To sustain and increase proficiency in archery nearly daily practice is required. An off day or two in a training cycle is good for recovery. The other day my grandson, Sean, was visiting. While practicing he joined me to advise, question and critique. Sean is serious about archery.
Sean accompanied me during my 18-meter practice. He is four and an expert on many topics, including archery. I assumed that he would become bored with me and my limited shooting skills, then move on to more important matters. The practice did not proceed as I’d predicted.
The target was a FITA 3-spot, and my bow for this session was an Apex 7. Sean stood behind me to my left and observed as I shot 6 arrows, two per spot. For those six shots he was unusually quiet. I mistook his silence for boredom.
After shooting the six arrows, we walked forward to retrieve them. Once I’d pulled the arrows Sean decided he’d be the official ‘arrow holder’ from that moment forward. His arrow management included driving them into the ground, through the gravel driveway. It took a little convincing that he was not treating the arrows properly.
For the second end*, as I prepared to release an arrow, Sean yelled, “GO!, SHOOT! NOW! GO!” Sean, I said, “I have to concentrate, you need to be quiet.” His response was an escalating whisper, “Now, shoot, go, Go..GO!” and so forth until each arrow was freed. There was no abating his vociferous enthusiastic attempts to coordinate the release of each arrow with his command. Each end was shot, retrieved, and arrows tendered to the official holder.
During one end, as I was aiming I felt a tap on my rear. Sean, wielding an arrow said, “I got your butt.” “Sean,” I replied, “you can’t hit me while I am shooting.”
Breaking his silence, “Granddaddy, what if you shot one into the woods?” Lowering my bow, “Well, Sean I’d lose an arrow if I did that. I don’t want to do that”
Again, arrows were shot, collected and the process started anew. His next command, “Granddaddy, shoot it in the middle” .
I hit the top middle.
“Nah,” said Sean.
“What do you mean, Nah?” I asked.
“You missed,” he explained. In debate, we approached the target and examined the center shot. Using his finger he touched the ‘center’ of the paper target. The ‘center’ being the white portion of the paper which is surrounded by the three targets. We regrouped and shot for the ‘center’ of the paper.
Sean then demanded I hit a red ring and then a blue ring. I complied as best as I could. Not being satisfied, he borrowed a pen, approached the targets and drew, in fine point, two tiny points for me to hit surrounded by a slightly larger scribble in two red rings. “Shoot here, Granddaddy,” he instructed.
I shot for his scribbled lines, hitting off center. Upon review Sean exclaimed “Nope.” He insisted upon dead center hits; the little taskmaster was relentless. Collecting the ‘Nope’ arrows we set up to try again. With each shot, absolute dead center remained elusive.
Sean, the arrow holder, patiently handed me the arrows while patiently waiting for success.
Then, “Granddaddy, did you name your bow?”
“No, Sean.” I replied
“Well, I named mine, mine is named ‘Sticker’, you should name your bow” Sean said.
“I’ll think about that, Sean.” I said.
“I have blue suction cups on my arrows” Sean added.
“I can suction that,” he said, pointing to his inked center marks as I continued to miss them. Of course, he was referring to Sticker’s arrows with the blue suction cups.
Sean never grew bored with shooting. He also never stopped talking about archery, Sticker, my misses, neither did he stop ordering me to “GO, SHOOT, NOW” when he supposed my aim was on target. All in all, it was a good practice. Having a four year old to reinforce a practice session does add another level toward maintaining focus. When it was over, Sean, was disappointed I didn’t shoot one into the woods.
* end: For those of you that aren’t archers an End is – A round of arrows shot during an archery event (rarely more than six arrows). Although, shooting with Sean was not a tournament, I’ve used the term ‘end’ to describe 6 shots.