If you would hit the mark, aim high above it. Every arrow that flies feels the pull of the Earth.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When I first started getting into archery, I had no idea how many different styles of shooting and of bows there were. Obviously you’ve seen Olympic style archery with the super high-tech recurve bows shooting at 70 meters or so. Then there are the compound bows and crossbows mainly used by hunters. English style longbows, the Japanese yumi, mounted archery with short and long bows, speed shooting, trick shooting, there were tons to pick from, each with different styles and techniques and lessons.
I didn’t know which one was going to be for me. I just knew I wanted to feel a real quality bow in my hands, rely mainly on my own skill, focus, and attention and a simple bow. And I wanted to learn for practical reasons as well. Learn a style I could take into the outdoors, into the woods, and enjoy wherever I was. Then I saw this video, and not only learned about traditional archery and what it meant for the mind, the bow, and the archer, but I also learned about a huge community that was meeting almost right in my backyard. Well, five hours’ drive from my backyard but you get the idea.
So I picked up traditional archery, for much more than the shallow reasons other traditional archers warned me to stay clear of. (Don’t pick up trad archery for the Instagram pics of beautiful wooden bows or for the ego trip of saying your style is the ‘hardest’ because it uses no equipment.) I do it for the time I get to spend outdoors, the relationship I have to have with my bow, and the focus I need on the field. I’m headed off to the ETAR weekend now in Denton Hill State Park in Pennsylvania and I’ll be back after the weekend. I hope to come back with some great stories. More than about targets I may have hit, but about the people and the community and the mind-clearing soul-soothing effects of being outdoors and shooting. As Fred Bear, a famous American archer, bowyer, and author once said, ‘nothing clears a troubled mind like shooting a bow’.
Jerel says, ‘aim high’.