Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Red or Better

I have been shooting every day since Spring has felt like more of a possibility than a story. I head outside in the midafternoon, in the lulls between writing and chores, and walk into the sunlight with a quiver and bow. "Red or better!" is the mantra I am repeating over and over in my mind. Those are the words of Joseph the Bold, the best archer I know up here in the Northeast. He says nothing else will do at twenty yards with a longbow and that is my goal. That means hitting either the yellow center of the target or the red circle right around it. So Red or Better means every shot at 20 yards is worth 5 or 4 points. That sure adds up quick on the tournament field, but also means a good clean kill.

I am rambling. I'm just excited about the many days ahead this summer with warm skin, tight bowstrings, and archery practice with my team and friends. Those long Sunday afternoons coming up with targets set into the horizon at twenty, thirty, and forty yards. Getting calluses on my string fingers, feeling my arms go from flabby pink to tawny muscle. The outdoor work of farm and the outdoor sport of archery are a beauitful combination and it all wraps up in Holy OCtober with the promise of the hunt. What is a more beautiful combination than the venison steak steaming and popping over a salad of greens your hands grew beside potatoes you pulled from the blessed earth? Mmmmmmm.

The bowyer in Pennsylvania who is handcrafting the bows for Arrows Rising this May has been in conversation with me over email. Together we have figured out the draw weights, sizes, and wood stain that would best fit the bows for the people taking that course. There are a lot of places to get a bow and some arrows these days but I am honored to have this Veteran and small business owner creating the weapons by hand for the people taking part in the two day workshop. Folks aren't getting a piece of plastic with some elastic string. They are getting the real deal, a piece of artwork far as I am concerned. I was shooting one of the bowyer's bows this morning behind the farmhouse and was happy with it a good year into hard use. It's the bow you see in this picture with Merlin. It's been on trailrides, backyard courses, and target practice a long while now and is still going strong.

I'm so exctied for Arrows Rising, since so many of the people attending have never shot an arrow before. What is different about folks coming to this workshop as compared to the horse, goat, or farming classes is that archery doesn't require land or any large investment. It requires a bow, an arrow, and a place to shoot it safetly. For some of us that means our rural backyards. To others it means local archery ranges (you have several near you, seriously). Only the Fiddle Camp workshop here can match it for instant gratification. You come to the workshop knowing nothing and leave knowing how to string, nock, aim, and shoot. You leave with a piece of art in your hand and a skill you can ONLY get better at. Age, location, gender... all those things do not matter. Archery isn't like those sports. It is you, your clear mind, meditation, precision, and bulls-eyes or deer thighs. Either makes this farm girl smile.

P.S. If you are coming to Arrow's Rising in May, please email me to confirm. You should bring along a pair of leather work gloves to protect your hands from strings and arrows, and have a form-fitting long sleave shirt to wear. We will be shooting rain or shine so dress appropriately! And always wear footwear that makes sense on a farm - rubber boots are best.

P.P.S. If you want to come to Arrow's Rising in October on Columbus Day Weekend there are still 8 spots left! Email me at jenna@itsafarwalk.com to sign up!


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