Thursday, August 15, 2013

Shooting Arrows and Warrenton Jail

On Saturday I had been looking forward to going to the Rte 11 Yard Crawl but woke up to pouring rain, not really the kind of weather I wanted to be scouting along roadsides in. Last year I'd bought a compound bow very cheaply from the yard sale, so since it was exactly 1 year later, and I hadn't had it checked out for safe use, today would be the day. I discovered that an archery shop was very close by so drove there immediately.
It was quite overwhelming once I entered. I hardly knew where to look first, there were bows and arrows hanging and standing everywhere. a couple of guys were having their compound bows restrung and I could tell immediately that they were hunters.
 The staff were fabulous and very welcoming, not at all fazed because I was a complete newbie. I showed them my bow and one guy laughed, saying I'd never be able to use it as it's a 75lb bow and the most he'd ever seen a female pull was 62lbs. but he did say it was in good shape and fine to use but was due for a restringing. He then suggested I get another bow which threw me for a bit but then I walked over to the recurves. Even before getting the compound bow I'd always fancied using a more traditional bow. When I first looked at Meadow House I'd noticed an archery target in one of the fields and picked up a few random arrows that I'd later found, resting them by the fireplace. so I picked out a take down recurve made from ash and maple and straight away felt better holding it than the compound bow. And it was a downhill run from there. Before I knew it I was having a lesson on how to shoot while one of the other guys started cutting and tipping a dozen feathered arrows for me.
 I took a photo of my instructor holding my bow so I'd remember where to put the arrow nock. I had so much to remember.
 My bow sitting on the cradle. I was literally hopping from one foot to the other waiting to take it. They all wanted to know if I was going to hunt but I said I fed the animals rather wanting to shoot them so I was deemed to be a "critter gazer".
Soon my carbon arrows were ready and I could leave, feeling pretty cool as I loaded both a recurve and a compound bow onto the back seat of the car with my bundle of arrows.
I wanted to get home to shoot but first I had errands to run in Warrenton so drove there first. Then I got waylaid. I passed the old Jail Museum and without thinking parked the car and walked inside. I've driven past so many times and wondered what was inside, and since today was an impulse day, I was going in!
A gentleman greeted me and explained some of the history. I couldn't remember it all but there was so much written literature available that I didn't worry. He pointed out a few key things explaining where I could go then sat down and let me wander.
 This kitchen area was once part of the old jail but when a new building was erected at the back, this part of the building became the jailor's home. The barrel was hand carved from a tree trunk. The old jail was built in 1808 then in 1823 a new jail was built at the back with an exercise yard used also for hanging until 1896.
The old mirror used to hang in the dining area of the Warren Green Hotel which stands behind the jail. The Duchess of Windsor spent a year here waiting for her first divorce and apparently spent a lot of time preening in front of this mirror.
 There are 2 other rooms downstairs which were once cells holding a lot of folks at one time. People would be arrested and thrown in the cell, then often forgotten about and left for ages before release. food wasn't always supplied and there are reports of folks languishing in here until the new jail was built with a full time jailor to attend the prisoners.
The jail now houses displays of Civil War memorabilia and Warrenton history. The jail was used for military prisoners as well as civilians. It's believed that during the Civil War captured prisoners from both sides were held here until they could be moved on to POW camps, but it was likely that none stayed long since the town was captured and recaptured 67 times during the conflict! Frank Rockefeller, brother of oil tycoon J.D., was held here for stealing potatoes in 1862 from a field in Warrenton, and Col John S. Mosby himself was held here for a few days to 'cool down' after being apprehended before managing to complete a duel with Captain Alexander Payne who had publicly insulted him.
 This 1920's dentistry display donated by a local dentist made me shudder. There was a lot of horrendous equipment here, but I loved the advert.
The exercise yard and site of the executions.
Inside the newer jail stands the two solitary confinement cells, a free standing room within a room, and not looking too comfy.
This is a really interesting museum, exceeding my expectations, and holding some very original artifacts, even a tourniquet used on Stonewall Jackson and old radio equipment used by Warrenton police in the 60's.
Hopping back into the car I sped home anxious to try out my new bow.
Being a very responsible owner the first thing I did was prepare a space for it to hang as advised by the archery shop.
The first two arrows dug into the grass but my third was a winner, and after that I was doing pretty good.
But my fingers got very sore and soon I could only shoot about 3 arrows then take a break before I could shoot another 3.
This was my arm a couple of days later where the bow string clipped it on its return. But I've ordered a brace from England so should have adequate protection soon. Barb came over late afternoon and shot some arrows, finding it a little harder than she'd thought.
We decided on the spur of the moment to go tubing on Sunday and chose a less commercial place called Downtown River, nearer to home than Luray. The photos from my phone in its waterproof case were all blurry so I've not loaded many but it was a lovely way to wind down and we spent 3 hours just bobbing along enjoying the scenery.

No comments: