Arrows Rising 2014 Was A HIT!
I'm incredibly proud of this event. Everyone who attended got a comprehensive introduction to the sport and a taste of my community. Saturday was co-taught by Kathy of WindWomen Farm. She is a very talented archer and a leader in her local sporting club. She's a traditional archery fanatic and has beautiful bows and equipment, which she not only brought to show but shared with the guests. Together we started the workshop by explaining the bows, history, our stories and going over equipment and safety. Before we broke for lunch we had everyone outside to shoot their first targets and while some did find a rocky start to it everyone was hitting the mark by end of the day.
I was very grateful and lucky to have Kathy there all day, but she wasn't the only friend to drop by and add color to the workshop. Neighbor and mentor, Patty Wesner dropped by after picking up her first ever trio of lambs (I named one Trevor) and was glowing with joy over her new little ones. She has been excited about sheep for years now and finally had a small start up flock in the back of her Toyota SUV. I helped her out by docking the tails for her right then and there and everyone seemed okay with the short break to see the gorgeous lambs and the proud new shepherd!
We broke for lunch and when we returned from it we headed to the copse of woods behind my little red barn and shot targets. Most of the afternoon was spent refining and correcting folks stances, aim, and technique. By the end of the day everyone was more familiar with their new bows and could string and unstring them on their own without fail. We ended Saturday grateful we missed the rain and with slightly sore shoulders and arms.
An hour before the workshop picked up again, my friend Erik walked into my house with a hand carved bow and a jug of home brew. It wasn't any bow, either. It was a hand carved and painted 60-pound longbow of dragon scales. Each scale hand carved and painted on the bow stave. I was beyond impressed and realized how much I had missed my winter away from the SCA. He and Tomas Apple—the two men who run our local historical archery club—invigorated my Society Spirit. T'mas did a wonderful introduction talk to what the SCA is and how it can expand their archery practice for little or no cost. Few people realize that there is a group out there holding traditional archery practice weekly in nearly every part of North America. So T'mas shared some information on getting started in the Society and Erik talked about bows and the boyar's craft. He brought a half dozen handmade bows and passed them around. When the educational morning indoors was over (we were hoping to beat the rain and 40-degree high temperature) we all headed back outside to shoot under the tent that the gals from Coyote Crow Farm brought along.
After they got a few rounds in on the targets with the one-on-one assistance of T'mas and Erik, I headed over to grab Merlin and tack him up. I wanted to show them a short demonstration of mounted archery and where Merlin and I are in our training in that regard. It was that cold, rainy, day I wrote about just recently but I think riding Merlin from the front of my house to the back woods with a bow in one hand and reins in the other might have been the highlight of the weekend, personally. We shot a few arrows and Merlin was a perfect gentlemen. He didn't even care about the new tent in his woods or the dozen people petting him. The demonstration was short and I answered some questions about it but everyone was eager to get back to the forest shooting.
Next and last was a forest shoot through the woods at 3D targets Erik made. They looked like derpy dragons and you couldn't help but laugh at them before you took aim. We walked through the narrow path of young forest and as you turned a corner BAM! DRAGON! And then in pairs we shot them down. It was a whimsical part of the day but a lot of fun. The rain couldn't dampen our spirits, not after that.
Erik ended up selling some of his bows as well, folks were already getting the archery bug. He makes wooden quivers that stick in the ground as well as latch onto a belt for field and tournament. I got to shoot one of the dragon bows and it shot amazingly well. I wish the guys who sourced stuff for Game of Thrones knew who Erik was, because it felt like a prop for someone far better at archery and cooler than I am!
All in all the weekend was a hit, and I mean that in all its clever implications. Women and gents who had not touched a bow since scouting years of their childhood left with the tools and instruments to keep shooting at home and shoot well. We covered so much, thanks to the guest instructors and the questions of the archers in attendance. Folks who arrived knowing nothing left able to talk shop with boyers, fit arrows to their arm and bow, find local clubs and resources and half left with a second handmade bow! Not a single person was injured besides a few string slaps on the arm, and everyone made the bulleyes at least once. Smiles were infectious and the rain was just a taunt, daring us to try and not be thrilled. It lost that dare. I'm sure of it.
Thank you again to all who were a part of the weekend event! Thank you for braving the wet and cold, pulling back those bow strings, and letting the grey geese fly!