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 variety 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 never to pay a buck and a half for a cup of coffee; I now drink Starbuck and Caribou. Despite 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 a well-placed arrow, where intended.
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