Serving Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Princeton & Pine Level since 1973

Reaching again for the bow

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This time of year used to bring a new kind of adrenaline rush for me. The last couple of years, things changed a bit due to work and health, leaving other things on my mind. This year however, a new fire has started.

I’m not sure why it seems when a reminder of something in the past hits, that many more follow. It is almost like when talking about something you never talk about, and you check social media a few minutes later and there is an advertisement for that very thing. So, whether it is God listening in or Siri listening in, the results seem to be the same.

I was cleaning up some things in my office the other day and came across my competition bow and accessories. Briefly, I thought about how much I enjoyed shooting competition for the few years that I participated, along with the friendships and camaraderie between the competitors that we forged.

Later that evening, some of the ones I competed against started showing up in my social media timelines — people I haven’t seen posts from in a few years.

The next day, I get a notification on YouTube about the Lancaster Archery Classic being live. We will touch base on the Classic again shortly.

And earlier this week I begin getting hints, reminders, and notifications of some of the shoots I was in.

Yes, it is truly strange how that works. It was enough to get me to pick up the competition bow and head to the backyard to toss some arrows at the targets. All I can say is, “Wow!” It felt really good to do that for a change.

I proceeded to watch much of the Lancaster Archery Classic live on YouTube over the weekend. For those that are not familiar, the Lancaster Archery Classic routinely draws over 1,000 competitors, ranging from novice to professional, in which they shoot at three circular targets 20 yards away.

Those that have shot the bow, understand that 20 yards isn’t that far to get an accurate shot. Those that have shot competitively understand that doing this standing within inches of the other archers, while trying to hit a spot the size of a dime and just one miss can determine whether you advance or not is one of he more nerve-wracking sports there is.

This year, Lancaster had in excess of 1,600 competitors, setting a new record for participants. The field was split into divisions, and each division had shoot times allotted. Taking the scores from the first rounds would bring the field down to a smaller group, and then it would dwindle down again after another round. 

Competition is so intense that one of the greatest 3-D shooters didn’t make the final cut. 3-D archery is a sport in which an archer shoots for scores on three-dimensional animal targets, with points awarded for hitting increasingly smaller circles in the vital area.

But he wasn’t alone, of course. One of the greatest target shooters from the United States, one who is on the national team and considered one of the best in the world, also failed to make the final round.

In the end, there are two shooters who face off against each other, side by side, taking turns shooting in three-arrow sets. The winner in the men’s pro division had made it to the last shoot off twice before, losing each time. When asked afterwards about the win, he commented about how much he was shaking due to the pressure. 

That is the adrenaline rush I miss.

Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.