empiriecom people:call of the wild

19. Jun 2019
Johannes Haaf

Our frontend developer Christian prefers spending time in nature, rather than sitting in front of the computer for hours on end - very contrary to the cliché. He has discovered a special hobby for himself. He modestly describes it as "producing things from wood"; which at first sounds rather unspectacular. It is, however, nothing less than real wood working using timbers from his own forest!

Whereas he is working on a computer at empiriecom, the originally trained modeller proves his manual skills in building traditional bows and arrows in his spare time.



Bow and arrow belong to one of the oldest inventions of mankind. Hunting with them ensured the survival of many indigenous peoples. Bow hunting has been in existence all around the globe for over 30,000 years. A good shooting technique had not been the only prerequisite for effective functioning and hunting success; the construction of the bow had been an important special craft and precondition as well. In this day and age, the wooden bow no longer serves as a hunting device, but archery has been a special fascination for us ever since. Thus, traditional archery has been (re-)discovered by an increasing number of people who perform it as a leisure activity, which promotes not only gentle and harmonious movements but also meditative and spiritual development.

Christian made his first attempt in 2000 by purchasing the four-part "Bible of Traditional Bow Making" by Steve Allely. Since then he has built hundreds of bows using tens of different types of wood – tested them again and again, shredded them and has constantly developed and perfected the design. Since 2006 he has been offering bow making courses in order to introduce interested people to the arts and crafts.


Christian offers classical courses taking place in a work shop, where the participants work on a wood blank (which is clamped in a vice) using different conventional tools, such as drawing knives or drawing planes.

Furthermore, there is the opportunity to visit a wilderness camp and to spend the night either in a tent or even under the open sky and to enjoy food from the campfire kitchen. With this version, only the most necessary tools are going to be used: Hatchet and knife. That is why it can be quite exhausting at the beginning of the course before one will start with the precision work, which is called “Tilling”.


Under Christian's professional guidance, the finished bow can be tested at the Wilderness Camp. If you would like to continue practicing archery, you can attend one of the archery courses afterwards. 

The three-day courses take place about two to three times a year. Due to the elaborate preparations needed for the bow building courses – which already start in winter times with the procurement of timber – it is not possible to offer further dates for additional courses than those already available.


Moreover, Christian has been trained as a wilderness teacher and supports his wife Sabine in the Nature- and Wilderness School called "Naturbegegnungen".

For additional information about courses and workshops, have a look here.

"Our vision is to offer people of all generations a place in our Nature- and Wilderness School to restore their awareness of and their relationship to nature; nature mentoring and wilderness pedagogy serve as a basis for it. Empathic guidance strengthens personal abilities and allows a process of learning that is determined by the cycles of nature. The ancient and original knowledge of people of nature represents an essential element of native communities, in which the teacher is both, companion and mentor".

Some of our employees have already participated in one of Christian’s courses. They gave us a small glimpse on what it was like!

"It was a great experience to make a bow the traditional way. Starting from the selection of the wood to the different processing steps, the ‘tilling’, the construction of the tendon up to the last millimetres which need to be carefully sanded by hand. In addition, we built two arrows and – of course – we extensively tested the bow at the end. For me, handcraft means meditative work. So, if you want to take a little break, improve your craft skills or simply experience something new, you should definitely give it a go".

"The bow making course in the camp was an awesome event experiencing living in close touch with nature. Within a weekend one could once again recognise that even with the simplest means (hatchet + knife), plus some craftsmanship and expert guidance from Christian, something great can be created. The concentration needed and the constant improvement of one's own bow opened a door into the world of total deceleration right up to almost insane perfectionism. Thanks to Sabine's cooking skills around the campfire, nobody ran out of strength."

"I took a beginner's course in instinctive archery. A total of seven people spent about 3 hours in a very beautiful area. Christian designed the course very intuitive, using hunting bows and he was able to teach us everything authentically. After a small theory part at the beginning, we started shooting, which was a lot of fun. I can fully recommend participating in a course with Christian, it was a really great experience for me".

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