Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Collect Shakespeare and Root Bows?

Why do I collect Root / Shakespeare Archery? 
by Larry Vienneau
  • After all, there are many archery companies that outlasted Root and Shakespeare Archery. 
  • There are many that were founded long before Ernie Root and Shakespeare Archery. 
  • There were many that have more collector interest.
  • There are many archery producers that made more lasting technological contributions, so why this interest in Root / Shakespeare? 

                Why Collect Root and Shakespeare Bows?
I was a child during the late 1950s and early 1960. My summers were spent in the woods, making my own bow and arrows and chasing imaginary villains with my “lethal weapons” My parents sent me off to camp and I soon found I had a knack for archery. I had always struggles with school so for me the recognition of my abilities with the bow helped my self-esteem immensely. Summer school camp was books in the morning, fishing, canoeing and bows in the afternoon. I was handed a solid fiberglass bow and was told to shoot. I noticed the name “Shakespeare” and remembered something about a story of how archers helped win the crown of England. I struggled with school but I was a bright kid. “Shoot the bow kid!” was the order barked at me. I shot and hit the target dead center. “Luck” was the barked reply. I repeated the shot exactly and the barking stopped. Later that summer I won my first trophy in an archery competition. It was my first feeling of achievement and self-worth. Archery would remain an important part of my life.

During my adolescent years archery remained on the outskirts.  I finished art school and began my life as a starving artist. I learned to make bows again and started to literally put food on the table with them. After years of hard work I was hired to my dream job of teaching art in Alaska. My love of archery was fully reawakened again. I made long bow, recurves and a few native style bows. I shot in competitions and amassed a small collection of trophies and metals.  I collected and refurbished vintage bow but Shakespeare never crossed my path again until one long late fall moose hunt. It was cold as it often is in Alaska. I had been working a ridge near a slough that had lots of moose sign. It was late and I was drained. I decided to head out before I lost the light. As I crisscrossed my trail I spotted a glint of white near a large spruce stand. Upon close inspection I realized it was a very old moose kill, there was a remnant of a skull with the antlers removed.  That was when I noticed Shakespeare. He was resting against a tree exactly where he had been placed forty or more years earlier. The hunter had placed the bow there while he field dressed his moose and while he made several trips to pack the meat. In his exhaustion he left his bow and it stood there for decades unmoved, waiting. It was aged and cracked from the relentless cold of Alaska’s winters. Proudly the name of Shakespeare emerged from the mold and grime. It was a Parabow and its draw weight was readable at 55# enough power for a well-placed wooden arrow to take down a moose. I never got my moose that year but I did have that bow. I knew it could never be shot again but it became my first Shakespeare bow.

 I lost the bow years later in a car break-in; I lost that bow and several others that I stupidly left in my car. But that Shakespeare fiberglass bow was special. It stood unyielding for decades, waiting me to come along. I started collecting again a few years ago and soon found a rekindled love for the Root / Shakespeare bow I had known as a child. So when I hear “Why collect Shakespeare?, they aren’t worth much are they?” 
I shake my head and chuckle because I know that they are priceless. 
Chris Libby's wonderful article on Fiberglass Bows.
Early 1960s Shakespeare Parabows

© Copyright, Larry Vienneau Jr.
All rights reserved.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shakespeare Wonderbow THE MANCOS model x40.

One of Shakespeares Last Bows?
by Larry Vienneau

Like all of the Wonderbows, this one was named after a wilderness region. Mancos is a Spanish word meaning "one armed or one handed, crippled". The name Mancos refers to the crippled condition of the Spanish explorers' horses after they crossed the San Juan Mountains. Mancos Region was once a large National Forest but is now a complex of Nature Preserves -Mancos State Park, Montezuma National Forest and Juan National Forest in Southwestern Colorado and is a magnet for the year-round outdoor enthusiast.

Initially a 58" bow, it was a cheaper version of The Necedah x28 and The Cascade x29 with no tip overlays, and a slightly different riser shape. The riser appears to be a mahogany or cherry. It is a surprisingly well designed bow, and was intended as entry level bow for the bow-hunter. Introduced in 1975, it never became popular because it was marketed at the dawn of the compound bow and it was one of the last models produced by Shakespeare. Shakespeare was a multifaceted Cooperation and the company closed its archery line in 1976 when it was obvious that archery would be dominated by the compound bow.

There is very little information available about this bow. Most information can be found on auction sites and blogs. It appears that a 54” AMO version was also introduced with Olive green limbs, the date uncertain possibly 1976, it seems to be a scarce model and it could be one of the last bows made by Shakespeare.

MANCOS Model x40

AMO 58” & 54” AMO (scarce variety)
Brace height -8 ¾”.
Weights #40 #45, #50,  #55
Limbs 1 5/8 wide
Shooting window 5 ¼ inch
Black Glass. Green Glass (scarce variety)
Arrow speed-12 shots average, 410 grain arrow, 55# bow 176.18 FPS

I own a handsome Mancos Black Glass 58 AMO #55, I have noticed the price on this bow has increased in auctions lately; I paid doubled what I expected but the bidding is getting higher than it was just a year ago. ( Hunger Games affect?) I have found this bow to be extremely easy to shoot, with very little hand shock and no stacking at 28”.  It is accurate and hard hitting. I enjoy this bow very much and would recommend it to the novice or expert.

My 55# Mancos

October 4th 2012: Today I came home to find my Mancos bow had arrived. It is in excellent condition but needs a little work. I open the mail and discovered that my Mancos Ad had also arrived....a happy coincidence!!!
1975 Mancos Ad
Green Glass variety

© Copyright, Larry Vienneau Jr.
All rights reserved.