by Ren Sarns
This past weekend, June 16-17, 2012, was the Washington State (NFAA) Field event. We shot 28 field targets on Saturday morning and 14 animal targets that afternoon. On Sunday we shot 28 hunter targets for another 112 arrows. Saturday is a day of endurance, which I liken to a marathon, 112 arrows and 6 hours of up and down the mountains of Darrington, then a quick break and off to the 14 animal target round.
I love Darrington as they have 5 different field ranges of varying difficulty. The Deer and Dylan course is down on the flatter areas, the Bobcat and cougar, which you have to be part mountain goat to traverse it successfully, is in the high lands. Then, in between, is the Coyote course, which is still a hike uphill to get to and has a few smaller 500 to 1000 feet, rises to climb. I will say if you want a challenge of your abilities, Darrington can give you just about every angle, uphill, and downhill combination you can imagine.
This weekend we shot the Dylan and Coyote courses as it is still too early in the year at that elevation and the other courses will take time to be cleaned and ready. However, the beautiful northwest weather decided to add to the toughness of the course. On Friday my friends and I arrived around noon, in time to find a great spot for the camper and get it all set up. It started raining about an hour before we arrived. The weather forecast was 30% chance on Friday, 50% on Saturday and 40% precipitation on Sunday. I can say it was 30% most of the day on Friday! So with the trailer all setup, and registration double-checked it was time to practice. Around 5 PM the rain stopped, so we grabbed our bows and gear and headed to the practice range. Of course at about my 4th arrow down range the skies opened again. We gathered our arrows and ran back to the trailers. We had a fine meal, and an opportunity to chat with friends from around our State.
Saturday morning brought more of the same weather, and found out I was flighted with a great group of fellow NFAA Trad shooters. The sun broke through, and for the first 18 targets we enjoyed great weather. Then the wind kicked in, the rain started coming down like someone turned on a fire hose, and thunder was heard in the distance. At that point I had started to feel a headache coming on, and was pushing through what I knew was the onset of a migraine. At that point I was almost ready to withdraw and walk down to the trailer, as my migraines are normally so bad I get tunnel vision and cannot function, even after taking the migraine medicine. However, I decided that I should push it out to at least the end of the field round. I was shooting not only with a group of guys who have you laughing all day, but also Dan Croft who some of you may know is a great shot. I try to shoot with him every opportunity I get, as not only is he great guy, he will give any advise you request, and is a lot like Alan Eagleton, has you smiling and thanking him for kicking your butt. Well, with the rain, wind and headache I was within 12 points of Dan, and pretty happy with that. However, I faltered a bit and he took a substantial 39 point lead after the Field round, no excuses, he flat shot great.
So after a quick break, a couple snack bars and water, we headed off to the Dylan course. My headache, surprisingly, was subsiding to a dull roar. I started off on target #1 with a 2 point lead shooting a 20 to Dan’s 18. I built on the lead over the next 7 targets to have a 9 point lead by target 8. Dan slowly cut my lead until we got to the last target and he beat me by 1 point in the animal round. I was ecstatic to have kept with him, yet disappointed with my last 2 targets allowing him the opportunity to catch and pass me.
Sunday was another day of rain in the morning, and then the sun broke out for a beautiful afternoon; shame was that it happened with only a few targets left in the field round. 28 targets of 4 arrows each, for another 112 arrow day. Once again, Dan and I were head to head. The great thing about shooting for me is just not the competitive challenge, but also the opportunity to socialize, learn from others and just have a great walk in the woods. This is where the golf quote definitely does not fit in, “A good walk spoiled”. Dan and I challenged each other despite the rain, and we were back and forth most of the morning with Dan pulling into the lead and winning the Hunter round by 12 points.
Yep, I lost. I actually took an old fashioned butt whooping. I shot my personal best for a State level Field for all 3 rounds, even though I fell short of the goals I had set for the event score wise. My scores were 420/245/429 for the weekend, given the weather and the backup limbs I was pretty darn happy. When I got home my wife is pretty used to me setting a trophy or plaque in the bookcase stacked with many others. When she asked how did you do? I said I took 2nd, and had a great time. She sarcastically said “oh you were first loser”, (she loves to razz me), and I said no not this weekend. It’s really not all about winning and losing, and believe me I am as competitive as anyone, for me anyway it is about shooting well and having fun doing it.