The last couple days, I’ve been building a longbow for a ten year old boy.
To someone whose done something, anything really, for so many years, it can become just another day at work. This bow was different . . .
As I built the bow, I began to think about the boy it was being made for. I wondered if his experience would be like mine.
I was exposed to Longbows when I was just seven or eight. I had ridden a horse down to visit my Uncle Rollie Burnham. Rollie and his brothers were Mountain Men. They lived in the Cowiche Creek Drainage up under Mount Rainier. They fed themselves and their families with what they could grow, gather, or hunt. After being stuffed with a home grown, fried chicken, corn bread and gravy, with all the trimmings lunch by Rollie’s wife, Aunt May, (you could never eat enough to satisfy Aunt May, her favorite observation was, “Boy if you don’t eat some more you’re gonna dry up and blow away!), Rollie called me over to show me one of his personal treasures; partly because he knew if I didn’t leave the table soon, Aunt May would feed me so much I would get a stomach ache and partly because Uncle Rollie had decided it was time for me to see this thing he loved so much.
With a child’s unbridled anticipation, I waited for him to bring this “great thing” out of it’s hiding place. It was an old Longbow. Rollie said he got it from a man he grew up with in Kentucky. I could see the name Howard Hill written on it. No Fiberglass, just an old wooden bow. I had never seen or heard of one before! Rollie strung it up and said, “Here, see if you can pull ‘er back!” With Rollie guffawing and laughing at my efforts, try as I might, I couldn’t budge it. Not an inch! You see, that old bow drew 100#!
I might have weighed 60 pounds soaking wet! It wasn’t going to happen.
The result of that days encounter was that my boys heart was challenged. For the rest of the day, Rollie told me story after story about hunting deer and elk with that old bow. In my minds eye, I could see him sneaking up on an old Buck or a bugling Bull Elk, slowly drawing the bow to it’s full weight and watching the arrow fly silently through the air to it’s intended mark!
Rollie was one of my boyhood heroes. Heck he still is! I decided, that very day, I wanted to grow up and be just like Uncle Rollie, hunting and living off the land with my longbow and horse.
As I mused on these things, I wondered what doors of imagination this bow would open for the ten year old boy I was building it for.
I finally got my first bow when I was Ten years old. It wasn’t much of a bow by today’s standards. Just a non-discript longbow that pulled 35 pounds. When I took that bow out, suddenly I was transported to a new world! One moment, I was with my Uncle up on Mount Rainier chasing Elk. Next, in Bakers Canyon on Cowiche Creek hunting big Mule Deer and Blacktail Bucks!
As I emptied my quiver of arrows, (I only had three), I arrived in the “Yukon” facing down Grizzly bears and Giant Bull Moose. The best and most exciting times were in “Africa” hunting dangerous game! Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Cape Buffalo . . . These hunts actually took place in my Parents back yard and the “Big Game,” well, they were my Mother’s trees and shrubs . . . Got a few “lickens” for that, but Trophy hunting is expensive I guess.
For me, the Longbow has always been a door to the imagination. I wondered, as I built Jaxon’s little bow, if it will be the same for him; I think it will.
10 year old Jaxon.
Uncle Rollie has been gone for a lot of years now but I’m finally figuring out what he knew when he showed me that old longbow so many years ago. He showed me that day how to keep my child’s heart through all that life could and would dish out.
Do you know a kid that needs a dream? Introduce him or her to the Longbow and a quiver of arrows. Their lives will never be the same and neither will yours!
Jaxon’s older sister with her “door” to the imagination.
A letter from Jade and Jaxon’s Father . . .
Thank you for your generous offer on the bows. When Jade saw that bow,and then shot it, a whole new light glowed from her. When we were bringing the bow back to you, I could feel her disappointment.
Thank you so very much, raising 5 boys and a young lady takes a lot of doing. Archery, when starting out is expensive, with your help, we now have a young lady who is all smiles and full of questions on this wonderful adventure of traditional archery.
She has made herself a quiver and her own arrows since we have returned and has been shooting her bow named ” Hope”.
To tell you thank you is a understatement, I cannot find words that express what needs to be said.
I have shot her bow and the performance is awesome along with the graceful beauty of the bow.
Thanks for making this possible!
Darryl Trimble resides in Washington State and is the owner of Cowiche Archery