Considering Traditional Archery? – The Tennessee Classic is the place for you.
TN Classic Sign
When I first heard about the ‘Tennessee Classic’, an annual traditional archery gathering near Nashville, I was immediately intrigued. I’ve been hunting a lot with a traditional Bear recurve bow in recent years, largely feeling things out and learning on my own. So a local event with experts with decades of experience was naturally appealing, and I made plans to attend the 19th Annual Tennessee Classic.
Image 2: Twin Oaks Racks
Image 3 : Twin Oaks Member Sign
Hosted by the Twin Oaks Bowhunters, the Classic is held on their property in Chapmansboro, TN. There’s a practice 3D range on the grounds, and a main 3D competition course consisting of 40 targets broken into an A and B trail of 20 targets each, winding through the property. The targets are all high end, lifelike Rinehart targets, and the course has great creativity and flavor, with setups ranging from bears raiding a tent, to a herd of caribou crossing a field.
Image 4: Bears Raiding a Tent Target
The Classic is a big, fun, family event in the traditional archery community, and even though the main event is Friday-Sunday, folks start arriving as early as the weekend before, camping all week and enjoying the grounds and camaraderie. ‘Pappy’, the main event organizer gave me fair warning that camping space may run out, and Ashley, Tripper and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and set up our RAM Rebel and X-Venture Trailer setup in the vendor area, showcasing a variety of Orion Coolers and representing Mountain Khakis, who also sent down a bunch of prizes for competitors and attendees. It was great to show a Made in Tennessee product at such a homegrown Tennessee event. This was the perfect event for campers to show off their Orion’s, and there were a few spread around the camping area, keeping food and drinks cold for their owners throughout the event, and being evening bench seats around their campfires. We had all of our food and drinks for our four days there packed into an Orion 45.
Image 5 : X-Venture Setup
After getting camp set up, I immediately wanted to check out the grounds as there was a lot going on. The main workshop was busy with folks building selfbows (bows carved from a single piece of wood) from osage blanks, and there were plenty of interesting member bows and trinkets on display. I was particularly impressed by some of the snakeskin backed bows. Experts are on hand to guide you through the whole process of building your own bow during the course of the event, and more than happy to lend a hand and share knowledge and expertise.
Image 6 : Shaping Self Bows
Image 7: Snakeskin Backed Bows
Nights are filled with stories by the fire, flint napping sessions, primitive fire lessons, late night bow building, and general old fashioned story telling.
Image 8 : Fireside Stories
Image 9: Late Night Flint Napping Sessions
It was great being able to camp right in our Orion booth space. When rains came we hung out under the awning, and when they cleared we had pleasant evenings in camp each night by the fire, cooking nice meals, and generally enjoying ourselves. There’s also a concession stand on site for folks too busy to cook. I got a lot of use out of my Buck Compadre Camp Tools, and there’s a short video linked below about them and how I keep them conveniently mounted to my Orion in camp.
Image 10 : Video – Fire Prepping With Buck Compadre Froe
Image 11: Cutting Strawberries on Buck Stowaway Cutting Board Kit
Image 12: Sitting down for Dinner
Image 13: Orion Mood Lighting (Thanks KC Metal Fab!)
We spent each night in the pop-up James Baroud tent on the X-Venture. Tripper gets really excited every night we lift him up into it, and likes ‘supervising’ people from the high ground every morning.
Image 14: Ashley and Tripper Waking Up
Image 15: Tripper Supervising
The event was buzzing the entire time, but I was eager to get a chance to shoot my first 3D course. On Friday evening, Ash and Tripper manned the booth and gave me a chance to do just that. I usually backpack hunt, so I wanted to shoot the course like I hunt, pack on, moving through the woods. I had my Eberlestock X2 and their longbow carrier setup and ready to go on my Yakima rack, grabbed it and hit the trails.
Image 16: Eberlestock X2 Rigged and Ready To Go
I’m shooting a Bear Takedown recurve, and had an absolute blast working my way through the course. Scores are taken based on where you hit the vital zone on each target, ranging from 5 in the larger outer rings to an 11 for the tiny ‘perfect’ shot.
I did the ‘B Course’ first, target stations 20-40. It started with a moose surrounded by wolves, and continued on with everything from buffalo in open fields to tight wooded shots through brush on whitetails. Some stations give you a choice of targets, some don’t. I was moving fast so I could get back to our booth, and when I encountered slower groups of archers they graciously let me shoot and move on. It was kind of a bummer to move so fast and not take more time on the course, but it was also nice to shoot in a more realistic hunting style, with pack on, sweat fogging up glasses, breathing hard and heart racing.
Image 17: Woodland Whitetail Shot
Image 18 : Group of Archers on the Trail
Image 19: Bears Raiding a Tent Target
Eventually I made my way around and back out to the ‘A Course’ to shoot targets 1-20. My favorite station by far was the caribou in the field. I think I need one of those targets in my backyard as a constant Alaska reminder. The last station was a mountain goat, something I hope to have the chance to hunt one day.
Image 20 : Herd of Caribou Target
Image 21: Last Target, Mountain Goat
Here’s a short video from the course as well.
When all was said and done, my scorecard was filled out and turned in. I have no idea how I did yet, and am curious how I stacked up to the other 600 or so archers who signed up. It doesn’t really matter at all, just shooting the course was an absolute blast.
Image 22: Scorecard Turn In
The last evening is a large pot-luck, with attendees all bringing a dish to share. It was great food and there was plenty to go around.
Image 23: Line for the Pot Luck Dinner
If you’re thinking of trying your hand at traditional archery, I can highly recommend attending this event. It’s scheduled for May 5-7, 2017, and there’s something to do for the whole family. Information can be found on the Twin Oaks Bowhunters website.
They also host the Traditional IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) Championships this year, another event I plan on attending, June 15-17. Maybe I’ll see you there by the fire.