Looking at the Sticks and Stones course calendar long ago I saw the heading ‘Bow Making’ and a wave of excitement washed over me. I’ve had a big place in my heart for archery since I was 11 when I took two archery courses at the local YMCA. For years I would shoot my little bow at the side of the house until my arms grew sore. A little while back I rekindled that love of the bow and have since tried my hand at field archery, hunting, and indoor target shooting. I own a few bows now but what I’ve always wanted is a bow I’ve made with my own two hands. I started looking into making bows but got intimidated and never followed through. This has been a chance to realize that long held desire.
Everything I had read in the past implied the steps were as simple as shape the wood, bend it, and shoot it. The truth is you need to know the wood you are working with intimately. You learn every bump and groove, every bend and knot. At the end of a long satisfying day of scraping you can close your eyes and see the grain. While the tools and the steps in building a bow are simple, it’s the patience and the care you take that truly create the final product.
I think back today to the large quartered log I started with and find it almost hard to believe that the beautiful piece I have now was once in there. Skeet often referred to bow building as ‘learning to speak wood’. I feel this experience has been the first few words in what I hope to be a long conversation.