Sep 29, 2014

Longbows at Fifty Paces

In an example of home-grown naturalised Australian (née) Slimm-plification, our cross-family trip to the Abbey Museum took a little organising. Originally semi-scheduled for the week before but then rescheduled for the week after, Nicole was committed to an "event" down at the Gold Coast, so with Monday the only day that the Bs were available, we were going to follow her down there, except it turned out that she'd only be there for like an hour and a half doing some three-minute thesis thingy, then it transpired that actually it wasn't that day at all, it was Tuesday, so the Abbey was back on again.


The Abbey Museum up at Caboolture is modest, quaint, unassuming and a charming little location for an easy, laid-back day out. We're fond of going there in the holidays when they put on schoolkids activities, like mummification lessons, dress up like a Roman, build a Pyramid, all that jazz. It's manned by volunteers and they are enthusiastic and unpretentious.

Eloise is particularly fond of the archery and regardless of the particular period of history that allegedly underpins the activities in the place, archery is always on. So this time, the theme was Ancient Greece, and while the Achaeans did get a look in through the medium of Pritt Stick, squares of paper and a mosaic thingy as well as those weird theatre masks the Greeks were fond of, it was really the archery we were going for.

The kick with the Abbey archery is that it is gloriously un-Health and Safety because you get to shoot arrows at a real person, albeit one who is dressed up to the nines in period armour.

Damien is the name of the hirsutely historical hindividual underneath the pseudo-Saracen get-up, a committed and possibly lunatic historical enthusiast with tremendous technical knowledge of any period of history you care to mention as long as it's medieval - and the loquacious vocabulary to communicate his enthusiasm to all ages.

He's the guy that teaches the kids how to shoot the admittedly weak-kneed longbows with the rubber-ended arrows a reasonable distance up the field. And he is the guy that stands a reasonable distance up the field a lets the kids shoot the rubber-ended arrows at him.

He's on reasonably safe ground, he says, until a Mum picks up a bow, and then he starts to worry.

We were there with Jessica, Penny and Elliot with mum Debra. To my knowledge she represented no significant threat, and was more interested in what her offspring were up to. Janice and Eva toddled along to and Janice was the one whose arrows had to be batted away by the shield and who did in fact represent a clear and present danger, at least to the poor bugger performing target duties.

Eloise, on this at least her third attempt at this archery lark, was enthusiastic if not that spectacularly impressive. She just couldn't get the range. Whether is was a question of technique or strength remains open to debate.

Between the two of them Eloise and Jessica managed to swing an extra archery session, so charming or cheeky were they. They practised cloud-shooting, the technique the massed longbowmen of the English Army used at Azincourt to defeat the French, although the eloquent Damien, admitting to French heritage, claimed that the English couldn't take the credit for the French defeat, and that the French needed to take all the credit for themselves, somewhat flying in the face of the (commonly?) accepted story.

Anyway it was a hot day, a bit of sun was caught, soft drinks were deployed, and sweeties. We ran the gamut of activities and were there for hours, relatively inexpensively, and quite enjoyably.

I had a bit of a go myself. It was a bit painful, and my aim was awful. I did manage to shoot a tree though.

Eloise moaned bitterly for days afterward about her "string-slap" and fletch-cuts. I say sometimes there's a balance to be struck between pleasure and pain.

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