“You witnessed first hand what happens when someone of your size takes up a weapon that is far too big. My bow looks much larger than yours, but when you tried to use it, not only was it cumbersome, you were only able to draw your arrow part way. There was no power behind the projectile.”
Her master pointed across the meadow where her arrow had fallen terribly short of its mark.
Takaro’s sharp eyes made out the black and brown pheasant feathers that tipped the arrow, allowing it to stand out against the green grasses and weeds.
Yaruke observed as she released a slow, disheartened sigh. “Takaro, look at yourself. Your fellow warriors know that although you have yet to be tested on the battlefield, you have trained longer than most of them have been alive.”
“And for this reason, I should expect more of myself,” grumbled Takaro, in disappointment.
“Your abilities show,” assured Yaruke. “The men all know, for they have felt the pain you are capable of inflicting. Because of your size, because you are a woman, you know you have had to train harder and longer than your brothers to be better than them. You had to be faster, more precise in the execution of your techniques. Believe me, all this shines through. This long, hard road you have laboured on has only served to steady your hand with the sword and has given you far greater control not to injure others when it is so very easy to do so. You have become one of the most feared of our warriors by virtue of the fact that you are more skilled.”
Takaro’s chin lifted as her eyes peered up at Yaruke. It was apparent she was ready to resume her training.
“Now, had you used a bow specifically designed for someone of your stature and your draw-length, the arrow would have traveled farther and faster. It would have had power behind it. And to add insult to injury, not only did you miss your mark, you will also receive a reminder as to why a little girl like you, should not be using a big bow like mine,” stated Yaruke, pointing to her battered arm.
“Yes, I understand now,” sighed Takaro, in resignation.
“Yes, I believe you do,” nodded her master. “Do you know why you were struck?”
“The bow was too big for me?
“No. It was the manner in which you drew. When you pulled back on this string, you attempted to make up for the lack of draw-length by over extending yourself. You pulled your right shoulder too far back and at that very moment, you caused the string to rest against your body. When you fully extended your left arm, your left shoulder turned in causing your chest to be in the line of fire when you released the arrow, thereby snapping the string against your body. Now, let us start again. Pick up your bow.”
Takaro silently absorbed his words. Staring at her bow with a degree of contempt, she cringed upon reliving the vicious assault inflicted by the offending weapon. She stooped to reclaim it from the ground.
“As for your forearm, raise the bow up again. No need to arm it, just hold the bow up as you would if you were taking aim.”
She held the bow before her as Yaruke examined her grip and her arm positioning.
“Number one: There is no need for this death-grip. The bow is not about to leap from your hands and run away. Relax your grip. Do not allow all this energy to ball up into this tight fist.”
Takaro instantly loosened her hold.
“Number two: Always line up these two bones. Position them, one above the other. Do not hold your arm so these bones are lying horizontally.”
He held her hand in the same position as he slowly rotated her forearm so the bones, the radius and ulna, were now placed one above the other. “See... Now this wide part at the elbow no longer protrudes in the way. Notice too, how the arm guard is now in position to actually protect your forearm from the string as it is released.”
Takaro nodded in understanding.
Plucking an arrow from her quiver, he handed it to her. “Now take aim.”
She carefully positioned the nock onto the string, slowly drawing back. Her eyes homed in on her target.
“Pull back until your draw delivers the nock of the arrow and your fingers to the right corner of your mouth. Hold it steady... Now, do not release the string like you are plucking and pulling at a stringed, musical instrument. Instead, let the string slide smoothly off your fingertips.”
Taking heed of his words, Takaro lined up her sights. Releasing the arrow, it sliced through the air to strike the tree trunk.
She smiled, pleased that this time, she hit the tree.
Yaruke assessed her targeting, “So tell me, did you mean to place the arrow so high up on the tree’s trunk?”
Her mentor looked at her, one eyebrow raised in doubt.
“No.” She changed her answer.
“I did not think so. But at least this time, your arrow flew with enough speed and power that it hit the tree, though it was well off your anticipated target. Try again. This time set your sights so you are aiming to strike the heart of a man, say about my size.”
Takaro carefully took aim and once again, her arrow hit the tree but this time, well below her target.
“Again,” ordered Yaruke.
She repeated this process until her quiver was empty. The warrior could see the mounting frustration as she eyed the tree, now riddled with arrows. Two came to within an inch or two of her desired mark, the rest embedded too high, too low, too far to the left or to the right of the target.”
“Let us try that again,” suggested Yaruke.
Takaro struggled to remove the arrows as he plucked the ones placed too high for her to reach. Embarrassed by her demonstration, she sheepishly replenished her quiver. They both moved to her original position.
“Again,” ordered her master.
Taking up another arrow, she took aim and let it fly. The projectile lodged itself well off its mark yet again. For a lingering moment, both stood silent as she scrutinized her aim.
“Aarrgh! I hate this!” declared the girl.
Seething in absolute frustration and rage, Takaro threw down her bow and tore off the quiver that hung from her right hip. She promptly dumped the arrows out onto the ground, kicking them so they scattered before her. Snatching one from the ground, she gripped it into her trembling hands as she snapped it over her raised knee. When her tirade was done, Takaro’s whole body was quaking in anger, her chest heaving as though this emotional and physical outburst expended the same energy as if she had run a long distance. She collapsed to the ground in a trembling, angry heap.
Her master knelt down before her as he asked in a calm voice: “Why do you rage so, child?”
She slowly raised her head and as their eyes met, he could see the pinpoints of anger and frustration burning in them.
“Because I want this to be perfect! I want to be perfect! I want to strive for perfection, but it is well beyond my grasp!”
“Perfection?” repeated her mentor, as he laughed, but not unkindly. “My child, to strive for perfection is beyond anyone’s grasp. It is an unattainable goal. For both mortals and Elves alike, perfection does not exist. Instead, I recommend you strive for personal excellence. It is far more realistic and it is much more attainable.”
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