When I was in high school, I was in 4-H. I wasn’t that active, but I did participate in a few things that they did. I competed in a talent show a couple of years, making some of the worst song choice decisions I’ve ever made. A good friend recruited me for the crop judging team. The man who was the leader for 4-H in our county, I’ll call him Mr. M, had been the 4-H leader when my dad was growing up. My dad was very active in 4-H and Mr. M knew him really well. Mr. M could never remember my first name and always called me “Wheela”.
One day I get a call from Mr. M. He says, “Ahhhh, Wheela! Your buddy Richard told me that you are pretty handy with a bow and arrow!” I told him that I had never shot a bow and arrow in my life. He said, “That don’t matter. We’re having a little archery contest at district day in a couple of weeks and I thought you might like to participate.” I told him I wasn’t really interested because I didn’t know anything about archery. He said, “That don’t matter. There won’t be anybody good there. We’ll get there the day before and you can learn to shoot and if you do well enough you can win a trip to the state competition in Nashville.” I thought about it real quick. I decided to go. Not because I had any illusions about becoming a great archer in a day. I decided to go because I didn’t have anything else to do that weekend and I might get a chance to meet some girls.
When we got to the camp for the weekend, I immediately went to the archery range. I was terrible. The targets were on foam blocks with netting behind them in case you missed the whole block. I had some shots that even missed the netting. The pool for the camp was beyond the end of the archery range but there was a thick wooded area between the two so I don’t think anyone at the pool was in danger of getting shot by me. I practiced long enough to get good enough that I thought I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I was also tired and knew that wouldn’t get any better. I did have the thought in the back of my mind that I everyone else might be so bad that I could have a remote chance to win.
The contest was scheduled for the next morning. I got to the range early to try and get a little more practice in before many people started showing up. I also wanted to get a look at the competition. Most of the people that arrived early looked like they might have skills comparable to mine although I thought they all had probably practiced more. Then the pros started showing up. There was one guy that had the most impressive compound bow that I had ever seen. The other thing about this guy is that he bore a striking resemblance to Errol Flynn, specifically how Flynn looked in “The Adventures of Robin Hood”. The thin little mustache and the slightly long hair that flipped up a little in the back made him look like someone that could split my arrow into pieces if I came anywhere near the center of the target. Needless to say, I didn’t win. I don’t know who won and I don’t remember how bad I did.
A few years ago, I told my youngest daughter this story as she was preparing to go to 4-H camp. The camp was being held at the same location as the district day where the archery contest had taken place. She enjoyed the story and planned to go to the archery range while she was there. When she got home, she brought me a handcrafted leather arrowhead with the word “Wheela” stamped in it. She had made it at the craft hut one day after she had been to the archery range. I keep the leather arrowhead next to the alarm clock on my nightstand by my bed.
Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Storyteller