You can tell Tom is an avid outdoorsman, and really enjoys his craft. Teaching bowyer classes across the nation for all the Woodcraft stores, and around the world, Turgeon has spent the last 20 years making thousands of bows and arrows for hunting and archery enthusiasts.
During the first 17 years of his life, Tom loved the outdoors and played a lot of baseball growing up in the small towns of Unionville, Connecticut, and Sag Harbor, New York. He played into division 1 in baseball and then in college at Southern Connecticut State University, where he graduated, majoring in business. When he was 18, he tried out for the major leagues with the NY Mets and the Cincinnati Reds. In addition, he legally hunted for the state of Connecticut year round to control deer herd population issues, which led to spending a lot of time in the woods, learning about forestry, and wood!
Putting these practices together, Tom began bending sticks and strings, honing his tracking, and handling skills, and eventually hunting primarily with bows and arrows. Tom was then influenced by fellow bowyer and woodworker, John Strunk. Tom stated, “John was a retired woodshop teacher for junior high school who taught me how to manipulate the wood, making it cooperate to be a serviceable bow, understanding of how the wood would react to tension and compression.” John was a profound educator, teaching Tom to, “Be passionate for the craft, or it will go away.”
Tom was additionally guided by Dean Torgess, also a bowyer and custom furnituremaker. Tom learned what he called a “refined education” from Dean, and the “primitive process” from John. Molding Dean’s craftsmanship with John’s teaching personality, Tom has experienced a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities in Idaho, and uses those skills to give back by teaching longbow building and other wilderness related skills, worldwide.
Although Tom doesn’t play baseball anymore, he does stay active playing in a hockey league. He defines his sense of accomplishment by watching his students from ages 10 -83 learn to build and shoot using the bows and arrows they have crafted. His enjoyment is seeing their “hearts and eyes light up from developing the art of archery using the simplicity of a stick and a string.”
Tom interviewed with the Woodworking Adventures Blog at the Woodcraft Vendor Trade Show in Nashville:
Scott Phillips of The American Woodshop has hosted Tom on his PBS woodworking show. Click on the photo below to view the entire episode 1705 on American Longbow, Arrows, and Tools.