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(TFT) We spend more days playing outside

   We spend more days playing outside.  Cut a young thin tree, put a notch in
each end, and use nylon for a bow string.  The draw is shallow, and the
springiness varies from wood to wood, but we can lob a wooden stick about 5
meters.  Draw too hard and the bow may break.  Cut the notches in the end
wrong and the wood may split and fray the string.  But it`s harmless fun to
lob sticks at each other.

   Real bows are available to us but that`s not the point.  Mark and I each
have a fiberglass bow and have struck targets in the yard, at the archer
targets down the hill from Highland Road Park, and even a flew flights at the
two targets at LSU.  But the LSU targets are the least fun as you`re not in
the shade of an oak tree like the ones at the park, and the grass is cut short
so finding you arrow is too easy.  Where is the lesson to never miss?

   Darryl`s stepdad, David Ash has a recurve bow.  A composite of three types
of wood, lacquered to a shine, and almost too hard to nock the string.  Step
inside the bow, hold the string with the left hand, and bend the bow over the
right leg, bringing the end down and under the loop in the string.  This bow
makes a different sound when fired than the fiberglass target bows, and the
string can fray the left wrist if the bow is held wrong and fired.

   A compound bow is just death on wheels.  A little tough to draw at first
but easy to hold and aim.  Nock and arrow and hold the string near the right
shoulder.  Push the bow away with the left hand.  Apparently our push up
muscles are stronger than our pull up muscles.  And the arrow must be just
right.  Reversed so the center feather points in, instead of out, and it will
brush against the handle on release causing the arrow to veer right.  If the
arrow is nocked too high on the string it will shoot into the ground,
sometimes traveling two meters under the grass and becoming lost in the sod.
Nocked just a little bit too low and it will shoot over the target and win the
archer a very long walk for recovery.

   ``Everybody wave hey.``

   We wave.

   ``Yes we see you.  We are all just standing here and wont shoot till you
get back on the line.``

   Now I`m going to yell at him.  ``Hurry up!``

   No.  The point of our pocket knife made bows is that we can shoot them at
each other.  The sticks are barely straight, a little too heavy for our nylon
string bows, and blunt.  We can throw them harder at each other then lob them
from bows and in any case they bounce off of skin.  No, it`s the idea that we
can go into the woods with a pocket knife and a length of string and make our
own toy weapons that we like.  This is much better than what they are teaching
us in Boy Scouts.

   First of all we have to complete a safety course before we can carry a
knife.  It`s just like learning first aid, knot work, canoeing, or back
packing, except for one thing.  It can be taken away.  The course takes about
a week.  There is a written and verbal test, and a general air of seriousness
in being issued a ``chit.``

   ``If I, or any other Scoutmaster, or any Parent for that matter.``  He
paces back and forth in front of a semicircle of us sitting down.  ``Sees you
handling your knife wrong, not cutting away from yourself, cutting towards
someone else, walking with it open, or just can`t answer any question we ask
you about using a knife.``  He stops and faces us.  ``We`ll tear a corner off
your chit.``  He`s treating us like we have already done something wrong.  He
holds up a chit that is clearly missing a corner.  ``That goes for EVERYBODY!
And you only get one chit in your entire life.``  He opens his wallet and
slides the chit back in.  He sounds softer now, but just as serious.  ``Lose
all four corners and we take your chit away.``  He looks to make sure every
eye is on him.  ``And you can never carry a knife again.``

   The trouble with Boy Scouts is not the Boy Scouts, it`s that other peoples
kids go to Boy Scouts.  And some of these have been hardened against and
taught to resist such group socialization through and ancient Greek technique
called satire.  The youngest member of the Rebel Patrol says in a voice just
soft enough that only those sitting around him can hear.

   ``Yeah -  what - ever.``

   A nervous laugh ripples across us like a pebble in a pond.  The scout
leader darkens his brow just a little bit.  He`s never gotten that reaction
from the end of his speech before.  But we line up, sign, and receive our
chits.  Next scout meeting we can actually bring our pocket Knives with us.

David Michael Grouchy II

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