Monday, February 15, 2016

APRS and Traditional Archery

Since the rollover from 2016 to 2017, and -20 C or even lower temperatures the norm for the past several weeks, I hadn't got away from home to far, as some of the activities I had in mind required somewhat warmer temperatures to make them happen.
This included setting up some of the new ham gear I have assembled for field work, and some of the setting up required the dexterity of nimble fingers not numb from the cold temperatures while exposed to the elements.
The forecast indicated there were warmer temperatures on the move our way, but while I waited for that to happen,  I decided to entertain myself by spending the day going for a walk-about down at McKinnon Flats located about 35 kilometers southeast of Calgary, a Fish and Wildlife conservation area that I have visited many time in the past. At this time of the year, the winter-gate situated at the top of the switch-back that allows access to the river valley is locked down for the winter, although the area is open to visitors on foot.
Now I wasn't planning on going for just any old walk-about, as I would be carrying my longbow as well as arrows and the other required accessories, and a pack with the other necessities required while out for the bigger part of the day.
I had recently been shooting my bow on targets in my backyard, after being away from archery for many years. Its interesting that I originally got in to archery back 40 years ago, and first began by using a recurve bow, followed by another recurve bow, and enjoyed many years shooting traditional bows until the early 90's when I acquired my first compound bow. I acquired a second compound bow, and shot with them for a number of years.
Then somewhere along the line, I gave archery up for another 10 years before rediscovering my passion for the sport once more. Funny thing happened at that point, I realized I was no longer interested in compound bows, and came full circle back to traditional archery, and although I enjoyed using a recurve bow once again, I decided at some point to acquire a longbow, always having been interested in them, but having never owned one for some reason or another.
These days I'm finding my passion for archery has returned with a vengeance, and its a rare day that I don't leave home without my longbow along in my truck.
So back to the present, and arriving at McKinnon Flats, I grabbed my pack that was loaded and ready to go with the required gear, and shouldered it along with my longbow and pocket quiver holding the arrows I would need for stump shooting once I worked my way down through the river breaks, arriving in an area bordering the Bow river, that has many good stands of Cottonwood trees, also including a lot of deadfall that would be perfect for a little impromptu target practice archers call stump shooting.
Basically stump shooting consists of exactly that, walking along with your bow at ready, along with a nocked arrow in place, and when an interesting looking dead stump or other likely target appears as you walk along, its as simple as drawing back, and in one fluid motion, releasing the arrow, sending it on its way.
This is a very enjoyable and good way of getting field practice with a bow and arrow that is especially beneficial if you are a bowhunter.
Years ago I actually did bowhunt for a couple of years but being I no longer am interested in hunting wildlife other that with my camera's, stump shooting is as good as it gets.
Of course it was a given that I would have one of my APRS HT's along, and on this day that was my Kenwood D72 that was riding on the belt around my waist. The deep valley that McKinnon Flats is located in, required that I leave the radio-stack in my truck activated, and in particular, I had my Kenwood TH-D710A set as a fill-in low-level digipeater, allowing the beacons from my D72 to be heard and digipeated by the D710A located in my truck at the trail-head located above the switch-back leading down to the valley, and about a kilometer away from my location. That way, the beacons from my D72 would be forwarded to a high-level digipeater with an I-gate connection (CALGRY) insuring that my waypoints were being placed on the map at on the APRS network.

I had my D72 set to automatically beacon every 10 minutes or so, as I didn't want to have to manually push the beacon button on the HT, being I had my bow in my hands. Of course the day wouldn't have been complete without a mishap or two, and the biggest faux-pas I made was when at one point, I decided I needed to check the display of my D72 to see that everything was as it should be. While juggling my bow with one hand, and removing the D72 from its case on my belt, it didn't want to let go for some reason, so I pulled harder and it came away. Well wouldn't you know it, both the volume and channel adjusting knobs located at the top of the radio were missing, having been pulled from the radio by the strap and buckle holding the radio in the 511 case I was using on this day. I knew they weren't to far away, and in the summer months I probably would have seen where they had dropped on the ground.
Of course with 12" of snow on the ground, I didn't even attempt to look, as it would be a waste of time. So a trip to RadioWorld to order new knobs is in order, although the HT functions fine without them for the moment.  If you look close at the photo of the D72, you can see the bare shafts sticking out of the radio with no knobs present, Nice. LOL!

What else can you do but laugh, and maybe get out the fixings for tea that I had in my pack, along with a few snacks to take the bite out of the cold. When I had left the truck earlier in the morning, the temperature was sitting at -19C, and by the time I got back to the truck 5 hours later, the temperature was sitting at -8C.
The only real concern I had at the start of the day with the temperature around -19C, was in keeping my hands warm for shooting my bow, and this I accomplished by wearing my mountaineering mittens over my hands that included my shooting glove on my right hand. When wanting to shoot my bow, it was as simple as dropping the mittens, and I was able to quickly draw and release arrows before putting my mittens back on.
All in all it was an enjoyable day out and about in the snow, although there were times I wished I had brought my snowshoes, making it easier to get around in places. I'll maybe do that next time.

NOTE....all photos expand
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