About

Welcome!

Prior to 2009, I had never hunted nor shot a bow a day in my life. This may come as a surprise when considering my Northern Michigan roots. I grew up amongst friends and family who were avid woodsmen and hunters but simply never caught the bug. Buying a recurve changed all that. My initial goal was to try archery as a mere stress reliever but soon discovered a hunting community rich with morality and tradition associated with it. I wanted to be a part of it. I found the concept of being within 20 yards of game with traditional tackle immensely appealing. It was an experience I wanted to feel for myself. After shooting a recurve for several months,  I gave in to the temptations of the longbow and have been hunting with one ever since. I believe this is where my traditional journey actually began. The simplicity and romanticism of the longbow has intrigued me from day one. I’ve grown accustomed to and love its quirks and am now dependent on their quiet and forgiving nature. There is nothing as quiet as a longbow in the woods. It can be the ultimate hunting bow. Bowhunting giants Saxton Pope, Art Young, and Howard Hill believed this and so do I.

Walking the path of a traditional bowhunter has been a challenging yet enjoyable one. It has changed who I am as a person and has become a major part of my life. Traditional bowhunting is both a process and a functional art that takes a lifetime to master but only one hunt to enjoy. I’ve made my share of mistakes and have experienced unmeasurable frustration at times. But, I’ve also achieved (what I consider to be) tremendous success. The beauty of traditional archery is that the ends always justify the means – even if the result isn’t meat in the freezer or antlers on the wall. The real trophy exists in the mind and heart. If you believe that, you’ll never be unsuccessful in the woods.

That being said, if you wish to continue reading my rants and musings, this blog is full of content covering everything from my experiences in the field, gear reviews, observations, philosophy, and DIY projects. You might even get a bit of personal life here and there.

I welcome comments and feedback. Feel free to leave both within the blog itself or connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you for reading! Enjoy!

18 Responses to About

  1. Herb says:

    Your site makes for an interesting read, thanks for some of the information so far. Do you have any recommendations for books to learn about archery? Thanks.

    • Nick says:

      Hi Herb! I sure have, but it depends on what you would like to do. I loved Brian Sorrell’s book “Traditional Bowhunting for Whitetails”. I’ve only been shooting/hunting for 3 years myself and Brian’s writing has helped me immensely. His other book “Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Archery” would probably be good start for you. If you are interested in hunting, my favorite archery book is Saxton Pope’s “Hunting with the Bow and Arrow”. It is a free download for the Kindle app too.

  2. Herb says:

    Nick,

    Thanks for the reply! I’ll have to check them out and add them to my collection. I figured before I get too far into this archery thing I would go down to the local shop and shoot a bow a few times to see if it’s what I really want to do. After I read most, if not all of your posts I scoured the net and came across another blog that details how to make your own longbow. What struck me about your blog is that you didn’t start hunting until you were 29, which I’m just a few years past. I’ve never hunted a day in my life as I wasn’t raised that way, but it seems very interesting to me and I want to do it 🙂 I have some pretty grand allusions at this point… so I think practice is the key at the moment for what I want to hunt.

    • Nick says:

      That is awesome Herb. I had no intention of hunting after buying my bow. However, owning one and being around other bowhunters quickly plants the seed. Then you start reading and its too late to go back after that. If you are interested in hunting, talk to people. Talk to as many hunters as you can. Start hanging around a range. Get your bow into the woods and stump shoot. You will pick it up quickly! The hardest part for me was actually just getting the nerve to buy my license and go hunting. Once you are there, you’re hooked!

  3. Herb says:

    Nick,

    I’ve been going over your old posts, and I’m wondering where or even if it would be possible to get a fox pelt from you. I have searched online, but most of the places I’ve looked all seem to sell them as “garment grade”, which is not what I’m looking for at all.

    If you want to talk about this off the blog, shoot me an email.

    Thanks,

    Herb

  4. Herb says:

    Nick,

    Thank you, I appreciate it! I’m still in the process of searching for a suitable material to make my quiver out of. I’ve made one bow already, though it was grossly under powered (27# draw). I’m working on another one and following a different set of instructions, and so far it’s turning out much better.

    The arrow making has been an experience as well. I’ve been shooting off my hand and managed to carve some flesh out since I didn’t have the ribs sanded down enough. It’s fun though, just trying to tweak things and make things work.

    Your blog definitely helped spark my desire to get involved with archery!

    Herb

    • Nick says:

      I’ve seen them made out of fleece and that roll-up wire garden fencing! A guy on ebay sells them for $40 a quiver. They look great!

  5. Nils Visser says:

    Hi Nick,

    I enjoyed reading your blog, but am left with a slight puzzle. I’m an archer in the Netherlands. When we refer to traditional bows, we think of Longbows/Warbows, either replicas of medieval selfbows made of (usually) Yew, or replicas of the Victorian laminated Longbows. I currently shoot a #90 pounder made of heartwood and hickory. The bows which I’ve seen on your blog, and fine specimens they are to be sure, are what we refer to as wood barebows.

    Is there much of a tradition out there with historical Longbows / Warbows? I’m writing an article on the iconic significance of the Longbow in Anglo-Saxon culture, and have plenty of Brits to converse with, but would seriously appreciate a few Americans to add their voice to the discussion.

    Nils

    • Nick says:

      Hi Nils! Thank’s for posting! I follow several people on Twitter from the UK and love to converse with them about the historical longbow!

      From what I’ve seen, we tend to call the English longbow a War Bow. I’ve heard the American Longbow often referred to as a “Flat Bow” from people in the UK because our bows do not have a rounded belly from tip to tip. Only the riser/handle has that kind of contour in our bows. There IS a culture for the true English Longbow here but its place is usually within what we refer to as the Renaissance crowd – folks who are into re-enactments, etc of medieval culture. You just don’t see many of them within traditional bowhunting circles.

      Believe it or not, there is a lot of debate regarding what is or is not a longbow within the American traditional archery community. Some of us feel that a bow cannot be a longbow if it has any flex to the limbs when unstrung. Some believe that a bow cannot be a longbow if the handle has a dished or “pistol” grip for easy hand placement. Some refer to any bow who’s string does not touch the belly of the limb when strung as a longbow. It really depends on who you are talking to. I feel that a bow must be longer than 62″ and be straight-limbed when unstrung to be considered a longbow. Everything else is a hybrid or recurve IMO. I love them all but that is my definition and I prefer to shoot the straight-limbed glass laminated longbow.

      I believe that Saxton Pope and Art Young were one of the first (if not THE first) to hunt with a version of the English longbow. They recognized it for its accuracy in target archery and felt it was a superior design. Even after learning from and hunting with Ishi who used a primitive laminate reflex bow. Howard Hill also believed the straight-limbed longbow to be a superior hunting bow and shot one until the day he died.

      I think the bottom line is that a lot of traditional archers in the U.S. are bowhunters. We live within 20 yards and hardly ever shoot long distances from a standing position unless we are competing. Therefore we favor a bow that is more suited for adapting and maneuvering in the field. We also desire a flatter trajectory and need a bow that can provide it quickly and generate a lot of kinetic energy. From what I’ve heard and seen from the traditional UK crowd is longer distances, heavier bows, and a higher arch. Totally different style of shooting.

      I find it interesting that you refer to the American bow as a wooden “barebow”. Our “wooden barebows” are “self bows”. They are usually one solid piece of wood (yew or osage) without laminations. Of course, there are different classes of self bows as well, depending on how primitive you want to build them. The more laminations there are in a bow, the less primitive they are considered, which is also debatable as we’ve found evidence of early laminate bows that go back centuries.

      There are two books on the subject that would be very helpful to you if you haven’t read them: The Crooked Stick by Hugh D.H. Soar, and my personal favorite: “Hunting with the Bow and Arrow” by Saxton Pope. I’d love to research the subject more myself so if you have any books you would recommend, please let me know! Once I’ve researched the subject enough I am going to write a post on the different types of American longbows. Though I’ll probably be stoned due to the subjectivity of the topic. 🙂

  6. Nils Visser says:

    Hey Nick,

    Thanks for your reply, much obliged.

    You’re right about the traditional UK crowd, especially the Warbow crowd (anything over 70lbs). They go for distance with various types of historical arrows. But my own group is insisting on shorter range target practice as well, as we do demonstrations at various events. Our captain and bowyer, is taking his Yew selfbow 130 pounder to the States in November, for pig hunting. I think in Texas.

    You’re right about laminated bows having been around for quite a while, and composites have been around for even longer. Last month I had the awesome privilige of holding a 300 year old Manchu bow in my hands when doing some investigation in a museum in France, and only two weeks ago I was at the Hermitage in St.Petersburg, Russia, drooling over a composite from the 8th century, intact but for missing piece of siyah and frayed and worn, so you could study the different layers. I was there for three hours, taking notes and drawing all the various bits and pieces. Didn’t get to hold that one though.

    I’ve seen the US renfair pics on the web. I do historical stuff myself (the demonstration team), but that gets really medieval, most of the renfair things I see seem to have a bit of a carnival atmosphere. The stuff we do is go for marches in full gear (1 to 4 days) and basically live outdoors in primitive circumstances for the duration.

    This is actually in preparation for 2015, which will be the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (the whole reason this writing malarky kicked off for me). There are plans to march Henry V’s Harfleur – Agincourt route, 238 miles in 19 days, in full historical kit. I wrote a small press release for that one, let me know if you want to read it. They also plan to field no less than 1,000 traditional archers. All should be able to fire between 10 to 15 arrows in a minute, which means we should be able to generate an arrowstorm of 10,000 to 15,000 arrows, a sight that hasn’t been seen for 500 years (except digital imitations in the cinema). Naturally me and my pals really want to be a part of that, and we’re now getting the first signal from the States that folks are taking notice and might want to come over.

    Would you mind continuing this discussion for a bit, and might I be allowed to cite bits and pieces in my article (you’ll receive final draft for your approval, it doesn’t bode well to irritate sources, especially when they’re archers). I’m very interested in the extent up to which archers are aware of the historical connections, and in your country that would include the Native American heritage as well as the Anglo-Saxon heritage, I lived in Oklahoma for a while, and a lot of folks there had native blood as well. With regard to Azincourt, for example, up to what extent are Americans aware of this battle? The theme of the common man defying and defeating the arrogant aristocrats is something which should appeal, considering your own history. How about the Mary Rose? Is much known about the Mary Rose?

    Nils

  7. Alex says:

    Hey Nick,

    Really like the look of your site. Just stumbled across it via the OBN. Always nice to see people who like to hunt more traditionally. I’ve yet to take anything with my recurve, but hopefully that’ll change soon. I look forward to reading through all of your past entries!

    Now I’ve just gotta get ready for archery season. If shooting deer with a bow wasn’t hard enough, I get to chase the mythical Florida deer 🙂

    • Nick says:

      Thanks Alex! Harvesting game with traditional gear is an awesome feeling but upon doing so you’ll realize that it’s only a small part of the big picture. I never leave the woods disappointed. I was lucky enough to harvest game my first year with the longbow but was skunked last year and didn’t feel any different – just a bit hungrier. 😉

      Stick with it!

  8. AZWanderings says:

    Nick.

    Great looking blog you have here. There are not enough quality trad sites out there and I truly appreciate all the work you have put in here. I have been shooting a Fox Breed for the past 5 years or so and can’t get enough. I look forward to following your site. Keep up the great work.

    Ben

    • Nick says:

      Hi Ben!

      I’ve heard great things about Fox longbows. Do you have a photo to post? I’m on FB too if you’d rather post it there. Longbows rev me up man. I love everything about them. I’m actually surprised there aren’t many traditional archery/bowhunting blogs out there.

      Feel free to comment whenever you wish!

      -Nick

  9. Brad Isham says:

    Great blog site! I just stumbled upon it. Please tell me how I can be a sponsor and please check out my facebook page and website thesoundofthestring.com

    Here’s the forward to the book I’m sure we can all relate to:

    Forward
    The Sound Of The String

    When a mindful hunter looses an arrow from a well-crafted and well-tuned longbow, the string is the only sound he hears. As it launches the arrow forward, powered only by the straightening of bent limbs, the string parts the air to impose its will upon the shaft.
    When the string is the only sound it means everything is true between the bow and the bowman.
    When the string is the only sound in the quiet of the bush, it can be a beautiful ending to a life well lived or a betrayal of a hunter’s intentions. When all is true between predator and prey, an animal will remain still at the sound of the string, giving the arrow time to make its mark. But oftentimes, a crouch or leap at the sound of the string means the shaft drives harmlessly into the earth.
    The sound of the string captivates the archer. It is something few others understand. Traditional archers have ancestral bonds to archery no matter our race, religion, or country of origin. Somewhere, before our time, our prior people did it. That is why the sound of the string pushing a feather-fletched shaft is, to us and our forefathers soulful.

    • Nick says:

      Brad, I have wanted to read this book for some time. One of those other books I mentioned should have made the list. I just haven’t had a chance to read it.

  10. A fantastic blog. I too have a love for the longbow. I practice traditional english longbow and look forward to blogging about my experiences and experiment with crafting both wooden and medieval style arrows.

    All the best,
    Year of the Bow

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