Faces in the Crowd: Brian Hower

August 29, 2019

By Aaron Michell

A little over a year ago, Brian Hower’s wife, Kaila, suggested the couple open a bow shop.
He thought she was joking.
But fortunately, she wasn’t. And nearly one year from the day of that suggestion, Untamed Archery opened its doors in downtown Marion in the former J & S General/Ben Franklin building.
And Brian couldn’t be more excited. Growing up in the Marion area, Brian has spent the better part of his life outdoors, with a bow in his hands. Now, it’s become his career.
These days, when he’s not carrying a bow around, he’s probably spending time with Kaila, and their two young daughters: Kwyn, and Charlei. Family is everything to Brian.
We caught up with Brian recently, where we learned quite a bit about archery. More importantly, we learned what Brian’s all about, and why he’s more than just another face in the crowd.

Brian, Kaila, and Kwyn.

Marion Press: How did Untamed Archery come about?
Brian: Kaila. My buddy and I went to a 3-D shoot downstate; it was August 11th, 2018. And it was closed when we got there, and so we went to his house, and shot a little bit. And I came home, and Kaila said, ‘Wow, that was really quick. Why are you home so early?’ And I said, ‘Well they closed down. It’s not there anymore.’
And she said, ‘We should open up a bow shop. Then everybody’s always got somewhere to shoot.’ And I laughed at her and said, ‘Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice!’
And she’s like, ‘No, I’m serious. The General Store building in town [is for sale], we should see if that would work.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t think that’s gonna work, but if you want to, we can look at it.’

MP: So that came about pretty quick then?
Brian: We opened up one day shy of a year for our grand opening on the 10th of August.

MP: Tell us about the shop. What is Untamed Archery all about?
Brian: A place where everybody should feel welcome to come bring their archery equipment, or if they’re looking for archery equipment; somewhere we want everyone to be glad that they stopped by when they leave, and look forward to stopping the next time.

Brian Hower

MP: So you have eight shooting lanes, and sell a little bit of everything in terms of equipment?
Brian: We try to. There’s still gaps that we’ve got to fill, but we’re working towards covering all the bases that we need, based on what our customers are looking for.

MP: And you have shooting leagues, right? Or if people want to come in and use the range, it’s pretty much open…
Brian: Leagues have begun. We’re about to enter week two tomorrow. We’ve got 11 people who signed up and are shooting with us. It’s been a great turnout. And it’s just $5 to come in and use the range, and as long as it’s not busy, you can come in and shoot until your arm falls off. We want to make it affordable for people to come in here and shoot their bows and get in here and have a good time.

MP: Has archery always been a big part of your life?
Brian: Yeah, oh yeah. I was three when I got my first bow. Dad had to custom make the handle on it so it’d shoot right for me. So he got it all set up for me, and that’s when it began.

MP: Are you big into hunting too?
Brian: Yeah, I really enjoy archery hunting. Ultimately, you want to have a bow that’s set up and is gonna perform well in the woods. But there’s another 10 months of the year that I still love to shoot that bow and the targets. You play with ‘em, and change things; that’s when you figure out how it shoots, and how you want it to shoot. That’s when you make adjustments and put different sights and rests on it, just to see what you like the best, and what will get you the most consistent shot.

Brian adjusting a bow at Untamed Archery.

MP: What was life like growing up in the Hower family?
Brian: It was good. I was outside a lot; outside running around in the woods, shooting birds, bobcats. I got a bird with my first bow. It was a little baby bird in the apple tree, in the apple tree right in front of the barn. I don’t think he could fly, because the first three arrows missed him, and he never moved. And then the fourth one got ‘em, and then I felt terrible and thought I was in trouble.

MP: You should’ve been in trouble!
Brian: Yeah! But dad was excited; he was excited for me. It was good. A lot of running around with 22s in the woods with buddies and the dog.

MP: You graduated from Marion, what are some of your favorite memories from school?
Brian: Probably – I’ve still got a lot of friends – the friendships I made there, a lot of them still carry on to this day. That, and sports. I played basketball in middle school,
in middle school, but that was about it. I did baseball my freshman, sophomore, junior year. I did track my sophomore, junior, senior year. I did basketball my junior year, and I did football my senior year. Football was my favorite. The reason I didn’t get involved with football earlier was because it’s during bow season; that’s what I told everybody every year. And then [coach] Jenema told me after my junior year, ‘You know, you’ve got the rest of your life to bow hunt, you’ve got one more chance to play football.’ So I did play my senior year, and I really wish I would’ve played every year.

Brian as a three-year-old with Ted Nugent.

MP: And at some point in high school, you met your future wife. How did you and Kaila meet?
Brian: We had world geography together, and she sat across from me.

MP: And you just harassed her?
Brian: I did! That’s exactly what I did. We’ve been together 13 years, and married for five years.

MP: Tell us about the Hower family.
Brian: We’ve got two girls: Kwyn, and Charlei. I hope that they’ll love [archery] as much as I do. Kaila still loves archery – she shot for MSU’s archery team for a year. The girls keep me very busy. Kwyn is two, and Charlei is three months. I had Kwyn in here shooting on Sunday. She doesn’t quite understand the safety aspect yet. But she had fun with it, and I wanted to show people that the bows are adjustable – it’s not recommended to buy a bow like that for someone who’s two years old – but the capabilities of each piece of equipment, I wanted to explain to people. And she enjoyed it; she had fun. But getting her own bow is not something that’s in the near future.

MP: Kaila and you both are from Marion, but you were gone for a while. What kept you busy?
Brian: Heating and cooling. I worked for Dee Cramer in Holly, and for the first three years I did exclusively residential heating and cooling. And then for two years I did a mix of residential and light commercial. I did mostly commercial for another two years, and then they sold the residential side, so everyone just did commercial.
I enjoyed it. I liked my job. It was hard to leave. It was a great group of guys that I worked with down there.

MP: But you came back to Marion. Why?
Brian: It’s home. This is where family is – this is where both Kaila’s and my families live. We’ve got a lot of friends here still. We’d end up coming up, sometimes two, three times a month, and we decided it’d be awful nice to not have to drive every weekend. This is home.

MP: What’s your favorite part of living up here?
Brian: It doesn’t seem like anybody’s in a hurry. Everything moves slower. You hear that, and it sounds cliché, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Everything moves at a different pace; it’s not chaotic, it’s peaceful. And traffic is a whole lot better!
Everybody in town has been extremely supportive. Even the people who just want to come look at the building. I get people come in here who have no interest in anything archery related at all, just to take a look at the building. And I love it, because they’re so excited about how nice it looks in here. And that makes me feel good.

MP: Who’ve been your role models? What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Brian: My dad, Larry, and my grandpa, Fred. Probably the best advice is, ‘Don’t give up on something because some people don’t think it’s going to work.’ When I told my dad and grandpa I was gonna open a bow shop, they told me I was crazy!
And I know that owning a bow shop in Marion is not gonna make me a millionaire, but if I can make a living, and be happy… this is the greatest. I love it. I still can’t believe this is my job; I love working on bows. And just tinkering, and trying new things. You’re learning all the time. I learn more every day, and I love it.
None of this would’ve been possible without the support from my wife. I was gone a lot, doing this. I put a lot on her plate, and I still do – I’m here late, and I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like, but she’s been amazingly supportive throughout this whole thing.
And my brothers, and my cousins, and my friends, and everybody who helped build this place into what it is… there’s no way I would’ve been able to do everything without them.

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