Welcome to Project Gridless!

Hello! Project Gridless is dedicated to off the grid living, foraging / hunting for food, traditional survivor skills and modern tips for off the grid living. To join Project Gridless and become a contributor email cardiotrek at gmail dot com.
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or by joining the Canadian Toxophilite Society.

Buck Fever

What vegans don't understand about hunting is that "Buck Fever" is better than an orgasm. Your whole body shakes from adrenaline and pumping hormones. It is the most incredible experience. Compared to that, nothing vegans can offer has even the slightest comparison of sheer ecstacy.

Most non-hunters probably have never even heard of Buck Fever. Let me explain...

In the moment before successfully shooting an animal it is normal for a hunter to get a surge of adrenaline. Then, once it is dead, and you have successfully killed it your body gets pumped full of adrenaline and positive-feeling hormones. So much so that many people report shaking from excitement and a feeling of ecstacy.

That feeling is incredibly addictive. It is a drug similar to Runner's High that marathon runners / exercise addicts get, but so much more potent because of the adrenaline combo.

It is also sometimes said that the bigger the game animal and the more anticipation involved, the bigger the release of adrenaline and hormones. Thus hunting big game animals isn't just a matter of ego or attaining more meat, it is also an addiction to the chemicals your body releases.

Over time as hunters become more experienced the Buck Fever will lessen, becoming less potent. It will still be there, but your brain will have learned how to cope with the rush of adrenaline and you won't shake as much.

This is one reason why rifle hunters might be tempted to try bowhunting or even spearhunting. The rush of adrenaline is said to be greater when trying a more traditional and challenging method of hunting. If they are chasing the feeling of their "first time" then trying a new hunting method will be like popping their cherry all over again.

Depending on geographic regions and languages there might be other names for Buck Fever. Buck Fever is pretty specific to hunting deer too, but the concept is often used to describe the same feeling after successfully hunting many other types of game.

Even fishermen report a similar feeling when catching a truly big fish that they had to fight to reel in. So the feeling is not restricted to hunting land mammals.

Back to my initial statement vegans will never understand a hunters need to hunt. The need to acquire your own food rather than relying on farmed meat or vegetables, to take responsibility for that aspect of your life. The need to hunt "the old fashioned way" as if it is a calling, a force of nature and fate that wants you to preserve part of human heritage. And lastly vegans will never understand the love of eating meat and being an omnivore. Food is like a religion. People have very strong feelings about it. And people don't change their 'food-religion' just because some other people want to convert them.

"Until vegans find a way to grow bacon on trees I guess I will keep being an omnivore."

Chris Pratt and Bowhunting

Actor Chris Pratt is into bowhunting and he waxes like a romantic poet when talking about the process of hunting.

Nor is he the only celebrity who is into bowhunting. There are quite a few out there. Like the following examples

Bo Jackson (Celebrity Athlete)

Karl Malone (NBA Basketball Player)

Brett Keisel (NFL Quarterback)

Ben Roethlisberger (NFL Quarterback)

Matt Hughes (9 time UFC World Champion)

Randy Couture (UFC Fighter / Actor)

Miranda Lambet (American Country Singer)

Justin Tuck (NFL Player / Super Bowl Champion)

Paul Ryan (American Politician)

Chipper Jones (MLB Baseball Player)

Blake Shelton (American Singer)

Donald Trump Jr. (Professional Moron)

Jennifer Lawrence (Actor) - Although it should be noted that Jennifer Lawrence only did squirrel hunting.


Now you may have noticed something. Most of the celebrities mentioned above are from occupations where hunting (and bowhunting) would be more accepted. Many celebrities who are into rifle hunting / bowhunting tend to stay quiet about their interest in such activities because they are afraid of backlash from fans.

For example:

Singer Madonna (yes, that Madonna) hosts rifle pheasant hunts on her estate, but tends to stay quiet about it because of protests from animal rights groups.

Actress Eva Longoria, actress Eliza Dushku, singer Avril Lavigne, duchess Kate Middleton, singer Miranda Lambert are just a handful of female celebrities who hunt (usually with rifle) but tend to stay quiet on the topic because they don't want to upset the "PETA people".


And really it comes down to the idiocy of people who are anti-hunting, who are apparently okay with people eating beef hamburgers, bacon, "chicken fingers", but don't know where their meat actually comes from. Complete hypocrites. They get all upset about celebrities who hunt, but meanwhile they fill their bellies with beef, pork, chicken and wear leather / fur regularly.

And then there is the vegans - who avoid meat and all animal by-products entirely, but somehow still wear leather jackets, leather purses, leather boots, etc - and pretend that they are somehow saving the planet with their "animal friendly ways" of only using animals for their skin.

And then there is the food vegans eat - mostly flown in from South America, Africa and other parts of the world on cargo planes. They think they are saving the environment, but all they are doing is buying foreign food transported on planes that spew greenhouse gases, handpicked by poor people who are paid peanuts, while making the corporations who sell "fresh organic produce" rich while local farmers here in Canada are ignored. If they were serious about "saving the planet" then they should start by buying all of their food locally (both vegetables and meat products, grown and raised in Canada) so that they aren't wasting so much greenhouse gases on transporting food from overseas.

"Show me a vegan and I will show you a person who will probably starve to death during a nuclear winter because they won't have access to imported vegetables flown in from overseas."

And the bit about nuclear winter is a real possibility now that Donald Trump is the president elect. I wouldn't be surprised if he starts a nuclear war during the first year of his presidency. In fact, I would be surprised if he did NOT start a nuclear war during the first year.

To anyone who is worried about the same thing I recommend the following:

#1. Learn how to bowhunt both large and small game.

#2. Stock up on arrows, broadheads and archery equipment.

#3. Stock up on seeds for planting crops.

#4. Learn how to garden.

#5. Learn what to do during a nuclear attack. Assuming you survive the initial attacks, you will need to be prepared for what follows.

"Always be prepared." - Boy Scouts Motto

Bear Bow Models, Older Models sorted by Year

This list is mostly for my personal reference, with respect to dating old Bear bows. They are sorted by the years released. If you know of additional old models, and know what years they were released, please post a comment about the model type and what years they were available and I shall update the list. Also if you spot any errors, please feel free to comment and help keep the list accurate.

Grizzly Static Recurve 1949-1957
Kodiak Static Recurve 1950-1953
Kodiak Recurve 1954-1966
Kodiak Special 1955-1967
Polar (recurve) 1957-1970
Grizzly Recurve 1958-1978
Alaskan (leather grip semi-recurve) 1959-1961
Kodiak Magnum 52" 1961-1977
Tamerlane 1962-1968
Bearcat 1964-1971
Tigercat 1964-1978
Tamerlane HC-30 1965-1967
Little Bear 1965-1978
Alaskan (recurve) 1966-1970
Super Magnum 48 1966-1976
Super Kodiak 1967-1976
Kodiak Hunter 58" and 60" 1967-1977
Temujin 1968-1970
Tamerlane HC-300 1968-1972
Tarter 1968-1972
Wood Handle Take-Down 1969-1972
Magnesium Handle Take-Down A-B-C 1971-1978
Victor 1972
Black Bear 1972-1978
Wood C-Riser Victor Custom 1973-1975
Victor Patriot 1973-1977
Polar (compound) 1976-77

Bear Polar Compound Bow circa 1977

Notes regarding dating Bear bows:

#1. Check the Serial Number.

From 1964 and earlier the serial numbers were reset every month, making them very tricky to date.

Bear bows from 1965-1969 are dated with with last digit of the year being the first number of the serial number.

Starting in 1970 the first part of the serial number was a letter. 1970 = K.

#2. Check the Coin Medallion.

Starting in 1959 all Bear bows came with a coin medallion inset in the bow.
  • Copper Coin – 1959
  • Aluminum - 1960-1961
  • Pewter – 1962
  • Brass - 1963 – 1970
  • Nickel-Silver - 1971-1972
Until 1972 all coins were flush with the wood. In Autumn 1972 the coin was raised above the surface of the bow.

#3. Check the Patent Mark.

Many of the early Bear bows had a patent mark on it. eg. CANADA 1953. It doesn't mean the bow was made that year however, merely that it was patented in that year. It does help to narrow down the age however.

#4. Check the Decal.

Prior to 1959 many Bear bows had a decal stamped on the bow.

1948 was a small Running Bear decal.
1953 (Summer/Autumn) to 1955 was the Standing Bear decal, usually with the words "Glass Powered Bow" under the decal.
1956 to 1978, silk screening was used instead.

#5. Check for Wood Laminations

If the wood is all one piece, then it is older than 1949, which is the year Bear started mass production. After 1949 all wooden bows were laminated.

If it is all wood and has "Bear Products" stamped on it, then it is from 1940 to 1945.

If it is all wood and has "Bear Archery" stamped on it, then it from 1946 to 1948.

If is all wood and has the Running Bear decal, then it is definitely from 1948.

#6. Check for a Leather Grip.

All Bear bows made prior to 1959 came with a leather grip.

#7 Check for Gainesville, Florida.

In 1978 Bear moved all manufacturing and offices to Gainesville, Florida. If it has that location stamped on the bow, it was made after 1978.

If it says Grayling, Michigan then it was made prior to 1978.

Old Compound Bow Repair in Toronto

I have discovered I have some skill at fixing older model compound bows.

Three weeks ago a friend at the Toronto Archery Range approached me with a cherry red older model compound bow (I estimate it was made in the mid 1980s) that was literally in shambles. The bowstring, cams, cables, and various other parts were in a ziplock bag and the compound bow itself was basically just the riser and limbs. He wanted to know if there was any chance of fixing it.

BACKGROUND - I have fixed other compound bows before, usually while at the archery range and doing what I call "Compound Bow Triage". I set up my tools on an "operating table" (picnic table) and perform "emergency surgery" to repair the bow. I have done it for people so many times I have lost track. Apparently I have developed a reputation for being able to fix compound bows, both newer models and older models.

So when my friend brought me the wreck of a bow at the time I didn't know if it was possible. It was in shambles after all, and I had never tried to fix a compound bow that was in such a state of "pieces". But as someone who was raised on Lego who loves building and repairing things, I told him "I make no guarantees, but I am willing to give it a shot."

I honestly wasn't expecting much. It was in such a bad shape I was expecting it to be missing too many parts that it might be impossible to fully repair. We even joked about taking off the limbs and turning it into a 'Frankenstein' recurve bow, that is how little faith I had in it being possible to repair it.

And voila.

It is fixed. Just finished repairing it this morning.

 Above and Below: "The Red Brute"

Fortunately most of the parts were there.

I call it "The Red Brute", and I shall explain why. This compound bow vibrates like crazy when you shoot it. The vibrations jar me all the way up to the shoulder. Think of shooting this bow like riding a wild bronco. It is going to shake a lot and try to buck you off. It is also very noisy, partially because the bow is missing a string stop (see further below).

Old Jalopy
Or alternatively if you like car metaphors, it shakes like an old jalopy. A jalopy is a really old decrepit car that is in horrible condition, could break at any moment, and literally shakes when you drive it. Some people enjoy driving a jalopy, but they are not for everyone.

But the Red Brute is powerful, and it is certainly accurate at close distances judging by the clusters I did this morning. Next Sunday I will take it to the range and test it out at longer distances, and return it to its owner.

So what needed to be repaired???

#1. The Cables and Cams

The first order of business was getting the cams, cables and bowstring back on the bow itself. They were a jumbled mess so I had to unjumble them and then figure out what goes where via a little trial and error / logic.

#2. New Retaining Snap Rings for the Axles

The cam axles were missing two external C-shaped 3/16th inch snap rings that keep the axle from sliding around and falling off. That required a trip to the Sunnybrook Home Hardware and $1.57 for the tiny parts.

#3. The Bowstring was a Wreck

The old bowstring was in such poor shape I decided to add serving all the way up its length and reinforce it in areas that looked weaker. This would make the bowstring heavier, but would dramatically increase the life expectancy of the bowstring. (The cables meanwhile were in excellent condition and did not warrant any repairs.)

#4. Added an Arrow Rest

My friend didn't bother putting an arrow rest on the bow, as he reportedly bought the bow along with several other bows at a proverbial garage sale. Bought the whole box of them. So I added an old Hostage arrow rest from my box of old archery equipment stuff that I don't use any more.

I needed the arrow rest on there so I could take the bow out to the garage and shoot it multiple times to make sure it was actually safe to use. I shot it 50+ times, during which I discovered how loud, noisy, and jarring it was.


Overall I enjoyed fixing this old compound bow. It was a complete wreck, in shambles, and it now can shoot quite accurately despite the shaking and shoulder jarring. I had a good deal of satisfaction shooting it in my garage.

However due to the vibrations I would probably want to do several things to get more accuracy and reduce the jarring. The most important of these is #3.

#1. Add a Trophy Ridge 9 Inch Static Stabilizer to reduce vibrations / increase accuracy.

I have tried other stabilizers, but this is my favourite thus far.

#2.Add Limbsavers to reduce vibrations and noise.

#3. Add a String Stop to reduce noise and vibration.

The Red Brute has a slot for a string stop, but that part is missing, hence the noise/vibration. I browsed Amazon.com to check out the prices of string stops, but sadly they are a bit pricey. $50 to $200 each, depending on the model type.


The final results is that this is a compound bow that has speed, power and accuracy, but desperately needs a string stop and perhaps a few extra gadgets to help make it quieter / vibrate less. It is approx. 60 lbs with a 29" draw length, with 50% let off.

Cost of Repairs
$30 for repairs / labour.
$1.57 for parts.
$10 for string serving (material + labour).
TOTAL $41.57

Overall, I am very pleased that I was able to fix this bow. I regret not taking a photo of what it looked like before I started repairing it. People would have been able to see the before and the after.

So if other people out there in Toronto are looking to have their old compound bow repaired, let me know and I will give it a try. I really enjoyed fixing this one and I am willing to try fixing other bows too. So if you have an old bow and it is in bad shape / in need of repairs, let me know and I will try to fix it. If all or most of the parts are there we can see what can be done. If many of the parts are missing, but you like the idea of a 'Frankenstein Bow' I am still willing to do that as well.

I charge $30 per hour plus the cost of any replacement parts.

"I make no guarantees, but I am willing to give it a shot."

Luddites and NIMBYs

Luddites refers historically to a groups of Englishmen between 1811 - 1816 who destroyed machinery in cotton / wool mills in England because they feared they would lose their jobs due to increased industrialization and technology.

In the modern context Luddites are the type of people who hate new technology in general. You might be too young to remember this, but such people complained about electricity lines going up in their neighbourhoods because they thought too much electricity causes headaches and other health problems.

If this sounds familiar, it is because the same sort of Luddites now complain about wind turbines in their neighbourhoods - usually accompanied by the phrase "Not In My Backyard", hence the acronym NIMBY.

The Luddite objection to wind turbines and the long list of fake health problems is just one way Luddites hold back society from making a smoother transition to a better way of producing electricity.

Take for example the typical off-grid home in the far north. Assuming you do want electricity, what source of electricity do you think will be the most cost effective and affordable?
  • Solar Power
  • Wind Power
  • Hydro Power
  • Gas/Diesel Generator
If you answered wind power, you are on the right track. Wind power is the only true constant, regardless of what time of year it is and the time of day, there is also some wind. Plus we are fortunate to live in Canada, which is a surprisingly windy country. (So much so that other countries like Germany, where wind turbines are super popular, are actually jealous of how "wind rich" Canada is.)

Hydro power might seem like a good idea, but it implies you have to build a dam or water mill, which might be legally expensive or require you to purchase land that has a river, and has the added problem that the water might freeze over during the winter.

Solar power comes with several downsides. One, it only produces energy during the day and that energy needs to be stored in batteries. Two, solar panels need to be cleaned regularly in order to produce peak energy, which includes removing any snow during the winter.

A Gas/Diesel Generator ultimately ends up being expensive when you consider the cost of transporting all the fuel and the cost of the fuel itself. When compared to the long term cost savings of other options, having a generator may seem like the quick and easy way to provide electricity, but over the longer term it is ultimately the most expensive way to get electricity.

Plus there is the issue of conservation...

The notion of conserving energy is going to be used more often when you know you have a limited supply of energy. Knowing they have a diesel generator a typical person will lose track of how much energy they are using, end up running low on fuel, and then having to go buy more when they run out. This cycle of lack of foresight and lack of conservation will lead to a person going overboard on their budget for electricity.

When a person knows they are running on wind power + battery storage, they will focus on conserving energy and avoid wastefulness. If they know they need more electricity, then adding a 2nd or 3rd wind turbine would be possible to add the necessary extra electricity. Ultimately they will end up with more electricity than they can use and the battery storage will be topped up constantly. When that happens the user will then be able to afford being a little wasteful, with little worry of ever running low on electricity.

The Luddite Response

If you are reading this and still leaning towards a diesel or gas generator, well then you are a Luddite. The type of person who hates computers and cellphones, and other forms of technology. The type of person who was against electricity lines and microwaves back when they first became popular.

The type of person who is so mentally stuck in the mud they would never live off grid anyway, because that sounds like "too much work".

Taking the dogs bowhunting

I thought these photos of dogs with their masters out bowhunting were cute and amusing. That is all.

The photos reminded me of old paintings of hunting dogs with their masters...

Like this one below. In centuries past portraits like that were made and sent as gifts to potential grooms / brides. Basically an older version of personals websites. The goal was to try and portray a person's hobbies and personality within a painting, so that potential spouses would better understand who they might be marrying. The lady below evidently liked dogs and preferred to shoot bows. Men who preferred the company of cats and liked to shoot rifles or spearhunt, well, they need not apply.

Trump and Apocalypse Preppers

If you are worried about Crazy Donald Trump, I can name one more reason why you should worry about that nutjob.

In addition to being endorsed by the KKK, various right-wing Christian groups, and chosen as the nominee of the Republican party... Donald Trump is also being endorsed by American preppers.

Preppers, if you are not familiar with the term, are people who are preparing for a nuclear apocalypse. They buy prepper food, gadgets for the apocalypse,  backyard bunkers, guns, ammo, etc. However there is a distinction here. Preppers are not just preparing for a POSSIBLE nuclear apocalypse,  they actually WANT a nuclear apocalypse.

Preppers are hoping Donald Trump will nuke all the enemies of the USA, and that the USA gets nuked back. It is basically a giant mutual suicide pact on a worldwide scale.

Now while I admit I like the whole idea of survivalism, hunting, gardening, living off the grid, building your own home, using solar/wind power, etc - myself and other survivalists and off-gridders have no interest in seeing such a catastrophe. After all, the whole point of surviving is living and increasing our chances of survival. Any kind of end of days style events, nuclear or supervirus or whatever, decreases our chances of survival. Our best chance for survival is peaceful coexistence.

For off-gridders the whole point of living off the grid is to distance ourselves from the electrical grid. It doesn't mean we are in favour of a socioeconomic collapse of modern civilization. We still want modern society to keep on existing,  along with the electricity grid, cellphone towers, the internet, etc. Living off the grid is more of a lifestyle choice, choosing to live in the woods, make your own electricity,  grow/hunt/fish your own food, etc. It is about independence,  not isolation.

Preppers in the USA, on the other hand, are predominantly white people, Christians, and firm believers in the Book of Revelations (the chapter in the Bible about Doomsday). There is a distinct air of racism and religious bigotry about their beliefs, and they have embraced the idea of killing all their enemies with nuclear weapons and then bunkering down to wait out the results of a nuclear apocalypse.

I can tell you right now what the results would be of a nuclear apocalypse. Any country with an ego problem will destroy themselves. The USA included. All the preppers eating their prefabricated cans of prepper food will eventually starve to death because they don't know how to hunt or fish or grow food without using pesticides. And even if they do know how to hunt and fish, 99% of them will die from the following causes:

Radiation sickness.
Nuclear ash inhalation.
Disease, illness or injury.
Acute Dehydration.
Accidental (includes fire, falls, drowning, etc)

The biggest killers of people won't be the nuclear bombs themselves. It will be the collapse of society, the lack of hospitals,  the lack of grocery stores with food, lack of sources of clean water that hasn't been contaminated by nuclear fallout, and so forth. Only the true survivalists, the people who were already living on the edges of civilization stand a real chance of surviving such horrific circumstances, as anyone even close to a fallout zone is basically doomed.

Now you might think "Oh, but who would Donald Trump end up using nukes on?" Well he has already made that clear.

Option 1. ISIL, which doesn't have nuclear weapons, but it will set a really bad standard if they are used.
Option 2. Iran, which has the capability to make their own nuclear weaponss, but also has the option to purchase from North Korea.
Option 3. North Korea, which is actively making long range nuclear missiles with the goal of making ones powerful enough to reach mainland USA. So far they can only reach Alaska and Hawaii.
Option 4. Russia / Vladimir Putin. America's old Cold War nemesis.
Option 5. China, to whom the USA owes trillions of dollars of national debt.
Option 6. Any country that could potentially buy nukes from North Korea.
Option 7. All of the above.

The words coming out of Donald Trump's mouth indicate that he wants to keep nuclear weapons on the table. But they also indicate that he is freaking crazy.

Trump was born and raised during the Cold War. He is a child of the age of nuclear proliferation. He lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many past presidents also lived through these things, but they had more solid heads on their shoulders. Trump's lies, his delusions of grandeur, his lack of knowledge of American foreign policy,  all of that means nothing compared to his religious fervor and desire to "Make America Great Again".

Trump sees himself as the saviour of America. He has what some might call a Messiah Complex. But his ego is so fragile his normal routine when insulted is to sue people.

So what happens when he cannot sue Putin? Or China? Or Mexico?

What does a crazy religious nutjob do when he cannot sue someone, but he has access to nuclear weapons? Well it is pretty obvious. He decides to go out with a bang.

Tack on the rumour that Donald Trump had an heart attack awhile back, and you have an old nutjob who is already dying who wants to go out with a bang.

All he needs then is a second person to turn the key and enter their code to launch nukes. Enter Mike Pence. If you ever wanted a co-conspirator to help you kickstart a nuclear apocalypse,  Mike Pence is the guy to pick.

So yeah. To summarize Trump is scary. End of days scary.

Bear Hunting and Bearskin Cloaks

For years now I have been pootahing the idea of going bear hunting because I felt that bear hunting is mostly for people who are interested in trophy hunting, or people who enjoy the taste of bear meat.

While I do believe people should eat what they killed, the idea of bear hunting didn't really appeal to me.

Today I realized that bears also offer a 2nd valuable resource asides from their meat - their fur. Making a bearskin cloak is a relatively easy DIY project, and there are many different ways a person could decide to fashion their cloak.

And so to that end I have decided to add bears to my Hunting To Do List (which currently includes deer hunting, turkey hunting, rabbit hunting, and bowfishing). I will still eat the meat as part of the whole hunting experience, but the addition of its fur and making a bearskin cloak has a definite appeal to me.

Some people might choose to make a coat instead of a cloak. To each their own.

Also please note, things not to do, such as getting mauled by a bear.

At least he got the bearskin cloak afterwards.

Homemade Archery Targets

I am a big fan of DIY homemade archery targets, so when a guy and his son mentioned making archery targets out of old tires and foam, I asked if he had any photos of them.

Voila! Pretty awesome. I also like the moving target dangling from the rope.

Tires filled with Foam Archery Targets

Hay Bale Archery Targets

Carpet Archery Target
I have also seen people make DIY archery targets out of:
  • Sand.
  • Rope.
  • Cardboard.
  • 2L coke bottles filled with spray foam or sand.
  • Old clothing.
  • Condensed plastic.
  • Leaves from last autumn.
  • Old telephone books stacked together.
For more about archery targets, check out:

Robust Homemade Archery Target

Assorted Paper Archery Targets

How to Patch Up an Old 3D Target

Moving Rabbit Target (video, below)

12 Fascinating Facts about African Archery

Source: "African Archery" by David Tukura, The Traditional Bowyer's Bible (Volume Three).

In ancient times and even in modern Africa, archery held a special place as the deadliest of weapons and the best of hunting tools, and continues to hold a high reputation. Even today the bow is so feared it is sometimes used by security guards in some African cities - partly for its psychological threat, and partly because many parts of Africa are famous for the accuracy of its archers. That is just one of the fascinating facts about African Archery. Below are 12 more...

Fascinating Fact #1.

Ethiopian archers during ancient times used footbows that were 4 cubits long (7 feet long) and fired arrows the size of javelins.

Fascinating Fact #2.

African archers were so feared as archers that they were often hired as mercenaries in regions surrounding the Mediterranean. The Egyptian word for the empire of Nubia was "Ta-sti" which literally meant "the land of Bowmen".

Fascinating Fact #3.

Ethiopian archers fought during the Trojan War on the side of Troy and the Trojans reportedly were overjoyed when their new allies arrived to help repel the Greeks.

Fascinating Fact #4.

During the 7th century A.D. Arab invaders called their African enemies the "pupil smiters" because the African archers were so adept at shooting the Arabs in the eye pupil.

Fascinating Fact #5.

In 1925 Saxton Pope was visiting Africa when he was outdistanced by a Wakoma archer using a heavy arrow. He switched to a heavier yew bow and used a light-weight flight arrow, but only managed to beat the Wakoma archer by ten paces. Afterwards he called a halt to the contest, as the Wakoma archer would clearly beat him easily using a lighter arrow.

Saxton Pope in Africa on a lion hunt.

Fascinating Fact #6.

The Liangulu and Kamba tribes of Kenya routinely hunted for elephants using longbows with over 100 lbs of pull.

Fascinating Fact #7.

Wambua, a famed archer from the Kamba tribe of Kenya, once shot an arrow at a target 50 yards away and then turned away and started walking before the arrow even hit it. His arrow, which was headless, hit the exact centre of the target - a perfect bullseye.

Fascinating Fact #8.

The Bassa tribe of Nigeria were famed for both their archery skills and tactics, having mastered two unusual techniques: (1)The Back-fire technique, which consisted of feigning a retreat and then twisting around and shooting back at the charging enemy. (2) The Shooting the Skies technique, which consists of one volley aimed skyward so it falls vertically at the enemy, and a second volley aimed horizontally at the enemy. The enemy then has a choice, use their shields to protect from the first volley coming at their heads and shoulders, or use their shields to defend their chests, bellies and legs.

Fascinating Fact #9.

In 1804 the Muslim Fulani invaded Bassa territory under the guise of a jihad (holy war), but really they were just there for slave raiding and to try to seize territory. While the Fulani tactics of horses and firearms did initially have some success, the Bassa fought back with ambushes and invented "string silencers" for their bows so they would be quieter. The Fulani raids continued for decades, but over time it became pretty clear the Bassa were winning and Fulani gave up and stopped raiding.

One type of ambush the Bassa used was to warn a village of an approaching Fulani force and then deliberately open the village gates so the Fulani could just ride in. Bassa archers would then conceal themselves on rooftops and lay in wait. After the Fulani forces entered the village, they would close the village gates and the archers could begin shooting the trapped horsemen. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Fascinating Fact #10.

In 1914 the British were on the losing end of a Bassa rebellion and tried to exact "a fine of bows and arrows" on the Bassa for revolting. The Bassa paid the fine, but simply made more bows and more arrows. Trying to disarm them via a fine clearly did not work.

Fascinating Fact #11.

The Zongulo tribe of Zwere traditional gives male infants a miniature bow to symbolize their hunter heritage. By the age of 7 they start shooting alongside other boys their age, shooting at moving targets is the very first archery lesson - done by rolling a melon at "top speed" across the ground. From there they graduate to shooting birds and rodents. As they progress they begin shooting at larger and large game, like antelopes, eland, impala deer, and buffalo.

Other groups have similar traditions of introducing archery at a very young age.

Fascinating Fact #12.

Archers still hold an important place of cultural significance in Africa today. While some groups still hunt with the bow, more industrialized regions hold dear to their ancestral roots and archery is a big part of that - being a symbol of strength, courage, freedom, ingenuity, and cultural pride. Much of the cultural phenomenon of archery in Africa is tied to the masculinity of men. Hence the saying:

"Without a bow you are not a man."

The idea of women archers is still a relatively new concept in Africa, a traditionally male dominated society. Many tribes believed that even letting a woman touch a bow or arrows would forever curse the items. That idea is slowly changing as more and more women in Africa are taking up the ancestral activity, breaking with traditions.

So Why the Interest in African Archery?

Anyone interested in bowhunting and/or survivalism should take note of African archery. Think of all the things I have mentioned above thus far:
  • Footbows for warfare.
  • Reputations for great accuracy that drives fear into their enemies.
  • Able to shoot great distances.
  • Able to shoot heavier bows for larger game, on par with the English yew longbow.
  • Amazing accuracy and confidence even at long distances.
  • A variety of techniques useful for warfare.
  • String silencers or dampeners.
  • Learning to shoot and to hunt from an early age.
  • Archers commanded respect.
Clearly such skills would be handy, as would the ability to cause your enemies to fear and respect the accuracy of your archers.

Imagine for a moment a confrontation between two rival groups. The leader of one group starts waving a gun around and making demands. Tension is high. Ka-thunk. The leader goes down with an arrow between their eyes. The archer is no where to be seen.

What should the one group do? Keep making demands? They are currently leaderless and there is an enemy sniper who is basically invisible. If a lieutenant stepped forward to continue making demands, what is to stop the sniper from taking out the new leader? Complete retreat or retreat to a more defensible position are the only logical solutions.

For hunting purposes, archery has been used for hunting for over 50,000 years. Firearms have really only become popular during the last 500 years. It would take another 49,500 years to even compare to the sheer number of animals killed by bowhunters over a period of 50 millennia.

And African archers are still bowhunting today, using traditional materials, ancient stalking techniques passed down through generations, and with a level of accuracy other cultures are often ignorant about. Clearly African archery is something worth studying for both bowhunting skills and for survival skills.

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