Toward the Target: An Archery Story

Shawn Marler July 11, 2017

Today I watched Bill Sanderson instructing a camper who was holding a bow for the very first time. Bill is a genuine archer and a genuine teacher. I would say he’s easily the best archery instructor I’ve ever known. But frankly, I’ve not known many true archery teachers (with all due respect to the many fine archery instructors I have known). So, I will just say that he’s a true teacher, which is as fine a compliment I know, and he has a fierce love of his field and a belief in the beauty and importance of it.

This particular camper dropped two arrows off the platform before he finally caught on to making a “bed” for a third. At the same time, the camper wanted to let the bow pull him forward. But then Bill taught him to hold his back strong and straight, and to find his strength to pull the bow back to him. It took a few tries before the camper finally stood up and did it to Bill’s exacting standards, and then Bill let him shoot. The camper sank an arrow into the bottom of a target twenty feet away, and then he stood up just a little taller.

Two hours earlier Bill was teaching advanced archery to four-week campers. They were learning about pre-archery projectile technologies – and then the science of projectile shafts. After discovering Otzi artifacts and English war bows, they finished the hour practicing proper release techniques.

It is one thing to teach someone how to hit an archery target with an arrow. It’s another thing entirely to draw a young person into an ancient skill and teach him its subtle intrinsic goods. It’s a very fine thing to watch a young man straighten his back and find strength he didn’t know he had. It is stunning to watch any child today turn away from a video screen and turn toward a more challenging target, one that could take him the rest of his life to master. And how rare is it to find men like Bill, with a combination of serious experience and a genuine belief in young people.

It seems quiet in camp tonight. Bear Camp was in Council on the mountain. Hemlocks are on one side of the mountain for cabin campouts, and Hickories are on the other side at the Tribal campout site. Sycamores have left for a two-night campout in Pisgah, and that left Poplars with the run of the entire camp.

It was a warm sunny day, with a fresh breeze – a perfect July day in the mountains. It started getting cool as soon as the sun began to drop. It will be a clear, cool night for camping.


Stan Wilson
Associate Director

Tonight’s Scripture: The Faith of the Centurion
Story: Matthew 8:5-13
+ Where do you see yourself in the story?
+ What’s the good news?

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