A friend sent me this amazing video of a young man showing off his amazing archery skills. Though I know one cannot always believe what one sees on video these days, I do know for a fact that people can do this kind of stuff with a bow and some arrows. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
In the eighties, I was a pretty avid bow hunter, and a member of the Buffalo Field Archery Club, an old Archery club formed officially in 1948. We’d have these broad-head tournament shoots at our club grounds located at the corner of Woodway and 610 Loop in Houston, where the club met since WWII.
Challenging Test of Skill
The tournament courses were laid-out similar to a golf course with 18 different hunting target situations ranging from 9 to 80+ yards. All manner of animal targets with replaceable plugs were represented. Targets even included aerial birds like pheasant and quail swinging over and across a creek. You would see turkey, boar, javelina, several poses of Deer, as well as hogs and bear. It was enjoyable and helped you dial in for the approach of hunting season. There were several classes, Compound, Recurve, Long Bow – with and without sights. You’d win trophies and equipment prizes if you scored Top 3 in your category. There was an overall Grand Champion too.
Anyway, there was this one guy. Not very personable, never really talked to anybody. Loner is understating his demeanor. What set him apart was his attire. He showed up to the tournament dressed in a full well-worn deerskin attire, tassels and all. He was a modern-day Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone, sans the coon-skin hat. Mind you this is mid-August in Houston as we were prepping for opening day, it was hot and humid. He had a large stag handled Bowie knife on his belt and a horn style canteen of water.
His Naked Longbow
If that wasn’t enough to make this guy stand out in a crowd, he shot a homemade longbow with nary a mark (some (all!) barebow shooters used sight marks) visible. This bow was probably 5-1/2 feet long; picture a large branch or stick with some natural gut or woven horse-hair string fixed to each end. That’s it.
Arrows Handmade Too
Everything he had on him was as basic as it gets. Even his arrows. His arrows were hand-made too, made of wood with perfect looking turkey fletching. Every other person there shot with fancy Easton Aluminum alloy arrows and razor broad-heads with four razor-sharp edges. Not this guy. He was old-school. His arrow heads were chipped stone and presumably very sharp. He carried an even dozen in a deerskin quiver slung around his shoulder, on his back. Most everyone else used a belt or bow-mounted quivers. It was like this guy was in a time-warp or something. Mountain trapper thrust forward 200 years!
He Didn’t Stand a Chance
Though nobody said it, I don’t think any of the competitors gave Mr. Deerskin a chance in hell of hitting any targets with his setup. We could not have been more wrong!
Deerskin guy kicked everybody’s ass. I mean, he thrashed the field. It was ridiculous. Embarrassing, even. It’s like his arrows were on rails to the targets. He was a freak of nature that had everybody, to a person, speechless and entranced.
A Real Test Of Skills
There are no perfect scores in these Broad-head shoots. It just doesn’t happen. Why? Moving targets are one reason. They are unbelievably difficult. For example, there are always at least a couple of bird-sized targets, swinging in the air, between 30 and 50-yards away, continually moving and elevated at 45 degrees. Picture a trap and skeet range for these targets. They are challenging, and they are arrow eaters when you miss them because of the creek below. The bird targets get missed A LOT. Scopes and sights don’t help, trust me.
Another thing that makes this version of archery hard, is that every target is set at a oddball distance from the mark. You have to decide on the range to target, factoring in obstacles, wind, etc., and you need to do it quickly. You get only one shot attempt. No do-overs, and no mulligans. Remember, this is preparing for bow hunting. Animals don’t tend to pose for you at even increments of 10 yards.
Happy Just Hitting Target
For me, I was very average. I didn’t practice with Broad-heads nearly enough, but I loved these tournaments. I rarely even tried to do the bird targets unless I had a tethered arrow like I used for bow fishing. We called bird arrows Flu Flu’s and they had enormous circular fletching to slow the arrow very quickly if you missed your target. I wasn’t really into duck hunting but I always wanted to try my hand at the bird targets. It never happened. I was too cheap, and that skank-water creek was just too nasty to retrieve arrows that missed the mark. As for the rest of the fixed targets, I did ok between 20 and 50 yds. I sucked at the extremes both long and short. On those I was just happy to hit the straw safety stop, let alone the foam targets. Hitting the plug for points? Please. A 5 inch circle at 87.3 yds? Please.
Let’s Watch This Character…
You guessed it, Mr. Deerskin nailed it right in the plug (about a 3inch circle). He made every other fixed target, at any distance, look like child’s play. This stoic guy would set up and shoot quickly, unlike so many that would take for fricken-ever to release. Our hair was visibly longer after waiting for some slowpokes to take aim and release.
How Good Was That?
By now, you probably guessed that this guy won it all. But, he managed to stun the crowd, take his prize, pack up and leave. Not a word. I don’t know what it was like to see Tiger Woods, in person, thrash the field at the Masters. Nor do I know what it must have been like to see Michael Phelps pummel the swimming world completely during the Olympics. I’m guessing that what we all witnessed that day was kind of similar. Almost supernatural.
Your Eye’s Don’t Always Deceive You
As unbelievable as things seem, however unlikely, it is possible that it’s legit. Mr Deerskin proved that to me, and several dozen other people one summer day in Houston.