This is my short story of the first time I went to a shooting range. And a good thing too, 'cause beforehand I'd been getting really antsy 'cause of the snow, thinking "I've gotta shoot something!!!"
My friend Sam picked me up, with her compound bow in its case in the back seat. I put my recurve and trigger release with it and got in the front seat. Today we were going to French Creek Outfitters for the upstairs archery range. I’d been looking forward to it for a while, and finally I was going to my first shooting range. I figured I would mark that as the fun thing I did during my last days as a teenager.
It cost about thirteen bucks for me to shoot, and for some reason Sam wanted to sort of sit and watch, not comfortable with the thirty yards since she'd changed the poundage or something like that. But anyway, I filled out a little form and we went up the almost hidden stairs to what looked like a long attic with animal-shaped targets scattered at different distances and heights. Behind a thick yellow line people of different ages from teens to fifties stood side by side and were shooting at the targets with their own bows.
“Most of them are just target shooters, not really hunters.” Sam said. And it was pretty obvious in some ways ‘cause of all the balances and wires and fancy gear that most of these shooters put on their compound bows.
Sam also told me during the week there’s hardly anyone there, so theoretically we should be able to come up sometime and just shoot at plain practice targets (these were 3D with a big group of people around). That’d be nice, maybe after my math class sometime. Or even on a Friday when I don’t have any classes. And according to her there’s also the possibility of getting my arrows fixed. I mean the ones where the nocks have broken off from hitting them with other arrows, but with the fletching and shafts still in good enough condition to shoot again.
Finally my turn came up so I went into the first lane and shot with my recurve. Sam gave me two of her arrows to shoot with, since apparently you’re supposed to bring your own. I must have looked pretty primal next to these other Olympic-style bows. At least I hope I did, ‘cause honestly, I’ve never liked the idea of dressing up a bow with gadgets. You’re not gonna be able to shoot a buck (not that I would unless necessary, but still) or sneak up on anybody with a big cumbersome pipe attached to the front of your bow. Just one other man at the range had a recurve, made of wood. No sights or anything. You’ve no idea how relieved I was to see that.
It wasn’t until after I had shot my first few targets that I was told we’re supposed to aim for the numbered targets according to the names hanging above the lanes each we stood in. Now it made more sense to me. There was a piece of cardboard that was orange on one side and green on the other, so you would shoot at the numbered target depending on the color it’s number was. And after everyone ran out of arrows, we’d make sure everyone was done, go get our arrows back, and someone would switch the board from orange side to green.
It was a lot of fun. Sometimes I hit the target I wanted, but sometimes when I would aim at an animal’s torso or something, I’d hit its leg or neck or part of another close by target. I hit the gator’s tail at least two different times, once near the end when I was aiming for the sheep behind it.
Nonetheless I enjoyed it. Maybe a bit too much, now that I think of it. I hit the mosquito-shaped target, which was quite large and set on top of a wooden fence near a few turkeys.
I kept thinking to myself ‘What Uncle Brad wouldn’t give to see this.’ I bet he’d love it. And now I can say I’ve gone through a session there and can go back to try again whenever.
As I got closer to the end of the line I tried thinking and experimenting in a way, watching the other recurve shooter and recounting how previous shots had succeeded and failed, so I could make the next ones awesome.
But… I broke the two carbon arrows which I felt a bit bad for, for a minute (before that, one of them got stuck in the backdrop’s wall and had to ask two guys for help to pull it out. I pulled a couple muscles in the process). Well one of them broke into three pieces, the other one lost its nock. One of the guys in charge took the nock out of the broken one and put it in the other arrow’s shaft so I still had something to shoot with. At least that way I had a bit more leeway in picking which target to shoot. I pretty much always picked the closest to me, but sometimes they weren’t that far apart.
I missed a closer-range bear target, though. By less than an inch it glided right over the bear’s spine. So I hit the ground more times than I liked, but at least I finally got to try it out. And honestly, it made me excited for a weekday target-shooting time, when there probably won’t be many people, if any at all.
Maybe when I get my first longbow, I’ll be even better at this archery range since it’ll have better poundage.