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Why I Use a Traditional English Longbow

In today's modern world we have the opportunity to use so many amazing tools to make our adventures whatever we want them to be. Something calls me back to my longbow.

Tradition is something that means a lot of different things to us in the hunting community. It's one of those things that people have a hard time understanding if they didn't grow up around it.

It's not their family's tradition, not anymore at least. So they don't understand where the passion with which we defend our right to that tradition comes from.

Some of us started hunting because it just seemed like something fun to do. Maybe your family didn't hunt, but to your community, it's a cultural norm.

To those people, I say welcome! We're glad you're here!

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Many of us started hunting because our families have always hunted. It's a part of our lives and a rite of passage. Trying to tell us not to hunt is trying to take away our culture—a part of our identities. 

To me, the traditional English longbow is my link back to generations. Holding it in my hands and wielding it with confidence fills me with a sense of ancestral pride that in many ways today feels as though the modern world is trying to strip away.

My father handcrafted this bow for me, all the way down to the braided, green-and-brown string.

When I look at it, I think about my lineage, my ancestor that fought and died as a yeoman at the battle of Agincourt.

I think about the steps of the church in the village green, where archers wiped the mud off their practice points for so long that they wore grooves in the stone.

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I remember my dad showing me how to use my finger on my rear hand to mark the spot on my cheek, so I draw back to the same place each time.

I'm not trying to disparage modern technology. If you love your compound bow or your rifle, fantastic. I like them too! We can have both!

But there is a feeling that comes from doing things the old-fashioned way sometimes that's hard to deny.

I can't make the argument for power, a compound bow or a crossbow will beat it easy. A recurve is the only bow used in the Olympics, so I won't argue for accuracy either (unless you're this guy).

I could say a longbow, especially if you intend to pull enough weight to hunt with it, is arguably a better workout. If you're really good with one you can probably fire off more shots in succession at speed. But really, there's not a statistical reason to compete on. This is about something more.

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Using a traditional bow is a challenge that'll make you appreciate some of the conveniences that come with a more modern weapon. That challenge also provides a different sort of satisfaction.

Ultimately it's a personal choice. But I hope you'll give some of the traditions of your own history a try sometime! What's your lineage? Did your ancestors fish or trap?

After Thanksgiving, and as the holiday season approaches, tradition seems to come to the forefront of our minds. What traditions do you hold dear, and if you have none, are there any you'd like to start?