10 Minutes With... South Cox
How long have you been involved in Archery and how did you get started?
When I was five years old, I found an old wood laminated recurve under a neighbor’s house. Despite the fact that my mom was a vegetarian, she was very supportive of my interests and financed my first quiver of arrows (which didn’t last very long). I packed that bow with me everywhere for years. Though I didn’t have a mentor, I spent much of my youth in the woods “hunting”, though I never posed a legitimate danger to anything until I was in my teens. The hunter instinct must have run deep, or maybe I just didn’t care for Tofu too much. I was Robin Hood for Halloween several times.
When did you make your first bow and what was the result?
In addition to archery, my other passion was woodworking. I don’t remember when I built my first bow, I’d guess I was 8-10 years old. I built many self bows before I ever new there was a name for them specifically. I made my own arrows and tied on feathers, made Broadheads out of deer antler and wondered how you made an arrowhead out of a rock—never figured that one out. I didn’t make them necessarily because I was trying to become a bowyer, but because I needed a bow to shoot. I hunted quail with the last one I built and can still remember the only arrow I shot at one with it. I missed and hit the board fence the quail was perched on. It was very disappointing at the time to have gotten less that 7-8 yards and have come up empty handed, but I still remember that day clearly. It was the first of many character building experiences I’ve had while shooting a bow.
What's the one tool in your workshop which you couldn't do without?
There are so many, but I think the one I really like the best is my wide belt sander/thickness sander. I love resawing my own veneers/especially when you get a piece of wood with some really wild grain.
What do you think the next big innovation in bow building will be ?
That’s an interesting paradox for me. I’ve enjoyed the transition from the compound industry to the tradition industry because of the simplicity. I’ve always been a gear junky and pushed the limits with whatever I was using/whether it be a backpack, water filter or a bow. For that reason, I’m always interested in what new materials are becoming available for bow building. But major innovations, hmmm, maybe putting wheels on a bow? (oh yeah, that has already been done).
What materials do you enjoy using the most ?
I love working with wood, the wilder the patterns and grains the better. I think the thing I enjoy most about building bows as apposed to building a staircase or a piece of furniture is that I can find one outrageous board and make several bows out of it. I feel better about a more efficient use of materials and know I’m building something that will be really appreciated from that one board - as apposed to being one boards lost among hundreds of others. It seems every time I visit a new specialty exotic hardwoods store I find another species of wood or variation of a species I haven’t seen before. I about spend myself broke buying up all of the unique boards I find.
What is it about your bows or the way you make bows that sets you apart from other bowyers ?
There are a lot of great bowyers out there and many, many beautiful bows that they build. Most all of the bows out there are solid, dependable bows that will serve the shooter/hunter for years. Any shoddy bowyers fall by the wayside pretty quickly. Sure, there are certainly some bow designs that’ll yield better performance and shoot-ability than others and I’m always trying to be at or as near the top as I can with my bows - but for me, what really sets one bow apart from the others is a combonation of the design, the woods incorporated and the lines of the bow. For me, it is one of the biggest draws to traditional archery. To carry a weapon that is not only deadly effective, but is also a work of art worthy of hanging on the wall. I think there is hardly a better place that old cliché "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" fits than when picking out a bow. I guess I’m a conissouer of beautiful bows, and being admittedly somewhat biased, I’d have to say my bows are about as pretty as most any out there. The last bow I shipped out was to a client who had never seen one of my bows. He called when he received it and said his non-hunting wife was clearing out a space on their living room wall to hang it. Now there is a compliment! I just hope she’ll let him take it down every once in a while to shoot it.
Do you still have time to shoot ?
I struggle with this one. I love shooting my bows, but I also feel the pull of work obligations/meeting shipping deadlines, still managing a few employees in my construction business and family obligations. I have to remind myself that going out to the range and launching a few arrows is not a time luxury, but important for my business and therapeutic for me.
What's the best shot you ever made ?
I shot a tree once that was trying to save the life of a big bull elk. I should have taken a picture; my buddies had a hard time believing I was able to make the shot.
How many bows do you make a year ?
I haven’t reached my capacity yet, but I’d put the number about 150 or so before I need to bring on some help.
What bow are you currently shooting and what's the spec on the arrows you shoot, if it's wood which one ?
I’m shooting a 58/56# Striker made of Cocobolo and Bocote with the Sitka arrows by Grizzly Stik. I just started playing around with the Grizzly Stiks a few months ago and have been really impressed with their durability and the way they shoot.
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