Humble Beginnings

My wife shooting her longbow at a 3D course.

The old buck approaches from the West and my heart races as I ready my bow to meet him. Leather-clad fingers meet waxed Dacron, as they search for smooth plastic. A cool morning breeze licks at my nose, chilling the sweat from the hike in. “So far so good.” I tell myself. “But you haven’t won anything yet, Nick.”

The old boy continues on at a strong November clip. His neck bulges with desire and purpose. My skin begins to goosebump. I count the yardage down by fives to keep my cool but know it is pointless. The antlers aren’t helping.

“Antlers…the old guys at the range told you not to look at those, Nick. They said you’d lose it if you did. Probably miss high.”

I chuckle at the advice, which is a bit like reminding someone not to look down while scaling a steep cliff. The thought takes the edge off, allowing me to gather myself in time to catch my target broadside near a patch of dogwood 15 yards away.

“Pick a spot, Nick. Thats what all the magazines say. Pick a spot, draw to anchor, and release. Its that simple.”

I find a crease behind the shoulder, focus on it, and begin to draw.

“Honey?! Are you still down there?”

The voice echoes down the stairwell and yanks me back to reality. It belongs to my wife Jessica who sounds less than enthusiastic about the track of time I’ve lost. I respond with a less than enthusiastic “yes”, as my fantasy buck dissipates into the basement walls. He wasn’t the first. He wouldn’t be the last.

This was a common interaction in 2009. I was obsessed with my new hobby but Jessica and I were living in a major city, which wasn’t supportive of it. Operating a weapon within city limits was against the law and my fences weren’t high enough to disguise the activity. Our 100-year-old home included a Michigan basement, which hardly qualified as such. It was basically a cellar and half of that space was an enormous furnace that looked and sounded like a monster when the lights were off. At 6’3″ I couldn’t stand or walk upright without hitting my head on the rafters, so shooting a bow was out of the question without adjustments. Since modifying the house was out of the question, I would need to adjust my shooting style.

I brought my longbow downstairs, knelt down on the cold concrete, and canted it just enough to clear the floor joists. It was awkward at first but I was comfortable enough to try an arrow after a few test draws. There were only seven yards from stairwell to target, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t afford to drive 45 minutes to the nearest range multiple times a week and I couldn’t stop shooting my bow. I was committed to making it all work.

Some nights I crafted elaborate hunting scenarios like the one above. Others I concentrated on form and release — eyes closed in front of a cardboard box stuffed with an old blanket. There were nights I just read, learning everything I could from books, magazines, and forums. This was valuable time spent. All of it crucial to my bowhunting education.

I look back on those days with pride. They are proof that you can make something happen if you want it badly enough. But there is something else to glean from these humble beginnings and that is to remember what it is like to be new. This isn’t always easy to do for those of us who are now firmly entrenched in the archery lifestyle. We have a community around us. We have or know of places to shoot and land to hunt. We belong to organizations and have shooting events on our calendars that span the entire summer.

In short, we have it figured out.

There are many who have not and we need to be patient with these people. We need to reach out to them and find a way to share our knowledge without being spiteful or annoyed. Recognizing how overwhelming traditional archery/bowhunting can be is the first step. Understanding that no two paths are the same is the second.  I still shoot with a fairly drastic cant due to all of those hours spent flinging arrows in my basement. I snapshoot and anchor to the side of my face because chronic hand pain from years of football will no longer allow a deep hook to the jaw. These are but two examples of why I shoot the way I do and I know I’m not alone.

The traditional way is individualistic in nature. We each have our own way of doing things, which was shaped from the parameters of our reality. It would do us all some good to go back to the beginning, remember what it was like to be new, and learn from the trip. It will change your perspective and make you smile in the process.

Thank you for reading. Please subscribe and share if you like what you see. If you enjoy podcasts about the archery, hunting, fishing, and all things outdoors, please check out and subscribe to the Traditional Outdoors podcast.

A New Adventure

The Traditional Outdoors Podcast

It’s funny how quickly things can change.

In late 2017, Imade a post about the podcast world and how I didn’t intend on participating. I enjoyed several at the time but didn’t feel it was the right medium to share my content. A podcast seemed like a major investment — and I don’t mean financially. I didn’t feel I would be able to produce quality content on a consistent basis. I didn’t have a partner. I didn’t have the equipment. I had connections but lacked the time to line up the interviews I thought I would need to make the podcast interesting. Above all else, I didn’t have a clue. I’d listened to podcasts but never participated.

Then something funny happened. I was reacquainted with my first love (the guitar) and did what any other 30-something male would do: joined a slew of online music communities on Facebook. The re-immersion led to my meeting and chatting with several like-minded musicians who also happened to be podcasters. One of these people was Clifton Worley of The Clifton Worley Show who I discovered had many of the same musical tastes and interests.

Clifton’s passion for networking led to the forming of his show, which was based on discussing guitars and music with average musicians from the various groups we were associated with. You didn’t have to be a professional to be on Clifton’s show and I fell in love with that concept. After several weeks of listening to Clifton and his guests, I reached out to Clifton and shamelessly implied it should be “my turn”.

We shared a laugh, I joined him on the show, and it was a blast. We became fast friends and I ended up joining him and our mutual friend (and digital illustrator) Joshua Fraser on a frequent basis. I realized then, as Clifton’s show became “our” show, what podcasting was about, and how much I enjoyed it.

I wanted to do a project of my own and considered doing it under the Life and Longbows brand. However, I still didn’t have a partner. Several people had approached me about it, but no one was ready to make the commitment. Plus, I still wasn’t convinced I could produce enough traditional archery content to make a solid podcast. The Push, Trad Geeks, TradQuest, the Traditional Bowhunting and Wilderness Podcast, and others were already doing an amazing job on the interview and educate circuit and I didn’t see the value of regurgitating that content. It has and is already being done. This put me in quite the quandary mentally. It bummed me out.

Then, something funny happened. My friend and hunting partner Steve (Angell) of Simply Traditional, reached out to me and wondered if I would consider revisiting the podcast idea, but he wanted to take it beyond the traditional archery/bowhunting niche.

“Let’s pull it outside the Life and Longbows and Simply Traditional brand and do something dedicated to life in the outdoors.” He said.

I balked at first. Anything beyond bowhunting and a bit of camping was outside my expertise and comfort zone. And I didn’t dare refer to myself as anything but an amateur in the aforementioned fields.

“I don’t know about any of that, man.” I laughed. “You’re going to need to find guests because I’m not at all comfortable speaking to anything beyond the world of bows and arrows.”

I had pretty much written me being a guest-host off at that point, but he assured me that wasn’t the angle he was going for and went so far as to say that my naivety to the topics would provide a “newbie” perspective to the show.

I was officially out of excuses. I knew I could make the time to talk to my friend once a week and I knew I could play the role of “happy amateur”.

So, we brainstormed, lined up some interviews, set a date to record, and made a podcast. Just like that “Traditional Outdoors” was born and I believe it will be a successful venture. It should be entertaining at the very least and we’ll be thrilled if you learn something!

All that being said, we’ll need your support to get this up and running. You can start by checking out our website, which will both house the podcast and feature links to articles collected from across the Web (including this blog). We’d also like to invite you to our Facebook group, where the bulk of our conversations will take place. The primary goal of Traditional Outdoors is to create an outdoor community filled with enthusiasts that have integrity and love and support our natural resources and the activities therein.

The first episode of the podcast should launch very soon! Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe and tell your friends. There will be multiple ways to do so.

We’ll see you at the campfire!