Archery is the sport, practice or skill of using a bow to propel arrows. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat, but, in modern times, it is mainly a competitive sport and recreational activity. There are three major styles of bow: recurve, compound, and crossbow. Recurve bows are the classic bow design with a string attached to elastic limbs. Some require great strength to hold the string and aim. Compound bows are designed to reduce the force required to hold the string at full draw, allowing the archer more time to aim with less muscular stress. Most compound designs use cam or elliptical wheels on the ends of the limbs to achieve this. Crossbows are mechanically drawn bows that have a stock or mounting and resemble a rifle with a small bow attached to it. The string is held by a device on the crossbow and enables the archer to aim without the need to hold the string.

March 28, 2018 - Day 1. Today was my very first exposure to the world of archery. I researched archery ranges in Philadelphia and decided to visit B&A Archery in Northeast Philadelphia for their indoor range, large selection of bows, and knowledgeable staff. After reviewing a number of articles and videos on different beginner bows, I chose the Bear Cruzer G2. The shop had several G2s in stock and I immediately fell in love with a purple one from Bear's 2017 line. Herb, one of the shop owners, spent a lot of time training me on the various aspects of my new purchase. For someone like me who has no real experience with archery, this was a valuable freebie included with my purchase. Herb has 30+ years of teaching experience in another field, which is why his instruction was so great. In my second set of 6 shots, I got all of them on the white circle! We then moved from 5 yards to 10 yards and then 15. The various tips and critiques from Herb and Bill were very helpful. You could tell these guys love what they do. There were several other archers at the range, too, all of various levels, a good mix of different people from youth to seniors. One of the senior archers watched my progress. "Stick with it, babe. You're pretty good," he commented.

March 30, 2018 - Day 2. I took my kids to B&A Archery and they had a great time there. My youngest son was shooting arrows like a champ and my oldest son became interested in crossbows as a result of their visit. Bill gave me several tips during my target practices, including using my bevel to improve accuracy and making sure my fingers are out of the arrow's path so the vanes don't cut me. I split a nock by hitting it with another arrow.

April 3, 2018 - Day 3. In my third practice day, I found myself consistently shooting a little high and to the right, so Herb adjusted my sight. I was still shooting high after that, but he said to not worry about that. "By the time the arrow reaches the back wall, it'll drop right onto the bullseye," he said. Lots of target practice today at 10 and 15 yards. Herb said I should try 20 yards next aiming at a vertical line. He’ll also add more draw weight to my bow. My shoulders were sore the next day.

April 9, 2018 - Day 4. Ladies Night attracted a small handful of ladies. Bill added a full turn of weight on both ends of my bow bringing it to a weight of 30 pounds. Herb gave a new girl and a couple of guys an archery lesson. Bill demoed a crossbow to a group of guys interested in using it for hunting. Herb adjusted my sight again. I practiced on a vertical line on the back wall. I also practiced shooting deer and bear targets. Shooting animal targets does not mean I want to shoot animals for real. A number of archers at the range also feel the same way.

April 10, 2018 - Day 5. I tried a recurve bow today. Compared to my compound bow, I hated it, but I could see the allure. After shooting six arrows, I could feel my fingers chafing. I practiced mostly on a vertical line on the back wall. Sometimes the peep sight looks fuzzy or my bow hand gets shaky. I had some luck shooting at a little bear target by getting all of my arrows into it successive times. I split two nocks. I met a new retiree named Jerry who will be coming to the range often. I gave Jerry some tips that Herb gave me to help him with his shooting. I ended up with a thumb injury. All of the friction of pulling arrows out of the 3D targets left me with a cut on the tip of my thumb.

April 16, 2018 - Day 6. John, an archer I had seen on the range before, gave me lots of good tips and advice on aiming, sighting, and holding my bow. Herb, my instructor watched as I drew back an arrow. "I'm really proud of you," Herb said. "You're standing the right way." My only problem with my stance is my grip on my bow, which Herb and John referred to as wringing a chicken's neck. I told them I had an unnatural fear of holding my bow loosely with an angled hand because it might snap back into my face. "Just try it," John said. "You end up exerting a lot less pressure on the draw." Oddly, that was counterintuitive, but true. I was curious about bow sight magnifying lenses, but, unfortunately, my little bow doesn't support them. That might be something for my next bow.

April 23, 2018 - Day 7. I felt ready to try more draw weight, so Herb added a full turn on both ends of my bow bringing it to a weight of 33 pounds. It didn't feel that much different from 30 pounds. I'm getting a lot closer to the vertical line today. I'm landing on the cardboard more often than not. I got a little cocky with my shots. "I saw that," Bill commented of my shooting. "You're doing that fancy stuff. Keep your finger next to your jaw until the arrow hits its target. Then you can move your finger and do all that fancy stuff." Herb and Bill recounted a challenge some years ago where a target was 105 yards away and Herb nailed it with his second shot.

January 14, 2019 - Day 8. It's been almost nine months since I shot an arrow. Before the first shot of my first set, I accidentally triggered my release on the pullback and hit myself in the nose. Owww!!! I'm glad it was just 33 pounds of force coming at my nose versus the full 70 this bow is capable of. I asked Herb for a refresher lesson on how to shoot. He helped me get my groove back in three shots. On my third set, five of my arrows were in a tight group. The last one was off. My friend Chris W was impressed with my shooting. "You can get them in a tighter grouping than I can with my gun," he said. My sixth and final set is shown to the right. My shots were a little high, but I remember Herb telling me that that's not a bad thing. I was at the archery range for just an hour. If I wasn't with my friend, I would've been there for two more hours. There is a meditative quality to archery that compares to meditation in yoga.

Archery checklist: Feet shoulder width apart, slight bend of the knees, don't choke the chicken when gripping the bow, keep the arm holding the bow slightly bent, keep the drawing arm's elbow high, index finger behind the trigger release, brush the drawing hand against your jaw to your cheek to your ear, the tip of your nose touches the drawstring, look through the peep, breathe in, move your index finger in front of the release, steady the shot, squeeze the trigger completely, count 1-2-3 slowly before removing your finger from the release (or count 1-2-3 after hearing it hit the target), yell "clear!" and wait for everyone else to yell "clear!" before retrieving your arrows.

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