Sunday, January 16, 2011

Right on Target

Most of yesterday had to do with neither sailing nor paddling, but was interesting nonetheless. Our ten-year-old granddaughter got involved a couple months ago in archery, through 4-H. She seems to enjoy it, and as always with children, we hope she has found something that can be her passion for life. So we went to her archery competition in Paine Co., Oklahoma, to show our support. I had heard from a couple people in town that she has picked it up quickly, and for the time she has been exposed to the sport, has become quite good.

I had also been exposed to archery at a young age, through Boy Scouts, but while I’ve always been fascinated by it, it was not a sport I was going to pursue. Not having been around archery for the last half-century plus was going to leave me open to a couple surprises. First, there were only a couple bows there that I would even recognize as such. Most have evolved into something you’d expect to be carried by an alien invader. Robin Hood probably wouldn’t have even known which was the front or which was the back.

There are multiple strings running down the bow rather than one. There are wheels on the ends of the bow, shock absorbers, aiming sights, and stabilizers. When I was a kid, I had only had occasion to see one or two stabilizers on a bow. They immediately marked the owner as a shooter of national competence. Yesterday I only saw a couple without stabilizers, and several had three, one in the front and two swept aft from either side. Their purpose is to add weight to the bow, which helps to stabilize it (Daaah! Why else would they be called stabilizers?) They counterbalance the bow, give the arrow a more stable platform from which to be launched, improve aiming consistency, reduce vibration and recoil, and allow the bow to be much shorter. Beyond that, I didn’t see a wood arrow all day. They went from wood to fiberglass, aluminum, and are all now graphite or carbon fiber, or so I was told. Then, you don’t release the bowstring with the fingertips. A firing device with a trigger is hooked onto the string. The bow is drawn, and almost like a gun, the trigger is slowly moved to release the string.

In all, it was indeed fascinating, but what fascinated me most was our granddaughter. In a crowd of a couple hundred people, she was cool and unflustered. Everything seemed business as usual. She indeed did very well for her experience level, but more importantly, whether a particular flight of arrows was good or less than she hoped for, her reaction was the same, and she walked back from the firing line with a smile on her face. She fired a five-arrow practice round, and then sixty arrows in competition, and walked away at the end with a maturity well beyond her ten years. She reminded us of her Dad, who at the age of about seven, made his first public violin solo performance on stage in front of several hundred people. He looked so terribly small alone on that big stage, but never faltered nor showed any response to what could easily be considered overpowering, terrifying surroundings. He played his solo, took his bow, and walked off the stage like it was just any other moment in any other day. It was nice to see his daughter had inherited those same genes.

On the way home, we scouted Lake Carl Blackwell and Lake McMurtry east of Stillwater. They are near each other about seven miles east of town, and are my next targets for a paddling trip. Besides a quick view of the lakes, I picked up the relevant maps and regulations for lake use. Since they are both now covered with ice, they will have to await a better day. Also, I’ll have to investigate further any restrictions about waterfowl. Several lakes in the area have large sections set aside as waterfowl refuges during the winter, usually November to May, when no vessels are permitted into the restricted areas.

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