Monday morning is great if you pick up the feeling of being shot out of a gun. Immediately after waking up, start a 5 year old man getting dressed, nourished, brushed and sunscreened. Pack your lunch while stealing your phone to catch up on all the emails, Slack messages and news events you missed over the weekend. Shepherd the child and all her stuff at school.
Then there is a gantlet of phone meetings and Zoom. First, the daily touch-base call with other managers. Then make a call to everyone on your team. Then call other managers to contact the base on the updates from the check-ins.
And, between calls, target practice: 10 arrows per round, distance between 10 and 30 yards.
Mostly on Mondays, I love shooting the target bag in the corner of my backyard. If it’s a fine day, I might drive a mile to the archery range where UC Berkeley Olympic hopefuls train my calls. Once in a while, I even release when I call.
Attach the arrow to the string. “Oh yes?” Pull. “Interesting.” Anchor. “When is that happening?” Release. ThhhhWOP.
When the pandemic hit, many people went in to bake sourdough or watch “The Sopranos.” I bought a bow. I was always a bit apocalyptic in my thinking, and the supermarket scarcity and general sense of fear inspired something original in me: If things were going bad and we had to go to the woods, how would I feed my family?
Millions of Americans contemplating similar lines drove a historic run on guns and ammo. I had no desire to be a part of that grim phenomenon, but a bow? That seemed to me. Growing up in Wisconsin, I learned archery at summer camp and high school gym class and remembered being okay.
I found a used bow for beginners for $ 60, including accessories, on Craigslist. The limbs were warped, the arrows mismatched. But after a round of shooting with them, I was hooked. The pleasure is hard to describe, but it has something to do with the hiss of the arrows flowing through the air and the smack when it hits the target: ThhhhWOP.
I talked to my friend Sai about buying a bow and we would meet at the UC Berkeley range at the end of the work day or drive up the Oakland hills to a great walking course where we could put together paper pictures of bears and turkeys. along the ridge. Quickly, we were shopping for better bows and arrows, reading archery blogs for technical tips and diligently talking about whether we needed our own fletching pitch to replace damaged feathers.
Mechanically, victory is simple compared to most sports. Done right, it is the exact same measure every time. If you point your arrow in the right direction and do nothing to throw that aim – pushing the grip too tight, say – it will hit its track.
As it turned out, I was still okay with archery. But as I learned, the part of my mind that inspired me to look for it in the first place would need to be taken into account if it were to improve over ok.
Archery is older than history itself, and evidence of its practice goes deep into the Stone Age. It is so old that it has been deteriorating for 500 years, since firearms became obsolete on the battlefield. As a sport, however, it enjoyed a revival in the 1950s and ’60s with the inventions of the compound bow (the type with all the cables and pulleys) and other advances in technology and design that made shooting more accessible.
It may be coming back thanks to the pandemic, says Chris Bowles, president of the California Bowmen Hunters / State Archery Assn. The number of businesses is hard to come by, but Oranco Bowmen in Chino, where Bowles captains the range, has raised its membership by more than 30% since March 2020.
“People want to be together and they want to be outside,” he said. He added some of the claims to the endurance concerns that have plagued me: “If you’re in a ‘Hunger Games’, can you continue?”
For fans of modernity, there is no shortage of gear to aid accuracy – fiber optics, laser range finders, stabilizers. But I quickly discovered that what I need from archery is simplicity: the sheer feel and atavistic beauty of a one – piece recurring wooden bow, oriented without other scenes or accounts – instinctively – with both eyes on open. Many traditional archers are in favor of the inconvenience of instinctual aim, but it takes a lot of practice to succeed.
And I needed the practice, judging by my scattered results. It wasn’t until I put the target bag in the corner of my little backyard, where a stucco wall meets an ivy-covered wooden fence, and started shooting at it daily that I got a taste of anything that remotely felt like the beginning of. mastery.
Shooting hundreds of arrows per week under almost identical conditions, I began to notice the small variations in my actions and link them to results. Overdraft, or pulling the arrow back over my anchor point – when the tip of my index finger touches the corner of my mouth – caused left misses. Production of low shots with undercarriage; thighs release, high ones.
Often, when I replayed bad shots in my mind to separate them, I discovered that I had a loose arrow without conscious action. It was as if my fingers were in control of a decision even though my mind was running down to see scope when it hit.
It is a bad habit for me to progress in my thoughts to escape moments of even the slightest discomfort. On the phone with an old friend, I say, “Well, he was great talking to you…” when the conversation is still raging. Every year or two, I try to meditate for a few weeks, using only the time to make mental lists.
To improve as an archer, I had to break this habit. I had to learn how to slow down, settle into the present and put my actions into full awareness. The problem is – it’s difficult. Holding a bow steady is like pulling it completely like hanging in a chin up: It’s not something you can do for very long, over and over again. As I seek a moment of mental and physical stillness to observe and correct my form, I can feel my left hand fade away and my fingers scream. just hurry up and READ ALREADY.
Years ago, during a period of my sister’s death and the end of my first marriage, I started seeing a therapist. I approached her feeling that my life was a train running, that I had to act decisively but that I was paralyzed by the fear that any action I took would lead to disaster. Week after week, she only trained me to be patient and do as little as possible, to move from avoiding panic feelings, until the sense of crisis was dissipated. Because, gradually, he did.
There is currently no shortage in the world to panic about. Should I pull my child out of school before the next COVID shoot or before the school shoot? Move my family out of California before the next fire season? Should I deposit toilet paper or batteries or bitcoin against the next economic crisis? All of these are real questions, of course – and that’s exactly why they deserve quiet mental attention.
And so, on a Monday morning or whenever I have that sensation out of guns, I recover the point of my bow from its position, bend its limbs and slide the loops of the wire over the tips, strap on my hip pulse and exercise to find that moment of stillness unacceptable.
Pull. Anchor. Release. ThhhhhhWOP.