An annual gathering of stickbow enthusiasts proves to be far more than a commercial enterprise.
After attending the 15th annual Traditional Bowhunters Expo in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I offer this verdict: Traditional archery is not just alive and well. It is thriving!
The Traditional Bowhunters Expo is the brainchild of three dedicated stickbow enthusiasts: Jerry and Sharon Brumm, and Rick Shepard. Rick and Jerry are the founders of Great Northern Bowhunting Company, makers of an outstanding lineup of traditional bows and bowhunting gear. While returning home from another traditional gathering near Grayling, Michigan, nearly two decades ago, the trio discussed the need for a major traditional expo. From those early discussions, they birthed the Traditional Bowhunters Expo.
Every year now for 15 years straight, top bowyers, arrowsmiths, and vendors selling everything from wool hunting clothes to broadheads to packs, have descended on Kalamazoo. But this is not just a commercial enterprise. It's more like a family reunion that people look forward to every year to renew acquaintances and meet new friends and hunting partners.
The 2010 Expo was home to nearly two dozen of this country's top bowyers and, as always, a pair of indoor shooting ranges gave attendees a venue for "test driving" any bows that caught their fancy. Both ranges were busy throughout the weekend as men and women tested bow after bow while looking for their dream hunting weapon. Likewise, the kids' range was a huge success. Watching the youngsters marvel at the flight of their arrows and thrill to the sights and sounds of popping balloons is always a treat.
Seminars and workshops always form one of the core attractions during the event, and over the years, speakers have included such legendary traditional bowhunters as Glenn St. Charles, G. Fred Asbell, Fred Eichler, and Gene and Barry Wensel. In 2010, North Carolina bowhunter Monty Browning and Mississippi turkey hunter extraordinaire Joey Buchanan presented seminars to packed houses. Likewise, the Brothers Wensel were on hand to visit, joke, and sign copies of their two new books, Buckskin and Bone, and Once Upon a Tine.
If you would like to become a part of the Traditional Bowhunters Expo family, make plans to attend the next event at the Kalamazoo County Fair Grounds January 28-30, 2011. For more information, contact: Great Northern Bowhunting Company at (517) 852-0820 or visit www.gnbco.com and click on "Expo Kalamazoo."