It all started many years ago when I was 7 or 8 years old. My Dad had an accident while walking to work. He used to walk down this narrow road and one day a van squeezed past another car and struck my dad's arm. After he got better, the doctors recommended taking up a sport to aid his recovery. Through talking to his friends for support, one of his good mates mentioned archery and so our archery journey began. My Dad really fell for the sport, so much so he set an archery club up in Cleckheaton called Whitcliffe Mount Archery. It was here I was introduced to a beginner’s recurve bow, which I loved and shot for many years, right up to being 21years old. It was around then I shot for the Yorkshire County team a few times and realised I wasn't really progressing any further with my Recurve and decided to have some fun with a longbow.
I ordered my first Longbow from a brilliant Bowyer, Ron Palmer, who sadly passed away some years ago now. I remember it arriving some weeks later and I was one happy man. I shot the bow for a few months and loved every minute of it, however it got me thinking. Being a joiner I couldn’t resist the temptation and decided to make a Longbow myself. I’d just bought my first house at the time and money was incredibly tight, so I asked my dad who kindly lent me £70 to buy some Hickory and lemon wood. After some research and advice, I managed to craft my first longbow which I was immensely proud of. I took my bow and entered the Yorkshire longbow society shoot in Doncaster. After a great tournament, I managed to win and my bow attracted some attention. A gentleman at the shoot approached me, (apologies if your reading this but I forget your name), who said my bow had caught his eye. He thought it was a very interesting longbow I was shooting and wanted to know who made it, proudly, I said I did. He asked me how much I would charge to make him one, knowing I had enough wood left to make him a bow and I owing my Dad £70, that's what I charged him.
Through word of mouth on the ‘Archers grape vine’, orders started coming in not long after that first sale. I began to make bows on the side of my main full-time job, it became an absolute passion of mine and I did this for about 10 to 15 years until the recession hit our country. I knew I was going to be laid off and in the back of my mind I knew what I had to do, I quickly made plans to make longbows full-time. I sent a bow down to Archers Review, I needed to get some exposure and fast. I received a brilliant write up and review on their web site, that coupled with some hard work and extra advertising gave me the opportunity to go full time as a Bowyer and I’ve never looked back since.
“When I first took this bow from the tube it was sent in I doubted very much that it would draw the weight it had written on it, 52# from such a slender bow hardly seemed likely. The instant I drew it I knew I was wrong, smooth, no stacking and no roughness to the draw whatsoever, all the way to my full draw and still the power built cleanly.”
Read my full review here
Once I had established myself as a Bowyer making arrows only seemed the logical next step and was a natural progression of Adrian Hayes Longbows. I had recently married my lovely wife Natasha who had moved to the UK from Russia. She had tried a few jobs but was struggling to settle into something she found interesting. She suggested working together and supporting me with making the Longbows. I thought it was a great idea and before long she was a pro, varnishing the bows, making strings and leather handstitched handles which really helped speed up our production.
I had heard on the grape vine a good friend of mine, John Catley, who owned Little John Arrows, one of the leading Arrow makers in the country was packing it in. I was gutted to hear this but chatting about it with Natasha, she suggested we should make arrows for our customers. After chatting it through together we thought it was a great idea and meant we could offer our customers the complete package, a performance bow with high quality, tailored to suit arrows. We approached John and after some good conversations we managed to buy most of his business and Strela Arrows was born. Natasha now assembles the arrows once I’ve determined the right specifications for the customers bow. She’s become a fantastic and experienced fletcher. Some of the unique styles and colours of cresting’s really help Strela arrows stand out from the crowd. The detailing is superb and they are made to the highest standard of quality.
Oh, and If you’re wondering where the name Strela comes from, It’s the Russian word for arrow.