I had a lovely day out shooting today, I had taken a couple days off during the NFAA National Championships. I shot as a guest, yet could post scores and compare my efforts against the Americans. I was finally grouped with Sandy McCain (second from right), the most experienced and skilled bowhunter female shooter in the world. She holds world records in both the field and hunter rounds, and she lives and breathes archery. I shot again with Lana (second from left) and Christine (far left). Our group was very relaxed, and we chatted the whole way around the animal round.
I shot extremely well in the Animal round, posting a career high 516 points. I couldn’t do much wrong, the arrows were flowing off my bow and hitting the places I wanted them to go. Funny how things work when you’re not trying too hard, much like how my best rock-climbing has been done while relaxed and totally in the moment.
Here are a couple more photographs from the day out:
At the conclusion of the shoot everyone got together in the Easton NFAA National Complex for the presentation ceremony. I received a guest medal for my performance, with my score bringing me in second in their National Championships, which I was really happy with. A good practice for the world championships tomorrow! Immediately following the presentation, the opening ceremony for the World Field Archery Championships followed. We were treated to some Native American dances and flute playing, and a BBQ where everyone mingled and chatted about good times before and good times to come. A couple of excerpts follow:
Last night I went to bed with the intention of shooting today, as it would give me another opportunity to post a field round score. However, all things considered, I shot a very good score on Wednesday, and I felt I could benefit more by resting. The real event is the unwavering five days of the World Field Archery Championship; and I was the only Aussie crazy enough to try both the USA National’s and the WFAC.
I believe I made a wise choice, as I had the time to visit the home of Jon and Mary-Jane; a lovely couple of wonderful human beings I had the fortune of befriending iin 2012 while in Argentina. Both are skilled artisans, and their passion for life iis evident in their smiles and their joyful way. I ventured out to visit them around mid afternoon, and on the way out of my motel, I crossed paths with Bea and Jolleen (the Namibian archers), so they jumped in the car and we crossed the interstate bridge into Nebraska.
A short drive along incredibly picturesque Missouri riverside brought us to the waterfront home of Jon and Mary Jane. It didn’t take Jon long to sequester us into his den of creation, and he treated us to wonder after wonder. I had an inkling that Jon liked to work with his hands, but nothing prepared me for the plethora of items he had deftly crafted. Obsidian knives, flint arrowheads all knapped to a fine edge. Beadwork, bows, arrows and blowdarts! Colonial uniforms, muskets, and other treasures accrued or created through a lifetime were carefully described and presented to us. Bea, Jolleen and I were astounded, and dumbfounded by his skill.
An example of the esoteric items is this Indian love flute, something that until today I did not know could exist:
Jon is a native American, and as someone relatively uneducated in native American history, he was very helpful in describing cultural and social traditions. He brought out a beautiful Indian headdress; and popped it on Jolleen’s head and went on to describe the significance of the feathers, and the status of a warrior that might wear a headdress of this type:
Here are a couple of photographs of the knives and stone knapping work that Jon has done. Mary Jane is a wood carver and a painter, and I hope to see some more of her work when I visit in again in a few days time:
Here is a picture of Mary Jane and I. While Jon was touring us through his workshop and gear; she had been covertly cooking us a dinner! We shared a meal with them and we hope to be back there in a few days to swim and see the other half of Jon’s collection!
Of course, no post would be complete without a bit of fooling around on my part, so here are a few minutes of silliness that occurred while I was overwhelmed with the breadth of Jon’s collection of exotic Indian weapons! Who could resist shooting blow darts across the garden, and throwing (unsuccessfully) a bunch of axes!!! PS> I did actually a lot better with the throwing knives, but this wasn’t captured on camera!!
Day two of the NFAA National Championships was a hunter round; another 28 targets and 4 arrows per target. Today I was shooting with Lana and Melissa. I met and shot with Lana in 2012 in Argentina. She is here with her sister, Lyn, and they’re a great couple of ladies. We had a lovely relaxed day of shooting, with lots of chatting and laughing. Melissa is from Pennsylvania, and she was shooting really, really well.
Before we started shooting we noticed some rustling in the bushes, caused by a pair of fawns! Both ladies said they were twins, and they spent the day running and leaping around the course. We never saw their mother, but they appeared to be having a lot of fun, and were very safe at a target archery range, provided they didn’t leap in front of a target at an inopportune moment. I had tried to capture some still shots of these little guys all day, without any real success . . . they were very quick and by the time I got my camera trained on them, they had passed by.
Later in the day, I did capture them on video. One ran out right in front of us, and we knew the other fawn was soon to follow, so I grabbed my phone and started the recording. If you look in the middle of this video you can make out the head of the little thing peering at me through the grass. Towards the end of the short video you’ll see him more clearly:
After the day of shooting I grabbed some lunch with Bea, and had a relatively early night.
I am the lone Aussie shooting with all the Americans for the NFAA National Field Championships. Most of the Aussie team think that it is too much archery, to shoot five days of a national championship and then follow that immediately with another five days of the World Championship. They may be right; but I don’t have to shoot all the five days, I can post a score made up of three total days out of the five, so I will decide in a few days if I can fit in a rest day.
There are a handful of other foreign competitors taking part in the NFAA event, and we are classed as ‘guest’ shooters; which means we are ineligible for medals, but can participate anyway. I see it as great practice for the upcoming world event, where Australia has around 15-20 participating archers.
The first day was a ‘field round'; 28 targets with 4 arrows per target at distances varying from 11 yards to 80 yards. My shoot group was made up of a Namibian woman – Bea, and two Austrian men, Herwig and Klement. I had shot with Herwig in Argentina in 2012. Here is a short video of us all together, getting ready for the starting signal to commence the round:
This was a very friendly group, and I had a great time shooting with these guys. We all shot pretty well, I shot an above average score and was very happy. I did feel some nerves, as it is the first day of competition and I tend to place a lot of pressure on myself to shoot well; but I am learning to let that go and just enjoy the flow of the moment – ironically performance is best when I am relaxed and it feels easy to do. Bea took a short video of four shots I made on a 55 yard target, which is a target of 65cm diameter at that range.
Weather was superb, a little humid but no higher than about 28 Celsius, ideal weather really. We had a lot of fun chatting during the round, and making new friends with each other. I’ve included a few shots to indicate the lovely scenery here at the Yankton range.
Once all the shooting was over with, I went to greet the rest of the Australian team, who had arrived around midday. We’re all holed up in the Best Western Kelly Inn, which is right next to the archery range. Many of the Aussies were pretty tired and jetlagged, but all were in good spirits and pleased to be in the USA. I was invited to eat with a couple of Americans; Vince and Paul – great fellas (father and son) I had met in Argentina. Afterwards I sat and had some wine with the Aussies, who had come down for an early dinner. Good times!
I left Dan’s place in good time, his little Honda all packed up. The drive from Wisconsin to Yankton South Dakota took me right across the southern part of Minnesota, which was a relaxing drive via Interstate 90.
I spent plenty of time checking out the scenery, endless swathes of corn fields and more wind generators than you can imagine. A couple of stops on the way for snacks etc, and I made excellent time to Yankton, the 650km drive felt easy and I arrived at my motel around 3pm. Once settled in to my room, I set up my bow and made a short walk to the archery range. (The ‘Kelly Inn’ is ideally located, I’m literally 200m from where the competition starts.)
The rest of the Australian team were to arrive today, but they were held up and wouldn’t arrive until the 30th. I had decide to shoot both the NFAA National Championships, as a lead-up to the world championships. Ten days of archery, and I think the body and mind will hold up.
The facilities here are amazing, and I made my way to the practice range for a few shots to loosen up for the coming competition.
We headed out early on Saturday morning to catch up with Ty (Dan’s cousin) who is in the 17th year of the organizing a canoe trip down the Wisconsin river.
After an hour or so we got to the launching point, and put in with a few other people from the group. I captured a bit of video as we meandered down the river. The Wisconsin isn’t the largest river in the USA, but I think it would dwarf the Murray in Australia. It feeds directly into the largest river in America, the Mississippi. It is possible to canoe the river system for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of kilometers, and by the amount of people we saw in canoes, it’s a very popular activity for north American people.
After a few hours of paddling we made it to the island – essentially a large sand-bar in the middle of the Wisconsin river, where everyone was pitching tents and enjoying a few beverages. Ty had organised ‘Beer Olympics’ . . . a set of activities that involved frisbee, ping-pong, and bag throwing kinds of drinking games. My days of excess drinking are behind me, so I was perhaps a little more ‘with it’ than many of my competitors . . . which gave me an advantage in the games!! Tim and Dan and Ashley (another of Dan’s cousins) were on my team, and we did really well in all events.
I estimate around 50+ people made this trip, and I commended Ty for his great work organizing it. It was a really memorable experience, and a lot of fun. Here’s a picture of Dan and Ty:
Here is a panoramic photograph to show the beauty of the place:
During the evening we got together around a huge bonfire, chatted and played around with glowsticks! Some of the folks had bought large packets of these things, and the silliness that transpired will forever be known as the ‘Great Glowstick War of 2014′ . (Because they looked great against the night sky, people were throwing them around at each other for hours and hours . . . like hand-missile lasers, you know? Many of Ty’s friends were military, so you know – things that look like lasers and all the military folks = Great Glowstick War!!!).
Here’s a panoramic of the scene. I’m sitting to the left.
Everyone slept in a little the day following . . . I think many would be suffering hangovers! Still, the island was cleaned up and we made our way along the river for another couple of miles to the landing point. What an awesome experience!!
A great thank you to Dan for inviting me along and welcoming me to his friends. It’s a great way to travel, when you can hang out with local people and share time with them. I had not seen Dan for 16 years, we worked together on a summer camp in Wisconsin in the summer of ’98. He’s a great fella and it will be good to one day return the favor and show him around my home country, Australia.
Viroqua, a small town in rural Wisconsin, has really impressed me. With a population of barely 4000 people, it has a vibrant and fresh spirit. There are organic farming co-operatives, artists, musicians and dancers – all making Viroqua their home.
I ventured out on a balmy Friday to see some local musicians and dancers perform. We were nestled in a small valley, next to a small creek and on a lush grassy field. Around 100 locals enjoyed food, local beverages and many live acts. I had many conversations with local people, and all were friendly and interested in my home of Australia.
Viroqua reminds me in many ways of Natimuk, or Halls Gap, back home. Many of the Americans I spoke with had moved from huge cities, such as Chicago or New York, just as many people from Melbourne or Sydney arrive in Natimuk. You cannot deny the appeal of clean air, beautiful woodlands or bushland, and like-minded souls, just wanting to get away from the bustle of modern cities. I grew up in a rural environment, yet I fully appreciate the leap that some of these urban people have made.
Here are a few videos I filmed during the evening; principally of the fire-dancers!
Dan and I made a short visit to his property today, to collect a canoe. Dan’s cousin had invited us to a gathering on the Wisconsin river. I had the opportunity to take a look around some typical Wisconsin woodland, as much of Dan’s property is comprised of native vegetation.
Later on in the afternoon we headed out to visit a local maple-syrup farm; the owners were close friends with Daniel, and we all got together and made a perfect storm of pizzas, a-la Australian style! Very tasty indeed!
Good company and good food, in a beautiful location. We had a tour of the property afterwards, and I managed a little bit of practice archery before the summer sun waned past the horizon.
Upon the setting of the sun, we all got together in a tee-pee, and warmed ourselves by the central hearth. Inspired drumming and discussions of world politics ensued! All in all, a great night out and more wonderful memories.
Here is the lovely photo of Dan and his two daughters.
So today I had a wonderful time here in the sleepy little Wisconsin town of Viroqua. Dan and his eldest daughter Savi (14 years of age) picked me up from the airport bus at around midnight on Tuesday the 22nd, and I managed a solid sleep. I had told Dan to wake me up before he went to work, but he went easy on me and let me sleep in. His daughter woke me at about 12.30pm, which i thanked her for, as i had to get over my jetlag.
Savi and i went for a short walk down to the local store (this is a very small town of around 1500 people) and I grabbed all the ingredients for a tasty mushroom and onion risotto. Dan’s other daughter turned up mid afternoon, she had been staying with friends. Her name is Kali, and she is a few years younger than Savi. We took the family dog (Boadie) for a long walk and made a short video with my new phone… We came across a baseball game and chatted with other folks in the park. Viroqua is a quiet yet typical midwestern town, and everyone is real friendly.
The risotto I cooked came out perfect, and I followed up with a tasty apple and berry pie. Dan and i chatted for hours, and tried to catch up on many years past. I am about to go to sleep, but I wanted to add the short video and also a picture I took of Dan, Savi and Kali.
Love you all and speak soon. I do not have a usa number yet, but I can be contacted on skype or email.