AMATEUR CORNER: Tim “The CEO” Hanley

Tim Hanley entered the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pa., Sunday morning, and walked over to a small group of Lancaster Archery Supply employees.

“Do you mind if I set my bow down here for a minute?” he asked politely.

Hanley was wearing a light blue, pin-striped dress shirt, a neat pair of jeans and a respectable pair of cowboy boots. With eyeglasses, a trimmed beard and short-cut, gelled hair, he looked like an accountant.

“No problem,” an employee responded, thinking Hanley was carrying the bow for a buddy or relative who might have been competing in one of the big final matches of the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic.

Fast forward a couple hours later, and there’s Hanley standing on the finals stage, shooting that bow himself in the Men’s Open championship, buzzing through the field like a power saw.

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While every other archer who came up against him wore a logoed hat and flashy shooter jersey emblazoned with the colorful name of an archery company, Hanley looked like he just left a church service.

“I like to look presentable when I’m in public, so I wear a nice shirt when I’m competing,” he said. “I was dressed like this all weekend, and no one said anything about it.”

As viewers at home watching the livestream of the Classic on YouTube saw Hanley knock off one archer after another, his attire quickly earned him the nickname, “The CEO.”

A 32-year-old electrician from New Jersey, Hanley at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic became the first archer ever in the Men’s Open class to work his way from the No. 8 seed all the way to the title. That’s a monumental accomplishment, given the fact that the Men’s Open division is always the largest at the Classic – 317 archers this year. And he had to shoot 84 solid arrows over seven matches against some of the stiffest amateur competition in the U.S.

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Social media was buzzing for hours after Hanley’s big win with hails to “The CEO.”

“Watching the CEO was epic,” one commenter wrote on YouTube. “Great story, coverage and event.”

Not a household name before the Classic, Tim Hanley most certainly was the talk of the target archery world after the tournament’s conclusion.

So who is this guy? And how the heck did he show up at the East Coast’s largest indoor archery tournament for the first time in three years and capture the attention and adulation of archers all over the world?

A bachelor resident of Juliustown, N.J., Hanley got started in target archery when he took a job at the former Sportsmen’s Center in Bordentown, N.J., at 17 or 18. He worked there for 10 years with well-known target archer Vinnie Mancini.

“I mainly went there because of hunting, but I showed an interest in target archery and Vinnie just started coaching me,” Hanley said.

He shot competitively throughout those 10 years – including several trips to the Classic – but then took about four years off, when he started a job as an electrician installing solar panels.

“I just got busy with work and everything, but then I got back into it maybe about a year ago,” he said.

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Hanley credits his training with Mancini and the excellent target archers he competes against in New Jersey with helping him sharpen his skill.

“I try to shoot every day,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good archers in New Jersey and you can’t really get lax. You have to work at it to stay with those guys.”

While he does shoot outdoor target archery, “indoors is home for me,” he said. “That’s where I feel comfortable.”

Hanley is not connected with any archery companies. If he has a sponsor, it’s Cheyenne Mountain Outdoors in Bordentown, N.J., he said.

Realistically though, he buys his own gear and he pays his own way to and from tournaments.

Consider this. For the 2019 Classic, Hanley drove two hours from home on Friday to shoot his qualification round at 4 p.m. He then drove back to New Jersey to spend the night after finishing around 8 p.m.

He returned to Lancaster County from New Jersey by 7 a.m. Saturday for the 8 a.m. elimination matches, and then drove back home in the afternoon.

“I had my mom with me, so I had to drop her off,” he said.

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Hanley drove two hours back again that evening to stay at a hotel with some friends near Spooky Nook, so he’d be as fresh as possible for the Sunday finals.

“It’s a pretty straight drive, so I didn’t mind,” he said.

Hanley’s road to the Classic finals was anything but straight and easy.

After shooting a respectable 640 in qualifications on Friday, Hanley was seeded 46th among the 64 archers who advanced to Saturday’s elimination matches.  He then beat the No. 19 qualifier, the No. 14 qualifier and the No. 30 qualifier in head-to-head competition to claim the No. 8 seed for the finals on Sunday.

The No. 8 seed is the lowest for the Men’s Open finals. But ask any archer and they’ll say that all they want is a chance. If they can get in the game, they at least have a chance.

Hanley took that chance and ran with it. He defeated Blake Ballou in his first match 125-124. Next up was Caleb Eby, whom Hanley dispatched 130-126.

The third match was a nail-biter for Hanley, but he came out on top of Brenden Woelmer 129-128. By now, Hanley was “The CEO” to online viewers, and a crowd favorite in the finals arena.

In his fourth match, Hanley beat Brady Hempen 128-122, then took down Jason Goedken 129-124 and Brad Baker Jr. 127-126.

By the time Hanley entered the final match against top qualifier Doug Williams, the crowd at home and online was desperate to see him take the title. He did, by a score of 130-127, with a perfect 33 in his last end.

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Hanley said he could feel himself getting tired toward the end of his run, but he tried to focus on one arrow at a time and trust his shot.

So what’s next for The CEO? He said he hadn’t registered to compete in The Vegas Shoot Feb. 8-10, “but this experience (winning the Classic) might change that.”

Winning the Men’s Open championship at the Classic earned Hanley $4,000, plus a couple hundred dollars in contingency checks, which he could use to pay his way to Las Vegas. Whether he competes in Vegas or not, Hanley said he hears the pro class calling.

“Going pro – I would love to do that,” he said. “I always told myself I wanted to win something on a national level before I went pro, and I guess this counts. So maybe not right away, but I eventually will be on the pro line.”

2019 Lancaster Archery Classic Sees Records Broken and New Champions Crowned

The 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic Jan. 25-27 was one for the history books. Not only did the number of registered archers – 1,794 – shatter last year’s record attendance of 1,488, but Open Pro archer Braden Gellenthien accomplished something that had only ever been done once before in the 16-year history of the East Coast’s largest archery tournament.

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In qualifications Friday at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pa., Gellenthien, who is one of the world’s most accomplished tournament archers, shot a perfect score of 660. All 60 of his arrows found the center 11 ring. The only time that has ever happened before was in 2009, when Reo Wilde posted a 660 qualification score.

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Braden Gellenthien poses with his two perfect targets

But as we all quickly learned Saturday morning, shooting a great qualification score does not mean anything in terms of getting to the Classic finals shoot-up stage if you can’t get through the head-to-head elimination matches. Gellenthien survived his first match in the Open Pro bracket against Andy Callaway in a tie-breaker, but he was knocked out of the competition in the second round by Brian Meese.

Ultimately, the tournament’s top prize of $20,000 was awarded to Open Pro champ Jacob Marlow. Always a crowd favorite with his southern drawl and fun sense of humor on the line, Marlow finally won the Classic title in his third trip to the finals shoot-up.

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Open Pro champ Jacob Marlow with the winner’s trophy and belt buckle

“I tried not to think about anything else,” Marlow said. “I just focused on one arrow at a time.”

As his gold-medal match progressed against No. 1 qualifier and 2017 Classic Open Pro champ Mike Schloesser, Marlow’s shots seemed to get tighter and tighter to the center. Asked if he was feeling better as the match wore on, Marlow responded with his typical, self-deprecating humor.

“Oh no, I felt terrible the whole time,” he said. “I hate the nerves.”

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Jacob Marlow

In addition to the $20,000 he received from Lancaster Archery, Marlow added a $10,000 contingency check from his bow sponsor, Elite, and another $1,600 in contingencies from his other equipment sponsors.

“I’m 1-1 against Mikey in these matches, so hopefully we’ll get a rematch,” Marlow said of competing against Schloesser in the Classic finals.

Other notable champions crowned at this year’s Classic were Jack Williams in Men’s Recurve, Gabriela Bayardo in Women’s Recurve, Michael Fisher in Barebow and Tanja Jensen in Women’s Open Pro.

TIM ‘THE CEO’ HANLEY

The Men’s Open division is always the largest division at the Lancaster Archery Classic. This year, there were 317 archers who competed in that group of amateurs. To win that division, an archer has to be on top of his game, and he has to defeat a lot of other really good archers.

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Tim “The CEO” Hanley

Tim Hanley, 32, of New Jersey this year traveled to the Classic for the first time “in a number of years,” he said, and worked his way to the No. 8 seed for the finals shoot-up. That’s a tough spot to start from, given the Classic’s shoot-up finals format, where the first match features the two lowest ranked archers. The winner advances to compete against the next archer in ranking, and so on until someone faces off against the top qualifier for the title.

In the 16-year history of the Classic, no No. 8-ranked archer in Men’s Open has ever shot his way to the title. That would require shooting a minimum of 84 arrows, assuming no tie-breakers were needed, over the course of seven matches.

Wearing a long-sleeve, pin-striped dress shirt, Hanley won his first match, then his second, and then his third. By the fourth round, commenters watching the livestream on YouTube were referring to him as “Tim ‘The CEO’ Hanley,” because of his dress shirt. In the audience at Spooky Nook, the crowd began rallying behind Hanley as he shot his way through the field. By the time he faced off against top-qualifier Doug Williams, Hanley was clearly the crowd favorite. Everyone loves an underdog, right?

Against all odds, Hanley defeated Williams by a score of 130-127, meaning Hanley only missed two 11s in his seventh match of the day. He seemed to get stronger, when he should have gotten weaker.

Tim Hanley pumps his fist

Tim Hanley pumps his fist

“I had already exceeded my expectations in getting to the finals,” Hanley said. “From there, I just trusted my shot and it turned out pretty good.”

BAREBOW CRAZE

The Barebow competition at the Classic has been growing by leaps and bounds the last few years, and this year was no exception. After reaching a registration total of 125 last year, the number of barebow competitors ballooned this year to 207.

On YouTube, the Barebow finals video from 2018 has been viewed nearly 250,000 times over the past year, generating incredible enthusiasm for and interest in that discipline. For the 2019 finals, the venue was packed with rowdy fans Saturday night, and more than 1,600 followed the livestream of the competition.

Michael Fisher

Michael Fisher

The field featured four new faces on the Classic stage – Ben Rogers, Spanky Brooks, Michael Fisher and Grayson Partlowe. Missing were more familiar names, including John Demmer and Rich Barker, who got knocked out of the tournament in the elimination stage. Bobby Worthington, another Barebow finals regular, withdrew from the Classic at the last minute, due to illness.

The final match between Fisher and Partlowe was a see-saw battle, with Fisher ultimately coming out on top, shooting a dead-center 11 on his last shot. When his arrow hit the target, the arena erupted into cheers of, “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!” That was a nod to Fisher’s Australian home.

NEW RECURVE CHAMPS

The Men’s and Women’s Recurve finals featured the usual field of heavy hitters. Casey Kaufhold, 14, led the Women’s field with a qualification score of 604. With three-time defending champ Mackenzie Brown knocked out in eliminations, Casey – who finished second to Brown the past two years – was a likely favorite. However, Gabriela Bayardo, whom Casey had beaten the two previous times the two had met at the Classic, shot just a little stronger in the gold-medal finals match, and took the title, with Casey finishing second.

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Gabriela Bayardo

On the Men’s side, two-time defending champ Brady Ellison was the top seed in the finals. In the gold-medal match, he squared off against Jack Williams who toppled two giants to get to Ellison. Williams, who is considered a favorite to join Ellison on the next U.S. Olympic Team, first defeated multi-Olympic medal winner Michelle Frangili of Italy. Next, he took down Canada’s top recurve archer, Crispin Duenas, who was runner-up to Ellison at the last two Classics.

Williams shot incredibly strong in his match against Ellison, with end scores of 31, 31, 31 and 33. Those scores topped Ellison by two points, and Williams took the title – his best finish at the Classic.

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Jack Williams

“This is a great venue and a wonderful tournament,” Williams said of the 2019 Classic. “My good shots just felt really strong today.”

Williams and Ellison compete regularly in training, so they are good friends, yet fierce competitors.

“I’m sure we’ll have a rematch sometime,” Williams said with a wide smile.

YOUTH TROPHY  TOURNAMENT

For the second year, the Easton Youth Trophy Tournament offered a tournament within the Classic for young archers who might not yet be ready for the full Classic tournament, but who want to get big-time competition experience.

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A total of 375 young archers competed in the event, which was confined solely to Saturday, and which cost a fraction of the money required to compete in the Classic. These archers shot the same number of arrows as shot in the Classic qualification – 60 – on the same field that the Classic archers shot on.

Archers were divided by gender, by equipment – compound, recurve and barebow – and by age, with divisions for Cub, Bowman, Cadet and Junior competitors. Winners were determined by scores posted in the 60-arrow round. And there were some serious scores put up by these young archers.

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Out of a possible 660 points, Foster Jones recorded a 624 to win the Compound Cadet Male division; Ryan Kitts won Compound Junior Male with a 633; Hannah Ball won Barebow Cadet Female, and posted the highest score among all the female barebow archers of any age, with a 434; Jada Cho’s 513 in Recurve Cub Female won that division. For a complete list of Easton Youth Trophy Tournament results, click here.

Many of the Youth Trophy archers and their parents said they enjoyed the experience they got from competing in a big venue with so many other archers. Count on this event to continue at future Classics, and for it to grow as the years pass.

Here are the top-three finishers in each of the 15 divisions at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic:

Men’s Open Pro – Jacob Marlow, Mike Schloesser and Dave Cousins

Women’s Open Pro – Tanja Jensen, Sarah Prieels, Dusti Batsch

Masters Open Pro – Benton Christensen, Keith Trail, Kendall Woody

Men’s Recurve – Jack Williams, Brady Ellison, Crispin Duenas

Women’s Recurve – Gabriela Bayardo, Casey Kaufhold, Virginie Chenier

Barebow – Michael Fisher, Grayson Partlowe, Spanky Brooks

Men’s Open – Tim Hanley, Doug Williams, Brad Baker Jr.

Women’s Open – Savannah Baye Vanderwier, Jamilee Moore, Sachi Keane

Senior Open – Glenn Talley, Benny Parenteau, Dee Wilde

Masters Open – Bob Reedinger, Danny Minnick, Wayne Johnson

Bowhunter – Charles Hunnell, Luke Long, John Wheeler

Youth Male Open – Trevor Silverson, Zachary Harris, Tyler Heritage

Youth Female Open – Faith Miller, Ava Dremann, Reagan Bryan

Youth Male Recurve – Dallas Jones, Joonsuh Oh, Zachary Kim

Youth Female Recurve – Whitney Jensen, Imogen Grzemski, Brianna Laux

Michael Braden talks index finger releases for target archery

In the bowhunting world, the index finger release arguably is the champ. You’ll see hordes of bowhunters with this release strapped to their wrists.

For indoor target archery, however, the index finger release is uncommon, if not downright rare.

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Carter Like Mike

Index finger releases are activated by depressing your index finger on a trigger mechanism. Some feature jaws that are spring-loaded and pop open when the appropriate amount of pressure is applied to the trigger. Others employ springs that keep the jaws closed, and therefore require the trigger to be pulled until it travels far enough to allow the jaws to open wide enough to release the bowstring.

Some of these releases are hand-held, but the vast majority are attached to wrist straps, which aid the archers in drawing the string. With the release strapped to the wrist, the whole arm is engaged in the drawing process. With hand-held releases, much of the drawing pressure sits directly on the fingers holding the release.

Many target archers shy away from index-finger releases because they tend to be the easiest to anticipate, and therefore, to punch. That can lead to target panic.

Punching the release involves activating the trigger in a sudden, haphazard manner – usually when the archer sees the sight pin get close to the bull’s-eye.

There are some indoor archers who have learned to use index finger releases without anticipating the shot, and they’ve managed to do quite well in competition. Michael Braden is one such pro. He’s been competing with index finger releases for years, and he’s usually in the mix of tournament finalists.

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While it’s not an indoor competition, Braden recently finished second in the Senior Open Pro Division of the ASA Hoyt Pro/Am 3D tournament in Foley Ala., Feb. 17-18, using an index finger release.

We asked him about using such a release for indoor target archery.

LAS: What release do you use?

MB: I am shooting the Carter Like Mike. It is a wrist strap/index finger release that I designed with Jerry Carter.

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Carter Like Mike

LAS: Why do you use an index finger release instead of a hinge or thumb button?

MB: First, I find I can achieve a more consistent anchor. Specifically, I can bury the base knuckle of my index finger in the hole under my ear lobe and behind my jaw bone, extremely consistently every time.

Second, I believe the index finger release gives me better alignment between my bow hand grip, shoulders, and release arm elbow.

Lastly, and most importantly, I find that my direction of energy is better and more consistent.  Meaning that as I push my pin straight through the target, I can pull my elbow (and release) straight away from the target.

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LAS: How do you activate your release?

MB: I guess the short answer is with my elbow.

The long answer, however, is with a process and not an action.  My process consists of a slow and steady, gradual increase of energy, with direction.

I slowly push my sight pin straight through the target, while pulling straight away from the target out the tip of my elbow.  For this process to fire the release, my elbow must be “attached” to the trigger.

Therefore, the trigger must be heavy enough that I can attach my index finger to it – 1.5-2 lbs. – without fear of it prematurely firing. It also must be heavy enough that I have to generate a little more energy to make it fire – another 1.5 lbs. So, my release is set around 3.5 lbs.

LAS: How do you avoid punching your release?

MB: I have developed a mindset where I refuse to control the release, no matter what.  But there is more to it than just that.

Learning to execute my shot with a process is a factor. Learning that I can hold the bow long enough and steady enough to wait for the process to execute the shot is another.

Learning to trust that the release will fire, while my elbow is attached to a heavy trigger, also helps to prevent me from having the urge to control or punch the trigger.

LAS: Do you set your trigger as light as possible? As heavy as possible? Somewhere in between?

MB: The Carter Like Mike is adjustable.  I can make it as light or heavy as I need to.  I always recommend starting close to a blank bail and making the trigger super heavy, so the archer learns the feel of attaching their elbow to the trigger, learns the feel of the direction of energy, and the rate of increased energy needed to make the release fire.  Then I begin to make the trigger lighter so that the release fires in a comfortable and steady window, while the archer executes a strong and steady shot.

LAS: How is your index finger touching the trigger when you are preparing to shoot?

MB: For me to shoot a heavier trigger with my elbow, the hook of my finger must be strong enough that it doesn’t collapse with the increased energy of my elbow.  Yet, it must not be so tense that it prevents the flow of energy from my elbow efficiently into the trigger.

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LAS: What is the most common mistake you see archers making with an index finger release?

MB: Controlling a light release is the most common mistake new archers make. First, they are not taught properly how to execute a good shot.  Second, they do not have the stamina to hold the sight pin steady enough in the beginning to execute a proper shot.  Third, the release they are using wasn’t designed to be set heavy enough without trigger travel so they can attach without fear of a pre-fire.