Tim Harty: Sticks and string and ... “Owwww, my eye!”
Jerry Brabec asked with a smile, “Where’s your bow?”
“I don’t have one,” I said.
Not since Mom took it and broke it in half. She did that to all of my bows. And all of my brothers’ bows. And all of our arrows.
I was at the recent Big Sky Open to cover it, not shoot.
Painful confession: I’ve never shot a real bow.
Nor had lots of kids who are heading to local archery shops and outdoors stores to ask about buying bows, thanks to Hollywood.
I was amused when talking to some of the competitors at the Big Sky who told me about the spike in archery interest stemming from this spring’s release of movies “The Hunger Games” and “The Avengers.”
Kids, teens and young adults all of a sudden want recurved bows. And they’re buying them, or Mom and Dad are buying them.
I laugh for two reasons: One, I grew up too poor to buy darn near anything, much less a real bow. Two, my brothers and I were inspired by a different generation’s cinema: cowboy movies — I realize as an adult how awful many of the portrayals of American Indians were — and Robin Hood.
But Indians in the Old West and Englishmen prancing around Sherwood Forest in green tights are what led the Harty boys into the wooded backyard — not in green tights — to find thin branches about three to four feet long with a slight curve and the right stiffness to bend a little, not a lot. Then you got some string to tie to each end and gathered the straightest sticks you could find, and it was: Fire away!
That is, until Mom saw you had fashioned a bow. Within seconds of that happening, we had broken sticks, no string and a stern warning not to make another one.
Mom was mean. But she knew we weren’t going to be shooting at stationary, inanimate objects, at least not for long. Today, my brothers and I should thank her that we don’t all have to wear eye patches.
Friend to Tim: You dressed up like a pirate?
Tim to friend: Nope. My brother shot my eye out with a makeshift bow and arrow.
Since those long ago days, a few other characters made their way to the big screen with a mastery of the bow that blew the mind and inspired the previously untapped archer. Legolas of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy springs to mind.
No word on what today’s youth will do with the bows they’re purchasing. Shoot at targets. Compete in archery leagues and tournaments. Get into hunting — jackalope season is every June 31. Shoot at their sibling who also has a bow. Take their eye out before they take yours out.
Maybe there are other good uses coming. Again I turn to Hollywood.
I’ve watched enough movies to know one of these years soon some of us are going to be living in a post-apocalyptic world along with Mad Max, revolting against the cyborgs that Skynet sent to wipe us out. I know a normal bow and arrow won’t do much to that hard-metal cyborg skeleton, but if we can get some of those explosive arrow tips Rambo used in “First Blood, Part II,” we might be quipping, “Hasta la vista, baby!” to Terminators by the thousands.
And who’s going to lead that charge?
Today’s youth will, thanks to Katniss Everdeen, Hawkeye and Merida, that red-headed girl from “Brave,” the new Disney/Pixar movie that has snared nearly $175 million at the box office in three weeks.
Great! Who goes to Disney movies? Little kids, that’s who. Lots and lots of them. And they’re all going to head home wanting bows and arrows. And not all of them are going to have parents as smart as my mom, who’d never relent to cries for bows and arrows or believe promises that we’d be responsible with them.
I think I’ll invest in eye patches by the thousands. The next generation is going to need them.