Before Perceval sees and learns about knights, he spends his days in the "Waste Forest" surrounding his mother's castle. Even though he is not trained in the use of arms, he hunts with considerable skill with his javelin:

It was in the season when trees flower, shrubs leaf, meadows grow green, and birds in their own tongue sing sweetly in the mornings, and everything is aflame with joy, that the son of the widow lady of the Waste Forest arose, effortlessly placed the saddle upon his hunter and, taking three javelins, left his mother's manor. He thought that he would go and see some harrowers in his mother's service, who were harrowing her oats with twelve oxen and six harrows.

As soon as he entered the forest his heart leapt within his breast because of the gentle weather and the songs he heard from the joyful birds; all these things brought him pleasure. Because of the sweet calm wearther he lifted the bridel from his hunter's head and let it wander along grazing through the fresh green grass. Being a skilled thrower, he began to cast his javelins all around him: sometimes behind him, sometimes in front, sometimes low and sometimes high .... (382)

Selections from Chrétien De Troyes' Arthurian Romances. Translated by Carleton W. Carroll