Traditional archery’s modern revival in the Dominican Republic

Archery is only 50 years old in the Dominican Republic.

While there is the traditional ancient history of bow-and-arrow use for hunting and warfare, its presence in the Caribbean nation died out in the late 16th century.

It wasn’t until 1970 that the first archery club in the country was founded by a group of enthusiasts influenced by an archer from the USA.

Four years later, the club became the Dominican Archery Association.

Primarily built on the Olympic-style recurve, with compound emerging around the year 2000, the competition formats have always been firmly based in World Archery’s rules – the 1440 Round and 70 or 50 metres.

In a country without a substantial archery heritage, it’s significant that historical styles are receiving a modern revival.

Enmanuelle Cáffaro is the Dominican Republic’s first professional bowyer. The artist and sculptor is now making hybrid longbows, deflex longbows and American flatbows from wood and fibreglass.

His company, Guaraguao – named after a type of hawk native to the region – makes custom orders, using exotic woods and natural resources like oyster shell, bones and stone to create bows that are as beautiful as they are functional.

Cáffaro's passion for bow-building stemmed from a project to construct affordable PVC bows for use in schools.

Now, the high-end traditional equipment he makes is fuelling interest in a wider range of archery disciplines – including field and 3D.

Assuming archery's popularity continues to grow in the area, it won’t be long until traditional bowstyles are added to the tournament calendar in the Dominican Republic, too.