Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shakespeare OCALA X-17 and rare OCALA X-14A (Ocala Special)

The Shakespeare X17 has not always been "The Ocala" .
From 1959-1960 Shakespeare introduced the Model 100 through Model 600 series of recurves. These were beautifully crafted laminated wood and fiberglass. They had leather wrapped grips, and if right handed, had the name of RH-100, 200, 300, etc. If left handed, they of course were LH-100 and so on. In 1961, the leather grip was dropped, so was the RH 100..LH100. After 1962 Shakespeare dropped “Model” designations which were replaced with the ”X“ models and the bows took on a more sleek design, showing the Ernie Root influence. From 1961-65 the Model X17 was a slender 62 inch target / hunting bow with white, gray and /or green fiberglass. 35 lb - 60 lb (1961-62 right hand only- left hand special ordered 1961-62). 6 inch sight window. brace height 6 3/4.
In 1964 Shakespeare began naming their hunting bows after famous hunting areas. "The Necedah" X26 was introduced in 1964 and the X17 was re-introduced as the Ocala X17 in 1966.
Lewis Kent's 1962 X17-62 in excellent condition
The Wonderbow Model X17
  • 1962-64
  • AMO 62"
  • draw weigh 30 - 60 Lbs
  • riser: Benge exotic hardwood
  • Glass: white
  • left hand special order in 1962
  • 6 inch sight window
  • 6 3/4 inch
  • limbs 1 3/4 wide

1966 Ocala X17
The Wonderbow Ocala X17

  • Ocala x17 1966, Ocala x17A with sight after 1970, Ocala X14A with sight 1971
  • 62 AMO, (60 AMO after 1970, 1971 X14A was 62")
  • Recurve
  • Weight 30, 35, 40, 45 50, 55, and 60 lbs. (rare)
  • Handle of laminate of Benge and zebra wood (after 1970 Bubinga Riser)
  • Limbs 2 inch wide Olive green glass (after 1970 cinnamon brown glass 2 inch limbs)
  • Tips- Benge and Cherry (after 1970 Cinnamon and white)
  • Semi-pistol grip
  • Brace height 7 7/8 inches
  • Sight window 6 inches
  • Arrow speed- 12 shot average. 410 grain arrow
    1.    45 lb. Ocala 62"---------------  178.97 FPS
    2.    60 lb. Ocala 60"---------------  194.10 FPS
All Shakespeare “X” Wonderbows are named after a national wilderness or forest. This famous Wonderbow is named after The Ocala National Forest in Florida. The Modern City of Ocala Florida is located near what is thought to have been the site of Ocale or Ocali, a major Timucua village and chiefdom during the 16th century. The extinct Timucua were the original Native People of Florida before the Seminole tribe.  The name of is believed to mean "Big Hammock"

Shakespeare - Root riser comparison
Root Bush Master, Game Master and Warrior Ad
In the early 1960s Shakespeare bows started to look similar to the Root Archery. Shakespeare Archery and Ernie Root began a collaboration that would last until the early 1970s. Many Root designed were used by Shakespeare and slightly modified. Root Brush Master became Shakespeare Kaibab; Root Game Master became Shakespeare Ocala. Root Warrior became Shakespeare Necedah. It used to be believed that Shakespeare bought Root in 1967 but this isn't true. Ernie Root continued to produce bows for Shakespeare, Browning, and other Archery companies as well as developing his own line of bows. Ernie Root to be an important influence in Shakespeare bow design. The very first bows after the  bore the name "Root, by Shakespeare". Shortly thereafter Ernie Root went to work for Shakespeare, and the Root name was dropped completely.
Shakespeare Necedah, Kaibab and Ocala were there top of the line bows. They used exotic wood for the riser and tip overlays. Bear Bows of the same period had more bells and whistles, complex laminated risers, complex tip overlays, and metal bear medallions. Because of the extras Bear bows were 40-60% more expensive for the customer and today a good Bear will fetch more in auction. However even Bear enthusiasts admit that the Shakespeare made excellent bows, some grudgingly acknowledge that they were some of the finest recurves of the era.
Lewis Kent's 1967 Ocala X17 with vintage sight
My 1968 62" 45# Ocala
I live about 50 miles from Ocala National Forest and I hunt in the region. I knew I had to have this bow. I had a bidding war to acquire my bow and needless to say, I paid much more than I wanted, but the bow came with two strings and 5 aluminum arrow so I felt OK about the price. When the bow arrives I was ecstatic. The bow was in near mint condition, the arrows were nearly new. I replaced the rest and was shooting in 20 minutes. My first four arrows were clustered within one inch of each other.  I was amazed by the speed and accuracy of the bow. Arrow speed of the Ocala rivals and surpasses most contemporary recurves!! It is a 45# bow but it delivered the arrow with authority. It shoots level at distances up to 35 yards. This is a stable easy shooting bow with deceiving power.

1970 Ocala Special X-14A
1971 Ocala Special X-14A

The Wonderbow Rare Ocala Special  X-14A
  • Ocala X14A with Pro Hunter sight 1970, 1971
  • 62 AMO
  • Recurve
  • Weight- 40, 45, 50, and 55 lbs
  • Riser-  Bubinga 
  • rest- Shakespeare "Hunter Rest"
  • Limbs- 2 inch wide  cinnamon brown and white glass
  • Tips- Benge and Cherry
  • Semi-pistol grip
  • Brace height- 7 7/8 inches
  • Sight window- 6 inches 1970, 6 1/2 inches 1971
  • Arrow speed- 12 shot average. 410 grain arrow
    42 lb. Ocala X14-A ----------   175.56 FPS

    The term "rare" often gets over used today but I think RARE aptly describes the X-14-A. The Ocala Special X-14A was designed as a hunting bow. It is a modified Ocala with longer limbs and a factory mounted Bow sight. This bow was manufactured for just two years and it is a very hard bow to find today. Since I have been collecting vintage bows I had not seen a single X-14A offered for sale, trade or auction. Then this summer my friend Lewis Kent spotted one on eBay and he won the auction. His bow is in excellent condition with the medal medallion, the original arrow rest and strike plate, it has the original bow sight which is missing the pins. The bow has a few minor scuffs but it is in beautiful shape.
    Lewis Kent's Rare Right Hand Ocala Special X-14A
    I was very happy for Lewis. Since I am a left handed shooter, I thought I would never see one of the bows for a lefty. Then January 2015 I stumbled upon another X-14A  on eBay which had been listed only as a Shakespeare Ocala. In the photos I noticed that it was the elusive X-14A and ,to my surprise, it was a left handed bow!! I won this bow with a last second high bid. Prices have really gone up lately on vintage bows and the price I won with was one of the highest I have paid for a Shakespeare Bow. I really didn't care. It was a bow I never thought I would own. The seller was incredible and the bow was in amazing condition. My bow is missing the bow sight however. 
    My Lefty Ocala X-14A
    Because the bow was in excellent condition, I began shooting it immediately. I have been shooting 20 yard 300 rounds with all of my bows. I decided to get this bow tuned and shooting 300 rounds. The bow is 42 pounds and lighter then my hunting bows yet heaver then my target bows. Incredibly after only a week of practice it had out score all of my hunting bows and it out scored all but two of my target bows!! Lewis's bow is a 55# bow, my optimum hunting weight. However I could use my bow for either hunting or tournament shooting!!
    Lewis lent me his bow to photograph for this blog. When I layed my bow next to his, I noticed a couple differences. The riser window in my LH is slightly larger than then his RH bow. The decals are also placed differently. As I was preparing to take some photos, it occurred to me that I might be shooting a very rare photograph, perhaps the only known photograph of a right handed and left handed Ocala Special X-14A together, an very rare confluence in the history of archery!!! 
    My Ocala X14-A LH with Lewis Kent's Ocala X14-A RH
    1971 Ocala X-14A magazine AD

My restored 60 lbs. Ocala is a beautiful and hard-hitting bow!!
A FEAT FOR MEAT by C.R. Learn, pp 18-22, 78,79. BOW AND ARROW Oct 1971
I just received 33 vintage Bow and Arrow Magazines which I won in auction. I was surprised to find another Ocala review. Enjoy!!! 

the author with his ram harvested with the OCALA 1967
May- June 1967

BOW & ARROW Magazine

pp. 14-18, 43, 59

Brush Beat for a Meat Sheep

 (but in Testing Shakespeare’s Ocala Bow, There Were Other Target Opportunities)

By Jim Dougherty

I was very pleased to have won this vintage Bow and Arrow Magazine in auction. It is loaded with great articles and vintage ads. It also had a wonderful review of the Shakespeare Ocala x17 Bow.
The article is much more than a bow review; it is a chronicle of several hunting trips to Santa Cruz Island, CA., in which the author used the new Ocala bow with a Bear Quiver, Shakespeare Rifled fiberglass arrows and Ben Pearson Deadhead Broadheads.
Because the article is quite long I have quoted excerpts which pertain to the Shakespeare equipment used.

“The Shakespeare Ocala was leaning against a tree behind me about six feet away…….it dawned on me that I had not even shot a single arrow out of this new Ocala…The sixty two inch Shakespeare power stick is relatively new in an ever broadening line of excellent products out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Mine had come marked fifty five – plus pounds, although I didn’t know plus what, I figured if it was over plus ten, I was in big trouble. Actually the bows from Shakespeare are marked in five-pound increments and I presumed the plus to mean that it was closer to sixty than the fifty-five.”

SHEEP HUNT- “……I loosed the first arrow from the Ocala….the broadhead struck the critter at the base of the skull”
 “ Dick Wilson of Shakespeare had sent me a dozen of their rifled Fiberglass arrows and believe me the shafts are as tough as hell, you cannot break one in two…..By dark I was completely satisfied with the performance of the Ocala……flat trajectory and it did well in the speed department too.”

PIG HUNT- “ By eight thirty the Ocala and I were again in the canyon where we had encountered all the pigs the night before…….Twenty minutes later I was at full draw on a nice boar…he was down and out within ten yards and once again the Ocala stood up to the pressure…..

“In the efficiency department the Ocala bow really has guts. In the case of the past ram, the arrow had driven in behind the right shoulder, through the heart and completely through the heavy shoulder bone of the left shoulder cutting it in two. In the case of the pig it had severed two ribs entering and broken the shoulder on the off side. The first victim, the meat sheep, had all but his head knocked clear off.
The arrows used all ran 520 – 550 grains and all had contacted solid bone. For the first in a series of hunts with the Ocala, it more than proved that the little sixty two inch hunter is a bow not to be discounted. Later shooting on the range proved that she held her own in the cast department, giving me long yardage point on and flat shooting characteristic for the hunting conditions. The limbs are a bit wider than many of today’s bows, being two inches wide and a six inch sight window is plenty for both bare bow and sight shooters…..They (his trophies) shall be established in my den above the classy Zebra Wood and Benge beauty that took them and my mind will always recall the sight of that one particular arrow meeting the big ram in full flight.
Dick Wilson and the Shakespeare people have no reason to be anything but proud of the strides they have made in modern archery tackle. The complete line of Shakespeare bows is cut from the same mold of quality that highlights the Ocala