Archive for March, 2018

An Archer’s Journey: An Eye Opening Hour…1:8

Sunday, March 25th, 2018


This past week was a blur. I had far too many irons in the fire. Having to get my presentation ready for the Big East Outdoor Show made things on the archery end a little difficult. On Tuesday afternoon, I made my way to the physical therapist’s office for the first time in about six years.

Since my therapist is always concerned about my progression as an archer, he knows how to give me the proper guidance to rehab injuries the right way to get me where I need to go with the bow and arrow. It made me feel pretty good when he looked at my reports from the orthopedic surgeon and told me that he thought he could have me right back on the right track in a short amount of time. Of course, it would be up to me as to how fast the recovery comes along, as I will have to stick to the plan and do the necessary exercises.

When I was at work on Tuesday, I listened to Episode #206 of the Wired to Hunt podcast:

Wired To Hunt Podcast #206: Taking Control Of Your Archery Future and Target Panic with Joel Turner


Everyone should give this a listen. I’m pretty sure that many of you will greatly benefit from this, as I know I did. For many years, I thought was doing the right thing when I focused on my process. I always talked my way through the shot and when I got to certain steps, I consciously told myself what to do next. This became a problem at different times because my conscious mind went into overload, especially indoors when I felt a little bit of pressure.

A call the monster the Evil Monkey. The Evil monkey sits on my shoulder and talks nonstop. All of my friends know about the Evil Monkey. When I come off the range, some of my friends tell me that they had a lot of monkey chatter going on. This is when your mind won’t shut off while you’re trying to shoot. The mind runs wild from the time you draw the bow and runs right through the entire shot. That cute little pet monkey on your left shoulder can — at times — turn into a raging gorilla.When the monkey chatter starts, it overtakes your mind.

After listening to this podcast and applying what was said, I couldn’t believe how easy it became to shut my entire mind off by occupying the conscious mind with the perfect thoughts, thoughts that do not interfere with my shot routine. After listening, I also think that some great shooters don’t have to worry about things like this, however, many shooters like us Joes need to focus extremely hard on that stuff. Each person reacts to things differently. Finding your own process to follow is extremely important. I’m excited about this new chapter I’m going to begin working on. I have a great feeling that the way I will focus on the process going into the future will make me become more consistent and help with my nerves, which sometimes come out when the raging gorilla begins punching my brain.

As long as we’re on that topic, I’d like to give a shout out to my buddy Andy Bush, who shot 59 xs at the New York State Classic to win that event. I met Andy three years ago at the IBO World when I was lucky enough to have him in my group. Although he struggled a little bit that day, I could easily tell that he had great potential. His shot looked pretty clean, and I really liked him as a person. To see him come out with that win made me feel pretty good. He obviously had the pet monkey on his shoulder today and not the raging gorilla. Great job, Andy.

After listening to the podcast, I began working on my new process. I shot a couple of 660 rounds. I shot a 638 on one of them but felt like I executed a lot better than the score indicated. I also shot a 628, and the execution that night felt even better. I seem to be having a little problem with the arrows missing out the left side, barely. I think it might be from not trusting myself to move the sight. I shot a 447 in league this week. I ended up going back to my 35′ 3D and hunting bow, which makes me feel the most comfortable. I felt pretty good about the scores I shot with my 3D setup and small arrows. Hopefully, I keep progressing in the right direction. Here’s one of my rounds…….the very last end.

This week I’ve been fielding a few questions from people about a variety of questions. It made me think back on a day in the early 2000s. Although I had been doing well, I felt like I had suddenly hit a brick wall. I was performing like Jeff Hopkins on my personal 3D range, then I’d head to the national tournaments and fall well short of my capabilities, you know……..I’m Roger Staubach in my own backyard. I like the way my buddy Chuck Weeden put its, “I’m Chuck Beaubouef in my basement Nerves were making me come unraveled, something I’ve battled for many years. Sometimes I’ve beaten the beast, but the beast still rears its ugly head from time to time.

When I knew I needed to do something to calm my nerves and allow me to relax while shooting, I began searching all over the internet for different things I could do. Finally, I settled on a few of them. I signed up for meditation classes and Tai chi classes. I knew Tai chi was very similar to archery in the ways that mattered the most. I also figured that the meditation would help me to have a clear mind.

After going to meditation classes for a week, I stayed after one of them finished and told the instructor about the issues I was having at national events. I asked him for any advice he could give me since I was headed to the ASA Pro-am in Battlecreek, Michigan, the next week. He looked at me and said, “Do this: after every shot, get a little bit behind the group, and focus solely on your breathing. Do this every single shot of the tournament and see what happens.”

I had nothing to lose………….so I gave it  whirl. When the scores were totaled after the first day, I couldn’t believe that I was sitting at the top of the pack. I knew the next day would be really tough, but I went in with the same plan as the first day. I could feel my nerves, but I stayed to myself and focused on my breathing. The little bit of meditation that I had done in the classes was already beginning to work. I was finally able to clear my mind. Evil Monkey quietly slid down my arm and walked into the forest around the targets. He blended into all of my surroundings. Evil Monkey disappeared for those two days. When I walked off the range at the end of the second day, everyone was patting me on the back and congratulating me. They all thought that I had won the event, but my buddy Johnny had snuck up from a few groups behind me and got the victory. I was happy for him, and I was ecstatic about my progress. I shot to the best of my ability that day……….I simply got beat, and I didn’t beat myself. That was an incredibly feeling.

After that day I continued to meditate. I got to the point where I could do it easily, and shooting became much easier with a quiet mind. Along the way, I got off track and stopped doing it, even though I encouraged others to do it. I’ve realized recently that I need to start doing it again. It helps you in every aspect of your life. My buddy Chuck Weeden can vouch for it. I told him he needed to try it. His entire family noticed the difference, then he went on to shoot he highest score in a tournament shortly thereafter. That’s how I knew that this little thing that might take only 5-8 minutes a day has great effects. I challenge everyone reading this to attempt to meditate for seven solid minutes. See what happens and let me know. You can google how to meditate. It’s not a hard thing to learn the basics and what you need to do. You will be amazed at how incredibly hard it is to have a quiet mind. If you can get to the point where your mind is quiet for even 30 seconds when you try it that first time, I will be really impressed and might even give you a prize. Try this exercise and let me know what happens.

Okay, enough of all of that. It’s time give my archer of the week profile. This week it goes to Mark Meyers.

I’ve known Mark for a very long time. Mark has always reminded me a little of myself. He kind of blends into the backdrop and watches stuff around him. He’s one of the most observant people you will ever meet and one of the best people you will ever know. Although I’ve helped a lot of people along the way, I always send people to see Mark when they get to a place where I think they need more than what I can offer. One of the best things about Mark is that he’s never satisfied. He wants to offer people the best of everything. Although he’s a very successful coach, he even sees other coaches, like Mike Price, who he respects a great deal, to help him with his own shooting. Between those two coaching minds, I’m sure they can figure a lot of things out. If you ever want to advance your game, both of these guys are great choices.

Anyhow, back to Mark. He used to always be in the hunt at every type of tournament he attended. Eventually, he decided to focus more on bettering other archers and spending less time on his own game. Amazingly, when he does shoot, he still shoots well. He made the cut at the IBO World a few years ago and had a great showing. Yesterday, when he made a post about Jacob Slusarz, his student, I could see his pride. But his pride wasn’t for anything he did, rather, it was for Jacob’s win. Mark has helped many people become better archers. I’m extremely fortunate that he lives in my area and I can call him a friend. I know I can be a pain the ass at times, but he’s always willing to listen to me and give advice. A few years ago, he even watched me at the Lancaster Classic when the camera was on me for an extended period of time. He told me to call him when I got home because he saw something I might be interested in learning more about. I respect that about Mark. He knows I would never be insulted because he’s just trying to make be better. I feel fortunate to have his eyes on me, as well as Mike’s help from this winter. Between the two of them, I’m hoping to improve as time moves forward.  Mark also represents Darton Archery. I know that Ted appreciates everything he does, but until you actually see what he does, it’s hard to imagine. If you see Mark on the 3D range in New England or New York this summer, make sure to say hello and ask him any questions you can about the Darton bows or coaching. He’s extremely knowledgable about a lot of things. After conversing with him, you’ll feel a little smarter on your way home.


An Archer’s Journey: Frustration 1:7

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Now that it’s staying light later into the day, it makes me want to go outside and shoot my bow. Unfortunately, this weather is making that all but impossible, at least to do it comfortably. I made the dreaded trip to the orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday morning. When I made the appointment for my shoulder about six years ago, it was much different. I knew that something was seriously wrong. The elbow issue hasn’t struck me like the shoulder issue did. Instead, the elbow issue has been a nagging injury. It has never felt like anything too serious, but I also know I can’t let it go. I needed to ease my mind.

The visit went about like I had expected it would go. When I injured the elbow last summer, I never really took the time to let it heal. In hindsight, my choice wasn’t the best thing that I did last year. I gritted through the rest of the summer and added insult to injury. Although my shooting went extremely well, the pain never subsided. On many days, I could barely hold the bow steady while aiming.

I let the elbow rest for the three fall months when I spent the majority of my time in the woods, and it was relatively okay for the first few weeks of shooting indoors. Now, I know that the issues I’ve been facing are the result of a former injury and the loss of strength in my arm, which affected the area from my elbow to my wrist. I’m going to start physical therapy for it on Tuesday and take it from there. My mind feels pretty relieved.

After I found out that I couldn’t damage it by shooting, I headed to the range to gut it out. I’ve always been one of those guys who needs to shoot arrows to stay fresh. I can’t pick a bow up after not having shot and shoot well. I’m not sure why, but that’s just the way it goes.

Although I didn’t spray arrows all over the place, I definitely wasn’t too excited. I spent Friday night working on feeling my shot. I’m not sure why, but I can’t find it. It feels like it jumped off the side of the boat while I was drifting around without any paddles.

Things improved a little today. I have my 3D arrows shooting okay out of my 3D bow. Although the arrows are small, I shot a round to see how they were working. The round definitely wasn’t anything spectacular. I ended up with a 444 and not many Xs. I took it as a plus since I haven’t shot at all in a few weeks. Looking at the target, my first two bullseyes had most of the arrows in the 10-ring. The final bullseye that I shot didn’t look so good, and I’m not sure if it’s because I was tiring out. All in all, none of the arrows missed the 10-ring by very much. Something about the bow felt a little bit off, so I went home and started trying to figure things out.

I took the 29′ module out of one of my bows and put the 28.5 back in it. That was definitely a good start. I also put four twists in the string of my other bow to suck it up a little bit. Afterward, I went outside and shot both bows at 40 yards. I was impressed with the groups I shot, and I even broke a few arrows. The bow I changed the module in felt much better than the other one. I think the reason is that the back wall is rock solid with no give to it at all. I think that feel is important for me right now, as I’m trying to determine what draw length is going to allow me to perform at my highest level. I’m shooting 57 lbs on both bows, and that poundage seems to be comfortable.

Throughout most of the winter, I’ve been looking after Logan, my buddy Aron Stevenson’s kid, on Friday nights at league. He’s been working on some things, and I’ve been a silent private eye in the background. Like most seasoned archers, he got stuck on the score thing and started getting irritated when he wasn’t putting all of his arrows in the middle from 20 yards. Meanwhile, for his age group, he should be shooting from 10 yards. The little guy is competitive but almost too competitive.

We all know what that attitude can breed. Sometimes it can make us try too hard and other times it makes it hard to get the pin up into the middle. I had to convince him that where that arrow landed didn’t matter. This was a chore! All of you should remember this lesson, too. Don’t try too hard and put so much pressure on yourselves to score well. Do all the little things the right way and the good score will just appear on your scorecard.

That’s when his mom had to step in and give him a little speech about shooting to have fun and not taking all of the enjoyment out of by getting upset about a score that didn’t live up to his expectations. As the weeks have passed, he has gotten a lot better. He has been asking me to watch his shot and critique it. His shot has been looking fantastic the last few weeks. The only problem he’s been having is pulling through the click on his release at times.

When we approach the target to score his arrows, he tells me that his pin wasn’t anywhere near the middle when it went off, and there’s no way the arrow should be in the white. That’s when I had to tell him a story, a story I’ll share with all of you because I’m sure many of you have run into the same issue along the way.

Have you ever shot those shots that had no business being in the middle? Well, I have, and I know exactly why some, not all, end up in the middle. Many years ago, I attended a shooting class with Alexander Kirillov from PSE, and he put a laser on my bow. I couldn’t see where the laser was hitting, but I knew he had it set up so the movement could be recorded on a target a few lanes away.

He told me to shoot five of the best shots I could shoot. When I drew the first arrow, my legs began to shake, and my upper body joined the party. After shooting all five arrows, I couldn’t believe that they were all inside out Xs on a 5-spot target. I walked over to my father and said, “I don’t even want to see the video.” He responded, “I think you’re going to be surprised.”

I knew that I had seen the dot in the blue ring two times, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how those two arrows got in the middle. Well, as he was going through the videos and showing how different people held on the target, I was amazed at what some people did while executing their shots.

Then, he got to my video. He told everyone to watch closely because he couldn’t believe how steady I held the bow. When I saw it, I was amazed. Instantly, I saw why all of the arrows were inside out Xs. The two times I thought I saw the dot fall into the blue ring, it actually just barely hit the bottom of the X before bouncing back up toward the center. As nervous as I was while he was filming me shooting, I couldn’t believe my pin stayed that still on the target.

When the class ended, the coach asked if he could see me in private in one of the back rooms. I gladly obliged, and I’ll never forget what happened. He pointed his index finger at me, and said, “Listen closely. I have some advice for you.”

Then, he grabbed my left ear before latching onto my right ear with his other hand. He said, “Do you feel these?”

I responded, “Yes.”

He said, “You must learn to work on what is between the two of them. If you do that, you can compete with anyone.”

It’s something I have never forgotten. So to make a long story short, I told Logan that he was probably seeing his sight pin in a different place than where it actually was when the bow went off. He was unsure of what I was saying, and I could tell that he was trying to process it…………..just as I had tried to process everything I saw on the video that day.

Is it confidence that helps us shoot well? You be the judge.

The weekend after attending that class with Alexander Kirillov, I shot in the annual Guan Ho Ha Vegas tournament. Like any tournament I had participated in, I was pretty nervous at different times throughout the tournament. I had shots that were pounding out the center and had no idea how the arrows were finding their way to the middle. But I really did know how they were getting there, even though I didn’t want to acknowledge it. The same thing was happening that happened when I was being filmed, and I just trusted my shot. Trusting your shot when you think the pin is dancing all over the map makes shooting much easier. Over the years, I’ve become a master at trying to over aim. I’ve also become a master at letting my conscious mind talk to me throughout my shot process, which slows everything down and makes every shot a battle. When I peeled the target off the cardboard at that Guan Ho Ha shoot and tallied the score, I had shot 41 super Xs, and I knew it was because of the confidence I brought with me. It’s amazing what can happen if we allow ourselves to trust our shot.


This week’s shooter highlight goes to my longtime New England shooting buddy Rick Baker.


I’m not sure when it was when I first met Rick, but it was a long time ago. It could have been at one of the old Budweiser shoots in Merrimack, NH, back in the day, or it could have even been at one of the New Hampshire state shoots or one of the IBO Northeast Triple Crown shoots. Anyhow, none of that matters.

In my opinion, Rick is the best all around shooter in New England. Many guys are fantastic shooters at one thing. Some are great 3D shooters; some are great indoor target archers; some are great field archers; and others are great outdoor target archers. Rick is always at or near the top of every venue he performs in. When I shoot with him, he always seems to make it look easy. Going back 20 to 25 years, I feel like he has always pushed me to be better. I think we have a pretty even record if we go back across the years. We both never get too high or too low, and we shoot our bows because we love to shoot arrows. I know that it helps both of us to deal with personal stress.

There are two things in Rick’s career that I will never forget. The first one is when he smoked the field in the qualifying round of the IBO World at Snowshoe. He was basically unstoppable. Unfortunately, he did a little too much celebrating the night the qualifying wrapped up. The next morning didn’t treat him so well, and he paid the price for it. I don’t look at the final day, though, because I have to excuse it due to the unforeseen circumstances of the night before. If I remember right, I think Rick thought he had won the tournament. He didn’t realize that he had to shoot the next day until it was too late. Any way you look at it, he put on an incredible shooting display.

I also remember him going arrow for arrow in a shootoff at the Lancaster Classic while hundreds of other archers stood on the line watching. I probably would have come undone, but he stood there like he always does and just kept on shooting. I’ve always been amazed by his ability to hold the bow steady under pressure. If I could transfer anyone’s nerves into my own body, I would probably take Rick’s. It seems like he never gets too wound up about anything. I think that’s probably why I shoot well with him when we shoot together. Although, I can’t prove that by any of last year’s performances when we shot together.

I’m always appreciative of his advice, and I’m thankful that we met back in the heyday of 3D archery in New England.


Until next week ——————-> shoot straight.


An Archer’s Journey: On the Shelf for a While 1:6

Sunday, March 11th, 2018



This week passed quickly, but the archery part of it dragged. I’m fairly certain that the dragging action is going to make its presence known as I look toward April. Although I spent Monday and Tuesday working on some bows, the pain in my elbow wouldn’t give in and allow me to shoot. I realized that I need to leave my bow in the corner when I look at it and thoughts of shooting it cross my mind. The elbow has not improved at all and has steadily declined into an area that made me realize that I need to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. I’m going to get on that tomorrow.

This winter has walloped me with unanticipated problems. Unfortunately, I haven’t been healthy enough to make any forward strides involving the changes I’ve made. It’s rather discouraging, but I guess it’s one of those things that I must face now that I’m headed toward the senior class. Things don’t heal as quickly as they did in the past and paying attention when your body talks to you is important. I’ll keep you updated on this as time moves forward.

Although I wasn’t able to shoot this week, I did talk to a lot of people about many different things that relate to archery. Recently, I’ve followed a few things on the internet that make me laugh a little and realize how long I have truly been at this game. Many people who are relatively new to the sport don’t have a clue about the past and the people who helped to bring this game to higher levels. It’s amazing to see and listen to the people who admire people who have never won anything. I guess it’s all about how you carry yourself. When it comes to archers who aren’t professionals, I’ve noticed that I usually gain the most from the quiet ones, the ones who don’t have to pump themselves up for the rest of the world to see. Humble people have a tendency to draw me in. I like them because they act like they’re one of me. I’ve always tried to do the same. Although I’ve never won a professional event, I’ve won some pretty big money tournaments in which professionals participated, and I’ve won in the SPM class as well as all of the amateur classes I’ve shot in. Most people wouldn’t have a clue, and it reminds me of a few things that I’ll share that I’ve never been able to forget.

I can remember being in the top one or two peer groups going into he last leg of the IBO National Triple Crown on three different occasions. Since I’ve never worn a collared shirt or a shooter shirt — unless I was told I had to — I can usually fly under the radar, which is exactly what I like. On more than one occasion, I’ve had people look at the score cards after receiving them and do a double-take at me before saying, “You’re Todd Mead?”

I usually look around, raise my eyebrows and say, “Yup, I guess I am if that’s what the scorecard says.”

Then I get, “Wow, I always imagined you were a tall guy.” I still haven’t figured out if that’s an insult, but I always think it’s funny. It brings me to a point I’ve thought about this week and I know it happens to other people. Sometimes shooters get intimidated just by a person’s name, even without knowing the person. If you find out you’re on the same bale as one of the big dogs or if you have followed a person’s success and realize you are now in the same group as that person, it can quickly deteriorate your mental game if you aren’t prepared.

In all of my years of shooting, I’ve always performed my best in peer groups, and I think that’s because I feel mentally stronger than my competitors. I think that many amateurs get intimidated or they worry about the outcome. They become overly nervous and the train can run off the tracks if they don’t get everything in check. Although I’ve never been great when I shoot in peer groups that have some of my friends in them, I usually excel when I don’t know the others that well. I think it’s because all of my concentration and focus is in one place, and that place is where I put everything I have into finishing the job. I will never forget the time I rolled off 9 11s on a 10-target loop at the IBO National Triple Crown while in the top peer group. One guy looked at the other guy in my group, shrugged his shoulders and put his palms out to his side and held them upward while he mouthed, “WTF” after I shot an 11 on the last target of the loop. I saw him do it when I turned around, which made it even funnier. It was probably because my equipment looked like I had dragged it through the mud, with my 20-year-old sight on it and rusted bolts from not having moved the stabilizer connectors in as long as I could remember. When you’re in a peer group, all of your energy should be focused on getting the job done, not trying to avoid the pressure. I think it’s a learned skill and I feel fortunate to have gained that knowledge along the way. Although my equipment looked like hell, my mind was centered. When I was done that day I was mentally drained.

I’ve realized that you have to have that killer instinct when you have a chance to win. I’m never happy with an “also ran”  congratulatory hug when I’m done with my round. Our chances to win are so few, that when you have once of those chances, you had better be mentally prepared to take full advantage of it. The chances are fleeting in the amateur divisions, otherwise you wouldn’t find yourself there. Instead, you would be somewhere in the pro ranks.

So what have I done to allow me to get it done when the time comes? I always mentally rehearse the scene. I do it for every tournament I go to that I might find myself in a peer group or on a top bale at the end. I take the time to think ahead and see myself shooting winning shots over and over and over. I also write in my performance to remind me that I’m a winner. I also focus on things I need to work on. If the same item keeps showing up, I know I need to nip it in the bud and get after it. For anyone who wonders what my performance journal might look like, this is an entry from 2015, one of the years I won the IBO World Championship. When I drew the bow on the last target, I knew I needed a 10 to at least secure a tie. Amazingly, when I drew the bow, the pin settled and the arrow hit a lick below the 11. I made a perfect shot when I needed it.

Here’s a journal entry from late May of that year, and I’m referring to one of the New England IBO state championship tournaments:

“I started off OK today but hit a few speed bumps on the way out of the gate. I was tense most of the day and found myself stagnant at times. I need to work on my shot timing in the coming days. I need to continue working on letting my subconscious mind shoot the shot. Once again, I proved today that I can grind out a good performance when I’m struggling with my shot. I made some fantastic shots, including one on a strutting turkey, one on an antelope, one on an alligator, and one on a walking black bear, along with many others. Overall, I shot a lot of good shots. I earned the win today because I was mentally stronger than the field. I’m a finalist at the IBO World Championship because I know to perform well at big tournaments. I don’t over emphasize the importance of any shot. I’m a champion because I shoot one shot at a time. I shoot my best under pressure. I’m the IBO World Champion because I’ve shot the same winning shot thousands of times, whether it was in my backyard or on the tournament trail.”

Yup, it might sound corny when you read it, but that was in May of that year and the IBO World Championship was in August. I wrote this down every day in my performance journal after I practiced or shot in a tournament. Then, when the time came, the shot I needed to make was incredibly easy.

I won’t carry on about this, but you get the idea. If you want to achieve goals, you need to write them down and put yourself in the place to win them before you get there. Otherwise, you won’t be mentally prepared and the moment could suck you up and swallow you. I’ll be the first to tell you that most of the big tournaments I’ve won in the last 25 years weren’t because I was the best shooter. Instead, I won because I was mentally stronger than the guys I was shooting against. It pisses people off when they get beat by a person whom they don’t consider as good as them. People talk shit and say, “Oh, the best shooter didn’t win.” Yup, you got that right, but I was the most mentally prepared and my shooting was good enough to beat the so-called best shooter. Instead of saying stuff like that, people should take a step back and realize that maybe, just maybe, they should spend more time working on their mental game because great shooting will only get you so far. The winners do things that others don’t see and that is how they know how to win. That is also why you see the same people return to the winner’s circle or always be within sniffing distance of it. Do yourself a favor this spring/summer and be diligent with writing in your performance journal and working toward goals. A goalless archery will never achieve a goal……….and isn’t it everyone’s goal to do something? Isn’t that why we shoot?

Well this week’s shooter recognition award goes out to the person who has driven me to be better since the early ’90s. I can still remember reading about him in 3D Times, which was a big publication at the time for 3D archery. Everyone read it and everyone subscribed to it. Everyone hoped to see his or her name in it from a big finish at a national event. I read all about how Scott Tozier had won the IBO Indoor World, which was a big tournament at that time. He took down some of the big guys in doing so. When I read about it, I realized that this guy lived in New York, and I wanted to meet him to see what kind of game he had as compared to my own game.


That’s when I decided to head out to Active Bowhunters in western New York to shoot in an IBO qualifier. I wanted to see where I stacked up against this guy. Putting too much pressure on myself to do well, I shot a 5 on the first target, a strutting turkey that was down off from a steep bank. The next target I got an 8 on a ram. I figured I was done, so I just started shooting my bow. By the time the day ended, I had a score of 289, with 10-8-5 scoring. I only shot one more 8 on the next 28 targets, and it was a tough course. When I got home and saw the scores, Scott Tozier had beaten me by 2 points, meaning he also shot a 5. That was the kickstart to my competitive nature in the 3D world. Since that time, we have both been in and out of archery, and we have both found a lot of success along the way. Scott also has that killer instinct. Sometimes both of us have a hard time getting going, but when we do get it right, we usually finish the job. I’ve lost track along the way, but I think Scott has won four or five IBO World Championships in at least four classes.

Having said all of that, one of my most memorable times is when Scott beat me by an X to win our indoor state championship, and he and I shot together in the team event and only dropped one point between the two of us on  a Vegas round, which gave us a win. That’s what I love about archery; it gives people some unforgettable moments.

I’m glad that I’ve been able to call Scott one of my best friends over the years. We spend a fair amount of time talking about different things, and I know that it has helped both of us. I’m appreciative of his ears and his knowledge. If you surround yourself with knowledgeable people who shoot well, you will definitely get better. Having this guy in my corner for 20-s0me years has worked wonders for me.

An Archer’s Journey: Shooting Well and Having Luck on your Side, 1:5

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Well, the past week had a lot of highs and lows in it. I was looking forward to going to Turning Stone casino to participate in the Wintercam Classic with my buddy George. Unfortunately, George fell on some black ice and did some damage to his knee. Without being able to put any pressure on his leg, he was unable to make the trip with me. The incident kind of reminded me of what happened to my good friend Scott Tozier last year. He was peaking and shooting some of the best scores of his life when everything went out the window due to an unforeseen injury. It’s always disappointing when this happens, because you never know if you’ll get back to that level after rehabbing a serious injury.

The week started off incredibly bad as far as scores go. When I headed to the club to shoot in my Tuesday night 450 Vegas league, I didn’t feel well and knew I shouldn’t go. Instead, being bullheaded, I hopped in the truck and headed to the range. My energy was at the lowest it had been in a long time, and my body ached. Without very much energy, I didn’t know how things would pan out.

It didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off the bus. Instead of pulling over into the breakdown lane, I kept the throttle on the gas. When I help people, I always tell them to carry it through until the end, even if it’s one of their worst days of shooting. You never learn much on your very best days, but you can learn a tremendous amount on your bad days if you pay attention and write it down in your performance journal. Yes, everyone should keep a performance journal if he or she truly wants to track problems and find solutions to fix the problems. If the same things keep showing up in this journal, you will know that you’re not working hard enough to correct those issues. If new problems arise, it gives you faith when you look back at your journal and realize that you can figure out methods to combat your problems and confront them head on.

Well, when I was done for the night, I had shot the lowest score I’ve ever shot on a Vegas round since around 1992 if my memory serves me right. I shot a 430, and I even totally missed the target one time. Being tired, I lost back tension and couldn’t save the string from lunging forward. The end result was an arrow that hit the bale on top of the target. Yup, shit happens. When the night came to a close, I didn’t need to write anything in my journal to analyze at a later date. Instead, I identified that I shouldn’t go to the range when I’m that tired and my body aches. Sometimes, even if you’re committed to a league, you just need to stay home on certain nights. I won’t put myself through that again. Without having any energy, it was impossible to function at an acceptable level. That was the lesson of the week as far as leagues go.

I spent some time outside since the weather was so nice. I worked on my long-range shooting. It felt really good, and I shot some good groups. I don’t have much to report on that front, other than I had really good marks heading into the indoor 3D Wintercam Classic.

When I got to the Classic, I was able to shoot a handful of practice arrows, but I’ve never been much for shooting a lot of practice arrows before a 3D round, so that didn’t bother me a bit. When I came to full draw for my first scoring arrow, I was surprised with the wave of nerves that hit me. I didn’t really expect them, but they were definitely there, front and center. With the nerves going full bore, I was unable to hold well enough to shoot at the bonus rings, so I tried to hold as good as I could in the 10-rings and execute the best shots I could. As with any tournament, I calmed down as the shooting progressed. By the seventh target, I felt like I was holding well enough to start aiming at some of the bonus ring. I hit my first 12 on shot number eight and ended up shooting six 12s and a few eights in my last 12 shots. I considered that a really successful round.

As with any tournament, I didn’t know what to expect when the bell rang for the second shooting session. When I hit full draw, I was surprised to have no extra pin movement. It didn’t take me long to understand what was happening, and I knew I had to take advantage of it. I put the pin on top of the 12-ring and executed a great shot. The arrow found it’s mark. The same thing happened to the next two shots, and I barely missed the 12 on the fourth one. I knew I was rolling. I had a few long shots on the next end, so I played relatively safe and aimed where the 11 and12 rings connect. One arrow found its way into the 12 and the other just missed. With confidence building and sitting at a solid 12 up, I decided to go for it. Unfortunately, I had a little bit of a bobble on the next shot, and it hit a hair below the 14 ring and in between the 12 and 14. The arrow scored as a five. The next arrow barely missed the 12 ring and landed in the eight-ring. Between the two arrows, they probably missed by a combined total of 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch.

That right there brings me to my next topic. Think about this……….there’s a lot of luck in this game. If I had about 1/8 of an inch on a ruler, I could have accumulated 13 more points, putting me at 424. But then I have to think about all of the ones I got lucky on, too. I had two arrows that were on the bottom side of the 12 and were barely licking the line. They are four points that easily could have gone the other way, which would have put me at 420.

Far too often we get overly concerned about the score. We talk about other people and say, “what the hell happened to so and so………..or I can’t believe so and so shot that well.” In the end, should we really even look at anyone’s score and pass judgment? No, we shouldn’t.  I shot really well this weekend considering all of the changes I’ve made. I’m thankful for Mike Price offering to help me, and I’m trying my hardest to work on the things he told me I needed to work on. It has been tough.

In my adventures on the tournament trail, I’ve been really lucky to have won some really big things. I’ve learned one thing that is constant in these wins; you definitely have to shoot well. But you also have to get a little lucky. That’s why we are Joes and not pros. Many pros don’t need the luck because they repeatedly pound the same holes and have no flaws in their execution. I’ve won some things in which I definitely didn’t shoot my best, and I’ve lost many more things in which I couldn’t have shot any better. You should always keep that in the back of your mind. I’ve also learned that if you put yourself in the position to win and you’re not winning, eventually your time will come, but when that time comes, you need to be mentally prepared to drop the hammer on your competitors. That’s why you can’t lose confidence and consider yourself the first loser when you don’t win. I barely missed the cut with my new shooting form this weekend, and the main reason I did that was because I had too much tension in my release hand. But I did put myself in a position to have a shot at it, and I couldn’t ask for more than that. You should never forget where you came from if you start winning. In my opinion, the best winners are the humble ones. If you’re a Joe, or even if you’re a pro, you can quickly go to that arena of fallen bull fighters. It only takes getting poked in the ribs one time by the bull to knock you out. Some people recover, but others never find a way back to podium.

I’ve also learned that many of my friends battle the same things. Paul Bertrand shot a great score, but he said tension in his release hand held him back in the beginning. It happens to everyone, so don’t think you’re the only car on the highway when you’re driving through the place in your mind that can become really scary at times. There are others who are on the same road that you’re traveling. Take a step back, look around, see the shooters on the line and realize that 98% of those guys are on the same exact road that you’re on that you think nobody else is traveling on.

I apologize for being so long-winded with this one, but many things came up over the weekend that made me think about a variety of things. I did realize that I really need to find a way to work on relaxing my release hand while setting up and executing. I’ve always battled with finding the perfect amount of tension to have in my hand while holding the release. It feels as if it’s too tight or too loose at different times. I’m fairly certain that if I can figure out how to beat that demon, I will be able to be much more consistent.  Here are my cards for the weekend. Although I would have liked to have done better, I’m really satisfied with it. It could easily have been a 424 with a hair tiny bit of luck.

After seeing Jon Brown post his staff shooter profile appreciation things lately, I’ve decided to do the same thing on here. Every week, I’m going to try to say a little something about certain people who have been a part of my journey and have had an effect on my game. The first one to get the nod in this is Shawn Couture.

I think I met Shawn when he was still in the youth class. Although he’s not much younger than me, he’s young enough so that I’m glad I never had to compete against him in the youth class. Shawn has always been one of those people in New England whom I respect the most. It’s probably because he’s  humble. The guy is a phenomenal shooter and has posted some pretty impressive scores in target archery and on the 3D range. How many people can never judge yardage and still show up at a regional 3D event and run with all of the big dogs? Well, Shawn has done it on more than one occasion. I can’t remember if it was when I was shooting in the Open B class or if it was when I was shooting in Semi-Pro, but I was the last one to show up at my stake at the ASA Pro-Am in Roanoke, Va., and I was glad to see that Shawn was on the same stake. I’m not sure, but that might have been about 20 years ago. Shawn wasn’t the only lefty in the group that weekend. Rob Luke, from Pennsylvania was the other one, and Rob ended up winning the tournament. Over the years, Shawn has always listened to me as I exhale all of my issues I’m battling. It’s pretty hard to find someone’s ear who understands my language, but Shawn has always been that guy. Next time you see Shawn on the range make sure you give him a nod. He puts a lot into archery and always has a good attitude. He also works toward making the sport better in our region. I’ve even heard that if everyone keeps their ears tilted, he might be working on a project that we will all appreciate. Anyhow, thanks Shawn for always listening to me babble and giving me the vote of confidence that I need from time to time. It has never passed by me without being appreciated.