Columbia- Fifty-seven faces, sweaty in the swamp-like summer humidity, turned to the bull’s-eyes across a field from them Saturday morning in Stephens Lake Park.
Insects in the tall grass behind the archers buzzed rhythmically, unconcerned about breaking anyone’s concentration.
A whistle sounded and half the participants advanced to the line. Some carried complex-looking compact bows for the archery competition, while others toted simpler, traditional types.
On the line at Target 10, Mary Lou Green took aim with a traditional bow beside Roger Maples, who had the same. Green placed a brand new yellow and orange arrow in her bow. This was her first competition, and she hasn’t even been shooting for a year.
“I’m just a learner,” she said. She didn’t even have a sight on her bow to help with aim.
Maples has been shooting since he was 12, so he’s been at it for 50 years.
“I’ve got a archery shop to support my habit,” he said with a laugh, before going up to the line. A few weeks ago, he competed in the National Senior Olympics in Louisville, Ky., and placed sixth in his age group. He uses all kinds of bows.
“Since I own the shop, I get to play with all the best toys,” he said.
Twenty-eight pairs of eyes squinted and focused, 28 arms drew back strings and released and 28 arrows were sent flying. The air was suddenly filled with the hum of vibrating strings and a moment later with the “pop, pop, pop” of arrows breaking into their targets’ face.
“You can have the gold part of my target,” Maples said to Green with a smile, referring to the center of the bull’s-eye. “But the rest of the target is mine.”
He was joking about his less than perfect start.
“Do I get points for hitting the 10?” Green joked back, pointing to the now swaying target number that hung under the bull’s-eye.
“Sure,” Maples said with a chuckle, “That means you get 10 points.”
They each fired two more arrows before leaving the line to wait until they could retrieve their shots.