Lure of the Traditional Bow

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

"Traditional bows are more flexible in hunting situations," said Jim Johnson, assistant state forester with the Conservation Department and aspiring traditional bowyer. "I mean, you can shoot accurately from any position whether you're bending around a tree or sitting on the ground. Traditional bows offer more hunting opportunities to the bowhunter because they are easier and faster to shoot. As a deer walks by, it may stop for only a few seconds. In one motion, the bow is brought up, pulled to full draw and shot."

Traditional bows really are made for hunting. A few years ago a deer walked up from behind me early in t he morning. By the time I noticed the buck near my stand, the sunshine was making little splotches of light on the forest floor. A bright beam of sunlight shown on his chest and made a handy aiming point.

I concentrated on the small spot of light and in one smooth motion I drew my bow and shot. The arrow was right on the mark. With conventional modern equipment I would not have had the time to shoot.

I asked Jerry Brumm of Great Northern Longbow Company in Michigan what traditional bowhunting meant to him. "To me there is no other way," Brumm said.

"Traditional bowhunting is what bowhunting should be and what it was meant to be. It's about the challenge of using your own skills and abilities instead of relying on technology."

Many people prefer to shoot traditional equipment because it is effective. The less equipment you carry, the fewer mechanical problems you'll have in hunting situations. The simple design of the traditional bow has been proved on the battlefield and on the supper tabl e.

Ken Beck, president of Black Widow Bow Company of Missouri, said, "Traditional bowhunting is more fun and challenging. You sense a kinship with people like Howard Hill or Fred Bear as you feel the full power of the bow in your hands and shoulders when it's drawn back."

What a modern bowhunter does mechanically, the traditional bowhunter attempts to do physically and mentally. Aiming requires eye-hand coordination, similar to throwing a baseball. Thousands of arrows must be shot to develop proper form and an appreciation for trajectory.

Bows range from a $40 solid fiberglass longbow to $800 or more for exotic hardwood bows. Traditional bow designs, however, haven't changed much over the centuries. The English longbow immediately brings to mind images of Robin Hood

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