I arrive at Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre for my one-on-one lesson dressed according to instructions on its website: enclosed shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, a hat and with my long hair tied back. I feel like I’m undercover. Soon, though, I will be grateful to be literally under cover.

It begins to bucket down from the dark grey sky – real end-of-days vibes and oddly fitting for a sport that traces its history back to hunting and warfare, although perhaps that is too long a bow to draw.

The archery centre is a long pavilion with a corrugated roof, which means we can stand under cover to shoot at targets that are out on the lawn 20 metres away. (For professionals, the targets are 70 metres away.)

My instructor today is Virasha, who appreciates archery as a sport that can be quite calming. After a brief safety run-through covering arrows (sharp on both ends), bows (don’t “dry fire”: only pull a bow back if you intend to shoot, otherwise it might crack and explode) and shooting (only aim at the target, not at the sky or people), we begin.

Archery instructor Virasha runs Jennifer Wong through the basics. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

I stand in line with the target and Virasha shows me how to line up the end of the arrow (the notch) so that it clicks on to the string of the bow.

I hold the bow with my left arm and place the three middle fingers of my right hand on the string. When I pull my right arm all the way back there’s a fair bit of resistance. There’s so much tension it’s like a romantic comedy! I aim. I release. And the arrow goes flying to the left of the target. Cupid I am not. “It’s OK,” says Virasha. “Sometimes it takes people a whole hour.”

‘Arrows on the target are slippery from the rain and require both hands to yank out.’ Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

I have six arrows left. The second also flies past the target. In the rain, I can’t see where it’s landed. Third time lucky: the arrow hits the blue ring and the sound of it striking the board is exhilarating. Somehow, the next three also land on the board, on black, red and yellow.

To my surprise, retrieving the arrows requires more upper-body strength than I imagined. Stray arrows hit the ground with such force they end up quite deep in the soil. Arrows on the target are slippery from the rain and require both hands to yank out. Soon Virasha and I are drenched.

Next Virasha teaches me how to anchor my right hand to my face when I pull back the string and to look out of my right eye (as a right-handed person) instead of both eyes. I learn to inhale when pulling back the string and to exhale on release. When Virasha says: “If you want to hit the target, always aim lower,” I can’t help but laugh –and want to apply this wisdom to life and goal-setting.

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The experience brings to mind the difference between beginner’s luck and how one’s perception of success might change with time. “A lot of people think that if they got one in the yellow, one in the blue, one in the black, they’re shooting amazingly,” says Virasha. “But you’re not showing consistency of technique. You want all your arrows to land together. Even if they all land in a clump in the black, it shows you’re shooting with technique, it’s just your aim is off.”

No ibises were harmed in the writing of this column. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

During my last round of seven shots, six hit the target and three manage to land in the same area of a blue ring. This has completely exceeded my expectations as a short-sighted person who usually only takes aim at things (metaphorically) on stage for laughs.

Briefly I entertain thoughts that my newfound skills might help me survive an end-of-days situation. Might I be able to make it as a hunter? Perhaps. If the target was 20 metres away, remained stationary and was the size of a monster truck tyre … I might just have a shot.

Group archery lessons for beginners at Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre are $26 a session and suitable for people 10 years and over
Jennifer Wong’s new standup show, The Sweet and Sour of Power, is playing at Melbourne international comedy festival until 21 April, and then in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra

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