Father’s Day

Happy Father’s day archers, and Happy Father’s day Dad!


My old man with Buck and Marmot


Bowfishing for Carp



My father’s bows part 3

My  birthday is coming up. I am very excited and have gotten all in a tiff about it. Mostly because I am so mad about archery that the prospect of receiving some archery gifts has me dizzy.

My father had sent me an early money gift and I had ordered myself a serving jig and some spectra serving line. I was interested in seeing the spectra line as my background is in sailboats and sailboat rigging and spectra has almost become common in our little sailing world. (Spectra is a high tech very, very low stretch line, although in this application archery folks appreciate it for it’s resistance to abrasion and its slipperiness on the release)

Bearpaw BCY string server with BCY Halo .019 or my new serving jig and line.

I was expecting a box and so when I got home on our front door steps there indeed was a small box which had to be the the jig and serving line. There was also a long box from my father with the words FRAGILE in marker.

Now, in a Pavlovian sort of way I have come to associate long skinny boxes with the best thing on the planet, bows. Could it be? I mean could it? I now have 4 bows, a compound, two traditional recurve bows, and an Olympic style recurve, could I have another?!

Went inside found my rigging knife and semi-carefully opened the box. There secured in bubblewrap was a short Harry Drake 55 inch, 50 pound traditional hunting recurve. I’d seen this bow in pictures before but never in life. It is short to navigate brush and traveling through the woods while after your quarry.

My dad had recently sent me some photographs of a hunting trip in Mona which is an island in the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where wild boar and goats can be hunted. See pic below:

My father is the fellow on the left, holding the bow I now have in my hands.


What’s great about all this to me is I get to share a part of my father’s life with him, may it be in pictures and stories or in a bow, for I am not  only getting archery tackle, I am getting family history, the isle of Mona, and in some way I am also getting a part of my father.

I am grateful.

My father’s bows – part II

The wait has been difficult but my new traditional flemish bowstrings finally came in!  They are made of dacron which is common among old school bows of this vintage. More modern bows that have been made to withstand today’s new string materials can use the many low to no stretch string options out there now.

Flemish bowstring

Because these strings stretch more you have to keep an eye on the brace height, which is the  distance from the bowstring to the deepest part of the bowgrip and adjust your bowstring accordingly, this is done by adding or removing more twists to the bowstring to make it longer or shorter. This practice in old Saxon days was referred to as fistmele which is the measurement of a clenched hand with the thumb extended or 6 to 7 inches.There is an interesting description of this in Saxton Pope’s book, Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, in Chapter 8 ” How to Shoot”.


Having the brace height right will keep your bow quiet and shooting at it’s peak.

My cousin John who originally had stored and sent me the bows also sent me an archery cabinet that had been my father’s. Aside from having great fatherly history, the cabinet has been great, providing a place to keep a lot of my archery tackle (which I am accumulating at a steady pace). It’s also been nice to look at, something to come home to.

I recently borrowed a hanging scale from work to find out what the poundage of these bows are. The Hoyt came in at it’s marked weight of 35 pounds, I tested this at 28 inches of draw length. The other bow is a Drake and was unmarked, came in at 45 pounds.

Steve Dunsmore at Lakeside Archery suggested stringing these bows and pulling them a little each day, then a little more, and a bit more until I was pulling the full draw weight over the period of a couple of weeks. He suggested this because these bows haven’t been used in a long time. This seemed like a good breaking in routine to me and I’ve anxiously and un-patiently followed this regime. I say that because it’s a bit of a tease, you get to handle the bow, pull the string back but no beautiful arcing arrow flight, “sigh”. That though my friends changes today! Hah!

My father’s bows

I recently received an email from my cousin John Shillinger in Colorado, he had noticed my interest in Archery and wanted to send me my father’s old bows and arrows which he had been storing for some time now. The story goes like this:

My father had been an archery enthusiast for approximately ten years when in 1960 he was transferred within his company to a job in Venezuela, he could not take everything with him and so stored with his sister Norma a bunch of his archery tackle. John reports that they stayed at his mother’s house for 25 years in NJ, then after a move to Colorado stayed with John another 25 years or so.

John hadn’t specified what he was sending, other than to say that he had some archery items and I would like what was in the box. I didn’t want to presume that bows would appear as it could have also been archery tackle, feathers, nocks and things of the sort.

I had been checking UPS everday, even when I knew it was too quick for the package to have arrived from Colorado and sure enough one day the UPS man unloaded a tall box, my heart rose.

I unpacked it right away and found two beautiful recurve bows and a lot of cedar shafted arrows. Thanks John! I drove home that day excited and curious to know more about the bows.

The smaller of the two bows is labeled and is a 35 pound 62 inch Hoyt. Hoyt is still in business today and makes some of the worlds best bows, they are found in target competition circles as well as for recreational and hunting uses. If you happen to see the Olympics in London this year you may see one of this country’s best archers, Brady  Ellison, shooting his Hoyt recurve for gold.

1956-1960, 35 pound, 62 inch Hoyt recurve bow.

Feather arrow rest

Fine riser and very nice leather grip.

The other bow is a 45 lb Drake recurve.  Pics below:

Harry Drake 64 inch 45 lb recurve

laminated riser

Arrow Shelf

I also received a lot of arrows, I received two types, cedar shafted arrows fletched with turkey feathers and early fiberglass arrows – Microlight brand, which curiously where  pioneered by Frank Eicholz.

Cedar shafts with turkey fletchings

This decorative part of the arrow is called an arrow crest.

Steel points

Because the wood is dried and the glue is brittle I will reglue the points, I have a trip to Lakeside Archery today to get proper glue and strings for the bows and to watch the kids shoot at JOAD.

In my excitement when these bows came in I took  the string off my modern recurve bow which is the same 62 inch size as the Hoyt and strung it and shot two arrows at our backyard target. I later found out while researching that I probably should not have done that as modern strings have little to no stretch, the modern bow is designed to accommodate that. Older bows want a more stretchy dacron string, so I will bide my time now, get proper strings, which will most likely have to be ordered, and dream of shooting my father’s bows…


My journey into archery starts with my father who as a young man was deeply involved in archery and bowhunting, and although I was not yet around during that part of his life. These things have a way of emerging within us decades later and for no apparent reason, one of life’s neat little tricks.

Among some of the bows that my father used were a longbow, a Hoyt recurve, a Drake recurve and a shorter 50 lb “Tox” recurve hunting bow.

The 1st picture shows dad with his 45 lb recurve Drake bow, and a nice buck in New Jersey, circa 1958. You can tell he is right proud! The 2nd shows dad him with his longbow and a marmot. He also ventured into bowfishing.

The fish are carp which are still one of the big gamefish for folks who are into bowfishing. The bow is his hunting Tox, notice the bowfishing attachment at the front of the bow. You can also see the shortness of the Tox in this picture, meant for navigating through the woods and brush in search of quarry.

I got interested in archery just a scant few months ago, when it struck me how archery could fit so well in our lives. We could do it together as a family or as a solo feed the soul sport, just for relaxation in the backyard or to beat the winter blah’s at the local archery range, plus with it’s long history it is just plain cool to be counted as part of the archery brotherhood, so guess what I got for Christmas? – I’ll leave that for my next entry!