Back to aikido today! Recovering from an injury is quite different from simply slacking off: it's much harder to get back on the mat, and I feel the effects of the time off much more keenly, maybe because I'm protecting my leg, which is healed enough to train (in my professional judgement), but still has a ways to go. One of my friends noticed that I'm sitting lopsided in seiza, as I try to lighten the weight on my right side. Good to know.
I had enough fun at the archery lesson last week that last night I stopped by Pacifica Archery, and this afternoon I went back and bought a bow and basic goodies: six arrows, belt quiver, arm guard, finger tabs. The Victory, or its smaller cousin the Ranger, is apparently the first bow everybody gets: the club bows are all Victorys or Rangers, and in the 2 hours I was shooting after I got the thing, 4 of the 5 people who passed through (including me) had one of the two. I haven't joined the club yet, though I should and I will: the range is public to anyone with equipment, but the club works to maintain it.
I think the idea really caught me during the lesson when I realized that form really is more important than aiming: if you can shoot the same way every time, it becomes just a matter of where you point the thing. I understand that idea, and perfecting the shot without being terribly concerned about hitting the target--it's a central theme in Japanese archery. So my intention here is mainly to perfect the form; it felt right during the lesson, and I did it for about 2 hours today, shooting mostly at short targets, 8-15 yards with occasional forays to 20 or 25. Sure enough, without bothering to aim but shooting in a clean, fluid motion focused on staying upright, fully drawing the bow, and lightly releasing the string, I do really, really well, with very good grouping out to 15 yards, and a decent ability to hit something I want to hit. It's sort of trippy, to not aim at anything and hit it anyway. Eventually I may learn some aiming techniques like "gap shooting" or "string walking" (the latter being illegal in competitions--this FAQ has descriptions of both buried down the page), but right now I'm fine with perfecting the form and having the arrow go places because that's what comes out of the shot I fired.
Eventually I'd like to at least try Japanese archery (kyudo), which is quite different, using an asymmetrical bow over six feet long--this "regular length" example is over seven feet. And the technique is radically different, as you can see in the animation on this page.
Why did I get a simple recurve bow instead of a compound (the kind with the wheels and cams)? I've never had much luck shooting with compounds, and I like the organic feel of the recurve, the continuous smoothness I can produce with the nock-draw-release process. Compounds seem much more likely to blossom into overgrown technological orgies, with sights and stabilizers and counterweights and release mechanisms. The advantage of compounds is that because of the cams in the system, when you've pulled the string all the way back, the pressure needed to hold it lets off by 65-80%, giving you time to relax and aim. Except I'm so interested in aiming, and don't need the extra power, or the extra-complicated equipment. Plus, as archery is one of my pre-industrial post-apocalyptic skills--well, hunter-gatherer societies don't make compound bows.
Of course, now archery is competing for my obsessive, single-minded attention with His Dark Materials. There was some wrangling about getting the last book out of the Belmont library that involved me getting a new library card, but now I have it and must finish it whether or not I feel on some level like I want to. Stupid brain.