What’s Required to Be a National Championship Archer

Scott Starnes 1

Editor’s Note: In March, 2011, Scott Starnes of Crawfordsville, Indiana, had a tournament of a lifetime with his PSE 2011 Dominator Bow. He won the NFAA (National Field Archery Association) Indoor National Championship in Louisville, Kentucky. Starnes will not only tell us what was required to win but also tell you what’s required for you to win.

With 95 shooters in the Pro Men’s Division, PSE’s Scott Starnes shot a perfect 2-day score of 600, with 120 Xs, which ties the national record. You’d think that kind of score would win the tournament, but the tournament went into a shoot-off. Chance Beaubouef also shot a 600 with 120 Xs, and Jess Broadwater was competing in the shoot-off too with a 600 120X score. After one practice round of five arrows, the competition started again, and each archer shot five arrows. In a shoot-off, anyone who touches the X line gets an X. After the first round, all three contestants still were tied. “For the next round, the rules were tightened. We had to be completely inside the X ring for the shot to count,” Starnes explains. “During this round, Jess and I tied. Chance Beaubouef had one arrow just barely outside the ring, which gave him third place. In the next round of sudden death, I shot four targets dead center, and Jesse had three dead center.” Starnes won a beautiful silver bowl, the trophy for being the National Indoor Champion. Along with his bowl, Scott was awarded 10 thousand dollars by PSE for his first place finish.

Starnes picked the PSE Dominator because, “I gelled with that bow quicker than with any bow I’ve ever shot. When you get a new bow, usually you have to tweak it a little here and there and continue to adjust the bow, until you’re comfortable with it. But the PSE Dominator took me less than an hour to set-up, and I haven’t messed with any additional setup since I first got it. It shot great for me, and everyone I’ve talked to who owns a Dominator says the bow shoots great for them.”

Scott Starnes 2

The number-one question spectators and contestants alike ask Starnes after the tournament is, “How did you keep it all together to shoot a clean round and shoot so well through three sudden-death shoot-offs?” According to Starnes, “Everyone thinks I was calm, cool and collected, but the truth is I wasn’t. I just hid it well, I guess. I look at my tournament archery as a job I have to do. I try to control my emotions the best I can, but the nerves don’t go away. I just attempt to control them. What really helped me this year was that I had shot a clean round in Nationals in 2007. Then there were 10 of us that went to the final shoot-off. To get in the top three then, you still had to shoot quite a bit. This year, there were only three of us who shot clean rounds, so I knew the worst I could do was third. When it came to the shoot-off, I just told myself, ‘Make the good shots that you’ve made all weekend, just like you do in practice.’”

When Starnes was asked, “What do you think gave you the edge,” he replied, “When you’re in a shoot-off like I was, you’re really trying to split hairs. Any one of the three of us had the ability to win. So, I think luck definitely plays a role in who becomes the champion for that year. We’ve all been in shoot-offs before, so maybe luck was on my side to win this one. Both Jeff and Chance have won World Championships. They’ve been in shoot-offs too. We’ve all been in this situation before, and I guess each of us in our own ways has learned to deal with it.”

Scott Starnes 4

This competition is the biggest Starnes ever has won. When we asked what’s next on his agenda after this big tournament and big win, he smiled and said, “Going fishing. Fishing’s the way I relieve the pressure from a major archery tournament after the tournament’s over.” When Starnes was asked to give advice to a young archer who hoped to win the Indoor National Championship some day like he did, he explained, “Competition archery has to be fun, regardless of the level at which you’re shooting. If you’re not enjoying it and don’t have realistic expectations, then progressing to the higher levels of shooting is very difficult. One of the big mistakes I see young archers make is that they may have expectations and goals that are higher than their shooting abilities are at the levels that they’re shooting. If you’re practicing, and in practice your scores aren’t good enough to go to the Indoor Nationals and shoot 120 Xs, then you may not have a realistic expectation of winning that tournament. You’ll come home defeated and disappointed.

“The major ingredient to becoming a top-flight archer is practicing to get better ever week. The way you get better is always try to shoot with archers who are better than you are. You can learn a lot from watching, listening to and taking advice from archers who shoot better than you. Yes, when you shoot with archers better than you are, they’re going to consistently beat you. But you’re going to learn from them how to be a better tournament shooter. They’ll teach you what’s required to get to their level. I’ve practiced this philosophy for the last 4-5 years, and I think that one tip helped me get to the Indoor Nationals and win it.”

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