The Ritual

The Ritual


The Ritual

It was as natural as breathing when he brushed the mosquito from his temple without interrupting the ritual.

He had done it a thousand times.

Stand, legs spread, fifteen inches between heels. Gaze fixed on the future. All things gone except those that dealt with the release. A bead of sweat at the hairline.

How long had he practiced the ritual? How long had he labored for perfection? A day… a week… a month? Maybe a year? He knew the truth. Perfection never came easily.

His arms hang loosely from his shoulders; right hand empty while the left grips the product of the bowers craft. He stands, motionless. His breathing is relaxed, even, and deep. His head is angled slightly forward. His mind is devoid of conscious thought.

Slowly he brings his chin upward in an arc perpendicular to the target. He draws a deep, even breath as his right hand raises, fingers tightening around the shaft as they make their way past his hip quiver. In one smooth motion, bow is raised to waist level as the arrow, now clear of the quiver, is turned and positioned against the riser and expertly nocked on the string.

His right hand returns to his side as his thumb moves against the powdered tab to ensure it is in perfect alignment with his fingers.

His head turns to look over his left shoulder as his eyes fix their gaze on the small x in the center of the gold forty yards distant. His focus, his whole being is centered on the middle of the x. He imagines a point at the intersection of the letter that is no bigger than the tip of a pin. His mind is there. There is nothing else. There can be nothing else.

His right hand moves to the string without conscious thought as his fingers position themselves in the classic Mediterranean manner, one above two below. The movement is smooth and even as his left arm elevates his right arm pulls against the string to draw the bow. As his left fist comes into alignment with the target, his right index finger reaches the right corner of his mouth, bow string perpendicular and contacting the right side of his nose.

Muscles, accustomed to the act, tense between his shoulder blades as he holds at full draw, his mind solely on the pinpoint in the center of the x. As the tension in his fingers eases the string begins to roll imperceptibly while his hand remains motionless. Without conscious will the string leaves the tab and the stored energy within the bow propels the string forward transferring the energy to the shaft that will be sent toward the target.

His right hand recoils away from the target as the string clears his fingers. His bow hand holds steady, fingers cradling the handle of the bow. His body remains motionless as the arrow clears the rest. The upper bow tip tilts forward while his fist remains in a direct line with the target. The arrow speeds toward the small x in the middle of the gold and he knows he has done all he can do. Will it be perfect?

He knows that perfection is dependent on how well he conducted the ritual.


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