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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.

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

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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.

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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.

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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Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

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Published by admin on 24 Jul 2009

Flight’s Far Flingers by C.R. Learn

Flight’s Far Flingers
By C. R. Learn

Bow and Arrow Magazine March – April. 1968

The flight archer is one who has no target at which to shoot. He lofts his arrow into the air at the prescribed angle of forty-three degrees and is only concerned with how far that shaft will fly down the course. They have no six-gold ring, no spot and no sight. To many, flight perhaps is one of the most different types of archery and they see no earthly reason for shoot it. Those who have tried it cannot stay away from the flight course to see if they can’t better that last shot or perhaps set a new mark themselves. It becomes a competetion with yourself.


The one thing sought by all is perfection. The best tuned bow, the cleanest release, the best balanced arrow and the proper angle perhaps will bring the archer the coveted distance he is seeking. It does require one more important ingrediant and that is strength. The bows used in flight may vary from a fifty-pounder or under to asone is capable of pulling. If you care to see a hundred-pound or better hand bow, attend the next flight meet and test your strength.


There have been many articles written about the fabulous distances shot by the Turks, but we are concerned with the present. The first thought that usually comes to the fore when flight is mentioned is that it is an expensice hobby, since most bows are broken in just a few shots. This perhaps was true of old self yew bows and there still is a bow broken occasionally, but when a flight bow manufactured will guarantee his product for one full year unconditionally, that speaks for itself. There may be a new flight bow design or a sight change in one and these are the ones most often seen exploding when shot.


The bows used for flight shooting are good for several years and the usual reason for purchasing another is to obtain a different poudage to enter another event. Unlike target or field the events in flight are the same in every meet. They have five classes: 50, 65, 80-pound and an unlimited category in which one can shoot any draw weight from fifty or below to over one hundred pounds. The final class is the footbow, but another may be added in the crossbow, since many enthusiasts are experimenting with this method of casting a shaft. They are also thinking of adding target flight and hunter flight events, using regulationbroadheads. Each of the current classes is divided into two groups: amateur and prfessional. This means that the first-time-out flight shooter isn’t competing with the seasoned por for records.


Perhaps the best method of approaching flight archery is to compare the equipment  with the usual tackle. The shaft used seldom is longer than twenty inches and closer to eighteen inches. The bows may have corresponding poundages, but the design is different. The flight bow usually is about forty-two inches overall in length and differs drastically from hunter or target equipment in several ways. The length is less than even  the shortest practical hunter. Limb design is the same with fiberglass back and face with hardrock maple or other hardwood laminates between glass.

The handle section of the bow may or may not have a handle. The older style had a handle similar to standard bows before Harry Drake, a leading flight archer and the only manufacturer to make and sell strictly flight equipment, began experimenting. First he went from the conventional grip to using the heel of the hand on the face of the bow. This prevented torque but limited the weight, since it was hard to pull anything heavier than sixty five pounds. His present handle system is fastened to the back of the bow by means of an aluminum handle extension. In this extension is a standard type bow grip of hardwood. This gets the left arm of the right-handed archer out in front of the bow and allows him to use his shoulder muscles to more advantage than with pervious methods.


The first thing about the flight bow attract attention, other than the short length and the extended handle, is the full center-shot design. This doesn’t mean the bow is cut in sight window past center as with the conventional style. There is a hole right in the center of the handle between the limbs, called a keyhole. Behind the center hole is an extension shelf on which the arrow is drawn and released. This allows the flight archer to shoot a shorter shaft and still use his full draw length of twenty-eight inches and want to shoot a twenty inch shaft, your handle will extend several inches in front of thw bow and the overdraw shelf will extend several inches behind to allow this short shaft to be drawn to normal length.

Limbs of a flight bow are tuned finely for balance and for tension to obtain the maximum from the bow design. They are recurved but the amount of the laminate in the wood core, the taper of the laminate if any, and the thickness of the fiberglass back and faced are weighed and calculated closely.

An example concerns a recent test by Drake on the curvature of the edges of a bow under stress. He noticed that when a bow does break or the glass let’s go on a bow under stress, it usually is at the edges. This meant that the edges of the bow were moving, more and getting more stress than the center of the glass in the bow limb. He made a test bow with the face glass convexed to the center and the back glass concaved to allow for this problem.

Bowstrings usually are made the same as any other, except for the balance of the string as to the center serving. The amount of serving to come down from the tip end loops and the proper number of strands are constantly being checked and tested by each flight enthusiast. When Easton introduced the new Dacron Super B and wanted to give it roughest ppossible test, they called Harry Drake to use the bowstring in his 180-pound foot bow. He confirmed their tests that it was far stronger than any other string materials.

The shaft that is shot in flight is like no other. The crossbow bolt might come close but not very. These little chunks of wood are works of art made of Port Orford cedar and often footed with purpleheart or some other hardwood, but the most popular material used now is Forgewood.

Drake orders full length shafts from Bill Sweetland of Forgewood Products. These then are sent to Riley Denton, who turns them down on the tip and adds a small brass point. These shafts are barreled to the tip and left normal toward rock end. By standards he has set up over the years, Drake tapers the front half to his specs, then tapers the nock section. The length of his flight shafts varies from 18-1/2 to 18-7/16 inches. For nocks, he has perfected a method of laminating four pieces of fiberglass to the tapered shaft. This gives an arrow a much stronger nock to withstand the tremendous pressures of heavy bows.


The last step is the fletch. I fyou look hard you will see it by the rock: three small pieces of plastic vane mounted on the shaft. We usually have our cock feather off the side of the bow to obtain clearance. In the center-shot bow there is no problem of side clearance, so the cock feather is mounted on top or parrallel with the nock cut for the string, the other two fletch on each side, leaving the bottom completely clear to move over the arrow rest on the overdraw shelf.

The bow is picked up in the left hand, if you are right-handed. The shaft is nocked onto the string, which is built up to hold the tiny nock on with no pressure, and all that is left is to draw and let fly.

But how does one draw a bow that has no archer’s paradox. This, simplified, is bending of the arrow around the side of the bow, hence spine problems and erratic flight. We have nothing for the arrow to bend around, since it is sitting on its toothbrush rest in the middle of the bow!

If you use the regular three-finger, two or one-finger release, the flight shaft will slam into the side of the bow and literally disinegrate.

The answer is the double flipper. This is simply a piece of leather that is brought around the little finger at the mid-point of the flipper, the other ends are out in front. The end on the left side is brought around the string and held while the end on the right is placed over and around the left half and the string. When pressed together between the thumb and first finger, this offers one of the cleanest releases I’ve seen. The bow is drawn with the leather double flipper by the pressure of the thumb and the first finger, with some help of the the loop placed around the little finger at the back of the hand.

The accpted angle to release your shaft is forty-three degrees. Some may like forty-three but it does become difficult to split a few degrees while drawing a sixty-five-pound bow.

There is no anchor point in flight shooting. When the archer see’s his shaft reach the back of the arrow rest, he relaxes while drawing and the arrow is on its way. This gives the best  possible trajectory to the shaft.

Flight is used by many archers to determine which bow is the fastest. Take your favorite hunting bow and a friend with his into a wide, open field. Both should shoot in the same direction to make the testvalid. Shoot at the prescribed angle of forty-three degrees with your choice of shafts, but of the same weight and length. Launch at least six shafts for an average and you may be surprised at the results. The faster bow will shoot the longer distance.

The California State Flight Shoot is held at Ivanpah Dry Lake each summer. This lake bed stretches for miles with a firm soil just just made for plopping arrows around great distances. Harry Drake has been there for several days lining up the measuring stakes and measuring distances. Sunday morning found several devotees of the sport tuning up and weighing in equipment. Each bow is weighed on a certified scale and the weight recorded at the draw length. Each arrow to be shot in that event or class is numbered and each contestant shoots six arrows in each class entered. These shafts usually are weighed by the owner and have the individual weight marked on the shaft, his number and also his name is written on each shaft to be shot.

Some will shoot all six shafts in swift succession and retire from the line. Others may shoot, relax, then prepare the next shot. After all contestants have shot the allotted shafts they find and tag all arrows.

When a shaft is found, the name of the archer is called out and when the most distant shaft has been found of those shot by the contestant, it is marked with a metal stake with his name, arrow number, weight and the event. When all shafts have been found, marked and  accounted for, the archers return to the shooting line and prepare for the next class.

Mornings are usually the best time, since there is little windand the heat hasn’t started thermal air currents moving. Contestants shoot with any wind to their backs to give the shaft the best advantage.


Perhaps the most unique the most unique event to watch is the foot bow, working the bows in one hundred-pound range or better. The feet are placed on the face of the bow with small sheets of lead over the arch to protect the footfrom the string. There usually are rubber bands stretched at these points to give the foot something which to grip thw bow. The archer sets his arrow on the rest with the mid-nock on the string, then rocks back after placing a two-handed double flipper on the string. This is nothing more than two double flippers, one in each hand, to help pull these heavy bows. With the arrow on thw string and the flippers wrapped properly, the archer rolls on his back and elevates his feet on te bow. When he has attained the needed draw, the arrow is loosed. The bow flies up in the air and usually lands on the archer. It is amusing to watch but Drake has shot well over 1,000 yards using this technique and a 180-pound bow.

Two new events have been encorporated by the California Flighters. George Alavekiu of San Fransisco shot a bolt from his 135-pound crossbow to a new record distance of 1148 yards, two inches. The previous record is 660 yards, nine inches. The crossbow was of Alavekiu’s own design. He also makes his own flight bows. Several archers competed in the broadhead event.

Dr. Charles Grayson of Sacremento remarked that he had hunted in Africa, Mexico, Canada and th U.S. and had shot target and field, but feels that flight is the most exacting and inteteresting phase of archery.

Each time the flight shooters get toether it is to better the excisting records in each class, then get tuned up again to beat their own records. They now are shooting some of the shafts over a half mile and that is moving a piece of wood.

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