SAVINI AND ME: Part Eight, Shooting Arrows with Osiris
When writing a biography of someone, I find it important to get to know them as a person, not just the star they are. Hanging out with the person I’m working with is just as vital as the stories they tell me. The reason being that celebrities tend to give canned responses to questions, as they have been asked the same ones over and over again their entire career. To really get to know someone, you have to watch them in their normal life, see how they act and be a part of what they do day-to-day. With Tom, I had the chance to have many meals with him, see him in his neighborhood and how he is at conventions, but I needed more. I needed to see what Tom does in his spare time. Knowing Tom loves target practice, I suggested we go to the firing range to shoot arrows, and he agreed.
Arriving at Tom’s house that morning, he was ready and eager to go. He handed me a few bags of supplies and grabbed some bows. After tossing them into his Hummer, we started the drive to the range and chatted about different topics. Sadly, as a writer working with someone, I find it hard to have normal conversations about the weather and television shows. I’m constantly racking my brain to form questions that will allow me to get to know the person more, which ends up making me sound like a news reporter rather than just someone they are hanging out with. Regardless, Tom humored my questions and answered them all with great clarity. We chatted about the great archers he had seen in his life and why he uses a traditional bow over a compound bow. I had no clue what the differences in the bows really were, so I just nodded and acted like I understood. My only references to bows were movies and TV; WALKING DEAD used a cross bow, and ROBIN HOOD used a traditional one. That was about the extent of my knowledge. I vaguely remember shooting arrows in my backyard with my brother as a child, but I recall giving up quickly as I would always hurt myself and the arrow would be flying around like a deflated balloon, ending up yards from the target.
The range we went to, set in the hilly wilderness outside of Pittsburgh was an interesting site for me. Having never been to a shooting range (besides in Vegas with Kane Hodder where we shot machine guns), I was intrigued by the various set ups where people could shoot a variety of weapons. Tom showed me the area he shoots his guns, and then quickly drove up a windy road to a desolate area with lots of hay bales, a small picnic-like awning and a Pepsi Machine from 1983. Tom set up like an old pro, hanging the bows from the rafters and sliding the arrows into a piece of PVC pipe sticking out of the ground. He then started to blow up balloons, which confused me for a second, until I realized that they would be our targets. Grabbing some balloons I started to blow them up myself, having flashbacks of childhood birthday parties.
With a few dozen balloons blown up, we went over to the giant hay wall and used barbecue skewers to hang them up. With a few rows of colorful balloons gently moving in the wind, we went back to the overhang and grabbed our bows. Looking back now, I realize I probably should have told Tom that I had no clue how to shoot an arrow, but I guess I was just thinking it couldn’t be that hard. Before I could even place one of the arrows onto my bow, I heard a pop. I looked up to see an arrow stuck in the hay with some yellow latex on the ground below it, Tom had hit the target. I thought to myself that I better hurry up or I’d have no balloons to shoot. Finally ready, I pulled back, aimed and let my arrow fly… right over the hay pile, out into the woods to disappear forever.
After four more popped balloons by Tom, and several of mine shooting off into the wild blue yonder, Tom looked at me pulling back the bow and said, “What the hell are you doing?” Besides missing the target, drastically, I had no clue I was doing anything wrong. Regardless, I finally admitted I never shot an arrow before. Tom put his bow down and came over to me for a quick lesson. Come to find out, you don’t use your thumb and forefinger to pull back the string. As Tom started to give me a lesson in the art of shooting arrows, I caught a glimpse of his face and realized, Osiris from Machete was teaching me how to shoot. When I mentioned this to Tom, he told me how he actually shot part of the 1-800-HITMAN scene from the film in this exact spot. Come to find out, they didn’t have time to shoot that part of the script, but Tom loved the idea of it so much, he went out and shot the commercial with a friend, using the shooting range, his house and his gym as the backdrop. They edited it and sent the clip to Robert Rodriguez. Robert loved it and ended up using it in the final film.
With this new fact bouncing around my head and the few tips Tom just told me, I pulled back an arrow, aimed and fired. This time I hit the hay, which was a big improvement. The next five arrows hit the hay, a few skimming some balloons. It was amazing what a few adjustments could do. After setting up a few more balloons, I popped one, then another. Seeing the balloons pop, I was giddy, but tried to play it cool, I was with a famous hit-man after all.
After a few more rounds, Tom and I packed up and went to the club house and had a drink—sodas mind you, Tom and I both don’t drink. We chatted while local hunters sipping hard liquor looked at us suspiciously, wondering why we were not drinking… at one in the afternoon. We talked for a while about a variety of topics and I couldn’t help but smile as I thought the day worked out well. Not only did I get to know Tom more, observing him doing something he loves, but I also learned how to shoot an arrow… from Osiris Amanpour.