Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kevin Whiting

kevin_whiting_sml2Kevin Whiting: Administrator, Bowhunter and Retailer

Deceased 1934 -1977

In 1970 in conjunction with Richard Snape and John Ursem, Kevin Whiting established the Townsville District Bowhunters which to this present day, some 40 years later, is still going strong.

 It didn't take long for the club to attract more members and to make sure that new members were in a position to obtain and set up with the right equipment at a good price, Kev Whiting Sports, which Kevin had set up, was there to guide them in the right direction. He would advise them on the safety aspect of the bow and arrow and make sure that when they left they had a greater insight and knowledge regarding the sport and that they were happy with their purchase. Through this outlet, Kevin developed a great many friends in North Queensland eager to pursue the sport of bowhunting and field archery and to this end helped set up quite a number of clubs by giving them advice through phone conversations and through personal attendance. He would go out of his way to make sure that they had all of the skills and knowledge required to run a club even to the point where because of his artistic abilities, he would help design a club logo (the Townsville and Cairns Club logo’s are two examples of his work).

 In those early days it was also very common for wooden arrows to be the shooter's choice. Unfortunately, if you ordered a dozen or so shafts, even if they were graded for a particular poundage bow, there was a still a great variation in spine flexibility. Kevin found this to be quite frustrating as it was difficult to obtain consistency with the flight of each arrow. Instead of accepting this as the norm, Kevin designed a spine measuring device that would further refine the grading of each batch and colour code them accordingly so that a purchaser could select a perfectly matched set of arrows for his bow.

 Kevin's great artistic ability saw him set about designing a set of animal target faces that were both realistic in size and shape that would give shooters a simulated hunting environment to hone their skills. Kevin spent a great deal of time in coming up with a scoring system that would reflect the kill zone of each animal, increasing in size as the animals became larger. To reflect these different sizes he broke them up into 5 groups which could be applied to any animal and still be consistent as a scoring method for those who wanted to duplicate the system on their own target faces. These target faces became the official hunting round for the Townsville District Bowhunters and in conjunction with a grading system that Kevin devised, gave the members a chance to compare their scores and the opportunity to improve their ability out in the field.

 The grading system was designed to reflect the shooter's accuracy ability and it was a proud moment when a shooter was able to climb up the ranks and be awarded a higher grade ribbon at club functions. As the round proved to be so successful Kevin began promoting and selling the target faces through his outlet. These early days proved to be quite successful for the promotion of the scoring method and the design of the animals to different clubs to the point where they proved to be the forerunner of the officially accepted scoring method and faces for the Australian Bowhunters Association in 1976. This scoring method with the addition of a hairline added to each animal group is still used to this day.

 To improve communication channels the Townsville club introduced a newsletter in 1973 so that members were kept informed of club. This newsletter proved to be a great innovation and it soon became apparent that there existed a need for a more refined method of communication. The Club was not interested in taking the newsletter one step further to produce a magazine that would be more informative by providing hunting stories, club news and workshop articles to satisfy this demand for more information.

 As a consequence a three way partnership between the Whiting, Snape and Ursem families was established. The first magazine, a 14 page roneod copy called "The Australian Bowhunter Magazine" was published in September 1974. It was sent out to as many clubs and individuals as possible and the result was overwhelming. Not only was the demand there but stories and club news came flooding in for publication. It was quite obvious that a more professional approach had to be adopted and issue No. 2 was produced on an offset press with photos. The Australian Bowhunter magazine had taken off!

 When the Snape and Ursem families left Townsville, the bulk of the magazine production rested on the shoulders of Kevin and wife Marion. They collated the advertising and publication material, organised the layout, typing, additional advertising and design of the magazine as well as for a short period, the printing and distribution.

 For the period of 1975 and 1976 Kevin worked tirelessly in making sure that the magazine came out on time and that it contained material that would reflect and help to promote and enhance further development of the sport of bowhunting. Kevin, who bore the brunt and countless hours of production time because of his dedication to the sport he loved was not paid for his efforts. Had it not been for his commitment during this time which was particularly made difficult through ill health, the history of this magazine which is now known as Archery Action would have been quite different.

 Kevin's vision was for the establishment of a unified national body that would unite the clubs under one umbrella so as to provide a strong voice to protect our sport, a code of ethics for fair play, insurance cover against accidents and a competition round that would allow bowhunters from all over Australia to compete with each other using a set of rules and targets consistent with the aim to refine their skills under simulated hunting conditions.

 Kevin was to achieve all these aims in 1975, when he was elected chairman of a steering committee which drafted a constitution, designed the Association crest and established the Australian Bowhunters Association, the spirit under which it was created we currently enjoy today. Additionally, Kevin was the first Chairman of the ABA and is considered the Association’s founding father which is recognised through his Life Membership award.

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