Last Monday I took my first lesson in archery, that is, shooting arrows with a bow. Some years ago I would have tried to do it myself: go buy a bow and some arrows, find a place to shoot and shoot. But I am really glad I haven’t done that and instead, went to Otendor’s Parlemo branch. There’s so much to learn first. On one side there’s a lot of technique. A lot. I wouldn’t have guessed a 10% of what I’ve been taught in one lesson.
I wouldn’t have know basic things, like how to assembly and disassembly the bow. I wouldn’t have know if I have to shoot with my left or right hand (well, I don’t know that yet, but more on that latter). But there’s more than knowledge. Being able to learn with weak bows makes it easier to learn while in the end, knowing myself, I’ll pick the strongest I can stand.
To decide on what side to use to shoot (that is, what hand holds the string) you have to find out what eye you use, not on what hand is more skilled. To find that they have a simple test. Hold up your hands in front of you making a triangle with your thumbs as the base and your index fingers as the size but make it very small. Looking through it focus at something far away and then move your hands towards your head watching the spot. The hands will end around one eye, if it is your right eye, your are “right-handed” (or should I say right-eyed?), otherwise, you’ll hold the string with your left hand.
I’ve spent countless hours in the boringness of the school playing with my eyes and hands (they could take my calculator, books, paper and pencil away, but not my eyes and hands). I played a l
ot with the focus and finding out how stereo-vision works, which means it is impossible for me to do the test without making it conscious and picking one eye to use. And I can pick any with the same easiness. Maybe I can shoot with both hands. In the end, after doing a lot of exercises with my left hand I picked my right hand because I felt more comfortable. I still would like to try shooting with the other side to see how it feels.
I am really proud of what I achieved in one lesson. In the two-shoot they let you try before committing to the class I managed to “make an X”, that is, shoot in the center of the target, the highest of the score. Of course, I wasn’t more than 4 meters or so from the target.
And then, when doing more shooting, I managed to not spread the arrows. They tell me it is the most important thing. It makes sense, if you put all the arrows 10 cm over the target, you’ll just have to aim lower. If you spread them all over, you’ll have to improve your aiming, which is harder. This earned me the right to use three arrows instead of two. Something they tell me is not common in the first class.
I am really proud and honestly: I can hardly wait for the next lesson on Friday. After such a good start I am expecting the next lesson to be a miserably and ugly failure where my beginner’s luck will wear off and I’ll have to start working hard. And there’s still a lot to learn and I love learning.
“Fundamentally the archer aims at himself.
”Zen and the Art of Archery
Credit: the photos were taken by the instructor Daniel Golod.