Looking Back at the Year in Archery

I’m not even sure where to start this, so I guess I’ll go back to the beginning of the year and take a look to see where it brings me. Unfortunately, Chuck and I canceled our plans to go to the Lancaster Archery Classic in January. I wasn’t shooting well and neither of us were really up for it. Deciding not to go ended up being a good decision.

In doing so, I was able to sit home and watch from afar as Jon Purdy and Mike Speed shot some great qualifying rounds and advanced into the elimination matches. Mike drew the number one guy and had him on the ropes until the last end. Jon kept his cool and began mowing people over before moving into the rounds that took place on the big stage. He looked cool as a cucumber and let the world watch his flawless shot execution on the big screen. It really was like watching poetry in motion. I feel fortunate to be able to shoot next to him two times every week during the winter archery leagues. Jon also shot an incredible round at the Mid-Atlantic sectionals and took the title home. He couldn’t do anything wrong during the indoor season. It was awesome to watch. It’s a pleasure to be in his presence. Just a few days ago, Jon’s 3D season came to a close when he shot an awesome round at the IBO World and made the cut. He came out in 5th place, which was another incredible accomplishment in an entirely different format of archery. Not many people can say that they have done the same. Congratulations Jon, you had a heck of a year. Hopefully, your success continues next year. It’s always easy to route for the good guys.

Of course, his brother Brian couldn’t let Jon have all of the recognition. Brian also put up one heck of a round at the IBO World and went into the final day in second place. He was able to secure a spot on the podium for a runner-up finish at the IBO World. Great job, Brian. Although he got mad at himself a few times over the summer, he put it all together when it mattered most. That’s what makes a true champion.

Since we’re cruising along with the family genre, I can’t forget John and Jacob. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting with both of them this year on the 3D range and indoors. Everywhere my dad and I go, Jacob and his dad are there, too. When I look around at the younger generation, I  see a lot of disrespectful young people. Jacob is a pleasure to be around. He’s always very complimentary and thankful. Although he’s one of the very best archers in the country, you would never know it by talking to him. He’s very humble and he seeks advice from people who are nowhere near as good as him. He gains a little bit from a lot of people and that is part of what makes him so great. Watching him shoot is a little inspiring. It brings me back to a time when I was much younger, and I like going back to that place. I’d be here all night if I listed his accomplishments, but I can tell you how hard it is to win the IBO National Triple Crown and the IBO World. If you ever accomplish either of those feats, you can sit down and pat yourself on the back. To win those two things at any time in your career would be incredible, but to win both of them in the same year is beyond believable. Besides doing that Jacob shot 119xs at the indoor nationals as well as rolling off another amazing three rounds in Vegas and his normal awe-inspiring round at the Lancaster Archery Classic. Although all of those things are amazing, the best thing Jacob did this year was to win the third leg of the national triple crown the same weekend his dad got on the podium at the same shoot. John, you had quite the showing this year. When we shot together at the New Hampshire state championship, I knew you had it in you to get on the podium at the nationals. Sometimes, you just have to trust in your ability and let it happen rather than trying to make it happen. Great job to both of you this year. I’m glad I was able to share a lot of time with each of you in different venues throughout the year. It made me a lot better, and I’m thankful for being pushed into a higher gear. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. Stay hungry and judge your yardage. You can be one of the best ever if you put your mind to it. Keep judging and gaining knowledge from everyone.

I could probably spend hours writing this, but I’ll spare you the time of having to read through it and try to make it short. There are more people than I can possible think to include in this entry, but some of you definitely deserve recognition.

Jeff Wagoner never ceases to amaze me. Two years ago, he shot a 300 at the NY State Indoor Championship and this year he was shooting 60xs and 450s in indoor winter league with a release. It goes to show you that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

I was pretty excited when my traveling partners from another era both contacted me this year to try out some of the shoots in New England. When Brett Dufour and Wade Chandler decided to come out of retirement, I knew they would be able to hold their own. They were always great shooters, and I was certain that time probably hadn’t changed their abilities. It was no surprise to me when they both won their respective classes at the Vermont IBO State championship, the first shoot they that both chose to come out of retirement at. I felt like I had been transported back to the old times when we competed against each other, competed as teammates and drove each other to be the best we could be.

As long as I’m talking about the old timers, I might as well include the person who I’ve shot competitive archery with for the most amount of time. In my early 20s, I began going to big tournaments with Doug Vaughn, and we’re still going together. I’ll never forget sitting in a bar in Oswego, NY, after a day on the course in Fulton, N.Y., at the second leg of the IBO Northeast Triple Crown, and seeing a white bronco plastered all over every TV in the bar. We had no idea what was going on until someone told us it was OJ Simpson in the white bronco. Wow, how time flies. We finished the tournament the next day, and they brought national guard truck in with water to keep people cool. The temperatures never dropped below 95 degrees. Since that day in the early 90s, Doug and I have shared a lot of adventures. I could never ask for a better guy to talk to about anything. Doug’s year this year was second to none. He started the year in SHC but chose to move into HC in hopes of winning the Bowtech bow at the finals. If he had stayed in SHC, he would have won shooter of the year, and even being in his late 50s, he still came close to winning the HC and beating the young bucks. Great job Doug. I hope I can stay at that level in a few more years.

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention a couple of my favorite people in New England/NY series that put a lot into it, and the results show. Deb Beaupre is always very positive and her positivity carries her to heights that many other archers never attain. A lot can be learned tom that, and more people would be better served to model themselves after her while shooting their bows. Great job this year! I was disappointed that you didn’t make the dance at the IBO World Championship, but I can say that I know exactly how it feels to be the first person on the outside who is looking in. I’d rather get stomped than to end in that place. I’ve finished there on four different occasions. All I needed was one tie to get in, and there were no ties. One year, I even shot a 5 on the very last target when I was shooting in the semi-pro class and that 5 cost me from participating on the final day. All I needed was an 8. I guess that’s what a bad yardage call does to you. Hopefully, you continue to improve, and you’ll have your day to shine. Keeping preparing yourself mentally and the sky will be the limit for you.

Melanie “Superstar” Gross never ceases to amaze me. She’s a grinder, a grinder that collects an awful lot of belt buckles to make one helluva wind chime. Her damn neighbors must get pissed off because they can never get any sleep with those things banging around when the wind blows. You did a great job this year, especially at the IBO World Championship. It’s pretty hard not to lose ground that final day when the nerves are coursing through your veins like an out-of-control locomotive that’s ready to go off the tracks. You did really well to come off the mountain and finish on the podium. A podium finish is the most satisfying thing you can get for all of your hard work. Heck, of the 1,200 people who competed at the championship, there were only about 40 winners. There are always more losers than winners and to win always takes a little bit of luck. Sometimes you have the luck and sometimes you don’t. Great job this year. I hope you are able to use the experience and improve next year.

As I’m trying to recall everything that happened this year, I’ve come to realize that I will most definitely forget a lot of people. I have to say that I was pretty impressed when I opened the scores from the Maine IBO State Championship and saw that Gary Jones had won the SHC class. He grinds like all of the rest of us, and being relatively new at it, this shoot was the highest of highs. It shows him that he can do it, even when he finds himself near the bottom of the pack at times. Great job on your win and hopefully your pursuit of perfection brings you to the top of the mountain many more times.

Mike “Baby Bob” Lambertsen, you never cease to amaze me. When I think you’ve hit the bottom of the barrel, you always make me realize how incredibly well you shoot. I love when you put up the big scores just like the old days. If you would stop beating yourself up for insignificant things, you will improve your path to success and many of the obstacles will disappear. Congratulations on your Vermont IBO win and your tie at the New England Championship. When you can finish at the top anywhere in the northeast, it’s quite an accomplishment, especially with the level of shooters you’re competing against. Keep plugging and find the groove for next year.

I had the pleasure of shooting with some old timers a few different times this year. At one tournament, I got to shoot with Rick Baker, Bill Romanchick and Wade Chandler. It made me feel like I had been transplanted back into the late ’90s, and it was awesome. It always amazes me when I watch Rick shoot his bow. It seems effortless and nothing ever bothers him. He holds like a rock and executes perfect shots every time. He’s the most consistent shooter in New England when it comes to both venues, indoor target archery and 3-D archery. He’s always in the hunt no matter what game he’s playing, and not too many people can say that. He always lends me his ear when I have any type of question, whether it’s personal or bow related.   Billy has also been around since my initiation in NewEngland almost 30 years ago. It has been a pleasure to watch him lay down some impressive scores, especially the way he shot at the New York IBO State Championship when I shot with him. When he’s dialed in, he’s unbeatable in the MSR class. Not many people can dominate their region in the class they shoot like he does. It amazes me how he does it.

It was nice to see my buddies Wade Chandler and Brett Dufour come out of retirement this year. They both made their return at the Vermont IBO State Championship. After the dust had cleared, they were both winners. Who can do that? They came back after 10-15 years of being away, and they won their respective classes. I guess it shows you that people who learn how to shoot the right way never really lose it.

A lot of people in New England impressed me this year, but a few really stood out other than Jacob. Brandon McFadden is one of them. He put up some pretty impressive scores this year, especially when he shot pins and crushed everyone in the BBO class. Who can shoot pins and beat all of the guys in a scope class? I was amazed at how he lit up every course he shot this year. Then, at the IBO World, I was glad to be paired with him on the final day. We had a really good time, and I watched a tremendous display of shooting. Of the 10 targets in the final round, he smoked five 11s and barely missed a few others. Unfortunately, he had a little bit of bad luck near the end and ricocheted off from my arrow into the 5. It’s a really crappy rule that we couldn’t do anything about, but it sucks to give a great shooter a 5 when it landed where it did because he broke an arrow in the kill zone. Although I can’t stand the rule, I understand it because I lived it last year. I know how frustrating it can be when it happens. At the end of the round, Brandon found himself on the podium, which was pretty cool. In one class there were two people on the podium who were from New England. Brandon kept me honest and made me strive to improve.

Without having my big buddy Donny around too terribly much this year, Brandon brought out the best in me. He pushed me to the limit and made me realize that he will continue winning. Donny always pushed me to get better to keep up with him and not having him around this year very much made me search for other motivation. I was really disappointed that he had to take a step back. I’ve had a good time competing against him the last few years, and I value his friendship more than he could possibly imagine. Hopefully, he can return to his winning ways next season. I missed him a lot this year but also feel lucky to have been able to shoot with him two or three times.

Since I’ve spent some time on pin shooters, I must mention Andy Bush, whom I met in 2015 when I won the IBO World. He was in my group the first couple of days. His attitude and easy-going nature made it easy for me to stay focused and shoot to the best of my ability. He has worked really hard at his game, and the results associated with his work have been nothing short of phenomenal. Andy put on a shooting clinic at the Winter Cam Classic in Rochester, and he followed it up at the NYFAB Indoor State Championship. He didn’t stop there, either. I was happy to have him join me on the final day for the shoot off in the IBO World Championship. He made the cut and shot very well. I expect him to keep improving and posting great scores and finishes. Andy also hooked me up with a Beestinger stabilizer that I was looking for this year. Andy, continue pushing forward and gaining ground. I always route for the good guys like you. What you did this year was really impressive.

Everywhere I go, I see my little buddy Jeffrey Paes. He struggled at times this year, and I saw him getting frustrated. Having been through it in my own travels, I tried to offer advice and explain that it happens to everyone. Although he listened to what I said, he kept on working at his game. He’s improving every time I see him, and I wish him all of the luck in the future.

No matter what tournament I’m at or how far I’ve driven to get there, I always see the Kays, and seeing them makes me happy. When I see them, I smile and realize that they’re as addicted as we are to this game. It’s nice to hang around people who share the same passion at the same level. We’ve both been traveling around doing it for the last 25 years. This year the Kays put up some good scores in their travels, and Sara impressed me more than once since I occasionally shoot the same stake that she shoots. At the New England Championship, Sara put up an incredible score that reflected all of her hard work. It’s always cool to watch people make equipment changes, whether it’s a bow, release, sight or something else, and come out and put up a big score. It shows all of us that it’s okay to take chances. I hope we continue to see the Kays at all of the events in the future.

Sara wasn’t the only person who put up some impressive scores this year, Jerry Galley absolutely pounded a couple of courses, especially the New York IBO State Championship course and the course at the first leg of the National Triple Crown. His wins in both of those shoots were pretty damn impressive. Congratulations on your first win at a national event. Sometimes when we thing our hard work will never be rewarded, it finds us when we’re least expecting it. It was good to see that your hard work paid off. A national win in any class in impressive. While I sometimes here people talk about the number of people in a class and downplay other people’s success, I understand how hard it is to win in all of the classes, since I’ve shot in many different classes. It’s always hard to win and learning to win at that level is important. It was nice to see you learn how to finish the job and get it done. I wish you much more luck in the future.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to type this entire thing and not mention the guys in my group at the IBO World Championship this year. Robert John Vayro, Robert Montgomery and Jim Fogle made my tournament enjoyable, and they contributed to my success. They made me feel relaxed and everyone in the group was positive, even when things weren’t the brightest. This helped me remain focused and calm to accomplish one of my goals for the year. I have to thank all of them. Robert Vayro is from Australia, and I had the pleasure  of shooting with him last year, too. He’s a great guy to shoot with, and he always keeps everything relaxed. I haven’t shot with many guys like him. I feel very fortunate that he presented me with a hat, pin, belt buckle and a shooter shirt from Australia. I felt very honored and thankful for his gratitude. Shooting with guys like them is what makes the game so much fun. That’s why we should always try to treat others with respect and just go have a good time, even when we’re not shooting well.

Every year, I work with a lot of people to help them get better. Although I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my archery career, I always take more pride in the people I try to help.

George Connors had a phenomenal 3-D year last year, but came up a little short this year. It took him all year to figure out that it was equipment related. Although he held his own, he didn’t put the hammer down on everyone like he did last year. I was really glad he was finally able to go to the IBO World this year. He ended up being the first guy on the outside of the cut line. I’ve been there many times, five I think, and it really sucks. I hope he gets another chance to redeem himself and make the dance. I know he has the game to do it. His indoor season was nothing short of phenomenal. He pounded out a few 60X games and 450 games, and he won the New England NFAA Indoor Sectional for his class with 56Xs, and that was one of the worst rounds he shot all year. I expect great things from him next year.

My award for the hardest worker has to go to Chuck Weeden this year. It took me a long time to convince him to sacrifice the rest of the year and shoot nothing but his Stan Black Jack. He has worked harder than most people can imagine, and when I snuck up behind him a few times and watched him shoot, I was more than impressed. He has learned how to be patient and let down shots when they don’t go off rather than force them off. He has learned that score doesn’t mean a damn thing. Score is insignificant when you’re retraining yourself how to shoot. By the end of the season, Chuck became really consistent. All of his scores were within a few points. When people become consistent, they usually stay there for a bit before jumping up a little bit.  I look forward to watching Chuck’s progression because his journey reminds me very much of my own journey that started almost 30 years ago. Hopefully, I have saved him some time that I wasted while learning the hard way.

 

Victoria Vrooman gets my new archer of the year award. I’ve never seen anyone who picked up proper execution of a shot as quickly as Victoria. She shoots a perfect shot every time an arrow launches from her bow. She wants to be at the top but has to realize that it’s a progression. She was in 15th place after the first day at the IBO World. I was more than impressed. Some bad weather rolled in the second day, but she still finished around the halfway point of the class. She has only shot a bow for six months. I can’t wait to see how she does this winter when we go indoors. She’s a pleasure to be around, and I really enjoy her desire to succeed. She’s a winner. She needs to continue working on her patience to allow her to achieve all of her goals. Focusing on the process instead of the results will lead her to the place she wants to go. Great job, Victoria. I’m glad I’ve been able to help you find a hobby that you can excel at. It has been a pleasure to watch.

I almost forgot Sean Roberts. Of all of the shooters out there, he reminds me the most of myself. He has to work at it extremely hard to succeed. Success is a direct result of the amount of work we both put into it. Neither one of us are naturals. We don’t have that magic rock that helps us get to the winner’s circle. Instead, we grind every day. We think, breathe, eat, sleep and drink archery. We strive to do the best we can. I was really happy for Sean when he finished in 5th place at the last leg of the National Triple Crown. He earned that finish, and he learned he could compete at that level. He got the confidence that he needed, and that confidence helped him get the big win at the IBO World Championship. I was really happy for him when he secured the win. It’s always easy to route for the guys who route for me and respect when I’ve accomplished. Great job Sean! I hope you improve upon this year and put up just as good of a year next year. You deserve it.

I need to wrap this up, especially since I’ll be headed to Colorado in a week. I was glad to see 3-D season come to an end last weekend when I teamed up with Jacob at Shawn Couture’s shoot. We had a great time. Although we started off a little slow and whacked a tree, we quickly regained out composure and got on track. I’ve learned that when Jacob gets pissed off, you had better watch out because he goes into autopilot and becomes possessed. I love being around Jacob because he’s calm, confident and humble. He goes about his business, and you would never know how good he is unless someone told you. We got lucky enough to get a win and collect $400. That was pretty sweet.

Whenever I’ve shot with Scott Tozier in team events, I’ve always shot well. Jacob has the same type of calming effect for me that Scott has for me. I’d sign up with either one of these guys anytime I had the chance to do so. I think we all bring out the best in each other.

This winter, it was nice to shoot next to Scott at a vegas tournament. I enjoyed filming him in a shoot off and trying to figure out what was causing his small misses. We figured it out after a few minutes. I’m thankful for Scott’s friendship. He has helped me on many occasions. He always listens to me bitch, and he offers good words and advice at the right time. Jacob’s approach reminds me a lot of Scott’s approach. That’s probably why they’re both winners.

Watching Scott win the IBO World in crossbow was incredible. Is there anything this guy can’t do? I don’t think so. He knows how to win. It’s that simple. There aren’t many people who  know how to win like he does. It’s impressive to watch. I’m certain that there aren’t many guys who could take down the crossbow legends in target archery like Scott did at the final shoot of the year. It was unbelievable to see what he did. I always enjoy watching him do his thing.

Well, as for me, I can’t complain about my year. I broke out my moveable sight in the spring after having the worst indoor year I’ve ever had. I wanted to prove all of the naysayers that I could shoot with a moveable sight since so many of them don’t know my past history. I broke it out in Rhode Island and shot the highest score of any shooter off from the blue stake by about 10 points. It felt really good to know I could still compete at that level. When the season had ended I got to the top of the mountain many times and shot the highest score a few other times. I had one of those memorable years in which there were peaks and valleys. Some days were flawless and other days were a brutal grind. Jacob saw me grind, and he also saw me shoot with ease at other times. Even while grinding, I still stay focused and try to accomplish the same thing………..shoot good shots.

A few weeks ago, when the season ended at the IBO World Championship, I was glad to be able to go home with a World Champion belt buckle for the second time in three years. When people talk of the “zone,” I can relate to it. I was in the zone for most of the weekend. Although there were a few lapses, I stayed calm on the inside until it was over. I’m glad the season is over, and I look forward to all of the new memories that are waiting to be made.

Since this was so longwinded, I apologize to all of the people I forgot. I didn’t forget you, I just got rambling and wrote what game to my mind. I love everyone in my archery family. I’d like to thank Scott Tozier, Mike Lambertsen, Rick Baker, Doug Vaughn, George Connors, Chuck Weeden, Jacob Slusarz, my dad, Travis Boyd, Paul Bertrand and Jim Despart for always listening to me when I have questions and answering me to help me out with whatever I might be asking questions about. I take a lot of things from a lot of people to help me with my pursuit of making good shots every time I draw my bow.

Until next year…………………….visualize making perfect shots and stay warm in the tree this fall. Shoot straight.

 

 

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