I am proud to say that my son, Jacob Duff, is the sole 2013 qualifier from Sharon Elementary School in the State Archery Tournament to be held in Perry, GA this spring. What this means is that he has inherited my husband's sniper-like ability to aim at things, and not my Helen Keller-like ability.
Frankly, I'm not sure that if you handed me a shotgun I could successfully hit the walls if I were in a windowless room. My husband, Mike, tried to teach me to shoot once upon a time.
We live in the middle of nowhere, so all we had to do was go out to the backyard. He gave me his little .25, the gun he says he'd like to have if he were ever in a knife fight, and he set up gallon jugs of water out in the backyard as targets. He showed me how the gun operated, and I aimed, squeezed the trigger, and BLAM the kickback on that tiny little thing that fit in the palm of my hand was so out of proportion to the size of it that it scared me so much my reaction was to fling my arm upwards and backwards.
Mike carefully took the gun from me, took the clip out, and announced that I was only allowed one bullet at a time. I tried a few more times, and eventually decided that Mike would just have to be the protector of our home, and that shooting was not the Sport For Me.
Before Mike retired as a police officer, he had all kinds of advanced firearms training, and was usually at the top of his class. Good for him. He is skilled and brave and, probably just a little bit crazy. He himself has said that most sane people run when they see a fire or hear gunshots. Cops and firemen run towards the danger.
Thank God for the existence of these brave, crazy men and women. I couldn't do what they do, and I am grateful that they not only can but choose to. I admit to being an absolute coward in dangerous situations. Whenever there is a fight in a courtroom that I am in (and this has happened more than you'd think in my career as a lawyer), my talent lies in finding the furthest corner from the action and cowering in it while I let the experts do their job.
So I was pleased to discover that Jacob did not inherit my gene for these things. I can't really think of any genetic advantage to being a bad shot, though I guess there is some survival instinct to be found in the ability to find the safe corner and not make one's self a target. And I know, I know, there are two other 5th grade Moms out there in Walton County whose children scored higher than Jacob. But he is my son, and this is my blog, and I’ll brag if I want to.
Kudos to Coaches Yarman and Green for teaching these kids this sport. Frankly, you couldn't pay me enough even if I did know what I was doing to get into a gym with a bunch of clueless 10 and 11 years olds armed with bows and arrows with actual points on them. I get nervous when I see these kids use scissors. These are some brave, hardworking, dedicated folks. And I don't believe they are actually getting paid for it. They are just that dedicated.
There are lots of fun things about being a parent: Watching your children discover their feet for the first time, learn language, figure out how the world works, and grow from tiny helpless things to fully functional human beings, just to name a few.
Jacob, who is 11, is now old enough to actually be better than me at things that require skill, and this makes me unbelievably proud. I don't count video games, at which he has been better than me since, well, since birth, I think. Somehow he can pick up a game for the first time, and instinctively know on the first play that if you hit the c button, then c again, and then the back button that makes your little character dude jump up and spin. Or maybe throw a little disc thing. I have no idea. He is as frustrated with me for not knowing this as he would be if I couldn't figure out that my socks went on my feet before my shoes. I don't know why he and all his friends, and his little sister, come born hardwired with this knowledge. I'm going to blame it on all the wireless signals pinging through the air while they were in utero.
Anyway, archery is a popular sport these days, apparently related to the popularity of the Hunger Games, which are a (deservedly) immensely popular series of books which are in the process of being turned into movies. In the Hunger Games (in case you have been living in a cave somewhere remote and have only just emerged) the main character, Katniss, lives in a dystopian future in which selected teenagers have to fight to the death.
Katniss' special skill is her ability to use a bow and arrow with surgical precision. This led to something like 60 kids trying out for the Sharon archery team, and only 20 or so making the team. The practices are after school before I get home from work, and so I haven't seen Jacob shoot in a long time. I had no idea how good he had become.
Like I said in an earlier post, I'm not much of a sports fan for the sport itself, but if I care about who wins, I can be an absolute maniac. Saturday morning, when the qualifying meet took place, I was the only parent I heard shouting. (This may be since we had to be there at 8:15am on a Saturday and I had more coffee than the average parent to prepare.)
My friend June was making noise for her daughter, Sydney, but she's a different kind of crazy than I am, and as she is athletic and regularly coaches teams, she knows how to say loud, encouraging words in a non-embarrassing-to-her-children, sports appropriate, coach like way. I have no such skill set. I gave a whoop of joy and yelled his name every time Jacob got a bull's eye (which he calls 'getting in the yellow’). I am proud to say this was a lot of times. Sydney, by the way, was the top scoring girl in the school. Whoot whoot!
Even though Jacob is unlikely to get an archery scholarship to college, or become a professional archer, there are lots of useful things he will take away from this experience. Skills like dedication to a task, loyalty to a team, practice (his skill set was only 'meh' last year), managing the roller coaster of emotion that comes with any sport, and the patience and concentration required to be a good archer. On a practical level, when the zombie apocalypse comes, he's the guy you want to be around. I've heard guns just attract more zombies, but he'll be able to silently shoot them in the eye and scramble their brains while I cower in a corner, brimming with pride.