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Briar and Bow Archery marks 40th anniversary By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Ritch Stolpe has a way of putting things in perspective.

“I retired at the age of 25 and opened an archery shop for something to do,” he smiles.

This year he is celebrating 40 years in business. His shop, Briar and Bow Archery, 405 Pearl St., has been a staple for area archery enthusiasts since that time.

Boasting three indoor archery ranges, thousands of archers have practiced their skills here over the years. Testament to those skills align one wall of the 20-yard range. Here examples of splitting arrows, sometimes called telescoping or “shooting a Robin Hood,” are posted with the archer’s name and date.

But there is little question that this is a shop for archery hunters. A full-bodied black bear greets customers at the door. Mounted deer heads and horns adorn the walls.

An accomplished hunter himself, Stolpe has hunted throughout the western states as well as Canada and Alaska for deer, antelope, bear, moose, caribou and elk.

The shop also features part of Stolpe’s extensive arrowhead collection, a display of bows dating back to the 1930s and a skull collection that he began when he was a child.

One of the many unique things about the shop is that every new arrow Ritch sells is custom made.

“I buy all the components in bulk and if somebody calls me and wants more made or wants some for Christmas, I can go the the computer and call up the record and know exactly the components they need for those arrows to continue a matched set,” he says.

“I’ve always told people the arrow is more important than the bow,” he says.

He also repairs arrows and bows.

Over the years he has served in a variety of capacities in archery organizations. He has also received one of the highest awards given a bow hunter in Iowa. In 1999 he was presented a lifetime achievement award by the Iowa Bowhunters Association. It was only the second such award given at the time since the IBA’s inception in 1957.

So how did his love for archery begin? [Read more…]


My Journey into Big Game Hunting By Gary Howey

Hunting Big Game is a great sport, especially when you’re a young kid that grew up in northeastern South Dakota.

  My journey into the sport of Big Game hunting started out rather innocently!  I grew up in Watertown, South Dakota and was always looking for another outdoor adventure, joining Cub and Boy Scouts and reading their publication from front to back as it had stories and information on camping and other outdoor activities.  Then I looked for and read every adventure book available, and especially liked those written by Jack London and similar writers.

  It was my way of getting away, going to places, I thought I would never have the opportunity to go to, and these books opened my eyes to a much larger world than I lived in.

  My idea of hunting when I was a kid growing up in Watertown was being out with my BB gun after stripped gophers in a pasture, stalking squirrels in the woods and rabbits along the Sioux River.

  I loved it, even though many times, I’d come home without firing a shot, yet it was still a great experience and what got me into hunting.  If I hadn’t done it, I may have never gotten into any other type of hunting.

  As I got older, ten or eleven, Watertown Recreation had archery classes at the auditorium, which I took and later became a member of the archery club.

  The archery equipment was furnished by Recreation and we had what we thought was Hi-Tech equipment, our thirty- pound fiberglass recurve bows that shot the best cedar arrows, a dollar could buy!

  We competed in an archery tournament in Minnesota and when we came to the line and looked at all the contestants with laminated wood bows with stabilizers and such; we darn near turned around and went home.

  We were shooting field targets that looked like they were set up a football field away and because our group had only shot short distances, inside the Watertown auditorium, we didn’t have a clue.

  Just as we were about to start the competition, it started to drizzle and after a couple of rounds, the glue holding the fletching on our cedar shafts let go and what little accuracy we had quickly went out the window.

  It’s a wonder I ever picked up a bow again, but I’m glad I did as hunting with a bow has allowed me to expand my hunting experience.

  What exactly is Big Game?  To some, Big Game may not be deer, but to me, someone who, as a youngster only hunted with a BB gun, having the opportunity to go after deer, antelope, bear and elk was Big Game hunting to me.   [Read more…]



M.O.-Game Keepers (1)With the warmer months of summer approaching quickly, archery season for big game is starting to feel not so distant. Some states have whitetail, elk, and mule deer seasons that start as early as mid August. It’s a cliché statement that’s it’s never too early to begin some practice shooting but it’s the truth. I committed last year to start shooting in June in preparation for archery season and a mid November hunt in the Midwest, I fully believe the extra practice paid off as I had to make a difficult 46 yd shot on the last day of the hunt.

  1. Practice

Weekly practice doesn’t have to be a chore, shooting a few dozen arrows 2-3 days a week can really help you stay tuned in to your equipment and form.

  1. Confidence

I still get excited anytime I’m fixing to get a shot on a whitetail, plenty of practice ahead of time gives you the confidence you can make the shot even with some buck fever. [Read more…]