Bow & Arrow Fever

Bow & Arrow Fever

One of my favorite things is to find myself in the woods on a beautiful fall day with nothing but a bow and arrow, hoping that my scouting was good and that I was in the perfect spot to waylay a whitetail. I've been doing it since my early teens and there is no better way to reach your inner-self than to be alone with nature and your own thoughts.

My preference has always been a recurve. No sights, no wheels, no cams, no release, no extras. Nothing but a bow and a bow string, finger tabs, wooden arrows and a Zwicky broadhead. Paper tune to ensure correct arrow flight and I'm ready to go.

I've hunted with a compound, even filling a tag, but it wasn't the same. I've shot twenty-eight target roving courses, but it wasn't the same. Let-off, a mechanical release, and modern graphite or aluminum arrows make it easy to shoot ultra-tight groups, but it is akin to shooting a rifle. Line up the sight and pull the trigger. Of course it requires a lot more practice and muscle development in areas not normally used. Form is hugely important and the slightest cant of the bow alters the shot a lot. But, the real bummer is that everything happens so fast when the arrow is set free that you can't enjoy the shot.

My first piece, which follows, explains why I love shooting the recurve.

I will follow it in a couple of weeks with a piece that all my compound shooting friends will understand. Especially those that shoot competition.

The Arc

When I turned eleven my dad bought me a stick-bow. It was a 40# wood and glass laminate, had a decal “Conolon Missilite”, and I practiced constantly. Throw a rag on the grass, slap a paper plate on an earthen bank, or just aim for a weed stalk, it made no difference and simply required stringing the bow, grabbing a few arrows, and prowling for targets; field archery in its purest form.

I wouldn’t call myself a traditionalist, but I will say I’m a little slow at making changes that affect my lifestyle.

For instance, while shooting bare-bow at a local competition in 1967, I was paired with a kid about twelve and we walked the multiple target course. I was twenty-five at the time. Naturally, his dad went with us to keep score, since it was a trophy shoot and they didn’t want any cheating. This was a field archery event with sixty-yard shots, 3-shot walk-ups, and a wide variation of distances. This kid was shooting a target bow with sights, and he kicked my butt. His equipment placed us in different flights; nevertheless, a kid with newer equipment had kicked my butt.

I remember the first time I saw a compound bow. It was at the same club, Pomona Valley Archers, and while competing in an event they sponsored, I saw my first. A guy had this thing with wheels and pulleys and cables running this way and that. As we examined this monstrosity, I remember thinking, “That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. No way it’s going anyplace.”

He said it was a new idea by a guy named Allen, and he figured it would catch on. “Fat chance.” I was never any good at spotting the next big thing.

Over the years, I’ve begun to accept innovative ideas. I vowed to never pay a buck and a half for a cup of coffee; I now drink Starbuck and Caribou. In spite of living through the stone age of the technology revolution, I have been able to adapt to state of the art thinking. I now subscribe to cable television and high speed Internet, with my phone thrown in on the deal.

But, you know what?

After seeing arrow speed race past 330fps and the International Bowhunting Organization hosting events that fill the air with more arrows at one time than has been seen since the War of the Roses, I still can’t shake the sensation of shooting a good recurve.

The even draw. There is no valley; there is no let off. There may be a little stack, but there is no peep to peek through, no front sights to align.

Simply draw, adjust, and release.

You know the beauty within the bend of your bow at full draw, motionless, gentle sweeps complementing the curves within your mind.

Then you release. The arrow screams through the archer’s paradox. You see none of it. All you see is the arc; the invisible trail that defines the reason you shoot.

The arc.

That perfect trajectory that delivers the beauty of a well-placed arrow . . . where intended.

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