by Paul Davison

    Back in 1970, at the first of six Outdoor Nationals held at Aurora, IL, nearby Geneva resident Dennis Cline started hosting a steak cookout for his fellow barebow friends and competitors.  In the previous year, Denny finished second to David Hughes at Watkins Glen, and the steak dinner may or may not have been a bet payoff.  Probably not — because Denny and Dave were much better friends than steak-betting competitors.  Regardless, Denny’s picnic wasn’t a closed affair, and any barebow junkie was invited to join in for the good food, good drink and good companionship.  Denny continued to host the picnic at the Aurora tournaments in 1973, 1976, 1978 and 1981, but after he moved to Virginia in the mid-1970’s, the logistics proved a little difficult.  Then at the 1984 Aurora tournament, Louis Travis of Indiana, one of Denny’s original barebow buddies, suggested that we make it a group effort.  Louie’s idea was that the picnic be held at every National Outdoor — not just at Aurora — and that the barebow shooters get formally organized into what he called, The Barebow Fraternity, or BBF, for short.

    Denny Cline was the first BBF president, Louie Travis was vice-president (and de facto chief organizer), and Kathy Newton of the Auroraland Archers was its first secretary-treasurer.  Attempts were made to mail a newsletter periodically to all BBF members, but with increased production and mailing costs, and with no formal dues structure, it became apparent that we needed more fiscal discipline if we were going to be anything more than an annual reunion.  This was the end of Phase I.

    At the 1988 Darrington National Outdoor, we reorganized as an NFAA club, complete with constitution, NFAA membership requirement, and formal dues structure.  The BBF became chartered as an NFAA club in the state where the secretary-treasurer resided.  Jerry Barr, currently Kentucky NFAA Director, was elected president, and Paul Davison, currently Southeastern Councilman, was elected secretary-treasurer and editor.  [Claudia St. Clair of Texas is the current secretary.]  Members could acquire special BBF patches, decals and T-shirts.  We held our annual picnic (and meeting) at every National Outdoor.  The $5.00 annual dues per family paid for everything required at the picnic except meat to grill.  As an NFAA club, we were permitted to publish our newsletter in every Archery magazine.  With no mail or printing costs, we were able to “spread the word” while remaining fiscally responsible.  Our membership was well over 100 families (internationally), and we were becoming very well known.  Then the other shoe dropped.  We don’t know whether it was the “favoritism” status, lack of advertising revenue, page limitations, or whatever, but we were notified in early 1992 that the Barebow Fraternity News was no longer a freebie.  This was the end of Phase II.
Instead of six, one-page newsletters a year in Archery magazine, the BBF continued direct mailing quarterly, multi-page, newsletters to its members.  This wasn’t much of a problem, except that we lost a convenient medium for acquiring new members.  Today, we rely entirely on flyers, posters and word-of-mouth at the National Outdoor.  This is not all bad, since all BBF memberships expire at the annual picnic date.  About three-quarters of the memberships are renewals, whereas about one-quarter are new memberships or belated renewals.
Although the classic purpose of the Barebow Fraternity is, “... to foster, promote, expand and perpetuate the Barebow, Bowhunter and Traditional styles of shooting, ... and to encourage free exchange of (barebow) aiming and shooting techniques, bow mechanics, and related topics ...,” the real purpose is simply, to have rompin’ good time.  Although we have published a few “how to” articles and booklets, there’s no hidden agenda.  We’re not saying that we have more fun that other shooting styles.  It’s just that we’re better organized at doing it.  We’re just the right size — not too big to be unmanageable and unfriendly, and not too small to be unnoticed.  Well over one-half of our members attending the annual picnic make it to two out of three Outdoor Nationals.  The picnic is truly an annual reunion.  Moreover, not all our members are barebow shooters.  Some are former “sightless” shooters, while others are barebow wannabes.  Still, others join because they like the companionship and good times.  There is no question — the Barebow Fraternity is a social fraternity, with absolutely no prejudices.  The only requirement is that a BBF member must be an NFAA or IFAA member.


Contact BBF Secretary Claudia St. Clair, or President Jerry Barr.

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Revised:Dec 19, 2003.