An Archer’s Journey: Frustration 1:7

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

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

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.

An Archer’s Journey: Injuries, confidence and good friends

February 25th, 2018

Since I enjoy shooting a bow so much, it sometimes becomes rather difficult to listen to my body when it talks to me. For the last few weeks, my joints, tendons and muscles have been telling me that I need to take a break. Being bullheaded, I blazed forward and figured I could beat the damn pain. Well, sometime that’s just impossible.

This week I wasn’t able to do very much with my bow(s). The injury in my elbow has gotten progressively worse and really flares up when I shoot one of my bows. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the amount of shock that is distributed into my arm when the arrow jumps off the bowstring and is launched forward. Trying to deal with the pain has been a chore and has eliminated most of my actual training. This week I was only able to shoot on my two league night, and I probably shouldn’t have even done that.

My hold was halfway decent on Tuesday night. I made a lot more good shots than bad ones. I ended the night with a 446 and 27 Xs. I feel like I’m finally starting to flatten out a little and gain some consistency. Amazingly, I can easily identify why I miss when I miss now. I also know that it I follow the steps properly, I will shoot every arrow in the middle. If I leave something out or try to rush through a step or two, I will usually miss, even it the miss isn’t by much.

I’ve been missing a few arrows at 6 o’clock lately, and after talking to George about it, I’m pretty sure we figured out exactly what is happening. I’m getting a little dipping and bobbing as I get into the shot and it fires right when the pin is at the bottom of the circle. I’m pretty sure I’m losing just a tiny bit of back tension, which is resulting in the low misses. I will make sure to work on maintaining the same pressure throughout the shot to keep this from happening in the future. If the same thing continues, I will know that I haven’t properly identified the 6 ‘o’clock problem.

I was unsure what to do on Friday night because of the pain in my elbow. I knew that I couldn’t shoot the bow that jars my arm, but at the same time, I felt like I could shoot as long as the bow didn’t beat me up. I quickly sighted in Mark’s bow and put his sight back on it. To my amazement the arrows hit right behind the pin when I made good shots. This was an incredible difference from last week when I struggled with the bow while trying to get it to group. Looking back at it, I found the problem. I recently traded a sight online and the problem was in the sight. Supposedly, it was a brand new CBE Vertex. Upon receiving it, I could see where there were a few scuff marks on it, so I knew that someone definitely had their hands on it, even if he didn’t use it. The quick detach would not lock down without having all sorts of slop in it, either. With the sight doing that, it wasn’t returning to the same place after the shock of the bow moved it, causing the arrows to spray. I lost all confidence in the bow, but in reality, it wasn’t the bow.

After shooting the bow through paper and getting the arrows to make a bullet hole through paper, I knew that the tune on it was pretty close to where it had to be. I knew I shouldn’t be getting the shots that were appearing in the target. As I continued shooting the bow, I started losing confidence. I thought it was me making bad shots, even though I knew the shots weren’t that bad.  Finally, I made two perfect shots. The arrows both scored as inside out Xs on the Vegas target. The third shot was as good as the first two, and the arrow landed dead high in the 7-ring. That’s when I instantly realized I wasn’t the reason behind the bad grouping. After further study, the sight was to blame.

Although I tell people all the time to pay attention to this stuff, I ignored what I tell them. If you are a good shooter, and you’re making good shots, the arrows should hit behind the pin or pretty damn close to that spot. If the arrows aren’t hitting there, there is most likely a problem with the equipment. You have to trust your form before your confidence takes the hit. Confidence gan be extremely hard to regain once you’ve lost it, and in turn, it could lead you to begin making bad shots for no reason at all. Trust your form, trust your shots and don’t be afraid to blame it on the equipment. But be careful when you start transferring the blame to your equipment. There’s a fine line between equipment problems and YOU problems. If you don’t shoot well in a tournament or on league night, don’t start blaming the equipment for something that has to do with your imperfect execution.

So by the time Friday night league got done, I felt pretty good about my shooting. I had an extremely hard time holding the bow steady because the draw length on Mark’s bow was about 1/2 inch short. I’m going to get the modules from him tomorrow to see if it makes things better. Although I only shot 51 Xs, the round felt a lot better than that. I got out of the gate with five Xs, but the next round saw the round take a downhill turn when I only anchored two Xs. Once I got into the round, I felt like I could shoot really well with the bow if I had a little more draw length. I went from hating this particular bow a week ago to realizing that I think I really like it. Actually, the only reason I didn’t like it last week, was because it was frustrating the hell out of me when the arrows weren’t hitting behind the pin when they should have been. The handle on the bow felt good, and I liked the way the bow reacted when I shot it. Now, after adding in the right let-off stops for me, the draw length became too short. I’m excited to try it with the correct mods on it not that I have the right stops on it.

I won’t be shooting much this coming week due to the elbow issue. Although I’m headed to the Wintercam Classic next weekend, I don’t expect much. It’s really hard to set something up this time of year to shoot at 3D targets when I’ve been shooting at paper. I also don’t have much ambition to stand outside and wing arrows in subpar weather. I did go outside on Wednesday when it was 70 degrees to make sure my marks were close. I shot a pretty decent group at 50 yards, so I think I’ll be able to keep them in the scoring rings.

Remember as we make this final push of the indoor season to concentrate on the things you’re working on. If your main objective is to have a successful 3D season, then you need to really make sure you focus on making good shots. The size of an average 10-ring on a 3D animal is considerably larger than an X. Pounding Xs isn’t that important as long as you can make good shots and keep them in a kill that’s the size of a small deer. That’s why many times in the amateur ranks of 3D, we see people win who don’t necessarily pound paper. It’s a different game that doesn’t require the pinpoint accuracy in many cases. Have fun and don’t over-aim. Confidence is everything in this game. As you saw earlier in this post, it comes in goes in the snap of a finger. Pay attention to your confidence, because as your confidence goes so does your shooting.

Here’s the group I shot at 50 to get my 50 mark.


An Archer’s Journey: A Sore Elbow 1:3

February 19th, 2018



  The last week has been rough on my body. My elbow injury from last summer doesn’t want to leave me alone, and this week it kind of came to a head. A few of the days, I dealt with a substantial amount of pain. With that being said, I wasn’t able to do too terribly much with my bows.

The week started off well, though. I headed to the range on Monday and worked solely on executing my shot with a relaxed hand. I have realized that it is essential to relax my hand and forearm to execute a perfect shot. To do this drill, I went to the club after work and shot a 450 came from 12 yards again. I pounded the center out of the target, and I made 43 perfect shots. It’s amazing how easy it is to shoot a bow when there’s minimal movement in the sight picture and when there’s no payoff for where the arrow lands once it is launched from the bow. As the old saying goes, “I’m Roger Staubach in my own backyard.” I’m sure some of you younger people won’t get the reference, but I’m sure most of you can relate to the quote. Although I can remember days that I’ve felt the same on the tournament trail, I’ve never sustained the test of time.

When I finished practicing on Monday night, I felt like I could do anything. The process was locked in and everything seemed easy. I knew I would find out how it really worked when I went to league the next night. When I attend leagues, I still feel a little bit of nerves. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been nervous when I shoot. I’m even nervous in my basement. I guess it’s just who I am as a person.

When I started practicing before Tuesday’s league started, I felt really good. The feeling continued throughout the round. I have to go back to about 2004 to find the last time I felt like I did on Tuesday night. My shot felt so good that I felt like I couldn’t miss; shooting was incredibly easy. In the middle of the round, I let my mind wander around a little bit, causing me to miss a couple of steps in my process. When the scores were tallied, I ended up with a 446 and 25Xs, however, my execution scored a 447 with about 38 Xs. I only missed one arrow that I shouldn’t have missed. I made a good shot and the arrow landed just below the 10 line at 6 o’clock. The paper was torn, and the arrow probably could have gone either way if the line was reconstructed. It was my bad for not changing the target. The other shots missed because I got a little tense and let the shot get out of my back and creep into my shoulder. Instead of letting down and starting over, I figured I could put a little extra tension on the release to get it to fire. Well, I found out that, unlike my old shooting form,  it’s not going to work with my new shooting form. All three of those arrows hit dead center at 12 o’clock in the 9-ring. I was easily able to identify why the shots landed where they landed.

Wednesday and Thursday I needed to take time off because of my elbow. I didn’t go near a bow, figuring it would serve me well for the weekend. I decided to shoot the annual Guan Ho Ha archery tournament on Friday night with George. I met him at the club for a few minutes to shoot a few arrows before heading down there. I could tell that it wasn’t going to be one of my better holding days, and I would probably score as well as the pin floated.

Surprisingly, I was pretty wound up during the first scoring end. Of the six practice arrows, I shot four 10s and two 9s. The best thing was that I made good shots. On my first two shots I hit dead center low under the 10-ring down near the bottom of the nine and a hair to the right. I gave the sight a few clicks and figured I would be ready on the first scoring end. Well, to my amazement, I began shaking more than I had mentally prepared for, and my sight picture was considerably different than it had been the last few weeks. I didn’t pay much attention to it and kept pulling. When the shots broke, they hit where the pin was and I ended up with two 9s and a 10, and every arrow was to the left of center.

The rest of the round got progressively better, and I felt good about at least half of my shots. I did notice that throughout the round, my release hand became tense, which transferred into my shoulder. When I felt it in my shoulder, I didn’t fully rotate the shot into the back and tried chicken-winging it. Mentally, I felt it here and there, especially near the end of the round when I was getting tired. Although it was in my mind that I was doing that, I wasn’t completely convinced because my shots still felt pretty decent.

When I finished my round, Mark Meyers told me that I looked a little bit short on draw length. I’m fairly certain that it was because I didn’t rotate and transfer into my back properly near the end of the round. Although I could feel it, I didn’t make the adjustment. I need to work on that in the future. I love having people who are knowledgable and share their knowledge with me to help me figure things out. I appreciate Mark’s eye, especially when he could have been watching a lot of other people. He knows what I’m trying to accomplish, and I trust his judgement. That’s what make things easy and saves time.

When we added the scores up, I ended up with a 440. I never paid attention to my score after the first end. I just stood there and tried to execute the best shot possible. I feel like I did a pretty good job. I also feel like I shot as well as the pin held. Most of my misses were to the left, other than the ones in the practice round and first scoring round. Looking at the target I didn’t miss my much considering how the bow felt like it was holding. I felt really confident after getting done. I thought I was going to shoot my all-time low score in a tournament, which wouldn’t have bothered me, but I ended up tying it. Scores aren’t important when you’re working to improve something.

My buddy Rick Baker came over from New Hampshire to shoot on Saturday morning. I watched him shoot about half of his round. He looked really smooth. I always like watching him shoot because he makes it look so easy. He told me his pin was shaking around quite a bit, too, but I never would have noticed. He looked pretty solid to me.

In between lines, before I headed home, I tried out a PSE PerformX 3D. I liked the way the bow felt. It felt really good when I had the shot in my back, and it seemed to hold well. I also executed good shots with it. Mark Meyers also let me bring one of his bows home to try. With the elbow pain I’ve been having, I’m fairly certain that I can link it to the bow I’m shooting. There seems to be a lot of shock going into my forearm and ending in my elbow.  I need to do everything I can to alleviate some of that.

Saturday and Sunday I spent some time shooting the bow that Mark let me borrow. I love the handle on the bow, and it feels pretty good at full draw. I’ve tried every let-off module and can’t seem to get the feel I need. I’ll keep working with it to get that feel. Jacob and Mark have both given me a lot of input on this bow. It’s always nice to have people who willingly share information about things they have learned. I appreciate that with all of my archery friends. It seems nice to know that I have so many friends in the archery community who go out of their way to answer any questions I might have. Thanks to all fo you, and that includes way too many people to list.

It’s weird how I need a certain feel to make the best shots possible. I know I might be unlike a lot of people who can pick anything up and shoot it, but I also am beginning to realize what I need to help me make the best shots that I’m capable of making. I’m glad that I’m starting to figure that part out. It has taken about a month of playing with different bows, but I feel fairly certain that I have a pretty good idea what I need. I guess time will tell with that.  Here’s a picture of the Guan Ho Ha target. If I eliminate the big misses in the first two practice ends and first scoring end, I feel pretty good about how it looks. Sometimes the score is not reflective of how we actually shot. I shot a much better round than I scored.



An Archer’s Journey: A Bumpy Road 1:2

February 11th, 2018




Trying to get back to targets like this, which I shot with a BHFS set-up. One day at a time.


Over the years, I’ve realized that shooting bows can be easy if I allow it to be easy. I’ve also noticed that it can be incredibly difficult if I let my conscious mind become overly involved. Quieting the mind has always been something I’ve worked hard to achieve. When I was practicing this week, I had an extremely difficult time quieting my mind. I will need to focus more on that in the coming weeks. Sometimes archers have no idea that working on these things is essential for people of my skill level. Although I can’t confirm it, I don’t think that all archers face this battle. I believe that some people just shoot and don’t have to deal with the outside noise. I could be totally wrong, and I will never truly know because it’s impossible to interview every archery in the world.

This week was trying for me because of all of the bad weather we had. Having to shovel three times this week and break ice in the driveway made it really hard to hold the bow steady when I had time to shoot. I started the week my working on my aiming since aiming seems to be coming along the slowest of all of the things I’m working on. I spent about a half hour working on my aiming on Monday night without firing an arrow.  I pulled back, set the shot into my back, kept my finger of the trigger and just aimed. I aimed until the sight picture  broke down. I noticed that it was more difficult than I had imagined it would be due to my breathing. I never think about breathing when I’m shooting, but my breathing came into play during this exercise. After I finished my aiming drills, which consisted of sets of 10, I ended the session by shooting a dozen blank bale shots.

Tuesday found me at the range for my weekly Vegas league. I decided I would work on the transfer into the back for the entire round and focus on that. I would do the best I could with the aiming, but the transfer is what I decided to focus on. When the dust settled I ended up with a 446. I was happy with the score, but realized it could have been much better or worse. A few centimeters one way or the other could have made it an incredible round or a bad one, which is usually the way it goes for everyone. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky — or unlucky– we are when we calculate scores.

Wednesday was a busy day for me, so I didn’t get to do too terribly much with my bow, but I did take the time to do some blind-baling. I always find it amazing how easy it is to get the shot to go off when blind-baling as compared to when your eyes are open and you’re aiming at something. For me, I all comes down to tension. I run into issues when I have tension coursing through my body.

I got out of work early on Thursday to run down to Flying Arrow Sports to see my friends Jim Despart and Paul Bertrand. I texted Jim the day before and asked if he had a module I was looking for, and he told me he had it. I figured I would run down and get it so I would have enough time to put it on and shoot a little bit that evening.

After eating dinner, I ran to the club to see how it felt. My shot felt pretty good, and the transfer seemed smooth. I felt that the draw was still a hair too short, so I put four twists in each cable to give me a little bit  more length. When all was said and done, I felt good about it.

Friday was a miserable day for me at work. I also had to do some running around to check on things for my parents. When I got settled in, I barely had time to do sit down before I had to rush out to Friday night league. When I got there, I couldn’t hold the bow steady to save my life, and I also couldn’t hold the shot in my back. I didn’t have any energy. Since those days happen every now and then when I’m attending tournaments, I decided to stay and push through the round. In hindsight, it was a horrible decision. I ended up shooting two arrows out of the white, and both of them went out of the white because I lost back tension, the arrow crept forward, and it couldn’t save either of the shots. After doing that, I stood straight, imagined what would have happened if I followed the steps correctly, then I watched the arrow go into the center of the target in my visualization. After doing that, I moved onto the next arrow. I never focus on the bad part of anything. Instead, I visualize the right thing with the right outcome and move on. I ended the night with a 298 and low 50 X count. I guess it’s not all that bad because the last time I shot a 298, I shot 57Xs. If you do that math, it’s painful to think about. This 298 didn’t hit as hard as that one. I’ll keep plugging. After having shoulder surgery a few years back, the 5-spot round has always given my trouble due to the number of arrows. Unfortunately, it’s like speed shooting when we’re shooting in the league and there’s no time to rest in between ends. I need the rest.

I ended the week this morning by working on transferring the shot and holding it in my back. I put the stock handle back on my bow to see if it felt any worse or better than the Shrewd handle I’ve been using or the no grip that I used for the last week. After shooting, I’m unsure if I liked the handle or disliked it. I’ll have to shoot it a little more to make a solid determination. After practicing the anchoring and transferring, I decided to shoot a 450 round. I was happy with many of the shots. It seemed like I made two great shots out of the three on every end. I’m still not shooting very many Xs, but I think I’m shooting as good as the bow is aiming. I ended up with a 446 and 25xs. I need to work to improve the number of great shots. When I make a great shot, I will not miss. I feel like I was horrible with that at the beginning of the week, but I steadily improved up until today. The week ahead will be a new test.

I will be shooting the annual Guan Ho Ha tournament this coming weekend, and I’ll be shooting the annual tournament at Reedy’s Archery on Sunday. Although I was hesitant to sign up for either of these, I can’t get any better if I don’t put myself out there and take it on the chin if that’s what needs to be done. I feel much better than I did a few weeks ago, but I still feel like I have a very long way to go. Usually, the average person’s scores go down a few points in tournaments, so I don’t expect any miracles this weekend. I’m going to work on the changes I’ve been making and see if I’ve made any progress in a tournament type atmosphere.

Until next week—————>  keeping grinding……….because that’s what I’ll be doing.


An Archer’s Journey: Pulling out of the Parking lot 1:1

February 3rd, 2018



Well, I got enough feedback to make me realize that some people wanted to hear about the journey. I’ll do my best to chronicle my progress this year and share the highs and lows and all of the work that I put into it. Although I’m not a great shooter, I’ve been reached some successful points along the way. I’ll never be a Jim Despart, because there are very few who can ever reach that level, but I do love archery and put a lot into it. This is more for the average Joe’s who are trying to get better and dedicate a lot of their free time to it.

On Jan. 15, 2017, I headed out to see Mike Price. I made plans to see Mike because I figured that through our longtime friendship, Mike wouldn’t pull any punches, and he would do his best to help me fix any issues that needed attention.

After spending the day with Mike, we determined that I needed to work on having better posture in my daily life,  and I definitely needed to add draw length to my bow. Mike told me I could probably go an inch to an inch and a half longer. He believed that would take the pressure off from my shoulders.

Somewhere along the way, I got dragged into the hype of having to go shorter and shorter. The best year I ever had indoors, I averaged 59.4 Xs in my indoor league, and shooting was really easy. I aimed and the shot went off. I never thought about the shot itself. Along the way, I lost the ability to do that, and I began thinking about all of the things I needed to do to make a good shot. On the days when I was nervous, I couldn’t hold the bow still to save my life.

Well, this week I finally got the draw length on my bow to a good starting point. To my amazement, my draw length is now pretty close to what it was back in those days when I shot my highest scores and didn’t think about my shooting. I’m back to the same draw length I was at when I finished at the top in every class I shot in at the national level, including Freestyle in NFAA, MBR, MBO and SPM. I had top 3s in every one of those classes at the national level before I ran into the shoulder problems. I’m proud of those days, too. But somewhere in my travels, my draw length ended up at 27′ and the tension started to build. Looking back on it, I can now trace my problems back to when I kept shortening the draw length.

It felt really good this week when I measured the draw and saw that it is now at 28 3/4. It seems so long to me, and when I changed it, I didn’t think it would be possible for me to be comfortable. I’m already beginning to feel more comfortable, and it has only been a couple of weeks since I made the change.

On Monday night, I dedicated a solid two hours to aiming at arrow holes from 5 to 10 yards and executing shots with the new form. My main focus was on transferring the shot into my back during the draw. Once the shot settled into my back, I focused on following the steps in my shot sequence and remembering to hold steady pressure on my hand against the handle and in my back. During this two hour process, I played with some stabilizer weights to get the bow to settle down a little bit. I switched back and forth between a 27′ and 30′ front bar. Finally, I decided on the 30′ front bar. I have 2 ounces on the front of it and 14 on the 12′ back bar. It’s  not that much weight as compared to what many archers are currently running.

Tuesday night found me at my weekly Vegas league. When I got there, I had a very hard time holding steady and making good shots. Since I brought two bows with me, I decided to roll with the one I started with. After getting halfway into the round, I realized I needed to try something different. After the seventh end, I hung that bow on the rack and grabbed the other one. The next eight ends, I only dropped two 10s and ended up with a 441 17xs. The bow I changed to had a tad shorter draw length, which is what helped with my execution and aiming. While a 441 isn’t great shooting, it could have been a lot worse. I’m not overly happy with where I’m at because I feel like I’m shooting better than I’m scoring.

On Wednesday, I spent a lot of time blank baling and shooting at huge dots from close yardage. I’m not sure of the exact amount of time, but I shot arrows on and off from around 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. My shot started to feel repeatable that night. I realized that I needed to work on my hand pressure on the riser.

I went back to the range on Thursday when I got out of work. I worked on my drawing, settling and aiming. After I got done working on execution without caring where the arrows hit, I decided to shoot a 300 game on a Vegas target. I didn’t expect much since I was shooting my small diameter 3D arrows. I got through the first 5 ends clean and shot a 150 with 8xs. The next five ends, I began feeling the wear and tear from the previous two hours, as I was headed toward hour number three of firing arrows with this new system. When I finished the round, I had a 298 with 15xs, and I dropped both 9s in the same end. When I dropped the points, it was because I didn’t stay in the shot. I need to focus more on that going into the future.

Friday night is 5-spot league night. I knew that 60 arrows was going to be rough because I kind of over did it this week. I figured if I could get through the night, I would take Saturday off and get back at it for a few hours on Sunday.

When I was warming up, I had a really hard time holding the bow still. When the round started, the sight picture calmed down and the pin held much steadier. I’m still having some trouble holding the pin super still, but it feels like it’s improving, after all, it still is a very new process to me, and I’m using different parts of my body that I haven’t used in a long time.

I didn’t start very well out of the gate, but everything seemed to go right in the beginning of the round. I’m not sure if it’s because of the new paper. I waited three rounds before clicking the sight, and after that, I seemed to be dialed in the rest of the night. I ended up missing two Xs in the first end and two Xs in the last end. Besides those four, I only missed two other ones over the course of the round. I shot a 300 with 54Xs. I also shot the two practice ends and may have missed an X or two in them, but I can’t really remember those two ends.

Looking forward to next week, I know I have to continue the grind if I’m going to be ready for 3D season. It’s a work in progress in will require a lot of work to get back to where I feel like comfortable and confident with the new changes. In the few rounds I shot, I quickly realized that I need to let down as soon as I lose back tension. If I try to struggle through it, the weight goes from by back into all sorts of places in my body that it shouldn’t be. Last night, when I lost the tension a few times, it moved into my shoulder, forearm and hand. If I feel that in the future it’s a red flag……………GO BACK TO START. When I shoot shots the right way, I know I won’t miss, and it’s a tremendous feeling.  I really like it.

This week I saw a few guys on Facebook who were talking about shooting their best rounds, and a few other guys who said they were working on things. After reading this, how may people work this hard? Remember that most of us aren’t pros, we are just Joes. Sometimes it seems like Joes just don’t put in the work. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t believe that’s true. Sometimes Joes put in a lot of work, but the work doesn’t come out on the other end. My only advice it to keep plugging and have fun doing it. I just love shooting arrows. Hopefully, I will get a little better, but either way, I’ll have an awesome time while I’m trying.

The target below is the one that I shot in league on Friday night. 300 54Xs…………..I’m making progress. This round felt really good. I’ll work on front and rear pressure this week and making sure the steps in my process are firing like a well-oiled machine. How is everyone else out there doing? Now, is the time to work toward spring when we all start winging arrows at 3D targets.

An Archer’s Journey…..

January 29th, 2018


Last year when I was talking to my good friend Scott Tozier, he told me I should think about constructing a blog that chronicled my adventures in archery for a season. He said he came across one somewhere and thought it might be something that some people would be interested in reading. I’m unsure it that’s the case, so I guess I’m putting it out there to hear different people’s opinions on this.

While I’m certainly not a professional, I do put a lot of time into the sport. Most people would probably be a lot better than me if they invested as much time into as I do every year. I guess in the end it’s probably just because I love the mythical flight of the arrow. I love watching an arrow get launched and travel toward its intended target. Sometimes the arrow buries itself in the center and other times it ends up someplace that bothers me.

I got  a late start this winter because I used up every available second I had to hunt. I never launched an arrow until the last few days of December. The only reason I did that was because I made plans with my buddies George, Chuck and Jeff to go to the annual New Year’s Day shoot at Nimrod in Massachusetts. After all, I wanted to be somewhat prepared so as not to make a fool out of myself, even though nobody really cares how anyone else shoots. And that’s the amazing part, we too often get wrapped up in everything and think that others actually care how we shoot. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you that some people notice if we have slipped, but nobody really cares.

So, when I began shooting that week, I had a significant amount of shoulder pain. After some soul searching, I decided that I would call my friend Mark Meyers and ask him a few questions while I was discussing another archery related topic with him.

A week or so later, I decided to give my longtime buddy Mike Price a call to see if he could take a look at a few things for me and help me with some things that I’ve had problems with after getting back into archery after my reconstructive shoulder surgery in 2011……..which seems like it just happened two years ago.

I guess I’ll end this entry here to see if anyone out there has any interest in following along, participating, asking questions, and sharing it with your friends. I would probably give a weekly update as to what transpires each week and what I’ve done or worked on in the time period. I figure it might give others an idea what goes on when we really don’t know how much people shoot or how much they put into it.

Nothing I’ve ever done has come easy to me. I’ve had to bust my balls to achieve an inkling of success in anything I’ve ever done. I’m definitely not a natural and never will be. I’m a hard worker who probably fell a few steps short of different dreams in different areas of life. Archery has always helped me to center my mind. If you want to follow along on my journey, I’ll share it with you for the 2018 season. I’d like to hear anyone’s thoughts on this idea.

Looking Back at the Year in Archery

August 21st, 2017

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.



Rounding the Bases

May 4th, 2017



As spring gradually rolls toward summer, I see a lot of kids on baseball diamonds, girls on softball fields and adults reliving their glory days in recreational softball leagues. No matter where I go, the same memories race to the forefront of my mind. I can see my father wearing his red McCann and Clary shirt while standing on the pitcher’s mound and hurling strike after strike at me and my teammates, since kids were not allowed to pitch at that age.

I can feel the ball striking me squarely in the back during a game on a hot summer day when Mike Ahrens, who was a year older than me, launched the ball toward the plate but lost control of it. The stinging sensation as I tried to pick myself up from the dirt, regain my composure and walk to first base is still within reach, even 38 years later. I was fortunate enough that day to round the bases and score, which now makes me realize that I’ve been lucky to have relatively good health. I’m still rounding the bases, but others who I knew when I was younger have not been so lucky, including Mike. Although Mike and I were never friends, I did share a lot of good memories on the baseball field with his brother, Roger. When I look back on the simple things in life, it’s amazing how certain things stay attached and others disappear. Many home runs are unforgettable and others become a simple swing of the bat that get mixed in with batting practice cuts.

When I got out of college and entered the workforce, I joined the co-ed softball team at work. I figured it would give me something to do during the week. There were only about 70 people who worked in the office, and most of us on the softball team were like family members. Although the games were meaningless, they brought us together. I watched Ruth’s daughter throw dirt in Jim’s son’s eyes, and I saw Ruth discipline her in front of everyone, something that very rarely gets done these days, almost 25 years later. Meanwhile, both of the kids grew up and moved away from this “small town.” They had bigger dreams than all of us who stayed behind. It doesn’t make those children any better or worse than the rest of us. They are just trotting around the bases and taking in the sights and sounds.

I don’t recall getting upset with anyone. It didn’t matter if someone made an error, struck out, hit a home run, popped out to end the game, or even pulled a no-show when we really needed people. Every Tuesday night, Bob Choenier would roll into the beaten down ballpark on his Honda Aspencade with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Matt and Jim would arrive early enough to take some fly balls and get a few swings in before the game started. Jim always swore by his Subaru vehicles, and two and a half decades later, he still drives one. Gary Carter, Jim Patnode, Wendy Duval, Paul Schmiel, Ben Lapham, and a few others whom I’m sure I have forgotten were always on the field having fun. Nothing was bigger than any of us. We would all show up at work the next day and go about our business.

I’m not sure if it was because we were all so much younger, or if time had a way of changing things in a variety of ways. Our business expanded and the ratty, old ball field quickly had stands built around it. People started coming in droves and tore the players in many different directions, but the players kept rounding the bases. A few of  our contributors passed away far too young, but many of us still remain. Some of us headed down different career paths, some of us tried advancing our careers, and others fell in line and accepted the changes of time. Some of us made out better than others, but we are all still the same people. When you’re at the plate, you do everything you can to get around the bases and score. The team that scores the most runs wins…………..right?

Now, I wish I could just stand at home plate and blast home runs over the fence. I don’t want to round the bases. I don’t want to score. At the time, many of us didn’t realize that time doesn’t stand still for anyone or anything. Instead, we felt immortal. Many of our kids were young, some of us didn’t even have kids, and others were becoming grandparents. A few of us had battled health issues, but most of us didn’t have a clue about the beauty of life and the cruelty that can accompany it. We were ignorant to the ways of the world.

When I spoke to Ruth this morning, the topic of that old softball team came up, and I spent the rest of the day thinking about those days. I would race to Johnsburg after work to shoot in a 3-D archery league so I could get back in time for the game. It was the beginning of my target panic, which crippled me for a few years. Eventually, I was able to leap over the demon, and I found myself on the national scene, a place I had never dreamed of going. Although I wish I could go back, I’m extremely thankful for my journey.

When my bat connected with the ball last night, I was overwhelmed with how it felt. I knew the ball had a chance when it began its flight. Unfortunately, the wind held it up, and it hit the fence halfway up. When I began my journey out of the batter’s box, I realized how lucky I am to still be able to do many of things I have always loved doing. It saddens me that a few of the people I wrote about in this piece were not able to enjoy long lives. We never know how long we have, and that is why I pursue the things that make me happy. I might still be in the same office that I was when that ragtag group of co-workers formed that special team, but I have rounded the bases in my own way. I’ve reached for the sky in some areas, but fallen short in others. I’ll still keep chasing dreams, but I’ll never forget the teammates I had on the team that didn’t matter, the people who were around before things became complicated. I thank all of those people for giving me something to remember. When we hit balls in the gap, we always think we can get to second base. Sometimes, though, people never have the opportunity to get to first base. My trip around the bases has been incredible. I’ll keep running as long as possible. Although I enjoy(ed) hitting home runs, I’m now content to do it in my mind so I never have to cross home plate.