(November 24th, 2008)
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A steel bow

By Mark Hartman and Cecily Lemmon for the Daily Universe

In a unique twist on applying lessons in the scriptures to our lives, the Department of Mechanical Engineering hosted a steel bow archery competition on Friday.

The competition was the result of the weeks, and in some cases months, of work by mechanical engineering students. The students worked in groups ranging in size from two to five members.
Anton Bowden, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, said the idea for the competition came while reading the scriptures.

“I think that every engineer gets this idea in their head every time they read First Nephi,” Bowden said.

Some critics of the Book of Mormon find fault with a bow made of steel, but Bowden said there is evidence they were used.

“There are steel bows dating back to around 300 B.C., but they weren’t good for distance,” Bowden said. “They were primarily used for combat.”

The students gathered at the intramural fields and put their bows to the test, numbering 18 in all. After being inspected by three judges, each bow was loaded onto a launching device, given 50 pounds of force and let fly. The competition consisted of three categories: distance, best design, and best bow made from alternate material.

“There’s a distance competition – that’s where the real money is,” Bowden said.

The bow going the farthest received a $200 price, $100 for second and $50 for third. A prize of $50 went to the best design and another $50 to the best bow made from something other than steel. Jason Burr of Saginaw, Mich., made his bow from wood and named it “Longbow.”

“It’s nothing too creative,” said the 25-year-old Burr. “I think it’s got a pretty good chance in the alternate bow competition.”

When tested, Burr’s bow splintered into multiple pieces.

The first team to launch proved to be the best for distance, flying 540 feet. The winning team, consisting of family members Thomas, Tim and Alora Shurtz, named their bow “Nephi’s Steel Arbalest.” The team was happy with its decisive win over the other bows.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Tim Shurtz said. “The other bows looked like they would do comparable to ours, but no one even came close.”

Every student who participated received extra credit for their ME 250 class, whether they made prize-winning bows or not.

Jeremy Pearson, 22, from Casa Grande, Ariz., said his bow didn’t perform the way he’d hoped. Pearson said he enjoyed the experience of applying what he’d learned, but was disappointed when his prediction of 150 feet ended in less than 10.

“I didn’t want the extra credit,” he said. “I wanted to win.”

Bowden said the challenge in making the bows was that steel is strong but also a heavy material, contrary to the ideal of a light bow. Bowden was pleased with all the students’ efforts and said they plan to hold another competition next year.

“These guys did a great job designing some very creative and fun bows that performed admirably,” Bowden said.

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Official Results for the Steel Bow Competition:

All Steel Performance Category
Grand Prize ($200): Nephi’s Steel Arbolist (Thomas Shurtz, Tim Shurtz, Alora Prestwich)

2nd Place ($100): The Sheik (Ezekiel Merriam)

3rd Place ($50): Four Nuts (Mark Fernelius, Michael Murray, Bryan Braun)

All Steel Design Category ($50)
Crossbow (Jeremy Pearson)

All Steel ME EN 250 Category ($50)
Penelope (Landen Bowen, Thomas Evans, Mark Davis, Brett Coleman, Nate Cerny)

Alternative Material Category ($50)
Long Bow (Jason Burr)

The distance totals (in feet) for all the bows were:

Nephi's Steel Arbolist----------540
The Sheik----------------------- 167
4 Nuts--------------------------- 158
Penelope------------------------ 155
Medieval Weld-------------------150
Minute Man-----------------------129
Awesomeness------------------ 113
Robin Hood----------------------104
English Recurve-----------------77
Gripper-------------------------- 40
Shiz------------------------------ 15
Pogo------------------------------ 14
Tie Fighter------------------------14
Long Bow------------------------Broken