No research is ever fun, right? WRONG! Whether it is driving several hours to scout a location in the woods for a fight scene in mid-January, or learning how a character uses a particular weapon or tactical skill in a fight, research it is one of my favorite things to do as an author.
An author must be able to describe situations in their story in a totally legit and believable way. To ensure we give our audience the complete package, writers need to know how the person, place, or thing would respond to a multitude of senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.
When I was growing up, my father taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow. I preferred his hand-made longbow over my brother’s compound, and when I began around the age of twelve, I loved that my new weapon and gift was as tall as me. I thrilled in going to the back yard and shooting for hours at the stack of hay bales my father had piled high in the corner of our lot. Until I was eighteen, I practiced my archery skill, was a dang good shot, and my father was proud.
Almost twenty years later, when Jill began a story about a young girl learning to shoot a bow for the first time, she asked for assistance to validate her writings. Although good, there were a few pieces of valuable information missing in her story. From my own memory, I could still feel how good it was to hold the long bow in my hands. The smooth wood strong and flexible, the string taut in my fingers, but because of the rather large time gap, I realized that I needed a refresher before I could be of any real help. Not only that, I felt Jill—and Kate, because we like to punish her—had to experience it themselves as well.
The Fix and the Beginning of a Novel Three Tradition:
- Field Trip #1: Archery Class
- Location: Timber Mesa Outdoors
It was amazing how quick the instruction went before the worker at Timber lined us up in a row and allowed us to shoot. We each received one recurve bow—something new to me—with a twenty-five-pound draw weight and five arrows. Although the staff was nice, we had to beg for someone to bring us arm guards for protection, as they didn’t provide us with anything else.
Since it had been so long since I’d picked up a bow, I was surprised at how much energy and strength I needed to pull back the string. After a few rounds my arms were shaking and the tips of my fingers felt bruised. Also, shooting a bow is VASTLY different from shooting a gun. Unless you have one added, there is no sight on the weapon like a gun, and where the tip of the arrow points in your aim is NOT where the shaft will actually fly.
It was such an amazing experience to practice archery again and I bought my own recurve to keep it up. Jill and I were expert shots (in our own minds) and were hitting bullseyes by the end of our short practice and Kate… well, Kate learned what it was like to have the string hit the side of your arm—where the arm guard was supposed to protect—and received several magnificent bruises as battle scars. She also received an award for the best-looking archer there.
Overall, the outing was a great success and we look forward to many more to come!
The bruises were legit. It takes some pretty special skills to receive an injury like that when you have protective gear in place to prevent it.
Totally beats watching YouTube videos and guessing what it might feel like to shoot an arrow. Ha! I had so much fun and I look forward to going again.