2010-02-21

Archery

When I was young, my brother had a 20 pound bow. We took it out one weekend and shot for a bit. After that every so often I'd go and get the 20 pound fiberglass bow and shoot in the backyard.
Eventually my dad handed me his 45 pound bow that he bought when he was 14. I had a hard time drawing it, but after a while I got the hang of that too. When my brother wanted to shoot as well, dad got out a 55 pound bow that he'd gotten in trade from someone years back, so he could go shooting with my mom (which they never did). I'd been shooting more than my brother, so I used the 55 and my brother used the 45. My brother only shot a little, but I shot on and off all of the way through highschool. I was never very good, but I got okay, and it was fun. Eventually I went to college and couldn't bring it, so I dropped the sport.
A couple of years ago now I moved to the bay area. When I did so I realized I could have my bow again and eventually brought it out here from my parents house. Recently, Jess and I have been spending a lot of time looking into survival skills, and we realized almost everything depends on dear-skin and sinew. This renewed my interest in archery, and got her interested. So, not long ago we picked up some new arrows and went looking for an archery range.
It turns out that north of here, near the Lafayette BART stop, there's a very nice field archery range. So, we loaded up our bikes, I slung my bow from my backpack, and we put the arrows in Jess' panniers and hopped on the BART near our apartment.
The route up to the archery range from Lafayette turns out to go over a mountain (Jess had planned the trip, so she knew this to start with). It was quite the beautiful ride though. At the actual park there isn't much water, and at the archery range there is none, so we brought water and snacks with us. When we reached the park we found that there's about 3/4 mile of trail to get to the actual archery range (it's a rough dirt-road passable by car, but with a locked gate). We did this by bike. The archery range itself is in the middle of a very large cowfield, out in the middle of nowhere. Quite the beautiful setting. There are fences to keep the cows out of where they might get shot.
We shot for a while, and discovered that Jess simply can't draw my bow. This is for 2 reasons, 1) it's 55 pounds, and 2) it's 50" long and designed for a very short draw length. Meaning... someone short like me (I'm 5'6" and short-limbed, she's 5'10" and long-limbed). We had a good time anyway, and met some other archers as well. As it turns out they were basically a group of the best archers in the area, all having won quite a few awards. My bow is a recurve, and that's what Jess and I were interested in due to being able to make them ourselves (if we want to someday). Half the archers we met shot recurve, half shot compound bows. We got some tips on proper draw form which helped a lot.

So, it was generally a good time. Since then I've gone shooting once more alone, and then I got Jess a 45 pound bow (heavy enough to hunt) for Christmas, and we went shooting again together. It was a lot of fun. Her shoulder still wears out pretty quickly. I had to get a new firing glove because I actually broke a blood-vessel in my finger shooting without one. The last time we went we got more tips from another guy we met about how to actually hunt and such. He used to hunt quite a bit, and seemed to feel that taking a whitetail was pretty easy (unusual for an archer). He hunts from the ground, but not still-hunting (still-hunting is moving looking for still dear). He had some super-light carbon-fiber arrows and very small broad-heads. I'd seen the arrows before, but only for target shooting, and thought you needed a heavy head and arrow for hunting. He also talked about hitting the animal in just the right spot for the angle you happen to be shooting from, and practicing that a lot.

More on archery to come I'm sure!

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