Ted Nugent calls it “The mystical flight of the arrow” and I always thought that was a pretty good description of the sport of archery. There’s just something about the flight of an arrow that has been a lifelong addiction for me. I drew my first bow in 1971 at the age of four and have been drawing a bowstring ever since. Uncle Theo has a way with words and I’ve never seen a better description than he has for this passion we share for the flight of the arrow.
I like shooting an arrow, talking about and writing about it, and visiting with others that like it. So much so that I made it a career. For the past 25 years I’ve been on the road doing instinctive archery shows across the country. As a protege’ of the late Rev. Stacy Groscup, I have tried to demonstrate the instinctive style of shooting for audiences from a wide variety of backgrounds. I have stood in the Bronx after a show there and watched children line up for two hours to try archery after my show. I have stood in a horse barn in Amish country and did shows, and in some of the finest sports complexes we have. It matters not, people enjoy the flight of an arrow and hopefully they also listen to my words, encouraging them to spend time as a family unit together outdoors—away from cell phones, computers, video games, and tv. I also tell the youngsters in the audience about staying away from drugs and living a good life, so that they can dream big dreams and then work hard to make those dreams come true. And when my arrow busts that baby aspirin from mid air, it drives those messages home.
What is it about this flight of the arrow that draws us in? One of things for me is accuracy. I love to see an arrow strike it’s target. I have written articles prior to this one discussing the importance of target acquisition. You see an object, lock in on it, draw the bow and release your arrow. Then there is that moment while the arrow travels to the mark— anticipation–and then the moment of truth– a hit or a miss. Powerful stuff. I don’t really care what style of shooting you use–GAP, Point Of Aim, Sights, Scope, Release… it’s that arrow flying to it’s mark. That’s the excitement.
My son now has the passion for archery! The fact that he’s already busting balloons with his bow at three years old is awesome. I remember a few weeks ago when he and I were in the indoor range. I put a balloon on the target for him, knelt down beside him to help him draw his bow when he took the bow from me and walked a few paces away saying, “I got it dad” or something like that, drawing the bow, and letting the arrow fly. I watched as that arrow slowly went into the air and “POW” popped the balloon first shot! That was the first time he’d ever fired a bow on his own. I will always remember that particular shot. Wow.
There have been other shots over the years I remember. One of them is when the late Tom Joyce, a Bear recurve shooter and instinctive shooter that was a family friend was at our place shooting. We were on the practice range one day behind my parent’s retail store. They had various targets set up at distances from 20 to 80 yards in this big field. Near the 80 yard target was a Poplar tree with Autumn leaves hanging low. Tom said, “Watch this…” and slowly drew his Bear take down. When his finger got to the corner of his mouth he let it fly. The arrow glided into mid air and then came down and hit the leaf dead center! An amazing 80 yard or more shot! Tom grinned.
I also remember watching an arrow miss it’s mark once. I had never seen my father miss game with a bow, ever. A few years ago we were hunting on the King Ranch in South Texas. An opportunity at a huge 170-180 class buck presented itself and pop loaded his bow and got ready. He drew the bow, and I was videoing the shot. All at once the arrow was in flight and glided right over the buck’s back. I laughed so hard I accidentally shut the camera off. He didn’t find it funny. We went in for lunch and then after lunch he put a napkin on a cactus. He stood back and at 50 yards put a broadhead through the center of the napkin. The buck had only been maybe 42 yards. Pop’s a good shot but evidently got buck fever.
One last arrow I’ll write about was shot by an 82 year old man. He missed six times but the seventh shot struck home. It was the late Rev. Stacy Groscup and at age 82 he was still able to shoot aspirin tablets from mid air. I had invited him to be with me at a local sports show. It would be our last time on stage together. Although his first six shots missed, I got a little nervous. I wondered if he could still see and hit the pills. After all, at his age most could not. He proved me wrong when that 7th aspirin was tossed into mid air. It floated up and Stacy sent a fluflu arrow on it’s way. I watched as the arrow flew towards the pill and all at once I heard a “click” as the dust flew and Stacy’s arrow collided with the pill! Amazing huh? Although many 82 year olds take aspirin, Stacy was still shooting them! Sadly he’d pass away about two short years later. I have many fine memories of arrows we launched together over the years. I just wish he would have lived to see my son Gus sending arrows down range. I know he would have loved that.
This Fall I am going to visit with friends Dick and Carol Mauch while doing exhibitions in Nebraska. I look forward to watching some arrows glide over the fields at their beloved Plum Creek Cabin. Pop and I are due to be at King ranch in the late Fall too. I hope this time to watch his arrow fly true and hit it’s mark. Hoping my arrow finds it’s mark too on one of those big So Texas whitetails. You can see I’m already looking forward to arrows flying this Fall. I suppose I’m hooked on this sport we call archery.
I have enjoyed reliving some of these stories today as I banged out this column. There’s nothing finer than writing about the flight of an arrow if you can’t be out there shooting arrows. Speaking of that, I think I’ll head out to the target and fling a few arrows before dark. Thanks for reading, send me an email if you have some special memories of the flight of the arrow. Oh, and be sure and pass along your passion for this sport to others around you. Why should we have all the fun?
Until next time, Adios and God Bless.