traditional archery on the rise
- Sorry, about the bandwidth - I was informed the link was broken, so
here's the article -
A trip back in time: Interest in traditional archery on the rise
By Paul Smith
Eyes fixed on the target, the archer's arm draws back on the string,
flexing the wooden bow into an arc. A flip of the fingers, a twang,
a blur, and the arrow is unleashed to meet its destiny.
It's a sequence of events that spans much of human existence. Back
to the very early native cultures, where a stick and a string were
integral parts of hunting and warfare. To the days of Robin Hood and
Sherwood Forest. And to the 1950s, when the recurve bow was the
heart and soul of archery and bowhunting.
Archery technology has advanced past the recurve to include the
mechanical advantages of pulleys and the aids of sights.
But a group of archers across North America prefers the simpler
equipment used in previous millennia.
Last weekend, 200 such archers gathered at the Racine Instinctive
Bowmen club in Sturtevant for the Wisconsin Traditional Archers
State Championship Shoot and Rendezvous. The event featured a two-
day shooting competition, exhibits from 20 suppliers of archery
equipment, camping and camaraderie.
Formed in 1992, the Wisconsin Traditional Archers has 300 members
around the state. The group promotes traditional archery and holds
the annual state shoot. This is the first year it has been held in
The shoot was open to the public and attracted participants from as
far away as Mississippi. The only requirement was the use of
traditional archery equipment - such as longbows, recurves or
selfbows (a bow made from one piece of wood without laminations) -
and a love of shooting without modern aids.
"When I started in archery, a recurve was all I had," said Joe
Habetler of Racine, a member of Racine Instinctive Bowmen since
1954. "I've shot compound bows, too, but there is a freedom and a
challenge to shooting a traditional style bow that can't be beat."
Traditional archers are the purists of the sport, eschewing the
modern equipment like sights, releases, pulleys and cables found on
many contemporary bows.
With the use of sights and releases on a compound bow, shooting an
arrow is more similar to shooting a gun. You look through a peep
sight and align a forward pin with your target. When you've drawn
the arrow and acquired the sight picture, you pull a trigger on your
But to shoot a bow and arrow in the traditional style is akin to
throwing a baseball. Take aim and release.
"It puts the fun back in the sport," said Aaron Lamers of Racine, a
traditional shooter again after an interlude with sights and
"You've got to put so much of yourself in every shot."
Just because these archers don't use all the latest gadgets doesn't
mean they are inaccurate. At the practice range Saturday at Racine
Instinctive Bowmen, a steady stream of competitors lines up and
routinely launch arrows into the vital zones of paper targets.
It's a steady stream of "twang" and "pfft" as the arrows pierce the
Mark Reynolds of St. Mary's, Mo., has brought his two sons, Zach,
13, and Cody, 10, up for the shoot. They've traveled with friend
Curtis Waggoner of Sedgewickville, Mo..
"Archery is our family activity," Mark Reynolds said. "We shoot just
about every day. Shooting with a recurve or a longbow makes is
simple and challenging and that's why we like it."
Reynolds comments are echoed by virtually all the traditional
archers at the shoot. They like the feel and look of a wooden bow,
they like the ease of use, they like the link to the sport's past,
they like the added reward when they are successful.
Another thing that sets traditional archers apart is their
willingness to make their own equipment. The grounds at Racine
Instinctive Bowmen club were liberally spiced with hand-made
quivers, arrows, and yes, bows.
"There's probably just as many different bows as there are
shooters," Waggoner said. "The bows are as unique as the shooters."
With long, lean lines and shining, rich wood, many of the bows
looked like pieces of art.
"That's another thing about this kind of bow," Waggoner said. "Put
it down next to a tree, and you might be awhile looking for it."
And if you wanted to buy a bow that was hand-made by someone else,
you had plenty of opportunities for that, too. Glade Thompson of
Spring Grove, Minn., was about 16 hours into the making of an osage
orange longbow. Long curls of the wood covered the ground at his
"There ain't no greater thrill than to sit on that horse and carve
your own bow and then go out and kill a deer with it," he
said. "It's that simple."
The competition occurred over two days. The top 32 scores on
Saturday advanced to a shoot-off on Sunday. The shoot-off paired two
shooters at a time, like in "Robin Hood tournaments of old," said
Dale Klug of Merrill, president of Wisconsin Traditional Archers.
Racine shooters did extremely well in the tournament. First place in
the men's division went to Aaron Lamers of Racine, with Klug taking
Nancy Hill of Racine took first place in the women's division, with
Pam Prahl of Marshfield the runner-up.
For the other competitors who left without ribbons or trophies, the
opportunity to connect with the sport's past was reward enough.
"I feel like a kid every time I shoot," said Dave Ziegut of
Oconomowoc, who has shot compound bows and traditional equipment at
various stages of a 15-year archery career. "I don't know why I ever
left traditional shooting.
"It's so much more fun."
TRADITIONAL ARCHERY AT A GLANCE:
Traditional archery is the segment of archery that utilizes a wooden
bow without any cables, cams, wheels, stabilizers, releases,
elevated arrow rests, and sights. There are three basic types of
bows used: longbows, recurves, and selfbows. A selfbow is made of
one piece of wood without laminations. The interest in traditional
archery is growing, according to Dale Klug, president of the
Wisconsin Traditional Archers, as shooters increasingly appreciate
the simplicity, challenge and fun of shooting an old-fashioned
wooden bow. The Traditional Archery Supply Web site
(http://www.oldbow.com) lists 106 traditional archery clubs
throughout North America.
The Wisconsin Traditional Archers was formed in 1992 to promote
responsible and ethical bow hunting practices, to bring together
people with a common interest and appreciation of traditional
archery equipment, to help knowledge, skill, and enjoyment of
traditional archery, to support activities that preserve the hunting
and traditional bow hunting heritage and to ensure continuation of
the traditions and skills passed down by previous generations.
Wisconsin Traditional Archers sponsors various shoots and meetings
each year, including the Wisconsin State Champion Shoot and
Rendezvous held each summer. For more information on the Wisconsin
Traditional Archers, see the group's Web site at
http://www.wistradarchers. tripod.com or call club president Dale
Klug at (715) 536-8640.
Racine County has been home to one of the state's largest
traditional archery clubs for more than 50 years. For more
information on Racine Instinctive Bowmen, visit the group's Web site
at http://www.ribarchery.com or call (262) 835-4975.
Racine Instinctive Bowmen has four outdoor ranges, including an
elevated tree stand range, a clubhouse and an indoor range on 192
acres of land. The club is located at 14403 50th Rd. in Yorkville.