Updated: Dec 31, 2020
World wide Dragon Shooting Day at Tomahawk Archers in Temperance Michigan on June 3 and 4th 2017
We were up just before the sun, leaving Wisconsin at 4.30 a.m.. In the passengers seat next to me, a sleepy-eyed little dragon slayer. Little did I know, that he would mature and grow years before my eyes in a matter of 24 hrs.
It was a beautiful day to drive the seven hours that would allow us to reflect on what the coming days would bring us. This would be our first Worldwide Dragon Shooting Day. It was being held at Tomahawk Archers in Temperance Michigan on June 3 and 4th of 2017.
This would be our first trip to Tomahawk Archers, and our first national shoot out of state, and that we weren't in charge of. Wyatt, Val( my significant other) and I were very excited about the weekend in general and, especially, about the shoot. We knew the capable hands and heart of the Tomahawk club were covering every detail in our behalf. We were looking forward to finally meeting these people whom we only knew, either from a Facebook profile or from a phone call. We were anticipating a weekend of making memories and living through all the moments that would impact three families that badly needed support.
This would be our largest Dragon Shoot to date and would benefit The brothers Gavin and Nathan Walker who lost their parents to a drunk driver less than a year ago, Jimmie Gretzinger and his three children who lost their mom and wife to pancreatic cancer a few months ago, and Sarah and Pat Hogan and their two girls, one, Sarah, who was just diagnosed with stage three melanoma cancer. This weekend was about more then just slinging arrows ; it was about bringing a community together in support of three families of their own that needed help. It was to be a weekend of hope, strength and solidarity. It was a weekend that truly impacted us with every arrow that was shot.
Our first sight was the course where all the sponsors signs were waiting for delivery to their targets. All the,targets had been hand-drawn and hand-painted dragon targets. In addition to the targets that would be used for the contest, there were many homemade signs that people had bought to support not only the families but, also, my son Wyatt's dream of just such an event taking place somehow. Seeing all these people pouring out their support was enough to stop my breath for a moment. It was a mesmerizing and humbling moment. Wyatt and I just stood and looked at the sea of support in front of us, holding hands in total silence.
Early Saturday morning, you could hear the birds singing, the gentle sound of the wind through the beautiful grounds of Tomahawk and Chris Jurski yelling, "Who wants eggs, 'cause they are ready!" I was told no shoot started until the eggs were served. The vendors were all ready, and Caroline and Floyd Wells from MLB were patiently waiting for their newbees to learn the power of the longbow. These two and their helpers did an amazing job of instructing beginners to the art of archery. There were thirty-five families new to archery that weekend. They even took time out of their day to train reporter Kelsey Cogan from Channel 11 in Ohio and Josh, her camera man, to shoot . As a mom, couldn't have more proud of my son Wyatt. He seemed to mature into an adult in the matter of seconds. Of course, after his "on-camera" time, he melted back to a little boy, running off to play with his new friends. He has become a spokesman of sorts for grieving children everywhere. He knows you have to keep living to make a difference for those who you have lost.
We were all patiently waiting to meet our three families. This was,after all, why we were here. The time finally came . Gavin and Nathan Walker are two incredibly emotionally strong young men. Wyatt was able to walk the course and shoot with them on Saturday along with Jimmie Gretzinger, another one of the events recipients. Our gratitude goes out to Jimmie for allowing us to benefit his family and for taping that afternoon for one of his episodes. Jimmie is a man of strong faith and conviction and an incredible father of three children. In addition to our families, Pat Hogan was the reason we were out here at Tomohawk. Pat had been in contact with us for a few years. He and the club had held 50/50 raffles,,donating the money to us. It was just a month before the shoot he learned of his wives diagnosis. It was a immediate understanding that they would also be one of The Dragon Shoots recipients now. This is why Wyatt's dream is so important. Even though he is honoring a loss that he is reminded of every single day, he is also helping others in the process. He is learning that small gestures and little moments in life can truly play a large part in the meaning his life will have as he looks back in reflection, That The World Dragon shooting day is not just about shooting arrows at dragons; It is about slaying dragons we must all face in our lives together,and about uniting archers worldwide in hopes of a sense of unity . We , Archers , are a unique breed. We yearn to share and pass on traditions. We laugh while we are competing and we break bread as a family at the days end of competition.
On Saturday night an old high school friend of mine,who now lives in Toledo, came with his band to do a fundraising concert for us. The Reese Daily Band was a tremendous hit. Their tight music and fun-filled night of antics was the perfect ending to a magical day. A great shout goes out to Reese for bring the "music to sooth our souls."
Tomahawk Dragon shoot is now in our rearview mirror and as we left and watched their sign grow further and further away, we had a feeling of loss, yet, at the same time, an amazing feeling of love and respect for a club, its community that embraced and came together for one weekend and three families. Until we meet again, may your arrows shoot straight and may your groupings be small. Peace and love from Wyatt, Dorothy, and Val!