While I was line captaining, I realized there was a soundscape of sighs, grunts, slight swearing and hissing (hissing?!) coming from some of the archers. Focusing on a couple of the more expressive I realized there was a process going on after the shot/during the end. Once home, with the aid of a nice whisky I contemplated what I had witnessed and formulated the below. For your consideration I give you … The 5 Stages of Archery Grief.
1. Denial and isolation:
Right after the shot there is disbelief at where the arrow went. This is often coupled with staring straight up or down or occasionally a death glare at the offending arrow. The archer exists right now in a tiny 1 person bubble of misery. They might be on a crowded shooting line but they are so very alone. The shot simply could not have ended up in the white/wood/curtain/light switch. It was a good shot. I’m a good archer. There will now be inspection of kit looking for the source of the deviation from perfection.
On realizing the bow is perfectly ok and struggling to find an external source to blame (“Indoors, it’s just you and the target.” Braden Gellenthien), the archer turns on themselves often with expletives. They will by now have realized just what they did wrong (hand position, string picture, bad release, shooting throu the clicker on someone elses clicker, nocking the arrow on top of the button) and self loathing is now rampant. More demonstrative archers will now attempt self or bow harm (Welsh archer Tapani Kalmaru is especially cruel to longrods).
A full body sigh is now evident in the archer’s stance and there will be an exhalation of misery, melancholy and woe. This sound has been standardized across the whole of World Archery and be you american/brit/russian/south american/korean (ok, not Korean unless they shoot a 8 or something mega rare – “A Korean does not shoot an 8.” Ki BoBae) … the same sound will echo across every range for instant recognition by other toxophilites. The archer now looks deep within themselves to list all the things that are preventing them from giving Ellison/Kang or Schloesser/Lopez an absolute kicking and the shoulders will slump a little lower.
As the next arrow is selected from the quiver. The archer will start a process of invoking a deity of archery to guide their next arrow into that sweet sweet gold. Apollo/Artemis/Rama/Ullr/Cupid/Ki Bo Bae are all beseeched by their humble worshipers, penitent and contrite. Many many things will be promised to these deities at this point should they feel fit to guide the XX75/X7/ACG/X10/woodie with custom cresting and hand cut feathers into that pesky spider that lurks in the centre of every face (except field faces obviously – spiders are not keen on the damp outdoors). More gym time, less beer, more practice time, less gossiping/giggling and sniggering are all on the table.
As the next arrow is nocked and the pre shot cycle deep breath is taken … the archer will come to terms that the arrow has gone. That arrow can never be shot again. The score is destined for the scorebook/scoring app/scribbled on the face and can never be changed short of act of god (or judge as they are normally known). All thoughts leave the troubled archer as their stance straightens and the shot cycle takes over. For a brief time the archer and the universe are as one. A Buddhist monk would be impressed with the tranquillity. A moment of Zen beauty where nothing else matters except set, draw, aim, release, recover …………. and then the grief starts all over again unless you did it right that time when suddenly the world is a wonderful place.
Archery … Shredding souls and sanity since 20,000BC
No archers were harmed in the writing of this article although a few did suffer anguish, depression, misery, woe and a realization they aren’t Korean.
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