Usually when the NFAA hits a mile marker like this I stop and reminisce about where I was when I started archery in relationship to where I am now. Like most of you I got involved in archery through hunting and thanks to my brother-in-law and my wife’s Christmas present, I was introduced to hunting with a bow. Little did I know it would start me on a road that has lasted more than 35 years and something that my family still enjoys today. In fact, we are starting our 3rd generation of archers and hunters with my son’s daughter.
I can remember my first bow, a Bear White Tail. It had tear drop cables to attach the bow string, fiberglass limbs and a flipper rest. I never could figure out if it was a 4 wheel bow or a 2 wheel bow. It didn’t matter though because it shot like a champ (in the hands of the right archer). Like a 12 year old on Christmas morning who got a pony, I couldn’t wait to shoot it. The week before Christmas, my wife, Lorraine took me to Sutphin’s Archery to pick out the bow I wanted. With my brother-in-law’s advice we got the Bear White Tail at 45 lbs. At that time I thought that was a lot of poundage to pull but the law in Indiana said you couldn’t hunt with anything less than 45 pounds. Little did I know I would be shooting 60 pound bows from then on. Lorraine’s mom and dad bought me my first dozen arrows, 2117s with 125gr. field points. Man, I was ready for anything moving.
That weekend I took my bow and arrows to Sutphin’s Archery range to shoot this dream machine. Paid my $3.00 and put my target up. Nocked up my first arrow, took aim and shot my first arrow. At this point let’s just say I hit something other than a target or the target mat. I hit the target stand below the bales. I now owned an archer’s dozen (11 arrows). I can still hear Charlie Sutphin laughing at my poor shot.
Not to be discouraged I nocked up my second arrow. This time I aimed harder and held a little higher to make sure the arrow would make a hit on the target.
At this time I think I would like to discuss the hazards from broken glass after shooting a florescent light fixture with an arrow. That’s right, I took out a whole light fixture. Charlie wasn’t laughing now and I was down to 10 arrows, a bad archer’s dozen.
Needless to say Charlie picked up a broom and on his way to the targets told me I was done for the evening unless I had a truck load of florescent lights to replace any more I might shoot out.
Hanging my head low and remembering the lesson my mother taught me about cleaning up my own messes (especially when you get caught). I grabbed a trash can and went down to help clean up.
After we cleaned up the mess and I helped Charlie fix the lights we sat at the counter and had a long talk. Not about me or my stupid shooting but on archery in general. I learned a lot that evening about the history of the NFAA and the game of archery. He told me funny stories about friends he had made and now I had made my first archery friend that day. He was until the day he passed away. If it wasn’t for Charlie I would not have been as involved in the NFAA as I am today.
The first thing that Charlie had me purchase was a sight. He said that would help my aiming a whole lot. He was right. I never took out a set of florescent lights again. But what he did at no cost was to teach me the basic of shooting a bow. I still go back to those early lessons he taught me and I’m glad to say my kids carry those same lessons with them today.
Again, congratulations to the NFAA on 75 years. I hope those that read this article will look back and remember your first bow, your first missed arrow and your archery friends who have passed away and those who are still with us that helped you realize how great this sport is. Just as we are now the new NFAA, may we do as well as they did in teaching the next generation about our sport and the history of the NFAA.
See you on the shooting line somewhere,
Brian S. Sheffler, NFAA Vice-President