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Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Old Bows and 5 Reasons to Love Them"

1965 ....52 years ago. The Federal Debt was $322 Billion. US troops were sent to Vietnam -- by the end of the year, there would by 190,000 troops in country. The first spacewalk by an American (Ed White) and the Rolling Stone's "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" reached #1. If you were alive back then, most of your possessions from that era are probably gone, lost, broken and tossed. The 1965 Mustang is in a scrap yard and Mom threw out the baseball cards. But archery bows from that time period are still around. 

While these bows were mass produced by companies like Bear Archery, Pearson and Wing Archery, they still have a lot of personality and are simply beautiful. The wood used was bubinga, rosewood, shedua and other hardwood types with remarkable figuring. At the time, they might have sold around $29.95 and up. Today, you would go to a custom bowyer and pay $600 and far more to find a bow with these types of woods. Over the next decade after '65, and well into the 70's, these old wooden bows became overshadowed by compound bows, metal risers and cables that were the start of a meteoric rise in compound bow popularity that continues in archery to this day.
But those old bows --- they are beauties! 
Pictured from Left to Right in my collection:
a. 1972 Bear Kodiak Hunter, b. 1968 Bear Kodiak Magnum with attached Quiver, c. 1965 Bear Kodiak Magnum, c. 1967 Bear Grizzly, d. 1968 Wing Red Wing Hunter, e. 1969 Bear Alaskan with Reynolds Sight, f. Pearson Apex No. 9

Here are 5 reasons to fall in love with these bows and treasure them.  

1- They work. And they work well. They are called vintage bows and they still shoot extremely well. Every year, hunters kill large and small game with these bows and some prefer them to modern recurve bows in terms of their liveliness and performance. Get to the big auction site and search "Vintage Archery" for a sampling of the times and products of yesteryear - from broadheads to bows.

2 - Family. Imagine heading to the woods with the same bow that your Father or Uncle used years ago when he went hunting. Look at the wood and the worn leather grip knowing that they were once held by a family member and you are continuing the tradition. Maybe the bow was saved from the trash bin when it went unsold at a garage sale --- but behold the treasure. Any vintage bow has history and stories left only to the imagination.

3 - Shooting Satisfaction. Pick up a Kodabow Crossbow and YOU WILL hit exactly what you aim for. The same is true for a modern compound bow. Some shooters look for something more. They want more challenge and begin to enjoy missing the target as strange as it sounds. With practice, you will be able to shoot these bows as accurately as any other archery tool. With the bows pictured, a good archer will hit a coffee cup at 20 yards with regularity. 

(Editor's Note: When you positively need to put some venison in the freezer and time or schedule is limited, a Kodabow is the #1 choice. But sometimes, a hunt has additional considerations. We hunt with both traditional bows and crossbows.)

4. Peace and Well Being.  Shoot these bows with a deliberate purpose and get connected with your inner spirit and self. There is nothing mechanical about these bows. An archer will feel the wood of the bow bend and slowly load with stored energy powered by one's own muscles. Zen, Japanese Archery, Become the Arrow ...whatever ....but the connection is strong. To propel an arrow well, the archer's mind must be "right" and the process can't be rushed. There is no room for other thoughts. There are no shortcuts. Every arrow sent downrange teaches the archer. To think less about the process while being very mindful of the process is the key from my viewpoint.  Fred Bear said that shooting an arrow "clears the mind." 
Walk and retrieve the arrows and begin the process again. In all of the shooting sports (rifles, handguns, crossbows, compound bows etc.) there is not a stronger, closer or immediate connection to the tool than with a traditional bow and your hand on a bowstring.  

5. Hunting Awareness. Fred Bear said, "You can learn more about hunting deer with a a bow and arrow in a week than a gun hunter will learn in his entire life."
In fact, Fred Bear had numerous insights about hunting and the outdoors that you might find valuable (Google - "Fred Bear Quotes") but the point is that archery hunting and in particular, hunting with traditional bows has the potential to be the most satisfying experience of any hunting activity simply because it is so difficult and so close and personal. With modern rifles and optics, shooting a deer at 500 yards is in the realm of possibilities for the average hunter like never before. It can be intense but it's a calculation. Shoot a deer at 7 yards with a traditional bow and it's deeply personal.
Most of the time, traditional hunts do not end
with a downed game animal. 

At Kodabow Crossbows, we learned a great deal from traditional bows. Our Kodabow Destringing Aid was born from the typical aid used with traditional bows. Our stringmaking was shaped by traditional bow experience in terms of strands and materials. The ability to change a bowstring in the field is a Kodabow feature we share with traditional bows as well as the deep experience that comes from designing a proper arrow and hunting head that will efficiently dispatch game. We kept everything simple with a hope that 50 years from now, hunters will look at our crossbow work and craftsmanship with an appreciation much like we have for these "old bows."

Merry Christmas,

Chuck at Kodabow
December 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Deer Hunting 100 Years Ago.

100 years ago --- there weren't too many deer running around the woods .... at least in Pennsylvania. Deer were scarce and the mere sighting of a deer would have made the local paper in some regions. Needless to say, if a hunter was fortunate enough to actually kill a deer, the proud hunter would head to Main Street and pose with the trophy receiving praise from all the town folk. After decades of deforestation as the Eastern US timber was harvested to build a growing nation, the lumber industry fell on slow times with the timber resource exploited. Towns built around the lumber industry shut down and regrowth promoted a slow reemergence of the whitetail population. Conservation ideology was developing. In 1913 archives, I observed references that limited a hunter to a 1 deer limit, male deer only and antlers that were at least 2" and visible.
Hawley, PA over 100 years ago. 
50 years ago, shooting a deer was still a very, very special event. As a youngster, I recall the opening day of rifle season in Virginia when my best friend and I were both successful killing 7 point buck deer. John shot a big one and we felt it was important to get the "huge" deer weighed for posterity. Being only 16 years old, shooting a deer was a monumental event that would even make the high school newspaper. To make a long story short, we headed to the local Safeway Supermarket, Meat Department and told the butcher we shot a very nice buck and asked if he would be willing to weigh the deer for us. He said "sure, just drag it right back here, front door is fine."  That butcher must have been a limited government gent because there appeared to be no rules. So we awkwardly pulled the big buck down the aisle of canned goods by a rope (much to the alarm of an elderly lady who was doing evening shopping) and put the deer on a scale --- the weight is now forgotten ..... and then dragged the buck back through the supermarket to the 1966 Mustang in the parking lot. That deer was prominently displayed on the rear trunk for the trip home. Those were the good ole days ...seriously. 

This buck traveled up and down the "canned goods" Safeway Supermarket aisle in Northern
Virginia to get weighed. Times were sure different in 1969. 

Today, deer seem to be everywhere. Here is a photo of nice buck walking through an apartment complex not far from Kodabow headquarters recently. We are fortunate to be living in remarkable hunting times and it is appreciated at Kodabow. 

Walking through the Apartment Complex, West Chester, PA 2016

Bob killed this nice buck this year
with his Kodabow - not far from Hawley, PA!
It is hard to kill a deer. There is always a two part problem. You need to find the deer which is part A. Then you need to kill the deer which is Part B. The second part is the hardest because far too many unexpected events can happen especially in the final few seconds when pulling the trigger is required. Bob, pictured with this fine 2016 deer,  will tell you that the buck appeared quickly during the rut and was about to disappear in the brush when he used his Kodabow with no time to spare.  A crossbow makes it easier to manage those final seconds --- and we are pleased to hear that some hunters use a Kodabow to take their first deer. It is a great choice. While times have changed, some things remain the same. Much like Hawley, PA in 1913, a hunter is still limited to one male deer a year in Pennsylvania. We enjoy the longer seasons and opportunities to hunt frequently using different tools. In 2016, the Kodabow boys have spent most of our time hunting deer with traditional recurves. I know --- some think we are crazy! But in the morning, I will pull out my trusty Kodabow (even though it's firearms season) and expect a good opportunity to fill a doe tag and put meat in the freezer. The mornings are cold and it will be a short trip to the butcher. It is still too early to shoot a buck ---- after all, Rifle Season is still open this weekend. Flintlock Season opens the 26th of December for two weeks  --- and Archery Equipment (both recurve, compounds and Kodabow crossbows) can be used in this area until January 28th.  Oh...my goodness! What a great time to be alive and be a hunter.
My best,
Chuck at Kodabow HQ