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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crossbow Shooting and Flintlocks

Good shooters have good habits.
A firearm requires a high level of attention and focus.
When shooting a flintlock or muzzleloader, even more awareness is required. When a shooter is distracted by conversation for example, it is all too easy to skip the step of dropping a powder charge down the barrel. Miss this key step and then ram a lead ball down the barrel without blackpowder in place and you will have one of those "Aw Shucks" moments knowing the next 30 minutes will be spent extracting a lead ball wedged down the rifling. (30 minutes if you are lucky)
Inattention at the range can produce exciting moments; like the fella who forgets to remove the ramrod from the barrel after loading but absentmindedly pulls the trigger anyway. Exciting.

Crossbows require a high level of attention just as well. There are similarities to muzzleloader shooting. Normally, both of these sporting arms offer only one shot opportunities. After a day in the field, both arms are discharged by firing. The loading and unloading events should be done with care and never rushed. As a good friend told us this week, his muzzleloader Instruction Book left the indelible impression in the back of his mind that if he was not careful, he could "blow himself up" to use his words.
On crossbows, warning labels indicate that the string path must be kept clear of hands and fingers. Care must be taken when discharging an arrow. Crossbow limbs move and can strike objects (like trees) if the shooter is inattentive. Special care must be taken when shooting at the range or with friends because a moment's distraction can create a hazard. The best practice is to consciously get into the "habit" of following the same safe routine 100% of the time without deviation. What that means is cocking the bow and loading the arrow in the same manner routinely and safely the same way every time. Stay out of the string path. At your hunting location, set up in your blind or stand but try to follow the same process on every hunt. Cocking rope in backpack upper left compartment , rangefinder left coat pocket, first hunting arrow #1 in quiver position #1. There is nothing wrong with a laminated checklist showing required hunting equipment needed for every outing. Airplane pilots use checklists for every flight. These checklists are very helpful when hunting frequently but for short periods such as after or before workdays. Success is when your hunting partners begin commenting that your behavior is getting very odd. That means you are probably in the SAFE ZONE. In summary, identify the key steps, systematize your hunting process and get into good safe habits. Safe habits will keep you efficient and maximize your outdoor experience.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bowhunting 38 years ago ............

In the early 70's, I had the good fortune to be invited to hunt a farm in Southern Maryland. For a young midshipman at the Naval Academy who loved to hunt, this was absolutely heaven. In 20 minutes, providing I could find a way to sneak off, I would be in the woods and temporarily away from all things nautical including the pressure cooker of some very tough schoolwork. The family on the farm was cleaning out the attic last week and thoughtfully forwarded the attached photo to me in the mail. The photo brought back some very nice memories.

Back then, archery was not as popular as it is today. The numbers would indicate that perhaps 5% of the hunting community bowhunted as compared to a number like 20% today. Deer were far less plentiful. Fred Bear was the hero to every archer and to read about his exploits was constant inspiration. There was no internet and good information seemed much less available. Knowledge was drawn from sources like "The Archer's Bible", a lengthy but quite complete resource book that explained all things bow and arrow related. I think I read this book 200 times and still have it. (The chapter on safety must have been overlooked judging by the exposed broadheads in the attached picture.) The distance between a 20 yard sight pin and a 40 yard pin was about 6 inches so to be a successful hunter, judging distance was very critical. Hunting on the ground was commonplace and getting close (like 10 or 15 yards) was the only sure ticket for success. Laser rangefinders were yet to come and cutting edge technology was "self adhesive camo tape" for the recurve. I loved stringing my bow before every hunt. It would not be until 1980 that I could afford a compound bow. This picture and these memories are not unusual. Admire the hunters who still chase their quarry with this equipment. There is always case to be made for simplicity and actually, Kodabow can trace some of it's crossbow design elements back to this era.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cold Weather Hunting - Don't blame Gurnee!

You can't blame my hunting partner, "Tatonka" for our 2010 poor results. We have been successful in the past .
Tatonka told me ,"we are leaving at 2 AM so be ready to go.... because the truck pulls out at 2 AM. "
Naturally, I made sure to be sitting in the right front seat of Tatonka's truck in his darkened driveway at 1:59 AM.... 2:00 AM ...2:03 AM.....2:08 AM ....... because the truck "was leaving with me or without me" to quote Tatonka.
Finally, Tatonka sleepily strolls out, opens his truck door, and jumps about 12 feet surprised to find human life in his vehicle at such an early hour.
For the next three hours, Tatonka will relate EVERY SINGLE HUNTING story that I have heard 25 times already. I can finish most of these stories and do so just to move through the sequence a bit faster. I bring a pillow and attempt to appear to be in deep slumber several times as we make our way to the mountains but the tales continue nevertheless. No radio. Just hunting stories that are enjoyable and go nonstop until we arrive at the creek to unload the canoe in the dark . The wind is blowing at 88 mph and the temperature is 50 degrees below zero. I spend the next 30 minutes doing hypothermia calculations and closely counting the number of strokes required to reach the bank in the event that Tatonka and I go for a swim if the canoe goes bottom side up. We make the trip. We always do.
To make a long story short, Tatonka is a hunting machine and these trips are adventures. We usually head in different directions once we reach our hunting destination but will touch base via the miracle of the cell phone a few times during the day to keep each other advised of our location and hunting plan. Over the years, Tatonka has been the teacher of many valuable lessons. Foremost is the requirement to carry a small can of Sterno in the back pack and to take the time at midday to cook up a nice hot lunch. Beans must always be part of the meal.
As the sun lowers in the skys and darkness begins to arrive, the canoe is loaded and the 3 hour trip home looms ahead with one more hunting story to be now added to the list.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hunting with a Kodabow - Turkey Report

Here is a photo of a successful outing with a Kodabow .... and I certainly wish it was me that was pictured with this fine whitetail but the Kodabow HQ guys seem to be holding out for the time being and are now looking forward to the late winter Pennsylvania archery season.
We headed out Saturday for the final day of fall turkey season which is the artful game of finding the birds and then calling them back quietly as the birds reassemble. It has worked perfectly the last few years but we were shut down this weekend. First, the birds were not where we expected them to be. There was a bumper crop of acorns on the mountain and since food was everywhere, the birds were far less concentrated. The wild grapes seemed to have an off year so when we saw limited sign in that area, we knew it was going to be a long day. The second problem is that the warm weather kept several springs from getting iced up along side the mountain face so water was readily available everywhere.....in the past, by late November, there would be snow cover on the ground with limited water sources and the birds tended to move to flowing water early and late in the day. So in summary, the birds evaded us nicely and we will now look forward to Spring Gobbler season. Walking across the mountain while "still hunting" with my Kodabow highlighted one important Kodabow feature. The Kodabow crossbow has an indicator to show that an arrow is properly loaded. Sounds simple but why so important? It is easy to bump into some brush while walking through the woods and move the arrow down the rail. The end result on most crossbows is a "misfire"of some type and an arrow that does not go down range at the very moment that you need to be making a shot. I found myself frequently doing a visual "double check" by looking at the Kodabow indicator position whenever I moved through the thick stuff. Combine that load indicator feature with the very QUIET Kodabow safety mechanism and you have a very reliable hunting setup that addresses two areas critical for effectively taking game. The third critical area is finding the game.....obviously.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Hunter's Spirit

We know a hunter that can't wait to get into the woods. He enjoys good equipment and takes great pride in being proficient in all matters technical. He debates the advantages of different broadhead types and takes the time to practice to ensure he shoots with high accuracy.
He is now a Kodabow hunter. At our company, we anticipate hearing about his exploits in the field and we think he has equally enjoyed exchanging crossbow perspectives with us - sharing his knowledge and experience. Hunter's admire enthusiasm and skillful insight from one another.
This man just goes hunting and is very successful. Really an incredible gentleman as he goes about his business.
A hunter's spirit can be tested in many ways. Strong willed men and women will navigate the woods and simply overcome any challenges and take game.
We spoke on our cell phones the other evening as we were both leaving the woods.
It was a quick conversation. After all - it was after sunset. He told me he was halfway up on his mechanical lift maneuvering his motorized wheelchair into his vehicle.
He frequently hunts alone just like I do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"High Speed - Low Drag" Deployment

So a Kodabow user takes his Kodabow apart for air travel and puts it back together when he gets to his hunting site. He calls in and says, "I have to hand it to you guys, I reassembled the bow and it was right on target - perfect."
Translation -- Kodabow precision.
It makes us think about how small can that crossbow package get ..... how small can the container be and ship with all the right stuff. Include at least a dozen arrows because we want to shoot when we arrive... not just look at a crossbow....... and wouldn't it be great if the the optics could stay mounted to the receiver to sustain high accuracy ....and we need to have all the accessories included like sling, cocking rope, spare bow string, stringing aid and broadheads.
Without trying too hard, the quick answer was a 7" x 7" x 21.5" rectangular box weighing about 10 lbs. That is the box sitting to the right of the crossbow in the photo above. We know we can make it even smaller. After mobilizing to the engagement area, open that box and 10 minutes later, be putting arrows on target. Yes --- 10 minutes. Perfect for the "high speed - low drag" operator. Complete. Ready.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kodabow People and What They Say

What Shooters Say ................
Sure --- we shoot crossbows a lot at our factory but here are the top three things we hear from shooters about Kodabow when they offer us their objective impressions.

#1 - Kodabow is amazingly accurate.
"When I when I went back and shot my other crossbow, I just could never duplicate the performance. I took my game to a whole new level. Great trigger."

#2 - Kodabow is quiet.
"Wow --- it is 50% ...maybe even 75% quieter than the bow I have been shooting."

#3 - The weight is nicely balanced on a Kodabow.
"I can pick up the bow in the middle and easily hold it with one hand. The weight is in the right places and it is easy to handle."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kodabow Photos

Whether you are walking around the barnyard or out on the practice range, it is always nice to have a Kodabow photo. A good looking crossbow is nice ...... but an accurate crossbow is always more interesting. Ethan Witmer (2nd photo) has the look of a serious Pro-Staff shooter and at 30+ yards, this 8 year old was dead on. Note the classic arm position on the target.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tatum Visits Kodabow Distribution Center

New Chesco crossbow company aims for success
Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 by Tom Tatum
Photo courtesy of Kodabow Crossbows Kodabow Crossbows president Chuck Matasic, left, poses with chief financial officer Brad Griste with one of their products.

A few years back, Keystone State license plates touted the logo, 'You've got a friend in Pennsylvania.' Now you might say that deer hunters and horizontal archery fans have an even better friend right here in Chester County, where the newly established company, Kodabow Crossbows, recently set up shop.
Kodabow is the brainchild of company President Chuck Matasic who points out that the word "koda" comes from the Native American word meaning "friend." "We wanted to design a crossbow that a shooter or hunter could regard as a friend," says Matasic, age 56. "Our goal was to produce a crossbow that was as user friendly as possible, and I believe we've succeeded."Matasic, who lives in East Goshen and has been an avid archer and bowhunter for most of his life, worked in the chemical industry for a long time followed by time running a firearms company where he discovered other opportunities in the outdoor industry. This eventually led to the founding of Kodabow about seven months ago with the help of Chief Financial Officer Brad Griste of West Chester. Griste, 46, and Matasic had previously worked together for seven years. "Over the last year, we went full bore with setting up manufacturing - the bows are pretty much all built in Chester and Lancaster County. We went to the Shot Show in Las Vegas to introduce our product and get reaction which was all very positive."

Matasic is passionate about the fact that his crossbows are 100 percent made in the United States with about 90 percent of the parts being manufactured in Pennsylvania. "In outsourcing parts we know all our suppliers by their first names," he said.When asked how his fledgling company expects to compete with the long established major players in the crossbow industry like Horton, Ten Point, and Excalibur, Matasic expresses an intensity and confidence that Kodabow will find its niche, propelled, in part, by his product's user friendly features."There's a lot of quality and engineering that goes into this bow," he said. "We made the power stroke (cocking distance) just 13 3/8 inches long, which is a relatively short cocking distance, on all four of our models."The four models are distinguished by their relative draw weights of 155, 185, 200, and 225 pounds respectively, and are capable of launching arrows at speeds up to 350 feet per second.Other user friendly or "Koda" features of the bow include an adjustable stock, a selection of different forearm grip options, an ergonomic, ambidextrous safety located on both sides of the bow, sling slots for attaching an easy-carry sling, a simple string-changing device, and an anti-dry fire mechanism."We believe all of these unique features will enhance the confidence level of our customers," Matasic said. "When we started out we asked ourselves this question: Can we make a crossbow with the quality of a finely made firearm that would appeal to a first time crossbow buyer but also attract the veteran crossbow user with more discriminating tastes? With our product line, we believe we have succeeded in doing just that."Other selling features of Kodabow's 8.3 pound crossbow (without optics) include the forearm's weaver rail system that adjusts to fit every individual, 20-inch flat nock bolts (arrows), aerospace level machining, high tech laminated fiberglass recurve limbs, and an advanced trigger system."Triggers are the key to accuracy and our trigger is among the most precise on the market right now," Matasic said.

While visiting the company's Assembly and Distribution Center right here in West Chester (corporate headquarters are in Lancaster County), I had the chance to test fire one of Kodabow's crossbows. Most impressive, beyond the warp speed, low noise, and accuracy with which this state-of-the-art sporting arm spits out arrows, is its excellent balance and crisp, comfortable trigger pull.The company is in the process of setting up a dealer network (which will include Targetmaster on Rt. 202) for their bows which are priced to sell at around $900. Accessories include optics, slings, quivers, cocking strings, bolts, de-stringing aids, and more. "Dealer response has been excellent," Matasic said. "We'll start shipping bows next week and expect to be ramping up for the upcoming fall hunting seasons."Matasic, who graduated high school in Virginia, is a United States Naval Academy alum, class of 1975, and the proud father of three sons, the youngest of whom began his own career at the Naval Academy this summer. Matasic's pride in his new crossbow products is also palpable."We're betting that when a person picks this bow up, he or she will recognize the inherent quality and value. It's really built to last forever," he said. "We expect some people to buy it because it's an easy transition from a firearm to this equally well-machined crossbow. Some people will buy it just because it's pretty cool."To find out more about Kodabow products call 610-620-4352 or check their website at http://www.kodabow.com/.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Making Crossbows in 2010

News from Kodabow ...... we are now very pleased to shift emphasis towards putting bows out in the field with hunters and shooters. We will be at the Pennsylvania Crossbow Festival later this month on July 25th and are now engaging dealers who are interested in representing Kodabow in local markets.
Our West Chester, PA Distribution Center is up and running and final assembly and shipment is beginning to occur there. Major components are produced primarily in Lancaster, PA and the surrounding area. Places like Chester, Thorndale, Mountville, Exton but also in other states like Michigan, Indiana, Utah and Wisconsin. We are encouraged to see jobs being created right here in the US. In this economy, it is not easy. We have a healthy respect for folks in business who are making their way. We can also say that we participated in no government giveaways or loans. No bailouts either. Just hard work.
When we look at the supporting supplier base that has helped us get to where we are at, we see not only companies but real American individuals like John, Allen, Jarrod, Rich, Steve, Don, Dave, Ann Marie ---- and many, many others. We have developed a sense of their family life and how their kids are doing in school and where they are heading off to college or work. We think this is the way business is supposed to work. There were also funny and unexpected moments along the way. We would often be asked by one of our suppliers who might be producing a part or involved in an operation for us like coatings, "Can I see one of the crossbows?"
We would say "Sure, come take a look." One employee would be out in the parking lot with us, then another, and throughout the facility, we could hear echoing calls of "Hey Fred, come out here. You need to see this crossbow." We had groups of 10 or 12 people huddled with us talking about hunting and what we were doing. Sometimes, we would haul out a target and a short shooting demonstration would take place. Most of all, these Americans wanted to help us succeed. That positive experience was always encouraging for Kodabow. Pennsylvania has a long history of hunting and sporting arms but when the tough audience is the "factory" men and women who really "make things" on a shop floor, that assessment was always most valued by us. Today, we say thank you --- for helping us get down the trail of building a great crossbow.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Opinion - Illuminated Optics

Everyone sees things differently. When it comes to illuminated optics, it is evident that green or red illuminated reticles have a certain "cool factor". This is always true when friends are checking out your latest hunting tool.
But what happens in the field may be another story. When circumstances permit, perform the following test. Be in the field during the last 10 minutes of legal shooting time. In many states, the legal shooting time extends to 30 minutes after sunset. Deer should be in range from your stand at 10, 20, 30 or 40 yards.
Switch back and forth between the illuminated reticle and the straight black line of a glass etched reticle or wire reticle. See how easy or difficult it is for you to distinguish the animal profile, ear movement or antler configuration. As each minute ticks by, make a mental note about visibility. Every person is different but our experience suggests that there is an element of "washout" from the illumination feature that can actually decrease overall visibility during those last magic 10 minutes at the end of the day. It might be better for many hunters to have the illumination turned off and use their eyesight to pick up the black line reticle. The moral of the story --- do a little personal scientific testing for yourself to optimize your setup at last light.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Use Shadows to Your Advantage

Whether stalking on the ground or setting up in a tree stand with a climber, use the projected position of the sun as it moves across the sky to help conceal your movement by keeping yourself in the shadows. Better than any camo pattern, it means looking for and easing into the shadows cast by the large trees when stalking an animal. Take the time to think through the path of the afternoon sun to minimize the "skylight or illumination effect" as you position your tree stand in relation to game trails and expected deer movement. Sit in the darker shadows when setting up on a field edge and improve your chances to draw or get into shooting position without being detected.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Staying Grounded

In the 70's, a company named Baker was one of the first to make a portable climbing stand. The company is not around today but they commercialized a great idea. Deer hunting and especially bow hunting went "aerial" in a big way...into the trees...high above the game trails.

The Baker Climbing Treestand shipped in a small cardboard box and consisted of plywood and aluminum rails. When the plywood platform would crack or wear out from use, some users would rebuild the stand to extend its life. Just pick up a new piece of plywood. Compared to today's treestand product offerings, the Baker stand can't compare.

Safety belts were not in widespread use and total body harnesses had not yet made it to the sporting goods shelves. This was all new... the ability to go up nearly any tree anywhere. In the early 80's, Bakers accompanied well heeled hunters everywhere, often with spanking new compound bows. There were many recent graduates from the traditional or recurve school to these new bows with wheels on the end. Technology was everywhere. It is no wonder that many hunters would become "airborne" up in the trees and remain so for many years. Newcomers would be introduced to treestand hunting early in their experiences and this was all reinforced by TV hunting shows. Nothing wrong here... it worked and it continues to work extremely well.
However, it can be invigorating to move through the woods at will without going up and down a tree every time you head to the woods.

Before Baker, before compound bows and before larger deer populations and even before systematic scent control, archery was all about hunting on the ground with a bow. A fallen tree in just the right spot would serve the purpose of a ground blind. A stalk through the acorns in the fall was full of anticipation.

Regardless of your personal choice of traditional bow, recurve, compound or crossbow, consider spending more time on the ground in the season ahead.