This is a story about my father, Richard “Dick” Carrigan whose strong influence has touched me in many ways. He has been the greatest influence in my life and he will always be a hero to me. I think he’s amazing. He’s a god-fearing, humble man with a colorful background and impressive personal history.
What impresses me most, is dad’s love for archery. His interest began when he was very young, after he watched a Western in a movie theatre that had bows and arrows in it. He loved the movie so much that his favorite expression became “If it’s not a Western, it’s not a good movie.”
When dad was 11, he was introduced to an older gentleman named Waldo Sherman who was also interested in archery and he made his own archery equipment and is the one that taught dad how to fashion his own bow and arrows. Over the years dad has become a skilled craftsman and his work is outstanding. He uses the same techniques he learned from Waldo Sherman. Dad makes his arrows the traditional way by ripping down a pine board and rounding off the corners with a hand-held planer to make his own shafts. Then, he applies knocker tips, feathers and finishes them off with a beautiful paint job. The final product is a true work of art. He also makes beautiful self-bow (or stick bow) out of a variety of different woods. In addition, he has made some very nice primitive style quivers.
Because of dad’s strong influence on me, I too acquired a love for archery. Dad and I both love shooting targets and we both love bow hunting. Because of archery, we have a special bond which I’ll never forget.
In 1943, at the height of WWII, dad enlisted in the U.S Army. He was stationed in Europe for 22 months where he drove a truck with a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on it. He was also a carbine sharp-shooter. No doubt, a technique enhanced by his archery skills. Dad landed on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944 “D-Day” and he lived to tell about it. He was in five major battles including the Battle of Ardennes, more commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge. He was also in battles in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland in Germany and Central Europe. The medals he was awarded include the European Theater ribbon with five bronze stars, a good conduct medal and a WWII victory medal.
I am so proud of my dad for the sacrifices he made for this country. To me, he’s a real hero.
Before going into the Army, dad attended Charlotte High School in Charlotte, Michigan. That’s where he developed a love for sports and that's where he first learned to box. He continued boxing when he was in the military and he stayed with it after he got out. His persistence paid off, because he eventually became a middle-weight Golden Gloves champion. He loved it so much that he started a boxing club in Nashville, Michigan. My brother, Dan and I both joined and both of us learned to love boxing as well. Dad was a big influence on both of us. He was a good teacher and he was as committed to teaching us boxing and archery. With his coaching, Dan and I were able to compete strongly in Golden Gloves Tournaments. Dan really excelled at the sport and was good enough to fight Internationally on Team USA, and he won a state championship. At the time, Dan was one of the top amateur boxers in the world.
Dan and I both love boxing, we both share dad’s love for archery and both of us are very impressed with his ability to make his own bows, arrows and other archery equipment. He is very creative and very talented. My early memories include dad making arrows in his basement workshop. I can also remember him putting up targets all over our 19 acres. Eventually, he had a very intricate archery course. It had twists and turns, small hills, and a 40ft bridge over a swamp that lead to a target at the end.
Over the years, dad made many archery friends that would come over to play the course. Several of them had sons that would come to play as well, and we’d have tournaments. During that period, no matter what new adventure or interest we had, it usually revolved around using our bows or playing on the archery course.
Later, our family moved to Nashville, Michigan to a farm house situated on 80 acres of land. It included rolling hills, about 10 acres of woods, a ravine with a small creek and 3 natural springs. What a great place for a new archery course! Not long after we moved to the new house, dad was back at his passion and soon began constructing a new archery course. It was a “work in progress” meaning he never stopped tinkering with it and he was always striving to make it bigger or better.
Our lives are shaped by many factors and the path we choose to follow is highly influenced by our environment, our upbringing and by various people that come into our lives. I often reflect on various people and the influences they had on me, but my dad has been the biggest influence in my life.