A GAME OF CONCENTRATION
by: Jeffrey N. Massie
Thank you for checking out this publication. I appreciate being asked for my opinion on a few archery matters. My name is Jeffrey N. Massie. I was introduced to archery at Boy Scout camp in June, 1963. I received my first bow that same year on Christmas Day. It was a Ben Pearson 60” green fiberglass longbow recurve combination (35 lbs. at 28”). I had no idea of the power or the influence that one little bow would have on my life. My archery interests grew from long distance shooting across lawns, driveways, and down Beach Street in Hereford, Texas, to stalking lizards and sparrows in the back yard. I quickly learned that arrows shot in tall grass can hide one day to be found a week later warped with no fletching at the exact spot you spent so much time looking for them. Eventually I’d be chasing big pigs in South Texas, forty some odd years later. It has been quite a ride, and one I enjoyed so much that I quit my job one day and started my own bow-building company.
Traditional bows were my love. So I built custom longbows and recurves. I also provided service for the compound bow such as repair, tuning, parts, etc. It was truly a dream come true. The business grew, and I needed a way to get out of the shop for a break. I decided to create a service for archers to be able to hunt hogs and javelina. We chased pigs and javelina for many years. The time spent was great, and I met many good people and made many friends. Archery has been a good teacher and friend for many years of my life.
I began to study the archers I hunted with by concentrating on their style, ability, experience, and attitude. I concluded that most do not have the chance to study or practice their skills with a bow as much as they should. The archer or hunter always had great equipment, but equipment is not all that is needed to be successful. I had numerous friends that helped with the hunts, and we created quick practice games that helped the hunters be more successful. A common problem many hunters have is not focusing or picking the exact spot the arrow is to hit. The hunter or archer is usually looking at the entire animal instead of the point of impact where the arrow should strike. They see the animal, the excitement, and the situation. Then they draw the bow, release the arrow at the animal, and make a bad shot or miss. We are all guilty of this problem, and I believe it is a result of our training methods. The normal archer shoots arrow after arrow at the same target, at the same distance, never focusing on the point of impact for the arrow, and not creating the possible situations or shots we might encounter on a hunt.
I love to spot, stalk, and ambush pigs. The pigs and situations are never the same, and normally I do not have time to judge my next move. It is just focus on the pig, pick the spot to hit, and release the arrow. This brings me to the game we used before we went after pigs. This game drastically reduced the number of bad shots hunters made on animals. It involves a ball and blunt arrows. I prefer a white soccer ball, deflated about 50%, which we call lumpy. You want it to roll a bit but not across the field when you shoot it. Paint or mark the ball with one inch spots about every three inches. This can be played with one to three archers. The first archer kicks the ball and takes a shot where the ball stops. The next archer takes his shot when the ball stops from the first arrow, and the third archer does the same. The players each remind the shooter to focus on the spot he wants to hit and not on the ball. When you loose the arrow at the ball, it will seem like an eternity before it reaches the spot you aimed at. Then you will realize you hit the spot you picked without knowing you did it. Unknown distances, along with constant verbal reminders to pick the spot, are great techniques to help you prepare for the hunt. Try this game for a couple of weeks at home, and you will be amazed at how your accuracy improves. The discipline and training are worth the effort. Remember - pick your trail, focus, and follow the straight path to the spot the trail leads.
(This article was originally published in the 1st issue of Wild Boar USA magazine.)