Chapter 20
                                                                          Target Practice

Rush entered the camp as Ben was finishing breakfast.

"Good morning, Daniel!"  Rush called out.

Ben stuck his head out of the door and returned the greeting. "Morning, Rush! Who's Daniel?"

"Why I heard that Daniel Boone had moved in here last night." He flashed Ben a smile.

"Oh!  Yeah, I built my own fire this morning. How's it look?"

Rush peeked inside.  "Not bad, Tenderfoot. You ready to learn to hunt like a brave?"

"What? Oh, the bow and arrows. Yeah! Only, you have to promise not to laugh at me."

"Oh, don't worry. I laughed myself to sleep last night just thinking about it." He grinned a friendly grin.

"Boy, with friends like you ..." Ben smiled and shook his head.

"Okay!" Rush said. "Grab your weapon and follow me."

They walked together out to the front of the cabin. Rush took the bow and inspected it. He pulled the string back a
couple of times.  

"Hmmm!" he observed, "You should have bought a crossbow."

"A crossbow? Indians use crossbows?

"Hello! It's the Twentieth Century. Indians live in houses, drive cars, and use computers. Man, you need to lose the
stereotyping."

"Sorry," Ben mumbled.

Rush pointed to a thick bush at the edge of the woods and away from the river. "We'll use that bush as our target.
First, let's work on your stance." He showed Ben how to stand facing forward, with his target to his left and his feet
spread apart about shoulder width.

"Why am I not facing the target? " Ben asked.

"Just work with me."

"Okay. Doesn't make sense, though," Ben grumbled.

He took his stance.

"Okay, now that I'm facing wrong direction ---"

"Now turn your head  to your left, and look at your target," Rush said. "Isn't that more comfortable?"

"If you say so."

"Well, it'll be more accurate."

Ben gave a skeptical look.

"Get comfortable!" he instructed. "Now, nock your arrow."

"Against what?" Ben asked as he looked around.

Rush spewed out a burst of laughter. "Are you serious?" he asked.

Ben just looked at him blankly.

"Ben, you are undoubtedly the dumbest paleface I have ever met."

"Okay," Ben rolled his eyes. "What did I do this time?"

"Nock your arrow! See this groove at the end of the arrow ... near the feathers. That's the nock. The other end ...
the end with the pointy thing on it ... that's the point."

"Yeah," Ben acknowledged. "I kind got the point on that one."

"Oh, not only is he the dumbest paleface. He's also the corniest."

"Okay," Ben said. "Nock the arrow. I assume that means put the groove on the string." He grinned at Rush.

"You got it, Einstein. Now lift the bow and aim the pointy end at the target." They laughed.

"Place the arrow on the bow, right here on the arrow rest." He helped Ben place the arrow. "Now lift the bow in your
left hand, extend your arm. Here is how we hold the arrow. No! Don't pinch it with your fingers. Take these three
fingers ..." Rush held up his forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger. "... Curl your fingers lightly around the
bowstring at the knuckles with the arrow between the forefinger and ring finger, but don't touch the arrow ... Tuck
your thumb into your palm ... and don't wrap your finger around the arrow." He indicated Ben's left hand with which
he held the bow. "Keep your fingers out of the way so they don't interrupt the flight of the arrow."

Ben was struggling to get it all coordinated.

"Okay, now raise your bow into position toward the target. Keep your left arm extended ... eye level ... shoulders up.
Now pull the bowstring toward your face in one smooth motion until your fingers are against your jaw. The string
should be almost touching your nose."

Ben held his position but asked, "Won't the string scrape my face when I shoot?"

"No!" Rush assured him. "The bowstring will snap away from you. Trust me!"

Rush continued his instruction. "Now, close your left eye and look down the shaft of the arrow with your right eye. Do
you see your target?"

Be adjusted his aim slightly. "Yeah! I've got it."

"Hold steady. Be very still and listen very carefully before you do anything ... there is a snake curled up by your left
foot about to strike."

Ben took a deep breath.  "Wha... what do I do now?" He was trembling. He turned a ghostly white.

"Wait here while get the corn starch."

"What?" Ben said.

"I'm just messing with you. There's no snake." He laughed.

Ben stood steady. "Rush," he said. "When I get finished with this bush, I'm going to shoot you."

"Well, at least I know you can follow instructions. And by the way, corn starch doesn't keep snakes away."

"What? But Frank said ---"

"Frank was just trying to help you get some sleep. Okay, back to your lesson. When you shoot, I want you to just
release your string fingers. Don't pull back; don't try to push the arrow; don't adjust your aim while releasing; just
release all three fingers at the same time. After you release, maintain your position until the arrow has hit its target.
Any movement too soon could affect the course of the arrow. Got it?"

"Got it"

"Good. Now, release."

Ben let the arrow fly. It went about five feet above and to the left of the target.

"Well, that's close enough if you're shooting at a skunk."

Ben said, "Hey, don't go there. That was a long time ago."

Rush pinched his nose and said, "Not long enough."

"Well," Ben said, "Now, the Indian is a comedian. Keep your day job, Tonto."

"Oh, Kemo-sabi, I did not mean to hurt your feelings."

Ben dropped the bow on the ground and chased Rush across the yard. They stopped at the pump for a drink of
water.

"Hey, seriously, that wasn't bad. You'll do okay. It takes a lot of practice," Rush told him.

"Rush, you're a good friend." Ben smiled and put his hand on Rush's shoulder.

"Oh, so are we going to smoke the peace pipe?" Rush raised his eyebrows in mock surprise.

"Like I said, keep your day job. By the way, what is your day job?"

"Oh, I am a teacher, and I also work for a messenger service," Rush answered.

"Really?  What do you teach ... and where?"

"Whatever and wherever I am needed. I'm on call, so it’s a different assignment every time."

"So, you travel a lot!" Ben surmised.

"Yeah, wherever the boss sends me." Rush said.

"Cool," Ben said. "Is he a good boss?"

"Heavenly!" Rush answered. "I have to go. You keep practicing. See you in a few." With that Rush turned and walked
out of the camp and vanished into the forest.