PSE’s Frank Pearson’s Archery Teaching Career and he has Learned
Editor’s Note: When we asked Frank Pearson of Vail, Arizona, what he did for PSE, he said, “I’m a pain for the engineering department at PSE and Pete Shepley’s archery coach.” When we asked Pearson how he got to be Pete Shepley’s archery coach, Pearson explained, “Pete was going out to Africa to try and kill one of those things that could kill him. He asked me to coach him on his bow shooting technique, so he could be as accurate as possible when he had to face that critter that could kill him.” Pearson has lived through and competed in the Golden Age of Archery – starting to shoot archery in 1949 with his first bow, a longbow.
Throughout the years, 71 year old Frank Pearson has been a critical part of the research and development for many of the new and modern PSE bows we’re shooting today. But, he’s also competed in and won some of the most prestigious archery programs in the nation, shooting at the highest level of archery. After becoming the pro of the archery pros, Pearson decided to step back and shoot on the amateur level, not because he had to, but because that’s what he chose. Today he owns and operates the Frank Pearson School of Archery (www.frankpearson.com), and has trained thousands of bow shop owners and the heads of bow departments in major sporting good stores all over the country how to set up bows and teach archery to their clients who come in to buy archery equipment.
As Pearson explains, “I started off shooting a York longbow and wooden arrows that my neighbor gave me and taught me how to use them. I hunted with that longbow.” Back in those days, Pearson’s longbow was used primarily for food gathering and he even took a deer in New Jersey at about 8 yards. “Back then, we didn’t have sights, and I think that the sight is the worst thing that’s ever happened to archery,” Pearson explains. “I equate bowhunters using sights to the PGA (Professional Golf Association) allowing golfers to use balls that easily can be hit 400 yards. If golfers had balls that would travel 400 yards, then many nice golf courses would be obsolete. When the sight was added to the bow, just about every form of archery competition at that time was eliminated.”
According to Pearson, because the sight eliminated the archer’s need to accurately and instinctively calculate the flight of the arrow to the target, all the skill set that was required to be an accurate archer at that time was eliminated. With the longbow, there was a marriage between the archer and the bow and their ability to work together as one unit. But, when a sight was put on the bow, all the muscle memory and the instant calculation of distance and arrow flight that took place in an archer’s mind, was no longer necessary. “When outdoorsmen only had the longbow, I saw some really great archers in competition shooting,” Pearson recalls. “One of the most amazing archers back then was Howard Hill. If you go back and read about him or look at some of his archery videos, I think you’ll be just as impressed today as I was back then. During my youth, I’d shoot 100 arrows a day, just like Howard Hill, Fred Bear and Ben Pearson.”
Frank Pearson hunted mostly rabbits and deer, but he also duck hunted and pheasant hunted with his bow, and no, he didn’t ground pound (shoot the pheasants on the ground or shoot ducks sitting on the water). Pearson remembers that, “I often shot one or two ducks on my way to school. Back then, the most dominant duck where I lived was the black duck. The school nurse would let me put the ducks in her refrigerator until school ended for the day. Then I’d take the ducks home and clean them. If you could shoot a black duck when he jumped off the water, you could shoot a pheasant just as easily, because they had the same flight pattern. When a duck jumps off the water or a pheasant jumps into the air, they usually jump about 8 feet high, before they start to fly. Generally they’ll almost stall out for about 2 or 3 seconds, (stop in mid air) before they start to fly in a certain direction. I’ve watched movies of Fred Bear shooting pheasants out of the air with a longbow. He always took the shot at about 8 feet off the ground, when the pheasant changed direction, from going straight up, to flying parallel with the ground. That’s the same technique I used to shoot pheasants and ducks as a boy. I didn’t know anybody else in my group of friends who hunted this way, because they all had shotguns. But, I just loved to shoot arrows, and I practiced constantly.” Pearson explained that as long as he didn’t have a sight on his bow he could shoot accurately at almost any distance. “With a sight, you have to know the exact distance you are from the target. When you shoot the longbow, you just pull the bow back, visualize the projection of the arrow and turn the bow loose. I got pretty proficient with my longbow out to 50 and 60 yards. Back then, I was using a Bear Razorhead broadhead.”
But, as changes to the archery industry came about, Frank Pearson didn’t fight the changes; he embraced them and became a part of the evolving archery industry.
Tomorrow: PSE’s Frank Pearson Became an Archery Pro in 1966
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