07 April 2011

SkywatchFriday: April is the Cruelest Month... (and a boy's thoughts turn to ARCHERY!)

T.S. Eliot could have been a Montana when, in his poem "The Wasteland," he wrote:
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Indeed. Our sunny moments are interspersed with popcorn snow and wind that cuts to the bone:

Still, it is spring, and time to get on with those resolutions--such as rediscovering the joys of archery (and come September, bowhunting):

I owe this to my former student, Jana Robertson. As the daughter (she's named for Ishi's tribe) of famed bowyer Dick Robertson of Robertson Stykbow, she is of course a bowhuntress. Her example, along with some of my friends and other former students around Butte, Montana, was just the push I needed. Having bowhunted from c. 1970 to 1985 (and having shot varsity archery while at Drexel U), I knew my piles (arrow points) from my cocks (index feathers).

Growing up, the kids in my neighborhood often roved the fields and hills with bows. Some were homemade from a hickory stave, some were solid fiberglass from the hardware store. Arrows were whatever we could find and we shot 'til our fingers were sore. As I turned back to archery, these childhood memories became palpable.

Job one: find a bow. That was a fun task, and thanks to the miracle of EBay I found an excellent deal on a lightly used Martin Savannah longbow (reflex-deflex) design:

Job two: assemble arrows. Though I shot cheap hardware-store wooden arrows as a kid, in later years for bowhunting I used fiberglass and for target archery I used aluminum. But I wanted to do this as "traditional archery" and that meant wooden sticks, dipped with several coats of gasket laquer (with a homemade dip-tube and gasket):

Hung to dry in the shower with the vent fan on:

And fletched with "real" feathers, that led to job three: shooting. Results have been encouraging. When I do everything right (draw, anchor, aim, squeeze back, release, and follow through) groups are pretty good up to about 25 yards:

I still have a lot of practicing to do between now and hunting season. Stay posted.


Naturegirl said...

EEEK!! All that snow in Spring and the arrows!! Surely you won't hunt our feathered friends or furry ones!No-o-o-o-o please!

Arija said...

Looks like you have some exciting times ahead.
Bonne chance Robin!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I have to confess that I don't miss snow in the spring at all!


The sky, whether deep blue or grey,
Has stories to tell every day;
So if the day’s clear,
Be sure to draw near—
The heavens know just what to say!

© 2011 by Magical Mystical Teacher

Climbing Skyward

Should Fish More said...

Cool. You can get multiple permits, and the freezer can be well-stocked. I look forward to your call that you need room to store antelope, deer and moose. Be happy to oblige, Pat.

Wolfy said...

Great post and pics, as always.

A Drexel man, eh? I spent a couple of years at Lehigh before ending up at Penn St.

Judy said...

And no complaints about sore muscles? You are either very brave, or very wise in you practice. And Mrs. ER must be very patient, with the arrows drying in the shower!

Janie said...

You're already impressive at target shooting, at least in my view. (I'm sure I couldn't even hit that block of ice!) Making your own arrows and hanging them in the shower sounds like like an interesting winter activity while you prepare for spring fun.

troutbirder said...

What fun! I do believe it was bowhunting for deer as a young teacher that I first learned the true basis of humility. :)

secret agent woman said...

I always thought February was the cruelest month.

Merri said...

we've had some bone-cutting-chilling april wind here too! makes me find a lot of things I can be catching up on indoors with a cup of coffee!
and I took a couple of archery classes in college. it was fun, but I was too shaky.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Leslie said...

Really neat that you are making your own arrows. A lot of satisfaction in knowing your made them from beginning to end.

Archery Bow Stuff said...

That's really cool that you can make your own wooden arrows. Not many people that committed to traditional archery. Being a die hard bow hunter has it's advantages! Good day to you Sir!