Archery by Ear

We experienced a common meteorological effect on the California coast in early Autumn, yesterday:  Fog.  It wasn’t exactly pea soup, but it was the kind of fog that makes you wonder if there really is a universe further away than you can see. 

I arrived at the archery range about a half hour before the sun was due to poke above the hills.  Fog has a way of absorbing sounds, and causing wildlife to stay quiet.  The sound of my shoes crunching on gravel was appallingly loud in comparison.

I could just barely make out the target bale at fifty meters, and there were times when it was completely obscured by the mists.  I strung the bow and picked out the best dozen of my arrows, then spent five minutes warming up my back and arms.  I have learned through painful experience what can happen when an archer fails to warm up on chilly Autumn mornings.

The first arrow strung, I took careful aim.  Normally, I don’t even care where the first dozen arrows go.  I’m just getting my muscles and bones and the wood of the bow settled in.  But as I aimed at the waxing and waning image of the target, it occurred to me that if I miss, finding the arrow might not be trivial.

My fingers relaxed and the arrow leapt from the bow and disappeared.

That was so strange.  The arrow travelled about half the distance to the target and was swallowed up by the swirling gray amorphous fog.  Then the comforting thenk! as the arrow found the cardboard target. I had no idea if it was high or low or left or right or dead center.  I only knew from the sound that the arrow had sunk into the target.

I shot several ends that way, watching the arrow disappear and then waiting for that distinctive sound indicating punctured cardboard.  An entirely different perspective on the sport.


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