Friday, February 12, 2016


Now Playing: Brand X Music - World Without End

This is really lame, but I feel like I need to admit it: about half of the reason I got into archery was because of video games.

The first time I played Skyrim, I made Arkana--my witch character from my childhood book AKA first attempt at a lengthy story, The Night Kingdom. She uses a giant battle axe in the rewrites of the book, so in the game, I'd sometimes alternate between dual magic using and a two-handed axe, and other times I'd have magic spells at the ready in one hand and a small war axe on the other.

I always liked the idea of an archer character, but I mostly stayed away from it because a) my aim and level of patience was shite, b) I was afraid I'd run out of arrows, and c) it just wasn't Arkana's gig.

I think at the time I resented that bows and arrows were the designated female character weapon, and I never thought to consider just how much strength and skill was required to operate one properly. In fact, it wasn't until years later, when I was reading someone's critical analysis of The Hunger Games that I really considered the ins and outs of archery. (One of the things that annoyed the reviewer the most was how much emphasis Katniss put on her opponent's size and weight and how "useless" her bow and arrow might be if a 200-pound opponent comes at her with a sword. Completely ignoring the fact that ranged weaponry is more often than not superior).

Even in games where there was no aiming mechanic--like Dragon Age--I'd make rogue characters who weren't archers. My first Warden (River) was a mage, but my second one (Kyoko) and my Hawke were rogues who dual-wielded swords. (Because in rewrites, that's Jacob's weapon choice).

What finally convinced me was watching my dad's Dovahkiin archer--which is already odd since he's usually a warrior, all sword-and-shield. He didn't seem to use the bow much for fights, just for hunting. Later on, when we got ahold of the Tomb Rider reboot, the aiming mechanic for Lara's new weapon--the bow and arrow--is really, really good. It's silent and precise, so it makes it perfect for hunting all kinds of creatures. (Including heavily armed enemies).

I replayed Skyrim after my brother pumped it full of mods (including new hairstyles--squee!) and created Valianna*,my Wood Elf archer.

It was almost nostalgic. Years before, early middle school time, my dad bought me a tiny compound bow from Bass Pro Shop. I can't use it anymore (too small, can't do a full draw), but I did remember having fun with it. By the time I got around to writing Oculus, modeling my fictional Serena after her Dragon Age: Inquisition counterpart, I researched a lot about archery.

I'd never quite realized archery was all about stance and consistency. Fiction puts a shitton of emphasis on hitting bull's eyes, precision, that kind of thing. But the basics of it really does come down to stance; you're really not focusing on your aim in the beginning. Eventually you adjust, you get the general feel of where the arrow will go. But it's all: squeeze your shoulder blades, put your back into it, stand correctly, be consistent in your anchor point, don't. Do. The. Chicken. Wing.

We have another practice bow here--a simple longbow (that belongs to my brother) with a basic draw weight of about 10 pounds or so. But it has become quite fun to practice with it. And it's gotten me thinking about hunting.

I'm a really squeamish person. Anything that smells odd or funky might end up sending me into a vomiting spree. Sight might push me over the edge.But I really want to learn how to hunt. Probably nothing big--squirrels and rabbits. Definitely not gonna kill deer unless I have thirty people to feed or something. And I don't want to do it with a firearm, though I wouldn't be against carrying one as a back-up. I'd want to hunt with a bow. But which kind? What archery style would benefit me? I wonder what most hunters prefer. Recurve interests me, but for field archery, do people like compound more. . .? It feels like they might, but I haven't researched it fully yet. (NUSensei has been the bulk of my early archery education).

Part of me wonders if I'd be the kind of person that can take an animal's life with my own hands. I'm not a vegetarian, probably never will be, so it's not like I'm morally opposed to the idea of eating meat. But when it comes to doing it first hand, would it be difficult for me to process the weight of my actions?

I'd practice ethical hunting of course. Follow hunting laws, be as humane as possible, never be wasteful or cruel or give myself unfair advantages. (I talked to someone who hunts in Australia, and she mostly goes after invasive species and said they're not allowed hunting dogs or tracking devices or anything of the sort. Which seems more than fair).

I remember years ago watching this short, student-documentary about a family, and they mentioned that the boy was an animal lover. His dad said people don't expect that of hunters, but to be a good hunter is to understand and even love animals. It was fascinating.

I'd keep up with the sport even if I stuck to and developed target archery, but I think I'll always be at least a little curious about hunting. (Plus, it'd bring me closer to Serena).

*I can't remember if that had a "y" or an "i" >_>

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.