I admit I am a little late in getting this post finished. (Hey, what can I say? We went on a 6 day trip exploring the mountains of southern Tennessee and northern Georgia to celebrate our 5 year anniversary!) So, the wait is now over.
On Friday, July 9th, we had four fellows arrive to start work on what would turn out to be a long weekend of working on bows. A group of brothers from Indiana (if you remember me mentioning Matt Bartlett and his brothers in the Friendship post, this is them) and a guy named Kent from North Carolina all came in a little before lunchtime.
Let me throw this in real quick before we get too far into the details. If you’re interested in taking a bow class, we are hosting another one in November. You should register soon because we are limiting the space to five people. After hosting the July class, we decided to include the cost of lodging and meals in the price of registration for the class. It made the most sense.
Kent arrived first and got his stuff set up in what we call the “Big Room”. We have a nice big couch that can easily sleep a 6 foot person and has enough depth and firmness that it still feels like a bed! It doesn’t hurt that I dressed the whole thing up like a real bed too. I know, I know, guys don’t care about that stuff. But actually, they do; some just don’t realize the subconscious effect it has on how comfortable they feel in a place. Josh took Kent on a quick tour of the grounds and started discussing the layout of the class. Kent had purchased his registration online through a Facebook ad. (Hey! That actually worked!) We also found out that Kent is a die-hard beach volleyball player! I mean, this guy has played games in ridiculous conditions after surgeries/injuries and just powers through! What a trooper!
The brothers Matt, Jamie and Jon all rode in together and arrived a bit after Kent. They took the quick tour and got settled in. Jamie had access to the queen room which sports a mini fridge. These fellas like their sweet tea so they made good use of that.
Jon and Matt opted to share the “Blue Room” which features a handmade twin bed. Matt brought his own cot to sleep on. (Note that for the November class, all sleeping rooms are private rooms. They were brothers, so they didn’t mind sharing.)
The late afternoon was spent roughing out bow staves and marking dimensions and other such stuff.
For Friday evening I served baked spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad. I won’t mention the dessert, it’s kind of a surprise for the people that take the class so I don’t want to spoil it. Matt had never heard of baking spaghetti before and we found out that the Bartlett Brothers are selective in their choice of dining. Dessert, however, was a hit.
Saturday morning came and a breakfast of hot ham, egg, and cheese sliders was served with fresh fruit, coffee, milk. Kent made the comment that the buns the ham was on tasted sweet. That would be because I put maple butter on them in the last few minutes of baking. You’re welcome.
Work continued throughout the day along with discussions of what kinds of nocks and other custom choices each person would like. This would be the most boring blog post (to the average person) if I were to write it like a woodworking textbook, so I’ll spare you all the gory details and hit the highlights.
An uninteresting lunch (turkey, ham, and salami sandwiches) came and went and work rolled on. Saturday evening’s dinner consisted of country fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, skillet fried corn, and green beans. Again, I’ll not ruin the surprise for the dessert, but this one took me 45 minutes of hands on work prior to baking. Let me throw this in: Matt actually messaged us after the class to ask for the recipe.
After dinner, the guys gathered in the yard to throw atlatl and enjoy the evening. Talking and sharing went late into the evening. The class was starting to feel like a summer camp retreat making new friends.
Sunday morning dawned with a breakfast casserole of sausage, egg, cheese, and potato along with fresh fruit. Josh got up to go out and start working and the others were moving a little slower. I asked them if it was real to them that they had to finish these bows today. When I saw their staves on their way out to the work area, I knew then that it would be a miracle for them to be finished that day. (Let me insert that we have specifically changed the hours and structure of the November class in response to this experience.)
At some point early in the day, they also picked out what type of fletching style they wanted for their arrows and cut in nocks. Josh helped continue fletching arrows after showing how to do it while they continued scraping wood.
Kent had a 10 hour drive one way to get back home and had an appointment on Monday that he couldn’t miss, so there was no way he could stay, even if he wasn’t finished. However, he finished first -- a Tuscarora style bow that weighed in around 45 pounds. He specifically chose that style due to the presence of the Tuscarora tribe in North Carolina’s history.
Matt had to be at work at 5 a.m. on Monday morning. Jon and Jamie were both scheduled at their jobs as well. They had at least a 4.5 hour drive home. It was getting almost too dark to shoot by the time Matt’s bow was shooting and Jon and Jamie weren’t even close. Matt’s finished bow was a traditional “bend-through-the-handle” bow that weighed in around 45-50 pounds. Matt says he just gets lucky but from where we were standing, he’s a pretty good shot.
We eventually had to take a lamp from the living room outside so work could continue. Jon finished next - another “bend-through-the-handle” bow with arrowhead and diamond nocks. His bow weighed in at 45 pounds exactly, if we remember correctly.
At this point in the evening, it was obvious to me that these guys were not going to make it home that night. Matt was holding out that they would leave so that he could make it to work. I tried reasoning with him that it simply wasn’t safe for them to drive after having been awake this long, and that even if they could make it home, how could they function at work? Matt had packed up nearly all of their things, including his cot, in an effort to make leaving quicker as soon as Jamie was finished. Jon laid down on the floor with the dog and fell asleep; I waited on the couch to see what would happen. Matt went back out to see if he could help.
Finally, at 2:00 a.m., the guys came in. They had decided to quit for the night and continue in the morning. At this point, there was no way they were going to make it to work anyways. Quick decisions were made: Matt slept on the couch where Kent had been since the cot was already packed; Jon had to be prodded awake and told to get in bed and Jamie said he couldn’t believe Josh hadn’t called it quits waay earlier. (Side note: that amazing couch got another rave review from Matt in addition to Kent’s approval.)
Matt is apparently a very heavy sleeper. He had set a very early alarm so he could call into work to let them know that he couldn’t make it. The alarm didn’t wake him so I did. We have very unreliable cell service. You have to stand next to one corner in the kitchen to get calls to go through. Anyways, arrangements were made.
Work continued on Monday morning and since they now had the day anyways, they were able to work on a few more finishing details and everyone’s bow was shooting by the time they left.
Jamie’s bow with diamond nocks came in around 50-55 pounds.
It had started to rain so they decided they wanted to see what all Josh had for sale. You can check out his current stock in our Etsy Shop. I made the brilliant point that we should have a dedicated gift shop area during bow classes. If you sign up for the November class, I’m hoping we will have pulled that off by the time you get here.
They headed home around 3:00 p.m. and we immediately began making adjustments to the November class schedule. Rest assured, we will not be working until 2:00 a.m. ever again! All in all, it was a great experience and everyone left happy. Kent said he would probably sign up for another class no matter what it was about!