Guest Editorial: The Lesson
by Frank Addington, Jr.
It was a sunny afternoon in late summer. A man takes his son into the backyard where he has carefully built an archery target from bales of straw. The little boy following a few steps behind the man carries a small fiberglass bow in his hand and a handfull of arrows in a little leather quiver. As the father gives a few last minute instructions the son is anxious to try his first chance at archery.
As his father strings the bow all kinds of feelings of anticipation rush through the young man's mind. He takes the bow in his hand as his father shows him the proper way to stand, then the proper way to grip and hold the bow. An arrow is loaded into the bow with one odd feather out. The father then slowly takes his hand and shows the youngster how to place his fingers on the string with one finger above and two below. The son mocks this and is ready to give it a try. "Ok son, now look at what you want to hit and slowly draw your bow. When you get the bow drawn put your pointer finger to the corner of your mouth and release..." the dad says.
The son gives the bow a pull and slowly draws it partially and releases an arrow. The arrow flies halfway to the target and slowly dives into the earth in front of the target. The dad watches as a HUGE grin comes across the young man's face, "Ok Dad, give me another arrow..."
That was 1971. I was four years old. Now, 36 years later, I am still shooting by looking at what I want to hit and still fascinated with the sport of archery. Luckily my arrows stopped landing in the dirt a long time ago.
By introducing me to archery at such an early age my parents gave me a lifetime sport, which also turned out to be a career. Archery has such huge appeal to youngsters. I see it all the time. At almost any event I go to the line to try archery will be longer than almost any line at the event. There's just something about the flight of an arrow that draws people to the sport. Ted Nugent calls it the "mystical flight of the arrow."
Never underestimate the value of spending a little time in the backyard with your family shooting archery. Archery is a lifetime sport and can be done these days year round. There are indoor leagues, target archery ranges, 3-D ranges, bowhunting trips, and just plain backyard archery to keep you busy. It is also a sport the entire family can participate in.
I've said many times that the time spent outdoors as a family will pay off ten fold. Not only by introducing your family to new activities but they will learn important life lessons from you that will help them make the right decisions about other things later in life. I was always too busy with my archery to fool with drugs or hang out with people that did them.
Time spent outdoors is also a welcome relief from shopping malls, video games, computers and television. No gadget can take the place of some dad/mom or grandpa/grandma time spent as a family outdoors. Nothing beats a smashed peanut butter and banana sandwich on a rock beside a cool mountain trout stream with your dad at your side. That's one of my favorite memories of fishing with my dad. How about a fishing trip where your mom catches the largest fish? Or a campfire where your grandpa relives adventures from his life for you. How could anything take the place of a warm bowl of grandma's homemade soup after a cold mountain day spent deer hunting? Trust me these are the real moments that will define your life. Looking back they also seem to be too few. All of us wish we could go back and have one more day with grandpa or grandma after they are gone. These memories are what we have in the end.
Today's youngsters now more than ever crave and need this family time outdoors. Make the time, you won't regret it. Who knows, maybe someday your son will be able to take his son and do some of these same activities.
Our son Gus just recently turned one. He is walking, talking a little, and the other day he & I were looking at one of his little recurve bows. He picked it up & carried it around the house grinning. He began to cry when I took him from him to put it up, he wasn't done with it. That made me smile. I'll bet he won't wait till he's four for his first archery lesson. Now that's one day I am really looking forward to. I hope my father is able to take him outside and get him started just like he did me. I'll be there, a tear or two on my cheek, watching as the next generation takes the reigns.
Frank Addington, Jr. has been dubbed, "The Aspirin Buster" from the instinctive archery shows he conducts from coast to coast. CNN's Jeanne Moos called him, "The William Tell of Popping Pills." Addington's exciting archery shows feature 30 minutes of "bow & arrow razzle dazzle" and the highlight of the show is three hand tossed baby aspirin being shot from mid air from behind his back with three arrows. Seeing is believing-- see you at the show!
Addington resides in Winfield, WV with his wife Amanda and son Gus, three quarter horses, two barn cats and a spoiled dog named Miss Elley. His website is located at: www.frankaddingtonjr.com