Monday, August 3, 2009

He Could Be A Star On The Nature Channel

It was a busy weekend. It involved the usual things, running errands, grocery shopping, yard work, chores, church. However, it also involved a bow and arrow.

You read that right. My 10 year old son made a bow and arrow. How cool would that be to say to your co-workers on Monday at the water cooler? They'd be all "Oh, this weekend I went to the movies," or "The wife and I went furniture shopping," but you'd nonchalantly slip in "Didn't do too much. Made a bow and arrow with my own two hands." And your co-workers would step back and say "Whoa. Dude."

A few years ago, James received The Dangerous Book for Boys as a gift. Never has a book been such a hit. All he saw was the word "dangerous" in the title and he was IN. Then, he started looking through it and saw all of the cool things to make and do. Immediately he was enamored of the idea of making a bow and arrow. I have to admit to putting the kibosh on that idea for a couple of reasons. Reason the first, we lived in our old house and the only place to find a branch for the bow was on the one tiny sapling in our front yard. Reason the second, he was just 9 and the idea of him playing around with a weapon (even one that he made--especially one that he made) didn't make me feel too warm and fuzzy inside.

Fast forward a bit to him attending scout camp and receiving instruction on handling a bow and arrow. I knew that I could talk and instruct and warn him until I was blue in the face, but it wouldn't mean nearly as much as it did coming from the instructors at scout camp. He was still intent on building a bow and arrow, but now he had some information about staying safe.

Fast forward even more to last fall when we moved into this house. Not only do we have twice as much yard space (nice when you're thinking of doing things like firing off arrows) but we have lots of trees.

Patrick was trimming a tree today and James got it in his head--did the idea ever leave his head?-- to build his bow with one of the branches. There was a perfect section that was nicely curved. He used his pocket knife and some string and made his bow. Then he whittled a point on a willow branch and notched the other end to make an arrow. It's perfect.

He has been out all afternoon shooting his one arrow. He's been instructing his younger brother in the art of archery. He offered the bow to me and complimented my form and then told me "nice shot" in an appreciative tone.

The arrow doesn't have an arrowhead or feathers, but he is on the look out for some flint to make the tip. He's also told me that he'll be scouring the treeline tomorrow to find more branches that are suitable to turn into more arrows.

It excites me to see him excited over something like this--something that keeps him outside and doesn't involve a controller of any kind. I'm having a ball watching him shoot his one arrow over and over and over again and not tire of it. I love to see the boost in his self-confidence.

James is a big fan of Survivorman on television. He watches it alot. He would love to do that kind of thing. Unfortunately his role models are few and far between. My husband's idea of camping is making s'mores over a campfire and then heading off to a hotel to sleep. And while I like to camp, I'm not so big on hunting and weaponry. So watching him with his handmade bow and arrow makes me wonder if that's how the Survivorman guy started out. Maybe before he was left alone in the Canadian wilderness as an adult, he spent his childhood building his own bow and arrow and shooting it in the yard.

There's been a lot of talk on James' part about an Air-Soft gun. There's been a lot of "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!" on my part when he speaks of that gun. I'm hoping that this bow and arrow will buy me a little time.

Who knows? Maybe James will be the next Bear Grylls. In the meantime, I'm letting him use his bow and arrow. He can have a ball with his pocket knife. But I'm keeping an eye on him, just in case he decides to skin the dog to make a quiver for his arrow...

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