Well, I've really done it now. I've put a deposit down on a crossbow.
It's not bad enough that my firearm experience is already a mile wide and an only inch deep. And now I'm telling you that I'm trying yet another "something new"?
I know, I know. I had the same conversation with myself. Really, I did. But I'm hoping this is going to do a few things for me, which I'll explain in a bit.
This all started back at SHOT Show Industry Day 2015, here and here . Archery had never been a consideration in my mind, because I thought It was a skill set that I was "too old to start now" on. Maybe I wasn't giving myself enough credit, but it is what it is. But, on the Industry Day range that day, I happened upon a crossbow booth. I watched a little, I wandered away, then I came back. This was something I knew ZERO about. But everything I've done for almost the last ten years has been about pushing my boundaries, so after watching a little more, I stepped up and was shown how to shoot a crossbow.
It was FUN, and not as foreign as I thought, because there was a stock, a scope, a trigger and a safety. Sure, the strings,and cables and cams and such were weird, but the handling wasn't all that different than a rifle or shotgun. And I didn't perform badly either - maybe this was "archery" that I could handle. But I also knew that crossbow wasn't legal for hunting in my state. It was legal in the state where the family camp is, but I only get up there for barely a week a year - not worth it in my estimation. So I moved on.
Later on in the spring, at the NRA Annual meeting I got to try out an actual compound bow at the "Shoot Like a Girl" Trailer.
The ladies there were great! This too was fun, but a bit more intimidating. I really didn't think that a bowhunting was going to be in my future.
Fast-forward to last week. I went to a local chain sporting goods store to buy some shotgun shells for the upcoming Ladies Upland Hunt that I am attending. When I walked in the store, there was a big sign saying they were offering crossbow clinics, since the state legislature had finally authorized crossbow use during both archery and rifle seasons starting this fall
It was total serendipity that I was there and saw the sign, so I signed up for the class being held that coming Saturday. The bonus for me is that the class was taught by a very knowledgeable and experienced - woman. There turned out to be only one other guy who signed up for the same time as me, and he had to leave early, so I ended up having pretty much a personal tutorial that lasted twice as long as the one-hour class. My head was swimming with information and advice, and to top it off, the instructor not only quietly steered me away from the chainstore and into the arms of a well-stocked local archery pro-shop, she also offered that if I decided to go ahead with crossbow, that she could help me.
The archery pro shop was another goldmine. I was the only female in the shop at the time, and when staff asked if they could help me, I asked for the name I was given. I got another half-hour tutorial about the kind of crossbow I was looking for, features, what I needed, and what was extra, and did I want to shoot these models?
Another clue that I had been steered to the right place was that the main ten or so target lanes were busy - because the state conservation officers were there giving a kid's safety class. So I was taken to the back of the store to where the shop guys test-shoot stuff. I tried two different models. One of the shop guys commented that I was shooting offhand and not sitting down - "Do you shoot guns?" he asked. LOL, yeah, kinda.
I found a model that I preferred hands-down - the Ten Point Shadow Ultra-light. It has a built-in crank to cock it with, as I am too short even to rope-cock the 12.6 inch power stroke. (Oh yeah - sheesh the new terminology I have to learn!) I put down a deposit, and am going to try to sell a couple guns that I never shoot, to pay for it. The shop owner said that I can even make lay-away payments if I want, and come to visit it, and shoot it in the meantime. Told you they were a goldmine! :-)
So, back to what I'm hoping crossbow will do for me. I'm a little weird about my hobbies. After I master the basics, then I like them to have a purpose. For instance, my sewing abilities have practical applications. Yes, there is the "artistic satisfaction" of creating something pretty, but I can also fix holes, hem pants, add pockets, and do a host of other time and money-saving jobs with those skills. When I quilt, I create and then give away, a pretty yet practical way to keep someone warm.
My singing has a little less tangible results. Yet, our quartet sings the national anthem for sporting events, and we sing for fundraisers and other local events, so the singing hobby still has a "purpose".
I kind of want my shooting to have a purpose too. I'm slowly learning more self-defense skills, and I'm starting to want to branch more into hunting now. As exciting as 3-Gun is, I'm starting to see that for me, it involves a lot of money and a lot of travel, and thus it's going to have to stay in my "occasional entertainment" budget, rather than coming out of my "practical application" budget. Now that my youngest child has started college, I need to start paying more attention to expenses.
So, if I can find a local bow-hunter mentor, I can hunt locally. I wouldn't have to take time off work, drive across three states, pay for a hotel, and blow through 50-100 dollars worth of ammo, like I would for a 3-Gun match. I could stay in-state or go just across the border, and hunt for a good chunk of the year instead. Learning to crossbow hunt would extend my available deer hunting season from only a couple of weeks of rifle to several months of bow. There's even some family property I forgot about that's 2 hours away. I might even come home with something for the freezer if I'm lucky. It just seems more practical to me in the end. We'll see.
It's strange, because these things just seem to "find" me. Maybe it's just a combination of good luck, and being ready for an opportunity when it presents itself, but all of these lead-up events have presented such a glaring neon sign pointing to a fork in the road, that I just couldn't turn it down. Here I go into a new adventure!