It was a dark and stormy night.
At least, it was dark and stormy off in the distance. Riding shotgun in Robin Hood’s truck on the way to the Sandia Crest Bowhunters Association’s annual after-dark “raccoon shoot,” I watched the horizon. Lightning flickered across the sky, and sporadic rain had been falling all day. Would the shoot go on?
With the SCBA’s communications being somewhat rudimentary, and having no other plans for the evening, we figured we would just drive out there and find out.
We arrived at the archery range to find – hooray! – stabilized weather. We layered up in preparation for the chill of the East side of the Sandias, grabbed our bows, arrows and flashlights, and headed to the first target.
Don’t worry: in this “raccoon shoot,” we weren’t aiming at actual raccoons (at least not intentionally) but rather, flat paper targets that just looked like raccoons. Not having touched my bow in over a month, I was mildly concerned as to how the evening would go. Missing the target(s) completely and having to do arrow search-and-rescue isn’t much fun, let alone in the dark.
Then again, I was out enjoying nature; I was with fun people; and I was breaking in my new winter hat. Surely there are far worse ways to spend a Friday night.
Well, guess what? I didn’t lose any arrows. I may not have hit those paper raccoons every time, but all in all, considering how long it had been since the last shoot, I pleasantly surprised myself. And I didn’t hear any real raccoons, or any other nocturnal critters, squeaking in terror, so I considered the evening a rousing success.
The next morning found us back at the range, this time for the Halloween 3-D shoot. What does that mean? It means we traded the excitement of shooting in the dark for the excitement of shooting at things that resembled actual animals, only made of foam.
The weather was fantastic. Everyone wore tons of layers that got peeled off as the morning progressed; after the turbulence of the previous evening, it was a postcard-perfect Fall day. To make things even better, Robin Hood and I got paired up with a couple who’s practically royalty around the local archery scene. Peggy is a national champion many times over, and her husband Charles has been president of the SCBA twice and is an excellent archer in his own right. For all their experience and tremendous skill, they are also tremendously nice, and we chatted and laughed as we made our way around the range. I did have to do a couple of arrow search-and-rescue missions, but it was still fun.
Note: hot pink feathers (“fletchings” in the lingo) are not only pretty; they’re downright practical when you’re trying to find them in the dirt.
With the relaxed vibe of our group and my [hopefully] discreet observation and [attempted] emulation of Peggy’s shooting style, I shot an archery PR of 224 points!! Robin Hood had a great morning as well, hitting multiple 12-point (read “perfect”) shots. And he’s only been at it for about a year! I suppose that’s why I call him Robin Hood.
Next up? A shoot the weekend before Thanksgiving. The listed prizes: turkeys and pies.
I’m liking this sport more and more.