Home Forums Bows and Equipment The Aesthetics of Archery

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    • Steve Sr.
      Post count: 344

      Aesthetics (also spelled æsthetics or esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.[1] It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste.[2] More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature.”


      Pretty tough for me to think of a word that more closely describes the many things I love about traditional archery…..and how one feels simply holding bows, wood shafts, and broadheads in hand, admiring them.

      The “beautiful” simplicity of the longbow competes for many with the graceful curves and sculpted risers of many recurves.

      Broadheads…….must look like BROADHEADS for us to consider them, not some “transformer” that becomes something other than what it appears to be on the end of our arrows. Again, it’s appearance that plays a large roll to most of us.

      It’s tough to not notice the beauty of finely grained cedar, ash, Doug Fir and others and we enhance their inherent beauty with stains applied to show this beauty more clearly.

      It’s a tough call but to me, I think it’s the feathers that really set a fine hunting arrow off and most accurately helps me define beauty within traditional archery.

      Often we pick colors that we more easily can see and other times we splice two or more colors together yet even the natural barred feathers so common in years gone by have their own simple beauty that I cannot stay away from.

      Dyed to other hues or left natural,for me, it’s the natural barred feather that comes to mind first when visualizing anything truly traditional.

      Yep, there are many “aethetic pleasures” within our chosen sport of bowhunting with traditional archery yet not as often we don’t discuss it much.

      I can tell you that, personally, it IS the beauty of so many items of our sport that draws me more than it’s function (although function itself is quite beautiful!). After all the balderdash of many threads on “superior” function, they all work just fine and do their job if we do ours

      It’s their BEAUTY that snares my heart and soul out using them afield!

      For me, I think the one really beautiful thing that replays in my memories the most is of the shot itself where I can watch (remember) these barred wonders do their job, spinning the arrow as it arches out towards the game at hand.

      With eyes closed I can still see arrows arch through the woods, fields and creek bottoms during hunts of years past and can truly hope that each other hunter reading this can or will recall such times themselves, thoughout life.

      Beauty IS, however,in the eye of the BOWholder 🙂
      so where is it you feel the beauty of traditional archery is most obvious………to YOU?

      God Bless!
      Steve Sr.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      One of your best posts yet, Steve. Well said! Coincidentally, noted wildlife biologist and hunting philosopher Valerius Geist is currently working on an evolutionary history of mankind as hunter-gatherers, which he is cleverly titling “Doomed to Art” because we are the only species with a stong, at times overpowering, love and craving for art and artfulness in all forms. You’ve expressed the art (OK, aesthetics) of archery and bowhunting quite … well, artfully. Dave

    • CarolinaBob
      Post count: 28

      Hey guys I am of the John Daley school for both golf and archery. don’t think so much, “just grip it and rip it.”

    • Steve Sr.
      Post count: 344

      Thanks, David. High praise from you, my author friend.

      I did OMIT an important and “built in” beauty, if you will, of traditional bowhunting and archery.

      In my often failing efforts to explain “how the heck did you hit that without sights?” or explain my shoulder shrug when asked “How far was that shot?”………I can only attest that for me, the best explanation of “instinctive” shooting is that it is, within itself, an ART and a quite beautiful one at that!!

      Like the stroke of a fine hair paintbrush you see the results of each stroke (shot) and effort is givin to make each one more aesthetically pleasing than the last.

      After repeating that “stroke”. painting many a landscape…..it becomes simply a natural and well practiced motion that you can repeat without conscious thought.


      Without numbers and calulators, and chronographs and range finders and drop compensators, that most feel they need to understand, I simply lack the “wherewithall” in patience and ,obviously, intellegence to explain how it works,

      But know it MOST CERTAINLY DOES!!

      God Bless
      Steve Sr.

    • David CoulterDavid Coulter
      Post count: 2261

      Well said, all of it. I’m having a blast shooting my longbow. I’m practicing and I’m getting better. One aspect of these aesthetics you write of is the feeling I get when it all comes together and the arrow, released seemingly on its own, finds the precise mark it was meant for. When whatever we’re involved in at the moment all comes together, it’s as close to a moment of grace as I know. Words are not necessary, a smile will do.

    • Stephen Graf
      Post count: 2361

      I tried to figure out something cleaver to add. Can’t do it. But…

      I too love the plane simplicity of a natural feather, personally ground and cut. No color change required. I found that over time I have been able to adapt to the unobtrusive pattern of natural feathers and can follow them through the air just fine.

      And I keep gravitating toward the simplest gear. It’s a straight (well, ok about 1 in of string follow) narrow home made longbow that casts a heavy arrow well. And just a few arrows in a thin quiver over my shoulder. The gear being so light that my 11 year old daughter says: “dad, this thing feels so light! how can it kill anything? Your guns are way heavier!” And I just smile and rub her head.

    • hrhodes
      Post count: 31

      While I haven’t gone to building my own arrows yet, I have found few pursuits more rewarding than building my own bows. In communicating with a few bowyers on this and other websites, I am astounded at the number of us traditional types from around the world who are also involved in art, music and literature. No electric guitar, plugged in amplified music, but acoustic sounds from flat top guitars and homemade fiddles…. no modern art weird paintings that you don’t know what the heck you are looking at, but landscapes in oil and acrylics… and the literature! lots of philosophers on this site that I see eye to eye with!

      Glad to be a part of it. You guys keep up the good posts….

    • George Tsoukalas
      Post count: 53

      That was a very nice post, Steve. For me, the beauty of a drawn bow and the flight of an arrow is a big reason why I do this thing we call archery. 🙂 Jawge

    • Steve Sr.
      Post count: 344

      All great stuff, guys!

      It’s simply amazing how this all effects us so similarly……..yet it is so hard to explain to those that don’t see it?


      All in good fun, I set out last yeat to build what we jokingly called……

      “the world’s ugliest arrow”

      all I did was confirm that such isn’t possible.

      Regardless of the horrendous color combos used it was, of course, “built to fly” and I didn’t realize that this single fact alone held such beauty unto itself.

      Appearance,while noticable, simply does not over shadow great (yet simple) function and we all know that time and effort into building “our own” items lends another beauty to the builder even IF it is not apparent to those that do not do so.

      All I succeeded in doing was building a “different looking” yet attractive (to me) arrow! 😀

      Often, when such subjects come to surface in my mind, I hesitate to voice aloud (or type, lol) such but am finding that there exists no such thoughts that others do not share, even if only a few.

      I’m glad to be a part of the “art admirers” here on Tradbow!

      God Bless
      Steve Sr.

    • RalphRalph
      Post count: 2544

      The beauty was slipping away until I figured out that a miss was only a “whoops” and not the end of the world. I was letting “perfection” take away the enjoyment. The fun was going downhill. I had 30 yrs. of fun but the last 3 yrs. not so much. Fun with my friends that I shoot with but not so much with my performance.
      An old friend that has passed quoted to me once ” It’s simple but nobody said it was easy and the problem is usually the injun”. I figure I was getting the simple and not easy and the injun parts all backasswards and forgot that simple is fun and fun is easy to come by if you quit worrying about things.
      So I have adopted my new thought “There’s beauty in the flight of every arrow cast and it’s up to me to see it”. R²
      So now the beauty, the mental aesthetics, the joy of my hobby have returned. “Whoops” is good!
      You guys speak good. Thanks, Ralph.

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