Part 7 of 9
Shooting at a painted target is far from being the whole of archery. The delights of "roving archery," as it is termed, are many, and combine, to the full, outdoor exercise, more or less skill with the long-bow, and a general good time. Take a congenial party, the favorite bow, a few common arrows, lunch perhaps, and start anywhere, unless some particular route is arranged, across the fields, climbing a hill or two, wandering at will in shade or sun. Squirrels are all around you, inviting a shot. Larks fly on all sides; blackbirds are in swarms around the marshy places. Shoot at anything that moves. You will find abundant opportunities, and the fact that you do not hit anything worth mentioning does not detract a particle from your enjoyment. Perhaps you plump an arrow into a squirrel. With the hit will come a start of surprise perhaps, but none the less is it the genuine sportsman's keen delight in the successful effort. It is a score, and will be hailed with shouts from all. There's no envy in the party—it suits all alike that you have hit. Suppose you have walked two, or three, or five miles. You may have shot a hundred times, with possibly a squirrel or two, or a bird, as the reward of your efforts. The game is valueless as such, but in your eyes it seems worthy a place in the game bag. A cool, shady place, invites a halt, and over the lunch you can discuss the good shots, rejoice in the successful ones, laugh at the failures. It is pleasant to lie full length on the soft grass, and rest after what may have been a fatiguing tramp. The twang of the bowstring is musical to you. There is no aching head from the noise and jar of the gun, no aching shoulder from the "kick." The slight recoil of the bow is unfelt, and the soft whistle of the flying shaft has not frightened the game after the first shot. It maybe you have emptied your quiver at one squirrel, and, through poor marksmanship, failed to drive him from his hole, which only your approach to gather the arrows will do. His curiosity to ascertain what were the whistling darts sticking all around has given you abundant opportunity to slay him, although you have not improved it. After a refreshing siesta under some hospitable madrono, you resume the tramp. More fields, more hills, a departure from the line of march to get the benefit of a sudden discovery of a mark on one side or the other. It matters not if the bird or beast shuns your approach, and you lose the opportunity. The chase was there, the cautious movements to get a close shot; all the hunter's instinct in you has been aroused anew, and, if yielding to the lost chance, subsides only to rise again at the next discovery. And this for a day, with what result? With this result: You have spent the day with Nature, have tramped yourself into fatigue enough to appreciate and enjoy calm, peaceful slumber. Perhaps you are sun-burned a little. That is a healthful sign.