Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 8: Target Practice

Christmas came early for me. I spent today, the day after Early-Christmas, much like I spend December 26th of every year - playing with my toys! By far, the best toy this year was my new Diamond bow in woodland camouflage with none of the pink stuff. I also received arrows, a handy carrying case, and a stocking full of rubber worms, stinky little fish, glowing frogs, neon yellow marshmallow bait, and a fillet knife. It was a great haul considering that I wasn't even all that good this year.

Today was all about the bow. I have a decent amount of experience shooting military weapons, and while it may sound like a stretch, this experience helped. I understand how the slightest change in site picture, posture, and release effects trajectory. For me, shooting my bow was not unlike learning any new weapon of my past career.

I use a release device equipped with a lever that works much like a trigger. Velcro secures the release around my wrist. The business part of the release is a metal arm with claw and trigger. The claw hooks to the string and allows me to pull the bow's tension weight without killing my fingers. Opening the claw and releasing the string requires the same gentle trigger squeeze needed in the marksmanship of an M16 automatic rifle. A jerk on the trigger or a flinch in anticipation sends the arrow off target to the right or the left, just as it does when firing an M16.

I enjoyed my military days on the range, but I must say that my Diamond is WAY more fun. My favorite part of the whole shooting process is noise, or lack of noise. The swift pull of the bow is more vibration than sound, but its audible, like tugging at the tension of a giant rubber band.The metallic click of my finger working the release sends me back to foxholes of decades past. Then there is an almost imagined whoosh before the thwack of the arrow punches deep in a composite of stiff foam supported by Timothy Alfalfa.

I love the stealthy quiet of the bow, and didn't miss the pop and recoil of a firearm. But I missed the smell. I do like gunpowder. When my oldest son was young, he called it, "Man's potpourri." I had come to think of it as women's potpourri, or at least this woman's potpourri. Gunpowder is nostalgic. Smell it once and you'll never forget. But you can trust my shooting experience was not absent of aroma. I positioned the target against a wall of hay bales stored on the second story of Grandpa's old red barn. Steamy wet cows licked at pillow-size flakes of Alfalfa in an open bay on the first floor. Cow flops, barn dust, and barrels of spent motor oil replaced the nostril-tickling heat of gunpowder.

With help from the bow release, I pulled the bow with my right hand and seated a knuckle just below my right ear. As I set up my sight picture, my nose literally touched the string. At first the whole nose-on-string posture scared me, just like the first time I worried about snugging the butt of a rifle tight in the pocket of my shoulder and welding my cheek to stock. I feared the string or the fletchings on the arrow would cut my face. It didn't, not even a little bit.

Jim served as my coach today. I humbly admit a distaste for taking directions from men, and this is a double truth for poor Jim. I can't stand it when he tells me what to do, but I asked for his help. I'm a bull-headed, can-do-it-myself kind of woman. No one will deny this fact, especially not Jim. But, one of my greatest success secrets in life is knowing when its time to shut-up and learn. Today was my time.

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