When my boss learned that I was planning on writing about the Archery Custom Shop, he tacked on an extra assignment that seemed simple enough: See if you could shoot a few arrows and then write about it, he said. Knowing that I had never done this before, I’m sure what he really meant was, “Make a fool of yourself and let the readers laugh about it.” OK, fine by me. Bring it on.
So last Friday afternoon in the archery shop, Terry gave me an arm guard for my left arm and a small finger guard to strap over the first three fingers of my right hand. I laughed as he pushed a mobile target onto the range about half the distance that expert archer Deno Andrews had just been shooting across for bullseyes. (Thankfully Deno’s 7-year-old daughter Sophia was not there. I’m told she is a pro, with nerves of steel. She would have showed me up for sure.)
Terry’s instructions seemed so easy, but I kept fumbling as I tried to get in position with the lightweight, wooden recurve bow. My first arrow completely missed the target and landed softly against the black cushion backstop.
As I fumbled again and again through the first four arrows, Terry called out tips. Tilt the bow to the right. Only three fingers on the string. Get your thumb down. Meanwhile, my mind was too busy thinking about how I shouldn’t be thinking. So out of my first four arrows, only one even hit the paper, let alone the circle targets on the paper.
Dang, I really thought I would be a natural.
Terry must have read my mind: “Nobody can come in and be good at it. It takes lots and lots of practice,” he said, trying to console me.
I needed another round to redeem myself. Four more arrows. This time Terry told me to try and make my body in the shape of a “T” by lifting my right elbow up higher and holding it perpendicular to the ground as I pulled back the string. He also said I could try squinting my left eye to help me aim. (Who knows what I had been doing before. As far as I remember, my eyes could have even been closed.)
This round, I fired my arrows quickly after pulling back the string. One after another I kept getting closer and closer, zeroing in on the target.
“Now you’re shooting with some authority!” Terry exclaimed.
“Yep, I own this bow,” I said, feigning confidence.
Finally, there was one arrow left. Last shot. I had to do it. No messing around any more. I took a deep breath and tried not to think too much. Ready. Aim. Fire.
I released the arrow. It cut through the air and … BULLSEYE!
The red circle, a ten-pointer. Wahoo! I did it!
Terry approved. He asked if I wanted to do another round, but I knew better than that. I left the range while still on top. Though really, I can’t wait to go back again.