William Tell I am not – Bajan Reporter’s adventures in Archery at Kendal with Nat’l Trust

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

The Arrow and the Song:

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If you recall, the National Trust is looking to renovate the Morgan Lewis Windmill and one way to raise funds is offering folks a chance at some amateur archery…

Guess who decided to go? Just follow the fleeing figures from St Philip, seriously – it was a fairly long drive to what I’m accustomed. The next fund-raiser is to get that road to Kendal Sporting Clays fixed, oh my Word! It was like traversing the streets of Kirkuk in modern-day Iraq, the bobbing reopened a slow leak in one of my tyres – fuh real!

I had to wait a while, that’s because I target better with the left eye and although I am right-handed it is better to draw and shoot as a southpaw. When I arrived, the lefty bow was in use by a Bob Sealy. He did fairly well, not like Michael Gill, who was fuelled by “brown Ju-C’s” (Ssh, they only look like Banks Beer – no, he was not guzzling while operating dangerous machinery – hush yo’ mout’!)

While I was waiting, a young lady was so happy she got six for her score – everybody got a certificate… I was deciding how many rounds to buy ($5 for three fletches or bolts – no pun intended), when I heard that after five o’clock no more slots would be open, I bought four rounds at $20 fast!

You place your feet parallel to the target when you’re ready to aim. These bows are light as things go from what I understood – 25 lb strings, you nock the crook of the quarrel just below a brass ring attached to the drawstring… Then the odd coloured “feather” or fletch is aimed away from you so as increase a smoother release for flight. You use your shoulders rather than your arms to square the arrow where you are aiming for, there’s even a tiny sight for you to line up target and the bolt. You pull the cord back and settle it under your chin and when you feel comfortable? Let it go!

My first round was a session I’d rather forget, but too many witnesses for me to silence, uh, persuade – one bolt went in the ground, one on the corner of the target sheet and the last bolt landed on the outermost black ring!

Next round was better… 13 there, then 16 for the 3rd session!

But in the last round I actually hit a Bull’s Eye, which got ten points – it pushed my top-score to 19! Safety is paramount at archery, you have to yell “CLEAR” when you finished your round, then the warden announces he’s stepping on the field to retrieve spent quarrels (or bolts/arrows – all the same, different names) – everyone must hold still while that happens, until the warden’s back at the drawing range and he announces it too.

Then Bob Hurley the range warden did a Demonstration round, attempting to imitate William Tell of proverbial folklore – he nicked the “damosel‘s” scalp at the first try, but sunk the apple at the next attempt! The real Oliver Queen of the day was Michael Gill with 29! Let’s hear it for Brown Ju-C’s, eh? LOL!

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