Prior to 2009, I'd never hunted or shot a real bow. This may come as a surprise when considering my Northern Michigan roots. I grew up amongst friends and family who were avid woodsmen and hunters but simply never caught the bug. Buying a recurve changed all that. My initial goal was to try archery as a stress reliever, but I soon discovered a traditional community rich with ethics and tradition, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Bowhunting suddenly became a real possibility. I found the concept of being within 20 yards of game immensely appealing. I'd heard others discuss it and wanted to feel it for myself. After shooting the recurve for several months, I gave in to the temptations of the longbow and have been shooting and hunting with one ever since. I believe this is where my traditional journey actually began. The simplicity and romanticism of the longbow has intrigued me from day one. I’ve grown accustomed to and love its quirks and am now dependent on their quiet and forgiving nature. There is nothing as quiet or effective, as a longbow in the woods. It is the ultimate hunting bow. Bowhunting giants Saxton Pope, Art Young, Will and Maurice Thompson, and Howard Hill believed this, and I adopted it as my motto the moment I shot my first doe that December.
I've walked the path ever since, and it has been both challenging and enjoyable. The longbow has changed who I am as a person and has become a major part of my life. Shooting one is both a process and an art that takes a lifetime to master, but only one shot to enjoy. I’ve made my share of mistakes in the woods and on the range, and have experienced unmeasurable frustration at times, but have also achieved (what I consider to be) tremendous success. The beauty of traditional archery is that the ends always justify the means – even if the result isn’t meat in the freezer, a medal on your vest, or antlers on the wall. The real trophy exists in the mind and heart. If you believe that, you’ll never be unsuccessful with a longbow. I believed this the first time I held one in my hands and more than ever since joining the MLA in 2011.
My discovery of the MLA was purely happenstance. The range I frequented had a longbow-toting fella by the name of Bill Cooper in employment, and he often talked about the "Longbow Shoot" in August. I had no idea what it was about, but ended up attending with my Dad a year later, after he bought his first longbow. We had an absolute blast at that shoot. We shot, we shopped, we met a slew of passionate bowman like us, and we couldn't wait to come back the following year. Come to find out the "Longbow Shoot" was actually the Great Lakes Longbow Invitational – the MLA's flagship event – and I decided to join.
I didn't do much after purchasing my membership. In fact, I was delinquent on my dues for a time. I'd had children since signing up and had to pick and choose my gatherings accordingly due to fatherly obligations. Luckily, I was still putting in range time every-so-often, and a local guy I'd shot with on occasion found me on an archery forum and asked me if I wanted to shoot a round at 4Bs in Hesperia. This ended up being fellow councilman Thom Jorgensen. We became fast friends and eventually hunting buddies. Thom had recently joined the council and encouraged me to run for an opening spot at the Annual Spring Shoot and in May. I spoke with former president Mike Vines about the seat, decided it was something I wanted to do, announced my intentions at the meeting, and was elected.
That first year went by quickly. I jumped at every opportunity to serve the organization and had a lot of fun doing the work. I consider this my first year as an actual member of the MLA. I might've been one on paper before, but giving back to the organization made everything feel that much more legit. As 2014 approached, I was elected Vice President. When Mike stepped down to spend more time with his family, I stepped into his role, and the rest is history.
The MLA has become my second family. People often ask me what I love most about being a member and the answer is always the same – the people. I am a social networker at heart and we have the most wonderful membership in existence. You won't find a more generous or compassionate bunch. You know you're part of something special when you attend an archery event, only string your bow a handful of times, and leave perfectly content. This is common for me. I look forward to a warm fire putting me to bed in the evenings and waking up to a cup of black coffee and conversation in the mornings. Smear a round of 3Ds in between and I'm a happy man.
If you've spent time reading this and exploring our site, and are still unsure about joining the MLA, please shoot me an email or find me at an event. I would love to tell you more and may just be the encouragement you need.
I can't wait to meet you!