Well, I have taken all the basic steps that every beginner archer must follow in order to practice this ancient sport. I took group lessons through two levels. Level one concentrated on range safety and an introductory peek into the equipment and language you will find. The second level group session of another six weeks expanded upon the form necessary to correctly perform the steps of an archery shot. These group sessions of ten students at Ottawa's RA Centre were a cost-efficient and fun way to discover whether shooting a bow and arrow was going to be 'my cop of tea'.
By the end, having some confidence that I was going to go down this road; I had purchased a basic kit of a Hoyt re-curve riser and limbs and all the accessories I needed. I followed this with four private coaching sessions to get the necessary one-on-one advice which allowed me, the aspiring archer a better sense of body form and technique to gain enough knowledge to practice competently.
I found early on that there is a strong correlation between the breathing and concentration that we practice in yoga and the techniques of archery. In fact, in Japan, archery is one the arts through which practitioner explore the precepts of Zen.
I have now signed up to compete in a tournament this weekend in Caledon, Ontario. I will be shooting on Saturday and Sunday. This is a new round introduced by Archery Canada called T2S900. It consists of ninety arrows, 30 each at three distances of 35, 30 and 25 meters. This innovation permits a beginner archer who likely learned to shoot indoors, on an 18 meter range, to participate in an outdoor tournament. Previously the only option included shooting at 60 metres which was an intimidating jump in distance.
I have been shooting practice outdoors and in. On Monday, after shooting about 100 arrows, on my next to last end at 25 meters - I shot a 57. This was remarkable. A perfect score is 60. This is what you expect from archers who compete in the Olympics!
What does this mean?
Have I achieved perfection? Should I quit while I'm ahead? Was it a fluke - can I do it again?
I have proven that I am capable of doing it. However, it may be quite a while before I do it again. And, ... it's a long way off that I can expect to achieve this near perfect score with consistent regularity. However, I have been given the gift of knowing that it is possible. Now, it is the beauty and magic of archery that I must dedicate myself to years of practice so that I can achieve the grace that accompanies mastery of such a challenging pursuit. This dedication and concentration are the kinds of things that I am searching for to bring a sense of purpose to my life.
This line of enquiry and exploration, the struggles, triumphs and lessons learned along the way will form the basis for many future posts on this topic. I hope to be able to talk about the people i meet, the adventures I experience and the things that happen to my body and my mind. I wish to grow as a person by becoming more proficient as a shooter, and simply by embracing archery as a recreational pastime.
I hope that you will join me on my journey to master this ancient and venerable art.