The Competition

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Tarbon’s target was first. The judges approached it, studied it, and without much hesitation, one of them shouted, “Fifty points for Captain Tarbon of the green team! A perfect score!” Tarbon raised his bow up high and the crowd cheered loudly. It seemed that Tarbon, too, had some fans. The judges continued to the next man’s target; the man from the red team. They paused and announced, “Forty-eight points for Sergeant Pahr from the red team!” Again, the people cheered, but not as loudly as they had for Captain Tarbon. Then they moved to the third man’s target. “Fifty points for Bak!” Now the cheers were significantly less even though the man shot well, apparently because no one knew who he was and he was not part of a team. Durbar waited patiently for them to assess his target, though he was confident of the result. They counted his points and proclaimed, “Fifty points for Durbar of the blue team!” The onlookers roared for Durbar and he became excited that they were cheering for him but remained focused, not letting himself be distracted. There were still another fifteen arrows to shoot.

Next, the targets were moved to seventy-five feet. Each man shot his arrows and they were counted: forty-eight points for Tarbon, forty-four for Pahr of the red team, forty-eight for Bak, and forty-eight for Durbar. So far, the competition was even for the top three men.

Durbar found himself torn between relishing the support of people watching and shooting his bow. He finally turned, smiled, and waved when someone cried “Sureshot!” His senses battled for control. His ears reached for the sounds of praise, and his eyes struggled to focus on the target downrange.

Now, the targets were moved to one hundred feet. Each man again shot five arrows and they were totaled: forty-eight for Tarbon, forty-four for Pahr, forty-six for Bak, and forty-six for Durbar. The competition was becoming more intense by the minute. Now Durbar trailed Tarbon by two points and was tied for second. Tarbon was letting his emotions run and appealed to the crowd for support. The crowd hollered as the captain waved his arms in the air urging them to get louder. Durbar tried not to worry. He knew that he was more capable of hitting the furthest target than the other three men. All he needed to do was beat out one of them to advance to the final round.

The targets were repositioned at one hundred and fifty feet. The men shot their last arrows and waited anxiously as the judges went down range to count the scores.

The announcer began, “Captain Tarbon representing the green team scored forty-two points giving him one hundred and ninety points! Sergeant Pahr representing the red team scored forty points giving him one hundred and seventy-six. Bak of no team, scored forty-four points giving him one hundred and eighty-eight, and Durbar the Sureshot of the blue team scored forty-six points making one hundred and ninety. Tarbon and Durbar advance to the final round.” The crowd cheered wildly for the two bowmen. The judges continued, “Bak is awarded third place and Pahr will receive fourth,” and with that men scrambled to reset the targets for the final match between the two archers that everyone wanted to see—the local hero and the new sensation.

Never before had the competition been so close. Bak was third by only one shot, and Pahr had not shot poorly. In fact, one hundred and seventy-six was a respectable score; still in that field he was far behind the other three and was left to take fourth place.

Only the two center targets were left for the final match. Each man was given twenty new arrows. Neither man looked at the other. Both were focused solely on their targets.

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