Cold hands, a soar shoulder, and a smile plastered across my face. That’s how I feel after a few hours with my bow.
This past August, for my birthday, I got a used compound bow, something I’d been dreaming of for quite some time.
I drove out to Jaffray one weekend shortly thereafter and I met with arguably the best bow-man there is, Kevin Evans. He spent an hour with me sighting in my bow and showing me how to make adjustments.
Kevin is a Paralympic archer and has won the Canadian National Championship, the Canada Cup, has broken many Canadian and world-records, and has become a two-time national world champion. He is also a member of the Cranbrook and Kimberley Archery Clubs. If you need your bow looked after, talk to Kevin.
A compound bow has quite a few elements to it, you can’t just pick it up and shoot and expect to be accurate. It’s not easy to draw back. It has to be at the correct weight and draw length, the sights need to be lined up, and you need to know how to stand and how to prep your shot to get even close to being good at it.
Whether I’m practicing on the farm, hitting an old target that a friend gave to me, or spending Tuesday night at the Cranbrook archery club, I feel like I’m in my element. I’m still relatively new to the sport and I have a lot to learn, but there’s something pretty significant about this new found hobby of mine.
Standing in position, taking a breath, knocking my arrow, aiming, shooting; they’re motions my muscles still aren’t quite used to. This sequence will eventually become routine and my muscles will have memories of each tiny little motion. My fingers will innately know where to go. My breathing will calm and my eye will focus just so.
Archery is a great hobby because the only person I’m really competing against is myself. It’s the idea that I constantly want to learn, to do better, to perfect my shot. It’s challenging and rewarding and fun and frustrating all at once. It’s a test of my patience. It allows me to pat myself on the back, or say, “we’ll do better next time”.
Archery is time to myself, to focus on something specific. It makes me feel strong, accomplished and skillful.
The archery club is great as well because the camaraderie is non-competitive. Everyone just wants to lend a hand, to give some advice, to improve their skills and to have fun. I look forward to the spring when we can head back outside and participate in some 3D shoots.
My sister-in-law (who I live on the farm with) has been joining me at the Archery Club and we shoot together on the farm; she also recently got into archery. We enjoy the time together, away from the boys, practicing a skill that we’re both new to.
My end goal is to use my bow for hunting, but I’m a long way off from that still. My shot absolutely needs to be accurate, I need to know that I can hold the bow, drawn, for a long period of time. I need to feel confident that I won’t just wound the animal; that I won’t leave them wandering around the forest injured. That’s the scary part about it.
Fly fishing, another hobby of mine, feels similar to archery in the way that it’s an independent skill. I call it ‘Church’. It’s time in nature, time where I’m not thinking about anything other than the task at hand, my surroundings, and my own skills. It’s time where I’m grateful for the beautiful place that I live in and the endless opportunities I’m given.