I am sure many kids have shot a bow and arrow and pretended to be Robin Hood, just like I did as a kid.
When I was about ten years old, I fashioned a bow from a willow branch, found a stick that served as a make-shift arrow and off I went hunting in nearby trees.
An attractive bird landed. I shot. Thankfully, I missed. A woman, out for a walk, witnessed my attempt to be ‘the great hunter.’ She stopped and asked why I would want to harm such a beautiful part of nature? I can still distinctly feel the pang of remorse that her question raised in me. She suggested I fashion a target and use it to become a great bow shooter.
Well I took her admonition seriously, and did what she recommended. I certainly did not become the archer of Robin Hood fame, but I stored away that fantasy for the future when I could afford the money and time to pursue fully that hobby – one more thing for ‘my bucket list.’
That time came upon my retirement. A teaching colleague of mine and his son were members of the Prince Albert Timberland Bow Benders Archery Club. I purchased a bow from my friend and off we went.
That is when I met a true Robin Hood – Ron Smith. Oh, I had met Ron many years previously when he was a student at Carlton Comprehensive High School. So that evening when we met again, Ron with a chuckle shook my hand, and taking my bow strung it for me and led, “The old Teacher,” as he called me, to the starting line. There was a good amount of teasing, but Ron was, below his gruff looking appearance, a most respectful and thorough instructor. We shared many laughs that night, and probably one of loudest occurred as Ron reacted to my comment, “You should have been a teacher; you are really good at it.” He shook his head in mock disbelief, and sputtered, “Me, a teacher in a school – that’s a good one!”
Archery did not become a long time hobby of mine, but I will always look back on some great memories of that quest, and fond memories of Ron.
Those memories came back the other night when my wife, Fay, and I went to watch a young family friend of ours participate in minor soccer. The volunteer coach was also an ex-student. He led the soccer practice with excellence. I said to Fay, “Where would our society be without such volunteers?”
Ron, you were one such volunteer. I had cause to call on Ron’s sharing of his time and coaching skills twice more after I put my bow aside.
The first occurred when one of my grandsons came to visit. He too liked Robin Hood. So I called Ron. He graciously took time from his personal pursuits to meet us at the Archery Club, got a bow out and he once more showed his patience and skill as a teacher giving my grandson a great experience.
The second occasion involved even more of Ron’s willingness to share. A family of new Canadians had arrived in Prince Albert. There were several children in the family. One Saturday in an attempt to find something new for the kids to do, I told them about Robin Hood and my desire to be like him when I was their age. They chuckled, but showed interest. So, I called Ron once more. The Archery range was closed that day, but Ron insisted I meet him there with the kids. Four of them joined me. Ron opened the range, got out some teaching bows, set out the targets, strung all the bows, and with a great deal of patience made the kids feel like real Robin Hoods.
I was moved by Ron’s generosity, until he strung a bow for me, and called on the kids to, “Show the ‘old teacher’ how to shoot.”
Be darned if the eldest boy of the family at the age of 13 didn’t show me up – much to good-natured laughter and hand clapping from Ron.
We said thanks to Ron and said hope to see you again. Ron’s reply was expressed in phrasing he was famous for:
That was Ron’s way of saying “Thanks. You’re more than welcome. For Sure. I too hope to see you again.”
Ron passed away March 20th of this year. He was only 61. He was a true ‘volunteer. And believe me Ron – you were a, “Damn Good teacher!’
Next time let’s look at the Timberland Bow Benders – who they are - and what they offer Prince Albert.