Apparently, the archery gods have a sense of humor, and I am a worthy target for them.
When I got my bow five weeks ago, I had a beautiful goal: Unlike hunting with a gun, which I began after literally one shooting lesson - one day at skeet - I was going to do archery right. I was going to take my time and try to get really good at it before I unleashed myself on the wildlife of Northern California.
Noble, eh? I would've told you it was totally freakin' brilliant, if you'd asked me.
Only problem is I forgot one thing: At least when I started duck hunting, I actually took a shooting lesson.
Mind you, I didn't go into archery blind: I got some basic starting advice from the guy who sold me the bow at Wilderness Archery, looked up some beginning archery instructions with diagrams and got to work in my back yard, paying utmost attention to form.
But deep down I knew I was probably developing bad habits.
So the last time I went to the shop to get sights (wow, huge help!), I inquired about lessons and signed up on the spot. And today was the big day.
The good news is that I long ago shed my juvenile dream of being declared a prodigy on occasions like this. (I blame Shirley Temple movies for this former affliction. That's all I can say.)
But as my instructor, Tex, watched me take a shot, and then another, and then another - all while being shown up by an 11-year-old with a compound bow in the next lane - I knew it was coming. Yes, I was going to stop everything, drop everything and go back to zero.
I had hoped - modestly, I thought - that there might be perhaps one thing I was doing right. And maybe there was. I think he said something complimentary about me standing nice and straight. But pretty much everything else required a lot of correction.
In fact, as soon as the 11-year-old left and it was just me and Tex, we moved waaaaaaay down the lane, so I was standing about five feet from the target.
Hand at proper angle.
Elbow out - just a bit.
Shoulder back - no back, not up.
Fingers on bowstring - no, don't squeeze the arrow!
Finger touching corner of mouth.
Now, wipe that cake you're thinking about eating off the side of your mouth.
Or elbow the person with bad breath behind you. Whichever mental image works best.
OK, do it with your eyes closed.
Strangely enough, that eyes-closed thing was good. Got me thinking about all those body parts and where they needed to be, with no silly target distracting me.
And at the risk of sounding immodest, I have to say I shot AWESOME groups at five feet with my eyes closed. Like seriously, if I could get an elk to stand five feet from me while I'm blindfolded, that mofo is dead.
Now I just need to figure out where I can shoot with my eyes closed around our property for the next few weeks, because the kind of shooting I've been doing is off limits to me for a while. Oh, the mere thought of it fills me with mirth!
Don't get me wrong: Tex was awesome. I just hate being outwitted by my own cleverness.
Oh well. Onward!
©Holly A. Heyser 2011