I had an archery lesson and I don’t suck!
This morning I got up at a horrible hour (6:00a) and left my apartment by 6:50a to get to a free archery lesson from the good people of the Pasadena Roving Archers, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. They’ve been around since 1935 and I was told today that they are the oldest/first group of its kind in the U.S.
Every Saturday morning, they offer a free introductory archery lesson. The site said to show up by 7:15a because it is first-come-first-serve. We were there at 7a and there were at least a dozen people lined up. By 8:00a, I’d say there were almost 30 people in line behind us. It was a pretty weak game of find-the-black-people, for the record. While we were in line, Coach came around and introduced himself. He appears to be the ringleader of this show and he is absolutely wonderful. I was wearing a hoodie that says, “euthanizer” across the front of it. He stops at me and he says, “Euthanizer?” and I said, “I used to work at an animal clinic and my friend had this made for me.” He had a look of horror on his face and I said, “They were all terminally ill animals. Many had cancer.” Then he tells me about how his cat of 18 years had cancer and he never again got another cat because he can’t bear it and he still has pictures of the cat all over his house. I said I have my cat’s ashes and I know how he feels. Then he says, “I’m keeping my eye on you.”
Meanwhile, there is a woman behind us who was really chatty. REALLY CHATTY. With us. But then we were able to shake her and she started talking to the couple behind us and we heard her guessing their ethnic backgrounds and then saying, “Yeah, I’m really good at guessing different kinds of Asians. I’m from California. I used to have a neighbor who was Nepalese” and “Well, Filipinos can look vastly different from each other. All kinds of different shades.” The guy, who happened to have a darker skin tone, says, “Some people have thought that I was part black” and the chatty woman quickly responds, “Oh, I’ve been mistaken for black many times. It’s because I have curly hair.” Mind you, this woman is so white she makes Jon Stewart look black. I’m doubled over and convulsing with silent laughter at this point. It’s fucking 720a on a Saturday and I’m still half asleep and yes, this conversation was really happening.
We get put into groups of 10 and they do a little exercise to establish our dominant eye so we can get fitted for equipment. Surprisingly, I’m left eye dominant so I pull left. I think my friend and I were the only two who were “left” in our group. He handed us different color poker chips (red for right, white for left) and one woman had her hands out in a way that made Coach say, “You’re acting like I’m giving you communion.” We all laughed and she said, “I’m not even Catholic. But, uh, God be with you?” and I turned and said, “And also with you…” More laughter ensued. We all got our equipment then headed over to a target with our instructor.
Our instructor, Robert, was wonderful. I went first. He got me set up and on my very first shot, I snapped the hell out of my right arm with the bowstring. I had an arm guard but I did it in such a way that it moved the guard and the inside of my arm was stinging and red for a good 20 minutes. BUT, I hit the bale and steadily improved through the two hours of instruction to where I at least hit the target every time.
One of my early arrows, however, missed it all completely and went in the dirt off to the side. One of the volunteers was making the rounds and I was chatting with him and he asked how I was doing and I pointed out my rogue arrow. He winked at me and said, “Of course, you did that on purpose. That’s where you were aiming, right?” I said, “Yyyyesss, I saw a squirrel back there and I felt like hunting.” He laughed and said, “Well, these are the wrong tips for squirrels. They sell blunt heads for that.” I said, “Because you don’t want to skewer the squirrel?” “Right.” “So you just kill it with a high-speed bludgeoning?” “Exactly.”
I found that I did better during the shots where I didn’t try to think about every little thing. Shoulders, shoulder blades, breath, etc. etc. When I just did what felt right, I got closer to the center.
Coach came over and said to me in a low voice, “So tell me: During your first shot, when you first pulled back that bowstring, did you feel it rush all up through your body?” I thought, okay, is this how we’re playing, guy who is flirty flirty and older than my parents? I said, “Oh, I felt it rush up through me and all the way back down again.” bat bat bat of my eyes. He just looked down his nose at me and said, “Hm.” Then he walked away.
After our small group time at the solo target, we all headed over to the larger group targets and did some shots there. They have a final round where they put up balloons that have a $1 bill. about 30 people stand on the line at once and everyone gets two shots at the same time to hit the balloon so you not only have to be accurate but quick. Alas, I didn’t even get a shot off. Not confident enough to be quick. Yet!
While we were waiting in line to return our equipment, Coach came up to me and said, “Did you have fun?” I said, “Yes, I love it!” and he said, “Uh huh. You’re mind now. We’re gonna see you back here every weekend. Don’t go buying equipment, though. I can see it in your face. And make sure you come back. But not after the next Hunger Games movie comes out. It gets a bit crazy here.”
I like this guy. This guy is awesome. When I’m an older black man, I’m going to be like this guy. All of his interactions were playful and not creepy even though through writing, I’m sure they could be interpreted that way.
Here, have a picture of me:
Some assholes in Pasadena (there are many) are trying to shut the range down and build a dog park. This range has been here for 78 years and there has never been a serious injury. I’m hoping to make it out to the city council meeting where the city council will vote on this.
Did I mention that all this awesome WAS FREE OF CHARGE?! And now that I have the range rules and basics down, I can return around 10a on Saturdays and pay a $5 fee to continue learning. Brilliant!