Weekend Update: Arrows and Lanterns Edition

Friday was going to be a pretty cool day, and it was – although it didn’t go quite as planned. My wife took the day off and came with to spend the day with me in my office. Usually, Fridays are pretty laid back; this day turned out to be spectacularly crazy. The morning started with me getting a call on the way down to the office; one of our clients intarwebs were down. So, I briefly showed my wife our office and walked her to my favorite coffee shop, Goodbye Blue Monday, while I continued on to our client. It turned out to be a bad firewall router; with the help of one of our main office techs I reconfigured it to rollover to the second WAN port. This broke the VPN, of course, but that is a story for a different day. I stopped back at the coffee shop to get a much needed cup of coffee and see how my wife was doing, and headed back to the shop to officially start my day. My wife strolled about the town, and I had an extremely hectic afternoon with walk in customers and trying to get Symantec uninstalled from a laptop; I wound up staying almost two hours later than normal to fix it, and of course, it didn’t work. We headed out for a much needed couple of beers at The Contented Cow, and finished up our evening with dinner at Froggy Bottoms.

Saturday I had planned on heading out bright and early in the AM to shoot my bow, but I adjusted my plans when I was notified that the new longbow I ordered would show up in the mail that day. I headed out and mowed the lawn, and wait, new longbow?

So, I decided last week to participate in the Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s Longbow competition. They were allowing recurves in the competition, provided wood target arrows were used. I managed to find a great deal on some arrows, and while I was trying to find them, I discovered that there are quite a few bowyers selling longbows on eBay… for insanely low prices. I checked the reviews from the buyers, and ordered a 40# longbow. It arrived late Saturday afternoon, and I raced over to the range to try it out.

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve shot a straight bow, and the last time I shot one it was probably #15. I was surprised at the difference between my recurve and the longbow; the longbow feels so much more visceral, with a ton of hand shock on release. There are many, many more variables involved in longbow shooting; my new bow doesn’t have a handgrip or arrow shelf, so the arrow rests directly on my hand to fire, which resulted in this:

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I was surprised that my first four shots at 10 yards did relatively well (the two closest to center where my third and fourth shots, the fourth being the bullseye)

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This is my grouping at 20 yards:

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I shot for about half an hour, then switched over to recurve, and it was like night and day; the recurve shot much, much smoother, but I felt more “disconnected” from the arrow.*

When I got back home, we spent some more time in the basement, which made me cranky (sorting through stuff that I probably should have gotten rid of years ago). We spent the rest of the evening hanging out and watching some TV.

Sunday morning, my wife headed out to donate platelets, and I went back to the range to fine tune my shooting a bit. After we both got back, we took my mom’s advice and headed to the Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival.** It was pretty cool; a bit small, but with some very neat booths (including Minnesota Kyudo, who are based here in Northfield). We checked out the booths, and then wandered around the zoo, and then sampled a few tasty food items (doriyaki and inari). It was surprisingly authentic when compared to my experience visiting Japan; there were too many people crammed near the booths and it was loud and at times annoying. I loved it.

The only thing I was truly annoyed with, and this really shouldn’t be surprising, was the horde of kimono clad otaku. One can only tolerate getting jabbed in the kidneys by the hilt of a plastic sword so many times.*** I suppose many of my friends who read this will be surprised and amused by my feelings about this, but I’m more of a overall “Japanese culture enthusiast”, not really focusing on solely the anime and manga side. Still, it was an enjoyable afternoon at the zoo.

By the time we got home, it was pretty late, so we relaxed for the rest of the evening and called it a night.

* Does that sound douchey? I think it sounds kind of douchey. I apologize.
** My mom texted me early Sunday morning with a list of things going on in the metro area. It was pretty awesome.
*** It’s not like pseudosamurai was doing it on purpose, but the first rule of wearing swords is hilt and scabbard control, folks.

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