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Bow hunting taught locally

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Walter Krom has been hunting with a bow and arrow since 1961, when he tried to hunt a squirrel in his backyard, as many young boys did, back in the day. He grew up in New Jersey, 10 miles from New York City. His dad was a hunter and archery became a life trajectory for Krom.

“I teach hunter education. I’m a certified archery instructor, have been a licensed guide and have hunted all across the U.S and Canada,” he says with a hint of Jersey in his accent.

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It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. Our voices and movements echo off gymnasium walls. Walt opens a large tackle/tool box. It’s stuffed with parts and pieces. The first five minutes of our conversation are equally stuffed, his questions, vocabulary and observations emphasize the distance between his mastery and my absolute ignorance. But I’m there to learn.

This Saturday, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a nationwide conservation organization, will host Krom for a day-long “Introduction to Bow Hunting” workshop at Roaring Fork High School from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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The workshop invites people who have never hunted with a bow and arrow but would like to give it a try. It’s geared to help attendees decide, Is bowhunting something for me?

I’ve wanted to hunt archery for a couple of decades — long before “The Hunger Games!” It seems an art form, a moving meditation far more complex than rifle hunting, and deeply more intimate. I was intimidated.

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When I taught myself to fly fish in my 20s, I taught myself. I saved up and “bought all the gear.” Over time, I discovered I had invested in a lot of “stuff” I didn’t need. Not wanting to repeat that mistake, I was 49 before I finally bought a light, inexpensive, learner recurve bow for myself and a youth compound bow for my daughter. Shooting scrounged up arrows into paper targets on straw bales, I soon realized that we were probably ingraining bad habits and poor form, so I pumped the brakes.

“Archery is a sport that requires almost perfect form.” Krom says in a low, husky voice. You have to lean in to hear — to listen. “The idea,” he continues. “is to do the same thing, every time, the same way, like golf. If you’re not hitting the drive in the same way, it’s not going to the same place.”

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That proficiency requires a commitment of time and effort. Before you can meet the challenge or make that commitment, he explains, you should know what is required. Saturday’s workshop shares what it takes to become efficient and effective with a bow and arrow to pursue game.

As our lesson continued, my sense of trust and safety with Krom took root. He was encouraging and gave direction in small, consumable bites, without overload. He’s been teaching for a long time to diverse groups of people — “people with mental challenges, veterans, already experienced bow hunters,” he explains. “I taught the instructors who teach hunter education classes.”

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On Saturday, he will discuss bow hunting in comparison to firearms, and introduce both modern and traditional bows, arrows and the accessories intrinsic to archery. What are you interested in? The familiar longbow or recurve bow? Or the high tech compound bows that look like some kind of sci-fi prosthetic?

Krom will go over shot placement, blood trailing and (wild) game recovery. He’ll cover safety, the ethics intrinsic to successful bow hunting, and more. The workshop will open up to basic archery instruction, such as stance, the draw and release, and in the afternoon, participants will have a chance to shoot with bows.

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Wrapping up our lesson, he shares the story of his childhood initiation to hunting. “I chased the squirrel around the brook by our house with a sharpened stick! I never killed one but I shot at ‘em. I definitely hit Mrs. Arson’s cat,” he bursts out, shaking with mirth, a twinkle in his eye. “It had killed one of the squirrels! I got in trouble for that! I’ve always loved archery,” he finishes.

Later this spring, Krom will also offer an in the field archery workshop. So set your sights on a new way to engage with the outdoors and nature immersion! Ages 12 and up can register online at www.bit.ly/backcountrybowhunting

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Class size is limited and the cost is $10. The workshop begins in Room 200 of Roaring Fork High School and there will be a door prize. Bring a sack lunch or pop out for a quick bite downtown. For more info, contact Walter Krom at w57ursman@hotmail.com

Tags: #Archery #bow hunting #hunting #Roaring Fork High School #Walter Krom
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