When I was a child we watched every western that was on TV and or the movies. A good John Wayne or Randolph Scott western was hard to beat no matter what screen it was on. We often went to the local drive in theater to catch a movie and they usually played a double or triple feature. Sometimes Clint Eastwood might even be playing or some other spaghetti western . I truly loved those old shows.
Though we watched to see the cowboy save the day I found my attention and heart drawn to the Indian. The Native American tribes were portrayed mostly as the antagonists but I couldn’t help but be drawn to them. You see, somewhere in my heritage and not very far back, I am of native blood. So it’s no wonder why I was drawn to the “Indian” in the old movies. So much so that I begged my parents for a bow and arrows. Money was tight so it wasn’t as if they could just run down and throw away $20 on even a cheap little bow that would end up thrown down in the yard after a couple of hours.
One Saturday my mother and I were in the local department store and as usual I made my way to the sporting goods area to window shop all the rods, reels, guns, knives and bows I knew I couldn’t have. Not just yet anyway. I found myself face to face with a little red fiberglass re-curve bow complete with arrows and a quiver. It even came with a Howard Hill instruction pamphlet on how to shoot a bow. To say I was in love would be the understatement of a lifetime.
My mom knew right were to find me we hen she was ready to check out. She pushed her buggy up beside me and smiled and asked what I was looking at. I showed her the bow and asked if I might get it. My mother looked it over and said yes. I couldn’t believe it she said yes. I carried that little red Sioux re-curve in my arms as if I carried a baby brother or sister. Lovingly I held it. Not knowing then that I so appropriately showed it so much love because that Little red bow would help shape every aspect of who I later became.
Once we arrived back at home I tore open the packaging to get at my prize. The first order of business was reading that pamphlet and stringing the bow. I read that pamphlet a hundred times that day and over the next few. Illustrations of Howard Hill showing proper finger placement and knocking points. Proper shooting techniques and safety. It would be much later when I would learn who Mr. Hill was and that he was truly as amazing as I had thought.
I practiced for hours every day. That little red bow was a monster slayer and made me one of the tribe and also one of Robin Hoods men. I was Ivanhoe and Geronimo, Crazy Horse and various knights of the realm along with bowman from Middle Earth. When I held that Little Red bow I found myself transported and transformed. I could be anything or anyone. I got so good with that Little Red bow that I was soon picking off birds and rabbits. My mother would often come outside to find me roasting whatever varmint I had slain roasting over a small fire in our front yard.
I soon outgrew that little red bow but I got a Bear Whitetail compound from my brother in law John complete with sights, arrows and broad heads. Not bad pay for a few days work on a carport. That bow lead to my first hog and deer kills with a bow. I was hooked. No drug or alcohol could ever be as intoxicating to me as I feel with bow in hand. I am still transported and transformed when I have my bow grasped gently in my hand. Now instead of transported to another realm I am transported to my youth. The memories of that little red bow come flooding back and a smile comes to my face.
I am sure you all have something similar in your childhood. It may not be a little red bow but it may be a Red Rider or a Crossman air rifle. It may even be a simple Wrist Rocket sling shot. But the inner you can remember all the sights, smells and sounds of your childhood when you think about your little red bow.