by: Kenny Hollingsworth, Bowtech Pro Staff
Just got back to work this morning after a great weekend in Texas participating in the first Train To Hunt event of 2017! It was held at Cinnamon Creek Ranch in Roanoke, Texas. First of all, what an awesome place to have an event like this! It was perfect for everything we were doing for the competition. For those of you not familiar with TTH, I will give you a breakdown of how it works. First thing in the morning there is a competitors meeting. Immediately following the meeting, a 20 target 3D course shoot is started. Each competitor is assigned a target for a shotgun start. During this event, shots are taken at various known and unknown distance, under a variety of conditions. I started at target 1-2 with three other guys in my division. Our first directions were to shoot one arrow then load a second and shoot it within ten seconds. No score is counted for the second arrow if it isn’t released within the ten second window. We also took shots from sitting, kneeling and kneel and stand positions. This exactly mirrors hunting scenarios that could easily be encountered. Shots are scored as five for a ten-ring, three for an eight-vitals and a one for anything outside the vital areas. A time is assigned after the scoring with fifteen seconds added for each point below the perfect score of one hundred. I shot an eighty, so my time was five minutes even.
Following the 3D course, another short meeting was held explaining the challenge course layout and rules for the event. All competitors were assigned a heat, and the race was on! I was assigned heat seven, so I had a couple of hours to watch the other competitors perform. The challenge course is a series of four shots with a physical challenge and a sprint in between. This is followed by the “mountain” course. A pack is pre-loaded with a 50lb sandbag. Once the last physical challenge is done , the pack is loaded, grab your bow, two arrows, and off you go for 2-2.5 miles of fun! This includes two stops along the way to shoot your last two arrows. When I came time for my heat we all lined up in front of a 20 yard deer target. Each of us had a tire drag for 20 yards, then a 400 meter loop run and shoot one arrow. I was last pulling my tire, but made up ground to second in time to take my first shot. Ten ring on arrow one! Off to a good start. Challenge two was box up and overs with a 50lb sandbag. I did pretty good on this one, but still was in second starting the loop run. The lead guy was in great shape and was an excellent shot as well. My second shot was a ten ring as well. These are considered par and no penalties are added. Challenge three was ten sandbag get-ups. This is where I had some trouble. I found an area I needed to work on for sure. Ended up in third just behind the guy starting the loop. We stayed neck to neck the entire loop. We both shot tens on arrow three as well. I had a :45 sec advantage over him due to my score in the 3D course. It was going to be a tough one! Challenge four was ten sandbag over the shoulder drops then another loop. We stayed tight again with the first place guy pulling away from us all. Again, another ten ring for both of us. I was maintaining my lead, but just barely. Challenge five was burpees! Everyone loves burpees!! Fortunately I was feeling great on those and knocked them out fast to start my loop.
I was back in second as I loaded up my pack for the mountain course, but third was right behind me. My legs were starting to burn about a mile in as we both were keeping a steady 10-11 min pace ruck running while carrying our bows. Eventually target five came into view. I’m sure we were both glad to see it as that meant a short break for us both. We both knocked arrows and lined up for the 30 yard shot. I shot an eight on this one and received a :30 penalty, while he shot a ten. That left me almost no breathing room at all with another mile to go at least. We both were getting tired as the adrenaline rush was wearing off while the weight of the pack was letting itself be known. We stayed together and tried to keep moving in a shuttle run style while maintaining as close to 11 minute pace as possible. Target six finally came into view, much to our relief. Again, we both lined up side by side to shoot the 20 yard downhill elk. I think we both shot an eight ,so it was a wash. Now, for the 800 meter or so sprint to the finish! My legs were giving out on me, but my mind was still telling them to go. The other guy was off at a strong pace while I had to slow down and try to get a quick recovery on my legs. Once I crested the hill, a competitor from the prior heat and one of my team members from the 3D course was waiting for me. He screamed to run and we did the last 600 meters or so at a full sprint. I finished 20-25 seconds or so behind the second place guy in my heat. He gave it his all and it was better than what I had that day. This would make for a tight finish on the podium. Nobody was going to catch first place as he ended up winning the overall ELITE award for top finish in any division. Not bad for a guy over 40 in the Masters divisions. Sometimes old guys still have it! When it came down to it, another competitor had an amazing finish in the prior Masters division heat. He snuck by both of us for 2nd place by beating us solidly in the challenge course. He overcame a two minute deficit to pull it off. Unfortunately for me, I was on the slow side of a tight race and was edged out for 3rd by just a few seconds. However, In this case, I was still happy with my 4th place finish. Competition was intense and I felt like I left it all out there. North Carolina TTH is coming up on May 13. I am all signed up for it and Pennsylvania June 24. If you are into hunting and fitness, you will love the TTH format. All you need to register is here a Train To Hunt Challenge Landing Page 2 Give It a shot! You wont be disappointed.