Friday, October 14, 2016

Mokdong Archery Experience

Traditionally, Korean archery is a meditation sport and so when there was a posting through Yeoksam Global Village Center for archery participants, I was eager to give the reflective Korean archery a try. Was slightly disappointed when I got to the Mokdong Archery Experience area and discovered it was western archery we would be giving a try. Well, new experience there too but I knew we wouldn't be taught any kind of self-reflection or skills on "the movement of tranquillity" in shooting but rather would just be focused on hitting the target and having a good time while doing so.

Directly beside our practice shooting range was a Korean archery range, and another beyond it. During our two hours of basic target practice, three other groups walked in to exercise their minds while shooting. They followed some of the principles of Korean archery like not shooting alone, not congratulating each other or themselves on good shots or making comments on poor shots, but I think their shooting was not very peaceful or reflective. Our group of Westerners was loud and silly and having a great time. If we were practicing Korean archery, we would have had to be silent, reflective and be more attentive of others while shooting. The other groups kept looking over at us and I feel we disturbed their reflection; however, they seemed rather to be entertained. But then to shoot at this particularly range in a downtown area beside a busy riverside, they could only expect noise, so I would think that this range is more of a stress outlet than a spiritual journey for them.

Our archery instructor had the patience of a saint as he tried to organize us untamed and untrained westerners into some kind of order. Unlike the traditional Korean method of training archers, training western archers must be like trying to herd cats.

Our brave instructor walking in front of young untrained archers with arrows in their bows. We were pretty good, however, about obeying his command to stop shooting and retrieve arrows and then his command for us to collective string our bows again.

The range wasn't even 10 meters away, but the point of this exercise was to give us experience in shooting and to learn how to control our bow and aim. The traditional Korean bows don't have an aiming devise on the bow but are aimed through mind control and feelings centered in the mind/heart.

After several tries, most of us were hitting within the target and some were pretty consistently hitting near the bull's eye.

Our group of young archers. From the languages and comments I heard, we represented a wide variety of Western backgrounds. From my end of the shooting range, there were two Americans, a Canadian, a couple of Germans, several Russians, and a Philippina ... a fairly good ethnic representation of foreigner workers and students in Korea.

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