A Stranger Came to Watch

While I was alone practicing at PGF Archery and Outdoors’ indoor range I heard someone come through the door behind me. I kept listening while preparing for the final arrow of the three I was shooting. Who ever had entered was just standing inside while I continued.

That final shot and the second where both X’s. The first was a nine on the old ‘big’ ten ring just outside the center ring on a 3-spot. Anyone not knowing the scoring could have interpreted the three shots as “Bull’s-eye’s.” They weren’t, they were two tens and a nine.

When I fired the last shot of that end I turned to see who had entered the range. By the door stood a stranger. A short, 5’6”ish, slightly pudgy, man wearing blue collar work clothes and a baseball cap.

Looking at me he said, “I couldn’t have done that with a rifle.” Well, holding a rifle and making those shots isn’t as easy as using something to rest it on while firing, so I figured that was his reference. I had no comment to his statement and remained silent on the topic of his marksmanship.

Having nothing to add I nodded then turned to retrieve my three arrows. As I was turning he said, “I heard you were a professional so I wanted to come in and watch you shoot.” Hearing that I was glad I hadn’t shot an 8 to dash his optimism in seeing someone that can shoot a bow.

Not really knowing how to respond and since I’d already not responded to his initial statement I said, “Well, it is a lot of work.” He stared at me looking like he expected more information or perhaps a word or two of wisdom. Neither was coming to mind.

It took me a few second to decipher his look and add a brilliant rejoinder. “Yes, I practice a lot, four to six hours a day,” was all I could offer. He appeared steadfastly unsatisfied. I thought some more and added, “Then, there’s sponsors, you have to get those and that’s a lot of work.”

The last comment was the hook. He’d taken the verbal bait. The man at the door fishes professionally and was at the shop to talk with Bill. Bill runs the store several days a week and is a professional fisherman. The little stranger went off onto one-man row over sponsors. It was enough to conclude our conversation – he’d talked himself out.

The rest of the morning practice deteriorated in a hurry. I was glad the interested observer had departed. I ended up shooting about 100 arrows that included three eights and a seven. On those shots it felt like the release was grabbing the loop.

I’d been shooting using a thumb release and when I reached for my hinge discovered I’d left it a home. I still switch back and forth between the two style releases. Like I told the fellow that had come in to watch, it takes a lot of practice.

Or, maybe the conversation with the pro-angler had gotten my mind on fishing and my release was hooking the line. Who knows? What did happen though was that I before I left I priced a couple of new rods and reels.

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