Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Archery Contest

The other day I was with 30 guys at a day-long seminar dedicated to giving men info, tips and inspiration on being a strong male influence in the lives of those around them: family, friends, peers, co-workers, neighbors, and the like. The speaker challenged us to be spiritual fathers, to find a band of brothers, and to love the church. He showed video clips, used humor, and challenged us to do one thing different the next day, based on the teachings we heard.

Now all of that was well and good but, for me the best learning occurred during the archery contest. We all went to a large building that had an indoor archery range set up with five targets at one end and a rack of compound bows and quivers of arrows at the other.

We divided into teams and each man had the opportunity to hear some instruction and then draw back and let fly with some "practice" arrows. It was fun being the "arrow spotter" (no, not catcher) and then tell the shooter where on the target his arrow hit. This would allow him to adjust his stance, grip, sight, and zero in on the bull's eye.

Most of the spotters had an easy time as we called out, "Hit the floor, 20 feet short!" "Missed target, 15 feet high!" And then there was my favorite: "I never saw anyone hit the ceiling before!"

Once we practiced, we began our competition in earnest. Each man's competitive spirit kicked in, and out of the 31 guys shooting arrows I placed in the top five. Well, I was fifth.

The two hours we spent shooting arrows bonded us together. Those who weren't shooting made fun of those who were; those who did shoot took pride in how they competed but, more importantly, we were able to talk to each other about issues, as we stood and watched the arrows fly.

We talked about careers, kids, sports, money, politics and, most of all, our faith. We talked about how we can be a better man in today's world through the camaraderie we experienced as a special band of brothers. One man put it this way: "We may not be the best, but we are a merry band of brothers."

I think for me the best takeaway from this event was that a little, friendly competition may be just the ticket to cross generational and occupational lines and to bond with some brothers who will "have your back."

Now I may not be in a bow-and-arrow fight anytime soon, but when it comes to somebody having my back, I'm going for the guy who put the arrow in the bull (bull's eye) -- three times!

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