Friday, October 12, 2012

"An Arrow Escape"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Robin Hood, except I wouldn’t be caught dead in tights. But I did love the concept of using a bow and arrows to rob from the rich and give to the poor.

Now that I’m an adult with two kids I put through college and married off, I’d rob from the rich and keep the money myself.

To find out how, I went to Smith Point Archery in Patchogue, N.Y.

“We’ve had students ranging from 4 years old to 90,” said owner Jared Schneider. “I’m guessing you are somewhere in between.”

“Physically I’m closer to the higher end,” I responded, “but intellectually I’m in the opposite direction.”

“Perfect,” said Schneider, 32, a former New York state archery champion who began shooting arrows when he was 5.

“When I was 5, I had those little rubber-tipped suction arrows,” I told him.

“The arrows we have here are a little stronger than that,” said Schneider, adding that archery has become very popular, not just because of the Olympics, but because of “The Hunger Games,” the young-adult novel that was turned into a blockbuster movie.

“I haven’t seen the film,” I told Schneider, “but I’ve watched ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ about a dozen times.”

“We have Robin Hood-style bows,” said Schneider, referring to the traditional one-piece weapons, as opposed to high-tech compound bows.

Then he had one of his merry men show me how to use one.

Troy Kenny introduced himself by saying, “Never trust a guy with two first names.”

I said, “Never trust a guy who has never tried archery.”

“I bet you’ll be shooting bull’s-eyes in no time,” said Kenny, 41, who has been an archer since he was 12.

“Do you think I can be as good as William Tell and shoot an apple off someone’s head?” I asked.

“I’m not going to volunteer,” said Kenny, who presumably didn’t want to look like Steve Martin with a fake arrow through his skull. “But I think you’ll do all right. You can eat the apple when you get home.”

He showed me the recurve bow and field-point arrows I would be using.

“Where do you buy your equipment?” I wondered. “Target?”

“No,” he replied. “But we have plenty of targets here.”

The one I would be shooting at was 10 yards away. More advanced archers shoot at targets positioned at twice that distance.

Kenny handed me the bow and explained that the arrow, with the cock feather facing me, would rest on an anchor point, and that the arrow’s notched end, or nock, would be fitted onto the nocking point of the bowstring.

I stood facing a wall and turned my body 90 degrees toward the target.

“Hold your left arm straight out,” Kenny said, adding that I should put three fingers below the nock and pull back on the bowstring.

“Your form is very good,” he said. “Take aim and slide your fingers off the string.”

I shot an arrow in the air; where it landed was just not fair: I missed the target completely, though I did hit the large board on which it was mounted.

“Don’t worry,” Kenny said. “Try again.”

My next shot hit the outermost ring of the target. The one after that was closer to the center. The one after that was even better.

Then, on my fifth shot: Bull’s-eye!

“Great!” Kenny exclaimed. “Now all you need is a Robin Hood bull’s-eye. That means your next shot has to split the first bull’s-eye arrow.”

My next shot wasn’t even close. Neither were the six other arrows I shot before giving up.

“I’m no Robin Hood,” I admitted.

“That’s OK,” Kenny said consolingly. “At least you don’t have to wear tights.”
Copyright 2012 by Jerry Zezima


Dave Astor said...

I just finished "The Hunger Games" trilogy -- starring Katniss Everdeen, an expert with a bow and arrow. The books were great (especially the first two), but your column is funnier. If you see Katniss the next time you're at an archery range, do not say you're from "The Capitol." :-)

Jerry Zezima said...

Capitol idea, Dave. I shall, for once, keep my mouth shut -- but not until I say: Thanks for the comment.

Unknown said...

I feel your pain. My 12 year old is into Archery from those damn books! He has gottem to be a Crack Shot whih a high tech compound bow he bought with his own savings. Now he expects me to bring him hunting. Small problem, I don't like killing animals and I'm unable to touch anything dead. (Insert your own joke here) So it looks like I will be spending some time tramping through the woods in the near future and covertly distracting my boy at the precise moment he releases his arrow in hopes of sparing Bambi's life and sparing me from puking all over Mother Nature.
Great Column!

Jerry Zezima said...

Thanks, Andrew. One way to encourage your son's archery ambitions is to arrange for him to take acting lessons so he can be cast in the next "Hunger Games" movie. One way to discourage him is to insist that he place an apple on his head while you, with a pair of thick glasses, pretend to be William Tell. Either way, Bambi will be spared.

JustRex said...

I'm so disappointed! I was looking forward to seeing you in those tights! (grin) I'm sure you have the legs for it, Jerry!

Your column was right on target, as usual.

Jerry Zezima said...

Darev2005, I don't think anyone would want to see me in tights -- not even my wife. But thanks for the comment. said...

You may not be a Robin Hood, Jerry, but you'd be a big threat to a home intruder! You'd have him laughing to death!

Jerry Zezima said...

Thank you, Cathy, but I don't think I would even need a bow and arrows. After seeing me in tights and a silly feathered cap, an intruder would get the hell out of there fast.