Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Day on the Range

      Focus behind the shoulder, 10 ring...The recurve bow holding all of the energy he puts into it. His draw is smooth as he hits anchor, holds for a split second and the cedar arrow is released. It's flight fast, but still a graceful arch as the solid thump of arrow striking foam follows 20 yards distant...He turns and the grin he wears says it all. The older fellas in the group congratulate the boy on another great shot as we make our way to the target.

      We pull the arrows and call out the scores, his reads two 10's and the smile returns to his face as more back slapping and “good shots” and accolades are tossed his direction. The kid is meek, quiet, reserved...but with his recurve in hand and arrows launched, his 6 foot frame is a little straighter, his shoulders a little more broad. His whole demeanor changes and the quiet kid in the shadows stands out, even among the more experienced archers at the competition. He is developing a reputation among the ranks of traditionalists and his Dad's pride swells as the once little boy finds his own niche.

      His skills on the target range have far surpassed the old man's and his 20/20 vision bests his Dad's by far...What used to be a kid in awe of his pop has now turned into a game of peers. The boy launching arrows down range and hitting the 8's and 10's with regularity and his Dad trying to keep up and even the score. From pats on the head and encouragement after missed shots to joking and ribbing one another as the relationship matures and changes...I knew it was bound to happen, whether on range or the basketball court where he both beats his Dad...

      The time on the range passes quickly...Time to load up and head back home. The kid wolfs down a couple of burgers on the drive and then dozes off in the passenger seat, still revealing a fragment of childhood left in him. He looks peaceful at rest...As I drop him off at his mom's house and drive away, I think about how much he has grown. I think about how I used to drag him to the 3D shoots, a kid sized longbow and shortened arrows in his hands and a Fred Bear Fedora on his head. I recall watching the tiny shafts bouncing off the targets and the smile that would come across his face when an arrow would actually stick in the side of the foam deer, elk or bear. How he would soak in the conversation from the other shooters and how he was always made to feel included by the guys at the range. I think about him now and how his shooting skills and manner has earned him the respect of that same group. I think about him being a young man and finding his own way...The time on the range has passed quickly...too quickly and I wonder where it has went and how to get it back...

     A quote from a friend of mine compared the growing up of children to arrows...both are meant to fly.