Yesterday I drove 5 hours north to the great little town of Ishpeming in Michigan’s upper peninsula to meet up with Steve Turay of Northern Mist Longbows. I was there to pick up my new Baraga longbow he made for me and to do a Podcast with him.
I spent 4 hours with him in his shop hanging out, talking about every subject known to man and shooting his bows. We actually ran out of time and never got around to doing the podcast, but will do it over the phone after the holidays.
When I walked into Steve’s shop I was shocked at its size and stuff. This place is multiple rooms including a whole extra floor above that is used for storage and a shooting range. He has rooms with sanders and saws, glue room with jigs of every sort, paint booth, office, and core woods, laminations, and wood stacked every where. Every corner has bows hanging or stashed. I’d be shocked if he had less than 50 of his own personal bows around his shop, many made for him by other great bowyers. There are so many boxes of wood shafts, and other hunting components that i’d bet he has not open some of them in 15 years. Everything about his shop is precise! Every single detail about the design of the jigs, locations of tools, etc is exact. Even his arrow jig is set up like a pro with all his jigs mounted on a rotating table and his 4 young feather burners neatly set up and ready. Other than the saws and similar purchasable tools everything in his shop is hand made or custom made to his specs. You can quickly see that not only does he love what he does, but he also takes it very seriously.
After checking out his shop and chatting for a bit it was time to hit his indoor range on the top floor of the building. When we walked into this huge room that used to be an actual archery shop and range it was easy to see that Steve shoots alot of arrows. His cedar bale backstops were all shot up and he had a bow table with about 10 different personal bows strung up with arrows everywhere. He said he shoots so much that he has to replace the bales every couple weeks from being shot out.
As soon as you walk close to the bow table you immediately feel like a little kid. Not because of the beautiful bows, including bows made my John Shultz and other great bowyers, but because of the sheer thickness and heft of the bows! The bows Steve shoots are all 80 to 100 pound draw bows! These bows are basically a utility pole cut to 68 inches with a shelf notched in it! I was excited to see him shoot a 100# bow. The bow he grabbed was a 102# at his 26.5 draw length. He stood on the 20 yard line with his bow by his side and fingers on the string. As soon as his eyes locked on target the bow was coming up the same time the string was coming back. His glove hit the side of his face for a split second and the arrow was gone. I don’t just mean gone, I mean it was gone fast. It was hard to believe that anything moving that fast wasn’t charged by gun powder! I just imagined how far that arrow would go if he shot it outside on a 45 degree angle skyward. I figured it go far enough that they would have to offer a in flight meal and movie if you were on it.
It was a great 4 hours with Steve. He is the kind of guy that the world needs more of. Steve is straight forward, opinionated, strong willed, and genuine. He gets done what he needs and wants to get done. If something can’t be done he makes it happen anyway. His “take no prisoners but carry you anywhere” honest attitude radiates strong and stands in huge contrast to the entitlement and pansy ass attitude of the average person today.
Now about the bows! I had Steve build me a Baraga longbow when i decided I wanted to drop down a little in weight and also try a shorter longbow. I called Steve and he talked to me for over an hour helping me decide what would work best. I left most of the options to him and simply said make me a 60 inch upper 50 pound range sweet little shooter. He did exactly that. When I first saw the bow i immediately loved the wood combinations of bocote riser, american elm limbs and bamboo core with simple micarta tips. Then when i pulled on the string i was blown away! This bow was the smoothest drawing bow I have ever draws (I have owned over 20 custom bows by many top bow builders). I’m not sure if the smoothness is due to Steve’s design or the bamboo core witch I have never shot before. But this bow is the smoothest shooting bow I have ever drawn period! I love it!
Steve has been making longbows for well over 20 years. It used to be his reflex deflex designs like the Superior and the Baraga were the most popular. But with the massive interest in American Style straight limb longbows, he says orders for his Classic, Shelton, and Whisper have taken the lead. Steve offers straight limb bows in string follow models and also reverse handle as well. To get the specs on his bows check out his website. To see a bunch of his bow pictures look up Northern Mist Longbows on Facebook. Keep an eye out if the near future for the podcast interview with Steve here on The Traditional Bow hunting and Wilderness Podcast.