Monday, August 22, 2011

A Rough Weekend Healed By Target Practice
Getting together with my hunting partner has been incredibly tough for the past month. It's not that we didn't try, but with he planning his wedding and me busy with a million-and-one other things, you can imagine how frustrating it's been to not hit the archery range. We finally made it happen today.

Backtracking just a bit, the weekend started off a bit rough for my wife and I. For those that have had the pleasure of dealing with a toddler going through the terrible-twos, you know how your patience gets a workout. I love my daughter with all of my heart and she knows it, but she was giving us a full, ten-round fight this weekend. Part of me wanted to laugh at her antics, but most of me was just overly frustrated. We know it's normal and a rite-of-passage, but it was a trying time and we know it isn't over yet. 

After my daughter went to sleep last night, we chatted about the weekend and how we know that this is a stage in her life and that we have to be strong. We laughed about certain things and opened up with how we were feeling. That's one of the many things I love about my wife and my life. We can be open and honest with one another and reflect on things. It was refreshing to hear that she and I were on the same page, too.

Then, early Saturday morning, I got a call from my mother-in-law telling me that the family dog, Misty, wasn't doing well. From the sound of her voice, I knew that I would need to be strong that day. I shared the info with my wife and we changed our plans to get Misty to the vet ASAP. Shortly thereafter, my mother-in-law brought her over to the vet office by our house. One look at Misty brought tears to my eyes. Misty is an awesome dog. She was always a playful dog, even into her 17th year. She may have looked the part of an older dog, but she always wanted to play. Seeing her in her makeshift bed made me incredibly sad. I had to be strong for my family, and I knew it was Misty's time to go, but it broke my heart seeing her for the last time. I let her smell my hand, nuzzle it and scratched her head like I always did. I told her I loved her and that was the last time I saw her. My wife, mother-in-law and father-in-law had it the worst. They had known her all of her life. Me? I had known her just shy of six years. Did it make it hurt any less? Not a chance. Good bye, Misty. I will miss the sound of your bark, your unconditional love, and the sounds of you destroying every squeek-toy we ever brought over. God now has another super canine companion up there with him to play fetch. Take good care of her, Lord.

Now, on to the archery practice. When Michael arrived, I gave him the lowdown of what had transpired over the weekend. I also told him that I needed to shoot something. BAD! I needed to vent my pent-up energy and release some fury in the form of carbon-to-foam target practice. Game on! 

Michael and I are pretty good shots. We aren't the best, heck, we have a lot of learning and practicing to do even come close to great, but sufficient is a good word for us. We practice when we can. We shoot long ranges, currently out to 70 yards to hone in our close range shooting ability. So, we set up our targets, when out from behind us we hear, 'Uh,  guys. You may want to move over.' An older archer proceeded to tell us that we should move to another bale because he and his buddies were shooting long range and we might get scared hearing arrows whiz by. I smiled and said no problem. Why not stay there? There was no need to rile anyone up. Besides, I let me archery tackle do the talking. We were at the range for an hour and a half. Most of the time shooting at 60 yards. Those guys were shooting at 100-110 yards and shot six arrows between the three of them. They spent more time looking for their arrows than shooting. Good thing we moved!

I bought some Carbon Express Aramid-KV arrows a few weeks back and this was the first opportunity I had to try them out. They are lighter than my FMJs, but damn do they fly true! I shot only sets of four arrows because I had given away all of my field points that fit this style arrow. Even so, shooting them felt great! At forty yards, these were my first four arrows.

Can you say tight group?
I was stoked! I have been shooting the AAE Max Hunter vanes, but these came pre-fletched with Blazers. It didn't matter as I was hitting everything I aimed at. The arrows flew true, fast and were incredibly accurate. 

I even brought my little feral pig target over for us to shoot. Boy, was shooting that fun! We set our sights on it at 60 yards and started hammering away. What a great time we had! Our theory for shooting is simple. Shoot at a smaller target (like the small pig) at a longer distance and get good. Then, when you are closer and shooting at an animal, well, you should be able to hit the kill zone every time. Remember, your first arrow is the first arrow sent from your bow is the most important.

Our time at the range was successful, fun and entertaining. I really needed that. I feel so good after shooting 50-60 arrows at the range. It's cathartic and relaxing. Both of us were happy that we were able to get out there before deer season starts for us at the end of September. Our month ahead is full of time-consuming events that will prohibit us from shooting together, so we'll have to practice on our own until then. Even still, our confidence level is high and we cannot wait to start hunting.


  1. Al, first off, I am sorry to hear about Misty. I know what it is like to lose a family pet, but I can't image losing one that has been a part of the family for that long.

    Secondly, I can completely sympathize with you and your wife, and your daughter's "rite-of-passage". We are right in the midst of that as well. It is amazing that a two-year-old can test your patience and strength in such dynamic ways. Being a parent is a crazy deal.

    Now, on to the good stuff... Great shooting! Why are you moving away from the FMJ? Which arrow is going to be in your TightSpot when you hit the field?

  2. Mark, thank you for the kind words and yes, being a parent is a crazy deal, for sure!

    I am not sure if I am moving away from the FMJs just yet. I really like them a lot, but I also wanted to try out a different arrow. When the CX went on sale, I decided to spring for them to give them a good run. I was pleasantly surprised at how true they fly, but the price tag it high.

    So far, the FMJs are my go to arrow, but if I keep punching the target like that I might be switching brands. Too soon to tell though.

  3. Sorry to hear about Misty. I generally have more respect for dogs than I do people, they're a heck of a lot more trustworthy. Glad you got a little "therapy" though.

  4. I know what you're going through having a daughter myself, although I guess we were fortunate to not have the typical "terrible two's" issues.

    My condolences on the loss of your beloved Misty! Losing a pet can be a very difficult experience. I've lost several over the years. They are faithful and loyal companions.

    That's some great shooting, Al! Your practice has paid off and that will pay off when it comes time to make "the" shot.

  5. Sorry to hear about Misty. Dogs are so great in so many ways it's no wonder we miss them like we do when they're gone!

    Terrible twos huh!?! We're still there and Aidan is 4! Best of luck and breathe deep. Best advice I can offer ;-P

    Oh yea... nice grouping! That rocks!