September 11, 2008

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

At risk of sounding a bit repetitive, I just must say, have I ever told you that I love this time of year?

For several weeks now we have had the trail cameras out. Iíve been pleased with the results, but even the week when the battery didnít work and I was skunked on photos, I still enjoyed the opportunity to trek down to the trail, knowing that in about a month I would be making that same jaunt toting a bow, a pack makes one forget youíll also be needing a whole bunch of bug spray too.

But while the deer photos have got me excited about the start of bow season, my total loss of archery skills over the off season has me a bit worried.

Sure I probably should have shot my bow a few times before I joined friends on a trip to an outdoor shoot in Bloomfield, IA. Still I was a bit surprised by my inability to hit some of the easier shots on the 3-D course.

Okay, the spectators may read this so I better come clean and use a more appropriate term than some. Out of the total 200 points possible, this deadeye shot a whopping score of 77. You get 10 points for hitting the small ďkill zoneĒ on the target. Seven points are awarded for hitting the larger circle surrounding this bullseye, and then you get five points if you hit the target at all. So any mathematicians out there can deduce that I missed more targets than I hit.

If the poor scores werenít enough, the shoot cost me more than just self esteem. Believe it or not, I did not loose a single arrow. Then again, I may have been better off losing them, since the mangled messes that I retrieved from the adjoining trees and other debris were painful reminders of my poor marksmanship. Top that off with salt in the wounds in the form of impressive scores by my two hunting buddies, one of their eight-year-old sons and my wife, and I was limping back to the truck like a scolded dog at the end of the morning.

Iím not a great shot by any means, but that display reminded me that practice sure makes one a little closer to perfect anyway.

I suppose I need to grab my bow next time the neighbors are out shooting and join in the fun. Apparently my wife is sneaking out and shooting at all hours, because sheís put hundreds of arrow holes in our target.

Iím lucky I watched all those war movies, so I just instinctively dive for cover when under fire. You see, our little archery range is located on the north end of our property. It runs parallel to our garage. The 10-yard mark is adjacent to the back of the garage. The 20-yard distance is close to the front of the garage with the 30-yard mark further down the driveway.

That may not paint a perfect picture of the layout, but anyway, Iím mowing the back yard the other day, and Iím cutting the backside of the garage. As I am just emerging from the rear of the garage to the north side of the yard, I catch a glimpse of an archer at full draw. The mower made it halfway into the neighborís yard without me, as I was ducking for cover behind the building.

Needless to say, the next several passes on that stretch of yard, I was pausing to peak around the garage just like a motorist at a busy intersection. That may have been a funny headline for Letterman, but I donít handle needles very well, let alone full-size arrows.

If I canít blame my poor outing on the shell shock caused by my near accident, I may have convinced myself that itís the bowís fault. Apparently I believe myself, because the high price tag on some of todayís new-style bows hasnít been enough to put a premature end to my shopping.

Besides if I buy a new bow right before season, thereís another built in excuse for me to write about in December if I get skunked once again during bow season.

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