Story By: Nathan Christophel
Photo By: James Rubio
It’s cool in the cloud forest near Holualoa,
an area David Weaver knows intimately. He’s out “stump hunting”—shooting arrows
into fern-covered tree stumps—with friends and family, including his young grandson.
All of them are carrying custom recurve bows that Weaver helped them make out
of local woods like koa, kiwi and hau. The group hikes from one target to the
next, showing off their archery skills as Weaver tutors and offers his share of
“You create a really interesting camaraderie
when you go shooting in the forest,” says the 63-year-old Weaver, an avid
archer since childhood. “It’s really not competitive. It’s more about a
Weaver learned the art of making recurve bows
from his neighbor in Costa Rica, where he applied his master woodworking skills
to building custom homes. Weaver moved with his family to Hawai‘i Island
seventeen years ago and started Axis Hawaii Archery in 2000 not only to sell
his bows but to teach others how to make their own—and how to use them. Weaver
teaches archery to anyone, young or old, with an interest in learning; he leads
groups stump hunting in the forest, where he’s also placed targets among the
koa and ‘ohi‘a trees. Axis Hawaii currently has the only Laporte Archery skeet
system on the island, so would-be archers can loose their arrows at moving
targets as well.
Teaching archery has changed the way Weaver
thinks about the sport he’s loved his entire life. He now works with elementary
school students and other groups, including senior citizens, at least once a
week, in part for the gratification of watching his students’ eyes light up
when they realize archery is something at which they can excel. “When they make
a perfect shot and they look back at you with that feeling of satisfaction, you
know you’re passing something on,” he says.
It’s the continuation of something that
humans have been passing on for centuries, Weaver points out. Archery may be
sport, but for Weaver it’s also an art form that connects us back to our
earliest selves. “Somehow it tends to awaken a primal instinct,” he says.
“There’s a certain primitive satisfaction about that.”