And in which we learn that everything we’ve been doing is wrong. OK, not every thing. But basic things. Like, how I hold my bow. Fundamental. Crucial. The instruction is to let the grip of your bow rest in the web of your forefinger and thumb. That’s it. The natural inclination is to grip the bow, to steady it, to prevent it from falling after the arrow is loosed. But that is incorrect. You want to support your bow, but let it do what it does, unimpeded by your insecure, overcompensating, grasping clutch. This is much, much harder than it sounds to do. Multiple combinations of finger placement practice — forefinger-thumb touching, thumb straight, fingers loose — all resulting in involuntary clutching of the bow’s grip at release. It was freaky. I’d get all set up, instructed, reminded, centered, deep breath, aim, draw, set, release — and then, when I’d check, there was my bow hand, clasping the grip. You have much to learn, grasshopper.
Mr. Dean is a very, very good teacher, and a master himself. He instructs, reassures, and leaves you to your own discovery, all in good measure. I practice until I’m too tired —admittedly not long — and then start to pack up my gear. Other archers begin to arrive. It’s Friday night. I’m beginning to recognize, and greet some of the regulars. Archery is an interesting community, and I love the diversity and the continuity, the devotion that keeps people coming, practicing, encouraging others — enjoying doing this.
(It takes time, and practice, to get good at a new thing. How could it be otherwise? Yet why, as adults, are we so impatient with ourselves, so critical of our learning curve? I know one reason: it’s quite uncomfortable. I’m used to being generally competent at doing stuff. It wasn’t always like that. Where is my beginner mind and the grace that goes with it?)
Mr Speed and I confer and order take-out Chinese to pick up on our way home, pay for our lesson, and buy quick-release adapters for our bow stabilizers that coincidentally can also anchor the wrist straps we learn Olympic archers use to prevent —surprise, surprise — bow clutching. How reassuring, somehow, that this tendency is endemic, natural, even to highly, highly trained archers. When we walk out to the car, it’s still light.