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Going Back In Time

Stick & String.. No Cams .. Talk traditional archery

Going Back In Time

Postby FireCloud » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:29 am

I visited Lakeway Archery in my home town of Grenada today and got the guy who opened the first archery shop in Mississippi to custom create an awesome new bow string for me. This lifetime traditional archer and expert craftsman is one of a only a handful of truly experienced string makers still around. This string is the best string I have ever had on my bow in its 43 year history. It's super quiet, perfectly tied to give me the exact brace height I wanted, and my bow now shoots better than it ever has before. Due to getting the brace height I wanted, I am getting better penetration too. The bow is probably shooting at its full poundage capability, producing more speed, and greater kinetic energy than it has since it was new!

This string even looks great too, especially on a classic bow like my Bear Kodiak Magnum. If you have always used commercially produced strings, you seriously need to get a custom string for your traditional bow. If you do, you probably will never use a commercially produced string again.

It's always a hoot to walk into an archery shop carrying a traditional bow that is well on its way toward the 50 year mark. Everyone wants to look at the bow and hold it because very few people still shoot a bow like this today. It's like driving up in an antique car. The shop owner came straight over to me when he saw me enter with the bow because he was eager to see it. He strung the bow, checked the limbs for warp or twist, and generally gave it a careful examination. I let him enjoy playing with the bow as much as he wanted to while I spoke to him about a couple of items I hoped to purchase.

I have always treated my bow with great care and it does not have a nick or scratch on it. Nor is it twisted, split, or warped in any way. If you had a brand new one beside it, mine looks just as good. Bear Archery made this bow to be super tuff and it has stood the test of time well. Even the girl at the check out counter had to rub the polished maple wood with her hands to feel the finish. Today's high tech modern compound bows with metal or composite risers just don't exhibit the kind of crowd appeal generated by a well crafted early bow with polished wood risers and a true primitive weapon appearance.

The two "old timer" traditional archers working at Lakeway and I all began our bow hunting careers in the same 1960's era and they too had all purchased Bear bows similar to mine way back then from Jeff Whitaker, an early bow hunter enthusiast living in Grenada who sold Bear bows as a sideline in his retail business. We swapped stories for a while and I got the benefit of learning a few of the tricks to making custom strings while watching him finish a set of custom compound bow strings and then making mine. It turned out the string maker originally lived in Byram where I now live.

We chatted about the early custom made bows produced by Curtis Pounds of Pounds Archery in Bellfountain, MS, just a short distance from Grenada. A boyhood friend who was a very small, left handed shooter had Pounds make a custom bow for him. Steven and I paid a couple of visits to the shop to watch his bow being made. Curtis made him come to the shop to check the "fit" of the bow grip and other details. My string maker had also owned a Pounds Archery bow. Pounds made some of the most beautifully crafted traditional bows back then which must all surely be collector items now. My friend Steven's bow hunting interest is what got me to give archery a try and I have been hooked every since.

Both of the long time archers working at Lakeway Archery started traditional bow hunting a few years earlier than I did. Collectively, our traditional bow hunting experience totalled more than 130 years between the three of us. I stayed a couple hours just chatting about the early days of bow hunting, the equipment we used back then, and of course our deer hunting adventures. I could have easily stayed longer but needed to drive back to Jackson.

My string maker had an early compound mounted on the wall as a display. This early "wheel bow" had one small wheel between a split at the end of each limb. I remember when those simple compounds first came out. They were a far cry from today's compound bows but they were decent bows. The string maker killed 42 deer with that bow alone.

By now my string was ready to mount on the bow. Because it was a custom string, the lower end of the string has a small loop to keep it on the limb better while the upper end has a larger loop so that it can slide up and down the limb when the bow is being strung. Both my string maker and I use the same old style "push up" method of stringing a recurve rather than the "step through" method. Almost no one except the early generation of traditional archers use this method. But it really helps avoid limb twist which can occur using the step through method. Once the bow was strung, we checked brace height and mounted the two nocking points and a couple of string silencers. I was very pleased with the workmanship and the price of just $22 which is a real bargin considering the skill and time that goes into making the string.

One final note of interest for those who like nostalgia. On my way home, I stopped by the Duck Hill Hardware store and purchased some seed and plants for my fall garden and some purple top turnips for my food plot. This store has a lot of old time artifacts inside and even has several "horse rings" for hitching your horses mounted in the concrete at the front of the store. These are original from the early days of the town and are interesting to see. So if you care to ride your horse into town to shop, there are plenty of hitching rings waiting for your use!
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