2010 will mark a milestone in my exhibition shooting career. It will mark exactly 25 years on stage. It doesn’t seem like that much time has gone by. It seems like yesterday the late Rev. Stacy Groscup was tossing a PEPSI can into mid air and challenging me to hit it. I hit the can and that very day he put me in front of an audience shooting at targets. I’ve always been very proud to be considered his protege’. Rev. Groscup was the 49th inductee into the Archery Hall of Fame and a close family friend. I grew up admiring him and his ability to shoot a bow. I even tossed targets for him at some shows as a teenager.
I started out with a wooden Bear recurve doing my early shows and then joined Hoyt/Easton’s advisory staff in 1986. I later moved up to the Gold Staff, and it was about that time I met a bowhunter named Chuck Adams and began a friendship that has endured since those early days. Over the years I have kept every single bow I’ve used on stage. In that amount of time I’ve went through some bows! I have all of them and most are displayed in order at my parent’s retail archery shop. There’s an old Bear Kodiak, which was the first recurve I used on stage. Fred Bear sent me an identical one that’s a special blonde colored wood that he hand signed. He was tickled that a kid could shoot aspirins from mid air with one of his bows. I never did tell Fred I didn’t have the nerve to string it. As a matter of fact it’s laying 12″ from my hands as I type these words. I keep it on my desk as a reminder of my old friend.
From 1986 until 2003 I used Hoyt bows and have had a variety of models. Most of my bows are blue but a few are different colors. These bows are like old friends and when I look at each model I am reminded of shows I did or events that took place at that time. I am a packrat and it just seemed natural to keep these bows. Some I liked better than others. At least one of these was a prototype, one of the early machine riser models. I am reminded of some of the folks I answered to while shooting for Hoyt, here are some names, sorry if I leave anyone out… Joe Johnston traveled with me and Jim Wynne once and he was the President of Hoyt/Easton at the time we had a great time with the boss traveling with us, I answered to Bill Krenz, Bill Riddenour, Jack Lyons, Eric Dally, and Mike Luper. There’s one or two names I forget but over that 17 year period I had some great people to work with that meant alot to me.
I have used a SKY recurve since 2004, a blue one I call, for lack of a better name, “ole Blue”. This bow has been a great bow. This bow has some miles on it—from coast to coast several times. I guesstimate we’ve done over 500 exhibitions together in the last six years. I plan to retire ole Blue in June 2009. I used this bow for some very special shows. I was a surrogate speaker for President George Bush in 2004 and used this bow to do a show on his behalf at a campaign event in Oregon. I also did a private show for country singer Toby Keith with this bow. In March 2007 I hit three baby aspirin in mid air—with three arrows—behind the back— when Chuck Adams introduced the show in Indianapolis. The bow & I got a standing ovation for that same shot a few months later at the 2007 National Pope & Young Convention. So needless to say this is a very special bow to me. I appreciate Kevin Stay and Jon Gauthier at Sky for all they’ve done for me. I have two Mathews prototype recurves from last year that are in the collection. At last word the bow doesn’t have a name but whatever it is I have two of them! I believe there are less than 15 of these outside the factory.
I have two longbows in this collection of bows, one of the original SKY longbows Earl Hoyt signed for me when he owned the company and the very first SKY bow to leave the Mathews factory. This was by accident. Matt McPherson gave me the bow out of the Mathews booth during the 2004 ATA Show. He hand signed it and I was leaving the booth with it when one of the Mathews employees came running after me. “Frank, wait… you can’t have that bow. We’ll send you one…” was the response. I smiled, pointed at Matt, and said, “That red headed guy there just gave this one to me.” That was the end of that.
The cool thing about all my bows is that my father has set up every single bow since I was four years old. He’s made most of my arrows and hand tuned every show bow I have ever had. I’ve since learned how to do it but still have him do it. There’s alot of father-son time in these bows. He would tune them, I’d shoot them, and then he’d watch me and fine tune them. It’s great to have such a good “pit crew” behind you. Like the late Dale Earnhardt, when something goes wrong with a bow at a show and Pop’s not there, I can use duct tape, super glue or dental floss to fix it until I get the bow home. He hand makes my special rests and this is a very time consuming ordeal. Thanks Pop.
I have not kept many of my compound bows over the years and there are some special ones I miss. I had an old Onieda H-500 in the mid 1980’s that was a shooting machine. I have had some great shooting Hoyt compounds too. Most are the long finger shooting models since I am an instinctive shooter that likes a good finger bow. I’ve had some Mathews bows I enjoyed too. But I seldom get attached to the compound bows the way I am to my stage bows. I make a living with them. The other bows are recreational. I usually keep the compound a year or so and then sell it. I’ve shot PSE, Martin, Darton, Hoyt/Easton, Bear, Jennings, Hoyt USA, Mathews, and Onieda compounds over the years.
I have a few recurves that I’ve never used that I like. One is a special NUGE BOW that Bill Wiesner had made for me. I understand there are three, he has one, Ted Nugent has one and mine is the third. It’s a special version of the Renegade bow in snakeskin camo and is hand signed by Bill and Ted. They made it as a compound but Bill had three take down recurves made. This is a cool bow and folks enjoy looking at it. Like Fred’s bow, I have never strung it.
Most of my show bows on display are old, beat up, well worn bows. To some they may look like flea market material but to me there’s a million memories with each bow. I wouldn’t sell a single one.
Thanks for reading my column. Until next time, Adios & God Bless.
Frank Addington, Jr.