Monday, April 9, 2007


As a child, I loved archery. Robin Hood had his own television series and I was enthralled with the bow and arrow – it was much too early in my life to think about the technology of archery or even archery as a sport. I simply liked the idea.

About the age of ten or twelve, I asked for a bow and arrow. Not just any bow and arrow, my parents bought me a 30 “pound” Ben Pearson fiberglass recurved bow and a set of wooden (what else was there?) arrows – plus, a finger tab, a few target faces and a backstop made of heavily wound straw. I strung that bow (backwards for a while) and began to shoot – not practice, just shooting my bow and arrow.

In Boy Scouts, I learned a bit more and received the Archery Merit Badge at summer camp. I discovered different types of bows and arrows, techniques for shooting, sport, competition, and hunting – a long list of activities within the realm of archery. Eventually, other hobbies and interests displaced archery.

Years later, I rediscovered archery. Expecting the sport of my youth, I found that technology had changed archery forever. The compound bow had arrived. It was made of high tech materials and used pulleys to become much more formidable; more than ever, a bow was a machine. Bows had sights – even telescopic sights. My old finger tab had been replaced by a trigger release. Arrows were made of aluminum or graphite; “feathers” were plastic. Now an engineer, I couldn’t resist the new archery.

With a lot of practice, I became pretty good with that compound bow but, after a while, using it didn’t feel like archery. Going retro, I bought an old fashioned longbow and switched to the more primitive forms. OK, so the bow was made of fiberglass laminated over bamboo, it was still primitive compared to the compound bow. I made some wooden arrows with real feathers and felt like an archer again.

But there was a problem. Whereas with the compound bow and aluminum arrows my goal was to shoot a tight group, preferably within the bullseye, with the longbow and wooden arrows my goal was simply to hit the target.

One day I realized that, if time travel were possible, Robin Hood would be much more interested in my compound bow and aluminum arrows than in my longbow and wooden arrows (not to mention modern weapons and technology, but that’s another story).

So, what does archery have to do with photography? Well, I grew up with film based photography and have a number of old cameras (and an old fiberglass Ben Pearson bow). I also have digital cameras, computers and printers. What constitutes “real photography”? Which tools are selected when the only criteria is to capture the best image? What would Robin Hood choose?

1 comment:

manik said...

which all bows you use? i love recurve bows