Given the skyrocketing price of guns and ammunition these days, it’s no wonder people are flocking to the stick and string. That’s right; archery is on the rise. In fact, it has been for years. Archery classes and sales swell with each Olympic medal or anytime archery is featured in a movie. Do Lord of the Rings or Hunger Games ring any bells?
However, shooting arrows and plucking strings isn’t just for fun. Archery has a rich history in hunting to provide table fare. Today, we do it mostly for sport, but it wasn’t that long ago archery was more than a shooting sport; it was a means for survival.
The prepared “prepper” spirit that is becoming more in vogue and infiltrating the psyche of everyday Americans; archery is a natural fit. Beyond being a ton of fun and a great way to spend a Saturday (or any other day of the week), it is the ultimate survival skill. Why? For the most part, you can reshoot the bullets—both for practice and under more dire circumstances.
Making The Switch: From Guns to Crossbows
Gun hunters looking to make the transition are flocking to crossbows in record numbers too. Many states allow archers to hunt with crossbows during the general archery seasons. Others require a special permit based on physical needs. The transition is easy because the weapon platform is simple and familiar. You have a stock, and optical sight with ballistic compensation for range. Modern cocking devices make it easy for the elderly, women and handicapped to load a crossbow. I have no such excuse, but use one every chance I get too.
Sure you can reload bullets and having those skills are a real asset, but you must also have the components (bullets, powder, press) to do so. Heading out for a day at the gun range can easily run you hundreds of dollars—if you can find the ammo at all these days. With archery you head to the range, shoot all-day and return with the same six or 12 arrows you left with.
CTD Expands Archery Category
Given the growing popularity of archery, the powers above me have decided that Cheaper Than Dirt needed to start giving it the proper attention it deserves. In fact, I was beaming and swollen with pride when my boss assigned me this task. He gave me full latitude to make it a regular topic, part of my regular “weekly chores” and did not even burden me with the worry of how I would spend the extra money from a bit more compensation for my efforts!
Actually, that is a joke of course. I would almost pay him for the assignment (almost). I know guns, own guns and have shot guns for most of my life, but archery owns my heart. I competed as a collegiate archer for the University of California, Los Angeles. I taught free archery classes for close to 10 years on one of the archery ranges supported by Easton Sports Development Foundation. I worked for several years as the Executive Editor of Petersen’s Bowhunting magazine. I have lived and breathed archery and bowhunting for over two decades.
I did not start out as a target archer though. I grew up in a hunting family. Bowhunting first arrived on my horizon about 25 years ago. It all started when I bought a bow and headed home from the Navy on leave. On a whim I had ran out and bought a bow. I was ready to try out my skills and impress the family. That was back in the late 1980s. I walked in with a bow, and by the look on their faces, you would have thought I had walked in a declared myself a card-carrying member of the Communist Party.
Finally, a cousin recovered from the shock (and laughter) and asked, “What the heck do you plan to do with that?”
“Hunt deer,” I replied. “Haven’t you hillbillies ever heard of bowhunting?”
Another cousin interjected at that point saying, “That sounds about right… hunt. I’ll lend you a rifle when you get done ‘hunting’ and decide you want to put some meat in the freezer.”
I wish that story ended with me getting the biggest deer. I really wish it ended up with me getting a deer at all and proving them wrong. But that would take a bit more journalistic liberty than I can muster. In fact, it took several years of bowhunting before I harvested my first buck. Bowhunting is a skill separate from gun hunting; much the same as fly-fishing raises the bar from simply catching fish with a casting or spinning reel.
If you are already an archer, welcome! If not, there is no better time to take up the stick and string. Like any skill, you are not born with it and waiting until you actually need the skill is too late to learn. It isn’t hard to become proficient with today’s compound bows and mechanical releases in a short period of time, but there is a learning curve. I would recommend finding a coach and getting started right. With a coach, your skills will improve more in two days than six months of trying to figure it out on your own.