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BILL HOWARD: Bow therapy

BILL HOWARD: Bow therapy

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FLORENCE, S.C. -- The outdoors and its activities offer plenty of things to give a bit of peace.

There are many times I went fishing not with the goal of catching a single fish, but instead the goal was to get clarification and inner thought of something troubling me. The sun’s warm light mixed with slowly passing puffy clouds, the absence of noise other than the soft whisper from the blowing leaves provide the perfect environment.

Then there are times when you don’t want to get into deep thought within yourself. You want things to be as simple as possible. I recently hit one of those moments.

It has been a while since I picked up the bow. With a change in career roughly six years ago, my focus changed to perfecting my craft. I have done well with it. Prior to that, the bow was everything to me. Hunting, bowfishing, and competition were what drove me and separated the stress from the daily career and my peace.

It became time to pick up the bow for some self-therapy.

You see, when I pick up the bow, it becomes a type of minimalism therapy wise. It is me, a bow, an arrow, and a little dot down range. My mind isn’t reflecting on the day’s activities. My mind isn’t browsing around for solutions to various stress related scenarios, causing worry and angst. My mind is just locked down on whether I can pull back 70 pounds of string pressure and releasing a stick at 300 feet per second towards a spot no bigger than a penny some 20 yards away.

When you pull back the bow, the bow is unlike a firearm in that it wants to shoot. It isn’t waiting for any input from you. It enters a struggle with you as it tries to send the arrow away, while your struggle is a bit different. You not only struggle to keep the string pulled back full-draw, but you float the site pin over the target, waiting for it to drop on that one small spot.

You see, you don’t settle a point on the site on the target face and when it is locked in squeeze a trigger. No, the bow isn’t set up on sand bags for support. The bow isn’t propped between shoulder and opposing forearm while laying on the ground in prone position in order to have the site completely stationary over the target. The bow requires you to move around the target face. Yes, floating the site is probably the best term.

You remain at full draw after pulling back 70 pounds, at which it smoothly but abruptly drops to around 10 pounds of pull-back. Then you hold. You nestle you draw hand into your cheek. It becomes a familiar and comfortable place. Your eye lines a small hole in the string with the site coming off the riser. And you float.

When you find the target and that pin works its way over top, instinctively you release the string. The struggle is over. The bow has loosened its rage and strength. Your draw arm bounces back, kind of like a controlled flail. Your bow hand, even though it really didn’t have a grip on the bow, somehow still holds it. In the fraction of time the arrow flies towards the target, you watch the fletching spin away.

There is nothing else that matters. Just you, the bow, the string, the arrow and that target.

Sometimes we need those moments of nothing else.

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