Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bruce and Vader Win Their First "Open" Competition

Vader Wins his First "Open" Competition


It's crazy and we got lucky, but Vader and I entered our first Open/Freestyle division event and we ended up winning.  On top of that, we landed third in our first long-distance (quadruped) event.

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Around a year ago when Vader and I competed at Dixon in the Local UFO event, and there were a few things of note that intimidated me then.

Last year, the field was too long for me and I could not get the disc down to the far end of the competition zone.

Second, we had no freestyle routine.  We had competed in the Pro Division.  (2 Toss and Catch rounds).  In fact, we just premiered our freestyle routine this weekend!

Third, they held a long-distance contest at the end of the day.  For some reason I had signed up, but then they took the field markers and doubled the length of the field.  I retracted my entry, considering the field itself was already too long for my capabilities. (Then)

And during that competition, I had watched a young lady with comparatively little effort (Or otherwise referred to as technique.) throw one of her dog discs around 230 feet.

I was inspired on that day, to say the least and since then, I had started working on several facets of my Disc Dog game.

The aspects of improvement included trying to incorporate a freestyle routine of sorts into my repertoire and to attempt to increase the distance that I could throw a disc.

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The Freestyle Routine

Vader's freestyle routine in the Open Division of the UFO Local Event in Dixon

Competing in Freestyle meant that in my local club, had gone beyone the "Pro Division" and right on into the "Open Division."  Gulp!  And what does a freestyly routine consist of?

The bottom line of any freestyle attempt is the variety of disc throw releases you can muster up, coupled with how you launch your disc, your dog's ability to catch those throws and a few other aspects that make a routine entertaining.

Right now I have a pretty basic routine with several releases that send my dog across the field, plus, a few jumps off my body.  Nothing spectacular to write home about, but enough.

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Disc Toss Distance (Quadruped) Division

Vader taking off for his Quadruped catch

After watching this young lady with superb technique throw a disc 200+ feet, I took it upon myself to try and learn that skillset.  Back then, I could barely muster a disc close to the 90-foot mark.  That mustering included some form of accuracy.  IE:  Keep it somewhere on the field, unlike my first appearance where one of my disc tosses landed in the tents on the sideline.

How embarrasing.

But since that day, I've studied various resources and worked on various methods and techniques to help gain some distance to my paltry throwing skills.

And I can proudly say I've achieved some sense of goal.

For one, in order to compete on the field this last weekend, I had to back up 10 feet from the throw line to keep it in the max scoring zone.  (I was smiling inside that I had to do that.)

For another, we took third in the distance contest because of my 167-foot toss that Vader caught.  Boom!  Yes, 167 feet!  I was bested by a few feet for second, but the winner of this contest took us both out when he tossed his disc 261 feet. 

So... um, I have some more work to do, since my best ever, so far, is only 205 feet.

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But looking back a year ago, I was tickled that I was looking at the competition field and wondering how it gave me so much trouble.  It was a nice feeling.

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Our freestyle routine is pretty basic, but combined with Vader's incredible Toss and Catch skills score, helped us win the Open Division for our first time out competing.  I'm pretty proud of our accomplishment.  All those days of endless disc tossing finally paid out a bit, and that makes it feel like the constant "tennis elbow" and other aches and pains are worth it.  (Picking up discs for 90 minutes can tweak the back if you run into a "bad back" day and don't protect yourself while bending over to pick things up.)

There are a bunch more images from the UFO Local Dixon event on Vader's Facebook Page.

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