I’m going to take a departure from my usual fare and talk about one of my other passions. No, not fishing. The water is to ‘stiff’ right now for that. Unless you’re one of those people who think sitting on a bucket in -50 degree wind chills looking down at an eight inch hole in the ice waiting for a really stupid fish is fishing, I do not!
Nor, am I going to discuss the nuances of crafting a fine hunting knife from a piece of steel and a few scraps of wood and brass. Though that might be a good topic for a post some other time. Today I want to talk about archery and why I love it so.
I am a traditional archer, which means I shoot a longbows, recurve bows, or primitive (self) bows. I have owned and shot the modern compound bows with wheels and cams and sights and such. But, I found that I like the simple “Stick and String”.
It started at a young age. My father would come home from work and even before dinner, the family would go into the back yard and shoot at a paper plate target pinned onto several straw bales stacked upon each other to form a backstop. We would spend hours in the evenings and weekends as a family shooting for fun. I the fall we would go to our vacation property in Wisconsin and bow hunt for the elusive White-tailed deer. Before I was old enough to go out on my own, I would tag along with Mom. Yes, my mother was an avid bowhunter long before it was fashionable for women to do so. She would find a place to stand along a likely deer run and sit me down at the base of a nearby tree to wait. usually, I would fall asleep. In high school, I gave up archery in favor of football and I didn’t take up the bow again until after I was married.
So, why does the ‘mystic flight of the arrow’ compete with my writing and fishing? They actually have a lot in common. The most important commonality is, for me at least, they take concentration. Different forms of concentration to be sure. But still the mind is exercised and stretched. During the ten to fifteen seconds of my archery shot sequence, I can not allow anything other than the shot to enter my mind. During the last few seconds before I release the arrow, there is only the small dot on the target. there is nothing else. only the dot. Where the arrow will ultimately strike. If I allow outside thoughts to enter in, the shot will be off. Once the arrow hits the target, my mind can relax until I am preparing the for next shot.This process of concentrate, relax, concentrate, relax, does a wonderful job of removing stresses of the day, calming the spirit, relaxing the body, and focusing the mind.
Then there is the satisfaction of watching the flight of a perfectly shot arrow. The unerring, arching path as the colorful feathered fletching rotates the shaft. Smooth arching flight. Over again and again. Each arrow carries with it negativity and stress. The perfectly shot arrow will always make you smile.