Pay It Forward
On Easter Sunday I was in my backyard raking up some of the winter debris left over as the snow slowly melted away. The ground was soft and wet, but the sun was shining so I did as much as I could, utilizing the first warm sun this body had seen since last fall to my benefit. I sat down to take a break when I heard footsteps. I took a look around and saw a couple neighbor kids coming in across the hedgerow between our yards. Both of the boys were family friends and football players from our town. One of them will be a freshman this coming season and will be on my team, the first year I will be his coach.
Leading up to Christmas his Mom, one of our football boosters, had asked me if I could give her some advice on buying her son a bow for his big gift. I told her I would, so I enlisted the help of my buddies Jason and JT here with the New Archery Products Field Staff. We settled on a bow and for economics sake optioned for a complete package. Winter time had pre-empted my attempts to get the bow set up for the youngster. I was planning on taking my bow out to shoot at my 3-D turkey target in preparation for our May 2nd opener here in Maine, so I suggested “Ryan” go get his bow so we could get to work on it.
I had followed along on our teams Face Book page as to his progress with his new bow. He was pretty much shooting it “straight out of the box” with no actual set up and it was quickly becoming apparent that he wasn’t having very much success. His Mom had asked me a couple of times if I could give him a hand getting the bow shooting and hunting ready, but I had been too busy with youth hockey and now little league and hadn’t had the chance. Well, today would be the day, totally unplanned. Sometimes things work out best when they are done in an impromptu manner and completely by surprise.
Ryan showed up with his bow case and I opened it and inspected his bow. I noticed that he had some fletching contact on his rest/vanes, that his nock point was way high and when I asked him to come to full draw, that it was dreadfully short. I knew where to start and adjustments were underway. I fixed these particular issues and had him shoot an arrow at the target. He missed low and left and on his third attempt buried the one and only arrow he had brought into the play house that serves as my arrow backstop. We couldn’t get it out. I could see the disappointment on his face and felt badly for him.
He had been shooting that bow so badly out of tune for so long that I realized he had no concept of what a “true” shot would feel like. I knew the boy loved hunting, but I think the whole “bow” thing was getting tiresome for him due to a lack of success. I wanted to fix that, in fact I needed to. I searched through my garage and found an arrow that would be suitable for us to continue our work. It breathed a little life back into Ryan and I could tell his hopes were renewed for success.
Since I had the initial problems worked out I decided to adjust his pins to get the windage and elevation problems figured out. Those were minor tweaks and we were getting closer and closer to target center. Tension was high, for Ryan to finally know what it means to hit dead center of what he was aiming at, and for me to actually come through for him. I quickly realized that I was doing more here than setting up a bow. I was actually mentoring a young hunter. Ryan was ever vigilant and waited on every word I said, watching every move I made. His head and body would turn this way, then that way so he could get a better view at what I was doing and saying. I felt like I was coaching again, only this time I was coaching hunting.
Shortly after this realization, and one or two more turns of an allen wrench, success was achieved. What ensued brought a smile and feeling of achievement to Ryan and to me. Ryan came to full draw, settled his pin on the center dot and slowly squeezed off a shot. Time stood still, the arrow sailed through the air and hit dead center. The smile on Ryan’s face was monumental. I can remember saying to him “How about that? How does that feel?” while laughing. Ryan couldn’t contain his grin. He smiled from where we were standing, to the target to retrieve his arrow and all the way back again. “That’s awesome” he said. Still smiling, he shot another arrow, then another. Then he missed high off the play house, giving us a good laugh.
It still amazes me how the simple things in life make it all worth it. This past Easter goes into the books as a good day. Ryan and I plan to make a few hunts together this fall, with his goal being to take a deer with his bow during his first archery season. Good Luck Ryan!