A year ago I had the pleasure of volunteering to work during the First Annual Western Showcase that was sponsored by Carriage Hills Ranch and the Buggy Barn Museum right here in Blanco. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show couldn’t have been any more fun than that. The three-day event featured knives, tomahawks, archery, atlatl, mounted action shooting, precision bullwhips, chuck wagon cooking, music, storytelling, buggy rides, old west costume judging, food booths, vendors and much, much more. The show will be back the first weekend of November and I plan to be there again.
I was particularly fascinated by the knife and tomahawk throwing competition that brought in participants and competitors from around the world. Some were bearded and decked out in buckskins like grizzled old mountain men while those from Great Britain and Russia preferred a more refined appearance. All were highly skilled, whether men or women, and were fun to watch. I was pleased that nearly all of them jumped at the chance to teach their trade to any man, woman or child who cared to give knife or tomahawk throwing a try. I think some of the kids, both girls and boys, got hooked for life and I expect to see them back again this year.
I was especially pleased when I found out that the leaders of our Boy Scout troop would be hosting a tomahawk throwing activity during a recent LDS Scouting centennial event at McGimsey Scout Camp in San Antonio. On May 21, 1913, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially affiliated as a chartered organization with Boy Scout of America. The 1912 BSA statistical reports cite the LDS Church as the largest chartered organization of Boy Scouts in the country, sponsoring 37,856 units and 430,557 youth. The “Men of Valor” camp brought together approximately 1200 boys and leaders from the San Antonio area to celebrate one hundred years of Scouting in the Church.
After some preliminary counsel and safety considerations, each boy at the camp, a troop at a time, had the opportunity to try his hand at throwing the competition tomahawks at large wooden targets set up for the occasion. “Aim high” was our mantra. Each boy, on his first throw, found that gravity and his own perceptions tended to make the tomahawk take a low trajectory, often landing in the dirt at the foot of the target. They quickly learned that to be successful they had to aim high.
I was somewhat surprised that some of the younger boys hit the bull’s eye more readily than did their older, stronger peers. The older boys thought they could simply “power” the tomahawk to its mark by throwing directly at it but, more often than not, they would not only miss the bull’s eye, but the target as well. The younger boys were more prone to take our advice and “aim high.” We had set up six targets and six boys threw at the same time. On one throw, a group of six younger boys all hit the target and their tomahawks stuck in place. They set the standard for the rest of the day and only one group of adults was able to duplicate their effort.
The last group of boys to come through had more time to throw than their predecessors so I gave them some extra coaching. Assuming me to be some kind of tomahawk expert, they insisted that I throw. Now, my experience at throwing a tomahawk is limited to watching Sully throw one on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” on T.V. I am definitely no expert. However, the boys insisted that they wanted to see me in action so I reluctantly gave in.
I decided I had better take my own advice and “aim high.” As luck would have it, my first two throws hit the mark and stuck in place. The third throw bounced off the target, ricocheted off to one side and landed in a stand of prickly pear cactus. The boys had a good laugh at my expense and I magnanimously took an exaggerated bow.
Aiming high, I have decided, is not only good advice for boys, girls, men, and women throwing tomahawks but for any of life’s travelers in any endeavor. I remember a high school girl who told me she wanted to be a pediatric nurse. I asked her if she wouldn’t rather be a doctor. She went on to medical school to become a pediatric surgeon.
Someone wrote, “There is an old man up there ahead of you that you ought to know. Whether he is miserable or happy depends on you. For YOU made him. He is YOU, grown older.” Aim high, son. Aim high.