Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm all aquiver...

It's not a case of idle hands, per se.  Nor is it a spirit of survivalism or a Mittyesque pursuit of a Hunger Games dream. It's partially because I have a good size backyard that is crying out for some use other than an acre of canine latrine, I suppose, but that doesn't really explain it either. Whatever it is, the idea that I would like to get a bow and some arrows for target shooting got into my head last year. I even went as far as enlisting Co-pilot Egg as a companion for a visit to the then new indoor archery range that opened a few miles from the house.

We rented bows and they had some arrows we could use. Neither of us could hit the targets at first. Egg's first attempts didn't even reach the wall, clattering to an embarrassing and ignominious landing on the floor. It didn't take too long before we were not only reaching the wall but actually hitting the target we were aiming at, though. 

It was quite fun, although it wasn't something that we could just pick up and do; between the drive to and from the range and the time-consuming signing of liability release forms and settling of accounts, it was a three hour chunk out of the day. It got me wondering how much a bow of my own would cost.

Answer: a lot!  The days of the simple fiberglass bows we had as kids are long gone. Those are now called 'recurve' bows and are surprisingly rare, at least in comparison to the newer 'compound' bows. And expensive. I suspect they appeal mostly to traditionalists (like me) who are willing to spend a lot of money for technology as old as the hills (NOT like me).

Which is not to say that compound bows are inexpensive. They are not. Prices started at around $300.  And that was just the start. They have all kinds of attachments and such that drive the cost even higher. And a quick glance at arrows was rather dissuasive as well: $20- $30 each! 

Archery looked to be more expensive than trap shooting!

The appeal of being able to do it without having to travel all over the place finding a suitable location continued to appeal, though, so I adopted my standard long-term acquisition strategy: Craig's List. This is the strategy that netted me a $150 Selmer saxophone (later sold for $250), a $400 16' kayak (later sold for $650), and Cabot, a "free" dog that has to date probably cost well over $1,000. Worth every penny, of course, but a strong argument for amending the age-old "there's no such thing as a free lunch" adage to include "or puppy."

So, long story short (as if!!), I started periodically checking the ads for a used bow, figuring that this was one of those areas where 'new' was not worth the additional cost. It took a long time, but the effort was minimal. It's all just a matter of patience. Hey, I've been looking for a good dart board in a solid wood cabinet for ages. Anyway, last week I found what I was looking for: a new-in-box Martin Threshold compound bow in a scrawny-guy-friendly 40 pound pull.  Even at the brand new price of $225, it looked to be a pretty good deal. The seller was asking $130.

I was on that like Cabot on a Milk Bone(tm).

The bow came with all of the attachments I would want, so I didn't even have to spend the $$$s to accessorize. It came with a six arrow quiver, a sight, and an arrow rest. Those are the bare essentials, but for what I want to use it for they are all that I will need.

Except for arrows. A six pack of field point arrows was about $27, free shipping. But I would have to wait for them. Instant gratification stymied. Still, a sixer of arrows at someplace like Cabella's would be $50+.

Oh, and I would need a target, but that should be cheap and easy, right?

Wrong.  You might be surprised to learn that even a small 16" x 16" target costs over $50.  I spent a good half hour stewing over the pricey selection of targets before realizing that 1) I would need something larger than 16" x 16" if I wanted to be able to hit it, and 2) I didn't need a super expensive target that could handle broad point arrows. While it still wasn't cheap at $65, and I had a hella hard time fitting it into my little roadster, I found a good sized target:

The picture above is the 'after' picture of a 'before & after' set. By which I mean it took quite awhile to get an arrow into it.

The aiming sight, you see, needed to be sighted in. That involved loosing arrow after arrow in the general location of the target, with fully 83% of them flying right over the top. The other one landed short as I tried to compensate for the horribly inaccurate sighting. As I blithely shot my entire collection of arrows down range, I never once considered that they might be hard to find, what with my lawn being in its ubiquitous state of needing to be mowed.

This is the most visible case:

Being down to one arrow had the salutary effect of making me a little more careful about watching precisely where it landed. After another half dozen tries, adjusting the sight after each failure, I finally achieved the state shown in the first picture.  I was able to refine that result through more repetition.  I have the insightful comment from a fortune cookie taped to my computer monitor at work that says, "Repetition is the mother of skill."

I guess that might be true. The jury is still out on this one, though.

I did eventually find the first arrow that landed short. This was nice, because it allowed me to work on consistent (if not precise) aiming.

So, the other four arrows?

The mower is pretty likely going to be the only way to find them.

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