Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Training for Hunting Season: What Happens When You Get Bored?

You get out of hunting what you put into it. I believe you can get the most out of a hunting season by putting in plenty of archery practice and training your body for whatever will come at you. You can't just show up on opening day and expect to feel as good as you do when sitting on the couch. Am I right?

This is what our family walks look like prior to elk season.

For months I have been training my body. Running, biking, lifting, shooting my bow (yes, that's working your body, too), and hiking with heavy weight on my back. My endurance level has been up, I felt confident, and with Colorado less than two months away I felt great. Like any other person on the planet, I have my weak points and last month was mine. I still worked out, but I didn't have the drive like I normally do and I didn't feel like eating as well as I have been. I was burnt out, bored, and needed a change. I didn't push myself as hard and I just wanted to slow down. Big mistake on my part.

In order to change it up I began practicing different things. Instead of just shooting my bow straight on at the target, I began shooting at angles. That way I could get a feel for putting an arrow behind the ribs of an animal. The archery practice feels good, but how could I improve my training and not be bored? I have to thank my wife for this one. She mentioned, unbeknownst to her that I was bored, that we should start taking family walks before dinner. She takes my daughter out for long walks and gets some great exercise. What a great idea! We'd like to go after dinner, but there are too many crazy drivers who don't pay attention to pedestrians, especially at night. I thought going for a walk was a great idea and I knew I could include my Badlands Ox loaded with sandbags as resistance. Then my mind began to play with me. Ah, just go for fun. It'll be tough. Blah, blah, blah. Screw that I said, and I invited the challenge and hefted the loaded pack onto my shoulders. My wife asked if three miles was too much. I said we could go further if she wanted to. So we did! 

For the past few days we have been walking around our neighborhood and it's been great. Sure, my legs hurt from walking 4.5 miles with 90-100# of sand on my back, but it's all worth it. I get to spend time with my girls, see my neighborhood, and get some great leg exercise in. It's a start to getting my mind trained, too. I can work hard, stay focused, and enjoy myself. Colorado is a test that will be here soon and I am studying hard to pass with an A+!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fixing Up the El Dorado Park Archery Range in Long Beach, CA

On Saturday, July 26, a team from Boeing, El Dorado Park, the Long Beach Bowhunters, El Dorado Archers, and other volunteers was assembled to fix the fence behind the archery range at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, CA. Over a hundred people showed up, mostly Boeing employees we all put in some great work!

Boeing replaced many of the boards that were missing from the fence. The fence is more than three decades old and it shows it. Everyone teamed up and picked up debris, scraped the old paint, and then repainted the fence. It looks awesome! Great job to all involved and a big Thank You to Boeing for their part!

I was able to meet up and talk with Joy Warren (3D animal target issue) and she said the issue would be brought to the Parks Commission for a decision. She is going to call me with the date and time (it should be August 21 (website is incorrect, but I will confirm)) so that both sides may be represented. I appreciate her taking the time to share that information and chat with me.

Here are some more photos from the fence restoration:

The fence patched up from one angle.

The boards have been replaced and now the debris removal is set to begin.

One of the two truckloads of debris (old fencing, sticks, bottles, plastic, etc.) we removed.

Boeing employees painting a thirsty fence!

The fence looking better than it has in many years!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shoot, Rattle, and What is that Noise?

Shooting my bow is truly therapeutic for me. It's an escape. On the other hand, it can also mess with your head. Sometimes your shot isn't where you want it to be. It happens to the best of us. Then there are the times, like tonight for example, where something isn't quite right on your bow. I have mentioned before that you should look over your setup often in case something is out of place or needs to be tweaked. Tonight was one of those nights for me.

A couple months ago, I noticed that because I switched to a thinner diameter Victory VAP arrow that my TightSpot Quiver wasn't holding them in as tight as I needed. In fact, after three or four shots, I would hear a distinct vibration from the quiver. Come to find out, I needed to do something different to my quiver setup in order to grip the arrows tightly. Joe Jacks was super helpful and gave me the simple directions to fix the issue. Within minutes it was fixed. Great service and a big thank you to Joe!

Then came tonight at the range. Brett and I had just run two miles and while I sucked wind tonight, I felt OK. I know I need to push myself harder and step up my game. I was running four to five times a week and now I am down to two. It's my own fault and it can be fixed. I just need to do it. Nonetheless, we made it back to our vehicles, broke out our gear, and began shooting. It was awesome.

We started at 40 yards, moved to 50, then 60 with ease. We were feeling good, but I kept noticing a vibration on my Strother Wrath. I was videotaping and I knew I'd probably figure it out when I got home, but I kept hearing it. It was almost a buzzing. I tightened up my TightSpot quiver a bit more and it still kept on buzzing when I shot. When I put the bow away, I made a mental note to get it out under the workbench light and see what I could find. Then dinner with the family came and went. I downloaded the video and started to watch. "Bzzzzzz" There it was again! Time to go check things out.

It took me less than 10 seconds to find the issue. I tapped my bow with the heel of my palm and there it was, "Bzzzzzz". This little cam screw was loose! Out came the Allen wrenches and I snugged it up. No more sound and no more vibration! It took all I had not to go out in my yard to shoot a few arrows, but at 11:00 PM, my neighbors my be a bit miffed. Ahhh, the satisfaction of knowing you fixed an issue and can't wait to shoot again. I'll just have to wait until tomorrow when I can send some arrows into my 3D pig target and prepare for the hunt. 

Be sure to take the time you need to go over your gear and if you think something is off, it probably is. Taking just a few minutes tonight saved my sanity and quite possibly my setup. Now, who wants to go to the range this week?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No 3D Animal Targets Allowed at El Dorado Park Archery Range in Long Beach, CA!

Last week I was informed by a local blog reader that the El Dorado Park (Long Beach, CA) archery range we know and love has disallowed use of 3D animal targets effective immediately. I was shocked as I have been using 3D animal targets at the range for over five years with no issues. Using the 3D animal targets allows us to better prepare for hunting season. I read this excerpt in the California Bowmen Hunters newsletter about the change;

From the CBH newsletter:
There was a recent ruling at the El Dorado Archery Range, by the Long Beach Parks and Recreation Department, that disallows the placement of...and shooting at... 3D animal targets in front of the butts on this range. This is a practice that has been enjoyed by target archers and bowhunters for years without problems.

This ruling was based upon two women who had observed an archery class being taught by Marcus Bossett. They were aghast at seeing youth shooting at 3D Animal Targets and demanded that the park stop this terrible practice.

The “terribly offensive” class is called “Instinctive Archery” and Marcus has been using his own personal 3D targets for his students to shoot at so they know how to shoot and score all of the tournaments held in California which includes the 3D tournaments.

These two women managed to cause a sweeping policy change that includes the entire archery range and anyone who comes to enjoy it.

Marcus and I spoke a couple years ago when PETA planned a protest at his classes due to his use of 3D animal targets. He had 'dedicated four and a half years to the range.' I contacted Marcus regarding what I had read and he confirmed what the newsletter states. He said that during one of his classes, a woman walked up in between his students and the targets (incredibly unsafe on her part) and began taking photographs of the animal targets and then turned around and took photographs of the class. When Marcus asked her if he could help her she ignored him and walked away. He tried confronting her and she remained silent, got in her vehicle and drove off.

Shortly thereafter, Marcus was informed he would no longer be allowed to teach archery at El Dorado Park. Marcus explained to me that he contacted the park numerous times and spoke to Citywide Programs Superintendent, Joy Warren a trying to get a straight answer as to why. He stated that she refused to meet with him in person, but would talk on the phone. He also mentioned that he was told that very few people are using their own 3D targets on the range. I have shot 3D animal targets at this range since 2009. So has my hunting partner and many of my friends. So do many other archers. I even have video proof of my shooting 3D animal targets in 2009 with no issues with anyone. I even had other archers ask me if they could shoot it, too.

In checking the El Dorado Park webpage, I notice the lack of any information on the archery range. At the bottom, it does mention the Junior Olympic Archery Development program and states, 'FREE archery instruction. Learn on their equipment or your own!' Yes, it also says your own, so can't archers bring their own targets to this class? If to this class, then can't other archers bring their own targets as well?

I called Joy Warren and she informed me that the ruling is indeed correct. There were a couple people that felt the park was 'promoting the injuring of animals' by shooting at the 3D foam targets and the 'park does not want confrontation'. She admitted she knows very little about archery and bowhunting. Just to clarify, shooting a 3D animal target allows bowhunters to practice better shots so that when we hunt these animals our shots are spot on and so we DON'T leave an injured animal in the forest. We want our shots to be accurate and for the animal to die quickly. We hunters don't like to see an injured animal any more than you do.

I shared with Joy that bowhunters use 3D animal targets to more accurately focus their shots by shooting for a smaller area in preparation for hunting. That's one of the reasons we use them. Another reason for using our own 3D targets is that we don't beat up the straw bales or the rubber backing used by the Olympic-style archers. We bring our own targets to save the park having to replace the bales sooner and to have a more solid target to shoot.

Here's the real issue. The park did not inform the public of this change! I asked if I could see the official letter they sent out to people. Come to find out, they didn't draft a letter to go out and they surely didn't post notices around the range stating that archers couldn't use them. What they are doing is if the rangers see someone is shooting at a 3D animal target, the rangers go out and inform the archer they must remove the target from the range as they are not allowed any longer. She also stated that there was no plan to inform the public. It's not even mentioned on the Long Beach Parks website. Many of us bowhunters buy an annual park pass specifically to use the archery range. Even the park pass rules are outdated as they now use a plastic pass that hangs from your rear view mirror. At $60 per pass or $7 per vehicle if you don't have a pass, it isn't cheap, but it is worth it to be able to practice out to 80 yards. It's the only place in Long Beach that you can shoot that far legally. Shooting at 80 yards allows our shots at 30-40 yards to be more accurate.

There is a multitude of bowhunters who use this range on a daily basis to practice for hunting and just for target practice. According to the park, only Olympic Style archery is allowed from now on and that this ruling was put in place two years ago. Really? How come no one has ever heard of this until now? Ms. Warren explained that the park manager put it in place two years ago and she is just enforcing it as she is fairly new to her position. I offered to sit down with the Long Beach Parks and Recreation Department and share what bowhunters do for conservation and why we practice like we do, as much as we do. With 30 years of experience I believe I have some knowledge on the matter. I was denied a meeting.

I also asked if bowhunters could volunteer to help rebuild the dilapidated fence just beyond the archery targets. Anyone who uses the range knows what I am talking about. This is a safety barrier and backstop should any arrows miss the straw bales. It looks like Swiss cheese. She said that staff from Boeing would be fixing the fence on July 26. I also mentioned how unsafe it is to have the fence open in the middle and recommended that it be closed. I also asked if any signs would be placed on the opposite side of the fence to let patrons know there was an archery range on the other side. She said they can get temporary signs to put on the backside of the fence. I hope they put a few up and spread them out. Plus, they should be in English and Spanish so that more park users can read them. 

How do you bowhunters feel about this? Please chime in as they must hear from us. I know I am incredibly upset as the next step is to ban anything but a traditional bow. I will be following up with the park to see if we can get the 3D target use back and what steps we need to take.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Youth Safari Day - July 19, 2014

If you have kids and want to share some exciting events and fun things to do this Saturday, take them out to Raauhauge's Shooting Complex in Corona, CA. The location is well known and here are the details on the day emailed from Turner's Outdoorsman.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Training for the Hunt: Trail Running Benefits

Training for deer season is something I do not take lightly. That is, I don't take it lightly NOW. As I have grown older and wiser, I understand the need for fitness and staying in good shape (not perfect shape) to get around and hunt well. Brett and I started out the spring by hiking with 80-100 lbs. on our backs. While that is good to strengthen our leg muscles, it did nothing for our cardio and endurance. Then we welcomed trail running to the mix.

Why trail running? The main reason is we need to prepare the best we can, in the time we have, for Colorado and the SoCal foothills. We both have families and jobs, but we make the time to train. Our biggest hurdle is that we live near the beach and there are few trails to run with good hills close by. That is except for one that works very well for us and is within 10 minutes of driving. The park is called Gum Grove Park and if you didn't hear about it from someone or see it on a map, you would have no idea it exists. It's a hidden gem because it's not two miles from Seal Beach and it has some good hills to run!

We both hate running on asphalt and it's super boring. I hate boring. I am also a social person (just check out my Twitter feed) and I like to see people when I run and I like to meet new people. We have met a few people asking what we are training for and I love the looks we get when we tell them we are bowhunting elk in Colorado. It's priceless! Plus, running on asphalt is nothing like hiking in the mountains. If I have to run on it I will, but if I have a choice it's going to be a dirt path.

To be honest, I started off by running on asphalt, then hiking with 90 lbs. on asphalt, and I got bored. When Brett and I discussed our training and how to improve, we opted for Gum Grove Park to do our hiking. That worked for a month and then we both knew we had to change it up. We weren't reaping the benefits of what was right there in front of us. We needed to improve our endurance and lung power and running was the answer.

Over the past month we have logged some good miles and our training has improved greatly. We are running every Tuesday evening and we burst up the hills each time. We don't walk them. If we walk it's on the downhills so we don't completely destroy our quads. We have to be smart, too. Those hills are covered with fallen plenty of eucalyptus leaves and one slip can be very dangerous and painful. We use caution and tread lightly.

Heron Pointe, Seal Beach, CA 90740
Parking area is before the gate (on left) at Heron Pointe, across from the Naval Weapons Station.

If anyone wants to join us for a run, feel free to meet up! If you do want to meet up, email me and I'll send directions. We start running at 6:00 PM. Remember, we are training our bodies for hunting season. It's not a competition, unless you want to compete against yourself. That's how I look at it. I want to better myself each time I am out there. I feel great about my progress and we are slowly increasing the challenges. Next week it's 2.5 miles of running followed by a 1.5 mile hike with 90# on our backs. I love a good challenge and can't wait to take it head on.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Product Review: Flambeau Soft Crossbow Case

After I set up my Scorpyd crossbow, I hung it in my garage for a few days while I researched protective cases. I didn't want to leave it up like that. I wanted it protected. Finding a case that would accommodate the reverse-draw technology of this particular crossbow and not empty my back account was a challenge! 80% of the cases would not fit due to the reverse-draw technology. After narrowing it down to two cases - a hard case and a soft case, I opted to go with the Flambeau Soft Crossbow Case due to my needs and cost. When I spoke to the folks at Flambeau, they told me that my crossbow should fit and provide ample protection for transporting it in a vehicle. That sounded good enough for me to field-test it.

The Flambeau Soft Crossbow Case is much larger in person than what I had imagined. It is well-padded on the sides, top and bottom, but also there is another layer of padding for over your scope. This was a bonus feature I hadn't factored in. I knew it was supposed to be there, but actually seeing it was pretty cool. The base is fitted with three Velcro straps; one for each limb and one for the stock of the crossbow. With dimensions of 43" L x 35" W x 15" H, there is plenty of room for a reverse-limb crossbow, like my Scorpyd, or any regular crossbow on the market today.

There is room inside the Flambeau case for every crossbow I can think of.

The case comes in Mossy Oak BREAK UP With durable 600D fully padded nylon contruction. It does have a zippered back pocket that can hold your string cocker or other small items. It is large enough to hold quite a bit more, but your crossbow will be resting on the pocket as it sits right in the middle. I decided not to fill it with too much. 

I unzipped the case, loaded my crossbow inside and anchored it down with the Velcro straps. It wasn't going anywhere. I slid my full quiver next to the crossbow, but did not anchor it down. I verified that any broadheads were pointing away from the string and would not make any contact inside the case. The shoulder strap allowed me to throw it over my shoulder and walk it to my vehicle. After laying it on the backseat, I drove 8 miles to a friends place to show him. When I opened the case everything had stayed put and looked solid.

One thing I would NOT attempt with any soft case is placing it in a truck bed. If it slides around, things could get damaged very easily. If you plan on having it in a truck bed ordoing any air travel, use a hard case for that. 

The quiver inside the case and the crossbow stock anchored with Velcro.

I do wish there was a way to secure the quiver inside the main compartment to be sure the arrows stay put. I can only imagine hitting a bump in the road and a broadhead tipped arrow falls out and cuts into your string. I realize I am being very dramatic, but it could happen and can be very unsafe.

For the money, it's a great deal and protects your valuable crossbow. The case retails for roughly $100.00 and that is one of the least expensive ones out there for the amount of protection you do get. Plus, you won't find many out there as versatile as the Flambeau Spot Crossbow Case.