“Shoot well, David.” Standing on the line to shoot, hearing the call from a friend behind me, I am already beginning to miss these archers. I replied, “I’ll try not to shoot out the lights”, which sadly, was a distinct possibility.
Some friendships take time to cultivate. Other friendships are instantaneous. This group was no different. During the past six weeks, the social and athletic mixture of the 2014 Cypress Creek Archery Indoor League Competition evolved. Friendships grew and so did archery skills.
On opening night, week one of the Tuesday Cypress Creek League Competition, I knew two people: Norman and Paul. I’d met them at a 3D shoot held by the Tuckahoe Bowman’s Club. Aside from them, everyone was a stranger. This first week, I imagined everyone except me would be flawless shooters. That first night was quiet and intimidating. Paul and Norman must have recognized my discomfort, so they made covert conversational efforts to ease me into the group. Afterwards, driving home, I’d remember only three names, including Paul and Norman.
By week three, social tension was almost nonexistent. People still stressed over their skills as archers. Over the past few weeks, John, one of the 300, 30X shooters had gone out of his way to make me feel at home. Kurt, a flawless shooter, always greeted me and politely asked, “How’s it going?”
Week six, on the last night at Cypress Creek, events and relationships played out much differently than the first week of shooting. Lining up for perhaps the third end of arrows, Chris was shooting next to me. We hadn’t shot yet, but everyone was getting focused. As Chris lifted his bow, someone, I didn’t see whom, approached him from behind (approaching a line of archers preparing to shoot from the front is simply not smart), and said, “Here take these peanuts back. I had enough of them, I am sick of peanuts,” while stuffing a bag of peanuts into Chris’ right pant pocket. Chris, standing on the line, bow in hand, arrow notched, said, “How can you be sick of peanuts? I love peanuts, any kind of peanut. I can live off of peanuts.” The peanut debate subsided and we shot.
Wesley, who had been shooting, showed up late and was not shooting that night. “Wesley, why aren’t you shooting?” someone asked. Another person, interrupted before Wesley could respond: “Didn’t you see Facebook?”
Wesley explained, “When I got home from shooting on Sunday, I put my bow, quiver and arrows on the bed.” He was pulling out his cell phone as he spoke, “here, let me show you why,” he said as he brought up a picture on his phone. The picture showed the remains of his arrows. The fletching had been chewed off of every arrow. Apparently, Wesley’s new puppy has a penchant for chewing fletching. Everyone in the room and on the line overheard the conversation and there was sympathetic and good willed laughter.
Several minutes later, the waiting area and range were once again silent except for the releasing of arrows and the sound of arrows popping into targets. As the firing lines rotate and archers focus, Paul floated a question. Let me pause here to say Paul has one of those voices that carry. The room and range were silent. Paul’s unintentionally vociferous question, “ So Wes, are you looking for a new dog?” On the line, several arrows were let down as laughter fills the room. I didn’t catch Wesley’s wife view on the partially consumed fletching; Carlita was busy working to outshoot the guys.
For recording scores this sixth and last Tuesday night of league competition, I was paired with John. On one hand, being paired with John was good because I knew he would be considerate of any malfeasance caused by one of my arrows. On the other hand, it would be humbling because I knew I would have the immediate comparison of my score with his 300 and 30X-27X per end evening. Our scores panned out pretty much as I predicted.
On this last night, Paul shot next to me and scored a 300. Clustered around me, Kurt, as usual, shot 300 and a 21X and Chris and Dave probably shot around 300. I cranked out a 294 with 10Xs (sadly, not my worst night). Ultimately, John fired the last shot of competition while someone in the background whistled the tune to Jeopardy. This league’s shooting is now closed until 2015. Time to pack up and head home.
While I was loading my equipment into the trunk of my car, Kurt came out to the parking lot and told me that I had to go back. When I walked through the door, I saw Harry, who works at Cypress Creek Archery. He was standing behind his counter facing me. With a broad smile, he extended his hand toward me, a $50 dollar bill protruding from the end of it and said, “Congratulations, you got second.”
Before anyone thinks too highly of my second place, let me put it in perspective. I shot in the Open Class – less shooters than the hunter class. I showed up every week. Hence, I had the advantage of six weeks of combined scores. Others that didn’t shoot every week had fewer points to accumulate toward their total score. I am not 100% certain of overall attendance and how it elevated me but it seems to have helped. What I can say for certain is I will miss Tuesday nights and the good folks who competed in this league.