CAN’T DRAW THIS BOW
When they got up the next day, as Coach Liang said, the distance of their lap was reduced by half, so they finished early, even before dinner.
After their run, all the recruits were dragged to the arena.
The arena field next to the Liang Zhou Guard station was huge, probably because there was a large open field at the foot of the mountain, large enough to accommodate everyone. He Yan sized it up and thought that this was indeed a good place to train. At noon, when the sun was at its most blazing moment, and there was no hint of wind, the flags on the high platform clung to the flagpole, just like the recruits who were scorched by the sun.
“From today onwards, you are about to start weapon training.” Instructor Shen threw his spear to the ground heavily. The crowd shook and braced themselves to look at him.
“You see the clearing?” Shen Han pointed his spear to the north.
Next to the open space near the weapon rack were rows of more than a dozen crossbows, which stared menacingly at them, and the targets neatly stood a hundred paces away in front of the crossbow.
“Starting from today, you will learn the crossbows!” Instructor Shen gave an order, and the next few days were automatically arranged.
Everyone didn’t know whether to cry or laugh for a moment.
“Wow! Archery is my favorite!” The happiest one was probably Mak. “Brother, this time it’s our turn to shine!”
He Yan turned and asked Shi, “Your hunting bows aren’t as heavy as these, right?”
He looked at the crossbow for a while, then shook his head. “No, it’s lighter than this one. Our bows are not made of horns, but from the bamboo I sharpened myself.”
“Almost the same,” Mak looked cheerful, but then suddenly thought of something, and asked He Yan, “Brother He, can we use this bow to go up the mountain to hunt rabbits?”
He Yan spared a glance at him, “…Train well, don’t dream.”
They were divided into teams, with each team led by an instructor to practice the crossbows. One instructor demonstrated. He drew the bow and released the arrow, which flew right into the center of the target with a solid “swish”.
A burst of cheers erupted from the recruits, and the instructor looked very proud of himself.
He Yan couldn’t help BUT praise him in her heart. Liang Ping was no fake, he was really capable. Such people were also good at the battlefield.
The soldiers in the barracks were very excited and eager to try their bows. Some who were born with great power drew their bows fully. Although they weren’t able to shoot accurately, the arrow still went far. Some had basic knowledge about bows and arrows, so their focus was on their postures. Many of the recruits, who had the strength but not the aim, shot in a twisted manner, and the arrow fell in midair before they reached the target.
In the end, they all got one turn to show what they have.
Hong Shan went up to try it as well. Although he was born sturdy and was good at drawing the bow, his aim was not good enough, so the arrow fell before it could reach the edge of the target. Regardless he felt satisfied, nodded to himself, and muttered, “Yes, not so bad.”
The two brothers Shi and Mak followed suit. Out of the two, Shi was more firm and strong. The feathered arrow flew out of his hand with a “swish” and fell into the target, and although it was not exactly in the middle, it was still somewhere near.
Instructor Liang glanced at him unexpectedly and asked, “What’s your name? Have you ever touched bows and arrows before?”
“My name is Zhong Shi, I used to be a hunter,” Shi said solemnly.
“No wonder.” Liang Ping nodded in satisfaction. There was a good seed in the team, so he was naturally happy.
The younger brother also went up and introduced himself. “My name is Zhong Mak, I am his brother, and I am also a hunter!”
“Oh?” Teacher Liang looked forward to it and said, “Are you here to try?”
Mak followed Shi’s example and drew his bow. But, he didn’t have the impressive skills of his elder brother. The arrow shot off the wrong side and didn’t even hit the target.
Liang Ping, “…”
Mak touched his nose and retreated sadly.
He Yan was a bit amused. Just when she thought about whether she should try it as well, someone stepped out ahead of her.
“Oh,” Hong Shan whispered beside He Yan, “it’s him.”
It turned out to be Wang Ba, who hadn’t paid any serious attention, even when he ran on previous days. Wang Ba was a soldier under the same instructor as them, Instructor Liang. He stepped forward, rolled his sleeves to his elbows, spat on his palm, and picked up the bow.
He Yan saw that he was a man of great strength. His arms were so tightly disintegrated that the strong honey-colored skin was faintly visible. Unlike the other recruits, Wang Ba wasn’t as eager to shoot the arrow. He took a sigh of relief and aimed it straight at the middle.
This look… He Yan knew that this wasn’t his first time drawing a bow. Like Shi, he must be a good hand who did archery often.
Finally, there was a creak from the tight string, and the feather arrow went straight to the bullseye. Everyone only saw a flash of white light in front of them, and then the grass target standing in front was rushed by the strength of the arrow and fell to the ground with a bang.
All the other arrows were missing from the center of the target, only a single arrow could be seen. Not only did he shoot through the grass target, but he also brought the whole target down.
He Yan sighed in her mind as that was quite an amazing shot. Wang Ba was strong and steady, his aim was good, and his composure was rare. Instructor Liang’s gaze toward Wang Ba was already different. Among this batch of recruits, there was Shi and Wang Ba, both who excelled in the line of crossbows.
Wang Ba put away the bow, but didn’t leave immediately. Instead, he walked two steps in front of He Yan. The scandalous-looking scarred man cupped his hands to his chest, looked at He Yan with a look of watching a good show, and said, “It’s your turn.”
It was fine until he said it. When he did, the gazes of many people around them turned to He Yan. While she faced Wang Ba’s provocative gaze, He Yan stepped forward.
The bow was a good horn bow, very smooth to the touch. It had probably been used countless times before, as it showed some visible traces. He Yan stroked it bit by bit, and the past times in the army suddenly appeared in front of her again. The last time she used a crossbow, she was still ‘General Fei Hong’.
In a flash, so many years had passed, just like that.
Liang Ping looked at He Yan with a strange expression.
He knew that crossbows were different from other things and required great hand strength. He had already judged He Yan’s physique and previous performance, and knew that she wouldn’t be able to perform well. But… this was another hard-working recruit. People had expectations for the unknown situations that may arise. Liang Ping himself felt very contradictory.
“What are you feeling around it for? Don’t waste other people’s time,” Wang Ba sneered. “Why don’t you show us your superb shooting skills?”
He Yan picked up the bow and placed her fingers on the arrow.
After a moment, she set the bow and the arrow down.
“Brother He, what does this mean?” Mak was puzzled. Why did Brother He put down the bow before he even started to draw it? Was there something wrong?
“Why aren’t you moving?” Wang Ba was dissatisfied, “Move!”
“No need,” He Yan said with a frank expression, “I can’t draw this bow.”
Using the crossbow wasn’t easy during its first stages of development. Especially, the artillery units used much heavier versions which could only be wielded by people with special skill. You can learn more about them here.