Turns out it’s at the site of the old Alberta Game Farm. In its day The Game Farm was the second largest zoo in North America and its owner was the legendary Al Oeming. The place was huge and had other facilities like playing fields and halls for community events. Al was already a famous professional wrestler; but he made his fortune and fame as a zoologist. some of his live-capture documentaries were epics in their day. In the 80s or 90’s The Farm started having money problems. Then they re-financed and re-branded and it became Polar Park. Then one day a tot got away from her mother, walked under a cordon ... and pushed her arm through a fence to try and pet one of the big cats. A cat got hold of her, and a brave handler went in with a bloody steak to try and distract the cougar and make it release the girl’s arm.The child was mauled, the lawsuits started flying... and that’s the last I ever heard of it. I think the place got closed down shortly after that.
It was odd going in there. I remember the place from some elementary school field trips and some ball games and picnics we had there. But all the animals were long gone. The massive parking lot had been turned into an industrial lay-down yard. Junk was everywhere. Some of the barns and concession buildings were falling over... and the only serviceable building left was the one I would be shooting in. It was sad to see the old place in such ruin. I remembered how we marveled at the critters, most of whom adapted to our climate and made themselves right at home. The giraffes grew thick hairy coats in winter, as did some of the cats and monkeys. All...gone.
I shook off the odd sadness that hangs over such places and went in to shoot. And there, I got it all over again. Up on the wall were the club plaques. We shoot 10 rounds, 3 arrows each. A perfect score is 300, or 30 arrows in the bullseye which is worth 10. If you shot a perfect score, you got inducted into the 300 Club and your name goes up on the wall. There was also a 290 Club plaque, and a 280 Club. The names up there went back to the early 80’s when I began to shoot. I read the names and saw the faces. M.H. was in the 300 Club, he was also a shameless cheater and a surly prick. PM was up there too - he was a happy man and an excellent shot. A stab of sorrow came too; his wife, Mavis had passed away and she was just a wonderful woman too. I found her name on the 280 plaque. Rumour had it that PM promptly remarried. Some people do that, they become widowed and just get married again right away and think nothing of it. I dunno what to think of that myself... as I get older and see what is happening to many women in clown world... I don’t think I could abide most of them and vise versa. KG was in the 290 Club, and we were arch rivals, Mr. Koobasaw was up there too... so many names and faces. Their world had moved on, and them with it. On another display were all the badges the kids could earn in the kids’ archery program. My daughter had earned three of them. I still have her little bow and arrows downstairs. She’s .. what, now? 34? Jesus Christ, I am getting old. Haven’t seen my daughter in 5 years now? More? Back in those days I had visions of teaching my grandkids to shoot, and maybe stealing them for the odd camp trip to give the parents a break. How did I end up here? A rusty, crusty broken relic in a rural junkyard?
Again I shook off the sadness and nostalgia. I had the lanes to myself and took my place on the firing line. The old cadence came back and fit like old leather. Stance. Bow arm. Draw. Anchor. Aim. Release. Follow through... I finished up with a 273/300. I’m glad that none of those people up on the plaques saw that, I’d never hear the end of it. But... for a broken down stubfart that doesn’t practice enough...it’s alright for a start. With some work the muscles will build, the nerves will steady, and getting into the 280 Club should be a snap.
I never had my name up on those plaques because I was an archer, not an athlete or competitor. There’s a difference although I’m not sure I could put it into words. I didn’t care about prize money or trophies, having seen what happens to guys that covet them too much. There were more than a few of those up on those plaques. Somewhere, somehow I’d stopped being an archer ... and maybe that was a mistake. Maybe I should go up there with the other names so that if some other broken piece of trash blows in... he might see my name up there and smirk with remembrance?
FAH! Where did all this melancholy come from? Fill those score cards out honestly you buggardly tosspots! I’ll be watching you all very carefully!!! Especially you, Jack!!!
Have a great Friday!!!