On Freddy’s invitation, we went to Narragansett Bow Hunters to watch their indoor league shoot 3D targets. The NBH clubhouse is a long rectangular no-frills building at the end of a hard-packed dirt road through the North Kingstown woods, and is “Rhode Island’s only club devoted exclusively to Archery”. Freddy is the very friendly, incredibly knowledgeable and helpful godfather of archery we met at Tangy’s. Like our teacher Mr. Dean, Freddy is a great storyteller, absolutely hilarious. As for 3D targets… well. I am a rank n00b, but they really are a world unto themselves.
Totally conflicted here, being an animal lover, as in alive and furry and wild and free, but also an animal flesh eater, as in venison and wild boar are two of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. 3D targets, in archery, are a means to an end — the skillful dispatching of an edible animal to a cooking pot or the elimination of a noxious competitor for your garden. But also, 3D targets are made of molded, painted foam with replaceable “vital” areas, and are just surreal to look at, on a par with slightly sinister manikins at amusement park exhibits. 3D targets are sad and icky, but that’s not really the point. Archers are shooting at what they represent, not what they actually are. I’m trying not to over-think this, but it was, like, the first time I’ve ever seen a room full of them — with parts of fake Christmas trees set up as shrubbery — and it made an impression.
Of course the best part of the evening was meeting and talking with some of the league members. There were 30 or so men and their sons, of every age, shape, size and style you can imagine in a small-town, small-state club. Their range of equipment and accessories ran several gamuts, too, from handmade exquisite to functional and utilitarian, from basic to hi tech to super ultra magical. One gentleman held his black-and-white fletched arrows in a quiver he had made from an entire skunk; another had one made from a raccoon. They were beautiful. I saw at least 30 different bows and styles of shooting. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, a gathering of outwardly very different people who, for all their various reasons, love archery.
Clearly, I have much to learn. I don’t know if I’ll ever shoot my arrows at 3D targets. But I do like shooting arrows, and I feel there is a place somewhere for me here in the greater archery community. The short story is that I downloaded the forms, and Mr Speed and I have applied for membership at Narragansett Bow Hunters.