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Behind the Arrow
The winter of my sixth year in life was a difficult, painful, and rather frustrating time. Every Saturday, for six weeks, a small building solely used for archery was used by a class of about 20 students, all learning how to shoot a bow. You may wonder why I’m telling you this stupid little story about my days learning how to shoot a bow. But, in any case, let me start you off with a description.
Targets, made of Styrofoam on the far wall. A line, made of destroyed tape stretched parallel to the targets on the floor about 15 paces away. Beige carpet, torn and ripped from so many failed attempts to hit the Styrofoam. In the back of the building: heating vents, which didn't give much heating, and two long racks full of bows. All the walls were made of vertical wood planks, with more beige trim at the bottom.
Is that good enough? With that picture in your head, let me start my story.
The excitement I had going to that building for the first time was like going to an amusement park for most others. My heart pounded harder every second while walking inside, my hands itching to grab a bow. In my head, I could imagine my first shot piercing the bulls-eye, and everyone looking at me in astonishment.
It was not that easy though. When we got there, the instructor was more boring than anything. She went over rules and safety precautions, and how to properly use a bow. My dad was there to help me understand, guiding me through all the steps and safeties more clearly.
“Did you get all that?” He asked.
“I think so,” I told him.
“Remember, don’t point your bow anywhere but at the target,” He warns. “Even if you’re loading an arrow. You never know what might happen.”
When we were told to close one eye, the instructor gave me a funny look, then pointed at me and mumbled something to herself. I looked back at her funny, wondering if she thought I was too young or too short. She pulled me aside while the rest of the kids got their bows from the racks. She explained to me that I needed a left-handed bow.
When she left me to watch the others, dad told me to turn toward him. “Look at me with one eye.” He said. I did so, closing my right eye since it felt natural. He looked at me peculiarly, then let out a laugh.
“What?” I asked with a smile.
“You’re left eye-dominant,” He told me.
“Dominant?” I repeated curiously.
“It means you feel more comfortable looking through your left eye. Kind of like writing. You write with your right hand, so you’re right hand-dominant.”
“Oh,” I said in realization.
After all the confusion passes, I head over to the racks to get a left-handed bow. There were only a few on the rack, and the instructor had to help me find one. I start shooting late. She allowed us take a few shots on our own for a little bit, letting us try out different bows to find the right one. Considering some of these kids were just starting out, they shot pretty well. One arrow stuck on the outer edge of the bulls-eye on the big Styrofoam target. Quite a few arrows were already hitting rings, while many others were hitting blank white Styrofoam and the carpet, tearing it up even more.
I put my toe right behind the tape line, where we were told to stand. Dad’s behind me, giving instructions as the instructor did. I followed the steps carefully, the image of my “first shot bulls-eye” racing through my mind. Stand sideways. Nock the arrow. Pull the string back. Steady, aim, fire!
I release the string and the arrow spiraled out of control and clumsily buried into the carpet. I yelp in spite of myself, holding my arm as a sharp sting wears on.
Dad explained everything I did wrong. “You weren't holding the string right, and you had the string in a fist grip. You only use three fingers while pulling the string back. Next time also, pull it all the way back to your cheek. It will help keep it away from your arm.” I glanced back and he smiled at me. I felt like a terrible shooter after such a failed attempt and I wanted to try again. But before I could get another arrow, the instructor stopped everyone and told us to retrieve all the arrows. With disappointment, I trudged to the target wall and started to yank arrows from the Styrofoam.
There, how was that? I hope I didn't bore you too much. Anyway, after those lessons, I still had a hard time shooting. To this day, I've always practiced in my backyard, only hitting the target once every four or five arrows. Will I ever be as good as My recent hero, Katniss Everdeen? I doubt it! But, even so, I still have fun shooting, feeling satisfied with a solid thunk of a hit target.