STRING A BOW AND SHOOT

Visit Anan­tara Re­sort at Ja­bal Akhdar and take part in archery as a hobby. This 60 minute recre­ational ac­tiv­ity is truly de­stress­ing.

HI Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - STORY ANTARA BOSE — hi­week­end@time­so­fo­man.com For de­tails, call Anan­tara Re­sort, Ja­bal Akhdar on +968 2521 8000

When I was asked to pick my ac­tiv­i­ties at Anan­tara, I was thrilled to find that apart from the con­ven­tional touristy things, there were some recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties that were a lit­tle off­beat. Like archery! Though Robin Hood was as far as my knowl­edge got with the sport, there was some­thing dis­tinctly charm­ing about archers. One of the old­est arts, archery has evolved with the evo­lu­tion of the hu­mankind it­self and even though archers don’t re­ally go into the war field any­more, it still holds a com­mend­able place even at the Olympics.

Con­fi­dent that I’d take some im­pres­sive shots, lit­tle did I know archery would teach me more than just the game. There come those points in life, when you re­alise how delu­sional your thoughts about the own self are and I had my vir­tual-world-meets-worldly-re­al­ity mo­ment right there. The ma­jes­tic archer who had taken the most dis­tant of shots with such ease, grace and poise on the Playsta­tion was now strug­gling to hold the bow straight. I was so glad my vir­tual dis­ci­ples weren’t there to see this and in­stantly made a men­tal note to never be­gin an­other sport with that all-know­ing nod (In my de­fence, the vir­tual games were pretty life-like). Bid­ding my self-pro­claimed tox­ophilite stature a hum­ble good­bye, I de­cided to get my hands on (not the con­trollers) and learn this no­ble sport that I had been quite keen on try­ing. On a side note, I also un­der­stood why the aged rel­a­tives would snort at the thought of play­ing foot­ball on a screen as op­posed to mead­ows un­der the sun.

The archery range at Anan­tara is spread over a wellspaced area that apart from giv­ing us am­ple place to make mis­takes, gave the dis­tinct sense of ac­tu­ally be­ing in the right at­mos­phere for this sport – out in the open. The view of the not-so-dis­tant rocky moun­tains that met a hori­zon of clear blue sky formed the per­fect back­drop. Our in­struc­tor, a jovial young man, who took great en­thu­si­asm in the sport and teach­ing am­a­teurs like us, went from the ba­sics of main­tain­ing the right body pos­ture to even the work­ing of the bow and ar­row. Af­ter slip­ping on an arm guard, which we were told was worn to pro­tect the archer from bow snaps, we were briefed on how to place the ar­row. I learned that the coloured feath­ers had a mean­ing — of the three feath­ers, the one coloured dif­fer­ent (cock feather) faces the archer, while the oth­ers face away. Plac­ing the ‘nock’ of the ar­row (a groove at the rear of the ar­row) to the ‘nock­ing point’ on the bow­string, my op­po­nent and I took aim. ‘Stand, Hold and Aim’ — that was the course to fol­low; and we fol­lowed; how­ever, with a re­sult sig­nif­i­cantly less sat­is­fac­tory than what our in­struc­tor had demon­strated ear­lier. A more care­ful at­ten­tion to the rule of three while aim­ing how­ever yielded re­mark­able re­sults. The three pri­mary points to look though were the ‘nock­ing point’, the ‘point of ar­row’ and the ‘cen­tre of tar­get’.

Stand­ing at a 90-de­gree an­gle to the tar­get, I lifted the bow, pulled back the string un­til my in­dex fin­ger reached my chin, the string al­most touch­ing my nose, closed one eye to align my three points and with­out wait­ing un­til I start quiv­er­ing like jelly, I drew a shot. To my own amaze, I man­aged a bull’s eye! To this day, I main­tain my hu­mil­ity and say it was a bit of luck. Now fairly com­fort­able with keep­ing my arms straight while shoot­ing, es­tab­lish­ing the right amount of pull on the bow­string and shoot­ing rel­a­tively closer to the tar­gets, we got ready for a com­pe­ti­tion. Our proud in­struc­tor, who was ini­tially quite para­noid of my ar­rows sail­ing over the walls, now con­fi­dently placed ad­di­tional ar­rows on the stand for the con­sec­u­tive rounds. My op­po­nent had taken on a de­cent lead, but archery was just too ex­cit­ing to get en­vi­ously com­pet­i­tive. Our de­cid­ing shot was a mov­ing tar­get. Al­though I wouldn’t shoot any­thing that moved, a non-liv­ing ob­ject like the bob­bing bal­loon which had now placed it­self strate­gi­cally on the board and seemed to sneer at my ca­pa­bil­i­ties was per­fectly ac­cept­able. Sadly, I never re­ally got to burst its smirk­ing face as my op­po­nent got to his bal­loon first. Not brood­ing over the loss in the game, the only re­morse I felt was that we were done.

Prob­a­bly the most ex­cit­ing of the recre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties at the re­sort, in my opinion, the 60-minute ses­sion had me all charged up like I was ready to take on a bat­tal­ion with the skill I’d mas­tered with my new found weapon; though that re­ally wouldn’t have been the wis­est of de­ci­sions.

More than just re­fresh­ing, I re­alised the sport was strangely quite de-stress­ing and I was pretty cer­tain all that lift­ing and aim­ing had burnt a sig­nif­i­cant amount of the morn­ing cup­cakes calo­ries I had downed. I was told it works to strengthen the back and tone the up­per body too, but my thoughts were else­where. There I was, stand­ing at Diana Point over­look­ing the ex­pan­sive plateaus be­low, ef­fort­lessly flick­ing a glis­ten­ing ar­row, send­ing it slic­ing through the silent moun­tain air, bull’s eye at my tar­get. Was I just be­ing dreamy, or was it my new found sports ad­dic­tion!

(60-minute archery ses­sions are avail­able daily and are lim­ited to six guests per range. The ac­tiv­ity is how­ever sub­ject to weather con­di­tions and prior reser­va­tions are rec­om­mended).

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