Traditional archery has been of the best things I have learned in my adult life. Not only has it been an absolute blast to learn, but the community has been amazing! I have found people in the traditional archery community both in person and online that I believe will now be lifelong friends. My first ever archery shoot ended with a gorgeous evening ride at a new friends family farm, taking four wheelers through the woods and fields and sitting around a bonfire talking like we’d known each other forever. It is the type of community I really love to be a part of!
Along with this camaraderie, traditional archery has taught me focus, control, and the importance of perseverance. Yet, even more than all of that, it has taught me that I will never be perfect, and that’s okay. I (along with everyone else) will only ever be attempting to get as close to the mark as possible. It is absolutely refreshing to strive to become closer to perfect with a group of people that have accepted that they will never be perfect either but will, nevertheless, continue trying. Part of the addiction of traditional archery is that perfection is impossible, while improvement is imperative. I doubt many people would continue shooting if they never got closer to the center, the imperative of improvement is that it gives us hope to keep trying. One of the things that I believe keeps us all coming back are the little improvements that promise a better next hunt, a better next shoot, or a better next competition.
I’ve also discovered, especially in learning to hunt with a stick bow, that there is that awful x-factor that comes into play every time I go out: me.
Modern archery equipment is designed to take the archer out of the equation as much as possible, give him or her every technological advance to try and eliminate the x-factor of human fallibility. From glowing sight pins to stabilizers, range finders, and compound bows with up to 90% let off, the modern archery hunter has been giving many advantages so long as they know how to operate the equipment properly. My biggest problem with this is that I don’t want to be taken out of the equation. I want to pit myself, my mind and my skills, against the game I am seeking. There is something so amazing and satisfying about taking an animal that has almost every advantage over you: they can run faster, see, smell, and hear better and not only do they have these keen senses but they live on survival instinct and are always on high awareness. The only advantages I have are my intellect and my bow.
It takes mental fortitude to go out into the field knowing that I have chosen a weapon that puts me right in the middle of the equation instead of on the outskirts of it. Every part of my success hinges on my own skill, and that is both intimidating and exciting to me. The failures are harder because I know it was me, not a messed up sight or a trigger that failed. The victory is sweeter because I know it was me then also: my practice and dedication (and blessing from the Lord) are what brought it to pass.
And that’s why I love traditional archery! I have so far to go in learning to be a good stick bow hunter, but I have found a niche that I don’t want to leave. If you need me, I’ll probably be flinging arrows 🙂