Archive for February, 2017

Where Did the Obsession Start?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017


Someone tagged me in a post on social media today and asked me to post a picture with a bow. Well, the picture above is the first one that came to mind for a number of reasons. I actually remember the day it was taken like it was last summer.

My mother and father were building a new house for us to live in. It would be close to the house I had spent my whole 4 years of life in, so I knew it wouldn’t be that bad. When the house was completed, my love for archery sprouted. My father set up hay bales to shoot at in the back yard. He taught me how to fling arrows at paper plates. I learned how to steady my aim and concentrate until I was ready to put the arrow in flight.

After releasing my first arrow, the sport of archery was cemented inside my being. I wore a path down in the backyard from walking back and forth to the target to retrieve my arrows. Along the way, my dad and I figured out that the mystical flight of an arrow is something that has no comparisons.

When I went to college, I joined a local archery club and found myself at the club every day. I went there to get away from the pressures associated with college exams and living on my own. Launching arrows brought me into another world, a world where everything was unimportant and carefree.

After graduating from college and returning home, I joined a local fish and game club, where I would participate in my first archery league. I shot at a single spot target the first time I ever shot a scoring round in a Freeman 300 league. I scored a 224…………..a perfect score of 300 was the furthest thing from my mind.

As I continued shooting in the league, I eventually got into the 270s before the first year closed out. The next year I continued improving until I finally shot a 300………..the ever-elusive perfect round, then target panic hit me like a sledgehammer, shattering my confidence. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get the pin to sit in the middle of the target.

After that 300, I went on to crash and burn. I got to the point where I couldn’t finish a 300 round because I shot all of my arrows off the cement floor. I couldn’t even get the pin on the target bale, which brought out the demons. The demons took hold and pushed me to the limit. There were nights that I left without any arrows, but I went and bought more to continue the misery. I wasn’t going to let it win. Unfortunately, not many people remember that part of my journey, but it lives with me every day I walk into an indoor range or onto 3D range.

Finally, Ed Dufour let me borrow a 4-finger Stanislawksi release. I learned how to let my subconscious mind fire the arrows. After minutes, days, hours and months of practice, I gained back my confidence.

When the league rolled around the next winter, I was ready for the challenge. I went on to roll off all 300s in the league, claiming the first-ever 300 average in that league. For the next 13 years, I did the same thing over the course of three three leagues, with my best year resulting in a 10-week average of 300 and 59.4 xs. The only four I shot during that time period was caused my someone accidentally? bumping into me while I was executing a shot.

Over time, even after having major reconstructive shoulder surgery, I’ve been lucky enough to stand on the top of the podium to receive state titles, regional titles, national titles and world titles. Although I will never match what many of my friends have done in this sport, I feel very lucky for the little bit I’ve been blessed with in this archery life.

When shoulder pain began creeping in, shooting became very difficult and some of my mental game went by the wayside along with my body. Although I’ve never returned to that special place of shooting perfect arrows almost every shot, I do have many fantastic memories that started in the yard of my mother and father’s new house back in 1974.

Archery has brought me to places that I never could have imagined. I’ve shot in competitive archery all over the United States, and I’ve traveled to hunt all over the United States and Canada with my bow. Archery is something I love. It’s who I am. I’m calm at the center and live in the soft spot behind the center of the gold.

Although I wish I could have reached my full potential while I was in my prime, life has a way of dealing blows that can’t be understood at the time. Some days when I see many of the guys whom I shared the stakes with while shooting in peer groups who are now making a living in the archery and outdoor industry, I’m a little envious. But I’m still glad that I have the memories. The experiences have allowed me to write for many different publications and shoot at a variety of venues.

I guess I didn’t plan on writing this much, but it kept flowing when I started punching keys. It reminds me of flinging arrows. I can still stand in the yard, just like I did in that picture, and shoot arrow after arrow after arrow for hours on end. I will never get tired of shooting arrows, and I’ll never tire from the daily grind of life.

When the release breaks, and the arrow is sent toward the target, I know it will follow the correct path if I have done everything the right way. I try to follow the same steps for my life. Shooting arrows and walking through life should be one in the same. They should both be fun, enjoyable, relaxing, depressing at times, and incredibly rewarding at other times.

Keep striving to follow the process and all of your arrows will find the gold no matter where your life brings you.