Sunday, June 10, 2012

field archery

Most of us grew up thinking of archery as that thing we did with the crappy one-piece fiberglass bows at summer camp. At my camp, there was was a kid, W--who had some serious family and behavioral issues, was sent to a military academy, and now appears to be a Nissan car salesman--who had a compound bow and I believe actually competed. He was certainly better at it than the rest of us, equipment aside.

His bow had a 55 lb. draw weight, and when I was 13, at the beginning of the session, I could barely move it. I took the weightlifting class for two weeks, though, and at the end of the two weeks, I could draw the bow pretty easily. So that was cool.

Anyway, without knowing the hows and whys of his very complex-looking piece of equipment, I knew there was more to archery than one-piece fiberglass bows and cheap wooden arrows.

One of the privileges of being a self-supporting grown-up is that I get to go do whatever I want that looks fun, so when I found out about the free archery range up the hill in Huddart Park, and furthermore that the club maintaining it offers a free class, I went and enjoyed it. It turns out that archery is a pretty small basic investment (compared to, say, skiing, photography, or any number of other things): for all new equipment, the shop kitted me out for a few hundred dollars. I still use the same gear five years later, minus the lost arrows. I have easily paid more in gas money going to the range than I did for the equipment.

The Huddart Park range introduced me to the idea of field archery, which is a course of targets laid out through the woods and hills and such. This is nominally about the shooting skills needed for hunting, although if you're taking shots like Target #12 and trying to hit a deer at 80 yards across a gorge, you might be doing it wrong. You certainly have a more powerful bow than I do, and probably a scope: at that distance I'm happy to get my arrows back, let alone hit the bale. (The course is extremely well-designed to maximize safety and minimize arrow loss: you're normally shooting at the side of a hill.)

I had Monday off at work, so I decided to do the course. It's beautiful, a long walk up and down hillsides in the redwoods, almost all shaded, lots of gullies with bridges over them. I'll have to take pictures next time. I made it to Target #23, about 90 minutes, before I decided I was too tired for it to be fun. Then I walked off onto the fire road, which turned out to be at least a half mile straight uphill. Of course, it turns out there are only 28 targets, so it probably would have been easier to walk the whole range.

It's sweaty work! And I was totally dead for the rest of the day, but it was good exercise.

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