When I was a younger, I was introduced to the sport of archery, by my Father. My Father loves bladed weapons, guns and archery and has large a collection of each. When he got into archery, I was 12 or so; I was forced to go to the local indoor archery range, sit on a bench in the back “safety” zone and watch him and all the other men practice. There was never any women there, unless they had come with their husbands, sons, or boyfriends.
I was lucky in a sense…Because my Father asked me one day if I wanted to “try” shooting his big manly bow. I of course could not even pull it back, at the time he was pulling at about 75# on the string. The guy that ran the place was a sweet, good old boy, who was watching the skinny little girl in the most current fashion trends, (Madonna had just hit it big…Big Hair, rubber bracelets, baby doll socks…I know…Don’t remind you, yuck! What were we thinking…I hope the 80’s never come back into style) trying to hold up and pull back that huge ass bow, I didn’t stop the first time because it was hard, I just figured I had done it wrong… so I stopped and started watching the other people in their form and how they loaded and such. I did manage to get the string to pull back about a quarter of the way…Using the proper pull back form. The old guy came around the corner, with a kids bow… same as the big ones just smaller is size, and said “here…Let her try this one.” I was embarrassed that everyone knew I was using a “baby” bow.
So, I took the bow…And notched my first arrow, and looked around at the guy who was the best shot in the room, and stood like he did. I watched his body as he loaded, pulled back and fired… Almost all one fluid motion…Each of his arrows went into the target…Six shots so tight….They were all in a space the size of a quarter. What I remember most is watching his eyes…He never took them off the target…Even when he loaded.
I made a couple of feeble attempts….My arrow first falling off the bow, then the second one went flying across the room into another persons target, the third one…The string of the bow, hit my inner forearm and rolled the top couple of layers of skin off in a long patch from my elbow to my wrist, as well as catching the edge of my inner breast. Man that hurt. My Father of course thought it was funny, The old guy brought me an arm shield…And I cried a little bit. He took me up to the line, and said, “when you’re ready just try it again.” My Father came up and made a big show of helping me re-position myself and told me suck it up. I was shaking, and pissed, and hurt… and focused.
* Inner self said…You want to dance Mutha? Well OK…let’s dance.*
My next six shots all hit the target I was aiming for. The next six shots all hit the target in one smaller area. The next six shots were tight and all up in the right corner. My shoulders were killing me. The guys in the room…All rednecks… were starting to cheer me on. That don’t happen often for grrrl’s in the South… playing with Man toys. They Told my Father…”Man, I think she’s a natural!…She’s got talent!…Wow, you should get her her own equipment”…Stuff like that…
Then the guy that was the best in the room, I mentioned him Earlier…Quietly came and loaded his next round in the space next to mine. He never said anything to me. He looked me in the eye though… and he loaded and shot… but he did it real slow this time and his form was perfect. The first shot went into the bulls eye. He looked at me in the eye again. And waited for me to shoot. After I figured out that he was waiting to see me shoot…I loaded…Aimed and shot.
I tried to do it like I had seen him do it. I missed the target completely. He loaded, real slow and shot again. The arrow, went into the previous arrow for what’s called a “Robin Hood” where you split one arrow with another one, perfectly placed. Now a Robin Hood is a big freaking deal… and they had all kinds of them hanging all over the inside of that place with the archers names hanging off of them, on little white tags… Proudly.
The place erupted in cheers, grins and back slapping. While that was going on, I slowly loaded, I thought about holding my body as the bow holds the arrow…I thought about being the arrow…Going into the bulls eye. It flew straight and true… I hit it dead center. The next three were in the bulls eye as well.
I had begun. What I didn’t know at the time was I was shooting next to the best archer in world at the time…He lives in Gainesville FL. and had been passing thru our little town, and had decided to stop and shoot for awhile to relax. I can’t remember his full name now, but his first name was Frank or maybe Fred.
I started to ask if I could go with my Father to the range when he went, and the old guy let me keep borrowing different bows when I came…And I got better and better. After I had “proved” to my Father that I was going to stick with it… He bought me a beautiful Bear Tamberlane white and black bow…Just my size…And I got to pick out the arrows…I chose hot pink with black and white fletchings. I wore outrageous outfits…To shoot in…Skirts, heels…Tight mini skirts…You name it…And when I became really good…After about 8 weeks of practice…I started entering local contests. No women were shooting in my area…So I shot with the men.
I am a natural.
I am different.
My Father was proud. I am still a hell of a shot, and I still have my bow… carried from place to place…All these years. I have not shot in months.
I am sure, my aim is still dead on. I like my arrows straight… and the sound of the arrow hitting the target, going with speed and accuracy where I wanted it to go. I am the arrow. I did get to see Frank (or Fred) again…Later at a competition…He smiled at me and gave me the thumbs up when I went to the line with my division. That’s when I found out who he was… He was hosting the event. He only ever said one thing out loud to me… “First time I saw you I knew you had it in you.” as I collected my first place trophy, in front of a stunned crowd of men that were not getting a trophy that day.
And I was a GIRL.
Not even 14 yet and competing with men old enough to be my Father…Because there wasn’t any competition for me in the younger groups, I just smoked em’. My Father and I competed against each other at the range, but not in real life. He was a great shot too, but was more into the gadgetry of it all than the art, the form, the religion. I just love to shoot, I don’t need anything fancy. Just give me a bow and some good clean arrows, I’m good to go.
Knowing that I can shoot well, that I have a talent with aim… I can shoot guns, and slingshots, and well… Anything really with good accuracy…From the start…If I had gone into the military I would have been a sniper, Mate Man says… but it’s the knowing that fact…that has gotten me here.
It’s knowing I am capable of amazing things…If I want to be. Knowing… I could take someone out at 60 yards soundlessly also makes me feel good…not that I would… But I could, that’s what matters to the inner me.
I am a quiet warrior.
I am my Fathers Daughter.
Targets are something I use in my artwork all the time.
My aim is still true.
Form is still everything.
Now I hone my spirit, using the target as a symbol for my deadly aim, now when my arrows find their mark and my work is true, and simple and pure of form and intention… I can still hear the satisfying thunk sound
of my intention hitting the mark.
Dead on center.
Bullseye… and my arrows are still straight.
Yours today with full intention,
soul and heart,