One day, after school, I was at my Grandparents house playing on their Commodore 64. Out of the blue, my Grandfather got up off the couch, walked over to the closet, and pulled out a long and skinny bag. Inside the bag was an old wooden bow that belonged to one of my Aunts.
He strung the bow and had me try pulling it back. “Don’t let go of the string, just see if you can pull it back and touch the tip of your finger to the corner of your mouth”. After doing so, he shook his head, unstrung the bow, put it back in the bag, and went upstairs.
I went back to my game and a few minutes later he came down with several more bags – all of which were much larger. One by one, he opened the bags and had me try pulling back various bows. Finally we came to one that was both light enough for me to pull back and short enough at full draw.
At that point I was introduced to the compound bow and went on to make many trips to Wapiti Archers of Pennsylvania. I came to love that club and have many fond memories of my time there.
I didn’t know it in the beginning but my Grandfather was very involved with the club. He was an officer and held a working membership – meaning he paid reduced membership fees and shot the monthly shoots for free due to the number of hours he spent working at the club.
It all seemed so normal to me back then. Members met up for Work Parties and we spent the day rebuilding target butts or doing maintenance around the club. The concept was so simple – you joined a club, you put in your time, and in return you had an amazing place to shoot your bow.
Over the years things changed. The days of paper animal targets were coming to an end and 3D Archery was the new big thing. This was also around the time when my family decided that we needed to move out of the city. Long drives to the club became few and far between. Eventually we stopped going altogether.
About fifteen years went by before I decided to get back into Archery. I was heavily involved in competitive pistol shooting but I needed a hobby that my young daughter could do with me. Thinking back to my childhood, archery seemed like a perfect fit.
The sport is tremendously different than it used to be. Bows are smaller, lighter, and faster than ever. Targets went from paper pictures hung on straw bales to realistic animals made of foam. Shooter turnout is a fraction of what it used to be.
Despite the changes, I did what my Grandfather taught me. I researched a few clubs, found one that impressed me, joined, and began showing up to help. Over the past few years my involvement has grown. I’ve gone from being a member, to being elected Vice President, and this year was elected President.
A couple of months ago my cousin said something to the effect of “You’re following in Pop-Pop’s footsteps. He would be proud.” To be completely honest, I’ve never thought about it like that. I hope he would be proud, I know I am.
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