professional, I have had some great moments along the way in some really competitive environments against top shooters. I rode up the chairlift with the two of them, and it was good to know that the big shoots were done for the year.
I congratulated Sara on her second place finish, and she and Ted asked me if I wanted to ride up the chairlift with them. Although they were warned about that snake in the grass jumping out and striking them, they must've felt safe to let the little mountain rattler ride quietly in the seat beside them. I'm thankful for their friendship and having the sense to question things when necessary and search for the truth rather than assume things. 

  After getting off the lift, I realized something when I thought back to past accomplishments. To win the IBO World you must have a really good day, your average day, and a stick around day where you don’t lose any ground. Well, I feel that my first day was my average day, my second day was my stick around day, and my third day just never got off the ground. It wasn’t enough to stick to the spot I started in. I’ll have to build upon that and learn from the lessons I was presented near the beginning of the round. 

                            My Take on the IBO World Championship

   Since I had my shoulder wrapped in ice and could barely move it a week prior to the IBO World Championship, I really can’t complain with the way things shook out. When the doctor told me not to overdo it, I actually listened. I did that because of the amount of pain I could feel. 
  I did the best I could do throughout the weekend, but I know I didn’t have a peak performance. While I couldn’t hold the bow as steady as normal due to the shoulder issues, I didn’t pay attention to it. Instead of focusing on the pin moving all over the place, I just stared at the place I wanted to hit, and I hit it more times than not. Since I’ve been holding pretty steady this year, it took a little bit to adapt to it not sitting in the middle for very long. I executed my shots to the best of my ability but dealt with a lot of pain along the way. 
  At the end of the day, I felt like I had felt many years ago, almost on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. I can remember missing the cut by one point on three different occasions, two of those years there were no ties and there were thousands of shooters in the class back then. Every time, I thought I had shot a good enough score to get in and fell short. The ride home after those events was excruciating. Then, I had the few times when I was in the top peer group and had an arrow blow up upon release one time and a release spring break another time, both causing zeroes with less than three targets left. Both tournaments I would have won if those things didn’t happen. There are many more examples I could refer to, but those closest to me have all witnessed it and thought I had a black cloud over my head. When you keep facing discouragement like that, it can wear you down. It can make you question your ability, and it can deteriorate your confidece because you just wait for the monster to rear its head at the most inopportune time. You’ve been there, you know he’s lurking. That’s kind of how I felt this weekend, especially with the fives. I simply lost this tournament on my own. It was there to win, even with the bum shoulder, and I gave it away. The guy who won was a great guy. I liked him. He earned the win, and he never showed a kink in his armor. He flat out pounded for the weekend. Even if I hadn’t faced my demons, he probably still would have won. Some weekends are like that. I’ve had a few like that myself. Even when you make mistakes, they never show up in the bad column.
  I watched a lot of my friends bring home titles this weekend as well as 2ndand 3rdplace plaques. It’s awesome to know so many people who shoot so well. It drives me to be like them. They give me the motivation I need to get better. I know that they work hard to win, and it makes me realize I must work harder to join them. Although it is a hobby, it is my life. I love archery. I love the bad times and the good times. I just love shooting my bow because it’s fun. This weekend wasn’t fun for a lot of people. After it was all said and done, many people congratulated me and Jacob. I know in some ways I felt like he did. You don’t want to be negative, but at the same time it’s hard to explain how much turmoil you’re dealing with inside. Yes, making the cut is great, finishing 2ndor 4this even better, way better than most people were able to do. However, we both go to win. We expect to win. When our equipment or other unfortunate incidents prevent us from standing in the winner’s circle, it really hurts. Unless you have experienced something like that a number of times, it really isn’t understandable. I just wanted to say thanks for all of the compliments. I truly do value them and appreciate them. I appreciate all of you. I apologize if I might have seemed like the accomplishment of coming in fourth is insignificant.
  Every year, someone’s performance stands above all others. I think Jon Thompson deserves an awful lot of credit for what he accomplished. He definitely pulled off a Roger Thibault feat, like I saw so many times back in the ‘90s. Jon, Roger was definitely looking after you this weekend. That was incredible. Great job. 
  The performance that blows my mind beyond anything out there is John Vozzy’s. John is a good friend. About eight months ago, Sean Roberts, George Connors and I sat in John’s basement working on my indoor bow because John always welcomes others to his house and has a great place to work on things. John had just had his shoulder replaced and couldn’t draw a bow, but he insisted he would work back to the same level and hopefully peak at the IBO World. 
  I watched John struggle a little bit this year, but he kept at it. Every once in a while, he would show a glimpse of last year John, the one who smoked everyone in the PSR class for the first 40 targets at the championship. Well, that John showed up again on the second day this year. He shot a better score than two of the best PMR shooters that have ever lived, Levi Morgan and Danny McCarthy. That is saying something, especially coming off having an entirely new shoulder put in less than a year ago. John, I admire your dedication to the sport. It’s incredible. I’ve also watched you grow over the years. I can remember the first time we met, and I have enjoyed watching you make your way into the 3D world and becoming a force.
  I hope everyone enjoyed the read, even though it was extremely long. I have many other things to say, but I know this has gone way beyond what most people’s attention span can handle. I hope to give a yearly recap in the coming weeks if I have the time.