I can’t remember just how, but somehow archery came up in a conversation with Dean recently, with both of us musing that we thought it was something that we would enjoy. A couple of hours later, we realized that there was a weekend course in bow-making and archery happening through the local folk school days later, and it seemed like a clear message from the universe. So we signed up, and spent last weekend reacquainting ourselves with the practice.
The process of making the bows was really satisfying. Starting with roughed-out blanks, we used the simplest of hand tools and worked by feel, with just the right amount of guidance. As much as I often like precision, this was mostly about paying attention and watching and feeling the wood. No measuring device required. It reminded me of why I liked carving spoons a few years back, in the most inefficient manner possible, just slowly whittling away a chunk of wood with a small knife. And there was string twisting! (I learned that I’m a champ at string twisting.)
By the end of day two, we were shooting arrows into a straw bale to practice our form. Hugely gratifying. The next day, we had bought a couple arrows in town and set up an old foam panel against a berm in the yard. By the end of the week, we had upgraded to straw bales (which clearly required happy/sad face targets) and ordered a dozen basic quality arrows from an area archery supply. On Sunday we busted out the tools and refined our handles, sanded a few parts that had been rushed, and rubbed another coat of oil into the wood. Yes, I’d say we fell down the hole.
Dean initially set a goal to shoot ten good arrows every day. I quickly realized that I can’t keep my form for ten shots yet, but I have walked out the door and shot a few most every day since. Sure, my motivation will likely fade in time, but it’s been really fun to rekindle an interest that I hadn’t indulged since my Girl Scout camp years. It’s physical and mental exercise. It requires a focus that brings you right into the moment. There’s instant feedback. And something so very satisfying about putting an arrow into a bale, and pulling it out, over and over again.