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The following article was first published in the July 1937 issue of
Ye Slyvan Archer

Why I Prefer the Bow to the Rifle


Sasha A. Siemel

It is only logical and natural that I should. The spear is a primitive weapon, so is the bow. While I would not want to say that hunting big cats with a rifle can not be plenty dangerous and exciting under all circumstances, particularly so in our Matto Grosso jungles, where vision is extremely limited, it seems to me that the bow complements the spear. If I now had any use for a shield besides, I should feel perfectly equipped.

The sportsmen whom I have guid d, and who have used the rifle, must be dead shots. Only a heart or head shot will do, and with an animal as quick and aggressive as our tiger, this calls for good judgment and perfect coordination. Not to mention a sound nervous system. I really believe that I am better protected with nothing but my spear and bow than the average rifleman, no matter how courageous the latter may he.

Unfairly enough, the rifleman is not always given full credit for his sportsmanship. It is taken for granted that with the development of the modern high powered rifle the game stands no chance. As far as our South American tiger is concerned your sympathy is wasted; the cattle thief is extremely well able to take care of himself. He does not always charge any more than all other large animals do; but the reason is never that he is afraid of the hunter. He either has just had a good dinner, or else, king of the jungle as he is, he considers the hunter not worth his regal attention. When he charges he means business, regardless of whether he is facing rifle, bow or spear.

But leaving these considerations aside, I feel sure that there is more of a thrill to be had out of a combination of long bow and spear than it would be possible to get out of firearms. The danger, as I have stated, is probably about the same.

With mc it is the call of the primitive. I know the use of a bow and I know the use of a spear. Most sportsmen do not, or they would get as much out of the combination as I do.

And even when not actively hunting game, there is a brotherhood in archery, the oldest of the sports, that means a lot to me. Dr. Elmer who gave me my first instructions in the use of the modern bow, brought mc in contact with that great field archer, Art Young. We found much in common. And I have made other friends and good friends that I could have met no other way.

In this connection Iwish to heartily endorse the red ribbon movement among the "Lower Bracket Boys". And I feel sure that good shots and prominent archers will feel the same way about it.

If I were an archery champion or near champion, I would most assuredly shoot the very best I could in competition. When I go out after a cat, I am out for blood. And what could equal the grim determination ot Erie Stanley Gardner fighting a dead line? It is altogether proper and fitting that hard striving should enter into sport as well as into our work.

Also it is fitting that we should relax whenever opportunity offers. I am sure that no tiger brought down with a bow has given me as much pleasure as I got out of shooting it out with that grand sportsman Gardner for the basement championship at the Yermo meet. And I do not want you to condemn Ken Wilhelm too quickly just on Erle's say so. I am sure that Ken is just as conscientious as Erle insinuates that he isn't. In any case, Gardner can have a return match any time he wants to, and may the worst shot win

When I shoot at a tiger I feel confident that I am going to get him, with the spear if the arrow fails. I take pride in the result. But at Yermo there was no strain of any kind, just good fellowship and bantering. The memory of that day is going to be a very pleasant one to takc back with me.

The same thing applies to the day I spent at Griffith Park, where I had the pleasure of meeting some of the best archers on the Pacific coast. This probably means thc best archers in the world.

At least California has more than its fair share of good target--as well as field archers. And no state and no country has better sportsmen than I met here.

Next time I come out to this coast I hope to have a little more leisure. I am under contract now and my time is not my own. If it were, you may be sure that I would diligently practice at all your tournament. Gardner, for one, will have to be taken in hand soon. I am not altogether persuaded that his story in the last issue of the Archer contained all the pertinent facts in the case.

May I extend my best wishes to Ye Sylvan Archer, a magazine that I will look forward to receiving a copy of each month on my return to my Brazilian jungles. I will do my very best to promote archery wherever I go and trust I may he of some use.