Thursday, June 21, 2012

Buying Wood Arrows

I love shooting wood arrows. I still remember making them with my Dad before I was old enough to be in school. 

Two years ago my shooting went through, shall I say, a rough phase. I was breaking so many arrows I decided to shoot carbons, BUT JUST FOR THE SUMMER until my shooting got better.

I ended up shooting carbons for over two years. This Spring I decided to go back to my first true love - woods. Part of the reason I chose to go back to wood is because I am still shooting the same two dozen carbon arrows that I made two years ago. I never broke any of my carbons! (I was shooting the CX Heritage arrows primarily) I really enjoy making arrows, and those danged carbons were robbing me from one of my favorite pastimes. 

Don't get me wrong, there are still times where I'll be toting carbons. I'm not a "purist", I don't get a tingle up my leg when I shoot woods, and I certainly don't think it has anything to do with...well...anything in regards to "traditional" archery. I just flat love wood arrows. I love making them, the smell of cedar, the straightening process, the limitless options of stain color, the bigger nocks, gluing on my points, and most importantly (because if you don't love this you have no business shooting wood arrows) - the smell of a broken arrow! When a woody gets broken in our group we pass it around so everybody can take a hit before discarding the fallen shaft.

One of my better shots with a wood arrow

And one of my "not so better" shots with a wood arrow

HOWEVER, there is one thing I hate about wood arrows. Matching them...

Buying wood arrows can be a huge pain. Wood is a natural material, obviously, and not consistent from tree to tree. Which in turn means that it is not consistent from arrow shaft to arrow shaft. The last set of wood arrows I bought without matching myself had a difference of 138 grains in physical weight.  ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY EIGHT! 

Before Tom started RMSGear he brought home, literally, 1,000 arrows at a time (up until 2010 Tom never killed an animal with anything but a wood arrow). I thought all those arrows were the coolest thing in the world when I was a little kid. Tom's supplier gave him a deal because Tom spent several days spine testing and weighing all 1,000 shafts. At the end of the process he picked out the ones he wanted and brought the rest back to his generous supplier.

So when Tom started RMSGear he thought that one way he could serve his customers was to do all that laborious work for them. Which really meant that his teenage kids would do (and still do) all of that work. I kid of course, Tom spine tested more arrows in his first two years of business than I will in my lifetime.

(For those of you who do not know, measuring the "spine" of an arrow is done by suspending an arrow over two points, 26 inches apart, and measuring the deflection caused by hanging a two pound weight in the center)

We buy arrows from several sources. Some batches are better than others, even from the same supplier. But we have definitely learned something over the years that I will pass on to you - don't ever trust a group of wood arrows. Unless of course you spine them yourself, or buy them from us ;) 

Danny spent the majority of Wednesday spine testing our latest batch of 1,000 arrows. His work is only half done though, because before these arrows will be ready to sell to our customers we will weigh them all. From there we will match them as close as we can in to batches of 12-14 arrows. 

Of those 1,000 arrow shafts only 46% were within the spine range we thought we were buying. That's right, over half of them were wrongly matched.

Here is a graph of the last box of arrows. I have highlighted the area that the arrows should have been within.

You can see how unreliable the advertised spine was. I don't know what other wood shaft retailers do, but when you buy arrows from RMSGear we guarantee that you will be getting exactly what you ordered. Your arrows' spine will be within 2-3lbs and their weight will be within 10 grains. This is a time intense and mindless job, it will test your patience and your back, but the rewards are well worth it.

If you enjoy the small reward only earned by the work of your hands, then I think you'll take pleasure in making and shooting wood arrows. Like I said above, I don't believe they are magical and I don't believe they make you more of a "traditional" bowhunter/archer. I do believe they are fun and enjoyable, and I do believe there is something about using items that your own creativeness and labor brought to fruition.

Like always, this sport is our passion, and we love nothing more than to help others get in to this wonderful tradition. Please pick up the phone and give us a call or shoot us an Email if you have questions or interest about making your own arrows.

A few pics of the spine testing process:


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

CTAS High Country Shoot

We'll be going up to the CTAS High Country Shoot this weekend. If you can make it don't miss out! It is one of the most enjoyable shoots of the year. It is a great event put on by great people, a better family outing cannot be had (at least in June).

The Denver Post did an article about it today. I thought you all might be interested in seeing it.

This is how we roll!

The guys don't jack around on Monday's at American Bowman. Five or six get together every week for a night of arrow breaking madness. Long shots, trick shots, shots through brush, anything but easy shots! This is what it's all about!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Early Summer Fishing

The boys did a little early summer fly fishing this past weekend. 

Every year we get a big group together (our cousins and some friends) and go hit some of the water our dads taught us how to fish 25+ years ago. This year was a little tough with the wind, but we still managed to catch some real nice fish.

Not a much better way to spend a weekend this time of the year.

Sun, wind, rain or shine, Dan Clum is an animal. On the river with his fly rod or in the mountains with his bow. His skin is waterproof.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

John's First Fishing Trip

I took my son John fishing for the first time this past Monday. John is 1 1/2 years old, and still too young to really know what is going on. But Dad sure loved it! 

John LOVES being outdoors, and he loves animals. When I get home from work the first thing he does is run up to me and yell "gurkey", which means turkey. We go to the computer and watch videos of turkeys. When he gets bored with that he starts making high pitched squeels, his version of a bugle, which means he wants to watch some elk videos. Every animal with antlers is an elk to him, and he bugles every time he sees one.

I took him to the same lake I caught my first fish at. We started by digging up our own worms, the same way my Dad taught me (he'll learn how to fly fish in a couple of years).

He loves getting his hands in the dirt!
With a bucket full of worms we walk to the lake.

I was fortunate in that my Grandparents ran a large boy scout camp in the mountains. We spent our entire summers at this place, fishing at this lake. It was the best way for a boy to grow up that I know of.

John was just as happy playing with a stick as anything.

He REALLY loved to reel in the fish.

John's excitement totally overwhelmed him, he just couldn't contain it, and right before he would touch the fish he screamed as loud as he could and ran a circle. He had to run about three circles before he was calm enough to actually look at the fish and touch it and examine it.

We caught four fish before we ran out of worms (we didn't dig up too many). But that was about perfect because John was ready to move on to something else.

Everybody tells me it keeps getting better. I guess I have to see it to believe it, how can it get much better than this?! I can't wait until we are walking these mountains with bows in our hands, but this is just fine for now.

Southern Hospitality

At the beginning of May, Chris and I were fortunate enough to be the guest of Ben and Linda Graham of Hummingbird Bows. We participated in the North Carolina Traditional Archery Championship. We accepted an invitation to stay at the Graham home and shoot the tournament with Ben and Linda.
What an enjoyable time it was. We met some fine people and shot a great tournament. A retired DNR officer named Blease Martin treated all of us to a stay by the ocean in South Carolina and an evening hog hunt. What more can people like us ask for? There is a reason that there is a term “Southern Hospitality”. It is very real.

Ben Graham has been building Hummingbird Custom Bows since 1991. As many of you know, his bows are among the very finest in the country. With Ben’s long experience and the top notch shop he has set up, I can see why. Ben has a supply of beautiful exotic hardwoods “maturing” in his shed that would make any wood worker salivate. Ben ages his riser woods for 1-3 years, letting the wood slow dry to insure that his risers stay stable and do not check or crack. We hunters do not generally like shiny bows, but for those that do, his high gloss bows are absolutely beautiful. The low gloss finish on my bow is tough and perfect. Ben has a paint booth that rivals many auto body shops. I have a 62” Hummingbird Kingfisher model, Ben’s top of the line recurve, and was able to “put the first notch” on this bow with a hog kill at the Martin homestead. This bow is amazingly smooth, quick, and forgiving of my shooting flaws. Ben has really come up with a bow with a fine balance of all of the attributes of a great recurve. This bow is so beautiful that I have not wanted to expose it to the rigors of being a hunting bow (meaning dents and scratches), but this one is going to have to make the transition from "show" to "go". Ben assured me that he could repair any of my abuses after hunting season.

The country down there in North and South Carolina was awesome to see for this Colorado boy. The Graham residence is surrounded by rolling hills with a wonderful mix of hardwoods and pine. Ben has a 3D range right behind his house, in the woods, that any club would like to have. Ben has a wall full of shooting awards but jokes about being known as Linda Graham’s husband at shooting events. Linda Graham has over 40 state and regional championships and is a two time IBO World Champion (wow!). Watching her shoot is a thing of beauty. Ben and Linda are great teachers of archery, and while there, Ben really helped me clean up my release. I also really learned more from Ben and Linda about the discipline that it takes to be a great archer (attention to detail and slowing down). They never shoot an arrow just to shoot the arrow. Every shot counts, and is practice, and they try to make it perfect practice. Linda had a hand injury last year that has not completely healed, so she did not compete at the tournament. Her presence WAS enjoyed by all of the ladies young and old, and they all benefited by the generous gift of her time and knowledge. Chris definitely has a new good friend, and they share so much in common. It is somewhat rare for women to find other women in the same age group that have the same passion for shooting and traditional archery hunting. While spending time with the Grahams, I got to do a little teaching to Linda though. That is, to speak with a Colorado accent. She whipped it out on me on the way to the airport and we all about died laughing. I wouldn’t want to hear it a lot though, as I love to hear that melodious southern accent coming out of that sweet lady.

Now for the short hunting story. Not much to tell because the wind was swirling. Blease Martin had us put off the hunt for a day to try and get better winds, so we went to the beach. Unfortunately the wind stayed squrilly on the only other evening we had to hunt. The hogs completely circled Chris’s feeder, and circled Ben and I until very very late. Ben and I were watching and listening to the hogs when one finally separated itself from the herd. I put a big old Simmons broadhead right through that hog’s heart and it went only about 40 yards. I told Ben that when shooting his bow, the thing that you are shooting at just gets right in the way of the arrow.

Many many thanks to the Martins and the Grahams for the friendship, fellowship, and commeraderie we enjoyed from our fellow archers. Chris and I got a great big old fashioned helping of SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY.