Nov 22 2012 Published by under Intermediate Photojournalism Course

Derek Neill is an intelligence analyst for the United States Air Force.  His short coppery hair peaks out over his towering frame, offset by his dusty green eyes.  When he smiles, which is frequent, it resembles more of a knowing smirk than a full-on smile.  He carries his mass with a combination of finesse and authority.  His voice is like a canyon, deep with the same authority, but with an airy river of compassion flowing through it.

We step out onto the lawn in front of his home.  His home is not made of brick, but the wooden exterior of his home resembles such, trimmed with a white that gives a faint hint of barnyard nostalgia.  The grass is still damp with dew, and some of the moisture clings to the slick shaft of the arrow as he places them gently against the thick wooden fence.  The rough-cut square logs are lined with chicken fencing, in a feigned attempt to keep any unwanted visitors from slipping into the muddy pond, partially camouflaged by long strands of weeds, growing to reach the sky.

Neill carefully grabs one of the charcoal colored shafts and places it in his machine-crafted compound hunting bow.  With practiced precision, he pulls back, the sound of the metal arrow sliding across the curve of the bow, the string coming forming an sharp triangle.  The trigger rests gently against his cheek, with only enough pressure to hold the arrow and the string in place.  A steady breath is calculatingly pushed out, then held as Neill stares at the 2-inch yellow bull’s-eye perched on the other side of the lawn.  With barely a noticeable flick of his finger, a loud twang is followed less than a second later by a distant thump, Neill’s position unchanged, except for the lack of an arrow in his bow, and the string resting back in a straight line.  Holding this position for only a beat, Neill resumes his normal breathing pattern, and lowers his bow.  The arrow is buried two-feet deep into the yellow center, half the shaft embedded into the stack of hay behind the target.

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