I’ve found a new drug that makes me feel poised, powerful and focused. It’s legal, 100% natural and safe when enjoyed responsibly.

A few months ago, after discovering that Gutsy Broad extraordinaire Geena Davis had picked up archery a little later in life (and gone on to be quite adept at it), my husband and I visited a nearby range. For $10, I got a quick lesson in basic technique and 30 minutes of practice time. I drew back my bowstring, aimed and watched the arrow fly through the air — and then actually land close to where I was aiming — and I knew I was hooked.

My husband, giddy at the thought of spending the weekends shooting arrows alongside his wife, took to the Internet and found a great starter bow: the Samick Sage. As you can see, it’s beautiful.

samick-sage

This is a takedown recurve bow, which means the curved parts — or limbs, as they are called — are removable and exchangeable. Limbs come in several pound classes, generally ranging from 10 to 60. The higher the number, the faster and farther your arrow will travel. We ordered 35-pound limbs for me, thinking my arm muscles could handle them.

arm

A tip for other beginners: Buy an arm guard! This is what my arm looks like after an hour at the range. Can you imagine how bad it’d be without the extra protection?

Alas, we were wrong. When we got to the range, I found I couldn’t even pull the string back fully. (As previously noted, I am not exactly in the best shape of my life right now.) I still shot pretty well, all things considered, but I’d need a full draw to develop consistent accuracy and precision. We ordered 25-pound limbs as soon as we got home, and they arrived a couple of days later.

The lighter limbs make all the difference. It’s still a *bit* of an effort to draw back to the recommended point, but I can do it without my arms shaking and screwing up my shot. Now I can focus on building muscle memory and technique.

“Is this a Hunger Games thing?” ribbed a friend when I posted a photo of me outside the range on Facebook. “No,” I shot back. “It’s a Shaddock thing.” I inherited from my father a subclinical obsessive compulsiveness that when channeled properly can produce great work — in surgery, in editing, in Bejeweling … and maybe in archery. I do not aspire to be Katniss, nor do I intend to go bow hunting anytime soon. This is purely a hobby — a new way to burn off excess energy and challenge myself.

Already I am in love with the ritual of archery: stringing the bow; filling the quiver; finding my stance; standing tall as I nock and then raise my arrow, eyes locked on my mark; hearing the plunk, followed by a thud, as the arrow sinks into the foam target. I’m composed. Tranquil. Captivated.

But, if the zombie apocalypse does come, I guess I’ll have a slight advantage.

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