Back in the 1960’s and 70’s, my Father’s side of the family was very much an Archery Family. They spent time together at an archery club and enjoyed target archery. As the story goes, as the kids (my Father and Aunts) got older and busier, they spent less and less time shooting.
At some point my Grandmother and Grandfather got matching Bear Tamerlane Recurve Bows. My Grandmother’s bow was 40# and 66″ while my Grandfather’s bow was 40# and 69″. Unfortunately, this is all I know about my Grandparent’s Traditional Archery Days. At some point they switched over to Compound and purchased matching Jennings Arrowstar Mark II Bows.
What I do know is that my Grandfather was one that liked to buy the best he could manage. He took good care of his possessions and used them long after they were in style. Because of his nature, I know that the Bear Tamerlane was a very good bow in its time. Nowadays it is probably laughably antiquated compared to todays recurves.
Despite the fact that both bows are much older than I am, they are in good shape and I love the idea of putting them to use. Neither bow has a string so I headed over to Archery Talk to see if I could gather some information on Traditional Archery. I created a thread and got some great information on getting started.
I was able to track down a couple of strings for my Grandmother’s 66″ Bear Tamerlane but my Grandfather’s 69″ Tamerlane is proving to be a little more difficult. I’m in need of a Dacron string but I’m told B-50 and B-55 strings are an acceptable substitute. Fortunately, off-the-shelf strings are pretty inexpensive at about $10 to $12 each.
Once I figure out what to do about getting a 69″ AMO String, my next step is going to be getting my hands on arrows. It was suggested that I use a heavy arrow at no less than 9 grains per inch. I like carbon arrows for my Mission Craze so I started there. Cabela’s has their Carbon Hunter Arrows with 2″ VPX Vanes on sale for $50 per dozen. The 65/80 Arrows come in at 9.3 grains per inch.
Cabela’s Carbon Hunter Arrows are very convenient (all I’d have to do is cut them down, glue in an insert, and install a field point) and the price is right. The one problem, and it is a big one, is that it just seems wrong to use a modern carbon arrow with a bow that is older than I am.
What seems right is to use a wooden shaft with feathers for fletching. My Father has my Grandfather’s old fletching jog. I can do six arrows at a time with it but it doesn’t do helical fletching. I don’t know if that is a problem at this point and I’ll have to look into it a bit more.
I’m a little ways off from actually shooting either Bear Tamerlane but I’m excited at the idea. Shooting my Mission Craze feels very mechanical, using a release, drop-away rest, and sight. Shooting without all of the frills will be like getting back to the way my Grandfather taught me to shoot as a kid. It won’t be easy, I’m sure of it, but the nostalgia will make it all worth it.