I’ll never know for certain; but a month ago M bought me her/his old longbow as a birthday gift.
The argument for a hunter being able to bowhunt competently is obvious. In a world where being able to hunt many of the great western landscapes hinges upon tag drawings, which in extreme cases can take a lifetime, bowhunting and the statistically more accessible opportunities it presents is an easy choice. Traditional archery is a less obvious selection. To be blunt; compound bows are remarkably ugly and inelegant instruments of death. I hunted with a compound as a youth, and brought that bow home a few years ago, but have only shot it twice. The weight and fiddling aiming process provides all the bowsides of a rifle with none of the benefits.
A longbow, by contrast, is a light an exceptionally elegant thing. The 60″ long Yukon model of which I am now the owner weighs perhaps 1.5 pounds all strung up, and the hand lettering and hand laminated layers of wood wear their aesthetics on their sleeves. A thing which has wide-ranging appeal both to the eye and as a tool is the apotheosis of material culture.
And it is in that where I got lucky. This bow, custom made and in externally immaculate shape, was a screaming deal even without the perfectly-tuned cedar arrows which came along with it, but all of that will be worthless if it doesn’t shoot well for me. I didn’t even buy a target for a few weeks, as drawing 58 pounds (measured at 28 inches, and my draw length is 29.5) was a lot to be pulling straight off the bat. Thankfully, those arrows went more or less where I sent them from the very first.
Elk-vital sized groups at 15 yards are not so good for hunting, but very acceptable for being within the first hundred arrows I’ve shot from this bow. By September things should be quite a bit better. Good enough for a shot on an animal? Another question entirely. But based on the first weeks shooting, it should be a fun process.
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