I’ve been thinking about archery a lot recently, mainly because I’m writing a zombie apocalypse short story set in Lincolnshire.
I got my old shooting bag out yesterday. My quiver and bowstand haven’t seen much daylight since I damaged my back three years ago. It wasn’t the shooting that caused damage; it was slipping on a wet floor at my job at the time. Much painfulness followed.
I still have my longbow – a proper one, not a flatbow but a proper D-section engineered stick – hung on my living room wall above my favourite trophy, a war arrow mounted on a wooden block, that I received when I won the Lincoln Castle Longbow Tournament in 2011. It was my third try, and my last outdoor competition.
Randomly, watching series three of The Walking Dead yesterday, one of the characters in Woodbury has a fancy compound bow, and boasts about how good she is. But then misses a zombie less than 20 yards away. If you can’t hit a slowly shuffling target that size with a compound bow at less than twenty yards, you’re a shit shot. At that distance you should be able to take an eye out, at least most of the competent compound archers I knew did a fair bit of damage to the X (they get through targets faster than the rest of us…)
My back is still wrecked but it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to shoot, or coach. I saw a fellow-writer had been taught to shoot by a relative and my brain started picking apart her technique. So many mistakes – a competent coach should have picked them up straight away. Just looking at her right – drawing arm – I could have told her three quick things:
Elbow back and forming a straight line from arrow tip to elbow;
Head straight, looking forward.
Basically, you should look like a T and your body should form an A, for stability.
Since I can’t shoot anymore I can’t demonstrate technique to beginners, which means I can’t coach either.
Archery was a massive part of my life; I spent more time and money on archery – coaching, travelling, competing, bows, arrows, ancillary equipment, membership fees, socialising – than on anything else. I miss it; I miss the activity, the people, going to different clubs for competitions.
I don’t miss the petty politics of clubs and national/regional organisations though, those I can happily do without. But, when I wake up on a weekend morning and the sun is shining, I do wish I could get my kit together, get on the bus to Cleethorpes and go spend the morning with my old friends at Grimsby Archers.