I began the art and practice of traditional archery when I was seven years old. Few endeavors have brought me more pleasure during my lifetime than this pursuit. My first bow was an English Long Bow, made of wood as was my second. As I grew older I eventually "graduated" to the re-curves and it was this bow that I participated in hunting. I gave up hunting years and years ago (more about that later), but my entire emphases has always been on target shooting and woodcraft.
This work, Beginner's Guide to Traditional Archery by Brian J. Sorrells is by far the best book for those just starting out in this art form. Now I will grant you that the best way to learn is from a good teacher, but that is not always possible. This little work fills that gap very nicely. Now keep in mind that this work was not meant for those with experience in the use of the traditional bow; this would include all those who have learned with and shot nothing but the compound bow. Compound bows are an entirely different creature. It is my personal belief that they are the worse thing that could have possible happened to archery, but that is a personal belief and prejudice and if using a compound is gratifying, then I am all for it for those who enjoy such things.
The text and pictures in this book are of the highest quality, very concise and very informative. The author discusses every thing from history to theory to practical use of the various pieces of equipment needed. This work is not a deep work nor was it meant to be. This book gives the newcomer a starting point; a reference block that can and should be built upon. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere and I cannot think of a better tool to start the young (and not so young) beginner.
Now there are quite a number of reasons to practice this art and there are even more reason to have the younger set involved. I am talking traditional archery there, okay?
First is the hunt. I can think of no other form of hunting that forces the hunter to actually learn all that they can about the animal they are attempting to harvest. Not only that but it forces the hunter to be aware of and intimately know what is to be found in the out of doors. I always enjoyed hunting with a long bow because of the small chance of my actually having to kill anything. Truth be told, when I actually wanted to harvest game, I did it with a gun; a simple thing really, especially if you have training that began with traditional archery. To this day I still use all of the skills I learned over the years from the bow, but now of course I use a camera. If it is meat on the table, I can promise you that we can take one of my old British 303s out on opening day and within 45 minutes we can have a deer in the back of the truck; or even two is you want. If we go out on opening day with a traditional bow, chances are we will have nothing for the pot, but we will have gotten to spend eight or more hours in the woods. For me, there is not contest here.
Secondly, there is a very definite Zen like quality about using the traditional bow. Now I am not a Zen Buddhist by any means, but some of the teachings here have a very practical aspect; teachings that can enhance your life. In the journey and path to enlightenment, one of the Zen Arts must be studied and mastered. These include Swordsmanship, Archery, Brush and Ink, The Tea Ceremony or Flower Arranging. Having over the years dealt in each of these area (and I can assure you that I did not master even one of them), I found that archery did indeed bring about serenity and taught control; not only physical but mental. This is a wonderful gift to give to a child.
Third, and probably one of the most important aspects of archery, is that it gets the child (and or adult) away from the T.V., computer, office, desk, house, and on and on. It is exercise (don't laugh...try repeatedly pulling a 50 pound bow for a few hours). Anything to be active and if you can find joy in being active, so much the better.
Forth is the fact that this is a sport/art/hobby/endeavor/ pastime than can be enjoyed starting at a relatively young age and practice for almost your entire life. I still occasionally practice with men and women well into their late 80s.
So, think about it; a traditional sport or art, a wonderful way to study natural history, an unbeatable way to learn to hunt, exercise, relaxation, the out of doors and the thrill of accomplishment! What more could you want.
As I said before, this is an ideal book to get you or your child started one something that can be a very good thing that will last a lifetime.
I do highly recommend this work!
Now, about flower arranging....just kidding.