I’ve known Trevor for several years, but we've seen each other a lot more since he moved to Oregon with his family last summer. He moved here from Delaware, when his dad accepted a position as a chaplain in a local retirement community. Suffice to say, it can be challenging to move to a new place across the country when you are a 15-year-old boy. I have great respect for his parents’ efforts to raise him up to be a man of God, but even kids with good parents need a little extra support and encouragement sometimes.
What I had to offer was a favorable schedule, a little knowledge of archery, and a new recurve bow with a dozen arrows. The draw weight was only 26 pounds, but with lightweight carbon arrows, it’s fairly fast and lots of fun to shoot. Our goal was for Trevor to compete in an archery competition that was scheduled for Spring Break. I picked up a couple of straw bales, and we were set.
Trevor turned out to be a raw beginner in archery, but that gave him the opportunity to learn good habits from the start. Cock feather pointing away from the bow, one finger above the arrow, two fingers under the arrow, and always anchor in the same spot at the corner of your mouth. To his credit, he listened and learned pretty well. Some arrows hit the bales, and some hit the ground in front, beside, or behind the target, but I could see he was learning the fundamentals. He learned the lesson that, “Hold a little higher” doesn’t mean, “Launch one into the treetops.”
As we got closer to the competition, I made a regulation size target out of cardboard, and we started keeping score. He scored a 46 in his first attempt, then even slipped down to a 37 a few days later. There are 240 points possible in the competition format, but Trevor was shooting in the Instinctive category. Some of the shots are also at 50 yards, so all points were going to be hard-earned. The practice was paying off, however, and as we got closer to the competition, he shot several scores in the 70’s.
On the day of the competition, the weather wasn't exactly ideal as it turned out to be rainy and breezy. Add in the pressure of competition and spectators, and I had no idea what to expect from Trevor. I shouldn’t have worried. He stepped up to the line and started sticking arrows in the target. In the first round alone, he scored 42 points. Then in the second round he picked up 38 more points. He missed the target a few times at the longer ranges, but when he was finished, I started adding and got 100. From a previous best of 76 points in practice, he improved by 24 points! There were a couple other guys with a lot more experience than Trevor who shot much better scores, but the excitement of his third-place medal came from knowing that his score was the result of his hard work on the practice range. The only thing left was a celebratory trip to the 3D course at Kutch Archery to find out what it’s like to go from shooting bulls-eyes to shooting at animals. Still a lot of work to do there!
So I have to stop and wonder about the final result. A third-place medal? Some good memories? A lesson about the rewards of hard work and practice? A message to Trevor that he is important enough to spend time with him? I’m not sure. I know it takes both steel beams for structural support and 2x4’s for interior walls to build a skyscraper. This archery project was surely more like a 2x4 than a huge steel beam in the story of Trevor’s life, but I felt like building with a 2x4 was a lot better than doing nothing while waiting for someone else to come along with steel beams. The results from there are in God’s hands, I guess. Without a doubt, though, I came away with a feeling that God’s hand was on our efforts, and I felt rewarded for the time I put into the project.