An Archery Story From Los Angeles To Northern Turkey

Last May Ricardo and I traveled from Los Angeles to far away Tokat. We met wonderful people. We shot arrows together and participated in contests. Meanwhile we had the opportunity to visit Northern Turkey. Rico wore the traditional Turkish costumes and hat. Shot like Turks! He became a member of a group that practices Traditional Turkish Archery. The things I am going to tell now is the story if this interesting event.

Mary Orcutt

Rico take last information before contest from leader of his group in Karabuk Contest.

Rico take last information before contest from leader of his group in Karabuk Contest.

For the past several years, many people have asked me why Ricardo and I keep coming to Turkey. Beside the beautiful land and cities, and the sweet, kindly people, there is one big reason—Turkish Archery.

Ricardo has loved archery since his mom bought him a bow and arrow set when he was 5 years old living in Mexico City. He continued doing archery after he immigrated to California, and tried different styles of archery. Rico was involved in local archery contests, and usually did very well. A big change came a few years ago when some friends of ours went to Mongolia and described the horse archery contests they had observed there. Ricardo was swept away by internet videos showing men racing across the steppes shooting at targets. About the same time, another friend began working with Ricardo making longbows. These bows were really quite pretty, and all our friends and family have one or two. One day Ricardo called me to watch a video of a man making a bow in Turkey. “These Turks are related to the Mongolians” he told me. “This man makes Turkish bows. I want to make a Turkish bow.” So Ricardo bought a book, and tried to make a Turkish bow from the book’s detailed instructions, but he could not get it right. Ricardo was very frustrated, and he asked me to contact the man in the video from Turkey, who luckily spoke English. We found an email address for the fellow, who had Dr. in front of his name. I thought he was a professor. I wrote to him and told him of Ricardo’s bow-making endeavors. He told us to buy the book we already had…and that was that.

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Rico and Dr.Aksoy were with archers from Gokturk, Sıvas.

A year or so later Ricardo and I went to Turkey for a yoga retreat. We went to a few nice touristy places—museums in Istanbul, Antalya, Myra, Kos….Everywhere we went Ricardo asked everyone who spoke English if they knew about Turkish Archery. Sadly no one did. Our last day in Istanbul, Ricardo asked the hotel manager in Istanbul if he knew anything about Turkish Archery. He did not, but he said he would check the internet in Turkish language.

He found the name of the same Dr. we had contacted before. So I wrote Dr. Aksoy again, and told him Ricardo was still interested in Turkish archery and had tried to make bows, and even though we were in Turkey, we were leaving the next day, but we would like to know more about the sport. This time Dr. Aksoy realized Ricardo was serious, so he accepted him into Danishment group and we started reading and studying about Turkish archery. Ricardo bought some Grozer bows and began shooting with them. In a recent trip last year, a good friend gave Ricardo a thumb ring, which has been a huge challenge to learn and perfect. Ricardo has had the privilege of shooting with the Turkish archers in some of their tournaments. Turkish Archery is a combination of tradition and culture, and amazing fun. Turkish archery is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle. It is dedication and camaraderie. We feel so lucky and honored to be able to enjoy it.

Rico and me: in the Danishment Archery Field.

Rico and me: in the Danishment Archery Field.

Now Rico started to make syntethic Turkish Bow replicas. He worked with Dr.Aksoy in his workshop for a while. And we are training for big ETRAC which will be held in Biga in August.