There are two things I never really anticipated by kids being interested in. One is archery, and the other is cannibalism. So far they are still not interested in cannibalism, which makes me feel good about myself as a parent. My son, however, has taken an interest in archery, which is pretty cool, whereas of course cannibalism is not cool. Unless you're a Donner, in which case I'm not going to judge you. But I won't go hiking with you, just in case.
Archery is offered as a free after-school activity and the British school our children attend, and free is a price that I can afford. Halen started coming home with bruised wrists from the constant snapping of the string, so we bought him a cool looking wrist guard that also has finger protectors to combat blistered fingers from pulling back the bow string. He looks bad when he wears it. Not Jack Abramoff bad, but Michael Jackson bad. But not that kind of Michael Jackson bad. The other kind. Chicks dig it. Or, at least they will in a few years when braces have fixed his teeth.
Halen participated in his first real archery tournament a month or so ago, held at the Salvadoran Olympic training facility. The archery range is a big field on the side of the volcano, set in a natural bowl with corn planted by indigent farmers lining the sloped sides. It isn't a multi-million dollar facility pumping out world-class Olympians, but it was pleasant enough for an afternoon.
Nerves got the best of Halen for the first few rounds, but he settled down nicely. We enjoyed watching Halen and the other newbie competitors, while also strolling down the shooting line to where the Olympians-in-training took their aim and fired from a hundred yards. They used complex bows, veritable motors of cord and fiberglass and gears. I liked the sound of their arrows slicing through the humid air with a faint buzz, the satisfying thunk as they buried themselves in the target.
All in all we had a great afternoon as a family, cheering on Halen (well, cheering him as much as one cheers in archery -- it's not even quite as cheering-friendly as curling) and watching the pros a little as well. It was a great learning experience for Halen, and I let Grace practice her photography a little bit -- don't worry, close-ups like this will be prohibited in the future.