Moriac craftsman Lars Richter is teaching students a course of a different kind, his classroom is the great outdoors, and the lesson dates back to ancestral times; how to make a traditional wooden longbow.
Lars has made longbows with hundreds of people Australia wide and overseas, guiding grandfathers, teenagers, women and young children through the ancient art.
“It’s great to learn the technical side of bow making, but the real value is in reconnecting to ancestral wisdom. Little is passed down from the generations and that kind of knowledge is something that is irreplaceable,” he said.
“Children have much to learn from the elders in the tribe. What better way is there to connect the generations than to create something together?”
Lars has dedicated his life to helping others embrace wholesome living, founding a yoga studio in 2003 in Halle/ Saale and for the last 15 years, has facilitated workshops in yoga, relationship coaching and traditional longbow making.
“I learned from an Australian who now lives in America, Peter Yencken. His daughter went to school with my son and made a bow with him and then we started working together,” he said.
“That was about five years ago. We began running workshops before he went back to America. It was an apprenticeship of sorts where I learnt to make the bows and then took the business into my own hands.
“I have found humans want to connect to other humans, my workshops allow people to hang out with other like-minded
people and shape and create something with their own hands.”
For many students Lars said there’s an engrained sense of familiarity, embedded within their DNA a “muscle memory” of sorts.
“They’re making something and doing something meaningful then seeing the final product, while tapping into the wisdom of our ancestors. Most people realise wow, it’s in us and we know a lot already.
“It’s about getting back in touch, there’s a lot of trust established within yourself, the whole process is really magical.”
The two-day workshops Lars runs show participants how to make a bowstring that perfectly complements your own bow and understand the art of tillering (the process of carefully removing wood to cause the bows to bend in optimal arcs).
“Students will learn how to tiller their bows to precise measurements of draw length and draw weight, depending on the archer. After the bow is functionally finished, it comes time to bring the bows to an aesthetically pleasing finish with fine sanding and oiling,” he said.
“By the afternoon on the second day, the bows are ready for students to take to the shooting range to learn how to shoot. You will get your introduction to the instinctive shooting method. A powerful tool you can also utilise in many daily life situations.”
Lars believes the workshops offer more than just making a longbow.
“It’s a form of meditation and a way to calm the mind. Many people resist taking time for themselves to meditate; they feel a need to accomplish something and have something solid to show for the time spent.
“When you focus on creating a useful item out of a natural object, the quality and uniqueness of you is imbued in it and becomes one of the best forms of meditation.”
As society delves deeper and deeper into an online and tech-heavy world, Lars said there is more demand than ever for activities that allow people to return to nature.
“There’s more and more demand for it, the bows bring people closer to an awareness of what it was like. The chance
to make a bow and then shoot it, it’s a whole new world and there’s a lot of appreciation there,” he said.
“We set up three dimensional targets, it’s really good for your eyesight. I also teach the instinctive style of shooting where you look at the target with both eyes open and let go.”
Lars said if you are looking for a way to reconnect with a family member, with yourself or with nature he has an upcoming workshop in Freshwater Creek on February 9.
“Children are always interested, it’s the most beautiful thing seeing the child/parent dynamic. Regardless of how strong you are you can both shoot and aim for the same target and be on the same level.”
To book and for more information go to narrativeyoga.com.au.