Nation citizen Dave Standingwater holds his competition Black
Widow bow, while showing a quiver of arrows, handmade long
bows and a leather pouch with his last name in imprinted in
the Cherokee syllabary at his home near Locust Grove, Oklahoma.
Standingwater is a former professional archer, competing on
the national level from 1994 to 2001. He was named one of
the top 10 traditional bow shooters in 1999. (photo by Lindsey
Bark - Cherokee Phoenix )
Locust Grove, OK Since he was 8 years old, Cherokee Nation
citizen Dave Standingwater has had an interest in archery and been
fascinated by the flight of the arrow.
Growing up in the Snake Creek Community near Locust Grove, Standingwater
learned about hunting from his grandmother, Maggie Whitekiller Standingwater.
His first hunting experience was at age 13, killing a deer with
a bow and arrow his uncle made.
"I was hooked after that," he said.
He said when times were hard and his father was unemployed,
he helped out by hunting and providing for his family.
"It was rough times back then," he said.
Years later, he became a nationally ranked archer in the Cabela's
Archery Shooters Association, competing across the United States
and in national championship tournaments.
In 1991, he experienced his first archery outing when his son
invited him to a 3-D archery range in Locust Grove. Though he hunted
growing up, shooting 3-D targets proved a challenge.
"My first outing was terrible. I was so bad, and so I asked
them if they (archery range) was open every weekend. So I went back.
I started shooting and practicing," Standingwater said.
He said he practiced at home for 20 minutes to 30 minutes a
day, eventually entering local archery tournaments.
"I got to taking first, second and third place trophies
and stuff like that," he said.
In 1994, he joined the Cabela's Archery Shooters Association
tour and his first tournament was in Oklahoma City.
He began competing in out-of-state tournaments and racked up
points to qualify for the championship tournament in Tennessee.
"At that particular tournament, there were like 2,500 actual
shooters, and I shot the traditional way stick and string,"
He used a custom-made modern dual-purpose Black Widow bow.
He said competing nationally enhanced his archery skills against
many high-level shooters.
"If you missed, your arrow was just gone. But in competition
like that you didn't miss, you just didn't miss, he said."
He competed until 2001. He never won a championship tournament
but often placed second and third. One of the biggest highlights
of his career was when a Cabela's magazine recognized him as
one of the top 10 traditional bow shooters in the nation during
the 1999 tour.
"I started looking down that list there and my name was
No. 7. I wore that magazine out showing people," Standingwater
said. "I just wanted to shoot. I never thought that I'd
become in the top 10 bracket."
Now at 74, Standingwater continues his passion for shooting,
bow making and learning how to flint knap. He made his first bow
out of bois d'arc, learned how to cut a stave (a trimmed rod
of wood used to make a bow) and make bowstring from squirrel hide.
He studies to become a more "powerful" and "faster"
bow shooter and said he is staying with the traditional way of shooting
so that he has the knowledge to survive and provide for his family
if he needs to.
"I'm a full traditional shooter. I don't aim
down the arrow. I don't look at the string. I look at the place
where I want to hit. That's where I want the arrow to go and
that's what I'm looking at. So that's as traditional
as you can get. I think that's a plus when you get out in the
woods. A lot of times your shots are going to be quick," he
He said he's passing his archery knowledge to his family
and compared his great-niece's shooting to that of Robin Hood.
He said the two often take nature walks and practice shooting rabbits
Standingwater said he's retained what he learned from his
grandmother, who was a midwife and knew how to gather plants for
medicines. Through her, he also learned to fish and gather foods
that are in season. "I learned a lot from my grandmother, (she)
taught me a lot."