When 2010 arrives, it will mark my 25th year of doing instinctive archery shows. It is hard to believe that 25 years ago the late Rev. Stacy Groscup tossed a Pepsi can into mid air and challenged me to hit it. I did and that same day he put me in front of an audience and had me shooting at aerial targets. I’d actually assisted Stacy on stage for years by tossing targets for him from time to time. Ann Clark also had me assist her when she visited the West Virginia Sport show around 1981. Those early experiences with Ann & Stacy let me know I’d found my calling. I wanted to make a living shooting a bow and arrow. It’s the only thing I wanted to do. It still is.
The shows have come full circle since that time and I have evolved into performing my own shows. When I first started I basically imitated Stacy’s show, the same shots and the same script. I soon came to realize that there was only one Stacy and as my confidence grew I began designing my own show and my own shots. That’s part of how the behind the back shots came into play. I wanted to break new ground and do some shots that had never been attempted in front of crowds before. I wanted to rewrite the books on exhibition shooting with some of the shots I’d attempt. Some worked, some didn’t. I kept the good ones and forgot the others. I once fired two bows at once in California— and hit both targets with two arrows. That was a crazy shot! I couldn’t do that shot often, when you consider that shooting twin 45# bows meant I was really pulling 90#.
I’ve written about some lucky shots I’ve done before, including the long distance shot in Union Grove, NC in 1988. I won’t revisit that tale now but I would be lying if I said that 80-90 yard shot wasn’t luck! Sometimes there’s a fine line between luck and skill. I Am always happy when luck is on my side. I’d like to think all my first shot shows on baby are 100% skill but I must admit sometimes luck plays a part.
2010 will mark my 39th year shooting a bow and arrow. Crazy huh? It’s hard to believe I’ve been flinging arrows that long. It’s been so long that I really don’t ever remember not shooting a bow. I have made many friends during that 39 years in the sport. Fred Bear, Earl and Ann Hoyt, Stacy Groscup, and so many others. Sadly, many of these legends are gone. Fortunately we have some icons left, like Chuck Adams. Ted Nugent, and many, many more. My son Gus, 3, has been shooting a bow since he was about 18 months old. I had to help him but he loved it. I was glad to see a third generation Addington come along that enjoyed archery!
Many of the folks I have shared seminar stages with when I started have moved on, retired or passed away. I miss many of them. I’ve met some unforgettable characters in this business, that’s for sure. My equipment has changed over the years. When I very first started I used a wooden Bear Kodiak recurve bow. I have a special blonde colored Bear Kodiak Fred Bear signed and sent me that I never put a string on. I remember his shoulders rocking with laughter when I told him I was hitting aspirin with one of his bows. He smiled and said, “I thought I was doing good when I used to hit coins…” I have some photos Dick Mauch shared with me of Fred on stage doing exhibitions. Fred used to trade these shows for booth space when he first started out.
In the mid 1980’s I would join Hoyt/Easton’s Advisory staff. There I’d meet folks like a serious bowhunter named Chuck Adams. He climbed the ladder quickly and was one of the hardest working men in the sport. Driven and focused on what he wanted, he became the first to obtain the famous “Super Slam” by bagging one of all 27 big game species in North America. Chuck has lasted all these years because he has worked for his position, he doesn’t cut corners and he plays by the rules. We remain good friends and I was delighted when Chuck agreed to write the forward for my book when it finally comes out. Some may be jealous of Chuck’s fame or position but he put in the hours and the sweat to become the sport’s most successful bowhunter.
During my time at Hoyt I held various positions, including Gold Staff member, and a one man member of a term Eric Dally made up, “Promotional Pro Staff.” I left Hoyt in 2003 and shot Mathew’s Sky recurves beginning in 2003. 2004 was a wild year for my shows, we even ended up doing an exhibition on behalf of the President of the United States, George W. Bush. “Old Blue” is the Sky bow I used for 6 years. I had newer bows from Sky including two Mathews prototype bows that were never launched to the public, but I remained true to “Old Blue.” It was a great shooting bow.
July 1, 2009 I returned home to Hoyt. Mike Luper and I had talked and I knew that it would be great to work with Mike again. He knows the archery industry and has a knack for promotional efforts and promoting the sport and Hoyt. He thinks out of the box. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Mike and I am glad to be back working with him. For 2010 I will be shooting twin Formula RX bows. I am just now getting them ready for our new show season. If they shoot as good as they look the baby aspirin are in trouble. Here’s the website, check out these bows for yourself:
My how bows have changed since 1971! My first bow was a fiberglass stick with a string. It’s funny that I use the same shooting style now that I used way back then! Instinctive shooting has been good to me. I am thankful my father set me up that way. He still sets up every bow that I perform with on stage. I always am quick to say I have the very pit crew in archery with Pop! I can set up my own equipment but prefer he does it.
His retail shop, Addington’s Bowhunter Shop, turns 32 this year! If you visit you’ll find a shop full of vintage photos, hunts he has made all over, signed photos from folks like country singer George Strait (he set up a Hoyt for Strait in the 1990’s), and an indoor range full of full mounted animals. I also have a display of my show bows. I have kept at least one of every bow I’ve ever used on stage the past 25 years and have them on display. We are working on an additional display which will have some special Stacy Groscup items in it. One visit to the shop and you’ll see why my parents love the sport so much. They have bowhunted together all of my life and have a lifetime of memories and photos on display. By the way, Mom has taken 17 or 18 bear with her bow!
During the past 25 years I’ve seen countless airports, hotel rooms, thousands of miles of highway, and met lots of new friends. It’s been a great ride and I am looking forward to many more. We dubbed the tour the “HAVE BOW WILL TRAVEL” tour. Coming to a stage at a sports show or event near you. Seeing is believing, see you at the show.
Until next time, Adios & God Bless.