Jack Wallace II unscripted: Pro archer talks about contracts, regrets and his future

Jack Wallace II is well-known on the 3-D circuit. He’s been a tough competitor at ASA and IBO shoots for over 20 years.

This season, Wallace finds himself shooting without a bow contract – a unique, albeit unsettling, position for an archer who pays the bills with a stick and string. The longtime Mathews archer jumped to Hoyt in 2013, before moving to Elite last year. But when competition began for 2016, Wallace was shooting for himself.

Wallace sat down with LAS at the ASA tournament in Appling, Ga., and the OPA shoot in Uniontown, Pa., to talk about how he ended up in his current situation and about some past regrets.

High on that list of regrets, Wallace said, is a now-infamous video posted in 2013, following his jump to Hoyt, in which Wallace made comments about Mathews that many have construed as derogatory.

 

Jack Wallace II: 3D archery accessories you can’t leave at home

The 3D archery course can be an unforgiving place. Besides the course and other competitors, you’ve got to contend with wind, rain, heat, cold, etc. You’ve got to shoot through all of it. Lightning is basically the only natural element that will put a tournament on hold.

If you have an equipment issue out on the course, there might not be time to run all the way back to the registration area for help, which could be unavailable anyway. You’re going to have to deal with it.

Essentially, 3D archers need to think like Boy Scouts when they hit the tournament trail. They’ve got to be prepared. And they do that with the many accessories they carry.

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Pro archer Jack Wallace II has been accessorizing on the 3D course for two decades. And when he prepares what he needs to take to a tournament, he thinks about the wise words of that old guy named Murphy: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Here are Wallace’s takes on 3D accessories, infused with some of his memories of times when accessorizing played a role on the tournament trail.

LAS: How many years have you been competing as a pro at 3D tournaments?

JW: I have competed professionally since 1995.

LAS: What are some of your 3D highlight titles?

JW: 2 IBO World Titles, 2 IBO National Championship Triple Crowns, 3 IBO Shooter of the Year Awards, 3-time IBO National Team Champion, ASA World Classic Champion, 2003 ASA Shooter of the Year, 4 current IBO World Records

LAS: Besides your bow and arrows, what are some accessories you always carry during competitions?

JW: On the course I carry an extra scope lens, extra loop rope, an extra rest blade, extra sight light batteries, an extra sight light, an extra release, varied peep sight apertures for different conditions, a bow pod stand and my binoculars.

In the spring time shooting outside or in very dusty conditions, a scope cover and a lens pen or lens cleaner can help keep a crystal clear image for your scope and not a dirty, dust ball.

I have seen 3D shooters who run the LP Pro Light pack need batteries on the course, and not have any extras when their light starts to run out of power.

When I travel, I will have a small compact portable bow press, fletching jig and accessories, extra string and cables, extra stabilizers and weights, a portable target, a bow square, sight level, extra sight tapes, pliers and a needle nose.

A lighter has helped save us all when a serving has come loose or a loop or peep tie needed re-burned.

Basically anything I need to completely fix or rebuild a bow and arrows at a tournament in case it needs to be worked on. I believe in Murphy’s Law, so I bring as much as I can haul!

(Here’s a link to Wallace’s Pro Picks equipment list that he maintains with Lancaster Archery Supply.)

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LAS: What do you use to hold your arrows and equipment?

JW: I don’t carry a quiver. Everything is in a shooting stool that I carry that holds arrow tubes and an umbrella, has a seat and cooler and can hold all my extra equipment and tools.

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LAS: What tools do you always have in your stool?

JW: I carry Allen wrenches, steel pan scrubbers to clean target residue from carbon arrows, glue and a Leatherman for the most part.

There was a time when my bubble popped out of my scope housing. I could’ve really used super glue to glue it back in but I had none with me. I had to shoot the rest of that IBO World Championship with no bubble in the scope. Fortunately, I got lucky enough to win anyway.

Most archers run a quick detach system for their stabilizers. It is usually attached with a very large-headed bolt that is not on many Allen key sets. I have had mine come loose and needed one of those extra-large wrenches. I had one with me that time, but I have seen others not have one when they needed it.

LAS: If you had to give up all but one accessory on a 3D shoot, which one would you keep and why?

JW: I would keep a set of Allen wrenches from 3/16-inch down to .050-inch. They would fit most any accessory on my bow or release. If I ever need a tool it’s usually an Allen wrench.

LAS: What are some things you carry to deal with rain?

JW: I carry a plastic cover that is contoured to fit my bow that keeps it nearly completely covered in between shots. I also carry an umbrella, light rain jacket and a scope cover.

Besides protection from rain, umbrellas also are frequently used on the 3D course as sun shields. The rules allow one archer to hold up some device for an archer on the shooting line to block a harsh glare.

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LAS: What are some things you carry to deal with heat?

JW: Lots of water and a Frogg Togg Towel.

LAS: What do you carry to deal with cold weather?

JW: I wear layers. Usually a long sleeve loose fit shirt, my shooter shirt and a vest to keep my range of motion free. I wear a knit hat over my ball cap and keep hand warmers close by.

LAS: Do you carry anything for good luck?

JW: My girlfriend – Mathews Pro Shooter Sharon Carpenter. She’ll be at every tournament with me!

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Cara Kelly: How to use a sight tape for 3D archery

Precision is critical to success on the 3D course. The archer who is the most precise with arrow placement is the one who wins the day.

You could certainly say that about any archery tournament, but precision is especially important in 3D archery since archers only shoot one arrow per target. And the shot distances vary from target to target. So there is no time for making adjustments on a given target. You get one chance to be perfect, and then you move on to the next target.

Sight tapes are key to helping archers achieve that precision.

What is a sight tape?

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It’s is a sliver of paper, plastic or metal on a bow sight that allows an archer to properly adjust the scope or single pin to shoot targets at varying distances. Sight tapes account for the arrow drop from a specific bow, so they are highly individualized. Arrow drop is affected by a host of variables, including an archer’s draw length and draw weight, and arrow weight and speed. And as you might imagine, those variables can change dramatically from archer to archer.

Basically, a sight tape features 1-yard, incremental markings from about 15 yards to 80 yards or more. When an archer approaches a 3D target, he or she will determine the distance to that target, and then use a sight tape to adjust the bow sight to shoot at that range. It’s a critical piece of equipment for aiming exactly where you want an arrow to hit, regardless of whether the target is 24, 32, 45, etc. yards away.

Pro archer Cara Kelly says she’s “one of the most (diligent) individuals you will meet when it comes to sight tapes. It has to be absolutely perfect!”

She must be pretty good at it, given her long list of world and national titles on the IBO and ASA circuits.

She is the ASA’s reigning, Women’s Pro Shooter of the Year, and the Women’s Pro 2015 IBO World Championship winner, and is working to defend both those titles this year.

Here are Kelly’s thoughts on sight tapes.

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LAS: What is your 3D setup for 2016?

CK: This year I will be shooting the Elite Impulse 31 for 3D, with a CBE Vertex 3D sight. I will be running the Shrewd 600 series stabilizers, same as in years past, with a 24-inch front bar and an 8-inch side bar. I will be using a Spot-Hogg rest. For ASA, I will be shooting the Easton Light Speed arrows, and for IBO I will be running the Easton ACE arrows.

LAS: What is your draw length and weight?

CK: I have a 27.25-inch draw length. I joke around that my dad put me on an arm stretcher when I was young! For the first time in years, since my shoulder injury, I will be shooting 51 pounds out of my Impulse 31. The draw cycle to the Elite bows has been a blessing for my shoulder, allowing me to be able to pull more poundage and shoot a heavier arrow again.

Many pro archers use computer programs to make their own sight tapes. They input a host of information pertaining to their bows and arrows, and the program creates a custom tape with distance markings that should match the performance of a particular bow shooting a specific arrow.

LAS: Do you make your own sight tapes?

CK: Yes, we use Archer’s Advantage to make sight tapes. It is important when using the software to ensure that all your information in the program is accurate, measuring your bow, the weight of your arrows, speed, etc. It is all critical to making a correct sight tape.

There are other programs you can work with to print sight tapes, such as those provided by OnTarget2! and Rcherz.com. Or you can select one from a collection of pre-made tapes, or you can make your own by shooting various distances and marking your sight location accordingly.

LAS: If someone is bent on making their own sight tape, what process would you suggest for them to do it?

CK: If you absolutely insist on making your own sight tape, take the time to triple check your marks before moving on. For example, one of the biggest things I find is that I may aim one particular way on a dot, then when I walk over to a 3D target, I may aim a little bit differently, causing me to hit maybe a yard to half-yard different. So make that 30-yard mark, then go check your 30-yard mark on a 3D target. It’s a pain to change your marks once you have laid out your entire sight tape.

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LAS: Do you ever change sight tapes during a tournament? Or a season? If so, why would you change?

CK: Well, one time I got a new sight, and we forgot to adjust the sight tape to the clicks on the sight, making my entire sight tape off from 35 yards and out.

A competition sight moves by turning a dial that clicks to lock it in place. If a sight mark falls between two clicks, there’s no way to adjust the sight precisely to that mark.

I didn’t realize it until I was on the range – in a national tournament – because I hadn’t shot on the bales past 30 yards. Not smart. Lesson learned.

Always check your sight tape out to 50 yards after you put on a new one. I had to hit the breakdown bale and re-write out my entire sight tape. It worked out because I came back and finished second.

The breakdown bale is an area where archers can fix equipment issues that arise during competition.

I honestly have never thought about it until now, but that’s probably why I’m so (diligent) about sight tapes now!

LAS: At some point, do you check every single marking on your sight tape to verify it is accurate by shooting at each distance?

CK: Yes. As soon as I put on a new sight tape I start at 30 yards, then 40 and end out at 50, ensuring it is on. I then circle back going to 20 and back out to 45 to make sure it’s all good and ready to run. But it’s never absolutely final till I aim at a 3D target to ensure I’m hitting right behind my pin.

LAS: Do you stick with full-yard markings, or do you have a way to account for half-yards?

CK: I stick to full yards. If I think I need a tick more or a tick less, that’s where I find the need to use the half yard increments. I may also put a half yard on to aim at an upper 12 or the opposite for a lower 12.

Targets used in ASA tournaments typically feature two 12-point scoring rings inside the larger 10-ring. One 12-ring is high inside the 10-ring, and the other sits low.

LAS: Are there tournaments where you find your sight tape just seems to be off?

CK: I wouldn’t say there are particular tournaments that I find that to be the case. It could be more of where I tend to be aiming, and I may need to add a yard or subtract one.

Don’t be afraid to move that pin. If you feel you aren’t hitting right behind the pin and have nailed the number, make the adjustments.

LAS: Do you ever get to a target and set your sight using your tape, draw back, get on the target and say to yourself, “No, that setting doesn’t feel right?” If so, do you let down and adjust your sight? Or do you hold high or low to compensate for what feels right?

CK: Once you pull back your bow, you can’t reset your sight (under ASA and IBO rules). You are committed to that number you have dialed up, even if you forgot to set your sight from the target before.

I pay attention to where others hit, and try to play my yardage off of other arrows to aim at. Or if everyone has hit low, why not aim center and add a little for comfort?

LAS: Do you cover your sight tape during competition, so others can’t see how you’ve judged the distance to a target?

CK: It is an ASA rule that your sight tape is covered during competition. As a result, I have my sight tape covered for all 3D events.

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Chance Beaubouef checks his sight tape, which is hidden behind a piece of Velcro tape.

I think it’s a respect factor. No one wants someone to see their sight tape, nor do I even want to catch a glimpse of one! What someone may shoot a target for could be 3 yards different from what I need to hit it, so keeping it covered is just a common courtesy.

LAS: Is it common for archers to try to look at someone else’s sight tape?

CK: It without a doubt happens, unfortunately and sadly! Just to keep everyone honest, keep it covered. It comes down to a sportsmanship factor. Be a true sport of the game and follow the rules.

Darrin Christenberry: Judging Distance for 3D Archery

Darrin Christenberry of Spencer, Ind., has been competing as a professional archer for 16 years. In 2002 – his first year on the ASA pro 3D circuit – he was named the ASA Rookie of the Year.

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He has twice won the IBO National Triple Crown, claiming it in 2003 and 2006. Also in 2006, he was the ASA Shooter of the Year.

Christenberry has a string of other ASA and IBO titles under his belt, and so it is safe to say that he is pretty good at one of the key strategies of competing as a pro in 3D archery.

Judging distance.

We asked Christenberry about tackling this part of the game. If you want some insight into how one of the best in 3D archery does it, check out his answers to our questions.

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LAS: What bow will you be shooting this season? And what is its draw length and weight?

DC: I will be shooting the Elite Victory for ASA and IBO events.  The ASA bow is set at 65 pounds, and the IBO bow is 71 pounds. The draw length on both bows is 30.125 inches.

LAS: When you step to the shooting line, what is your process – step by step – for judging the distance to the target?

DC: The very first thing I do is look directly at the target and get a “first glance” estimate of what I think the target could be. The second thing I do is stare directly at the feet of the target, if they are not hidden, and scan the ground back and forth trying to find what I believe to be exactly half way between me and the target.  Once I find the “half-way point,” I try to judge that distance and double it to get my second number, so I can compare it to my first glance.

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After that, I try to find a tree, a stump or something near the target to focus all of my attention on, and try to guesstimate the distance to it.  I will work my way down the path to the target looking at every object I can to refine my guess.  Once I have all of this data gathered, I can finally set my sight and decide how aggressive to aim.

LAS: Do you practice this process at home? How do you practice?

DC: I do practice this way!  I spend a lot of time judging my targets in the wide open field or yard.  The best way that I have described it over the years is to say I take a mental photograph of each target, at every distance. When I practice, I am trying to memorize all of these photos. When I get to a tournament and try to get my first glance, I am mentally flipping through all of those photos of that particular animal trying to find a match.

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The body size of the animals is the ONLY thing that does not change from tournament to tournament.  Whether we are shooting in the hills of West Virginia or a mud bog in Texas, the only thing that is exactly the same is the size of each target.  I try to memorize the size of the animals, and use depth perception to figure out what “photo” to use.

LAS: Obviously, guessing the exact distance is best, but do you leave yourself some wiggle room? That is, do you feel you will still put your arrow where you want if you are within 1 yard? 2 yards? 3 yards, etc.?

DC: I believe you get a 1-yard wiggle while you are aiming. You can catch some lines if you get within a yard on your yardage estimation.  If I’m not 100-percent sure when I draw my bow back, I will aim safe,  meaning I favor where I’m aiming to limit the damage if I’m wrong.

When I am shooting my best rounds and things are clicking, I can usually tell exactly how far the target is, or was, by where my arrow hits. When I set my bows up, (arrows) will hit perfectly at every yardage if I do my part.  When I am aiming at a target and my brain takes the mental snapshot of where the pin was when the shot broke, I can tell by where the arrow lands how far the target actually is.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a perfect science, but if I judge a target for 40 yards, break as close to perfect as I can with the shot, if my arrow hits an inch above the 12 ring, the target was probably 38-39 yards. If it hits one inch below the 12 ring, it was probably 41-42 yards.  You can practice this in the yard or at the range to know EXACTLY what you and your bow are capable of.

LAS: A lot of archers talk about having a gut feeling when they have guessed right or wrong. Do you experience this? How does it cause you to adjust?

DC: I do! If you spend a lot of time looking at targets and working on your yardage estimation, you learn the targets.

I think certain people have one or two targets that they favor, just because they are so confident when they look at it, they know how far it is. I have stepped up to the stake before and instantly (get that gut feeling) know how far it is to the target.  From past experience, I should just set my sight, make the best shot I can and go with it.

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I will look at the trees, look at the ground, work my way back and forth to the target, and then, for whatever reason, change my mind. After I make the shot, I usually see that I should have gone with my gut.

LAS: If you believe in the gut feeling factor, where do you think it comes from?

DC: Years of practice, thousands of targets, thousands of yardage estimations, etc.  There aren’t too many target scenarios that I haven’t seen over the years. You gain confidence or learn from your mistakes and that’s what gives you the gut feeling.

LAS: Do you use the size of the target in your sight window as a factor in judging distance? If so, what specifically are you looking at to make that judgment?

DC: I don’t. I believe that is called “framing”, which is a method of rangefinding……against the rules!  I have judged a target before, went to full draw and knew by the size of the animal in my scope that I either had too much or too little yardage on that particular shot.  At that point, you have to aim high or low to make the adjustment. Once you come to full draw, you are not allowed to move your sight.

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LAS: Do you find you are better at judging in a wooded environment or field? Why?

DC: With the method that I mainly use, judging by body size on my first glance, the terrain or surroundings don’t affect my estimations as much.  Most of my practice is in my wide open yard so that the only thing I have to judge is the target.

LAS: How important are objects, such as trees, rocks, etc., between you and the target for helping you judge distance?

DC: Very important.  As I stated earlier, I like to use the body size initially.  It’s always nice to have something else to look at to try and confirm what your brain is telling you.

LAS: Is your judgment affected by uphill or downhill angles? If so, why, and how to you work around it?

DC: Not usually.  We don’t see much terrain until we get to the IBO shoots, and in most cases the hills aren’t too bad until we get to the World shoot at one of the ski resorts.

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LAS: Do you deduct yardage from your estimate when shooting uphill or downhill to account for the steep angle?

DC: Yes, I will, if I think there needs to be a cut.  For years, I heard people say that you had to cut yardage for the downhill shots, and you need to add yardage for the uphill shots.  Depending on the distance to the target, you actually have to cut yardage in both directions.  I don’t have a perfect mathematical formula that I use on the 3-D range.  I usually go with my gut.

Interview With a Champion: Levi Morgan Discusses Winning, Faith, Big Payouts, and the Changing World of Competitive 3D Archery

As the 2016 3D archery season kicks off, Lancaster Archery Supply took some time for a Q&A with one of the best archers the 3D game has ever seen, who had a record breaking year in 2015. Levi Morgan last year won his ninth consecutive ASA Shooter of the Year title. No other Men’s Open Pro archer has won more than three in a row.

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Morgan also became the first archer ever to win all three legs of the IBO Triple Crown National Championship, plus the IBO World Championship. That’s a feat now called the IBO Grand Slam.

Certainly Morgan is looking to keep his winning streak going into the 2016 season. But this year, he’s also tackling the task of being a shoot organizer, as he and his wife, Samantha, host the inaugural Organization of Professional Archery’s Summit Invitational tournament May 20-21 in Pennsylvania.

The Morgans have invited 400 of the best professional 3D archers in the U.S. to come to their tournament and compete for $100,000 in prize money. The top award of $30,000 will go to the men’s open pro champion. If things go well, the Morgans hope to expand this tournament into a multiple-shoot series in the future.

Here’s a look inside Levi Morgan’s world – in his own words.

LAS: How old are you?

LM: I’m 28 years old

LAS: Where do you live?

LM: I live in Uniontown, Pa., however, I grew up in the mountains of western North Carolina.

LAS: How long have you been involved in archery?

LM: I started shooting when I was 3, but competing when I was 5 years old.

LAS: Tell me about the first time you shot a bow?

LM: My dad bought me a little red wheel bow, and I drug it around the house for a month or so until I could pull it back. From what he says, my first shot hit dead center of the bull’s-eye.

LAS: Tell us your setup for the 2016 season.

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LM:  As of right now, I will be shooting the new Elite Victory 37, with a QAD prototype rest. This rest should be out very soon… I will be shooting the CBE Vertex (sight) with a .019 blue fiber up pin. I normally use a .010, but I’m playing around with a .019 right now and I like it. I’ll be using the Scott Exxus and Halo as far as releases go, and Bee Stingers for stabilizers. My go-to stabilizer set up is a 30-inch front bar with 5 oz. (of weight at the end) and a 12-inch back bar with 24 oz. (on the end).

LAS: What is your draw length? And what is your draw weight for competition?

LM: My draw length is 31 inches, and I’m shooting about 72 lbs. right now.

LAS: To the casual observer, it seems that you prefer 3D archery over spot shooting. Is this true? If so, what is it you love about 3D competition?

LM: Yes I absolutely do because you actually can plan and strategize. You have to be smart to be a good 3D shooter… You have to be able to shoot, aim at spots you can’t see, judge distance, know when to be aggressive and when to be safe, and the list goes on and on.

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Shooting spots, the only thing you have to be good at is shooting, and the more you think the worse off you are. I’ve always said that spot shooting is so easy that it’s hard… There is no risk and reward – just straight up standing there on a line pounding paper at 20 yards knowing that no matter how good you shoot, at the end you will be thrown in a group of people who also shot good. Whoever catches a streak at the right time will win…

Three-D guys compete at all games, but not the other way around, which should tell you something… Bottom line is I love strategy. I love preparing and outworking the competition. I love the rewarding feeling of having to do five things perfectly to hit a spot, and doing it for an entire weekend.

It’s hard, and that’s unfortunately why you are seeing a lot of guys moving towards the known 3D game. They either can’t or won’t put the time in that it takes to compete. I will always have the utmost respect for guys and girls that work their butt off to compete and be successful on the 3D circuit, because I know what it takes.

LAS: You are the reigning, 9-time ASA Shooter of the Year. No one else has come close to winning that many titles. Why do you think you’ve been able to stay on top for so long?

LM: I really don’t know. I worked so hard in the beginning of my career and I wanted to be the best that ever lived. You’ll never hear me say that I am the best, because that’s not up to me to decide. I’ve watched God move in my life and allow me to do and accomplish things I never thought I would do. I’m so undeserving of all of it and very humbled.

A lot of tournaments that I thought I was out of, or there was no way I could win, somehow when the dust settled, I was on top. Other times I thought I was shooting so good I couldn’t lose, and I would have it taken right out from my fingers.

So I learned to just shoot to the best of my ability til the last arrow, and know that God is in control. I want to always give Him all the glory for anything good I do, because I know without Him I am nothing.

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LAS: How do you stay motivated after this many years at the top?

LM: I can’t help but be motivated, man. I get to wake up every day and do what I love. God gave me an incredible opportunity and an awesome family to take care of.

If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is.

LAS: When you are standing on the line, how do you determine a target is 43 yards out instead of 41?

LM: Sometimes I don’t know if its 43 or 41 so I put it on 42 and hold at the top of the 12. For real, that’s another thing I love about 3D. It’s all about decisions you make. You can never master judging distance, but you do learn how to avoid disasters. That’s the name of the game.

LAS: Do you have a special practice routine for judging distance?

LM: I used to log everything I did when I judged in practice. I would log the date, the time, the target, the weather, the terrain, my guess, and what it ranged. After a couple months, you really start to see what targets or conditions give you trouble. You can’t work on your weaknesses until you know what they are.

LAS: How much time do you spend each day/week/month shooting your bow?

LM: I used to shoot every spare minute morning noon and night. Now I have so much going on that I don’t have nearly as much time as I used to and now every spare minute I have I want to be with my family. I’d say at best I get to shoot for about an hour a day 3 days a week.

LAS: Do you ever take days off from practice?

LM: I actually take months off. I love to hunt and that’s what I do from August to January, nonstop. While I am shooting a little throughout the season, it’s not what I would call practice for competition.

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LAS: You and Samantha are running the OPA Summit Invitational in May. There already are ASA and IBO tournaments. Why is this one needed?

LM: Well there have always been your 3D people, NFAA people, FITA people, known-3D people, etc. I wanted to create a venue that is fun to shoot, fun to watch, and all the top shooters can come compete for huge money, and have a great shot at winning. We want to bring a new demographic of people to watch these events… I can’t wait.

LAS: You say in your video about the event that you “don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.” How has the reaction from the archery community been to your event? How does having another tournament out there grow archery?

LM: What I meant by that was I’m not trying to replace anything that’s out there. I’m growing archery by creating a professional platform that amateurs and kids can look at and aspire to be. We have to create something that people want to be a part of and want to work towards. I want more people to be able to make a living at this sport.

Every other sport has a professional tour. Why not archery? I’ve always wondered that.

LAS: The payout for the Men’s Pro Champion (at your tournament) is $30,000. Last year, you won $1,600 at the IBO World Championships and $4,000 for being ASA Shooter of the Year (not counting manufacturer contingencies). Why the huge payout at your event? Are you making some sort of statement about the economics of professional archery?

LM: I absolutely want to make a statement. Guys used to make $50,000 to win shooter of the year, and with the amount of work it takes to do that, they should win $50,000. If it wasn’t for the bow companies supporting shooters with great contingency programs, then most pros wouldn’t or couldn’t afford to show up.

I want to make it where you don’t have to win to make money. At the OPA shoot you win $30,000, $20,000, and $10,000 for first second and third, but you also get paid if you get 40th. That’s a big deal in getting a turnout.

I’m not taking a dime of the shooters’ money – 100 percent payback. That’s the way I wanted to do it because they deserve it. Making a top ten is a huge accomplishment, and right now if you get 10th at the biggest shoot in the world you can’t really pay for your travel expenses.

LAS: You’ve made your name on the ASA and IBO circuits, shooting targets at unknown distances, yet your tournament will have known distances. Why?

LM: While I love 3D, and a lot of guys do, I’m also not too stubborn to realize that the future of archery is in known (distance). Facts are, people are just not going to work at judging distance. It breaks my heart to think that the future isn’t what I’ve worked my whole life at, but I love archery and I want to do what’s best for the sport – not what’s best for Levi.

I am marking the distance, but I’m also bringing in risk and reward with 12s and 14s. People are going to have to really strategize here, and actually shoot a score. (They can’t) go in thinking, “I can’t miss,” but rather, “How do I hit the middle more than everyone else?”

Way more fun to shoot and watch.

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LAS: There is much debate in the archery community about known vs. unknown distance. Which side of the fence are you on?

LM: I personally love unknown, but I also see that a lot of people struggle with it. Unknown 3D will always have the biggest place in my heart, and it’s what I think is the hardest game in archery to win. No one can argue with that. However, I believe that the future and where we can really grow archery is in known distance because of the number of people able to compete.

LAS: I understand you will not be competing at your tournament. How do you think it is going to feel standing back to watch everyone compete for such big stakes?

LM: Honestly I can’t wait. Yea I love to compete, and it might be a little bittersweet for me. I just want to grow archery to where we’ve always thought it could go. If that means I have to stop shooting to do it, then I’ll do it with a smile on my face.

This sport has given me so much, and I’m happy to give something back. The guys and girls that love archery are awesome and they deserve this. This is for them, and while I’m sure it won’t be perfect, I promise to do my best.

3D Archery Explained

Come Feb. 26 in Foley, Alabama, the archery world unofficially will shift gears from indoors to the outdoor 3D season as the Archery Shooters Association kicks off its 2016 slate of tournaments with the Hoyt Archery Alabama Pro/Am.

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That got us thinking that now would be a good time to give an overview of 3D archery in the modern world.

What is 3D archery? Well it’s a shooting format in which archers walk a target course in the woods, or through fields – or both.

Think of it like a golf course, where the “holes” are three-dimensional, foam targets that look like various game animals – deer, bears, leopards, antelope, etc. So archers move from station to station, where they shoot at these animal targets at various distances, in varying settings. It started as a way for bowhunters to practice on lifelike targets in places similar to where they hunt.

Unlike golf, an archer only takes one shot to hit each target. Every “hole” on a 3D course is a Par 1. Points are earned by arrows hitting various scoring rings on the targets. And a typical 3D round is 40 targets, versus 18 holes.

There are recreational 3D shoots held by archery clubs, individuals and organizations all over the country. They may or may not be competitive events. Some are held strictly for hunting practice.

The two primary organizations dedicated to competitive 3D shooting are the Archery Shooters Association, commonly referred to as ASA, and the International Bowhunting Organization, commonly called IBO. Each holds sanctioned tournaments from late winter through August. While there are some similarities between the two organizations, each has its own competition divisions and scoring system.

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The targets used for 3D tournaments bear scoring rings on the areas of the animal bodies where the vital organs would be. That is, archers try to shoot the targets in the heart-lung areas – just like bowhunters would do on real animals.

For ASA, there will be a large, mostly-circular area framing the vitals zone. Any arrow that lands outside this area is worth 5 points. Inside the large vitals area, there will be a smaller circle, with three even smaller circles inside of it.

One of those smallest of circles will sit dead center inside the next-sized circle, and the two others will be positioned around it. Only IBO uses the dead-center circle, while ASA uses the two circles around it.

For ASA, the two inner circles are worth 12 points, the next-size circle is worth 10 points and any arrow that hits outside the 10 ring, but inside the large vitals ring is worth 8 points.

Sometimes, there will be another 12-ring sized circle in a corner of the 8-point area. Arrows placed in this circle are worth 14 points at tournaments that allow them.

For IBO shoots, the 5, 8, and 10 rings mirror ASA’s. But arrows that hit the small circle in the center of the 10-ring are worth 11 points.

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All an arrow has to do is touch the line of a scoring ring to earn the points awarded by that ring.

Depending on the rules of a particular shoot, the distance to the targets might be marked, or they might not. The two 3D tournament styles are “known distance” and “unknown distance.”

At the unknown distance events, you have to judge for yourself how far away the target is from the shooting stake. Rangefinders are not allowed. Being good at judging yardage is critical, because arrows can hit the target high or low of your aiming spot if you judge the distance incorrectly.

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Arrow speed can cover up some mistakes in range estimation, since the faster an arrow flies, the flatter its trajectory will be. And many of today’s compound bows are capable of producing arrow speeds well over 300 feet per second. However, the ASA has a maximum speed limit of 290 fps for their tournaments. That top speed is lower for some divisions, but no archer may have a bow-arrow setup faster than 290 fps.

IBO has a speed limit of 260 fps for some youth classes, but then no speed limit for other classes, provided archers shoot arrows that weight at least 5 grains per pound of their bow’s draw weight. For example, an archer shooting a bow set at 70 pounds, must shoot an arrow that weighs no less than 350 grains. If an archer shoots an arrow that weighs 5 grains per pound of draw weight, and the arrow speed is less than 290 fps, then that archer can shoot an arrow that weighs less than 5 grains per pound. However, the lighter arrow’s speed cannot exceed 290 fps.

Currently, there is much debate in the archery world over whether professional tournaments should feature known or unknown distances. Some feel the target distances should be marked because judging distance might be more important than archery skill in unknown distance tournaments. Others believe the unknown distance events are superior because they require another skill besides archery prowess in order to win.

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What’s right? That’s up to each archer to decide.

When it comes to archery equipment you’ll see at a 3D tournament, it runs the gamut. There are divisions for archers who shoot different equipment, so you’ll see archers carrying compound bows with long stabilizers and scopes with magnifying lenses; archers with bowhunting setups, featuring short stabilizers and sights with multiple, fixed pins; and archers carrying traditional recurve bows and longbows, among others.

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Because they take place outdoors, there are many variables that can affect archers at a 3D event. You’ve got to deal with all the elements of weather, moving shadows, varying light and uneven terrain. It’s definitely different from indoor, target archery.

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But that’s what makes it so much fun.