A Disclaimer

SteveStringAutumnWeb

When I try to explain traditional archery to people and exactly what it is that archers “do”, I get the sense they don’t truly grasp it. When I try to explain it further, I get the, “man this guy is really into this and I need to find the nearest exit” look. Neither surprise me. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that both are to be expected. Shooting a longbow is simple enough to wrap your head around, but the passion associated with the activity – not so much.

I’ve developed a saying for this and I offer it as a disclaimer.

“You’ve got to live it to get it.”

I cannot overemphasize how literal the word live is, in regards to this topic. “Traditional archery isn’t something you dabble with.” I tell them. “It is both a life warming and warping pursuit.”

Since I rarely get the chance to elaborate on these statements, I will do so here. Please humor me by pretending you know very little about this whole deal. Or just pass this along to someone who doesn’t and is brave enough to find out.

Life is a journey and traditional archery is the the road less traveled. And by “road” I mean a squiggly path winding off through the trees. The beginning is unmarked and often stumbled upon. The end is the promise of self discovery, eternal happiness, enlightenment, the perfect bow, the buck of a lifetime, optimal arrow flight, and all that good, philosophical stuff the oldest among us blather about if the weather is good and their stomachs are full.

The middle is where it all gets interesting. It is where you’ll spend most of your time and is a mess of stumps, creeks, mud, burs, briars, deadfalls, poison ivy, ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, and other obstacles to trip over. Not to mention miles of that metallic orange tape that leads straight to the town of Hopelessly Lost if you follow it.

You’ll get tripped up. You’ll get stuck in the mud. You’ll fall off a log. You’ll lose your way. You’ll end up in a pond. An “expert” will give you bad advice. You’ll lose arrows. You’ll break bows. You’ll miss targets. You’ll miss animals. You’ll have passionate disagreements with other archers over the proper “anchor point” and acronyms like “EFOC”. Then you’ll shake hands and shoot a round with them afterwards. Unless its online, of course. I would suggest a “time out” if thats the case.

And therein lies the beauty of it all – the people you share the path with. Generous, intelligent, passionate people who will walk this path with you and make it impossible not to love every minute of it. You’ll shoot with these people. You’ll share a fire with these people. You’ll break bread with these people. You’ll learn with these people. And you’ll learn to love these people.

“So you shoot bows at foam targets and you camp, right?”

– The Average Non-Arrow Slingin’ Joe or Jane

Well…yeah. We do all of that. We eat really well too, but there’s a whole lot more to it.

Just get yourself a bow. Get yourself some arrows. Get yourself to a gathering. Please do all of these things, but understand that when you find your calendar full from March to December and have a room in your house dedicated to wood and feathers, I will be responsible for none of it.

Want to know more about traditional archery or find out more about traditional gatherings? Visit www.michiganlongbow.org.

 

 

 

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2 Responses to A Disclaimer

  1. Neil Shattuck says:

    I know what you mean , an old friend of mine who is into it oretty deep. He used to have regular friends aaround him who didn’t understand that passionate love of the bow and arrow. They didn’t get it when he wanted to try hunting with his own hand made stone tips. They didn’t understand when he stopped going to the local watering holes on friday nights because opening day was that weekend or there was a stream that was full of carp just down the way. That friend was Leon Stewart of Stewarts Archery. I remember him being a disgruntled old car mechanic. I remember telling him to just go out there and give it a shot. I even bought one of his first bows. Now I don’t hear from him anymore. I just don’t get it…

    • Thanks for your comment Neil. It is funny how much your perspective changes once immersed in the culture. People look at you like you’re from Mars. Men, in particular it seems, tend to warp their social lives around whatever they are doing. I’ve had many hobbies and my closest friends were those who related to whatever I was the most in to at the present. When I no longer did that particular thing, I didn’t associate with those people and they faded away. I still consider them friends. I like them as people. But we no longer have that common ground that was the basis of our friendship. I have very few “friends” who survive the migration from hobby to hobby. I don’t want to sound sexist, but I do not see this as much in women. This is just an observation of course.

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