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Q&A with Jesse Broadwater

A conversation with the NFAA Shooter of the Year!

HOYT: You’ve had an amazing season in 2009, including your recent record-setting victory at the NFAA Outdoor Nationals (Oh yeah, and you won a car at Yankton!). How do you explain your incredible run this year?
JESSE: Well, I can first of all say that I have found a very good setup for me. It seems to be the most predictable setup that I’ve ever had. I never get any surprises. I haven't really changed anything on my setup for the past two years. So, I have a lot of confidence in it. There are a lot of other things that contributed to my success recently, but I can honestly say that my setup is probably my biggest help. Experience is key also. After competing for 16 years, I’ve learned a lot about indoor and outdoor shooting. I’ve learned a lot of stuff the hard way, and by making mistakes that cost a lot. You seem to remember those the most - and work on them the most - so they never happen again.
The NFAA Outdoor Nationals this year was awesome for me, and it is actually just now, two weeks later, starting to set in. I had never been never to the ranges where the Nationals were held, even though they were only 2.5 hours from my home. But I knew they were pretty flat, and I knew – or at least I expected - that with the level of competition these days, there would not be a few clean rounds. So, I had it in my head that I had to make every shot the very best I could, and try to make the first three days count. The weather was perfect the first day. Overcast, no wind ... and I walked up to the first target, looked at it, and it was one of those days, where I  thought, “Man, that dot looks so huge, I’m going for the X's today,  and there’s no way I can miss a dot.” And I knew from right there, and after shooting the first couple targets, that a clean round was very possible for me that day. I just had that feeling. But you can't think about that. You have to think about the job that's in front of you, the shot that you’re shooting, and then move on  to the next, so that's what I did the whole day. I was shooting with a couple other fellow Hoyt shooters, which was an awesome group to shoot in, and we breezed through the course with almost no backups at all, which was nice.

It was one of those days where my arrow just seemed to find the middle, no matter what I did. I got some of the tougher targets out of the way, and the weather was holding out, and the random thoughts of shooting the first perfect field round ever started to pop in and out of my head, plus thoughts of how everyone else was shooting. I tried to let those thoughts go, as you just don't need to be thinking of that stuff - you need to focus on more important things, like making good shots. We got down to five targets left, and that's when the thoughts really wanted to creep in my head, so I let them, and just told myself, “Okay, I have a couple of the generally tougher targets left, a short one, and then the 45-yarder, and I’ll do my very best on them, and whatever happens, happens. “If I hit them all, that’ll be awesome. If I don't, it's won’t be the end of the world.” I had a battle in my head with these thoughts, and then I was done with them, and then all that was left was to enjoy the rest of the day and just take it all in.

I got to the last target and told myself to just make good shots, don't do anything stupid, and if I think that I am going to, then let down regroup, This was not the time or place to make dumb mistakes. I only had to make four more good shots. I got the first shot off good. Same with the second. Then I felt the adrenalin kick in, and my heart take of a little. With a sight picture that had a little more shake to it, I let down, took some deep breaths, and put my mind where it needed to be for the last two shots. I made a good recovery shot for the third shot, and was glad I let down. My fourth shot broke top of the X, but was a good, clean shot. I knew as soon as I shot that I had done it! But it took a while for me to realize what I had done. It was such a good feeling, and I was happy for the support that I got from my group the whole day. They knew what was going on, but never said or did anything to effect me, and I thank them for that. I think they could tell that I was just in the zone.
Winning the car in Yankton this year was pretty cool, too. I just got lucky and all my shots that day broke clean - right in the middle of that little yellow dot. All of my shots - from 10 yards back to the winning shot from 45 yards – pretty much went in the same hole.
And now, I just got back from the NAA Nationals and the U.S. Open, and I ended up winning those too! I’m really excited, and kind of wishing there were more big shoots left for me this year. It’s time for a vacation and time with my family. I had confidence just coming off the win at the NFAA Outdoor Nationals, and going into the NAA, but I never even practiced a FITA round at all before I went. There just wasn't any time the week between the two shoots. But I knew my setup was awesome, and I had confidence in my shots. I love the long range shooting - that's where most of my practice is done - so I couldn't wait to shoot the first half of the first FITA round at 90 and 70 meters.

The thunder woke me up the first day we were supposed to shoot, and it never let up all day, so that round was cancelled. The next day we shot at 50 and 30 meters, and I knew I couldn't make any mistakes. I shot a 356 at 50, which I wasn't totally satisfied with, because with level of competition the way it is these days, every point you lose means you have to buckle down even more for the rest of the tournament. I finished 30 meters that day really well, with 31 Xs. The next day we shot 90 and 70 meters, and I was ready and eager ... maybe a little too  eager. I shot a 56 on my first end, but learned why I shot like that, adapted, and finished out with a 348 - only two points off the world record for that distance. I feel that I could, on a day with good conditions, have that record, but time will tell. I went into the day two points behind Braden Gellenthien and I gained a few on him by the end of 90. Then it was time for 70 meters, and I shot it just okay, ending with a 350. Braden gained a couple back on me, and we were keeping things tight. I knew it would all come down to a good round at 50 the next day. We both were shooting good. I’d gain a couple, and then he’d reel me back in. I lost a couple points  due to wind that I misread, and Braden, being the smart competitor that he is, went to school on that and didn't make the same mistake. Going into 30 meters, I was ahead by two. I ended up missing one at 30 on a shot that I was getting ready to let down on. I did that with  two ends left. We were then one apart, and that's how we finished. I was so happy. My first two years shooting this tournament, and I'm two-for-two!
The U.S. Open was the next day. The wind was blowing. I shoot a back tension release, and they’re generally not the best release aid to be shooting in the wind ... but I’ve had a lot of experience in these conditions, and I didn't let it bother me. I shot a 114 the first match and got by, but knew that I had to step it up. I was matched with some tough competition throughout the day. I shot a 115 and 116 for the next couple, and then had a close match with Dave Cousins, and edged him out 117-116. We scored our arrows, shook hands, and I saw Braden walking down to my target. We each had 30 seconds to shoot each arrow in the gold medal match. I thought, “That's plenty of time, no worries.” We had a close match, but on the last two ends, I put everything I had into each shot. I held one particular shot for 25 seconds - because of the wind - and it never let up. Somehow, I managed to shoot a nine - just off the 10. I was happy about that because I was out of oxygen, and seeing a colorful mixture of the target in my scope! I held another shot for 20 seconds, so it was a little bit of a challenge for me, but I never gave up. I think that's key in situations like that. And of course, there  is always a little luck involved.

HOYT: What was it like to win the NFAA Outdoor Nationals for the fourth year in a row?
JESSE: Well, awesome! I had always thought that the NFAA Outdoor Nationals was the ultimate shoot to win, especially when it was a five-day format. It was like a marathon, and every point counted. Everything you did mattered, and if you made it through the whole week without making any mistakes, that was a feat in itself. This year was special because of the clean field round that I shot the first day. I’ve been so close the last couple years to shooting a 560 on the field round, but just couldn't get it done. Last year, I was shooting well enough to do it, but shot a four on a short, easy target because of the way I had my sight set up. So, it was very special to me to be the first one to do that. Also, this year marked the third time I shot a 560 hunter round at a national event since shooting in the adult division. That is also special to me.

HOYT: What was it like to win NFAA Shooter of the Year?

JESSE: Winning Shooter of the Year is something that I set out to do this year. In years past, I didn't pay too much attention to it, but this year, that was my main goal. After Yankton, I was behind a point or two, and didn't know how I was ever going to make them up going into Nationals. So I just made extra sure not to make careless mistakes, and to just shoot my game. And now I know what it feels like to win Shooter of the Year!  

HOYT: How long have you been on Hoyt’s Pro Staff? How has that relationship impacted your archery career?
JESSE: I’ve been with Hoyt for almost eight years now. I can’t express how thankful I am to be with Hoyt and all the awesome people there - and the awesome equipment! My trusty Hoyts have NEVER, not one time, in the gazzillion shots that I have shot through Hoyt bows, ever let me down. They continue to impress me with their consistency, accuracy and durability. I really can’t say enough about Hoyt! The relationship has been a huge help in my career!  

HOYT: What bow/cam setup are you currently shooting? What do you like best about it?
JESSE: I’ve been shooting an UltraElite XT3000 with Spiral X cams for a little over two years now. I haven't experimented a whole lot on setups. I've never had a Hoyt setup that didn't shoot awesome. I think it just comes down to a comfort thing, and that's what makes the difference. What do I like best about my setup? Well, I guess the fact that the only surprises I get out of it are good surprises! And at  27-3/4", 60 lbs., it sends a 350 grain X-10 at 270 fps!

HOYT: We hear you never really practice. Is that true?
JESSE: I will tell you that my ideal practice routine would be to shoot about 300-400 GOOD arrows a week. I won’t even say what my routine has been the past couple years - because you all would call me a liar. Ha! But with young kids, and just a generally busy lifestyle, it's hard to get in the practice that I would like. But I’m working on making that easier.

HOYT: Looking back on your career so far, tell us about some of your most memorable moments/victories.
In no particular order ... winning Vegas in 2006 stands out. Also, winning Outdoor Nationals for the first time. I didn't win this one, but the Indoor Nationals in 2006 when Braden and I shot 26 ends in an arrow-for-arrow shoot off ... that’s one I’ll never forget. Winning the team event at Redding with my long time friend and shooting buddy, Brian Simpson. Winning the car shoot-off in 2004 - and again this year - will always stand out. When I was a cub in 1995 at the Outdoor Nationals in Wisconsin, I shot a couple clean rounds, and Terry Ragsdale and I had the first cleans rounds ever on the same day. I remember a lot about that tournament. It was very special to me, still is to this day. Mike Lieter won it, and after that tournament, I knew that archery was just something that I was born to do. Of course, this year, with the first 560 field round, also stands out. Making the Indoor World Team this year and competing in Poland - my first international trip - was awesome. Shooting a clean team round and getting an individual silver medal ... that was all very cool.

HOYT: What's left for you to accomplish? Are there any specific goals you're working toward?
JESSE: There will always be something left for me to accomplish. Even if I won everything there is to win, I’d still want to come back and shoot better. I’d like to do more of the international shoots ... World Cup events, stuff like that. I’d really like to practice the FITA rounds and try to set some records. I think the 1414 that Roger Hoyle shot was awesome because it stood for so long. I’d like to do something like that in the FITA events. I really think that with some practice, and on a good day, I could shoot a world-record FITA round. Also, on the hunting end of it, I’d like to go on some good hunts, for whitetail, elk, and the ultimate, for me, a moose. I've always wanted to knock a down a moose with my bow.

HOYT: Tell us about  your bow string business.
I’ve been making strings for about 13 years, and just recently made it a business for myself. I enjoy helping people, and I feel that making quality bowstrings is just another way of helping. I feel that good strings that are made right and don't stretch are such an important part of your setup. I’ll have a Website soon. It's just me making them, and right now, I’m only making them three or four days a week. I only like making, at most, four to five sets a day, and I want to keep it that way so the quality stays with them, and so I don't get overwhelmed with them. Other than that, just stay tuned for my website!

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