Bow Class March 2023
As I sit here to write this, I am asking myself why it has taken me two years to write another blog post. We’ve been to events and held classes so it’s not like I didn’t have anything to write about. Life is crazy like that sometimes, I guess.
One thing to note is that Facebook has blocked our attempts at advertising our Bow and Arrow Making Classes due to the fact that it points back to “weapons”, so be sure to share the heck out of our stuff so we can “stick it to the man!”
The class this March was heartwarming in a way that seems to have eclipsed the other classes we’ve had so far. We bore witness to a memorable and long-cherished weekend for three generations of men in one family. An 18-year-old preparing to graduate high school (Garrison), his father (Chad) and grandfather (Gary... let’s just call him Grandpa Gary; it has a nice ring to it) all came together from Indiana. Garrison had a long-standing interest in outdoors activities, most likely gained from a good relationship with both his dad Chad (a former Ag-Science teacher turned agricultural businessman) and Grandpa Gary (a retired engineer who grew up raising his own food). This weekend was for Garrison, one last big hurrah with the guys before he has to go off to college this coming fall. Grandpa Gary opted out of the class and just signed up for meals/lodging so he could be here to share this weekend with his son and grandson. (There are lots of options when considering a weekend class so feel free to contact us if you need to get creative.)
The guys arrived Thursday evening. (For those of you considering taking the class, as of right now, we do recommend Thursday arrivals so you can get the most out of your time here; it doesn’t hurt that the Thursday dinner is delicious! As always, check the menu posted for your class.) If you’ve read our other blog posts, you know that we host lodging in private rooms for the class participants. The younger guys were kind enough to offer Grandpa Gary the Queen Room to himself. Chad (I keep wanting to say Chad “The Dad” because it rhymes, don’t you?) and Garrison shared the Blue Room. A new addition to our lodging is a nice rollaway bed. Garrison said it was plenty comfortable, and considering the young lad is at least 6’ 4” tall (wow!) I think I’ll trust his opinion. If he fits, you will too,...most likely.
Friday morning dawned, early but not so bright. It rained the entire day, unfortunately. (If you plan to take the class, maybe plan to bring extra shoes or slip on shoes; it was a mess out here.) It worked out perfectly though because the first day was primarily spent roughing out the staves, making personalization selections, and starting arrows. Not knowing what to expect exactly, they settled in like champs for the work ahead, having finished their bow strings on Thursday evening.
Saturday morning dawned bright and windy, which was nice because it helped to dry up the wet ground. Unfortunately, the wind was strong enough that it blew the bandsaw over! (Disclaimer: no Garrisons or Grandpas, or anyone else was harmed in the blowing-over event as this piece of equipment has been out of commission sitting in the yard…Know anyone getting rid of a NICE bandsaw?) The detailed work of fletching the arrows got finished up on Saturday morning before lunch. The afternoon was spent heat-bending the bows. Both Chad’s and Garrison’s staves needed hot dates with the heat gun to be straightened out. Interestingly enough, the guys were surprised that it actually worked. They really thought the staves were going to spring back into the original shape when taken off the form. Thankfully, Joshua (our adored class instructor, master bowyer, and my hunky hubby) knows what he’s talking about and the staves stayed exactly as they needed to be.
I didn’t get very many good pictures of the food being served; I think I was just as hungry as the guys. At our classes, we eat meals served family style in our large, open, country kitchen. Let me just say, Saturday’s dinner usually gets the most compliments.
Sunday was one of those mornings that you could just tell was going to be nice. In the springtime, if it starts out with clear skies and it’s chilly, it normally means it’s going to be a nice day. Sunday held true to this pattern and was so nice I actually ended up with a slight sunburn on my forearms. That’s what I get for wearing a ¾ length sleeved jacket outside for that long in springtime sunshine.
The last day was spent tillering. This is a part that cannot be rushed and so it always feels like a toss-up as to when exactly the bows will come into proper tiller. We never guarantee an exact poundage but Josh has been able, to date, to get all of the bows to the EXACTLY requested draw weight. (See? I told you he knows what he’s doing.)
There are so many beautiful moments that happen throughout a class as we experience the shift from being strangers to family in one weekend. It feels as though, for a few days, that we have left normal life behind and been enclosed in some kind of bubble of the best kind. For this reason, it’s always bittersweet when the bows start actually shooting arrows because I know it’s almost over.
There was a good-natured, careful race to the finish between Garrison and his dad Chad. It looked, for a while, like Garrison was in the lead on finishing the tillering first. Chad was sure to point out though, that a bullseye hit with a finished bow was the real finish line. I count it as a tie since they both hit bullseyes during the process of “shooting in” the bow. Since you always check the tiller after this process, and they both had small adjustments to make, it’s hard to say if there is a clear winner on this one. Although I’m sure they’d each have something to add to that assessment, that’s just my take on it.
With several hours ahead of them to drive to return home, the guys gathered their things and their newly finished bows and arrows to leave. With sincere goodbyes and “we hope to see you soon”, we stood in the yard and waved goodbye to some new-found friends. We’d like to see them back one day to break that tie.