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.


Where Did the Obsession Start?

February 2nd, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








A Different Kind of Trip to the Woods

December 7th, 2016

A few days ago, I headed to the woods with Alex Kershaw, an internationally known visual artist from Australia. I hadn’t seen him in a few years. The last time he was in town, we worked from sunup to sundown for a few days, allowing him to gather enough footage for his project that will be released in international art galleries when it is completed.

In my travels, I’ve been around a fair number of very intelligent people. Each person has had unique qualities that sets him or her apart from the others. Alex stands out above all of the people I have met in the past.

I’ve never been around anyone who is so open-minded and objective. He listens, observes and doesn’t cast opinions based on his own thoughts. He takes things at face value. These qualities are so incredibly hard to find in a person that it seems like people like this don’t really exist. Instead, they are fictional characters in fairy tales that are shared with kids while they’re growing up.

As Alex followed me through the snow and down the hill to the place where I intended to sit with him until it got dark, I made sure to show him how to figure out if a deer was a buck or doe by showing him the urine-stained snow. I explained how does urinate behind their tracks and bucks usually urinate in their tracks or slightly ahead of them. This fascinated him ….. and me.

With a few minutes of daylight left, I spotted a doe making its way down the hill toward us. I gently reached behind me and grabbed Alex’s ankle and whispered, “There’s a deer up there.”

The deer fed along the ridge behind us. I could hear another deer, but couldn’t tell where it was standing. I heard a few sticks crack when it was moving, but I couldn’t pinpoint the noise. I whispered to Alex that I knew there was another deer in the vicinity.

Suddenly, the doe snapped her head up and locked onto us. I knew she was going to bolt, so I let Alex know that the fun was about to end. Seconds later, she blew and bolted, and two other deer ran out of the small depression behind her.They quickly disappeared into the brush above us.

We packed our gear and headed up the mountain. He asked a few questions along the way, but we didn’t waste any time getting out of the woods since it was now dark.

He couldn’t figure out how I knew there were other deer in the area when we couldn’t see them. He also didn’t know how I knew that the deer was going to run away.

I never really thought about it, but I realized that I take these things for granted. I’ve spent so much time in the woods that when I’m in a deer’s world, I know how to speak the silent language that is only found among the animals of the forest. I have become so in touch with nature that I am one of the beings that calls the forest home.

While walking out, I realized that I see things that very few people ever experience. I see the woods come alive almost every morning. I watch squirrels wake up in the morning, stretch their legs, and start scurrying from tree to tree to gather food. I watch woodpeckers  fly to their favorite trees to hammer them like a jackhammer tearing cement apart. I look into the gray sky as I hear geese and see them flying south.  I watch their V formation and wonder how they can hold it so steady. I watch owls quietly glide through the air and land on nearby limbs. Their heads turn on a swivel while they ready themselves to pounce on an unsuspecting mouse, which I might have seen crawl out of a stump a few minutes earlier.

Before I head out of the woods, I watch animals fill their bellies on the way to their homes. Deer browse along and mind their own business, and squirrels sometimes compete with them for a few morsels of food. The birds stop making noise, the turkeys fly into their roosting spots, and coyotes begin to howl as they get ready to search for food.

I’m unbelievably thankful that I was introduced to hunting when I was a child. It felt good tonight to be able to give back in a small way. Alex is an incredible man. I’m not sure if he will ever hunt. I suspect that he probably won’t try it, but he has at least experienced a few of the things with me that he never would have otherwise.

Every day in the woods is a gift to me. I enjoy it for what it is. I get to witness the cycle of life, the hunters and the hunted, and the education that is passed on in the silence of the forest. Hunters have a unique bond with nature. When Alex’s art project is released in one of the top art galleries, I’ll be interested to hear what the viewers see when they stand back and take it in. I will be able to learn from a different brand of people, just as a different brand of person learned from me………….a contribution to the cycle of life.t

The End of the Tournament Archery Season

August 15th, 2016


Well, the time is here again. Twenty-five years ago I began attending the IBO World Championship in August. In some ways it seems like it was just a few years ago, and in others it seems as if it happened in another lifetime.

I’ve had as many ups as downs, but I continue launching arrows toward the scoring ring in hopes of hitting what I’m shooting at. Unfortunately, I’ve never been a person with natural talent. I’ve had to work really hard at the game to achieve any of the limited success that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience during my journey.

One thing has remained constant through the years……………..I’ve met some phenomenal individuals, and I’ve become lifelong friends with many of them. I’m not sure when my desire to compete at a high level really started, but there is one event I can remember for a number of reasons. It was nothing more than an IBO World qualifier put on my Active Bowhunters out near Buffalo, N.Y. I had recently read in 3D Times about a guy named Scott Tozier who had won the IBO Indoor World Championship. I knew he lived in my home state, and I was pretty sure he would be at that tournament. The tournament was listed as a 30-target shoot. Although I thought I was a good shooter, I wanted to see if I could compete against one of the best in the country.

After shooting a few practice arrows at that tournament, I walked to the first target. A downhill turkey at about 37 yards looked back at me when I stood on the stake. Unsure of my yardage, I set my sight and put the arrow directly in the center of the waddle for a 5. Disgusted, I went to the next target. It was a small deer up a small grade on a hill. I shot out the top of the 10 for an 8. Since scoring was 10-8-5 at that time, I went on a run. Over the next 28 targets I shot one 8 on a pretty tough course. I was ecstatic. When I go the results Tozier had won the tournament with a 293, and I came in second with a 291. Although I didn’t know Scott at the time, that one tournament opened my eyes that I had the ability to be as good as one of the best 3D archers in the game. It gave me a desire to push forward.

Over the years, Scott and I became pretty good friends. We became teammates for some indoor and outdoor events as well as for the IBO National Triple Crown in the SPM class. Although neither one of us was as strong in indoor target archery, as a team we were hard to beat. He drove me, and I hope in some ways, I drove him to be better. We both went on to win a lot of things including our indoor state championship, which is always hard to win no matter what class you’re shooting in. Scott went on to win the IBO World a number of times in different classes, including SPM. Unfortunately, my luck always seemed to run in the other direction. Some unbelievable incidents due to equipment failures cost me some really big events. I was able to hold my own and finish at the top of my class in all of the major classes, and I’m probably more proud of that than any other archery accomplishment. If you can win in one class, you have the ability to be at the top of any other class. Scott and I are both living proof of that, so never let anyone tell you that you’re shooting a lesser class if you prefer to shoot one of the ones with closer yardages.

Back to this year…………it all started with Lancaster. As I prepared for it with my buddies George Connors and Chuck Weeden, I was shooting some phenomenal scores with a BHFS set up, which is a pin without any magnification and a short stabilizer. I was regularly averaging in the high 640s. I was ready. When I got to the tournament, it was as if the wheels fell off the bus. I suddenly realized that I was a phenomenal shooter in my own backyard…….probably like the majority of other shooters out there. I needed to work on getting over the hump.

Throughout the spring and summer, I was able to shoot a number of times with Scott, Rick Baker, and Don Doherty. I also got to shoot with some of my longtime friends in New England, friends who have always been good archers, including Bill Romanchick, Dana Harding, Adam Carlise, Mike Lambertson, and many others. They all helped me to improve, and I felt like I was finally gaining ground.

Don and I have become extremely close and as most of you know, we shoot the same class and have a great rivalry. While we both want to win, we both find great satisfaction in the other’s success. Don put on one hell of a shooting display over the course of the IBO National Triple Crown, besting the field by 20 points, which is almost unheard of for the overall in the triple crown. Although I’ve always wanted to win the National Triple Crown and have come so incredibly close a number of times, Don pulled it off on his first trip to all three of the shoots. I was disappointed that I didn’t make a good showing, but then I realized that the next closest guy to me was 20 points behind me —-I shot really well, but my big buddy just put it to me. I was happy for him, just as he would have been happy for me.

Last weekend after the first day of shooting at the IBO World Championship, I felt like I shot really well. I was disappointed when I saw that Don had a rough day. It really wasn’t fair because he had to shoot in some bad weather, but I also knew if anyone had the ability to crawl out of the hole to make a comeback, it would be him, and I always route for my good friends. As we waited for scores to be posted, I knew that Scott and Don were both on the bubble in their respective classes. When they were posted Don had made the cut once again for the second year in a row. I was really glad that we would be able to shoot together in the finals for the second consecutive year. Although I got off to a rough start on the first target the second day by shooting a low 5 on an alligator, I rolled off 13 elevens in the last 18 targets, which put me in 3rd place going into the shoot off.

Unfortunately, Scott didn’t make the cut, but for the battle he’s facing with his hip, I think he did a phenomenal job. If I could shoot like him, I’d be really happy. There aren’t many people who I respect in the shooting arena more than Rick Baker, Don Doherty and Scott Tozier, and I’ve had some pretty close battles with all of them over the years, even though Ricky doesn’t remember a few of ours in Semi-Pro back in the day. Every once in a while I was able to beat one of them, and it made me want to be better. If anyone in New England or New York wants to model their shooting after a good shooter, those three guys are at the top of the book for all styles of archery. A lot of times a shooter will excel in one discipline of archery, but these guys do it in every area. Sometimes I wish I could do what they do, but then I realize we all share our thoughts about the game with each other, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that knowledge.

When it was all said and done yesterday, I finished in 3rd place and Donny climbed from 5th to 4th. Last year we finished back to back, too, so it was only fitting that we did it again this year before Donny decides to go in another direction to try another division. I know he’ll succeed because I’ve shot with enough people over the years to know that he has exactly what it takes to be successful every time he shoots no matter who he shoots against. Just as I rooted him on when we shot together, I will root him on when he chases championships that don’t involve me. I love when my closest friends succeed, even if it’s at my own expense. It only makes me better.

This 3D season might have been the most fun I’ve had since the first day I ever stepped on a range, and that’s because Jon Brown and Bob Gattorna took the initiative to bring the IBO events back to New England and New York. Since I wanted to see it continue in a good direction and try to bring a giant event to the region like the old National Archery Festival in Merrimack, N.H., or one of the Northeast Championship events that used to be held in the Lake George region, I joined the team of IBO directors in New York. I need people in my region to work with me to help us grow the organization. We need to bring as many people to these events as possible. Encourage friends and family to attend and give me idea about what we can do to improve attendance.

The end of the 3D season is a time to realize the accomplishments of others, too. Although I’m sure I will forget a lot of people in this, I’ll give kudos to a few that come to mind as I’m typing this. Congratulations to Brian Kasten for winning the IBO Indoor World Championship this year. I know it was a long time coming, but nobody can ever take that win away from you now — Great job!!

Debra Beaupre congratulations on your New England Championship. You worked really hard to achieve it, and you should be extremely proud of how far you’ve come. I’m glad the PSE bow that JB hooked you up with is working great.

Adam Carlise, I can’t say anything other than what we all saw you do in Lancaster on lifestream was an unforgettable, remarkable performance………..well-done, oh, that arrow was in, too. hahahaha

Jason Kennedy, I’ll never forget the first time I shot with you and when we all learned that your wife has large fingers, but we will keep that between ourselves. Congratulations on a fantastic season that most people would give their right arm to achieve.

Brian Purdy congratulations on your shooting display in Maine. That was one of the best days of 3D shooting that I’ve ever seen. I hope it’s a sign of what’s to come next year.

Austin Jones, you my man, are an inspiration to me. I’m glad our paths crossed. I’m really excited that you won the IBO National Triple Crown and the World Championship. That is one heck of an accomplishment. I hope you continue moving forward and reach all of your new goals. I took the picture below last year before we were even friends. It’s amazing how things work out.


Jeffrey Paes, thank you for showing me that there are other people like me who battle hidden diseases every day. When I meet people like you, it makes me realize that we are all on the same team. You are an inspiration to me. I wish I could shoot as well as you, but I’ll be sure to practice harder this winter, so I can give you a run for your money. Congratulations on your great year. I hope you had fun at the IBO World Championship. You looked like you were a seasoned pro out there.

Nate Wilhelm, you have the tools to become really good if you decide to set goals. You will have to work for what you want. Those things don’t come without a lot of hard work. Congratulations on your first year of competitive shooting. You had quite a run. I hope you remember it as you get older. Enjoy your first year of college.

Jon Purdy, you have one of the best shots I’ve ever seen. There are many days when I wish I could execute a shot like you do. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments this year. If I’m not mistaken you started by making the cut at the Lancaster Classic and then went on to win three state championships and a shooter of the year title. I can’t wait to see how the next year unfolds for you.

Paul Morgan congratulations on your Massachusetts State Championship. You put on a heck of a performance. I hope you’re able to repeat it again next year. It was simply awesome on that course.

Rick Baker, you’re shooting skills are unbelievable. I’m glad we finally got to shoot together again this year. I had a great time when we did. Although your trip to my place for a few hours last month probably didn’t seem like much to you, it helped me in a lot of ways, so thanks. Your accomplishments are too many to list here, so just keep it going next year and stay strong and steady. I admire the way your shoot and I value our longtime friendship.

Chuck Weeden, you showed me that you have everything it takes to accomplish the impossible. When you put up a score like the one you put up at Northern Dutchess, you should realize the the sky is the limit. Thank you very much for giving me the desire to shoot again and to help others in the process. You are one of the key reasons why I’ve gotten back on the horse and haven’t fallen off yet.

George Connors, I’m not sure when you decided that you wanted to make sure everyone in the New England archery circuit knew your name, but you accomplished that this year. I’m still speechless from some of your performances. I’m still not even sure how you did what you did, but it was more than impressive. I can’t wait to see what the future brings, and even if it doesn’t every bring anything like this year again, you will always have that one special year. I know it will continue, though. Thank you very much for making me want to help you and driving me to succeed. Thanks for the support that you and Chuck gave me when I was on the road, too. Congratulations on all of your titles from this year, which are too many to name.

Sean Roberts, there’s not many questions about your ability. You can do anything with a bow if you put your mind to it. Just stay strong and steady. With a little more experience on the big state, I think you could make a great showing. Keep working at it. You definitely have everything you need to succeed. Congratulations on your wins this year.

Dana Harding, all of those miles turned out for the best. I was really happy to see you make the cut at the IBO World Championship. Congratulations. There’s nothing like seeing one of us old timers with a chance to win it all. Keep at it!!

Sara Kay and Ed Kay, you guys always seem to find your way to the top of the scoreboard. Congratulations on all of the fantastic finishes this year and last. It’s always good to see women shoot at a high level. It only helps us to introduce more shooters to the game. Good luck on your elk hunt this year.

Bill Romanchick, you put out some jaw-dropping scores this year. I’m glad to see it all coming together for you. There are very few people whom I’ve enjoyed shooting with over the years more than you. You are the man. I couldn’t be more impressed with your shooting. Congratulations on making the cut again this year. You keep giving yourself a chance at the World Title. I root for you every year, and I will continue to do so because it’s really easy to root for a good guy who does the same for you. Thanks for the support over the years.

Dad, thank you for continuing to go with me to all of the shoots as you go into your 70s. I couldn’t have a better partner to travel with, talk to, and shoot with. Thanks for everything. Congratulations on your continued dominance on the 900 round throughout New York and New England. Your reign has been pretty impressive.


Melanie Gross, congratulations on making the cut at the IBO World Championship. I know you’ve worked hard at it and sometimes it’s an awesome feeling when it all comes together at the right time. I hope you enjoyed the entire weekend and absorbed every minute of Sunday because so few people get to experience making the cut and shooting on the final day. Way to go!!

Jacob Slusarz, you are a freak of nature. I’ve never met anyone your age who is so grounded and appreciates the people in your home area. If you continue shooting we all know you will probably be a regular in the winner’s circle in the pro division. You make it very easy for all of us to root for you every time you go to a tournament. Although it’s hard for me to offer someone of your skill level any advice, I hope you were able to gain a little bit from some of the 3D advice I gave you and what bow to switch back to. On your journey forward stay humble and be a people’s pro. Darrin Christenberry has always been a friend of mine since we shot together in the late ’90s, and he’s no different to me now than he was then. He’s a great one to watch when he’s on the range. Congratulations on your phenomenal year. It was a great building block for you, and I’m sure you will keep climbing the mountain. Congratulations on your finishes in the IBO National Triple Crown as well as all of the indoor stuff.

……..and I save the best for last. Congratulations to Don Doherty for winning the IBO National Triple Crown. I can’t tell you how impressive your showing was in those three tournaments. Although I won the last leg, I felt bad in some ways because I wanted you to sweep the series when I knew the overall was out of reach for me. I’ve seen some good shooting before, but you were in the zone for most of the way. I’ve admired you as an archer and as a person since the day I found out we tied at the Massachusetts State shoot a couple of years ago and I won the tiebreaker. Since that time, I’ve gained more respect for your abilities as a shooter and your character. Thanks for listening to me when I call you up to blab or just chit chat about shooting. Thanks for not getting irritated with me when I bitched for 15 hours on the way from Indiana about ricocheting off the arrow. I appreciate all of your time, honesty and integrity. You have made me a better archer and I’m thankful for that. I’m also glad that we’ve both been able to share some of our greatest moments together. I’m giving you a fist bump right now big buddy.


So……….until next year………I hope everyone gets even better next year. I apologize to anyone I left out. The ones above are the first ones that came to my mind.





Father’s Day 2016

June 19th, 2016



I’ve seen all the posts all over social media today about people’s fathers. Although this entry will end up there, I’m pretty sure my dad wouldn’t be offended if I didn’t put anything on there at all. I’ve always made it known how I feel and to a lesser extent how much I appreciate everything he has done for me and my family members.

Looking back at my childhood, I never had to search for a role model. I had the perfect role models in both of my parents. They taught me the difference between right and wrong and laid a solid foundation for me to build upon.

Today I sit back and look at the big picture. I’m still not sure how  47 years have gone by in the blink of an eye. It seems like I was 30 years old a few weeks ago. Through it all my two role models have remained the same, and luckily they are both still with me today. They’ve seen me through all the highs and lows, and I’ve been on top of the world at times and in the very depths of despair at other times.

Today is the celebration of father’s day, so it’s only fair that my father gets his props today. I’m not about buying insignificant gifts to say thanks for being a great dad. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think a generic gift really does what so many other people think it does.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write anything for my mom this year, but she was in Europe with my dad on Mother’s Day. Once again, my two role models living a life that so many other people can only dream about. When they were pregnant and married in high school over 50 years ago, I’m pretty sure not many people would have given the relationship much chance of surviving the test of time. Parents of one at 18 and parents of three by the time they were 22.

Two children began giving lessons to their own children before they were old enough to know much about life. It’s amazing how much life experience can give to a person, but my parents figured out as they traveled along the road of adulthood.

My father introduced me to team sports because he never had a chance to play them since he grew up on a dairy farm and spent countless hours in the barn milking cows, in the fields cutting hay, and on a tractor plowing and sewing fields. The farm enabled him to learn how to do everything under the sun. Unfortunately, I never picked up on a lot of those things, but in reality it’s probably because he did everything for me. He showed me how to change tires, brakes and oil even though the dipstick oil event turned into a memory he will never forget. He taught me how to properly mow the lawn, rake the leaves and turn the power off in the fuse box when something needed to be worked on that involved electricity. He taught me how to cast my fishing line in the slow eddies behind rocks in the big rivers to entice big brown trout out of their hiding places. He taught me to find overturned leaves and determine if deer were overturning them while feeding on acorns or beechnuts. He taught me to locate a cluster of rubs in the woods and figure out a plan to see the buck that left them in that place. He taught me to inhale while steadying my aim with a rifle and exhaling as I squeezed the trigger until the shot broke. He introduced me to the stick and string, which has since consumed my life. He showed me some of his hobbies, and I followed in his footsteps and taught him a little bit along the way. I’m sure he never imagined where he and I would travel when he placed a bow in my hands as he was building his home in 1974. I’m sure he never imagined I would have a successful archery career littered with halfway decent accomplishments in amateur ranks as well as semiprofessional ranks. I’ll bet my last dollar that he never imagined we would reach the summit of 11-12,000 foot peaks in the Rockies while chasing elk. I’m sure he didn’t know he would have to pack extra gear to make sure I was okay and my diabetes wouldn’t lead me into the darkness of death. Although I was unconscious at times and it didn’t phase me, I bet he remained calm and steady while bringing me back to life. I’ll never forget when I came home and the red and white Yamaha 80 dirt bike was sitting in the driveway. He taught me how to drive it and let me rip around the fields behind the house. As time moved on, my mother took out a loan to buy me a Honda XL 200, so I could follow my passion of riding off road. She paid the loan every month for a few years just so I could do my own thing.

I still remember laying on my belly under an apple tree behind the house. My dad and I were inches apart when the turkey gobbled. My shotgun was pointed forward when I saw the bird coming toward us. Although I knew it was a hen, I could hear my father telling me to wait. Seconds later, I pulled the trigger and celebrated my first wild turkey. It was long before anyone in the area even turkey hunted.

Last fall I sat beside him on the float plane as we waited to take off. Once in the air, we both looked out the windows and took it all in. I’m not sure of his thoughts, but I know I was thankful for the journey that brought us to Newfoundland. It all started when he taught me how to shoot a gun when I was 10 years old, then a bow, and my passion for the outdoors and hunting took off from there. When a son shares the same passion as his father, it’s going to create a lifetime of unbelievable memories —— and it has done exactly that.

When I wrote my books, I dedicated them to my parents. They have supplied me with everything I ever needed to do anything I wanted to do in life. I don’t take it for granted. When my mother called me at work a few years ago in a panic-stricken frame of mind, I knew I might lose my dad. Luckily, he survived the heart attack and gave us more time to enjoy his fatherhood. Sometimes it makes me really angry when he doesn’t follow the doctor’s directions. I’ve always followed the orders since I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1975. I just wonder why he can’t do the same thing. It would probably extend his life, but at 69 years old it’s pretty hard to change a person’s habits.

I could continue writing for the rest of the day, but I have to cut this short because I’m going out to dinner with my heroes. Hopefully, the time together will be a good time to reflect on the meaning of the day and what brings us together.

Thanks dad for always being there, even when I have been less than deserving. Congratulations on your gold medals the last two weeks at the Massachusetts senior games and the New York senior games. It’s really nice to see that you’ve excelled in that arena after carting my ass around the country for all those years and watching me succeed. It’s nice to finally be on the other end of the stick and see the success. I hope you’ve enjoyed your day. I know you’ve probably been outside all day working on something. You might have mowed the fields with the tractor, worked on the deck, messed around with the stones or maybe, just maybe you sat back and relaxed for the day. No matter what happened, this is your day. Happy Father’s Day. I love you dad.