many times have you made an unbelievable shot that you just couldn’t fathom
making under normal circumstances? Usually you are alone in your
backyard and in a split second you make the shot and when your arrow lands
where it is intended it shocks you and you look around and no one sees the
shot!?!? Maybe you are in a treestand and make a great shot on
game—and again, no one is there to see it. How about a 3-D
range? You are on a range and make a fantastic shot none of your
shooting buddies will believe you made. Is it luck? Or
As an exhibition shooter, one question I often get from the media or someone in
an audience is to describe how much what I do is luck and how much of it is skill.
I’ve often pondered this same question. After all, when you shoot baby
aspirin tablets from mid air with a bow you tend to wonder yourself.
I don’t like the term, “trick shot”, I don’t mind being called
lucky. To me trick shooting always meant that the show was done with smoke
and mirrors. As for luck, who doesn’t like a little good luck
now and then?
will say that as an archer I’ve done my share of practicing. I started
shooting a bow at age 4 and by age 10 could pretty well hit what I wanted to
hit back to 20 yards or so. I often pretended to be Fred Bear on
some great adventure. I once told Fred that he was partly responsible for
my shooting– he was my hero and role model. Fred just laughed that huge
laugh of his as his shoulders rocked up & down. Some kids
played cowboys and Indians, I pretended to be “Fred
a teenager I didn’t play any school sports, I was interested in archery.
That was my sport. I remember around the time I was in college I often
shot two hours a day. It was around this time (1986) that Rev. Stacy
Groscup got me into exhibition shooting. He took the last
drink of a Pepsi and then asked me to get my recurve and try and hit the can as
he tossed it into mid air. I did hit the can and he put me in
front of an audience that very day!
days maintaining my equipment is the biggest challenge to my shooting
during a heavy travel schedule. I am on and off a lot of airlines and my
luggage gets pretty beat up. Plus the equipment takes a lot of wear and
tear when you are doing show after show.
used to rely on my father to tune my bows and if I missed I missed. I
blamed myself. This all changed after a bad performance for my
friend Rob Keck at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s National Jake’s Day
event. I was shooting well when the show started but by the end of
the show took far too many tries to hit the baby aspirin. It turns out
that the wax in my bowstring got hot and allowed my string to stretch
just enough to cause my nok point to change. It took a lot of shooting to
hit the baby aspirin at that show so I decided I had to do something to
prevent this at future shows.
that performance I learned how to tune and maintain my own
equipment so that on the road I can check my bows and keep them up to
par. I also travel with a back up bow set up exactly like my main bow
thanks to my friends at SKY/Mathews Archery. That way if something
happens I can’t fix, then I have a backup bow. Just last year I accidentally
broke the rest on my bow while posing for publicity photos on the King
Ranch. A piece of mesquite brush broke my rest. Luckily I was able
to find some glue and fix the problem until I got home.
back up equipment and the ability to tune my gear has helped my accuracy remain
consistent on the road. Last year I did shows outside in the summer
at an event in El Paso, Texas. This is probably the hottest
city in the country and thanks to my bow square and some tuning, the bows shot
fine. Although I did tune my bows two or three times DURING each
performance due to the severe heat.
guess the lesson here for us all is to have back up equipment, some knowledge
of how to tune and maintain our equipment, and the ability to improvise in worst
case scenarios. I write the tuning information on my bow limb with a
permanent marker as a reminder of where my brace height needs to be with each
bow. I also keep a careful eye on my nok point too. Humidity,
temperature and even altitude can change equipment and the way it
performs. It helps to be aware of this and how to remedy it
so that you can still shoot accurately in a variety of conditions.
this mean to a big game hunter? Well, if you live down south in hot
temperatures and low altitude and go on an elk hunt, your archery equipment may
perform differently in the Rocky Mountains than down south. I’d advise
getting there a few days early to get yourself used to the altitude and to have
time to try your equipment under these conditions.
difference in skill and luck often times just means that the harder you work
the luckier you’ll get. Hopefully this article will help you get your
equipment ready for your fall seasons.
do have one confession to make regarding a purely lucky shot. Since 1986
I’ve traveled across the country doing exhibitions. The
particular shot I’m speaking of took place during an exhibition I was
doing at the Bowhunter’s Jamboree in Union Grove, NC around
1988. They had a long distance deer target set up as a fund raiser next
to where I was doing my show. As the show went along some heckler kept
yelling, “Shoot that deer way out there…”
ignored the heckling for a while but finally decided to answer his
challenge and try the long distance target so that the guy would be still
so I could finish the show. I’d seen the target down range and knew
it was pretty far away. I spun and with one quick fluid motion sent
an arrow down range at the 3-D deer target around 70 yards or so away. Keep
in mind I never shoot past 20 yards at an outdoor show. I rarely
even practice further shots.
Totally out of character for me, I swing around drawing my bow in one
fluid motion and release an arrow towards the target way down range.
“Whack” the arrow sinks right into the bullseye of
the target seventy yards down range. It was a perfect
shot! The crowd went crazy and I was as amazed as they
someone that was at this event will come up to me and mention the shot.
I am amused that over the past 19 years or so the distance has grown as the
story circulates, it’s now said that the target was around 100 yards
away. Whenever I hear this story retold I just grin and thank them for
mentioning the show.
it luck or skill? Let’s just say I wouldn’t try that one
again. Thanks for reading, until next time—Adios & God Bless.