Mike Webb grew tired of technology.
After hunting with a compound bow for years, Webb was fed up with spending valuable hunting time repairing any of the numerous gadgets that were prone to breaking.
He also grew bored with the compound as improving technology made it easier to place arrows in the bullseye one after another.
The challenge was gone.
"With all the technology that comes with a compound, I just felt like I was missing something," the Susquehanna County resident said. "It was getting way too easy."
That's when Webb took a step back in time.
Four years ago, he had an opportunity to target shoot with a friend's recurve bow. Webb always had an interest in traditional archery but never had a chance to try it out.
When he did, the results convinced him to give up the technology-laden compound.
Webb's switch to traditional archery didn't happen overnight, however. He compared the switch to buying a car – tons of research is needed and don't jump at the first bow you find.
In fact, getting off to the wrong start has created the misbelief that traditional archery is extremely difficult and time-consuming, which leads some to not even bother with the sport.
"They get discouraged," Webb said. "As long as you get the right start, it will be a wonderful experience."
The right start includes finding a bow with a suitable draw weight, matching arrow weight to the bow and learning proper shooting technique.
"If you think you're going to go to a store and buy a recurve and arrows, and you'll be shooting bullseyes right away, you'll have a real rough go of it," Webb said.
With a traditional bow such as a recurve, Webb advised dropping down to a draw weight that is 15 to 20 pounds less than what you're comfortable shooting with a compound.
"With traditional, now you're shooting a bow zero let-off and you have to hold it," he said. "It's not difficult if you drop down 15 or 20 pounds."
Because arrows and broadheads used for traditional archery are heavier, Webb said it's crucial to match them to the draw weight of your bow.
The heavier arrows and broadheads, he said, allow for a truer flight and also quiet the bow down when shooting.
There are also adjustments that need to be made when it comes time to actually shoot the bow. With traditional archery, there are no sights, whisker biscuits or stabilizers to help improve accuracy. Instead, traditional archery is all about instinctive shooting and hand-eye coordination, Webb said.
"Distance doesn't come into play unless the shot is too far," he said. "Twenty-five yards is the furthest I would even think about. You only take the high-percentage shots, and that's something every archer, regardless of the bow that they use, should do."
And then comes the focus. When it's time to shoot, Webb said all focus and attention must be placed onto a small spot – such as the single hair of a deer.
"The technology is gone and it's back to you and the deer. Everything you have has to be focused on that little spot where you want your arrow to go," he said.
Now in his fourth year of hunting with a recurve, Webb said he isn't going back to the compound and its technology. With the recurve, Webb said he's gotten back to the origins of archery and that's where he'd like to stay.
"There's a peacefulness when you go out with a recurve," he said. "It's totally different than a compound, and with the right start it can be just as much, if not more, rewarding. You're getting back to what archery is supposed to be."
The fall archery season runs from Sept. 20 to Nov. 12. Archery hunters may choose to use a long, recurve or compound bow, or a crossbow. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum drawn weight of at least 125 pounds. Broadheads on either an arrow or a bolt must have an outside diameter or width of at least seven-eighths inches with at least two cutting edges on the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface, and shall not exceed three inches in length.
Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows still are illegal. It also remains illegal to use dogs to track wounded deer.
Ed Krystofosky, owner of The Archery Zone in Larksville, said he sees traditional archery growing in popularity among young adults. He attributes the increase to the recent movie The Hunger Games, which features traditional archery.
When it comes to those who hunt with a recurve or longbow, he said there aren't many but the numbers can be deceiving.
"The traditional archery hunters are kind of reclusive and stick to their own thing," Krystofosky said. "They don't announce to the world what they do."
Krystofosky teaches traditional archery at his shop and also hunts deer with a recurve. Getting started with a traditional bow is less expensive than a compound, he said, but getting off on the right foot is imperative.
"Traditional archery is an art," Krystofosky said.
"Most important is getting the right poundage first, and then you need to match the arrows to the bow.
"After that, you need to practice every day. You can't just start shooting and expect to be good. It takes dedication."