Harold Lane was a Hermit who lived in a cave on the outskirts of the township of Sillock. He was totally self-sufficient, with a  fire and animal skin rug in his cave for Winter & he fed himself by killing small wild animals with a crossbow that he made by himself using only a sharp heavy knife.

He would wander into Sillock and go to the laundry & public showers to spruce up, despite his long grey bear & hair & tatty trenchcoat.

One day the new school Principal, Paul Harrington, saw an arrow made by Harold. Nobody was afraid of Harold. Quite the opposite. Paul was progressive & wanted the students to do more outdoors type activities. When he hears that Harold also made crossbows he just had to meet him. He met Harold at the library & offered Harold a position at the school. Harold accepted.

His first job was to gather wood which they did near Harolds cave. Harold was more than happy to show them his cave. The students were in  awe but not as much as Paul, who said, “I envy you.” Harold replied, “It keeps me warm  in Winter and cool  in Summer. I have all I need.”

Harold again spent his days off drawing the further parts required for the crossbow from various angles.

After 3 weeks Harolds class had completed their stock. The next job was to collect long, thick pieces of timber to form the ‘body’ so it was back to Birchwell Hill where Harolds cave was & was littered with all  sorts of timber. Paul (again) went on the bus trip and helped search. 2 hours later the students had their rough pieces,

They returned to their class and analyzed the drawings and moved the body, marking it. The next day they began cutting the body to their specifications. After 2 weeks they were finished but thought they had a problem. How to fix the body to the stock. Harold solved the problem in 10 minutes, He scraped  2 holes through each part the, with a scrap piece of wood, carved it into a slightly funnel-shaped peg. He screwed the ‘bolts’ tightly into the holes & the crossbow was as solid as a rock. The students spent the rest of the class copying Harold with great success, Harold checking every bow as it was completed. Now it was only the limb to be attended to. Another trip to Harolds cave next class.

In the visit, Harold instructed the students to look for the longest, fattest piece of timber that  they could find. “As long as you are tall would be ideal,” Harold told the class. The class all returned with huge pieces of timber. Harold laughed to himself as he knew that they would be cutting their significantly….or would they?

On returning to the class the students sized their pieces of wood up, marking them in readiness for tomorrows class. All the while, students had been making perfect arrows in their spare time.

When the class commenced the following day Harold said, “Don’t worry about the length in the diagram. That was a guess. The longer the limb, the more power.” Sure enough the class fashioned the limb, most of which were about half the height of Harold.. ‘Jeeyz,’ he thought. ‘What have I done here?’ Harold then showed the class how to fix the limb to the body. They finished right on 3pm. Charlie asked Paul if he could access crossbow wire. Phil gave Harold a cheque book & sent him into town.

On returning Harold set about stringing the bows, setting them to pull and sitting them in large buckets of water in readiness for the students the following week.

When the students arrived the following week, Harold was waiting for them, grinning. The students eyes lit up. “Wait here,” said Harold. He went & asked Phil if he could borrow the archery targets. “Sure, Harold!” exclaimed Paul before adding, “Are you going  to do it now? I have to see this.”

Harold kept the students in class while he & Paul moved the targets into place. “How does 20 yards sound, Harold?” asked Phil. “I don’t know. I’ve never used a bow our size.. I suppose we can try it.”

With  the targets in place, Harold bought the students out with their bows. Harold carried the bows for safety reasons. He picked a random student & showed them what to do. The student loaded the crossbow & took aim. “Don’t aim with you eyes,”  said Harold. “”Aim with the bow.” The student relaxed & let fly. The student was sent back 4 steps as the arrow hit the target board. Initially they thought the arrow had missed. In fact it had gone right through the target. “Bows down!” said Harold. He & Paul went and moved the target back a further 10 yards. “Let’s she how this goes,” whispered Paul.

Another student was called up and took a shot. He hit the target board alright but the arrow was only sticking out by a few centimetres. Paul looked at Harold & said, “Another 10?” Harold  nodded. “Bows down!” Harold said again. A third student took aim and the arrow was still  half way into the target.

To be continued….