Viking tries: Archery
Our combined experience can be traced back to 30 minutes of practice at scout camp and 20 minutes of hunting a little brother in the back yard. It’s safe to say that neither of us knew what we were doing.
Unlike shooting a firearm, shooting an arrow takes much more feel and estimation. Arrows drop much more than bullets in flight, which the shooter must account for when taking a shot. In addition, if the string does not release smoothly off the shooter’s finger, a shot can go terribly awry, so learning to shoot a bow takes more concentration and precision than many other weapons. Of course, we didn’t really care about that. We just wanted to shoot stuff.
We arrived at Palomo Archery, and were a bit surprised at the exterior. It was basically a warehouse with a tiny sign in the window in the middle of an industrial neighborhood. Yet beneath the unassuming exterior, we found a well-equipped archery facility with an endless array of bows and several targets. After signing our waivers, in order to let the proprietor know where to “send our bodies” in case we got a little bit carried away, we received a quick demonstration and were handed bows, wrist guards and arrows.
We began shooting at targets five meters away. While this might seem trivial, it was crucial for us to get the feel of our newly acquired weaponry. As we got a little bit more comfortable with our shooting, and started consistently hitting the inner regions of the targets, we decided to move it back to 10 meters.
Now, 10 meters was difficult (for the little kids shooting next to us). Not for us, of course. We continued to consistently shoot decent shots, with a few miscues here and there. Most notably, Austin missed the target all together on his first shot, after failing to account for the wicked sink on his arrows, which were dancing like R.A. Dickey knuckleballs on their way to the target. We took a few rounds of shooting at this distance before moving it back to 15 meters.
Once at 15 meters, we let the games begin. Let’s just say, Austin will not be joining any old-fashioned hunting expeditions any time soon. From 15 meters on, he struggled hard while Spencer and Colin dueled neck-and-neck for the title of “Viking Tries” Top Shot: Archery. The rules of the game were simple. We each had four arrows to shoot at our respective targets. Each arrow could net the shooter between zero and 10 points, with 10 being a bull’s-eye (an area of the target that Austin did not encounter very often).
The three of us duked it out over five grueling rounds of shooting. Although Austin fell back early, he kept fighting until the end, despite an ever-growing deficit, though his efforts proved futile. Having been born in another era, he may or may not have been what is referred to as a “gatherer” rather than a hunter. Spencer took home the victory at 15 meters, defeating Colin by 10 points.
Following the conclusion of our game, we decided to take it all the way back to the back wall, which meant shots of 20 meters. While we remained well short of the Olympic distance of 70 meters, it might as well have been a mile for Colin on his first shot. We stepped up to the line, unsure of the new distance, and let fly. Colin must have eaten his Wheaties in the morning, because his arrow sailed about four feet over his target and buried itself in the back wall, prompting jeers even from Austin, who, despite his struggles, never managed to miss by such a spectacularly wide margin.
Colin would bounce back, though. The constant jokes from his competitors must have given him some much-needed focus as he zeroed in on his target. With one swift motion, he yanked back his bow and released a shot down range. Much to everyone’s amazement, the shot ended up dead center on the target. This would have been dubbed the shot of the day until his second shot in the next round landed in the exact same place. It is unclear whether it’s better to be lucky or skilled, but in Colin’s case it sure helped to be a little bit of both.
After a short, three-round matchup, Colin walked away with victory. His two perfect shots proved to be too much for even a skilled marksman like Spencer to overcome. Austin again brought up the rear.
With that, we returned our equipment and called it a day. Spencer and Colin each walked away satisfied with a victory apiece, while Austin departed with nothing but sore, calloused fingers and a heavy heart, vowing revenge in the next edition of Viking Tries.
That’s all for this issue. Be sure to check out next issue, where we will try out something even more dangerous and exciting!