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Archery: Not just for tribesmen and nobility anymore

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New club forming in Sun City Center

SUN CITY CENTER - It is written that the first traditional archery bows were crafted by the Egyptians around 3,000 BC. Made from wood and animal horns and strung with sheep intestine, bows remained very much the same until recent years.

Joe Mugavero, left, takes a look at an antique bow belonging to David Markowitz. Joe and his wife Dottie are starting an archery club in Sun City Center and hope to interest a large enough group to have some fun events. David has already said he’s ‘in’ and has offered start-up help.
Sheep intestine (also called catgut) was used to string bows and also for medical stitching until the development of man-made fibers with names like Vectran and Dyneema. Although these modern materials are widely used now, some bows are still made with more traditional fibers like linen and Dacron.  

Meanwhile, the oldest way of making bow strings hasn’t disappeared. Catgut is still in use in countries all over the world, including many parts of the United States where both hunting and competitive archery are popular.

“I built my first bow out of lemonwood at 13,” Joe said. “I strung it from catgut and did all my own mounts when I bagged a deer.”

In the Finger Lakes area of upper New York State where Joe grew up, many people hunt game as food, Joe said. “We process the whole deer for food.”

He still likes to hunt but also keeps his archery skills up on a target range. Because he has seen that archery is something families can do together, he and his wife Dottie are starting an archery club in Sun City Center.

“We’ve been told we need 10 people to start a club,” said Dottie, who plans to work on the business side of the set-up as well as learn to shoot. “We’ve already seen some interest, and word hasn’t even gotten around yet.”

Joe’s archery magazines say that archery is the fastest growing extra curricular sport in colleges across this country.

“Archery has become a big sport with people who can’t run, or race or play games like tennis. It’s enjoyable and you can get (college) credit for it. It’s also something a couple can do together,” Joe said.

Trying to think out of the box, Joe said he is interested in starting a club that will attract younger more active people to the area.

Anyone in Sun City Center interested in bows and arrows may call Dottie and Joe Mugavero about joining (and helping form) the new archery club.
One neighbor, David Markowitz, a former resident of Jacksonville and Tampa who has been in Sun City Center just about one year, was anxious to show me his antique bow.

Others who are interested include Mike and Natalie Brock who both shot bows and arrows in college and want to help start the club.

“They want to do something together and tried bowling, but said they think this will suit them much better,” Joe said.

Over the years, archery has attracted a wide variety of loyal followers, being used for both food and battle by ancient tribes and developing into a competitive sport in various places, especially in Tibet and England in the 1400s; with England’s King Charles II beginning the first annual archery tournament in 1673.

Since 1900 archery has been included in Olympic events.

There are many bow types and shooting techniques which vary the events in archery competitions.   

Joe, who ran a pistol range while in military service and later worked as a pattern maker for major international companies which allowed him to travel around the world, is a part-year Florida resident who still operates a pattern-making shop in New York where he makes molds out of many materials. He is also a still a consultant, showing others how to make molds for whatever job they need done- often right on site.   

David Markowitz demonstrates the correct position for shooting.
Archery is something he does for fun.

“It’s a very safe competitive sport,” he explained. “Some national (archery) events draw thousands of people. The club I belong to is the largest in New York, with 800 members. People from all over come for the 3-day annual competitions, not just for the events themselves, but for the bonfires and camaraderie.”

Joe and Dave have been going to Arrowhead Archery in Tampa to shoot.

“Even if we can’t get a place here right away, we can still form the club and get a group pass there,” he said.

Dave points to statistics in archery magazines saying more people get hurt on the golf course than on an archery range.

“Something about bows and arrows makes people who haven’t been around them think they’re dangerous,” Joe said. “But we only shoot 20 yards. And everyone stays behind a line until all the arrows have been fired. Only then can anyone go pick them out of their targets.” The range needed for target shooting could even be indoors, he said.

“Many other places have indoor shooting,” he said.

The new club is at the stage where it is seeking members, ideas and space to set up a target range.

Interested persons may call Joe and Dottie at (813) 633-1230.
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