Warren native Thomas Ressler never thought he'd become famous from making bows and arrows.
Ressler, a 1970 graduate of Warren Area High School who now lives in Montana, was discovered for his paintings in 1976 and put in a feature of the Saturday Evening Post.
Many of Ressler's paintings, some of which focus on western themes, like the American Indian, feature artifacts that Ressler himself has to make because they are so difficult to find.
One of these artifacts is an authentic Native American bow, a item that has become popular with collectors.
"Never did I think those objects would be something people would want," Ressler said.
Ressler said his desire to make bows came from a anthropology professor at Brown University, who was a Blackfoot Indian, who encouraged him to learn to make authentic bows for his paintings.
Ressler said the process to make an authentic bow is very difficult. He said the process requires him to use the same process that ancient tribe members would use, including using indigenous woods from tribe to tribe.
Ressler said making a single bow takes two months to make and he charges $10,000 to collectors who want to purchase them.
A few years ago, he said he found the method to make a 100 percent authentic Buffalo Horn bow, which is the among the rarest.
Ressler said only two people in the world can make the bows, and it has been 175 years since the bows have been in existence.
The Buffalo Horn bows have been written about by Lewis and Clark and other frontier explorers, and Ressler said the bows were rare even back then. He said it could cost five horses or more in a trade.
"There were none to bring back from the frontier," Ressler said.
Since explorers were never able to bring back the bows, he said there is not an original bow in a museum, and some considered them impossible to make.
Once word got out that Ressler could make authentic Buffalo Horn bows, he said he began to be contacted by various magazines about the bow.
"It changes history," he said. "It brings the legend to life."
Another aspect of bringing the legend back to life, was the 2009 reenactment production of the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Harding, Mont., in which all of the American Indian actors carried bows made by Ressler.
"It was a very moving and emotional experience to see such a production bring to life the actual events that are part of our national history," he said.
Ressler said the Native American actors were direct descendants of the original warriors and chiefs that fought in the battle.
The use of Ressler's bows in the reenactment also brought about a partnership with a yet unnamed film in which his Buffalo Horn bows will be featured.
"It's neat being involved in this industry," he said. "I never expected it."
Ressler said on a weekly basis, he gets requests from all around the world from people who want the bow or who want to learn how to make one. He said he sends out manuals free of charge as a means to help out historians.
"It's a blessing," Ressler said. "People still want pieces of America."