Japanese Archer

On Friday last week, I was invited to go to a session of Japanese Archery (kyudo) which is club activity that the school offers here.

Japanese Archery is quite, I had just never known it existed. The Shooting-range is behind the swimming pool and handball court, which is behind the soccer oval, which is behind the gym and judo building so it's not surprising that I hadn't noticed it before.

Before the start of the session, students put on kyudo uniforms. The uniform consists of a keiko-gi (like a short kimono) which is held in place by a belt called obi, traditional divided pants or skirt called a hakama and split-toed socks known as tabi.

We then entered the matoba - the shooting house - where we meditated for about 10 minutes, then shouted a loud onegaishimasu and bowed to the teacher. After watching other students practice for a while (and they are damned good too!), I was led behind the matoba and began my introductory course :)

There are eight positions which an archer goes through before shooting an arrow and I practiced those for a good one and a half hours. First, I immitated my tutor, Mario - who had been to Melbourne High last year - and then practiced with a bow but without arrow. It is quite tricky to get everything right. Mario kept telling me to relax my right hand more when pulling back the arrow. Anyway, the club ended, we meditated a bit and then shouted a loud sayonara at the teacher. I stayed for a bit longer though and got to shoot a few arrows at a makiwara - a straw practice target that is shot at from a bow's length away. I did alright and was invited to try my luck on the shooting range.

I shot from about 15 meters away. My first arrow struck the target (about 25cm in diameter) on the outer ring! My second arrow didn't do so well. At this point it is important to know that it was so cold that my hand was partially frozen, I swear I was at the beginning of hypothermia! So yea that's my excuse. My third and fourth shots went better though. One hit the target in the centre, the other one was a little short and embedded itself in the wall of sand that the targets reside on.

Anyway, the day was a lot of fun! I hope that I'll get the opportunity to try my luck once more!