Being a traditional archer, I thrive on the simplicity of the sport, unlike other archers who use the latest and greatest compound bow, I use a 1974 Bear Kodiak Magnum. It is a great model that Bear still makes today and mine is truly a testament to their craftsmanship and durability. Unlike today's compound bows, my bow does not have any fancy sights, as a matter of fact it doesn't have sights at all, or any other gadgets to aid me. They are not necessary and they only seem to get in the way or fail at the most inopportune time, at least for me.Please don't misunderstand what I am trying to say, I have a great respect for all archers, and I am still blown away by the technology that they pour into these new bows. The fact that they can shoot an arrow at their target at over 300 feet per second just blows my mind. They are easy to shoot and with a little instruction you can be hunting ready in no time.The same cannot be said for my bow.When I started out in archery my first bow was a compound bow. I bought it used for cheap, because the "technology" was outdated and like I said it wasn't long before I was on target and grouping nice shots.One day as I was arriving at our local archery range I ran into another Archer that was finishing up as I was just getting in. He was shooting a beautiful traditional flat bow. I marveled over his bow as he unstrung it and we started talking. I expressed how I was new to archery and was looking for a traditional bow but they were not readily available, he explained how he enjoyed the traditional side of archery and how with my compound bow I could become a very effective bowhunter, but if I wanted to be a real archer I needed to get a traditional bow.His words stuck with me. I looked at my compound bow, and thought I could do better. I have never been one to take the easy way so I set forth to find myself a traditional bow.
One of the first things you will notice when you start shopping for a traditional bow is that they hold their value quite well. Since the pinnacle of their technology was the addition of fiberglass some time back, they have virtually remained unchanged, from a bent piece of wood with a string. However, Traditional archery is so much more than the equipment, it is the embodiment of archery as a whole. When someone mentions archery most people drudge up images of classic archers like Robin hood, William Tell and now a days Hollywood has renewed our love for this classic sport with movies like The Hunger Games, Disney's Brave and The Lord of the Rings saga all of which has shed new light on this timeless sport. After far too much time online looking at bows and reading reviews, I came across an old Bear Kodiak Magnum recurve bow. It drew back at 50# and was in pristine condition for its age. With this I got into traditional archery. I shot every chance I could and even entered to compete in an archery contest at the bay area renaissance fair. I had never competed in an archery competition before, so I was somewhat unsure of just what to expect. I should've worried more about what I would encounter at the renaissance fair than the contest itself.
The renaissance fair is a unique place, for those of you that have never been. I just couldn’t believe how intricate the costumes were. Knights in full armor, princes and princess in royal gowns, and a full array of fairy tale creatures, all of which could have easily been extras in any hollywood production of that genre. It wasn’t until we got to the gate that I realized, these are not paid reenactors, these are the faire goers. But I'm not entirely sure what people's motivation was for wearing them and I can't imagine that sort of clothing is very cheap. Seems an expensive way to go about getting rejected by girls. As we passed “YE OLD ATM” and made our way to the gate I knew we were in for a treat that day. The attempt to blend modern, and old is part of the uniqueness that made this trip so much fun, I mean how awkward it was to converse with someone who insists on speaking in that fake-old timey dialect. Are you meant to try to do it back to them? Or do you just continue to speak normally? Each time I had to talk to anyone I just ended up getting really embarrassed and staring at the floor while mumbling.I did, however, really enjoy watching people's confused faces as they tried to apply this to the modern world. Like, "Young sire, insert thoust credit card into thy credit card machine”. However, it was the security check that blew my mind. Our tickets to the fair were covered by my registration fee to compete in the archery competition, so after checking in I hear "You there, boy, stepeth to one side and alloweth security to search thy backpack." As most people know I am a hunter. I stalk and harvest the large game down here in Florida using only my bow and arrow, a weapon I have become quite proficient and accurate with at ranges up to 40 yards, a weapon I have trained hard with, just for the competition at this event, and was no problem to get through the gate, however my pocket knife I had to go lock in the car. Safety first and all that. Nevertheless as we made our way through the gate, I achieved the same feeling as Alice did as she made her way down the rabbit hole. My competition did not start until the afternoon so we had the morning to take in the sights, and oh what sights were seen. There were shows that ranged from magic acts to a falconry demonstration, and of course knights jousting. All of which was great fun. A wide array of shops in the market place where you could buy anything from leather crafts to shops where you could pick up medieval era bras. The food, there was roast turkey drumsticks, scotch eggs, chicken pot pie, and of course, ye old Dominos.
Before long it was time for my competition and we made our way to the archery field. They were just finishing up with the “young adult” class and I was glad I was not competing in that class as their were several young women and men that were quite good. I started to feel a little nervous as I made my way to the firing line, so I just focused on my target. They gave us a warm up round, before we shot for score. So I just focused on my target and shot my arrows, which were all hitting right on target. As I shot my last arrow for that round my string broke, putting an end to my competition before it even started.
I try to go back every year and compete, I still have not won but it is all for good fun and this year one of my daughter’s wants to compete as well, and you can bet we both have extra strings.