Volume 1, Issue 1
Welcome to the first Compton Traditional Bowhunters newsletter. The CTB has been well received even though we have gone through a very long and trying time getting this organization started. A frequent question that I have had asked is “Why another bowhunting organization; it will just split our ranks.” The “splitting of the ranks” came in 1968 with the invention of machinery to replace the age-old longbow and recurve bow. Those of us who had been in bowshooting and bowhunting before the advent of these machines had to use our prowess and knowledge of animals and their habitat and the understanding of our beautiful primitive equipment to be successful in the hunting field whether we killed game or just enjoyed the hunt. We made a lot of our equipment – arrows, quivers, armguards and bows. We sharpened our broadheads and learned to track animals, follow blood trails and understand the value of our predator/prey relationship in the woods. Many of the hunters who switched to the machines were members of this group of “the old-days” philosophy and continue to be fine hunters. But the machinery ushered in the “high-tech” equipment into our bow seasons. Many hunters came into the archery fields with the thinking that each new added piece of equipment would make it easier for them to be successful and that is precisely what has happened. We have a new breed, high-tech bowhunter who doesn’t have to learn how to stalk because he can take shots up to 100 yards. He does not have to learn how to sharpen his own broadheads as they come pre-sharpened. He does not have to learn how to follow a blood trail because he can use a string-tracker and sprays to make the blood show up better. He does not make any equipment because of the proliferation of high-tech gear. He does not learn anything about nature, the woods and the predator/prey relationship because he does not take time from his high-speed lifestyle to learn. We have bred the non-hunter participant in our seasons.
When we started to obtain bowhunting – only seasons in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, we used the philosophy that we were a very low success (5 to 10% take), high recreation/hours in the field per animal taken hunting group. The machinery has now put our overall archery kill figures at 20% and higher and that now factors us into the game management equation. We no longer figure in the high recreation/hours per/animal taken class. Because we now figure in on game take numbers, we figure into the state management plans which also puts us in the category where season time and hunter numbers is regulated to control the number of animals taken. As the number of people in North America continues to grow and habitat continues to be eaten up by development, the available hunting area shrinks. We can already see and will continue to see fewer animals, especially in the West, and more competition for those animals from hunters of all types. With too many animals being taken in the archery seasons, we will see (as has already started) steps to cut back the length of our seasons and all bowhunters suffer because of one type of equipment, the high-tech gear.
We must ask ourselves if it is fair to bowhunting that we must suffer much less time in the woods pursuing game because of this high-tech equipment. We must also ask the users of high-tech equipment if they are willing to see seasons drastically cut (as was proposed in Colorado and Montana) so they can use these high-tech machines. Is it fair to the folks using traditional equipment to suffer shorter seasons and more restrictions because of high-tech equipment? I have been asked if we will try to get the high-tech equipment out of the bow seasons. I have stated that we will not pursue this agenda, but we do need to draw the line somewhere. We have seen a proliferation of new equipment come on the scene recently including an air pressurized arrow that releases the air into the body cavity upon the arrow striking the animal, a bow that will shoot a small dart and a hydraulic machine that shoots an arrow with no moving limbs, a rifle that shoots an arrow and a greater push to legalize crossbows in archery seasons. We are reinventing the rifle and with each piece of this type of equipment, game departments and the public are casting more dim views of the “primitive” sport of bowhunting.
The shift to strictly traditional equipment on the refuge in Oklahoma and a subsequent drop of success from 26% to 9& shows what can be done. Many high-tech shooters were upset that they were cut out of the hunt. They were not cut out of the hunt, high-tech equipment was. They can still hunt there if they use traditional equipment. All over the country, we have quality fishing waters where fishermen have to use flies and lures only, the “traditional” equipment of fishing. There were many complaints from bait fishermen to begin with. Now these waters that were marginal fishing at best are the premier trophy fishing waters around and many fishermen are switching to flies and lures to enjoy this fine fishing. Could not the same be done with bowhunting? Golf has a great deal of restrictions as to high-tech equipment and is doing nothing but growing and becoming more popular.
We are seeing many bowhunters returning to traditional equipment. The most stated reason is it is more fun, gives them a closer relationship with our past and they want to learn to enjoy the outdoors more, they want to get close to nature. Most of these converts are very surprised at how accurate and fast shooting modern traditional equipment is. There has always been three main contentions of difference between high-tech and traditional gear. First, one could shoot farther at game because the machines were much faster. This took out the need to get within 30 years or less of the game. Is 20 to 50 feet per second (the difference in speed) enough to justify taking up to 100 yard shots? Most traditional shooters limit themselves to 30 yards and many prefer 20 yards or less. Not only is this more responsible to the game we hunt, but it makes it much more challenging and exciting to get that close.
The second difference is that one could hold the machine longer than the recurve or longbow and this continues to be a point of contention for people who have shoulder or knee problems. No matter which kind of equipment one uses, if you shoot 55lbs., you still have to pull 55 lbs. at some point in the draw of a machine. The difference is that one does not “hold” a recurve or longbow. The release should be at the time the anchor is attained. Many high-tech shooters do not understand this. They have to learn to practice this difference. For those willing to take the time to do so, they find out it is very satisfying and they are just as accurate at 30 yards and less as they were with their machines. Now they must become stalkers to get that close and add more fun and excitement. The third difference was “I don’t have to practice as much with my high-tech equipment.” This probably is the reason our overall success is not much greater than it is now. The people who practice very little with their equipment do not bring home much meat. One still must practice constantly no matter the equipment. I know many very successful hunters who use high-tech equipment and I can tell you they practice a lot. These three differences were great advertising practices to sell more equipment and it worked, even though the real difference is shooting style. Now the advertising is for new equipment that is even more high-tech than anything we ever dreamed of. Is it not time to back up a little and look at what is happening and where we are going? Will our children and grandchildren have a chance to enjoy bowhunting as we once knew it? Will the future have a separate bow season at all? Not if we let high-tech gear run rampant. We also must continue to bring youngsters up with traditional values. They need to be brought to be outdoorsmen and know the predator/prey relationship and not just the kill-at-any-expense thinking that we so prevalent now. The Pope and Young Club and the Professional Bowhunters Society have great programs for kids (we intend to work with these two groups) and many states are following with their own programs, but we need much more introduction to archery, especially traditional archery. WE need to get men and women who have grown up with only high-tech equipment in their hands to try traditional bows and see how much fun they are to shoot.
These are some of the reasons we have long needed a national traditional organization to represent the recurve, longbow and selfbow hunters. We have not been represented by anyone else and now the time has come. We ask you to let your fellow traditional bowhunters know about the Compton Traditional Bowhunters so we can build a strong organization that will keep traditional bowhunting alive and guarantee our children and grandchildren a chance to enjoy our great outdoors to the fullest while hunting with simple sticks and strings as hunters have for hundreds of years. We ask you to let a friend who shoots high-tech equipment shoot his arrows from your bow and see how much fun it is. We ask you to help us spread the word of the recurve, longbow and selfbow, the word of the traditional bowhunter.