Posts Tagged ‘archery’


I now have a handy dandy weapon that I can use against marauding zombies and vampires.

In fact, it’s a lot like weapons you see in shows like Grimm or movies likeVan Helsing.

Okay, so that’s a double-decker special pistol crossbow.  It’s used for delivering two different arrows with two different poisons into monsters.  The one I got looks like this…

The reason I bought this before buying a real archery set is simply the price.  This small pistol crossbow was only about $35, and a few dozen arrows for it came to less than $10.  The REAL bow I want will be about $450.   That purchase simply can’t happen for a while, especially with my latest car repair expenses and the physical therapy I have to pay for until my insurance says the deductible has been met.  (I haven’t told you about my jacked left hip, have I?  I’ll leave that story for another posting.)

On the serious side, this pistol crossbow may look like a toy but it really is a weapon.  The bow I’ve used in archery is only a 15 pound pull, and the bow I’d like will be 20 pounds.  Yet this little crossbow has an 80 pound pull!  So I haven’t even been able to fire mine yet because I can’t get the cord into place.  The instructions recommend that two people string the thing:  one person bends the bow part while another person handles the cord.  My friend Rich has agreed to help me do this tomorrow night.  Then maybe I can practice target shooting in his back yard.  Unlike the assembling, firing this thing will be easy:  there’s a cocking mechanism and a safety latch.  But I’ll have to be very careful because the small dart-like arrows can go an inch deep into a telephone book.

Anyway, Layla would know how to use a weapon like this, and in fact she has a slightly larger crossbow with which she can fire anchored climbing ropes into high places.  So pistol crossbows are not just for vampire hunters.

And on the subject of writing…

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m editing the first of two historical novels, Charity MaCacy and the Almighty Dollar.  I’ve discovered that I’m really enjoying this final editing and polishing stage.  In fact, I’m enjoying it so much that I sometimes put it off because I feel guilty.  I mean, if I’m having fun then I can’t really be working.  Writing is tough.  Writing is challenging.  How can you be productive if you’re having a good time?

Okay, that sounds weird.  But in my defense, I think a lot of us have buried deep down inside us a nagging Puritan who tells us to work and sweat and suffer and strain.

But you know what?  It is so nice for a change not to be in pain for “my art.”  Suffering artists are SO overrated.  Besides, maybe if I’m having such a good time editing this novel, readers will have a good time reading it.

And that’s just what I want.

How’s your own writing going?  Very well, I hope.

I am so ready for the post-apocalyptic hostile dystopian world that’s coming.

Why, you may ask?  Well, I know some martial arts and badass self-defense techniques.  But more important, I know how to use a bow and arrow and a sword (okay, epee fencing, which is close enough).  And apparently sword-fighting and archery are prime skills that I’ll need to survive when our power grids fail or I have to hunt to eat or aliens invade earth.

At least that’s the message some writers are putting out there.

See, this last week I did more archery target shooting at the range/ warehouse where I can rent the equipment (I can’t afford just yet the expensive bow I’d like, let alone the arrows and related stuff).  That’s where a couple (superb) archers started chatting with me, and they mentioned how the number of kids now enrolled for archery lessons in that place has increased maybe tenfold in the last six months.  I’ve also noticed more kids and some adults are signing up for classes at the fencing center.

So why are people suddenly going crazy for old-fashioned weapons?

Well, first there were the Hunger Games books and then the movie.  Then we saw the sweet, non-dystopian Brave.  There’s the bow-wielding Hawkeye in The Avengers.  And if you’ve seen the TV ads, at least two new upcoming shows, Revolution and Arrow, will also show us why bows and swords will soon be the weapons of choice.

Who knew that writers of novels and comic books and screenplays and TV scripts could have so much power? I mean, they’re really inspiring a couple hot new trends.

I also think swords and bows are getting popular again because they’re REAL. Remember the Star Wars and other sci-fi crazes?  For a little while, pretend laser fighting was hot among kids.  Or geeks like the kind you see on Big Bang Theory.  But it had to be pretend because the “laser” swords were foam or plastic.

Bows and swords, in contrast, are real.

So like I said, I’m ready for a post-apocalyptic world.  Or an alien invasion.  Or whatever other threat writers are gonna throw at me.

Are you ready too?

So when I had my second archery lesson on Tuesday I  learned a couple cool things.

First off, remember that I’m working with a simple traditional bow and not one of those fancy (and expensive) compound ones that look like a steampunk weapon.

Anyway, when your fingers release the arrow it doesn’t fly in a perfectly straight line or even a smooth arc to the target.  Instead it “porpoises” before straightening out.  And yes, that’s the word the instructor uses.  What I really like is how from my viewpoint as an archer I can see that slight, split-second side-to-side wobble that you can’t detect as a  spectator and movies never show you.  But it’s there, and that porpoising has to be part of the calculation for your aim.  Kind of a Zen moment, for me, to see this movement and for time to be a little suspended as I witness it.

Second, according to the guys who run the archery place, the best shot in Colorado was the old man at the other end of the shooting range.  And I mean a white-haired, shuffling, hunched over gentleman.  From what I could see he was indeed one hell of an archer, but few people outside the place know it because he has no interest in competing and never goes to tournaments.  He just shoots arrows for love of the sport.  Kind of a beautiful purity to this attitude, isn’t there?

What I really love is that I’m finding more and more how age is no barrier to excelling at a sport.   Take fencing.  This month I’m having some private lessons from a gold medalist Olympian (I LOVE telling people that because it sounds so glamorous).  He’s middle-aged and can whip any younger man or woman in the place.  There’s another Olympian at the Center who also gives lessons, I know he’s past 50, and you so don’t want to face him on a strip because he’ll nail you before you see him coming.  Finally there’s a third instructor who’s in his late sixties, has had hip replacement surgery, and he can’t be bothered with deep lunges when all he has to do is parry and disengage and thrust the blade with such speed and accuracy you might as well call the bout 15 – 0 in his favor and go home.

See, the thing about action hero stuff like archery and fencing is that they’re highly tactical sports.  They’re not so much about muscles and endurance (granted, the best fencers are in fantastic cardio shape) as they are about being psychologically in control of oneself.  The best of them stay calm.  They size up their opponent or target.  In fencing, they use small, sharp, accurate movements and techniques that have been honed to perfection over the years.  No, they can’t compete against younger, fresh Olympic-level competitors.  But as athletes and masters of their arts they’re still damn fine.

You know how in movies and TV shows the revered martial arts masters are usually old guys (or women)?  Sometimes this isn’t a romantic myth.  Sometimes being old and a master of something is reality.

Cool.

So suddenly archery is getting really hot and popular, thanks of course to The Hunger Games.  Maybe that’s why I feel a little cool for having already done archery when I was a kid.  True, I wasn’t exactly a phenom shot like Katniss, but I never accidentally hit any of my siblings or the family dog, hence I wasn’t a totally rotten shot.

Sometimes ago I also mentioned here that I bought a Groupon deal for a few archery classes.   Well, I’m embarrassed to admit that only last week did I FINALLY take my first class.  And you know what?

I think I’ve got a new addiction.

I mean, compared to so much Layla stuff I’ve done in the near or more distant past (fencing, parkour, Taekwondo, trapeze, jumping out of a plane, target shooting with a shotgun), archery proved to be so…  peaceful.   So quiet.   So very Zen.

The classes are in a big ol’ converted warehouse with elk head trophies lining one wall and the scent of hunting testosterone hanging in the air.  We six or seven newbies stood to one side with our rented simple bows while to our right stood the Serious Archers with their expensive fancy weapons and national competitive-level skills.   And we all just had a quiet good time.  We concentrated on the target.  We became one with our bow, our arrows, our targets.

And you know what?  I was a pretty good shot, which surprised the hell out of me.

I’m really looking forward to the other classes and then dropping by for some shooting on my own.  The price for that will be cheap – $11 for the equipment rental and a couple hours of target practice.  And maybe if I’m a good girl and my finances don’t go to hell in a handbasket again any time soon, I’ll even buy myself some relatively inexpensive archery equipment.

Now…  As for the computers I mentioned in the title…

I want to pass on some Alonzo advice about computers.  As you know, I had one hell of a crappy time recently with the server that hosts my blog and my techie friend Alonzo had to step in and save the day.  Trouble is, a couple friends are reporting that they STILL can’t access my blog.  Well, Alonzo checked the server’s monitor tests for a few cities and they reported that it was up 100% of the time except for two 20-minute down times last week.  So why is Becoming Layla still not coming up for a few people?

Here’s Alonzo’s advice that applies to ALL personal computers:

“Many people never ‘clean’ their computers of the hundreds of megs of crap that accumulate from web surfing, and that is a major cause of computer slowdowns.  (Your new computer I set up to automatically clean every time you reboot, and your browser Firefox self cleans every time it is closed. Don’t use Internet Explorer, it sucks and attracts viruses.)

“For people who have not cleaned or don’t know how to clean their systems, I recommend CCleaner, which can be set up to run automatically on your computer. They may download it here and it is free:”

http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

So there you have it – advice from Alonzo, a man who’s as good with computers as he is with a pump action shotgun.  And that’s the truth and that’s why he’s kinda scary.