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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Art of Archery

Several years ago now, on a trip to my cousin Don's for his son's graduation party, I got bit by the archery bug. Don was giving my father and I a shooting demonstration, and listening to him discuss the "art" of archery piqued my interest in the sport.

A few words on cousin Don: that boy can shoot! Seriously, he is really, really good. Never mind the countless deer he has harvested with his trusty bow, but his ability to shoot high scores in 3D competitions is also amazing. And he knows archery too. Have a question? Ask Don and he can tell you. No one can set-up a bow better than Don. And he is a wiz when it comes to fletching arrows as well.

So listening to Don discuss the sport made me want to go out and buy a bow, which I did. My first bow was pretty basic. You don't want to spend $700 on a bow and decide the sport isn't for you, so I chose a $249 model, and Don supplied me with some equipment to get me started. I was hooked. From the first few arrows I shot I knew that I wanted to continue in the sport.

I refer to archery as an "art" because it isn't a science. Oh sure there are science and technology aspects of the sport, but the art is in the personal aspect of shooting. What is right for you may not be right for me, and vice-versa. There are infinite variables that go into the sport, for example: what kind of release to use and how to actually trigger that release. There are punch shooters, back-tension shooters, and shooters that combine both methods. And let's not even get into the millions of possible combinations of equipment. It has been over 4 years since I started shooting and I still am learning all the time.

This year I finally upgraded to a better bow. The accessories I have on it are almost as expensive as my first bow was all by itself. My original bow set-up was probably around $400, where my current set-up is closer to $1000. But such is the sport. The result? I've included a couple of pictures of groups I recently shot.

Ted Nugent refers to the "mystical flight of the arrow", conjuring up the idea of a magical aspect to archery. Some days that is how it feels, that in order to shoot well I would need magic. But as with any other activity, the more time you put in the better you become. Archery is about practice. It is about discipline. It is about honing your skills, maintaining your equipment, and having respect for the sport in general.

This year I hope to take my first deer with my bow. Obviously the deer have their own ideas regarding that idea which is what makes bow hunting so much fun. If just anybody could go into the woods and shoot a deer within ten minutes then there would be nothing special about doing that. Because it takes more time, more energy, and more effort than that, killing my first deer will be so special.

I just hope this is the year!

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