By Nicole Davis
Enjoying the tradition of archery, John Scifres of Perry Township has worked since 1998 to perfect his hobby of wooden bow-making. His hard work has most recently been recognized by a Hollywood prop company, contacting him with a request to make the wooden bows featured in the Hunger Games movie which came out on DVD this year. They contacted him again earlier this year, requesting more bows for the sequel, currently being filmed.
Scifres, who does not typically sell his finished bows as he said he does not want to turn his passion into his job, was first contacted by the prop company with a request to make four bows in a 10-day period. Not knowing what exactly they were for, Scifres took on the task, receiving a sample in the mail of an Eastern Native American bow with a tag labeled “Katniss bow.” Having read the Hunger Games book a couple years prior, Scifres recognized the name. Finishing the bows and shipping them out, Scifres said he never really even let people know he made them.
“At that point, I didn’t know how big the movie would be,” Scifres said. “It turned out to be unbelievable. When I first watched the movie, it seemed like (my bow) was in there for 10 seconds. When you watch it on DVD, you see it was in there for several minutes.”
Earlier this year, Scifres was contacted again to craft more bows for the second movie, Catching Fire. Seeing an opportunity, he took the wood to a show-and-tell the Perry Meridian 6th Grade Academy where his children attend school. He would mark where the wood needed to be cut and allowed the children to help him carve the wood and keep the carvings so they could say they took part in making the props for the movie. Approximately 120 students got to see and hold the original bow Katniss Everdeen used in the movie.
“The first set I had to hurry, so it didn’t feel like my best work,” Scifres said. “I feel better about this next set.”
A hunter all of his life, Scifres said he enjoyed modern archery and discovered the traditional side in 1997, through a man making modern bows at an outdoor show. His interest grew with research on the internet. He finished his first bow in ‘98. Scifres makes his bows completely from scratch. He chops his own Osage orange, or Hedgerow, trees once a year from Indiana and surrounding states. He has a little shop set up in his garage to work on the bows in his spare time. He sells the cut wood, or self-bows, online at hedgerowselfbows.webs.com.
“I’ve always been very artistic and making a wooden bow is more craftsmanship.” Scifres said. “It’s the whole self-sufficiency thing.”
Though Scifres said he doesn’t craft as many bows as he used to, he has taken pride in the recognition his work has been given.
“The bows were a focal point in the movie,” Scifres said. “It’s really funny how something like that just makes you feel more part of it all.”
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