More than once before I have spoken of the archery prowess of my offspring, which contrasts nicely with my inability to aim at and actually hit anything smaller than the Georgia Dome. Last year my son made it to the State Tournament as an individual. This year, his whole team is going. This year, too, my daughter has picked up the sport, and really took to it. (Phew. If she hadn’t, I can only imagine what tears and frustration there would have been what with the overachieving brother and whatnot.)
My daughter’s regional tournament was in Ft. Valley, GA. If you don’t know where Ft. Valley, GA is, don’t worry about it. I can’t see much reason to go there except for regional archery tournaments. It is about 2 hours and change from our house, and we had to be there at 10:45 on a Saturday morning. There was a huge caravan going from the school that was meeting up at 7:30am. As that was Not An Option, we chose to go down the night before to stay in a hotel in Warner Robbins. The hotel had an allegedly heated pool. The way our lives go, these little outings are what pass for Duff Family vacations. My kids go nuts over the do-it-yourself waffle irons in the breakfast area. As far as they are concerned, it is worth the price of the hotel room and the hassle of packing up just so they can swim in a bathtub sized hotel pool with frigid water and have a waffle which they will only eat half of.
I am proud to say that the Sharon Elementary School Archery Team won first place in the tournament, and my daughter was the top scoring fourth grader (including the boys!) therefore qualifying both on her team and as an individual for the state tournament in beautiful, sunny Perry, GA in April. (Motto: we’re only barely south of the gnat line!) Each team member received a genuine clear plastic medal commemorating their victory. The team was given a trophy for display in the school’s trophy case. Except that the trophy was approximately the size of an apple slice. It was a gold plastic archer, no bigger than two inches high. Kudos to the Coaches, who not only gave up their Saturday to go to Ft. Valley with no pay, but who also cannibalized an old high school trophy and glued the teeny award on top so that it could actually be seen in the display case without a magnifying glass.
While I am in no way shape or form diminishing the accomplishments of my daughter and her teammates or the other athletes who were competing, I must say this: the highlight of the tournament had nothing to do with archery.
Let me set the stage for you. Archery tournaments are a lot like golf tournaments. They are very quiet. There is a lot of concentration and focus going on, and the atmosphere, while not silent, is appropriately hushed. No one cheers or yells. There is more muttering under the breath “comeoncomeoncomeonfocus…takeyourtimedon’trush…” than cheers or jeers. The loudest noises are the thwackthwackthwack of the arrows hitting the target and the occasional heartbreaking clatter when the arrow hits the wall or the floor. This particular tournament was in an old middle school gymnasium, with hardwood floors and cinderblock. There were no bleachers that were not in the potential path of an arrow, and so rows of metal folding chairs had been set up for the spectators. We managed to get front row seats directly behind where my daughter was shooting.
For those of you who have either met my husband or read more than three of my posts, you will know that one of the more difficult things my husband has to do in his life is either be silent or sit still. Archery tournaments require him to do both, and he is more or less as restless as your average 4 year old being told to sit still and be quiet during reading time in PreK. So at some point he went to stand up. He had a Family Handyman magazine rolled up in his back pocket for reasons unclear to anyone. The magazine caught on the back part of the chair and began to lift the chair as he stood. When he realized the chair was lifting, he quickly tried to sit back down, only it didn’t land back down on all four legs, and when he put his six foot self back down in the seat, the whole thing tipped over in a clangy, echoey way that might have registered on the richter scale and dumped him on to the floor.
I could see right away that he was not injured in any medical-intervention-is-needed kind of way, and so I began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more. I was trying to be quiet, and so my laughter came streaming out as tears in my eyes. (Mad props to Kimberly Phillips who had the presence of mind to snap a picture of me contorted with laughter while my husband rolled on the ground trying to maintain some semblance of dignity.) The tournament officials and team coaches immediately came over and asked if he was ok, which was more than his wife could muster, I’m ashamed to admit. I’m pretty sure someone asked him to sign a waiver saying he wouldn’t sue. I don’t know, I was laughing too hard to register any further facts. I still laugh out loud just thinking about it.
Thankfully, the archers were scoring, not shooting at the time, or I’d imagine they would have had to redo the round. That would have been serious do-over material, though I’m fairly certain there is no “grown man falling out of a metal folding chair” provision in the rule book. It didn’t ruffle my daughter at all. She rolled her eyes and soldiered on to her eventual victory. My son laughed hard, more at my hysteria than his father’s misfortune. Being Duffs, they’re used to this kind of thing. Daddy fell off a chair. Big whoop. It doesn’t even ping their radar.