Chapter 41: Can’t Pull It
On the second day, as expected, the distance for their running laps was reduced by half, and they completed it much earlier, even before it was time for lunch.
Next, all the new recruits were gathered at the training ground adjacent to the Liangzhou Garrison.
The training ground next to the Liangzhou Garrison was quite expansive, likely due to the vast open field at the base of the mountains, capable of accommodating everyone. As she surveyed the area, He Yan thought to herself that this was indeed an excellent place for training. At this moment, the scorching sun was directly overhead, and not a hint of breeze could be felt. The flags on the high platform were tightly affixed to their poles, much like the wilted new recruits standing beneath them.
“From today onwards, you will start practicing with weapons.” Head Instructor Shen slammed his long spear heavily on the ground, startling everyone, and they looked at him with renewed focus.
“Do you see that open space over there?” Shen Han pointed to the north with his long spear.
Near the weapon racks, rows of crossbows and bows were placed, exuding a formidable aura as they stared back at them. About a hundred steps away from the crossbows, target boards were lined up neatly.
“From today onwards, you will begin learning how to use the crossbows!” Head Instructor Shen gave the order, and the days that followed were fully scheduled with training.
The recruits didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Wow! I love archery the most!” The happiest person was probably Xiao Mai. “Brother, it’s our time to shine now!”
He Yan asked Shitou, “Are the bows you use for hunting not as heavy as these?”
Shitou looked at the crossbows for a moment and shook his head. “No, they are lighter, and they aren’t made of buffalo horns. I made them myself from bamboo.”
“Similar but not the same,” Xiao Mai said with a grin, suddenly coming up with an idea. He asked He Yan, “Brother Ah He, can we borrow these crossbows to go hunting rabbits in the mountains?”
He Yan said, “…Focus on your training, don’t daydream.”
The recruits were divided into groups, and each group was led by an instructor to practice with the crossbows. The instructors demonstrated first, pulling back the bowstring and shooting the arrow, hitting the center of the target board accurately.
The new recruits cheered, and the instructors looked pleased.
He Yan couldn’t help but silently praise, realizing that Liang Ping was not just putting on a show; he was truly skilled. A person like him would be a good asset on the battlefield.
The young soldiers in the camp were all excited and eager to try. Some naturally had great strength, pulling the bows back with full force. Although their aim wasn’t accurate, their arrows flew far. Some had some experience with bows and arrows before and looked more skilled. Others, however, had strength but lacked accuracy, their arrows flying crookedly, falling to the ground before reaching the target board.
Eventually, it was Hong Shan’s turn. His build was robust, and he managed to draw the bow fairly well, but his aim was off, and the arrow fell just at the edge of the target board. He didn’t seem to mind and nodded in satisfaction. “Not bad, not bad.”
Shitou and Xiao Mai followed closely. Shitou had a steadier grip and greater strength, and his arrow flew with a “whoosh,” hitting the target board, though not in the center, it was quite close.
Liang Ping unexpectedly glanced at him and asked, “What’s your name? Have you had experience with bows and arrows before?”
“I’m Zhong Shitou, and I used to be a hunter,” Shitou replied in a deep voice.
“No wonder,” Liang Ping nodded in approval. He was pleased to have a promising recruit in his squad.
Xiao Mai stepped forward, “I’m Zhong Xiao Mai, his younger brother, and I’m a hunter too!”
“Oh?” Liang Ping was somewhat intrigued. “You want to give it a try?”
Xiao Mai imitated Shitou’s posture and pulled the bow, but this time, he didn’t display the impressive skills his older brother did. His arrow went awry and missed the target board entirely.
Liang Ping: “…”
Xiao Mai scratched his nose and returned disappointedly.
He Yan found it amusing, and just as she was considering whether to try it herself, someone was quicker than her and stepped forward.
“Wow,” Hong Shan whispered to He Yan, “It’s him.”
It was actually Wang Ba. On ordinary days, they never paid attention to running, yet he turned out to be one of Liang Ping’s recruits. He stepped forward, rolled up his sleeves, spat on his palm twice, and picked up the bow.
He Yan observed as he held the bow with his arm tense, revealing his strong tanned skin. He was a powerful individual. Unlike other new recruits who were eager to shoot the arrow immediately, Wang Ba held his breath and aimed at the target.
Based on his performance…. He Yan speculated that he must have had experience with bows and arrows before, just like Shitou. He seemed to be skilled in handling them.
Finally, the tightly stretched bowstring produced a resounding twang, and the arrow flew straight towards the target. They only saw a flash of white light before the grass target in front was hit with force, “thud,” and fell to the ground.
The arrow had hit the center of the target, only showing a bit of the arrow feather outside as it pierced through the grass target, causing it to fall.
He Yan couldn’t help but marvel at the impressive shot. Wang Ba had both strength and precision; he held his breath and had steady aim, which was quite remarkable. Liang Ping’s gaze towards Wang Ba had a trace of surprise. Among these new recruits, there was Zhong Shitou and now Wang Ba; their archery skills were undoubtedly excellent.
After collecting the bow, Wang Ba didn’t leave immediately. Instead, he walked a few steps towards He Yan. This scar-faced man crossed his arms, looked at He Yan, and wore an expression that seemed to be enjoying the spectacle. He said, “Now, it’s your turn.”
He didn’t have to say anything, but the moment he did, many people’s eyes turned towards He Yan. Facing Wang Ba’s provoking gaze, she walked forward.
The bow was made of fine buffalo horns, very smooth to the touch, and it seemed to have been used countless times before, showing signs of wear. As He Yan touched the bow, memories of her time in the military seemed to flash before her eyes. The last time she used a bow and arrow, she was still the “Flying Phoenix General.”
Many years had passed, and everything had gone by so quickly.
Liang Ping looked at He Yan, his expression somewhat peculiar.
He knew that a bow and arrow were different from other things and required great strength. Based on He Yan’s physique and previous performance, it was unlikely that he would do very well. However… he was a new recruit who put in a lot of effort; there was an expectation for the unknown possibilities. Liang Ping himself was also conflicted.
“What are you hesitating for while touching the bow? Don’t waste our time,” Wang Ba sneered. “Aren’t you going to show us your excellent archery skills?”
He Yan picked up the bow and arrow, her fingers resting on the arrow.
After a moment, she put the bow down.
“What’s the meaning of this, Brother Ah He?” Xiao Mai asked, puzzled. They hadn’t even started drawing the bow, but she put it down. Was there something wrong?
“Why did you stop?” Wang Ba was displeased. “Come on, shoot!”
“No need,” He Yan said calmly. “This bow, I can’t pull it.”