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Published by admin on 24 Aug 2009


SHEMANE NUGENT IN AFRICA                                       by Ted Nugent
The grace, the beauty, the shape, the form! I don’t know if I can handle it, in fact, I know I can’t! My wife Shemane is so beautiful, it is stupid, or at least it makes me stupid. But when she picks up her bow and arrow, gently knocks her arrow on the string, then smoothly draws her bow back to her lips, I gaze gaga, like a kid at his first dance. And dance we do!! I don’t know much about Venus, but if ever a woman was at her most sensuous, it is surely at full draw. Talking about eye candy! You oughtta try to videotape her in a small blind sometime and maintain your composure and focus. Is it getting hot in here?
Her dainty pink Martin bow looks so girly as it is, add her pink Victory arrows with the pink and white fletching, her pink ScentLok cap and the tight fitting pink Mossy oak camo t-shirt, and the whole package confirms that bowhunting is ultimately made for women. Shemane and I are dedicated to spread that word and recruit as many women into the greatest sport on earth as much as we can. I do believe it is the future.
We see and understand the amazing success of Lee and Tiffany on their TV shows. Sexy little Tif is stunning too, and more so when she draws down on one of those heart slamming monstrous Iowa behemoth whitetails. We got She Safari TV, Beyond The Lodge, Archers Choice, Pat and Nicole, the gorgeous Michelle Eichler on Muzzy Bad To The Bone TV. Everybody likes to watch Jim Shockey and more so when his beautiful wife joins him onscreen. Karen Meehall does an exemplary job on NRA’s American Hunter television, and more and more women are showing up on hunting shows all the time and I for one love it all. As Motley Crew sang, “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Let’s get it on!
Shemane shot her bow relentlessly as we prepared for our 6th African safari together, and she was shooting the prettiest arrows any bowhunter could ever dream of. At 15 out to 30 yards, her lightweight 40# Martin bow sent her 400 grain GoldTip Zebra arrows tipped with a  two blade100 grain razorsharp Magnus BuzzCut payload square into the pumpstation of our 3D targets with every arrow. Women are not just more beautiful when they shoot their bows, they are always better shots than men too. Something about superior patience and control, huh.
Having made clean one arrow kills on giant fallow, whitetails, rams, Oryx, impala, blesbok, kudu, wildebeest, waterbuck and zebra over the years, we were confident that her lightweight rig was perfectly suitable for bringing home the beast as long as arrow placement was, as usual, perfect. Here we go.
After the long flight, we pulled into Angus Brown’s Safari camp in the Orange Free State province of South Africa to unprecedented pouring rain. About 150 miles south east of Johannesburg, Angus operates numerous properties in this rolling, mountainous region loaded with zebra, blesbok, black wildebeest, springbok, reedbuck, eland, sable, duiker, steenbok and sable antelope. The occasional lion, leopard and Cape buffalo are in the area as well, just to keep things interesting.
A few days prior to our arrival, on his first day in camp, gung-ho bowhunter Jim Brown from Indiana arrowed a magnificent one ton Cape Eland with a perfectly placed Magnus broadhead. Now that’s how one baptizes his first African safari.
And in spite of incessant rain, an African bowhunters worse enemy, National Field Archery Association president Bruce Cull killed a record book common blesbok right off the bat. My boys can shoot!
Now that my BloodBrothers have fortified the meat locker with delectable African backstraps, the pressure was off and we were ready for a relaxing, fun filled bowhunting Safari in the Dark Continent. Spirits ran high.
The African hunter’s sun was burning pretty good on this hot afternoon, and since I headed off to another blind and guide Reon Van Tonder got called to track Jennifer’s waterbuck, Shemane ended up alone in her thatched elevated hide. The muddy puddle was 20 yards upwind, augmented with a mineral lick and some alfalfa. Though she was entertained by the ever present birdlife, no big game showed up for the first four hours.
But that all changed as the bewitching hour arrived, and the boredom was obliterated by the arrival of the Lord of the Bush-the mighty Kudu. Two fine, nearly invisible bulls stood at a distance amongst the scrub, surveying the waterhole for a long time before they cautiously approached. As the bigger of the two turned broadside for a drink, Shemane made sure the videocam was centered on the old boy and she let him have it with a pretty pink 400 grain projectile.
True to form, Shemane’s arrowed zinged square into the pocket where all the pumping takes place, and both bulls exploded outta Dodge in a heartbeat.
She text’d me of her excitement and we decided she should wait for reinforcements before tracking.
The dust from the departing kudu had barely settled before a group of young impala sauntered in for a drink, and as darkness fell, Almay picked Shemane up and Reon picked up the obvious bloodtrail.
Sadly, Shemane had rewound the tape to review her shot, gained confidence when she did, but rewound again to show me, and taped over the arrow hit moment. Curses!

The next morning Reon and his tracker picked up last blood and found the dead bull a few yards farther along the trail.
Her beautiful kudu bull taped nearly 50” of spiraling horn, and grand celebration erupted back at camp for an extended photo session with the Culls and Browns.
It is important to note that Shemane’s pretty pink camo Martin Leopard bow draws a dainty 40#, her pink Victory arrows and Magnus two blade BuzzCut broadheads, Lumenok and three 4” white TruFlight feathers weighs in at a kinetic energy generating 400 grains. This petite lady’s rig has killed many a large, tough big game like this 600 pound kudu, tenacious wildebeest, hard zebra and more. Shot placement and a razorsharp two blade, cut on impact broadhead is her proven backstrap setup, and if more guys would learn this simple, surefire formula for the women in their life, I do believe women bowhunter numbers would double lickety split as fast as it is implemented. Why it hasn’t yet remains a mystery to us. We hope that everybody reading this helps to spread the word as far and wide as possible. The joy Shemane experiences needs to be experienced by a few million more woman ASAP. Spread it!
For information on booking a hunt with Ted and Shemane Nugent, visit or contact Sunrize Safaris at 517-750-9060.

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Published by admin on 14 Aug 2009

Portrait of a Champion: HARRY DRAKE

Portrait of a Champion: HARRY DRAKE


            What does it take to become a champion? There are various answers to this, depending upon the type of archery that may be your particular forte in the case of Harry Drake, the National Flight Shooting champion. It took something like twenty-five years and a heap of practice, experimentation and no small degree of disappointment along the way.

            Drake, who is now forty-eight years old, has concentrated upon this sort of flight shooting almost from the day he attained legal status as a voter. He began in 1937, when he was only twenty-two and has constantly sought new means of driving an arrow across a longer distance.

            But it was not until 1963 that he broke all of the records for the eighty-pound class. He was able to send an arrow some 675 yards during the 1963 NAA championships in California. Earlier, the existing record had been 640 yards and stood for roughly a decade. Then in 1961, this record was broken for the class – but barely – by W.A. Scott of Texas, who shot an arrow 641 yards.

            Drake makes all of his own bows and when he took part in this national contest, he had several of them on hand. All of them measured forty-two inches in length and boasted a maple core. Gordon glass was used on back and face and a variety of woods were utilized in the risers.

                       In keeping with his design for winning, Drake’s bow had a twenty-five-inch draw with a five-inch overdraws from the back of the bow to the usable portion of the arrow rest.

            Like most serious shooters in flight events, Drake makes his own arrows as well as his bows. He feels that the best material for a flight arrow is Port Orfor cedar. These shafts are footed on the end with Purple Heart wood, using plastic nocks. Length of these arrows is twenty inches.

            When questioned to his favoring cedar for his arrow over fiberglass or even aluminum. Drake is quick to explain that one cannot get the aerodynamic shape in these other materials that one can achieve with Oregon cedar. With a flight arrow, there is a good deal more velocity, therefore more critical friction forces caused by the air through which it is launched.

            As for metal arrows, Drake has tried these experimentally, but feels they too are lacking. Although there is no scientific backing for this, it is his theory that an aluminum arrow tends to vibrate while in flight thus cutting down its speed and ultimately the distance.

            Drake, a realist when come to flight shooting, was doubtful that he would break any records – or that anyone else would – during last year’s NAA championship shoot. Reason for this doubt was the fact that the weather was damp and the field where shooting was being done was fogged in during the early morning.

            However, by the time Drake came up to compete in the eighty-pound bow class, the weather had cleared. The sun was shining and there was a helpful breeze. The rest is listed in the official NAA records.

            The heat and sun created thinner air, thus the arrow would travel farther. Drake told BOW & ARROW that in Utah, for example, where altitudes are high and the air thinner, it is possible to break records every time a man shoots. This has been reflected in professional baseball games in that mountain city too. Baseballs are constantly and consistently being batted out of the park, since they tend to travel longer and faster distances in this rarified ozone area.

            Wind, Drake has discovered can be either a hindrance or an aid. With only a light breeze, he has found that when shooting into the wind, this will cut the distance the arrow travels as much as twenty-five yards. However, if there is literally a tail wind working on the cedar shaft, this can add almost as much distance.

            As far as equipment is concerned, Harry Drake uses both a single flipper and a double model in competition. The single flipper is used when he is shooting a sixty-five pound bow, while the double flipper, affording a better grip, he uses when shooting in the eighty-pound class.

            These flippers afford added speed to the arrow, since using this to release results in less friction on the actual bowstring. Also, the incidence of draw is increased since one is cutting on the area of the string that otherwise would be covered by the fingers in the draw.

            With the sharper incidence of draw created by using this half-inch leather strap there also is a sharper release with less friction. All of these thoughts, taken individually, mean little, but over the centuries that flight shooting has been a sport, efficiency has been the key word in this sport. Each of these measures – be it bow design, shaft material or the width of the flipper – has been the subject of ages of experimentation. Each has been instituted as an aid to greater efficiency.

            And this is reflected in the Harry Drake Story, for this champions a painstaking practitioner of the art, checking and double-checking, always certain that efficiency in his shooting is unhampered.

 Bow and Arrow Magazine        March – April 1964

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Published by admin on 07 Aug 2009

Buffalo Hunting Indian Style By: Ralph D. Conroy

Buffalo Hunting
Indian Style
By: Ralph D. Conroy


 There has never been any more exciting form of big-game hunting than the taking of buffalo from horseback as was practiced by the Indian of the American West.

 In my mind’s eye I can look back into time and see a young Indian brave sitting quietly astride his fast pony. The pony has a split ear, the mark of the buffalo hunter, and is the most valued possession of the Plains Indian during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

 The brave is dressed in breechcloth; his long raven-black hair is gathered in twin braids. Twin eagle feathers, fastened to his head, dance in the breeze those gusts into his face. All extraneous clothing has been carefully discarded. In the next few minutes the action will be fast and dangerous.

 He thumbs the score of flint-tipped arrows in the otter-skin quiver strapped to the side of the pony. He is armed with a short but strong bow. Its string is the stretched neck tendons of a bull buffalo. The brave may be of any number of tribes – Sioux or Crow, Mandan or Arapaho, Cheyenne or Comanche.

 At a signal from the hunt leaders the brave touches his heels to the flanks of the little pony and feel him respond. The chase is on. Gaining speed, horse and rider movie in perfect concert over the rough terrain. They are at full gallop before they reach the clipped, grazed grass of the plains.

 All about them braves whoop and spur their mounts to full pace. Several hundred yards ahead a small band of buffalo stops feeding, hesitates for a split second, then wheels and races off. Their heavy hooves mingle with the hoof beats of the pursuing ponies and the shrill battle cries of the mounted hunters. The heavily muscled buffalo is a surprisingly good runner and the ponies press hard to close with the retreating herd.

 The clear Dakota air is now filled with thick clouds of billodust and for an instant the hunters ride blind. Then they are through the dust and into the herd, bare legs brushing against the coarse matted hair of the buffalo.

 On all sides of the young brave the great animals run, their chests heaving, blood-red eyes rolling in panic, the sun glinting now and again on the menacing horns. Here and there a bull or cow turns to fight, and a pony and rider scramble desperately to avoid contact.

 The brave sees a fine bull ahead and without command the pony stretches out, running belly low, to bring his rider close astern the right flank. Somewhere ahead a horse and rider go down in an explosion of dust and thrashing hooves, yet the wild pursuit continues without pause.

 Now the brave is close enough and the pony settles to pace as his rider draws and nocks an arrow, no mean trick astride a galloping horse. He draws until the butt of the stone head touches the index finger of his left hand. For an instant he holds, then releases. At the twang of the bowstring the seasoned pony moves obliquely to the right, putting distance between himself and the now-wounded buffalo. The shaft has sunk to the fletching in the now-wounded buffalo. The shaft has sunk to the fletching in the appointed place behind the short rib, angling forward into the bull’s vitals. Even as the brave reaches forward to nock a second arrow he sees it will not be necessary. The wounded bull falters, misses stride, then skids forward onto its nose. The bull is dead before the brave dismounts, his skinning knife in hand.

 A half mile ahead the hunt rages on across the prairie.

“By the 1880s the buffalo herds were decimated, ending an area that some historians have called ‘the golden age of Plains Indian….’ ”


The hunting of the buffalo from horseback was short-lived. The Plains Indian did not acquire the horse until the 1600s and 1700s. By the 1800s the buffalo herds were decimated, ending an era that some historians have called “the golden age of Plains Indian.” The buffalo hunt from horseback has come to symbolize that time, and the wild, romantic, proud freedom of the Buffalo Indian. It was, perhaps their finest hour.

 The excitement and danger of the mounted buffalo chase caught the imagination of the early western explorer. It is easy to see why. The American Bison is an awesome beast.

 A full-grown bull stands six feet at the shoulder and is ten to twelve feet long from nose to tail. His weight averages 1800 pounds, but some were said to reach 3000 pounds. Before the coming of the white men the buffalo was the most numerous large land animal on earth. Some naturalists estimate there were seventy-five to one hundred million buffalo. Nearly all agree that the figure exceeded fifty million.

 After slaughter began t did not take long to end. Buffalo were killed for hides, meat, sport and, more importantly, as government. The Indian depended on the buffalo not only for food, but for clothing, shelter and tools. With the buffalo gone, the once proud and free-ranging tribes could be brought to heel; their ancient tribal lands more safely and expeditiously stolen.

 In 1851 there were more buffalo than people in the United States. By 1900, s scant forty-nine years later, there were only 2500 buffalo left. Five years later the American Bison Society was organized by William T. Hornady, head taxidermist for the National Museum in Washington D.C., with President Theodore Roosevelt as the society’s honorary president. The society was instrumental in persuading Congress to establish the National Bison Range in Montana. Thankfully, the animal was saved from extinction. Such was not the case with the other two subspecies, the wood bison (Bison bison Athabasca Rhoads) and the eastern bison (Bison bison pennsylvanicus). Some scientists claim there was a fourth subspecies the mountain bison (Bison bison haningtoni Figgins).

 A variation of the Indian hunt was conducted with rifle and revolver by the white men who flocked west. Notable amongst these was the hunt arranged by General Philip Sheridan in 1872 for the Grand Dukes Alexis of Russia. The Grand Duke, son of Czar, traveled west in a private railroad car. General Armstrong Custer and Colonel William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, a pack of Indian Scouts, and a troop of U.S. Cavalry were enlisted to round up some of the animals for the Grand Duke’s sport. Afterwards, a buffalo was barbecued and its death toasted with champagne. Chief Spotted Tail of the Sioux even staged a war dance for the entertainment of the royal tourist.

 How good was the bow and arrow as a hunter of buffalo? Better than one might expect.

 Though the Indian had firearms available to him soon after the appearance of the western settlers, most tribes continued to favor the bow and arrow. The Assiniboines went so far as to declare firearms illegal for tribal hunts. There were many reasons for this. An Indian could shoot two dozen arrows in the time it took to reload a muzzleloader, and since arrows carried the marks of the owner there could be little argument about who made what kill. In addition, many Indians found the arrow a more efficient killer than the gun, even the repeating rifle. At close range the Indian was deadly with his bow.

 In his book, The Indian and the Horse, Frank Gilbert Roe tells of an eyewitness account of a Gee brave slaying sixteen buffalo with seventeen arrows! A cool shot would be hard-pressed to equal that feat with.460 Weather by magnum using a good scope and sure rest.


 When metal became available the Indian often switched to this source as an alternate to the stone heads which were so time-consuming to make. Though metal was a convenience, the Indian had reservations about the metal head’s killing properties.


In volume one of George Bird Grinnell’s book, The Cheyenne Indians, he states: “The Cheyenne’s, like the Blackfeet and the Pawnees, say that wounds made by old stone arrow points were more likely to be fatal than those made by the points ( metal) of later times.”

 Though one would think otherwise, experiments have shown the stone head to penetrate flesh farther than the metal head. Dr.Saxton Pope conducted such an experiment and reported his methods and findings in his book, Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, written in 1923, Pope made a box, two sides of which were closed with fresh deer skin. The interior was packed with bovine liver to represent boneless animal tissue.

 ‘At a distance of ten yards,” Pope reported, “I discharged an obsidian (a volcanic glass, usually black and referred to as flint) pointed arrow and steel pointed arrow from a weak bow.

 “The two missiles were alike in size, weight and feathering, in fact were made by Ishi, only one had the native head and the other his modern substitute. Upon repeated trials, the steel headed arrow uniformly penetrated a distance of twenty-two inches from the front surface of the box, while the obsidian uniformly penetrated thirty inches, or eight inches farther, approximately 25 percent better penetration.

 Pope, a medical doctor and one of the pioneers of modern bowhunting, attributed the superior penetration of the stone. He said that the serrated stone edge operated on “the same principle that fluted-edged bread and bandage knives cut better than ordinary knives.”

 No matter what the reason, that some Indians could kill efficiently and get extraordinary penetration with their stone-tipped shafts incontestable.

 According to Grinnel Big Ribs, a northern Cheyenne at Pine Ridge, and Strong Left Hand, at the Tongue River Agency, are known to have each shot a single shot. Strong Left Hand’s bow is said to have been so strong that few men could pull it. Grinnel reports other instances of powerful Indian archers driving arrows completely though a single buffalo.

 Chief Luther Standing Bea, in his book, My People, the Sioux, tells of his father driving an arrow so deeply into one buffalo that the point protruded out the offside Reining his running pony to the offside, Standing Bear’s father leaned down and withdrew the shaft, point-first, from the side of the galloping buffalo, nocked it, and fired it into a second animal, thereby killing two buffalo withal single arrow, but in a rather unique manner.

 As far as I know, the last man to kill a buffalo with an arrow shot from the back of galloping horse was the late Howard Hill. The first, and to my mind, most exciting chapter in his book, Hunting the Hard Way, Chronicles this event.

 As with the modern sportsman, the Indian prized the quick, clean kill. With the Mandan’s, the killing of a buffalo with but a single arrow on religious significance, the pinnacle of which was to kill a buffalo with but a single arrow as the beast faced east at sunrise.

 Chief Standing Bear reported that on his first buffalo hunt it was a source of embarrassment to him that he had needed five arrows to make his kill. For a few moments he weighed the thought of pulling all the arrows but one, but in the end his conscience could not condone the lie.  (Incidentally, Standing Bear was a member of the first class of Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian School, which started in 1879. He also travelled in this country and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.)


Since the buffalo’s eyesight is poor, a small herd or band could be approached carefully and quietly upwind to within a quarter of a mile. A good pony could close within half-mile. But good ponies were scarce and highly valued. Besides speed, they needed heart and judgment, agility and stamina. The ponies were pampered and often led to the site of the hunt so as to be fresh as possible. A well trained pony brought his rider within an arm’s distance of the selected quarry, held a steady pace, and moved quickly away at the twang of the bowstring. On the rare occasion such a pony was sold, it could bring the price of ten, twenty, or even fifty common horses.

 Dismiss the idea that the Indian’s buffalo chase was a carelessly run affair. It was quite the opposite. The hunt was organized by tribal chiefs, police or the soldier societies. No one went out on his own; it was a rigidly structured tribal function. Not to conform to tribal rules could result in equipment. Even the Comanche, who in most things exercised little if any communal discipline, appointed and obeyed leaders in the buffalo chase,

 Black Elk, a warrior and medicine man of the Oglala Sioux and author of Black Elk Speaks, describes in detail bison hunt wherein the first line of assault was comprised of a soldier band riding twenty abreast and prepared to knock anyone from his horse who dared advanced beyond them. About penetration, Black Elk comments: “Some of the arrows would go in up to the feathers, and sometimes those that struck no bones went straight through.

 Today the thrill and danger of the old buffalo chase lives only in the stories handed down by observers, and in some cases the written words of participants, and in the work of an artist.

 Foremost amongst the artists in Charles M. Russell, who, with his frontiersman background and extraordinary eye for authentic detail, produced the finest and most accurate renditions. Russell was so fond of the buffalo chase as subject matter that he painted it more than fifty times.

 The chase also sparked the imaginations of European artists, some of whom has never seen the West, its Indians, or its buffalo. Some of these works are interesting for their errors. Often the topography is a curious mixture of authenticity and imagination. In a great many pieces the horse dwarfs the buffalo. The artists either used the horse common to Europe as a model (these were larger then the Indian pony) or misjudged the size of the American Bison. But the excitement and danger of those buffalo chases with bow and arrow from the back of a galloping horse live on to awe future generations around the world.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

Bow and Arrow Magazine April 1978


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Published by admin on 06 Aug 2009

Banzai Bows: Sayanora Style By Col. Robert Rankin USMC

Banzai Bows: Sayanora Style

By Col. Robert Rankin USMC


Mention of ancient Japanese arms most usually calls to mind, as far as most people are concerned, the famed samurai sword. It may come as something of a surprise to you to learn that the Japanese were well known for their prowess with the bow. Bows were used by all nobles’ bad peasants alike. Instruction in the use of the weapon began at an early age and was continued on through adult years.

 It is probable that the Japanese were easily the equal of the storied English long bowman and the famous Turkish archers. In early times the bow was deemed of even greater importance than the sword. Indeed, the Japanese terms for bow and arrow and for war were synonymous. Even after the sword became the principal weapon and the symbol of rank, proficiency in the use of the bow was much sought and was regarded as an indication of the individual’s military ability.


The best archers in Nippon journeyed to Kyoto to demonstrate their skill. There at Sanju-San-Gen Do temple, a covered gallery was erected for their use. With a length of 132 yards, this structure was only twenty-two feet high, a fact which required tremendous strength on the part of the bowman to achieve a trajectory flat enough to allow the arrow to reach the mark. Is recorded that in 1696, one was a Daicheri shot 8,133 arrows in twenty-four hours (this is at the rate of about five a minute), of which 3,213 reached the mark!


The Japanese was bow was very long; in fact, some were as long as eight feet, but this was the exception, the average being around seven feet. Bows were made of a piece of deciduous wood sandwiched in between two especially selected pieces of bamboo, with the bark outward, all held together with fish glue,. It was nearly uniform in section throughout its length and at intervals was tightly bound with cane.

 The bow was curved at either end, and when strung, it reversed itself. There were no notches for the back for a short distance to form shoulders. The string went about the projecting ends and was held in place by the shoulders. Strings were of sinew or of bundles of silk thread treated with lacquer.

 The handle of the bow was well below center. In some instances a much as two thirds of the way down. This was necessary because the average Japanese is short and the bow was used from a kneeling position when the archer was not mounted. All in all, these war bows were powerful and affective.

 Another type of Japanese bow resembling a Tartar bow in shape was made of several different varieties of bamboo glues together. A metal sleeve covered the belly. The string striking against this produced a characteristic sound which often was used for signaling.


Ceremonial bows, intended only for parades and court functions, were highly lacquered and ornamented. These bows were in two sections, joined in the center by a metal sleeve which formed the handle. In addition to these, there were hunting bows of various lengths, some as short as two feet. These smaller bows were made of horn or whalebone.

 Arrows for the war bows averaged forty inches long and weighed around half a pound. Practically all were feathered, usually in a straight line with the shaft. Some, however, had the feathers arranged spirally about the shaft to cause it to rotate in flight and thus assist in keeping it on course.

 For the practical purposes of war, arrow heads differed greatly from those used for ceremonial purposes. Among war arrows was the hiki-ya. This had a large hallow head with openings cut in the sides. Air rushing through these while the arrow was in flight caused a whistling sound. Arrows of the type were used for signaling purposes, the wata-kusi, “tear fish,” had a head with movable barbs. These lay close to the shaft when the arrow was in flight but swung out at right angles when an attempt was made to pull it out of the flesh. The yanagi-ha, “willow leaf,” had a head with straight sides and was diamond shape in section. It was an extremely efficient general purpose missile, the karimata, “forked arrow,” was a two prong design with very sharp cutting edged. These heads varied in size from one to six inches between the prongs. They were used to cut ropes and armor lacing. Another lovely number, a variation of the karimata, was known as the “bowel raker,” and was reputed to cause a horrible death.

 Ceremonial arrows had heads which were large, heavy and very elaborate – and quite useless as weapons. They often were made by famous artist-armorers.

 It is rather interesting to note that the length of the bow and arrow was related to the particular warrior who was to use them. The unit of measurement for the war bow was the distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger of the spread right hand of the archer. Twelve to fifteen of these units were considered the proper length of the bow. The unit of measurement for war arrows was the width of the right hand, across the palm. Here again, twelve to fifteen of these units were reckoned to be the proper length for the arrows.

 Several kinds of quivers were used. One consisted of an open box to which a framework was attached to support the shafts of the arrows. The heads rested within the box and were kept apart by a series of small metal bars. Sometimes the box contained a small drawer in which spare bow and arrows were carried. Another type of quiver was closed wooden container with hinged lids at the top and on the sides, this type kept the arrows safe from the elements but it was damned awkward to get the arrows, Quivers were highly lacquered and richly decorated.

 Archers of higher rank were gloves resembling gauntlets. The second and third fingers were of softer leather and were usually of different color than the rest of the glove. The right thumb had a double thickness of leather on the inside to tae wear of the bow string. Lower ranks wore an abbreviated glove on the right hand only. This consisted of a thumb and two fingers, these attached to a broad band which tied about the wrist. At times all degrees archers wore a mail covered glove on the left hand to protect the hand holding the bow.

 The flaring neck guard of the characteristic Japanese helmet, in the case of archers, sometimes was hinged on the right side so that it could be folded back out of the way when the bow was being used. Many mounted archers, as well as other mounted warriors, frequently wore a horo. This was a long, wide piece of cloth attached at the top to the rear of the helmet and at the bottom to the waist. It was ornamented with the chop mark or crest of the wearer. As the archer rose along this bellied out behind and protected the back from arrows.

 In any discussion of Japanese military history and weapons. It is well to note that the feudal era in Japan did not come to an end until comparatively recently; in the early 1800s/ as compare to the early 1400’s in Europe. Although firearms were introduced into Japan as early as 1543 by Portuguese traders. they were not developed to any great extent in Nippon until the end of the Nineteenth Century. This resulted in the Japanese passing directly from the use of the primitive matchlock to the modern breech-loading percussion rifle, both of which were copied in toto from Western models without any developments in between. One of the reasons for this was that the samurai, the Japanese warrior knights, with their peculiar codes of ethic and honor, regarded the use of firearms as ungentlemanly! Consequently the bow was a major weapon until the very dawn of the present century.

 With the advent of Commodore Perry and the opening of Japan to world trade and Western culture, that nation was thrown overnight from medieval times into the modern world. Among other things, the Japanese received all at one time all the blessings of an advanced arms technology. That they were apt pupils was well demonstrated in the South Pacific in World War II.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

Bow and Arrow Magazine May – June 1963


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Published by admin on 27 Jul 2009

Quiver Your Timbers By: Ross McKay

Quiver Your Timbers
By: Ross McKay

Bow And Arrow Magazine March – April 1968

 It seems as if it doesn’t matter how many arrows you carry, sometimes there never are enough to make that killing hit on game. All it takes is one arrow, well placed and with the right penetration to bag the game, be it squirrel, cow or elk.

 The different types of game offer different terrain for hunting and the requirements on the hunter and his equipment vary too. When out for a deer or other big game, you may not carry more than five arrows. The popular bow quivers are made to carry from five to eight arrows.


 The pesky ground squirrels, gophers and ground-hogs are different. There are many more of them in the field and usually you throw more arrows at them than at big game animals. One shot at a deer and it usually is gone unless you are one of the fortunate few who have had them stand around waiting for the next shot.

 One of the most popular quivers, one that will work very well regardless of the game hunted, is the back quiver. The Indians used them and they lived by the bow. The back quiver can carry many arrows, depending on how big you make it, and it can be silenced to keep the rattle dow. Many archers never have used anything else.

 There are many styles of back quivers on the market, both of leather and the solid frame styles. Each has a different advantage to the hunter but let’s take a look at the old style, ever popular, leather back quiver. This is the type used by the Indians, made from the skins of the animals killed.


 These differ from the modern quiver in one respect. They are made of soft leather. If you make a quiver from the last deer you killed or just go out and buy the leather on the market, you have to determine which tyoe, the soft or hard leather, you wish to make. The soft quiver is perhaps the fastest: It requires less leather and the top can be held open with a piece of coat hanger to keep the shafts available and aid in replaceing the shafts in the quiver when picked up. It has the advantage of holding the shafts together and therefore minimizing the noise they can make rattling together as you walk. A soft black quiver can be very silent.

 One disadvantage of this style is that it holds a limited quantity of arrows and there is a problem on keeping the sharp broadheads from rattling togther and dulling themselves. Steel on steel is fine when it is a sharpening steel on a hroadhead but two sharp broadheads rubbing together. This can be overcome by putting a piece of balsa wood or sponge rubber in the bottom of the quiver and placing the head in it. This also requires removing the quiver from the back. A bit slow and often not too good in game country.

 There are many styles of the popular center and side back quiver. Some have large capacity and others are smaller. Your choice depends upon your requirements. Making a back quiver is relitively easy or difficult, depending on what you need. First you must determine the type of quiver. Is it to be a large one for squirrels and rabbits or a smaller one? Let’s make on of each.


First you will need a pattern. Tandy Leather Company in Texas has been in the leather business for many years and they have patterns for just about anything you can think of, including archery quivers. They have one pattern for a center back style that will hold many arrows and they have a kit that will make a small size shoulder or hip quiver. The quiver itself is the same but the straps are different, depending on the use. Some time ago I purchased a back quiver kit from a local store and promised the little woman I would carve a deer scene on it for her.

 If you have never done leather carving, it is an experiance in itself. Two years later when I started getting material together to write the article the memory of the spouse revived and she mentioned that now would be an excellent time to make that quiver for her. After all, I had promised. True. What I had in mind was not to carve a quiver at all to put it together the fastest and easiest way. Impossible!!


 Out came the tools and after several nights of banging with the hammer the carving was done. The next step would be to saddle stitch it, once again the fast and to me the best looking method. Oh no! It must be laxed with leather, after all, it had been promised. After several more hours of pulling leather through leather the quiver was finished. It isn’t that much work if you enjoy the type of activity.

 The patterns that come with the kit can be saved after the quiver has been completed and used for future quivers if you like the style. They lay the entire project out for you from beginning to end, step by step and furnish precut leather for the job.

 You can bypass all the carving and merely put the kit together with saddle stitching or take it to the local shoe shop and have them stitch it together with their machine. Another alternate is to use rivets for putting it together. They can be purchased from Tandy and are very good since  all that’s required is a punch to make the hole and a hammer to pound the two pieces together. The finished quiver will hold a dozen shafts easily and has only one strap over the shoulder. Itis both simple and efficient: the cost is less than five dollars.

 Now if you want a simple quiver, one that you can put together very quickly and one that will hold enough arrows for a day’s shooting whether for varmints or big game, it is not hard to come up with a good design of your own. First determine what type you want, full center back or over the shoulder. I favor the over the shoulder style since I don’t bend easily. If you are limber any style will work.

 First make a pattern from heavy craft paper, show card, or butcher paper. You can cut this and then for it to see how the finished product will look. I you don’t like it it is much easier to make a new one from paper than from leather; also much cheaper. If you want it simple you can cut a rectangle from your paper and form it to the quiver shape. This will hold many arrows, depending on how big you make it of course. You can go too big and defeat your purpose.

The one thing that will take a bit of extra effort is the base of the quiver. You can take a polythylene bottle, one with a shape that you like, and cut the bottomnfrom this and use it as the base of your quiver. It will stop the broadheads from going through and you can alwayd put a piece of carpet or wood in the bottom for softness and strength.

 One system I use that works very well is to take a piece of scrap lumber and cut an oblong hole in it, the size you wish for the bottom of your quiver. Do this with a saber saw, coping saw or other type that will allow you to use the center plug that will be cut out. The size I use measures five and one half inches long and three inches wide. Cut it with ends rounded of course.


 After the hole is cut and the plug or center piece is out, take a file and taper the side of the hole so it slants inward from one side. Sand it smooth and coat it with wax or paraffin. Take the center section and sand it down. I found that I had to sand mine down almost one half inch all around for the proper fit. It will vary as to the thickness of the leather used.

 You don’t know what you’re doing? You are making a pattern that you can use for the base of your quiver. Take the center plug, after sanding, and cover it wit wax or paraffin. Now you have your base or bottom of your quiver, at least the form of it, and the pattern for the sides or main body of the quiver.

 The main section of the quiver can vary in height, depending on the length of shafts you shoot. If you are a long draw archer you will make your quiver a bit longer. I made one that measured twenty-one inches long and it works quite well for me. The one I made for my wife illustrated here is nineteen inches in length. Make them long enough to cover at least two-thirds of the shafts used and maybe a little more since the broadhead will change the overall length of your shaft by two inches or more.


Now that you have your patttern cut for the body and base of the quiver, you are ready buy the leather. Most harness or saddle shops have leather they will will seel in small lots. I made a quiver from the belly leather that a saddle shop couldn’t use. Such leather will vary in cost as to the quality and the quantity needed. Belly leather usually is cheap but you must look out for bad sections in it, especially in the flank areas.

 Allow enough extra leather from the body section or buy an extra piece or two for making the straps. You will need a shoulder strap and at least one strap to come from the base of the quiver to meet the shoulder strap. I made mine with two straps, one from each side of the quiver to meet the shoulder strap in front, but this isn’t necessar. Just allow enough good leather for strap material. You might even have the shop owner make the cuts you need if you like. They often will do it for a small charger. Either way, take the leather home and if you do the cutting, use a strap knife, and a straightedge, such as a ruler, to get a good straight line on your cut. Unless you are very steady, freehand cutting will give you wavy lines.


Take a piece of leather for the base; it should be about six by eight inches if you use the same board cuts I did and soak it in water for several hours. I prefer to have my base cut and formed before going ahead with the rest of the quiver. After the leather has soaked long enough it should be soggy and very pliable. Lay it over the hole cut in the board with the finish side of the leather facing you. Take the block that was cut from the center of the board and place this over the leather. Now take a wide headed mallet or hammer and pound the leather into the hole using the black to force it in. When it is even with the bottom of the board, place it in a corner to dry. When it dries it will be very stiff, just what you need for the base of your quiver. Remove it from the board form. I use the center section or block and cut right at the top of this with a sharp knife. When the excess leather is trimmed away you will have a cup or oval shaped piece of leather about one inch deep.

 Take the base and the main section of leather and form the body of the quiver around the base. If you made the square or rectangle shape cut for the quiver the top will be as big as the bottom. If you want the top flared a bit more than the bottom merely cut one side on an angle. You can angle both sides if you like or just one. Now with the flared top, as illustrated, youcan allow about one half inch overlap on the leather for stitching. If you prefer to butt the leather and cross lace, that will work too.

 We now have a flared top quiver wih the base formed. All that is left is to assemble the two parts and add the straps. If you like measurements, the top of the quiver measures eighteen inches ling, nineteen inches high, and the base is thirteen and seven-eighths or around it off the fourteen if you want. This is allowing about a half inch overlap for stitching.


 Place the body of the quiver with the finished side out over the base and curl it around the base. If you like you can hold it with clamps while forming, When using the base leather have the cup part facing down. Take rubber cement and apply to the sides of the base and about one half inch on the bottom inside main section. Determine where the leather will overlap a punch a hole in the base at this point. If you have cut your body with one side straight, the line formed by the overlap will be on a diagonal down the back of the quiver. If you butted it, it will be down the center.

 After punching the pilot hole, punch one side of the main body and hold it in place. Take the rest of the leather and work it around the bottom, holdng it snug against the base. The rubber cement will stick and help at this point. At intervals you can punch holes through both the body leather and the base. This will guarantee that the base and body will fit snug, When you arrive back at the pilot hole, punch a hole in the overlap section making it fit the base and first hole punched.
 The hole punching is done very easily with a leather punch. If you don’t have one and don’t want to buy one, you can use an electric drill. The size hole will be determined by the type of fastening you plan to use. You can use the rivets made and sold by Tandy, pop rivets will work fine but would be rather costly, or regular copper harness rivets will do. If you have no rivets and want to vary the looks a bit, take some latigo leather shoe lacing and pull it through the holes and lace the entire quiver.

 Overlap the center seam about one half inch and mark the punching at one inch intervals. Punch the outside first. The using these holes mark the punch position on the inner side. This will ame the holes match the lacing. Take about two feet of the latigo leather lacing and lace up the back of the quiver. You will have a tag left over that you can run inside.

 The main part of the quiver now is finished. All that remains is to put a dividing strap on the top and the shoulder and base straps.

 The dividing strap is placed either in the center of the quiver or run through in two places. It prevents the quiver from seperating when full and also helps to divide the safts. You can put field points in one section, blunts in another and broadheads in the third.

 You can make the strap for this from the extra leather left from the main section or purchased for this reason. A piece one half inch wide and sixteen to eighteen inches long will do. Put this through the top in two places and either use a buckle to join in the front or rivet to hold it solid.

 The shoulder strap should be made wide at the top where ot attaches to the quiver. This will make it ride easily on the shoulder. If you make it too marrow it will have a tendency to dig into the shoulder and become a nagging nuisance. Make it a tapered cut, three and one half inches at the top and tapering to an inch and one half at the bottom where it will be folded over once inch D ring. The length of the strap is nineteen inches with one inch folded over the ring and two inches inside the quiver where it is attached with rivets.

 The strap for the bottom is made with a strap cutter or a straightedge. It should be three quarters of an inch wide and eighteen inches long. This is longer than needed but if you have the leather it is best to make straps long, it is easier when it comes to making adjustments. The end of the strap is riveted to the bottom of the quiver on the right side, in back naturally. It is attached just where the base starts to curve. Bring the other end up and now you will need a snap and buckle. I used a chap snap, again purchased with my leather, and a harness buckle. You may substitute a regular buckle if you like but the harness buckle makes a neat finished job, is easily adjusted and leaves nothing to snag on brush.


 The quiver is finished! You can fill it with arrows and make the necessary adjustments as needed. The single strap method may not work for you. It won’t for me so I brought another strap around from the left side of the quiver and about six inches from the bottom and again a snap that will fit into the D ring.

 The quiver can carry up to thrity shafts if you want to jam them in that tight for really getting with the varmints. One problem I had with my back quiver was trying to go under trees and through brush. I always managed to snag the quiver on a limb and had to back up to untangle. Before I mastered the art of crawling through fences with m back quiver. I would always dump all or nearly all my shafts on the ground and curse as I had to stop and pick them up as squirrels watched. Now I can move through brush with little problem, I can go through fences too and the squirrels that were watching before are now running for cover.

 One thing about the back quiver I favor, it carries a lot of bow ammo and when you get used to it you really can pepper a hillside with shafts in a hurry.

 You may want to vary the style of the quiver, you can make it from deer skin, coyote or cat fur if you like.You can carve it, burn your brand or name on it because leather is very versatile material with which to work and all if requires is a sharp knife, a punch, and a pattern. Once you have the pattern for the type you like, file it away and if the one you make ever wears out or a friend wants one, you can bring it out for them to use or revise yourself.
 Back quivers aren’t quiet as a rule and they can dull a sharp broadhead but many archers have downed many game, animals, and varmints carrying them, not to mention their use before we ever started the sport.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

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Published by admin on 27 Jul 2009

Slingthing Wingding By: Dean A. Grennell

Slingthing Wingding
By: Dean A. Grennell

Bow And Arrow Magazine March – April 1968

 In its basic principles, the Slingthing is simple it can be constructed by almost anyone and probably it has been. Rare indeed is the person who, at some point in his urchinhood, did not trim a likely looking fork from a tree with his trusty Barlow knife, cutting strips from a discarded innertube for the elastics plus a pouch from the tongue of an old shoe, blinding the pieces together with scraps of store string to terrorize the local sparrows with selected hunks of gavel. Such devices tended to break down rather quickly, provided you didn’t shatter a window and get them confiscated sooner.

 The idea of substituting a strng in place of the leather pouch, thus permitting the launching of arrows instead of rocks, is not particularly new. Such devices have been around for several years in one form or other. However, the best of them tended to fall short of equalling the performance of a bow of comparable draw weight, Likewise, the concept of a brace coming back to the upper surface of the forearm to lend support to the wrist has been around for some while now.

 So the Slingthing can claim one inovation: a slotted semi-circular trough on the front to hold the elastic in one continuous lubricated, readily changed if desired. However, somewhere in the process of picking up this refinement, the Slingthing acquired a startling gain of capability. It delivers a punch close to the point of incredibility.

 The elastic used in the Slingthing is latex-based — i.e., non-synthetic — surgical rubber tubin, black in coloe and it seemsca bit snappier than the more familiar brown surgical tubing. The Slingthing’s creator, Robert Blair, obtains the elastic in various diameters and wall thickness from an eastern surgical supply house and notes thatit resists deterioriation somewhat better than the brown type, this being sort of side bonus.

 Blair’s development of the Slingthing has been under way over the course of the past few years, with a series of mutations, each showing useful improvements and refinements. Application has been made for a patent to cover the slotted yoke which is the Slingthing’s distinctive innovation.


My own introduction to the Slingthing was rather perfunctory. BOW & ARROW’s gruff kindly editorial director dropped it upon my desk, together with an assortment of spare elastics and a small plastic bottle filled with rubber lubricant.

 “Take this out and see how it shoots,” was his terse suggestion.
 “What does it shoot?”
 “Arrows, among other things,” he replied.
 “So where are the arrows?”

 “It looks as though we’ll have to promote some,” he said and, within days, Jim Easton loaned a box of experimental Easton hunting shafts, of a size equivalent  #2016. A rifle over thirty-two inches from nock tip of the field heads, they weigh appromimately 530.4 grains with a shaft diameter of .3122-inch. Viewed in their study shipping carton, they looked much too pretty to shoot with their eye-achingly vivid scarlet shafts and fluorescent-canary fletching. But, with a conscious effort, we unpacked them and set out to deduce the proper way of launching them via Slingthing.


 When set up in its arrow-launching configuration, the Slingthing has a sheet-nylon rest up front, relieved to allow clearance for the feathers, with a flat V-shaped component joining the rear the ends of the elastic. Blair refers to the latter as the nylon nock engager: It corresponds to the string of a bow.

 A couple of minor problems manifested themselves at the outset. Since the nock engager is not under tension, you cannot seat the nock against it and commence to draw as you would when using a conventional bow. As it turns out, the technique  I worked out is about the same as Blair uses the abdomen, I hold it there with the left hand, meanwhile guiding the nock against its engager with both left and right hands. When it’s in place with a light tension on the elastics, the left hand is shifted to the pistol-type grip, the brace is positioned atop the left forearm and the nock is held in place on the nock engager between the right thumb and forefinger. Since the engager is a rather loose fit within the nock, some slight degree of tension must be maintained on the nock with the fingers during the draw to keep it fro  slipping off.

 The second problem involves getting a firm sort of grip on the nock engager which is equipped with a tuft of shaggy leather to afford a holding surface. After trying in both ways, I gravitated toward keeping my thumb on the lower surface of the engager with the four knuckles uppermost and roughly parallel to the horizon. As it turns out Blair has developed a preference for keeping his thumb on the upper side of the engager, with his crooked forefinger along the lower surface. When using the heavier elastics, he puts on an improvised finger stall made by cutting the forefinger off an old glove. Since he has acquired his power and accurrancy to a degree considerably beyond my as yet modest attainments, I’d have to concede the thumb-up technique is surperior.

 The accurancy potential of the Slingthing has no, as yet, been fully explored. My prowess in the accurancy department, with any sort of archery tackle, is such that, with about five years of intensive practice, I might attain mediocrity. Mr. and Mrs. Blair claim little, if any, greater deadliness of eye  although they turned in some fairly  creditable targets at fifty feet. It would be interesting  to have a Slingthing wrung out on targets by accomplished marksman but, alas, none were on tap during the period of testing. Since the arrow is loosed by relaxing  the tension between thumb and forefinger, it should be possible to do fairly well with it because it’s not rolled off the fingertips, as with a conventional bowstring.


 The business of making the draw on the pincer-like strength of thumb and forefinger sets some sort of upper limit on the power of the elastics being used. The heaviest unit supplied with the test Slingthing had a pull of approximately thirty pounds and I found myself able to draw it full back with no particular difficulty. However, when Blair dropped in at the BOW & ARROW editorial offices with some experimental elastics running to a bit over fifty pounds, my success with them proved somewhat less thn salutary. After inadvertantly putting one of his arrows out of reach forever in the bottom of a fenced drainage ditch bordering the Citrus College archery range, which had been borrowed for the conclusion of the test’s, I passed the beefed-up Slingthing back to its inventor and foremost practitioner for the remainder of the distance attempts.


 Blair proceeded to engage in a session of flight shooting, driving light aluminum arrows with field points to distances as great as 190 longpaces. With the sample hunting shafts supplied by Easton, the fifty-pound elastic got them out to a bit beyond 160 paces, with some of Blair’s hunting broadheads alighting at about the same distance. Switching to the thirty-pound elastic reduced distance but not as much as one might expect : depending upon the type of arrow, flights from 120 to 140 paces were turned with ease.

 Blair explained that the lubricant, properly used, is a vital factor obtaining the rather impressive distances of which the Slingthing is capable. Lack of lube up in the curved support yoke through which the elactic passes will lop as much as twenty or thirty yards off of the maximum distances. Undoubtlym this is due to the frictional resistance set up by the elastic rubbing against the rear surface of the yoke as it contracts upon release. The lubricant, by minimizing this friction brings about a rate of contraction almost as rapid as if the elastic were contracting untouched by other materials.

 There is a receptable provided in the hollow base of the pistol grip to hold a hex-wrench and the angles and relative positions of the various parts can be adjusted to almost any desired configuration and re-tightened by the wrench provided. Thus, if the shooter favors his left hand, it is quick and simple to set it up for use in that manner. By this means, one can “customize” the Slingthing to his individual tastes. An accessory carrier can be attached to the lower end of the pistol grip to carry two spare elastic units, if desired.

 Blair currently has another accessory under development. This thumb-release grip designed to bypass the problem of developing the thumb muscles to super-human levels for the use of the heavier elastics. Use of this system requires a special nock engager and the elastic unit made up witht hat engager was not as powerful as the fifty-pounder used in the flight trial. However, the distances attained with the thumb-release device, which permits the use of two fingers in the draw, was barely a few paces short of the performance turned in by the heavier elastic.


 As further aspect of the Slingthing’s versatility, Blair produced some elastics made up with a leather pouch in place of the nylon nock engager. By switching to one of these, and removing the arrow guide from the yoke, any sort of suitable small missile can be launched : marbles, ball bearings, backshotor pebbles. And, again, the power is impressive With the heavier elastics, a seven-sixteenths-inch nut can be driven through 24-gauge corrugated sheet iron, according to Blair.

 We didn’t have any sheet iron available, but with the thrity-pound elastic. I drove one of the Easton hunting shafts througha sheet of one-half-inch fir plywood.

 Blair, an aluminum welderwith a firm specializing in aluminum extrusions, plans to make and market the Slingthing, visualizing a price under $30. Although it may appear somewhat unconventional to the archery purist, the potentials of the novel device should no be discounted lightly. It may take a fair degree of accurancy rivalling that of the bow but it seems well within reasonable possibility. Having mastered the attainment of accurancy, the operator of a Slingthing would enjoy several advantages.

 For one thing, it’s considerably more compact than any sort of bow, including the crossbow, requiring less length than arrow itself. It’s ready for use at all times, requiring neither time nor effort to be strung. And, last but not least, it offers a choice of readily adjustable weights of pull, from less than twenty pounds to well over fift, plus an option to change from arrows to universally available pebbles if one should lose his last arrow far from the nearest archery shop.

 At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any way you can convert the Slingthing into a bow drill to serve as an emergency substitute for matches but Blair may be cogitating on that angle, too. He mentioned that he’s building a version with an attached reel for the Slingthing variant  of bowfishing. So anything is possible and quite a few things are probable.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

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Published by admin on 27 Jul 2009

Backyard Monsters By Mike Lapinski


Backyard Monsters
By Mike Lapinski

Bow and Arrow Magazine January 2001

Mark Drury was feeling hopeful, but lonely, as he sat in his new stand on the afternoon of October 28, 1998, in Pike County, Illinois. He gambled his entire hunt on a single track sunk into th mud of a trail 15 yards in front of him, but he hadn’t seen much deer activity so far.

From his tree stand 20 feet up in a hickory tree, he glanced down at the huge track. Had a monster buck made it, as he suspicioned, or had an average deer squished out the track in the trail’s mud?

One way or another, he was about to find out. He sucked in a deep breath and placed the MADD Grunt & Wheeze call between his lips. He emitted three sof grunts, then lightly worked his rattle box.

He scanned the terrain. All was quiet, except for a huge fox squirrel loping along a limb in a nearby tree. Mark chuckled softly as the squirrel furiously scolded him to disturbing the peace of that secluded hollow. Then he glanced to his right– and saw the biggest deer of his life!

He almost choked on the call as his eyes feasted on a huge whitetail buck standing no more than 20 yards away, surveying the area ahead for the brazen bucks who would dare invade his domain. Before Mark could raise his bow, the buck trotted closer and now stood just 10 yards away, but quartering toward him. Mark silently cringed. That was a shot he swore he’d neve take, and he wasn’t going to try it now, even for the trophy of a lifetime.


The buck stamped its front legs impatiently while its massive head and antlers swung back and forth, searching for the other deer. Then the buck took a furtive step backward and turned to leave. That gave Mark a perfect quartering-away shot. He drew in one smooth motion, placed the sight pin just behind the buck’s shoulder.

The arrow zipped forward and dissapearedin the buck’s chest. The startled animal jumped and galloped into the scrub brush and high grass. A short time later, Mark located the buck. It was huge, but he dared not estimat an exceptional trophy animal.


The buckwas later measured, and Mark wasn’t dissapointed. The 5×5 antlers with five kickers grossed a whopping 195 1/8 points (184 6/8 net typical), not only placing it high up in the Pope and Young Record Book, but also sending it into the coveted Boone and Crockett Record Book. All because of a single track in the mud.

Even more amazing was the fact that locals, upon viewing, the huge buck, scratched their heads. No one had even seen a deer! This, in a heavingly populated area wit lots of farming activity.

That’s how it is with trophy-sized whitetail bucks. They seek out those overlooked corners where the cover and wind favor them. They feedat night when human eyes can’t see them. And they die of old age. That is, unless some shrewd bowhunter like Mark Drury sneaks in and finds their hideout.

The key to harvesting a big buck, as we saw with Mark’s hunt, is locate a secluded corner of the woods where few bowhunters venture, determine that a big buck lives there, and then get the animal within bow range. Sounds overwhelming doesn’t it? It’s not! You can move up to the challenge of trophy whitetail hunting if you knowhow these recluse deer think., how they live and how to hunt them.

The Making Of A Trophy Buck

Trophy-sized bucks attain their impressive racks through one major avenue-age. Sure, genetics and nutrition play a part, but the longera buck stays alive, the larger his rack will grow. You aren’t going to see a 2-year-old buck supporting a record book rack. To grow an impressive set of antlers, say in the 130-point class, a buck has to live about four years.

But just about everywhere in whitetail country, the chances of a buck living that long are not good. In some of the more populations eastern states, which as Pennsylvania, hunting pressure is so heavy that the average age for a harvested whitetail buck is 1 1/2 years old–a spike or forked horn. Those frisky young deer that stay out with the does feeding on acorns in open oak forests, or munching alfalfa in vast fields end up in the freezer. But thanks to genes in some bucks, they begin, even as yearlings, to instinctively seek more secluded areas away from other deer where most hunters are found.


One of the most amazing records of reculsive whitetail behavior has related to me by Charlie Alsheimer, considered to be one of the foremost authorities on the whitetail behavior. Charlie told me that he observed four button bucks in a forested research enclosure one fall, then the deer disapeared. The next fall, he watched one of these young bucks pass under his tree stand, never to be seen again.

These young bucks instinctively sought out the secluded corners of the research forestm staying hidden in cover during daylight hours and feeding either within that cover or waiting until dark to venture into the open.
In other words, these bucks became what we call, “nocturnal.” That doesn’t mean they stayed bedded until dark; it just means they stayed out of sight during daylight hours. They still rose and fed during prime deer movement hours, but in a more restricted area of cover and security.

Understanding the nature of a nocturnal buck is critical to succesfully bowhunting that animal because, with the knowledge that even the big reculsive bucks move around during hunting hours, it then becomes possible to get within bow range if you can figure out “where” that deer is moving during daylight hours.


Much has been made about this craftiness of a mature whitetail buck to live undetected right under our noses, but this behavior  is not impossible to understand  or solve. The deer simply learned to hide in a sanctuary where humans rarely enter and to stay out of sight during daylight hours. Find that sanctuary , and you’ll have the key to entering into the hallowed ground of the trophy buck.

Big Bucks Have A Preference

A buck that becomes reculse and nocturnal seeks out come one or more areas where he feels secure. Usually, it willcontain dense cover. Depending upon the geographic region, it may consist of brush tangles, sedar swamp or heavy forest. In corn country, it may be in the middle of a vast corn field. Within this secure area, the buck freely roams during huntable daylight hours, and he won’t consider leaving if enough feed and water exist.

A quick survey of your hunting area will eliminate vast tracts of land where lack of cover and/or human acivity make life unbearable for one of these reclusive deer. You can then scout through the more inaccessable and remote pockets where you suspicion a trophy buck might be hiding.

When I look for sign of a mature buck in an area, I rely on three things: sightings, tracks and a rut sign. Folks love to talk about big deer they’ve seen, and by asking local residents you’ll soon know if any big bucks are in the area.  Farmers are another great source of this information because they are often out near the fringes of these big-buck sanctuaries, and though a buck may run away from a farmer on his tractor, the deer usually won’t leave the area because he has been conditioned to this kind of human since birth.

Experienced deer hunters, myself included, rely greatly on tracks to indicate the precense of a big buck on a promising looking area. Remember, it was a single big track that tipped Mark Drury off to the monster buck he harvested.

A few years ago I was driving along a forested road that followed a creek bottom choked with brush. As I came around a corner, I saw a large buck dash across the creek and disappear into a thicket on the other side. I didn’t get a clear look at the deer’s rack., but it looked very big. I parked a quarter mile down the road, then slipped back and waded the creek. I found a huge deer track in a trail that led from the creek into that secluded thicket.

The rut had just begun, and I guessed that the bg buck was using the thicket across the creek for his bedding santuary, then crossing the creek to chase the numerous does that lived in the farm field nearby.

After checking the wind and surveying the thicket from a knoll I decided against trying to hang a tree stand across the creek because the bedding area was so small that I feared I’d be alert the buck to my presence. I decided to hunt from the ground.

One afternoon when the wind was blowing downstream, I crossed the creek and stood behind the roots of a blown-down spruce tree. An hour later the big buck materialized like a ghost, and I eased forward, hoping to intercept him before he dropped into the creek and wanderedoff.

I wasn’t able to move fast enough to get the deer before he reached the creek bank 40 yards away, but the buck didn’t want to slide down the steep bank, so he turned and walked toward me. When he turned to drop into the creek at 20 yards, I sent an arrow through his chest. He roared across the creek, but piled up in the brush on the other side. He was a perfect five-pointer that scored 142 points. On this succesful hunt, I was able to use both the deer’s sighting, plus its tracks, to take home a dandy trophyy animal.

My friend, Paul Brunner, also relies on large tracks and sightings, but during the rut, he also keeps an eye out for large trees in the four-inch diameter range that have been rubbed—a sure indication that a mature buck is present. Rarly, will a small buck rub such a large tree.

I usually choose midday hours to search for big-buck sign because this is the time when the deer will be tunneled into the dense cover. I try to stay off trails to avoid leaving human scent, and I also keep quiet while I search for sign of install a tree stand.  I then leave the area the same wyy I came in. The object of all this stealth is to penetrate the big buck’s sanctuary without the deer being aware that you were there. That’s not always possible, especially when it comes to hanging a tree stand, and that’s why it’s a good idea to hang your stands a few months before you plan to hunt an area.

Methods That Work

It is dangerous to enter a big buck’s santuary because you run the risk of alerting him to your presence, but in many areas it is the only way to get a shot at him. In this situation, human scent is the primary enemy of the bowhunter. You can do everything right, but if a swirling wnd carries your scent to a thicket where the buck is dozing, he’s going to leave that sanctuary for a period of time ranging from a few days to weeks. And he may never return if he has other sanctuarys.

For that reason, you should wait for a favorable wind before you penetrate a big bucks sanctuary. It’s very difficult to hold back when you see a big buck, or a huge rack, in a woodlot, but if you go in there when the wind is wrong, all your careful scouting and preperation will be wasted. Mark Drury told me that he had to wait several days for a northwest wind before he dared venture into that secluded Illinois woodlot.  It was obvious to Mark taht the big buck would be bedded in the tangles below and would surely catch his scent with anything but a wind blowing directly from the bedding ground to his stand.

But even a favorable wind doesn’t guarantee the buck won’t catch your scent. The process of walking to your stand, then sitting there for hours, will leave traces of your scent behind, and the buck will surely catch wiffs of it later when you’re gone. For that reason some experts, such as Gene Wensel and Fred Asbell., believe that a bowhunter has only one or two hunts in a buck’s sanctuary before the deer becomes aware of his presence and avoids the area.

Fortunately, most big-buck sanctuaries (corn fields excpeted) are not great feeding areas, consisting most;y of security cover. If there is not anough feed close by, the buck will emerge from his bedding cover and slowly feed toward the fringe of his sanctuary, almost always stepping into the open dark. Consequently, a trophy bowhunter should plan to install his tree stand inside that fringe area of this sanctuary were the deer might pass during shooting hours.

The key to successfully hunting a big buck’s sanctuary is to get inside the buck’s security zone, but not so close to his bedding area that you are faced with an almost impossible chore of coming and going without being detected. I usually set a tree stand along the ege of dense cover that I guess the buck is bedding in, choosing a tree from which I can shoot 20 yards incover.

Emerging Food Sources


A food source that matures overnight has the potential to lure a big buck beyond his normal travel route. For instance, the deer in the vast eastern oak forests wait anxiously for the mid-October frosts to send a rain of white  owk acorns onto the forest floor. The first trees to drop their seeds for those huge, billowing white oak trees—sometimes up to two weeks sooner than younger trees. I’ve seen deer massed under these mature white oak trees in Missouri, and it was obvious that some of the deer had left their normal range to feast on the high protein seeds.

A big buck may be tempted, because of marginal feed in his sanctuary, to venture out after these acorns. A maturing alfalfa crop might also be tempting. If you think, or know, that a big buck lives in certain woodlot, periodically check the deer  trails entering and leaving the area to see if the big buck has been leaving the area to see if the big buck has been leaving his sanctuary to feast on an emerging  food source. A tree stand over the appropriate game trail alont the fringe of the deer’s sanctuary should produce an opportunity.

Focus On The Rut

The majority of big bucks are killed during the rut for the follwing reasons: They are more active during the daylight hours, they’re more likely to enter open areas  searching for does, and they often respond to calling rattling. Let’s take another look at Mark Drury kill. Sure he found a great big-buck sanctuary, located a great game trail with a large track in it, then waited until the wind was right. But it was the soft calling and rattling that brought that buck within 10 ards of his tree stand.

My friend, Brad Harris, is an expert deer hunter and caller who is adamant about the necessity of concentrating your efforts when the bucks rut. Brad still-hunts in the morning and evening before the rut, but when breeding activity starts he begins to seriously hunt those stands near big-buck sanctuaries, calling softly and rattling occasionally, and he’s produced many huge bucks.

Paul Brunner is another top whitetail hunter who totally agrees with the idea of waiting until the rut to get serious about bowkilling a monster buck. Paul told me, “If you get anxious and move in too close to a big bucks bedding area before the rut, when he’s more active and preoccupied buck’s liable to be long gone before the rut kicks in.”

Paul is also a firm believer in hunting all day for big bucks during the rut, especially during midday. “Remember,” he told me, “those big bucks learned to stay in cover over in the morning and even ing because they know humans are out and about. And during the rut, they know that hunters aren’t out and about at midday. That’s why I’ve killed most of my big bucks between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.—becasue they figured the woods were empty. And they were, except for me.

Bowhunting trophy bucks is an adrenaline-charged sport with endless possibilities, but it is also fraught with dangers. More than once, I’ve spotted a huge buck hanging out in a woodlot, and I did everything right in scouting his sanctuary and hanging in a tree stand. Then I sat in stand and never saw the deer again. He either saw, heard or smelled me–and was gone.

That’s the way it is when you hunt monster bucks. You’ll experiance several defeats for every success. But when everything goes right, and that huge buck is standing broadside at 10 yards, that moment is worth a hundred defeats. Just as Mark Drury.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

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Published by admin on 24 Jul 2009

Tips On Tepees by Stephen Barde

Tips On Tepees
Here’s A  Compact, Easily Constructed For Outdoor Living!
— By Stephen Barde

Bow And Arrow Magazine March -April 1968

 The American Indian been reported to be a poor archer but an excellent stalker.  When one considers how they lived, there comes the realizaton that what we call survival methods taught by and for huntrs and th military, were actual living conditions of the Indians. They lived in all types terrain, through all seasons and survived for many years before they took theframe- sided home of today.


 The Indian tepee may be making a comeback in the camping and outdoor field. A friend of mine has camped out in all types of weather. He went through types of tents, the umbrella, side-wall, side-frame and all. He researched the Indian tepee and finally came across a book he that gave him the figures and pattern he needed. The Indian Tipi, Its History, Construction and Use, 1957 did tn, published in ladys Laubby Reginald and Gladys Laubin, published in 1957, did the trick. From patterns in the book and some of his own modifications, he built an Indian tepee from Douglas fir poles and lightweight boat canvas. He spent three months on a part-time catch-as-catch-can basis. The first problem was the poles. They were twenty feet long and there are fifteen of them plus two twenty-foot smoke poles. How to carry fifteen poles of that length and still be able to turn in a city block? He pondered this for a time and came up with a simple solution. He cut the twenty-foot poles in two, sleeved the upper end of the pole with the air-craft aluminum and in this manner he can carry all the required poles on top of his camper in a rack.


He used sixty yards of waterproof lightweight boat canvas in making the skin on the tepee. He laid out the design, then cut and sewed on his wifes machine he needed seams. It isn’t round when the skin opened onto the ground, but half round. This makes up into a compact package that will measure three-by-two-by-one foot and will slide under the seat of a pickup. An additional forty yards of the same material was used to make the dewclothe or inside liner. The needed materials, disgarding labor, cost in the neibrohood of $150.

Setting up the tepee is really simple, when you know how. I watched my friend put his up. He starts unloading the sections of poles from the top camper. He slides the base section into the tapered upper secton as e removes them from the rack. Next, he takes the three base poles and places them in a triangle on the ground. He marks each base of the triangle, moves the poles together and ties them together about four feet from the top with a piece of rawhide which has about thrity feet of manilla rope tied to it. After the poles are properly lashed together they are spread out and the third pole is used to pull the other two up to form a storng tripod base.


The next step is to place eleven of the remaining poles in a clockwise manner around and in the inter-locking top of the crossed base poles. There is a gap left at the back of the tepee for the raising or lifting  pole which goes up last. With the poles all in place  with the exception of the lifting pole, he takes the length of the manilla line and walks around the skeleton frame and wraps them all together  at the top with the line. He makes the line secure to one of the poles after several wraps with the rolling wrench.


The skin of the tepee now is taken from the pickup and placed on the ground. The bundle is unwrapped and the canvas straightened out along the lifting pole. The canvas is secured to the top of the pole and placed at the back of the frame. The skin is unwrapped around the sides When it comes to the front, it is secured temporarily by the thong ties.


The next step is the position each pole and to drive stakes in the ground, securing the bottom of the skin with peg loops on the bottom. The skin may be loosened or tightened by adjusting the poles in or out. After the skin is in porper tension, the front is secured by holding pins which are placed through eyelets provided. This gives the outward appearance of being complete.


 The slender smoke poles are placed in the pockets on the bottom of the smoke flaps. These poles will control the amount of air let through the interior of the tepee and also control the smoke from the fire. They may be opened for more draft in the warm air or closed down in cold weather. The outside is completed when the door is hun on the door peg on the front of the tepee.


The inside liner of dewcloth now is spread on the inside of the tepee and a line tied around each of the poles. The dewcloth is secured to this line and forms a draft area that moves air between the outside skin and this inside dewcloth. It makes the tepee cooler in hot weather, provides a draft for the open pit fir inside the tepeeand helps to carry off smoke. The tepee is complete now except for such refinements as adding the mats and sleeping bags.


The tepee measure sixteen feet in diameter and will hold four people snugly with plenty of room for sleeping, cookingm and extra gear. The draft through the tepee makes an excellent way to dry clothes if caught in the rain. The interior warms rapidly as soon as the open fire is started. We were shirt sleeve warm in the four degree weather in Colorado. You probably could get close to sixteen people in the tepee, but they would have to go outside to change their minds; it would be a bit snug.

 Some advantages of the tepee method of camping have been brought oout through six years of expericance. A wife will find it nice to be able to set up her Coleman stove inside the tepee on a cold day, cook in warmth and serve food while it’s hot. The cheer of open fire makes camping more a pleasure. The tripod base construction makes the tepee almost indestructable and it has withstood many high winds with no problem/ There is room to play cards or to stretch out and snooze if you like. The interior cools almost immediately as weather and contrary to most tents in hot weather was cooler  than it was in the nearby shade.


 The builder copied patterns from the Cheyenne tribe and painted them on the outside of the teppe, using the same tribal style for his construction and smoke flaps. Most plains Indians used the same construction  but varied the number and placement of the poles. The smoke flaps on the smoke poles varied from tribe to tribe and could be used by those versed in Indian lore to tell one tribe from another. One concession to modernism is to trench around the tepe in case it rains, good practice for any tent dweller.

 People always stop to look at the novel living quarters when camp is set up. Many are versed in the tepee and can tell it is Cheyenne style; others ask weird questions. The builders camped in the tepee in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California and found it to be the most enjoyable shelter they have ever used. It is portable with the short sectional poles, lightweight with the boat canvas and very sturdy.

 One of the more interestng episodes of their travel was while camped for hunting on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation central Arizona. They had a steady procession of Apaches coming to look at the tepee. One remarked that times do change. Here was a white man, hunting with bow and arrow and camping in a tepee while the Indian lived in a fram house and hunted with a .30-30 rifle.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

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Published by admin on 24 Jul 2009

Split Personality For A Bowyer

By C.R. Learner
Bow And Arrow Magazine Sept.-Oct. 1968


A gent names Neil Tarbell called and asked if I knew of any hunting country worth looking into.  That I did, so we set a weekend hunt and he promised to bring something new in the line of tackle.

Tarbell has been in archery, as archer and manufacturer, for fourteen years.  He makes the short Interceptor bow and I was curious to see what he would deliver.  When he showed up Friday night he had a grin and his partner Ken Jeffers.  He asked what I had in mind for hunting so I got out a map and showed him the territory. 

We drove to Calexico, California, just north of the Mexico border in Imperial Valley, that night.  I asked what he had for me to shoot and had been told to bring some fifty-pound spined shafts along with some under and over spine shafts.

That night, in an air-conditioned motel in Calexico, I told Tarbell and Jeffers I had my eye on the New River bottom just west of town.  It was thirty-eight feet below sea level and would be hotter than the proverbial noon.

After an early breakfast it was to the river bottom, a farming section offering plenty of cover.  The steep embankments should provide some squirrels, while jack rabbits should be lurking in the bottom.  On a side road, we stopped a half-mile from the hi-way.  Now I was to find out what Tarbell had up his short sleeved shirt.


The bow he handed me to shoot was radical.  Instead of the usual single upper and lower limbs, there was a matched pair of them, one on each side of the handle which was dead center in the bow.  The tips if the limbs were held together with a cross-piece of hardwood, top and bottom, and this caused me to wonder.  One thing desirable in bows is light tip weight.  These tips were massive, the string held by center nocks on the cross pieces.  The handle was held to the limbs in two places – above and below- with the hand Tarbell had two bows, one for me to shoot and one for himself.  This was the new Tarantula, as monicker Tarbell calls the radical bow.


He handed me the bow and the string.  I had brought along my tackle box with nocks .  I held the bow in the standard stringing position, then was stymied.  There was no limb to slide the hand up to string the bow. This could be a problem but Tarbell had an answer.  He used the new Dei stringer, the first time I had ever seen one in action, and the bow was braced with no problem.  The foot-type stringing cord would work but this Dei made the job extremely simple.

Strung, the bow resembled a conventional bow in that it had a string between working limbs.  In this case it was four limbs, but the principle was similar.  I took my Saunders bow square, marked the string, attached the nockset with the pliers and was ready.


The bow I had was forty-five pounds.  This was enough for the little varmints.  The handle fit and the arrow rest on this bow can be adjusted from dead center and down the shaft to either plus or minus spine.  By moving the rest to the right, I could shoot a thirty-five-pound spined shaft out of the bow and by moving it back to the left and a bit past center I shot a fifty-pound spine.

Most of the hunting was done with my cedars, which spine out at sixty pounds – ten over the fifty-plus bow I usually shoot.  This gave an advantage in that the rest could be adjusted to the individual’s needs and a variety of spines could be shot from the same bow; not at the same time, of course, but after a bit of adjusting for the arrow in use.


I picked up my cedar shaft, brought it along side the bow and smacked it into the left limb, I had tried to put the shaft on the bow in the conventional manner but this wasn’t a conventional bow.  I grinned and took the shaft down between the limbs and onto the rest.  Tarbell had cut a side groove in the rest so the fletch would move below the rest and pass through.  With the handle on this bow you could shoot either right or left-handed, merely adjust the arrow rest. 

I nocked the shaft, brought the Tarantula up and came to full draw.  It had no stack at my draw and held on a sidehill to see if I could hit a clod of dirt about thirty yards away.  The shaft came close; close enough for a new bow at any rate.  The tips moved slow, but the arrow moved well for a forty-plus bow.


While I shot a few practice shafts to learn whether I needed to adjust the arrow rest for my shafts, Tarbell strung up the other Tarantula.  He had this tuned for his shooting and said it was about forty pounds.  I wanted to try my shafts in the lighter bow.  They flew left and didn’t come close to the dirt clod.  I had some lighter shafts in the bag and took one at thirty-five pounds and it zipped out of the bow right on target.  Tarbell had it set to shoot his own shafts, so that would make the difference.  Jeffers set up his short hunter and we were ready for the critters.

We dropped off the side of the river bank to the wide greasewood clogged bottom and spread out.  I had the river on my left, Jeffers in the middle and Tarbell on the extreme right.  The bottom had a wide barren section down the middle.  Along the actual trickle of river and the bluff on the right were high, almost impenetrable growths of greasewood and willows.  I could hear Tarbell’s 250 pounds plowing through the brush on the right.  If there were rabbits in there they would come boiling out, but there not one creature of any type.  On the way back to the pickup, we decided to backtrack and try the other side farther up the river.  I let three shafts fly in a flight test to see how far the Tarantula would throw its web.  I paced off 157 paces and there were the three shafts in a neat row, not more than two paces separating them.  The arrows had moved out of the bow in clean flight with no wobble or wiggle.

Stump shooting on the way back, we moved back across the bridge.  I remarked that we were probably the lowest hunters in the U.S. that day, hunting thirty-eight feet below sea level as we were.  They warned me that another remark like that and I might be walking back.


The sun was really burning down now.  When we dropped over the river bank on the opposite side, there wasn’t a breath of air in the bottom land.  Hot and sticky, the day was just warming up.  The water kept the humitity high and the heat was moving the mercury up the scale.  The brush was high, while dead, fallen brushes made the footing so difficult that, should we see game, we wouldn’t be able to get a shot.  The cover was too good for bow hunting.

We decided to bull our way through the high brush to the bluffs.  There were holes in the cliff face that meant squirrels, maybe.  Tarbell held his bow over his head and just went straight ahead like a tank.  I watched him and figured, if he could do it, I could.  I made about ten feet when I hit a bush bigger than I was and down I went.  I managed a fat lip from a jagged snag but finally used my head and followed Tarbell’s path.

When we got beyond the brush, we scouted the bluffs for game.  In that heat, over a hundred, a few doves flew from the edges, but they were safe and knew it.  Even too hot for the ever present rattlers.

After two hours of travel on Hi-way 80 west, we went along the Sunrise Highway in the Laguna Mountains and passed a sigh saying it was 5000 feet elevation. 

We tramped the hills and saw one fox, some cows, one or two tree squirrels and experienced a light breeze in the pines.

We pulled up to a gate and , as I opened it, five ground squirrels scrambled for their dens.  We broke out the bows and moved together in a line, spooking six rabbits before we reached the top of the hill.  I could hear the shafts bouncing on the brush and dirt but less cries of hits.

We moved around the hill and Jeffers took off into the sage after a sneaking rabbit.  Tarbell was behind, looking for any that thought they might be safe after we had passed through.

Tarbell and Jeffers were shooting.  I had taken a few running shots but I knew the best was still ahead.  When we came over the rise toward a little draw I told them to stand by.  Rabbits came from everywhere.  They went straight up the hill toward Tarbell and he started laughing.  One had run right between his legs and he couldn’t get a line on it.

I spotted a squirrel on a rock, showing just his head and part of his shoulders.  I came to draw with the shaft I had on the Tarantula, let fly, but the squirrel was gone as the shaft zipped over the top of the rock.  I reached to my back quiver for another shaft as a spot of brown appeared on the same rock.  I brought the shaft out fast, placed it between the limbs and let fly a fast, instinctive shot, going through the back of the squirrel.  We estimated the range at fifty yards.


I saw a tuft of bunny fur under a sage clump, but I had to thread the arrow through a narrow opening in the sage. I came to draw and pinned him to the ground, without a sound.

The Tarantula had been kicking around on Tarbell’s idea board for sometime.  He makes the limbs in one section, then cuts them on special equipment.  Make up as conventional limbs, they separated before the handle and tips are added.  The twin limbs have thirty-two inches of working length on each side, are balanced in draw weight and afford a four- point balanced pressure on the drawn bow.  The handle is four  inches high and the mediators keep it in true alignment on the bow, all permanently cemented. 

The adjustable arrow rest for the plus or minus spine is a bit different.  Some conventional bows have an adjustment, but can’t afford a minus factor to the extent of the Tarantula.

Tarbell makes a reasonably fast bow for hunting to give accuracy and the Tarantula offers a full view of the game in sighting, them following the arrow to the hit.  You don’t have to move the bow or your head to follow the shaft or to see the target.  There is a bit of a stringing problem, but Tarbell is including the Dei bow stringer with each bow he sells. 

The standard length of the bow is fifty-four inches in ay weight, each custom built.  They will be made to customer specifications as to weight.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Bow and Arrow Magazine and All rights reserved. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

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Published by admin on 24 Jul 2009

The Keyhole Caper by C.R. Learn

By C.R. Learn

Bow and Arrow Magazine  Sept. – Oct 1968

Cutting capers with a keyhole bow proved to be a joy.  I am some slouch as a target shooter and this revolutionary bow made me feel tem feet tall on the range.  But let me explain how this bow came about.

The idea of shooting through a keyhole or center-hole in the bow isn’t new.  Flight archers have been doing it for years.  This isn’t a center-shot with the shaft resting right or left-handed on the side of the bow.  It is a keyhole bow designed to have the shaft fit through the center of the bow, with an overdraw shelf behind and nothing for the arrow to bend against. It gaves a clean uninterrupted flight.

8,9,10, KEYHOLE

Harry Drake has made more archery flight records in his lifetime than there is space to enumerate.  He also sold his own bows for years.  Finally he stopped making anything but flight bows, for himself and his customers.  He is the only flight bow manufacturer in the country that I know of.

During his experimenting years he decided to see how a target bow would perform utilizing the flight principle.  He took twenty-inch limbs and elongated the riser or handle section.  To follow through with the idea used in flight, he made a full center-shot bow with a seven-inch sight window.  This is longer than the usual small round keyhole found in flight bows, but the principle is the same.  He placed the handle for the bow the keyhole.

His first bow drew twenty-nine pounds.  This is light for some target archers, but the bow had much to say for itself.  Drake finished the bow using a walnut riser, the usual glass facing and backing.  He used a tapered lamination in the hardwood limb core as will as tapered limbs.

Length of the bow came to sixty-four inches completed, still using the same short twenty-inch flight limbs, adding the remaining twenty-four inches in the riser section.

This bow is like none you ever have seen.  It looks like a conventional bow when held by the archer, but the giveaway comes when you reach for a shaft.  In shooting a conventional bow, the arrow is placed on the shelf. It rests against the side of the bow, is drawn and released.  With this bow the arrow sits dead center on a section of nylon toothbrush Drake has cut down for an arrow rest.  To make it more distinctive, it has an overdraw shelf.  This gives an archer the advantage of being able to soot a shorter shaft.  I use a twenty-eight-inch shaft in target, and this bow allows me to shoot a twenty-six-inch shaft, one spine weight lighter than recommended.  This gives a faster arrow, flatter trajectory and lighter shaft.


Drake mounted a Merrill sight on the back of the bow with the markings for the different distances.  In the string itself he uses a peep.  When I first saw the bow, my reaction was, “How do you soot it?”  This could be a problem, as there is no archer’s paradox.

With this keyhole system there is nothing for the shaft to bend around.  If you use the right-hand finger release, the arrow will fly off the nylon rest and into the side of the bow, with poor results if it ever does get airborne.  If you use the three-finger release, the shaft usually will bang against the side of the keyhole and drop out a few yards in front.  This is not conducive to good scores.  A bowlock won’t work.  The new Six Gold release might work with patience.

12, 13, 14, KEYHOLE

How can you get an arrow to fly our of this bow?  Back to the flight principle and the double flipper, a leather strap doubled around, with one end longer than the other and a rivet at the back. The loop fits around the little finger with the long side of the flipper laying against the palm of the hand.  When you use this release, place the short end of the strap around the bow string below the nocking point.  Bend the longer inside end around the string and short end.  Then hold the loose end of the flipper, which will be on the outside facing your thumb, by pressing the two pieces together and holding them with the thumb and first finger.

To draw the bow, pull back with the flipper in place, come to draw and anchor and relax the thumb-finger pressure.  The double flipper unwraps first with the long side flying out, then the short side moves away from the string, and the shaft is long gone on a straight, true flight to the target.


Well, it’s not quite that simple.  The leather of the flipper must be hard enough not to soften under string and thumb pressures and soft enough not to take a hard or permanent set.  It shouldn’t stretch, as this would make the flipper gain in length and cause erratic groups.  Trial and error with different types of leather will give the desired action.

The nocking point on the string is identical to other bows except Drake uses a double nock, one below the shaft and one above.  The one above gives the proper nocking height, critical but not difficult to determine.  The lower nocking point prevents the flipper from riding up and putting pressure on the shaft and nocking point.  A piece of dental floss or serving thread on the ten-strand string between the nocking point s allows the shaft to sit on the string with no aid or pressure.

With this double flipper system there is no actual contact with the shaft in any way.  When you shoot three fingered you hold the shaft, or at least have contact with it between the first and second finger.  With the bowlock you can use the thumb for contact point and with the Six Gold or new Little John release, there is no contact with the shaft.

When Harry Drake first showed me the bow, I tried to keep an open mind.  We went to Drake’s range, where he loosed a few shafts.  Eventually I managed to get the bow.

My usual style of shooting is canted bow, leaning into the bow, bowlock release and snap shooting.  I do have an anchor point, but when I touch it, the shaft is released using instinctive technique.  At one time I tried sticking some colored pins in a piece of tape, but I never had tried a true commercial sight.

Just getting strapped onto the bow seemed a chore.  First the hand goes through the loose-fitting bow sling, then the shaft is placed through the keyhole and the small nocks are pressed around the built-up serving between the nocks on the string.  The arrow is held to the string by the nock. The bow is lifted to position and the double flipper is attached to the string below the bottom mock.

This was a two-handed job at first.  It must have been a sight to see a man holding a weird looking bow between his legs, while the bow’s upper section  dangled by the now sling from the left wrist, with both hands madly wrapping the short left side of the flipper and the long right side around the string.

When this was done, I raised the bow and tried to get that little 1516 Easton aluminum on that small nylon rest in the middle of the overdraw shelf.

The shaft remained in place.  I lifted the bow and the shaft fell off.  I had canted the bow.  This bow will not perform with technique but a straight up and down grip.  Keeping this in mind I lifted the bow, flipped the flipper between the thumb and the side of the first finger and started to draw.

My usual anchor point is the corner of the mouth, but with this sight-peep system it is under the chin.  I came to a comfortable position, aligned the peep in the string with the round ball-centered Merrill front sight, and lined up on the gold center of the target forty yards away.  A slight relaxation of the pressure on the flipper and the little 1516 zipped down the range, plopping into the red seven ring.

Not bad, but what was that lying on the ground in front of me?  I failed to notice and Drake failed to mention that the fletch on these shafts is different.  Drake uses three Plastifletch 2-3/8-inch P-26 vanes on his 1516 shafts.  They are fletched in the usual manner, but what he neglected to mention was that they go on the string in a different manner.  Usually the cock feather is mounted on the left for right-handed shooting.  This allows the feather to clear the side of the bow.  On the keyhole now the shafts are fletcher with the nock is moved so the cock feather is in the bale-minus one fletch.  This time I mounted the cock-feather vertically.  As I started to draw, Drake mentioned that the bow would perform better if I didn’t strangle it.  Now I stood with an open stance, the bow held loosely in the left hand, whipped the flipper around the string one-handed this time, came to draw, managed to keep the left hand from closing on the handle, aligned the peep pin and target and struck gold!  

I am the first to admit my target shooting won’t panic the PAA, but I still enjoy a round once in a while.  My first impression was that, in the hands of a truly serious target archer, this bow might just set some new mark.  It was an effortless one-point release.  The shafts are shorter, lighter and fast in flight.  Drake said for this twenty-nine-pound bow he determined a point on distance of 125 yards, using the under-chin anchor, full draw and sighting over the tip of the shaft to the center of the target.

“I believe this is the most accurate system ever been devised for shooting a bow by hand and still officially sanctioned by the NAA,” Drake said


For curiosity we decided to see if other archers would have any trouble with the flipper.  The shooting technique is the same – loose grip, under the chin anchor and pin, but the flipper might flip some archers.  We called on Vione Miller, who spends more time hunting rabbits and rounding the broadhead range than target shooting.  I thought she would make a good test for the flipper.

We met at the archery range located near the football field at Calwestern University on the ocean side of Point Loma in San Diego.

Miss Miller had no problem with the flipper or the keyhole technique.  After a bit of fumbling, she could one-hand the double flipper with dexterity.

I had to find out how the keyhole Drake would perform under target competition. The Chula Vista Archery Club has a monthly round and a congenial group to shoot with. 

The day was hot and they shot the 900 round using the American face and yardages with ten-ring scoring.  It has been some time since I shot with target people, and when I saw the groups some of them put in the bale, I felt it wasn’t long enough.

I wondered if the flipper release would slow me down or hold up the other archers in any way.  When I shoot target I shoot barebow and usually have my six shafts in the bale before the rest have shot their fourth.  This is not conducive to good scores, as snapshooting will wipe one out in target. 

I took the keyholer out for several practice sessions to get the sight zeroed in.  At sixty yards I was just about halfway down the scale on the pin.  I tried a few at eighty and sill had over two inches on the scale to move the pin down.  It is fast.

We all lined up for the practice rounds, then got down to the serious part of the game.  I sent a few bad shafts wobbling down to the bale but even with bad release they still scored.  As the shoot progressed I became more impressed with the bow.  The flipper offered no problem, and by moving the flipper one-quarter of an inch below the Nockset, I could get consistently clean releases.  If I put the flipper against the Nockset it seemed to bind, and I got a few wobblers off.  This could be overcome by using the standard tied nock, but I have become addicted to the Nockset.  They are fast and have yet to move after I pinch them in place. 

After shooting the required ninety shafts to complete the round, I had a score of 609 from a possible 900; not impressive against some of the other scores, but good for me.  The afternoon showed improvement with a 620.  it proved to me the bow had the stuff, provided the right man was behind it.

The bow brought mixed reaction from the archers present.  Some looked, others came over to ask questions.  I took special notice of the trajaectory of my 1516’s against the other shafts being shot.  They were arcing high at sixty yards and the little keyhole was drilling them in flat.

I even retraced my shooting technique back to Zen to get the breathing system again.  Don’t knock it till you try it.  There is a little book called Zen in Archery that has a few points to ponder.  The breathing technique they use has helped me in the past in my target shooting, where holding and concentration are important.  A little here and a little there makes a well rounded archer.  I may not be the best on the range, but I read a lot.

The only irritant at the all-day meet was the flipper.  It came sapping over the first finger and whanged the knuckle on my second finger.  I had to put on a Band Aid to absorb the flipping flipper, but had no sore fingers at the end of the day as did some three fingered shooters.

Drake is planning to make a few keyhole bows if archers are interested in them.  They will market at around $250.  They are unusual and accurate.  Some shooters aren’t. But this bow gave me more confidence for target shooting than I ever have had.

Drake is contemplating a heavier now for hunting.  This would have to be a minimum of forty pounds to meet most state laws.  It would work from a blind or stand were one knew his distances and could hold the bow vertically.  You certainly can’t, can’t this bow or you’ll lose your shaft.

It is different, deadly and a true pleasure to shoot.

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