Traddoc asked me to write about my transition into traditional archery, and more specifically what was the driving force behind it. The answer for my conversion was easy but the reasons were very important to me. My reason simply was time…., now not to save time but to spend time. First and foremost, time spent with my son who is showing interest in shoot bows in the back yard with his dad. However, for a compound shooter who has worked for years perfecting my craft, a shooting session for me was usually less than a dozen shots at 40 then 50 yards. All of which were on target and the bow got put up for the day. My son was shooting at 10 and 15 yards and I noticed, technically, we were not shooting together at all, and he was quickly losing interest.
At the age of 14 is when I became interested in archery, for the mere fact that youth under the age of 16 in New York (my home state) could not hunt deer unless it was with a bow. Ironically, at that point in my life I had time to spare, but nobody to mentor me…so I was on my own with my Bear Whitetail II and a straw bail in the back yard. For the life of me I could not get my pins sighted in correctly, so I began to shoot instinctively. My success increase enough to keep me interested, and come September I took the New York State bowhunter education class. When the time came to shoot our bows for the instructors, we were required to shoot five arrows, with three needed to hit the target to help you pass the class. The moment I will never forget was when I drew back and released the first arrow only to see it bury itself in the grass three yards in front of the target…I had never felt so low in my life. But, it gets worse as the next two found themselves buried in the grass under the target and the last two hitting the outer edge of the target. When the instructor came up to me and said I passed the class due to my test and tracking of game scores, but I probably should not hunt deer until I was more accurate with shooting so as not to wound such a magnificent animal. Now don’t get me wrong, he was very kind and supportive; and I took his words to heart and did not hunt deer with a bow for the next five years. I still shot my bow summer after summer with only marginal improvements at best but I remembered his words and never took to the woods.
As luck would have it, one day my friend and I were hunting pheasant and as we were leaving he found a left-handed, weathered and possibly run over by a car tire, Fred Bear recurve in the ditch at the side of the road, still strung with no arrows or quiver. Now he was left handed but right eye dominant and shot bow and gun as a righty, but he figured he could play around with the lefty bow just for fun. After his dad tested it for us and deemed it safe we headed out to shoot at a paper plate in his back yard. He shot four arrows and never hit the bail, needless to say I began to have flashbacks when he said “you give it a try”. To make a long story short all four of those arrows hit the plate at 10 yards and just like a light going off we both looked at each other and shouted that I am “left eye dominant!” As a right hander, the thought never crossed my mind until that moment and he also knew of my struggles with archery. Now all of you hardcore traditional archers don’t hate me, but I went out and got a left-handed compound with sights and worked relentlessly to become a great shot with a bow.
It was not until last summer when I realized my son was not having much fun, because we never shot at the same yardage or for very long, and last fall when I was sitting over my first P and Y buck that I realized that something was missing. When it came to me…it was how I spent my time. Not having fun with the sport of archery and having fun shoot at the yardages that my son found challenging or just shooting for a few minutes, hitting my mark time after time then putting the bow away and sitting with my son watching him shoot.
At that point I realized archery is different to every person and I wanted it to be fun, exciting, a little bit out of my control and most importantly something I wanted to spend time doing with friends and family. I met Traddoc through his mother and learned he was a traditional archer and I remembered how I spent hours practicing with that old Bear Whitetail II and how much fun it was. So with many phone calls, text messages, and reading posts on his website, I bought a 35# Samick Sage recurve, left-handed of course, and began shooting. This past summer my son I have spent countless hours, nearly every evening until dark shoot bows, laughing and him listening to my old stories. I literally took a crash course in traditional archery the summer of 2013, but I was putting myself on the two year plan to make sure I was really ready; and all along the way Traddoc was telling me “you are going to hunt with that bow this fall”. After getting arrows flying well and selecting a broadhead from comments on the Tradgeeks forum (Thanks to all who gave their input on that post), I believed I was able to humanely hunt and harvest a doe if given the opportunity at the correct range. I hung all of my hunting sets no higher than 12 feet from the ground and modified locations to get me within my maximum range of 15 yards to the expected trail. The Thursday before the season Traddoc gave me one more pep talk over the phone on his way back from SD and on the first morning of the PA bow opener I was in my stand with a recurve ready to have some fun and put some old demons to rest. For the rest of the story…well you can see the video for yourself.
So the next time you grab your bow to sling a few arrows think about the time you are spending, and never hesitate to include family, friends or anybody who may have a question or show interest in your traditional gear…you might just make another Trad convert.
Mike Groman (Trad Convert) www.weekendoutdoorwarrior.com