Pull back the string. Take a breath. Aim, and now release the arrow to watch it fly.
I’m standing feet splayed in a field, a bow in hand. A target 50 feet away is thick with arrows, blue shafts and white feathers pinned among concentric rings.
It’s a Sunday night, and the public archery range is busy with bow hunters honing their craft for an upcoming season. My goal is the bullseye of a target and nothing more.
My instrument of choice, a compound unit made by Genesis Bow, shoots easy and dead straight. The brand, based in Sparta, Wis., is dedicated to archery as a sport and a skill, not a means to acquire meat.
Indeed, the first Genesis bow I ever saw was hot pink and miniature in size. The company carries three standard models and caters to beginners and youth. (Don’t worry, they come in black and a camouflage motif, too.) Launched in 2002, Genesis has grown with a spike in popularity around bows and arrows. Even before Katniss Everdeen and the “Hunger Games” phenomenon, a project called the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) engaged tens of thousands of kids around the country.
NASP now says millions of kids over the past decade have participated in its after-school sessions, many joining the program and going on to train and compete. Genesis bows are a primary product for NASP members, and the company cites “hundreds of thousands” of bows sold.
What makes a Genesis bow unique is its single-cam design. It’s advertised as “the bow that fits everyone” because there is no set draw length. Pull back the string any amount — a few inches for a kid or a beginner, up to a full draw for an experienced adult — and the arrow flies straight and strong either way.
Most bows are made to fit their shooter. You adjust draw length for your physiology and preference while aiming down-range. A unique cam configuration, for which Genesis has several patents, gives constant pressure throughout the entire draw with no let-off.
In the field during my first practice — though it’d been years — the technique to fire an arrow came back quickly to me. I’d watched an introductory video on YouTube for a refresher, and a bow-hunter friend met me to coach.
Within a couple quivers’ worth of arrows I was hitting near the center of the target on many shots.
I backed up for more challenge and aimed the bow — the Genesis unit felt solid in the hand, not a toy, despite the hot-pink option, but not exactly a weapon either.
My girl, age 8, shot a few arrows after me. She used the same bow as I did, the $169.99 Regular Genesis model, and she was able to pull the string back a few inches and fire.
She smirked at the first arrow, which coursed past the target into a backstop of grass. But by the third or fourth shot, from close range, she was hitting the target’s face.
Retrieving the arrows later my daughter was begging to shoot again. The sun was setting. “One more time?” she pleaded. I handed her the bow to carry and she hiked, smiling, back toward the firing line.
Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.