Hikiwake (ひきわけ) - drawing the bow
Practicing kyudo (the Japanese martial art of archery) in the backyard, here at the fourth stage of the hassetsu (eight shooting stages), called hikiwake. Kyudo is one of the more esoteric martial arts, and the hassetsu could be considered an elaborate kata (choreographed form).
The bow and arrows are called yumi and ya, respectively, and they are handmade out of special bamboo for their respective sizes. The string (tsuru) is made of hemp; though, the current one is nylon for durability. The shooting glove is called the yugake and is made of deerskin leather with a hardened thumb for drawing.
In Japan, the bow is used in Shinto religious ceremonies to drive off evil spirits using a special whistling arrow, and the shot of an arrow was often used to signal the start of a samurai battle. What better way than to start of my adventure here? :)