Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting back into an old hobby.

A while ago, I saw a video on YouTube posted by Dave Canterbury, who is one of the "Dual Survival" guys on the Discovery Channel. He posts videos on YouTube for his Pathfinder Wilderness Survival School, and being a subscriber, I get an email whenever a new video goes up.

This particular video got me thinking about the old fiberglass bow I had back in the early 1970s, back when my major past time was running through the Missouri woods like an Indian. My buddies and I all had bows and arrows, and we shot holes in all the local trees. In time I got to be a pretty good shot, able to hit even the skinny little saplings from a good distance. But then we moved on base, and eventually away from Missouri, and somehow, my archery stuff didn't make it on the truck. I guess the folks thought it was time that I moved on to other pastimes, like football and basketball. Well, that stuff never took, and I didn't touch a bow again for about ten years.

When I did get back into archery, it was with a heavy compound bow and aluminum arrows. A buddy of mine from work got himself a bow and brought it out to work to show me. Before long I'd gone out to Trophy Archery on the East side of Ft. Worth and bought myself the whole rig: compound bow with a fancy sight system, shooting glove, armguard, and a dozen heavy, 35" Easton aluminum arrows with field points.

I'd go out to Trophy and shoot at their range a few times a week. In time I took the sights off the bow and got back into instinctive shooting. Then I tuned the bow up to it's maximum power, 60 pounds, and had a good, tight group. Of course, that means I was using up a few arrows now and then, hitting the nocks and breaking them, but I never managed to get an arrow to fly down the tube of another. They had a bunch of those "Robin Hood" shots on display above the door to the range, giving us something to, er a, shoot for.

Trophy Archery was a cool store, catering not only to archery, but also to Mountain Man style crafts. Pretty soon I was buying a tanned deer hide and beads, decorating my bow and learning to make all kinds of cool stuff. I slowly drifted away from shooting the heavy compound bow and actually got into carving my own stuff, trying to figure out how the Indians did it.

Then I found an amazing book at the local library while I was working on my Masters Thesis. Mystic Warriors of the Plains, by Thomas Mails. I lost myself in that book for a long time, absorbing everything I could. I got pretty good at making bows and arrows, and beaded quivers, but in time I got more busy with grad school, and then I started teaching on the ships. Of course, you can't take all that stuff with you on the cruise, so I drifted away from the hobby again.

Anyway, having watched Canterbury's video, I started thinking about how much fun shooting used to be. I started looking on the web to see if I could find a bow like the one he found at that Gun Show. Before long, through the wonders of eBay, a new, "vintage" Ben Pearson Fiberglass recurve bow, #3350, was being delivered to the house. It's not the same one he has in the video, but it's close enough. At 30 pounds of pull, it's WAY better than the one I had when I was a kid. Powerful enough to have fun with, with enough draw length to allow me to pull it all the way back to my cheek before I let fly.

At the same time, surfing more archery stuff on eBay, I found a cool old compound bow like one that I've always wanted. Back in those Trophy Archery days, I saw an ad for something called an Oneida Eagle. Those recurve ends just blew me away. Then someone showed up at the range with one and I got to see it in action. I wanted one BAD, but they were just too expensive. They still are. A new one can run you almost $800! But the used one on eBay was going for $50! So I bid on it. I ended up bidding on three of them before I was able to get the one I wanted for the price I was willing to pay.

Meanwhile, surfing other archery videos on YouTube, I ran across this guy and watched a few of his videos. They're delightful. What a marksman he is, and what a relaxed, easy going style of camping and shooting. He not only shoots store-bought stuff, but he makes his own. I love the hell out of that bow he's using. How cool would it be to be able to walk out the back door into the woods and spend a weekend camping and shooting? I think I'd get arrested if I tried that around here, or shot for trespassing.

So, as you might guess, I've slid WAY past the tipping point on this stuff, jumping with both feet back into the hobby I'd drifted away from 15 or 20 years ago. The first thing I did was to cut some old buzzard feathers I've had laying around (for about 15 or 20 years) and refletch an old arrow. You can see it above. It was made to resemble a Plains Indian arrow from the 1800s, to go along with that bow you can see to the right, the feathered end peeking out of it's case. The cat got the original feathers years ago, and it's been sitting naked on my fireplace hearth since then. It was fun to cut the new feathers and get them set on the shaft. My next chore is to find that little box of deer sinew I have around here somewhere and attach the new feathers permanently.

In time I'll be making my own bows and arrows again. But for now, the fiberglass bow will do, and I'm making some arrows with ceder and bamboo shafts (I just finished my first bamboo arrow), with both home made and conventional fletching. And the new Screaming Eagle is a hoot. Can't wait to find a range where I can shoot it.

Anyway, that's enough about that.  I'll post again soon. Feels good getting back into this too. Cheers.

3 comments:

Paul Mashburn said...

Pretty cool stuff! I miss my bow and being able to pull it back.

FHB said...

Thanks. I imagine so.

Kenneth said...

What a great story Jeff.