My 15 Faces series comes to a close with this entry. In all seriousness I am bummed. It has been something that has pushed me as a commercial photographer, and as a person. In some cases I have had to get to know a stranger at a very deep level in a short period of time, or share a deeper side of myself as it relates to a relationship with my friend and pastor. So I combined a few things for this last post. They are archery, photography, and a roadtrip with a friend who is like a brother to me. Here enters Scott Whitman. Scott is an accomplished marketing guy/account executive, co-owner of AgriLifeStudios.com with me, and a person who loves people, and to tell a deeper story.
So the words that follow are his take on the day, the last installment, and whatever he saw fit to share:
I guess I didn’t know quite what to expect. Shawn and I drove up to Grand Rapids to meet Arne Moe, a retired Air National Guard wing commander and a Level 4 archery instructor. This guy was a pilot, a career military officer, and man with decades of experience as a teacher of traditional archery. He’s qualified to coach Olympic level archers. And he’s the most humble, unassuming and generous man you could hope to meet. Now retired, he devotes much of his time to coaching young archers, dispensing wisdom to anyone willing to listen and learn.
Arne was eager to give us a tour of his house, and especially to show us his collection of traditional bows. He has long bows and recurves, factory models and hand-crafted bows. Some were made by renowned masters. A few he made himself. Some are well-known brand names. Others obscure vintage relics. In all, we guessed he had 40+ bows in his collection.
We expected we might spend some time reliving his 36-year military career, but Arne quickly summarized his experience in the Air Guard by saying, “I started flying fighters, and missed Viet Nam by a couple of years. I ended up flying air refueling tankers. The ones I flew were the last aircraft still in service that was designed with a slide rule.” Arne finished his career as a full Colonel and a wing commander.
But the thing Arne most wanted to talk about was the art of traditional archery. That was fine with us. We brought our own bows and were anxious to get a few tips from this master of the craft. We did not bargain for a full coaching session at the local archery club. He spent nearly 4 hours with us, sharing wisdom, instructing, teaching, and revealing the art and science of shooting a bow the way it really should be done. When he talks about shooting a bow his eyes light up. “There is something truly magical about the flight of an arrow,” he said.
When Arne talks about shooting form, he sounds like a combination of sports psychologist, engineer and martial arts Sinsei. He speaks of bio-mechanics and leverage, aligning the bones of hand, wrist, arm and shoulder to balance the force of the drawn bow. He demonstrates how good balance and body alignment allow an archer to draw and hold a heavy bow with little muscle exertion. His drawing motion is consistent, fluid and appears almost effortless. His arrows fly true. Arne makes archery an art form, but like all good teachers, he makes it simple enough that anyone can learn.
We asked him why he did it – giving so much of his time. He said it was his love of the sport, and a desire to teach others – especially kids – something that has been a big part of his life. He said, “In archery there are no bench-sitters. Everyone gets to play. And everyone can succeed. To see a kid’s smile when he makes his first shot or when she makes a personal best, it’s really something special.”
Arne Moe is a special breed. Like his custom bows, he’s one of a kind.