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August 27, 2009

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Just about anytime you can improve your score in sports itís a good thing. Sunday I shot a 342. Last year I shot a 77.

Okay most of you skeptics out there probably think Iím talking about my golf game, one of the few sports where the lower the score the better. I wonít say that Iíve never shot a 342, but Iím pretty certain you would have read about it if I shot a 77. Even on our small course, that would be just nine over par, which often seems out of my reach.

Sorry, I digress. What Iím bragging about is my recent performance at the Wapello Chiefs Bowmen 3-D archery shoot in Ottumwa, IA.

While my score obviously was much improved, I have to clarify that I shot the miserable 77 on a 20-target outing in Bloomfield in 2008. The 342 I carded came on a 48-target course, so I had more than double the opportunities.

If any Bowtec reps are listening, I donít think my score warrants any big endorsements, but Iíd be glad to be your spokesperson for making a switch to a new bow.

Sure, it might sound like Iím blaming my pathetic performance on my old bow. Well I hope it sounds like that, because thatís exactly what Iím doing. I should probably clarify that a bit, maybe I shouldnít play the blame game, and instead should offer the credit to the new piece of equipment Iím using. Iíd even go a little further to lessen the sting of my words, noting that I definitely am no maintenance guru, meaning I could have allowed my old bow to be in such a state of disrepair that it was my fault and not the bowís.

Regardless of culpability, I simply was ecstatic to be able to nearly double my average score per shot (from 3.85 to 7.12). Of course thatís still not saying that much, since on that nightmarish day in 2008 I missed as many targets as I hit.

This Sunday morning I missed only one of 48 shots, and that was with an arrow that tore the fletching and came off the bow so horribly I had flashbacks of the day in the deer stand when my bow string caught my face netting as I released and forced my shot to fall harmlessly short of a monster buck standing broadside of me just 18 yards away.

Before my shoulder gets tired from patting myself on the back (actually itís a bit sore from pulling my bow 48 times) I must confess that in 48 shots I recorded zero bullseyes. Only seven of my 48 efforts were in the 10 zone. But overall, 31 of the 54 shots scored eight points or better, meaning they were ďgoodĒ shots.

When you consider this course is set up to be challenging for avid archers, I was pleased to escape without losing any arrows. There were only a couple shots at 40 yards distance, with the bulk in the 15-30 yard range. Still there were several challenging angles, shots from tree stands, around trees or other obstacles or either uphill or down hill further distorting the yardage, which as a first time shooter, you were on your own to guess-timate.

I already sang the praises of Bowtech (actually my bow, ďThe RockĒ is a Diamond Ė their more economical version). Now I must give the Wapello Chiefs Bowmen club some props. This by far is the best course Iíve been to. The 48 3-D targets range from the standard deer and turkeys to bears, a mountain goat, bobcats, a leopard, cougar and even a lion. They are spread out through a wooded trail system that puts most archery shots into the context in which they will be taken by the average Missouri or Iowa hunter. The facility, located south of Ottumwa, sets on 80 acres and features a concession stand and campsite as well as covered sitting area. The course consists of four separate legs, allowing shooters to pick their own starting points to avoid delays.

Iím strongly considering the $40 annual membership fee, which gives the holder a key to the gate and open hours to shoot the 12-target course that is left up 24/7 for members. I commute to Ottumwa every Wednesday to pick up the newspaper, which is printed at the Ottumwa Courier. So if the paperís ever late on Wednesdayís be sure to ask me how I shot.