The hobby of archery started very early in his youth for Bob Kekahbah of North Platte.
“I started archery with my dad when I was little,” Kekahbah said. “We would shoot bullfrogs around the pond in Oklahoma.”
After stepping away from the sport for a while, Kekahbah returned to archery in 2006.
“I went to a big box store and bought what they said I needed,” Kekahbah said. “Then my mother in law told me about Roger at the lake with Flatwater Archery and he helped me get everything set up and done right.”
Kekahbah said the initial cost of buying a bow is the most important thing, but after that it depends on how deep one wants to get into archery.
“Anyone can do it,” Kekahbah said. “I have a friend of mine, he’s 89 and he’s still a bow hunter. My grandson is six years old and he comes with me and shoots.
There are different types of bows and Kekahbah has several designs.
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“I have a recurve to take apart,” Kekahbah said, “and I have a custom made longbow, a Howard Hill longbow. It’s a traditional bow.
Most people will shoot wooden arrows with the long bow for a little more of the traditional look of it.
“There’s not much,” Kekahbah said. “It’s a stick and a string, pull it back and let it go. They call it instinctive shooting.
There’s no sort of aiming reference, he says.
There is also the recurve bow. It starts as a “D” then reflexes for the recurve bow.
“These store a little more energy than the longbow because the ends pull back further,” Kekahbah said. “A lot of people are going back to tradition. Here lately I’ve sold a lot more recurve bows than compound bows.
He said it was much cheaper than compound bows. The average compound bow is between $600 and $700 for the bow. Curves cost $200 or less.
“Compound bows have come a long way,” Kekahbah said. “On a compound bow, the shape of the cam increases the power, then releases.”
Arches can be custom designed to fit each individual and several factors can be adjusted.
“You can change the draw length for a taller person like me,” Kekahbah said. “He shoots 30 inches and will go down to 24 for someone with shorter arms.”
Weight can also be selected, i.e. the amount of power the bow will generate when firing. The weight needed depends on what is being hunted.
“If you’re hunting antelope, 70 pounds, the higher the weight the better because they’re usually longer shots,” Kekahbah said. “You want the hit to be fast enough to make a good hit and you don’t want the animal to suffer.”
He said a 40-pound bow might not penetrate the skin of a larger animal. Most hunters shoot turkeys with 40-pound bows, although most people in this area shoot anything with a 60-pound bow, he said.
Kekahbah said he can build custom equipment for archers, which includes the bowstring, sights and anything associated with their particular shooting style.
“The views are all fiber optic,” Kekahbah said. “You set the pins for the shooter and each bow is different for each person, how it’s held and how it’s aimed.”
There are also plenty of choices in arrows and broadheads.
“The old standard three blades, six blades, they don’t move,” Kekahbah said. “We sharpen them and that’s what they are, just a solid blade, a steel blade.”
There are mechanical broadheads that stay bent until they hit the target, then the blades open. He said these arrows have less wind resistance, so they fly a little better.
There is also a hybrid wide tip where the six blades in front remain solid, but the two blades behind fold up. Once they hit, the rear blades open up and make a wider cut.
A newer option is with the nock, which is the end of the arrow that is placed against the string.
“They light up so you can find them and follow them,” Kekahbah said. “They fit on the string and once the string goes off she presses a little button that turns the light on and it stays on.”
Some of them flash to facilitate their location in low light conditions.
Most arrows these days are made of carbon. There are three or four different sizes, Kekahbah said. A standard size arrow has a diameter of 19/64 and goes down to 11/64.
“You get into some of the competitive indoor shooting, 3D shooting,” Kekahbah said, “and they’ll use 27/64 diameter arrows.”
For those interested in learning archery, call Kekahbah at 308-539-0839. A 3D shoot is scheduled today at the Maniohuta Archery Club at 204 Pheasant Run Road south of Lake Maloney Road from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.