Part 6 of 9
The archer, facing the target for the first time at a hundred yards, is usually more or less surprised to see how it has seemingly diminished in size, notwithstanding the four feet of diameter are still there, inviting the flying shaft. There is, possibly, a little trepidation, more determination, and still more curiosity, as the first arrow is started on its way—an eager straining of the eyes, watching the flight, and accompanying guessing as to its landing place. Following the arc, the archer half expresses aloud the thought, "That went over." Same with the other shots, and, hurrying to the target to ascertain the result, nine times in ten the arrows will be found sticking in the ground far short of the mark—a rather puzzling demonstration of optical delusion. Finally, the eager archer hears the dull thud denoting a hit, and, as it is usually a difficult matter to see an arrow in the target from that distance, mental conjectures as to its proximity to the center abound until the certainty is known. The first hit recorded is usually the signal for lively work in retrieving, and it is safe to say the hundred yards of space are covered in a "go as you please" style, generally pleased to go in the least time possible. To find the arrow planted squarely in the golden bull's-eye sends a thrill of exultation through the archer, and the chances are that the echoes are awakened by a joyous shout. Many have the impression that target shooting is "tame fun." More than likely it is the spectator, but to the archer it always retains its attraction. There is just enough of the element of chance to keep one at it from day to day. If shooting in company, each strives to outdo the other. If shooting alone, the records of other archers are always waiting to be excelled, as well as one's own previous efforts, and every increase of score is wonderfully gratifying. Many times has it been asked of the writer, "What fun is there in shooting alone?" Plenty of exercise, more recreation, and always the scores hitherto made by one's self or others to be surpassed. The many would-be witty remarks on "child's play," "two sticks and a string," etc., fall on the archer's ear without effect. Many a time have fishing friends smiled condescendingly on the writer for his "bow and arrow notions," as they term them, profoundly impressed with the fact of so much valuable time being wasted. At the same the writer (who never fishes) perhaps wonders at the great sport of sitting all day by the lake side, with "nary a nibble." Can it be called an even thing? "Every man to his trade" is a good enough adage; and just now the particular trade in discussion is archery, to which we will return, allowing the preceding comparison to enter as a bit of digression, permissible under the circumstances.