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Washington Voices

Taking aim at becoming a real character

Sat., Jan. 26, 2013, midnight

Winter’s frigid tundra has arrived. If I were a ski enthusiast or had a snowmobile, there would be something to do during these whiteout months.

I got nothin’. Snow’s not my thing. I tried to make it my thing but skiing backward while screaming isn’t fun.

 So … what does one do when one isn’t a snow bunny? One goes to the Spokane Valley Archery range in Greenacres to take lessons on how to fling arrows at targets. Did I say fling? I meant shoot, as in missing the target altogether.

 I’m positive these arrows have errant GPS devices attached to them. Why else would they fly toward Dishman Mica, a mere 10 miles due west from where the range is located, instead of hitting the target? This phenomenon is in no way the result of my slightly blurred vision, wayward aim or fatigued arm after shooting 30 arrows using a recurve with a 22-pound draw weight.


 “Hmmm, that’s … umm, well … kind of close,” the instructor said. “Let’s put the orange dot here. Aim for the dot; hit the bull’s-eye,” he said enthusiastically. Did he say bull’s-eye? He meant the building’s wood frame high above the target.

 I pushed the arrow’s nock into the string, drew back, touched fingertip to corner of mouth and released. The arrow sailed through the air. “All righty, let’s move that dot a bit further,” the instructor said.

 To think this was a Christmas present from my husband. I surprised him with a 64GB iPad 4; he took my silly wish list and purchased four archery lessons. Truth is, I did ask for the lessons and the reason behind this wish can only be found in the fictitious world of writers.

 You see, a character in my book insists that I know how to shoot a bow. Yes, characters talk to writers. They wake us up in the middle of the night, scold us to no end and demand we crawl into their skins.

 And silly us, we do.

 Despite the fact this character uses a compound and I’m plunking away on a recurve, the concept of the sport applies to both. From the feel of the bowstring on gloved fingers to the draw that pulls on muscles in shoulders and arms, I come away with newfound appreciation after each lesson and … yes, I’ll admit … it’s a lot more fun then skiing backward while screaming.

 This isn’t the first time a character has dragged me into an interesting situation. One character has a special affinity with a Eurasian Eagle Owl and before I knew it, I was pulling a leather gauntlet over arm to become a perch for said owl.

 Another character wields a long sword. Last June, I found myself at Iron Crown KDF to watch experienced sword-people swing these double-edged monsters with grace and agility. Then I tried it. “See,” my character whispered, “this isn’t as easy as you thought. Now write it right!”

 Characters can be nasty. Did I say nasty? I meant demeaning as in, you call yourself a writer?

 Despite their nastiness, however, I love my characters. Their curiosity has made me more bold and determined to try new adventures and because of that, my characters now know the thrill of a raptor perched on an arm; the weight of a long sword; the pull of muscle and sinew when drawing back on a bow.

Amazingly, so do I.

At the first archery lesson, the recurve weighed 1.5 pounds; the second lesson, I was handed a 2.5 pound metal recurve. “The heavier the bow, the more accurate the shooter,” Mark, owner of SVA, said. My arrows hit the floor, ceiling, wood frame and I think someone’s tushie. They have moving targets, I’m sure of it, and my arms felt like putty by the end of the lesson.

 “Just wait until next week,” Mark said as we headed out the door. “We’re putting a stabilizer on the bow. Then you’ll really see a difference!”

 My character can hardly wait. Did I say character?

I meant me.

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