New Thing: Shoot A Bow

Every year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some of them are difficult, some are shockingly mundane. You can read about previous adventures here.

Shooting a bow seems kind of awesome and badass, right?  I sure thought so when I added it to my list for this year.That badassery sort of evaporated when I discovered that I lacked the upper body strength to use my friends hunting bow.
And when I had to use the bright pink renter bows usually reserved for kids.
And when a nine-year-old girl showed up with her own emeffing quiver and bow and shot five arrows into the bullseye while I fumbled around with sighting and finger placement.
And when I thwacked my inner arm three times resulting in some pretty impressive welts and bruises.Ah, well.  That’s what this whole post series is about, right?  Trying new things and being comfortable with mediocrity?

And really, I did have a good time.  It’s hard to overemphasize how gratifying it feels to release that string and the pleasing sound of the arrow ‘thwumping’ through the paper target and into the Styrofoam backing.  It feels good to use new muscles and feel stiff with effort.  And there’s even kind of fun to shrug and say “I have no idea what I’m doing; I’ve never done this before”  when someone corrects your form.

Did you hear that?  That’s the sound of me being okay with being mediocre!  Or bad even!

Have you ever shot a bow?  Would you? 

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  1. Jessica

    They should have provided you with arm protection. You'll be thwacked on your lower arm regardless but without bruising.
    I've shot with a compound bow. It had all these little finickity stuff on it, like stabiliser. I, too, found myself not in shape for shooting bow. I wouldn't mind learning though.

  2. valentina.tara

    I see that your shooting experience was completed with a Katniss-braid — well done!

  3. Midnight Cowgirl

    This is something I've been wanting to do! I guess I better start doing some push ups…

  4. Caitlin

    Yes Yes Yes!!! I learned how to in High School and when I was a camp counselor I renewed my love for it. This year for Christmas, my dad bought me a shiny new Recurve bow!! I'm SOOO excited to use it! Just need to get some arrows and figure out the archery range nearby….If you're ever in the Metro Detroit area, I'll take you shooting! 🙂

  5. Kristie

    I went to a church girl's camp when I was younger and there was an archery range! My best friend and I went every single day, despite the giant welts we got on our arms! It was totally worth it.

  6. Taylor

    I went to a place in Coon Rapids called Average Joe's Archery and it was a blast! They provided arm protection, though. Can't wait to do it again! I'm glad you had fun!

  7. Kelly L

    I would love to shoot a bow. I think it would be badass. I have no idea where to do it, though…

  8. lumenatrix

    I haven't taken up archery, though it is on my list. I can whole heartedly endorse running with something that is super hard and embracing the journey through mediocrity. I started taking Acrobatics almost a year ago and I was so unprepared, I was the only person in the class who hadn't taken gymnastics or dance or yoga or something else previously in life and good lord I was BAD. BUT! I had so much fun learning and pushing myself and seriously, it is just cool to be in a room with a bunch of grown ups walking on their hands and doing flips and bridges. I stuck with it, even though I progress much more slowly that everyone else in the class and it has been the greatest thing- it's OK to push though and keep working at something that is really hard for you, I feel so much more proud and accomplished with my tiny little steps forward in this class than I do about pretty much anything else in my life.

    It's also been a real learning experience figuring out how to just be zen with the frustration and limitations and not just give up because it's hard. I have a real problem with that, but now I really am learning how to embrace the difficulty and use it as a source of motivation in itself. It has really been so great for me in so many way to spend a whole year falling on my head on a regular basis. 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      That's so great! Good on you for trying something new and scary!

    • lumenatrix

      Thanks!! Next up is I'm going to try to learn French (I decided to try something mental since my body is getting beat up enough trying to master front handsprings right now). 🙂

  9. hmweasley

    We did archery in my freshman PE class in high school, and I loved it even though I wasn't at all talented at it. It took me several days before I was even able to hit the target. We did it for a week, and I think I hit the bullseye twice (and that was probably more accident than anything). It was also a really strict thing, since our teacher was really worried about us high schoolers hurting each other by messing around, so she was ready to yell at and punish us at the slightest sign that we weren't listening. I had a lot of fun with it though.

  10. The Dame Intl

    I would really love to take up archery, I already have an expensive bow on my Amazon wishlist but I am yet to find classes in my area unfortunately!

    • LanaJoseph @ Mens Shirt Collar

      Well count me in, I bough an expensive bow from one of the local sports store and never even tried to shoot an arrow.

  11. Sydney

    I always did archery at summer camp and I LOVED it!!!

  12. Kate - Crazy Lovely Me

    My youngest sister is an archer, and she's pretty good at it. She shoots a recurve bow (what most people think of when they think "bow" – a piece of wood and a string) and I've shot it a few times. She likes to laugh at me and my form, but that's okay. I enjoy doing it (although I've whacked the inside of my arm enough to know I enjoy doing it a lot more with an arm guard). I'd like to get my own bow at some point.

  13. Lauren

    Did you find out if that zebra skin on the wall was a product of the excellent archery skillz of the range owner?

  14. EcoGrrl

    I love the idea! Great idea for everyone to post their 34 Things for 2013, perhaps???

    Never had any interest in bow & arrow although a slingshot sounds interesting for some reason…

  15. Valerie

    This is so awesome. Archery is something I've been dying to try as well! (And only partially due to my Walking Dead obsession.) I found your blog initially from your "how to stay smart post." You have me totally hooked on Stuff You Missed In History Class and on your blog as well. Just so you know, I think you're totally badass, pink bow and all! 🙂

  16. hannah

    I think it's awesome that you tried this, and who cares if you had to use the pink kid's bow, at least you gave it your best 🙂 well done you x

  17. LynnieBee

    I love Archery 🙂 I have to use the wimpy arm strength bows too, but I'm actually a decent shot 🙂 My husband runs the Archery range at the Renaissance Festival where we met ( flying my geek flag here, loud ad proud!), so I get lots of practice 😉 So proud of you for trying it! *high-five!*

  18. Vanessa

    Very cool. I think it's soooo important to try being a beginner once in a while. As adults we really do get so used to only doing thins we do well. I worked with a teacher who had been teaching for thirty years and made it his priority to learn something new every summer, be it constellations, bird calls or hacky-sack. He wanted to make sure that he didn't forget how hard it is to learn something brand new, so that he could bring that awareness to his teaching every year. I think it's something important for all of us to remember .

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      What a great teacher – and that's a great, great point that he makes!

  19. Julia H @ Live Young and Prosper

    I definitely opened this post hoping to see a photo of you with a Katniss-style braid. Was not disappointed 🙂 Very cool!

  20. Alex

    Pink bow is badass. I like.

    I shot a bow at a summer camp some 15 years ago. The camp was a horrible experience, so that bow was a life-saver. Coach said something about natural talent and joining team, but eventually I refused, because camp was basically a hide-out of one of the fundamental Christian sects. (My best friend's cousin's parents sent her cousin, and my friend went, and I tagged along — my poor folks were assumed the only thing that'd happen is morning Bible study.)

    But yeah, if I shot a bow now, mine would be bright pink as well. I kind of want to.

  21. Magatha-May

    I'm an archer by sport… doing it for years and years now… and sometimes I'll still get a rotten slap off the string and bruise up pretty nicely, so don't beat yourself up about it at all. Everyone gets hit at some stage.

    And don't beat yourself up about shooting a pink beginners bow either… if you were able to just pick up your friends HUNTING bow (strong enough to actually kill animals) and shoot it then you would be a freak of nature. If you've never done it before than how can you expect to have muscle developed for shooting… ya silly kitten.

    Am delighted that you enjoyed it… the sound of the arrows hitting a target is one of my favourite sounds. One of my friends used to skype into training sessions just so she could have the sound of arrows in the background when she was studying abroad.

    If you enjoyed it you should call down to the range again… after all… practice makes perfect 🙂

  22. Tami - Teacher Goes Back To School

    why am i surprised so many of your readers are also archers?

    and yes, i have. my dad used to take us to the archery range when we were kids so he could practice for hunting deer with his bow.

    we also had a little range set up in our backyard in the bay area.

    you can take the dude out of minnesota, but you can't take the minnesota out of the dude. (or keep him in california. he retired in mn in 1997!)

  23. Kim

    Anyone from the Southeastern MA area that wants to try it, my parents own an archery pro shop (olympic style, not hunting) that's friendly to new folks! They help hundreds of people each week who have never shot before.

    I trained for the Olympics under my dad but an injury made it so I can't shoot anymore. As I tweeted, that bow is an adjustable one not just for kids. It's called a Genesis bow and are really common at camps because they can fit little kids and big kids (saves on money). It's not a true compound because it doesn't have let-off (compounds are easier to pull once you hit a certain point).

    If you have any archery related questions, ask away! I taught for 9 years and shot for oh, I have no idea, probably around 15?

  24. Meghan

    I tried archery while visiting with my family over the holidays. I shot while wearing my baby in a carrier on my chest; I don't know that I've ever felt so hardcore before in my life. Of course, I sucked at it, but no one in my family had ever done it before either, so we called the sucking family bonding.

  25. Motivational Speaker

    I did this at the local archery club. Man it stung my forearm!

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