Reflection: Cultivating A Thankful Heart

How is it that Thanksgiving can be one of the hardest times to be thankful? It’s my favorite time of year. I get to sit in tree stands, fill my freezer, and be in the hunting mindset more than any other time of year.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have completely missed the joy of so many Thanksgiving holidays. Even when years have been cringingly difficult, there have been things that I could have easily said, “You know, this really was a blessing.” It might have been some challenge that was overcome, or even a season of suffering that taught priceless lessons. The jewel was found in what remembering God’s faithful work did for my spirit. Only recently have I begun to understand the value of reflecting on the previous year in order to orient my thoughts and cultivate a thankful heart.

Taking a pause to reflect on our blessings this time of year can help us set the tone for the year to come.

Jesus perfectly understood the truest value of taking a moment to pray as we see multiple examples throughout scripture of him withdrawing to a desolate place. When we pray, as he has taught us (Luke 11:2), we remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness, his power,his provision, his love, and so many other things. That’s reflection.  

Michael Hyatt calls reflection a “discipline of the heart”. What is the purpose of discipline? It’s transforming something that is untamed and unpredictable into something that is powerful and useful. Reflection on God’s nature and His blessings trains our hearts and minds that are so easily distracted and unpredictable and aligns them with the thoughts and will of God. When this happens, the fog of all the neediness and negativity we so often dwell on dissipates.  

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”

H.A. Ironside

Stop and Focus

In our culture, distractions are glorified. People seem to brag about how much time they spend aimlessly scrolling on their favorite social media app. It’s no wonder we fail to be able to reflect and cultivate thankfulness when all that we seem to be exposed to is marketing strategies and things we don’t have already. If you really want to be thankful for the ways God has blessed you, rather than having the world demand of you externally, you need to sit down and demand of yourself internally. Sometimes we have to preach to ourselves in order to draw out that thankfulness. In order to do that, you have to put yourself in an atmosphere that promotes reflection. I do a lot of my reflection when I’m on a tractor at work, while I’m in my taxidermy shop, or even in the quiet moments of the morning before my family gets up. Making a point to create a focused moment to consider all that God has done in your life is a must.

Consider Lasting Outcomes, Not Temporary Circumstances.

I call them “yeah buts”. You have experienced them. Maybe you’ve been one. I have.  They are the circumstantial Debbie Downer’s of every outcome. Temporary circumstances can overshadow priceless outcomes if we let them. God’s faithfulness to us is shown in many ways, but one of the most beautiful is how he sees an entire situation from beginning to end, and uses each variable to an outcome that is for His glory. Thankfulness through reflection will burst forth if we will do our best to consider the outcomes of the circumstances God brings us through, rather than the circumstances themselves.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

The power of Psalm 29:2 is staggering. “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” God is the one who sees us through so much, blesses us in so many ways, and preserves us to the end. As we reflect on all the blessings of the year, we glorify God as we express our satisfaction in Him. Sharing what we are thankful for with others and praising God is the right response to his action in our lives. We have to let that out. It’s goes against the nature of a plant to keep its fruit from producing. John Piper said, “Thankfulness with the mouth stirs up thankfulness in the heart.” It goes against the nature of a Christian to try to stifle God’s glory in praise and worship.

Cultivating a truly thankful heart can be a perilous battle. Thankfulness is a daily quality that preserves our joy and glorifies God well through His people.

What are you thankful for? Leave a Comment!

A Six Day Slugfest: Young Bucks, Hot Does, and The Pain of Lockdown.

I was pumped about spending six days in Northeast Missouri the week prior to the regular firearms season. Everything seemed like it was going to be absolutely perfect! Long story short, I got quite the education.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the rut this year and actually put quite a bit to the test with regard to several theories and old wives-tales. The most helpful resources I found recently was Drury Outdoors 13 series, Bill Winke’s “Chasing November” Series, and Mark Kenyon’s blog Wired to Hunt.

The first three days of hunting were lights out for the most part. I saw 10-20 deer per sit, but I also noticed that all but one buck I encountered were immature. Where had the big boys gone? It’s a phenomenon called “Lock Down.”

I had heard the term lockdown before, but was hesitant to believe it. Simply put, it is a small phase of the rut with major implications for a hunter that only has a small window of opportunity to hunt. Estrous does will find a cozy and isolated area to bed down for the day. This is where a mature buck or bucks will stay, along with circling immature bucks until time to feed.

After harvesting a fawn for the freezer Tuesday night, I chose to let the meat hang for one entire day, and butcher on Thursday morning to give my brother the opportunity to have his pick of the property. That afternoon, my suspicions were confirmed. Two mega bucks had bedded with a doe directly under my stand at some point during the day and were planning to hold tight until dark. As I walked in, I got quite the show as all three exploded from the brush and ran across a cut bean field where I never saw them again.

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The afternoon wasn’t a waste, as I proceeded to see 8 more immature bucks pass through the same place the doe had been bedded.

When Friday came, it was as if someone had flipped a switch. Activity absolutely tanked. Neither my brother, nor myself saw any more rut activity for the remainder of the weekend.

Saturday morning brought the sound of distant, and actually very infrequent rifle shots. I was blessed to harvest a 10 point buck that my brother jumped as he was on his way back to the truck for a snack break.

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What are the takeaways? First, if you are truly serious about harvesting a mature buck during the lockdown phase of the rut, plan for long days on the stand that are filled with very little. The waiting game is the “slugfest”. Day after day in the stand seeing nothing will wear on you. Second, if you will be hunting for a series of more than two or three days, have multiple stand locations that work with the wind you are given. This will prevent your spot from being burned out by your presence. Finally, be prepared to walk away empty handed. My family processes and eats every deer we kill. It’s a staple around our home. I don’t like going home empty handed, so because this property isn’t “managed” for deer, and there was clearly an abundance of immature bucks, harvesting the buck I did was justified in my mind. Had I been looking for a trophy class animal, I would have simply gone home with an unpunched tag.

All in all, this was the most fun trip I’ve been on since I began hunting. I was blessed to be able to take my whole family out into the blind with me for a couple sits and we had a great time visiting with some wonderful friends. I look forward to doing it all over again next year.

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Friday Post Rundown!

Isn’t it frustrating? Our social media newsfeed gets so filled up with things that we DON’T want to read, that we miss the things we really DO want to read… you know, like JCS posts!

In case you have fallen victim to this, like I so often have, here’s a rundown of the last few posts on the blog! Take your time and enjoy!

  1. Staying Spiritually Healthy During Hunting Season
  2. “De-Guilting” Your Next Outdoor Adventure
  3. Telling Your Story
  4. Setting a Scripture Reading Goal
  5. A Full Quiver

In case you are actually missing JCS posts, I would recommend visiting the JCS Facebook Page and taking a look around. I also recommend making sure you are signed up for our email newsletter! Have a great weekend and be sure to email us those awesome hunting pictures and stories!

 

A Full Quiver

Guest Post by Brian Turner

New London, PA

As I write this it’s 8:45 on Sunday evening, the day before Round 2 Antlerless tags are available. For whatever reason the second causes me to pause and ponder what lies ahead in the season to come. The first round is simply saying “yes, I will be hunting this year and I’m hoping to harvest at minimum at least one doe. Round 2 is more of a “this is how I hope my season plays out”, it’s more of an “I plan to spend some significant time in the woods to get the most out of this year”. It’s a commitment to the season and not one that I take lightly.

My wife of 16 years and I are blessed with 6 children so there is a lot of bidding for our attention. Any time away from the house needs to be intentional. There is a constant balancing act that goes on in my mind when I’m in the woods. Even though 90% of the time I have one of my children with me I also have the weight of knowing that my wife is home alone with the other five children still doing what needs to be done to keep the home fires burning. This awareness also convicts me even further to make the most out of our time. Whether I’m in the stand with my 14 year old son teaching him more of the finite lessons of hunting or I’m in the ground blind with my 4 year old daughter who is pacing around in circles and keeps asking me in a “whisper” if “I see a deer yet?”. I try to look at every trip to the woods as an opportunity to observe, and not just the deer. I get to observe my children as they take in the experience in on a one on one scenario. It’s a time to bond and an opportunity to grow closer with the children through a shared experience.

If you were to view the interaction from a third parties perspective you might think we are sitting there quietly bored out of our minds desperately hoping for a glimpse of a deer, any deer! In reality it’s the subtle things that make the trip memorable. Sometimes it will be a simple noise we hear off in the back ground that catches both our attentions. Our posture quickly straightens up and we look at each other with our eyes wide open saying “did you hear that?”, without actually using any words. All the sudden our sleepy morning comes alive quickening our heart rate to the point where I’m concerned that it’s going to jump out of my chest. Only to realize that it’s not a 10 point buck coming out of the thicket to stand broad side at 15 yards but an ornery overfed squirrel. Or it could be the quiet observation of watching 3 red fox pups playfully chasing each other around the hill side or even the slow waddle of the twitchy ground hog as it scurries back to the safety of its hole along the fence row. The dynamic of hunting with your children changes your perspective of everything.

This outlook is a far contrast from my first season five years ago. I did all the scouting I could, set up cameras and spent every free moment in the woods. I watched all the big name tv hunters, read all the right magazine and books. It was a strictly selfish venture; I was going to harvest a deer regardless of what else suffered in my absence. I would occasionally take one of the kids here and there just so I could justify heading into the woods but I was so focused on deer I was missing the opportunities to create lasting memories. My first year hunting I went the entire year without harvesting a deer. I had a few close encounters but never took the shoot. At the end of that year I did away with the cameras along with the antlered deer obsession. I started to focus on the experience more than the outcome. Don’t get me wrong I still anticipate the possibility of harvesting a deer every time I enter the woods but for different reasons.

My second season started with a renewed vision and I was determined to make the most of every opportunity with the kids. The first deer I ever shot at was a doe only 15 yards from my blind and my oldest daughter was there with me. We were over the moon when the arrow hit and she took off running. So much so that we rushed it, got out of the blind to early and ended up bumping her. We backed out for the night and I took off work the next day. I spent the entire day trying to find her but sadly the blood dried up heading towards the fence line of the neighboring property. She was never to found. So within 24 hours I went from being on cloud nine to that gut wrenching, up all night unable to sleep torture of losing your first deer. It was devastating but looking back it ended up being a learning experience that I got to share with my daughter. I learned that day of the responsibility we have to teach our children how to live life when we succeed and more importantly when we fail. So later that season when a rutting 8 point buck came in at full steam with his head down and walked 25 yards from me he become my first ever deer harvested. I was beyond grateful and completely humbled. That is what I got to share with my kids that day, a moment in time I will never forget.

That was four years ago but every time I enter the woods whether it’s with one of the kids or I’m hunting solo that day I expect to capture a moment that I can store away and cherish. Sometimes it’s something as simple as walking to the blind across the freshly cut corn field and having to hold my 4 year olds hand because she is having a tough time managing the irregular shaped stalks. Or sitting in the stand with my son watching him watch the hustle and bustle of the farm and not caring about the deer walking 10 yards behind us. One day I thought it would be a good idea to take the two younger boys out to sit in the blind, which ended up being more of a let’s play with our toys on the dirt floor and see how loud of a noise we can make as we brush our jackets against the Velcro window screens. Then there was that unforgettable evening when my oldest son took aim at his first doe and after making a perfect shot we watched her take 10 steps, lie down and pass peacefully.

Over the past couple of years and more than ever heading into this year I am looking forward to those types of moments. Sure it will be great to fill the freezer again this year, we do have a lot of mouths to feed and yes if another November Buck comes running my way he will be included in our memories. As I sit here and triple check that I’ve filled everything out correctly, placed every stamp on it’s appropriate spot, I wrote my check out and signed it then stuff it in the familiar pink envelope. I now view these as more than applications to harvest deer. They are a reminder for me to take a moment, to slow down, to take it all in and to cherish those memories whether I can mount them on the wall or not.

 

Setting a Scripture Reading Goal

I have learned that when it comes to any outdoor endeavor, setting a goal is one of the best things I can do. It forces me to make my time in the field purposeful. The same principle has proven itself true when it comes to disciplining myself in my Bible reading.

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

It’s interesting that we forget that diligently planning to achieve a goal in our scripture reading can help us develop a much more profitable time spent there.

By setting scripture reading goals, we establish a road map for our life of study. When you read, what are you looking for? How are you absorbing the scripture’s value? You can begin setting a scripture reading goal by following these steps:

  1. Choose a Text to Study. Be Specific.
  2. Set a Realistic Date and Time to Begin Your Goal.
  3. Set A Realistic Date and TIme to Complete Your Goal.
  4. Tell Someone That will Hold You Accountable About Your Goal.

Choose a Text To Study. Be Specific.

When you are deciding on a scripture reading goal, choose a text that is appealing to you. You may be interested in the historical writings of the old testament, or you may want a more in-depth study about the fledgling church in the book of acts. Whatever it is, choose a text, not a topic, and go for it!

Choosing a specific text to study will keep you from running down rabbit trails while you study the way a topical study can.  The goal of studying a specific text is to understand context, use that understanding to gather the author’s purpose, identify the primary idea of the text, and apply that primary idea. This leaves little time for “chasing rabbits”. Staying focused is critical to achieving our goal.

Setting Realistic Start and End Dates

Start and End Dates are the bookends of your goal. They are built in accountability. Making them realistic is critical. Saying, “I’m going to cover the entire book of Isaiah in one week” is vague and most likely unachievable for most people. A successful goal looks more like, “I would like to spend 30 minutes per day beginning on Sunday this week, studying Isaiah 53,  and complete that study on the following Sunday”. This well-focused approach establishes a pattern and scope that will allow you to be more efficient and committed to your goal.

Tell Someone   

I am always amazed at what happens when I share my goals with others. There is a built in sense of “must do” when you vocalize your goal. This could even be a way to study God’s word with another person. I recommend telling this person what your specific goal is and asking them to check in periodically to make sure you are pursuing the completion of your goal.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

Finally

I’ve never met a Christian that didn’t want a more meaningful time in God’s word. What’s painful to me is that I’ve also experienced so many that have never been taught how to study God’s word for themselves. Setting a study goal is the first step toward a flourishing time with God during your day.

Hunting season is a perfect time to set a new scripture reading goal! Use your time in the field to maximize your focus and cover some major ground in your study! Is there a practice you have adopted that has helped energize your Bible study? Share your idea below! 

I want to help you get your first goal started! Click the link to download my free PDF template! My Hunting Season Scripture Goal

Telling Your Story

I love  seeing the garage door sliding open before I even get out of the truck after a hunt. Typically, it’s my little boy coming to get the adventure update. “Did you get the big one dad? Did you see anything?” More often than not, as is the nature of bowhunting, the answer is, “Not this time buddy, but soon.” Then I try to explain what the reasons may have been for coming home empty handed.

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Romans 10:14 is a passage that has been seared into my conscience over my years in ministry. It’s clear that God has a prescribed the way by which his glory and the good news of Jesus is to spread throughout the ages of this world. If you are in Christ, you have an important story to tell. It’s as unique as your last time in a tree stand or duck blind. Sharing how Jesus has rescued you from your sin and made you right before his father is part of the way God has designed the good news to go forward.

It’s important for me to share my adventure stories with my little boy because it lets him in. He is absorbed into the wonder and mystery of an amazing experience. The same is true when we share our own testimony of what God has done. Sharing our salvation story invites those who hear into how our lives operate by God’s spirit. I share hunt stories with my son because I want him to experience the adventure for himself some day. That is also our hope for sharing the story of Jesus with others.

When was the last time you spoke to a co-worker about how great your church service was on Sunday? When was the last time you told someone in your life about a recent blessing? Not in a boastful way of course, but in a way that points someone to considering their own blessings. The same way we should share the wonder and amazing things of creation, we should be living a life that draws others into the wonder and glory of God. He loves them and cares so deeply for them that he sent his son to die for their salvation. So we truly must ask, “How will they know if they are never told?” The truth is, I would have never wanted to go hunting if my grandfather had not told me his hunting stories even before I was old enough to go myself.

God’s prescription for his people to be saved is the reverse of Paul’s idea in Romans. Preaching the word, to those who will hear(hearing being the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit), results in the hearer to call on His name for salvation. Sportsmen are some of the best story tellers in the world. Perhaps we should begin telling the greatest story of all.

Need Help Sharing Your Testimony? Click Here for a free PDF on how to organize and talk about your salvation story.

I love hearing about what God is doing in people’s lives. Share your story in the comments below!

 

“De-Guilting” Your Next Outdoor Adventure

The dirty work of battling misplaced guilt.

I’ll never forget struggling with “hunter’s guilt”. I was sitting in my favorite deer stand in Northeast Missouri. The weather was perfect, and I felt like all I needed to do was wait long enough and success was going to find me. About twenty minutes after daylight, the Holy Spirit revealed different plans. My relationship with my wife was already strained because we had just had our second child and I was not good at communicating my hunting schedule with her. We had all traveled three hours from home on what was supposed to be a “family fun weekend”, but it turned into her doing what she could have done at home while I sat in a tree all day.

After that trip I had to come up with a solution that would fit my family’s schedule and co-inside with the best time of year to hunt. The main reason for all of this? I needed to be able to hunt without the guilt of knowing my responsibilities were not being well-fulfilled. I’m now thankful that, while my plan isn’t perfect, it has certainly helped de-rail tension and squelch the guilt I once dealt with every time I walked out the door to go hunting or fishing.  

I love the freedom of Proverbs 12:24-25. Proverbs 12:24-25

“[24] The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.[25] Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,but a good word makes him glad. (ESV)”

So much of battling misplaced guilt in our lives begins with being diligent in handling our blessings. Here are the keys to helping you overcome “adventure guilt” by way of diligence.

Establish Clarity

A lot of my guilt was attached to an unclear goal when it came to hunting. I just wanted to “go huntin’”.  I was not doing my homework when it came to the most productive time to hunt. My hunting calendar looked like it had been hit by a shotgun blast. If you’re married, your income is not dependant on hunting, or you have a job that requires intense planning to be absent, it’s unwise to plan your adventure based on a “whim”. Why? Because your absence doesn’t just affect you. The overlapping circles of our life situations require us to be present and reliable. When we remove ourselves from those moments, even for a play or two, our respective teams can suffer.

Do you want to kill a big buck? Do your research and start with the calendar. Ask the question, “When are big bucks in your area typically most active?” Then, schedule your time away around that time. Successful or not, this allows your goal to be clear and provides time for you and the other areas of your life to be prepared.

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Talk It Over

Do this in order of priorities. Your family and their schedule should be considered first and foremost. Are your kids really “ok” with you being gone hunting or fishing on their birthday? Is your wife really “ok” with you not going trick-or-treating with her and the kids? Possibly not. It’s hard, trust me, I get it. I learned my lesson when my wife scheduled my own birthday party, invited all my closest friends, and I didn’t show up for it. I like to sit down with my wife and sketch out No, Maybe, and Yes hunting days. I also like to do this with my Church and job Calendars. This lets me put an appropriate amount of planning into being gone from each responsibility.

Go the Extra Mile

If there is anything to me that is most annoying while I’m on vacation or on a hunting or fishing trip, it’s leaving loose ends at work or home. The more things I leave unattended and do not finish up on my to-do list before I leave, the more likely I the chance that I’ll be receiving a panicked phone call or email while I am gone. It’s better to give each area a few extra hours before you head to the field to be sure things are tied up well than it is to leave a mess. Leaving messes only makes bigger messes while you are gone. It could mean creating an “out of office” auto-responder for your email box, or getting those critical honey do’s and repairs finished up at home that have been looming for months. Being a blessing to others before you leave means making life as easy as possible for them while you are gone.   

Go!

After you have made your intentions clear, your responsibilities have been properly handled, and your No, Maybe, and Yes days have been agreed to, now you can enjoy the freedom of a guiltless adventure! GO! Sometimes, adventure guilt is merely a lack of accepting freedom. One of the best things about going to the wild is the unplugged nature we can find ourselves in, so take advantage of it! Assign your technology one or two actions; a daily check-in call home if possible, and one email/social media check per trip. Beyond that, do your best to be present in the moment.  

And Finally…

Take time to grow spiritually while you are in the field. Don’t treat time in creation as though it’s only benefit is separating yourself from the haste of your life. Coupled with praying, journaling, and scripture, time spent outdoors can be formative for our spirit. I’ve created a PDF for maintaining SpiritualHealth while you are afield that I’d love for you to use. It’s free, and it has helped me tremendously to make the most of my trips.

Would You Like The Free Downloadable outline for this post? Click Here!

How do you cover the bases at home while you are on your adventures? Leave a comment! 

Staying Spiritually Healthy During Hunting Season

Hunting is demanding. Time that could be spent with family, or spent on the “honey-do” list are admittedly replaced with partial or entire days in the field. Even more than this, the marathon of the fall and winter hunting seasons can cause us to slip into a fruitless spiritual pattern. Hunters are often on the road, and have adjusted schedules that can cut away time that would normally be spent growing in grace.

The great thing about hunting is that it doesn’t have to dominate our schedule, or catch us on our heels if we plan accordingly. With a bit of intentional planning, we can still get plenty of time hunting. We can even hunt in a way that doesn’t cause us to end our season feeling drained of energy and guilty with a pile of work to catch up on.

Plan Your Season Well

Proverbs 6:6-7 says, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. Without any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her food in summer, and gathers her sustenance in harvest.”  

We all want a prosperous season without the tension of guilt that comes with poor planning. In order to overcome it, we have to take responsibility for it. We have an entire year to prepare our calendar for the upcoming season. That’s plenty of time to speak with your family, your boss, and those overseeing your responsibilities at your church to make sure that your absence will not be overburdensome. Here are some practical steps to cover the bases:

  1. Establish when you absolutely CANNOT hunt.
  2. Establish the “maybe” days, and be prepared to be flexible.
  3. Then locate the “YES” days.

“Cannot Hunt” days are the Family, Job, Church days that are, in truth, more valuable that spending time in the field.

“Maybe Days” are those days that you will have to make a judgement call based on weather or other conditions.

“Yes” Days are the days your calendar can be blacked out to go all in!

Make the Most of Your Trip

Once you have established your hunting calendar, make the first thing you plan how you will grow in the Lord on every trip. It’s amazingly difficult for me to divide my attention when I’m hunting. Yes, that means to focus on spiritual things rather than what’s going on around me in the tree stand. I have found over the years that if I go out with a defined goal of seeking the Lord while I’m out, even without a harvest, I’m much more satisfied. I try to go after three things while I’m in the field:

  1. Set a scripture reading goal for each time out.
  2. Journal 3-5 applications from my reading.
  3. Commit to when and how I will apply those things.
  4. Create a prayer list to follow up on when I return.

Don’t Forget to Share.

You can be a true blessing to those around you when you return from hunting if you will share what God has taught you through your time in his word and in prayer.

The key to maintaining spiritual health during hunting season, or even growing unlike ever before,  is great planning. How will you grow this season? Share how you pursue spiritual growth in the field by commenting below! I’d love to hear from you!

Want to get the free PDF download of how to stay spiritually healthy during hunting season? Click the link! SpiritualHealthJCS

Icons Do Exist: An Inside Look at Easton Technical Products

Any time the word iconic is used in any industry, I’m skeptical. A true icon is a paragon of what it represents. It blazes the trail for others to follow. An icon creates, lives, promotes, and ensures that its legacy will live on. So many fall short.

As a bow-hunter, it’s difficult to imagine Bowhunting without the Easton logo.If you haven’t had any interaction with archery, you have most likely been in some sort of contact with Easton Technical Products. It has been seen across the sports world, from tent poles to bicycling and remains a leading equipment maker across the hockey and baseball culture. What’s more, Hoyt archery, Delta Mckenzie, BEEMAN, Tru-Fletch and The Easton Foundation, all fall under the Easton name.

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A look from the balcony of the indoor shooting range.

While Easton’s versatility even reaches into surgery rooms and military applications, its primary focus is rooted in the legacy Doug Easton began building in 1922. The process has changed drastically, but the goal has held fast. Easton strives to produce the most dependable, accurate, and innovative arrows in the world.

It’s an enormous claim, but the track record speaks for itself. As the world experienced the grandeur of the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Easton Technical Products watched the arrow made in their factory set the torch ablaze. Easton arrows have also been used by Olympic medal winners in the last eight Olympic Summer games. That’s no small issue when you consider Olympic shooters worldwide, in a personal-preference laiden sport, choosing an entirely American-made product to propel them to victory on archery’s grandest stage.

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Shooting Line at the Easton Foundation Shooting Facility

Even though I had no clue what to expect when I pulled into the Easton Technical Products lot, and my knowledge was limited to my own use of their arrows on the range and in the field, I had one goal. I wanted to find out what qualities made a company like Easton stand out among so many other archery industry companies. It never fails when you attend a trade show where Easton is present, there is always a crowd at their booth, and there is always some sort of exciting news surrounding their product.

History 

It’s reported that Doug Easton would make approximately 300 wooden arrow shafts before being able to find one dozen shafts that were of the same weight and straightness. Leave it to an engineer to determine that the accuracy of aluminum could be more efficiently replicated and how that could be done.

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From the Easton Foundation Facility Museum

By the 1940’s Doug Easton had developed his first proprietary equipment to produce this new breed of arrows, and the archery world would never be the same.

Along with changing the face of archery performance, Easton has also stayed true to it’s commitment to the American economy. It’s production facility in Salt Lake City, Utah produces all of it aluminum and carbon/ ballistic fiber shafts for products ranging from arrows, to tent poles that have seen the summit of Everest, to surgical tubing products.

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The Outdoor Range

Innovation

Since taking archery by storm, the development hasn’t stopped. The leap from wood to aluminum was revolutionary, as was the transition from aluminum to carbon arrow technology. When Easton’s Carbon-wrapped aluminum ACC shaft entered the market, target archers and hunters were left saying, “surely it couldn’t get any better.” Easton responded with the reverse of the ACC. A ballistic fiber core, with an aluminum wrap. The small diameter, high penetration, Full Metal Jacket has invaded hunting archery unlike anything else we’ve seen.

When I asked Clay Henderson, Vice President of Production at the Easton plant, if he saw another jump in technology coming, he quietly responded, “We’ve been testing a few other things that are out there, but none of them are at a price point that would serve the public well.”

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Clay Henderson VP of Production at Easton Technical Products

Legacy

Perhaps the most exciting part of my visit to the Easton facility, (Never mind the bins full or arrow shafts and parts) was the private tour I was given by President Mark Pezzoni through the Easton Foundation’s Archery Center. This facility is the embodiment of the Easton legacy. Pristine indoor and outdoor ranges beg the archer to excel. Coupled with training and conference rooms, and a historical library that contains archery relics and literature I was almost afraid of getting too close to, this facility opens the door for generations of future archers to climb to the top of archery competency.

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The Easton Foundation Archery Center

I believe icons exist. Even if only in the sense that there are examples of success that have a congruent historical commitment to quality, innovation, and legacy. In the archery world,  Easton Technical Products should be a case study to future companies on how to develop and produce a high quality product, distribute that product to a global audience, and do all of this while preserving the industry in which they live.

I’d like to say a special thank you to Mark Pezzoni, Clay Henderson, and all of the Easton team for allowing me to take time out of their day and experience what their every-day looks like. 

Building Your Baseline: Four Critical Steps to Begin Training to Hunt

Here it comes…… ready? You need to begin getting in an improved physical condition for this season. By making some solid adjustments to your eating and exercise behaviors, you totally can. Try walking a mile each day and removing excess sugar from your diet. Take it from a soft-drink addict, in a few days, you’ll stop sucking wind when you walk up the stairs. Try doing a few sets of push ups and sit ups every morning. You’ll notice a change in a month. Yes. A month. Moral of the story, you’ll enjoy hunting so much more if you can put less of a physical strain on your body due to being out of shape.

This all sounds very easy in theory, but it seems like starting is always the hardest part. Here are four incremental steps to implement before beginning your training regimen.

  1. Examine your routine and attack what’s attacking you.
  2. Develop a diet and workout plan that fits your schedule.
  3. Surround yourself with motivation.
  4. Quit Stalling.

Examine Your Routine and Attack What’s Attacking You

We don’t get weak and out of shape over night. More often, we have adopted habits that accumulate over time. Are you a sugar junkie? Maybe you’re working too much without adequate rest. Maybe you’re just drowning in procrastination.

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It can actually be a little discouraging to see how much processed and even dangerous food we eat when we begin examining our diet. Don’t just cut out bad food. Replace it with healthy, more balanced choices.

In order to sort through all of this, I recommend breaking your life into three categories; Diet, Exercise, and Rest.  What’s good about each one? What areas need work? Don’t try to keep it all in your head either. Write it down. Create your ideal week for each category, and attack the very things that are most glaring first through good planning and execution.

Develop a Diet and Workout Plan that Fits Your Schedule

As my wife can testify, I’m the king of going full bore into a new diet and workout plan and then crashing within a couple of weeks. A few years ago, I did it to the point of a pretty serious leg injury. While I completely stand by attacking your weaknesses veraciously, doing so without a plan that fits your schedule and budget is setting yourself up for failure.

It doesn’t take an enormous amount of time to get great results either. My mornings are broken into 30 minute intervals from the time I wake up to the time I go to work. 30 minutes is more than enough to get a great cardio workout with a series of body weight exercises that, if nothing else, crank up your metabolism to start the day.

Surround Yourself with Motivation

Find the things that get your blood pumping and put them where they need to be to press you forward.

One thing that helped me tremendously was saving up a few bucks and purchasing some supplemental products from Wilderness Athlete. The “newness” of an exciting product, and the financial commitment helped push me to they gym or out of bed in the morning. It also helped fill gaps in my diet, my energy level, muscle growth, and recovery.

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Sometimes finding motivation is easier said than done. I’ve found that I often need to detach myself from what is familiar in order to excavate the motivation I need.

I recommend having several different motivations that are at arm’s reach. I especially recommend thinking about the people you surround yourself with and the impact they have on your ability to stay focused on your goals. All the special products and strategies in the world will have trouble standing up to the negative, jealous, and critical people that may questioning what in the world your doing. Your value doesn’t depend on their ability to understand what your doing. So, adjust accordingly.

Quit Stalling

If you really want to get psycho-analytical, you can think of procrastination as a means of inevitable failure. In the case of the outdoors, it could mean missing an opportunity because you’re too tired to make that long hike again, or you’re not strong enough to draw your bow because it’s too cold. In the words of an old football coach of mine, “If your not willing to pay the price now, you can be sure you will do it later.”

Personally, I’d rather spend time now to position myself well for success.

Do you have a useful motivational tool, workout plan, or productivity strategy? I would love to hear it! Comment below!