Last week, our family joined Miles’ cub scout pack (den? I’m still not sure and say “troop” frequently) for archery and s’mores at the Boy Scout camp.
That’s right. Archery.
I’m still adjusting to the idea that this activity puts weapons in the hands of my kids. In like a year he’ll do a course on knife safety and he’s sold enough popcorn to earn a trip to a shooting range. He’s six.
We skipped the range this year but Corey feels like he should go next year to learn gun safety. I’m not done deciding how I feel about that but do concede that my son is super curious and should know what to do if he does find a gun when he’s playing.
Anyway! Range master Bob took great care to teach the kids safety before they could enter the archery range. Miles took him so seriously and I loved how he paid extra careful attention to form. When he did finally enter the range, he and Corey worked to set up each arrow meticulously.
Our perfectionist boy told me he would be “very frustrated!!!!” if he didn’t get a bullseye, and we had to prepare him for the reality that he might not even hit the paper. Or the foam backing, for that matter.
Then I got very distracted because there was a spare slot and the scouts let Felix have a turn. Felix couldn’t even draw the string back alone, so I was helping him while also wearing Oren on my back.
I mention all of this because today, I was hiking with some mom friends in a nearby park. We were meandering along a stream. Felix was building a house for a worm he found. Oren was throwing things in the creek.
And then, from the corner of my eye, I saw something emerge from the leaves. It rose from the forest, like a monster in a fairy tale.
The man was in head to toe camouflage, with only his eyes peeping from a slit in his leaf-patterned gear. He carried arrows and a bow. A man wielding weapons in the woods where I was hiking with my babies.
All I could think to say was, “I didn’t see you there…I guess that’s the point.”
He told us he doesn’t hunt in the park proper. Just on the ridge above our heads. Also he had special permission to do so. Then he walked away, and we called the police.
Apparently he’s allowed to be in there hunting, but only with a bow.
I’m trying to remember how difficult it was to draw back the bow we used at the scout range, how arrows can really only travel a short distance with enough force to harm someone.
But I’m not succeeding! I keep remembering how we saw the man walk from the strip of trees behind our old house. He’d been in there hunting with a crossbow a few hundred feet from an elementary school.
I feel like hunting makes sense to me as something people do. But why do these hunters do it so close to children? Hikers? Surely there are other places they can shoot their bows and arrows?
I’m sure I’m opening myself up for heated discussion, but I’m rattled by that hunter and I need some time to calm down.