Whether they’re in the woods or on the podium, Hoyt’s Pro Shooters represent Hoyt to the fullest. And Hoyt.com is the only place where you’ll find behind-the-scenes info about their recent success stories, their travels, their favorite Hoyt bows and accessories, and other details that any true Hoyt fan needs to know.
1. You are right here in Hoyt’s backyard this week… can you tell us what you are doing at Salt Lake Archery?
This week I’m here helping with the Paralympic camp for our wounded military. We have eight individuals that we brought in and we are working with them one-on-one as far as coaching, helping with form, and helping them with their equipment. We are hoping to help lead them to the next step to become a Paralympic athlete.
2. Tell us about your involvement with the Wounded Warrior Games (setting up bows, teaching them to shoot, etc.)
Last year was the first year they held the Warrior Games, and it was held in Colorado Springs. With that event, I was a judge and mentor for the games. It was a lot of fun. This year, the Navy department asked me to come in and coach their team. So last week I was in California where I met with those who potentially wanted to be on the team, worked with them, and had a competition at the end that led to the decision of who would actually be on the team. Now that I know who my team members are going to be, I can start working closer with them.
3. Can you give us some background into your accident?
It happened in December, 1988. I was at a friend’s house working on a motorcycle. There were three of us and it was my turn to take the bike down the lane. When I was coming back, my friend was coming towards me on his 3-wheeler without his lights on (it was night), we didn’t see each another and we hit. I was 15 years old when it happened.
4. How long has archery been a part of your life? Did you shoot before the accident, or did the accident prompt your passion for archery?
When I was a kid, I always liked to hunt. I bowhunted when I was younger before the accident. Then once I lost my arm, I didn’t think a second about picking a bow up again. Until one of my roommates, who was an avid bowhunter, had bought a new bow and threw his old bow in the closet. I got to thinking that there had to be a way that I could shoot that. I had heard about a guy shooting with his teeth, so I cut a piece of pant material, tied it on the string, drew the bow back for the first time and it’s been downhill ever since.
5. In which ways have you had to adapt yourself, or your equipment, in order to be able to shoot? What specific items have allowed you the ability to be so successful?
The biggest thing is just figuring out how to put a good mouth tab together, to where it can give me the consistency. You don’t want a lot of weight on it, but at the same time, you have to find something that will last long enough so that you can tune your bow and then make it through a competition. Bottom line is, a dog leash at a local pet store does it. That’s the thing that works the best.
6. What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success? Or, how do you prepare for tournaments?
I do some mental training, as far as visualizing what I am doing. I set a target up in the house, when I’m sitting on the couch, I’ll look at it and just kind of stare off to try to get my focus up a little bit higher. And I shoot as much as possible to keep my muscles in shape.
7. Thus far, what would you say are your most significant accomplishments?
Honestly, it has been winning the bronze medals in the Paralympics. Because when you get knocked out of the semi-finals, you aren’t going for Gold anymore. Now you are going for bronze. And so it’s either you do it or you don’t. Getting knocked out also fuels you for the next competition. You tell yourself this isn’t going to happen again.
8. You told us a little about bowhunting. Can you give us a little insight into your experience in the field?
Living in California, I primarily hunt hogs and deer. The hogs, for me, are the most fun. You can hunt them all year long, and in the summertime, you can just sit up on a trail and wait for them – they’ve got a good sense of smell and they are a challenging animal to get.
9. What was your most memorable hunt?
My first hog I shot. Me and a buddy watched this hog come down from about 400 yards down the ridge and right to the fence. I draw back, the animal stops and sniffs the air. I’m at full draw thinking, “C’mon! hurry up, hurry up”, when he comes out from underneath the fence, turns broadside and at 18 yards, I just drilled him! Then I got to thinking, “You know what? I’m sitting here on the ground with no way to get away. If I hadn’t put a good shot on him, he would have eaten my lunch!”
10. What advice would you give to archery enthusiasts who may be facing physical challenges of their own?
Let’s find what strengths you have and incorporate that into the shot. Just because you have a weak arm, or something is missing, that is not a reason to give up. There are definitely ways to adapt to it, to where you can sometimes become an even stronger shooter than you could have even with two arms.
11. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My wife and kids. I want to try to look good to them, as well as everybody else. If I know I’m holding myself high and have good sportsmanship, then that’s teaching my kids something positive. Then hopefully they will be proud of me. That’s the biggest motivation to me.
12. Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live currently?
I grew up in Stratford, California. My family had a cotton farm when we were younger. When I got married, I moved to Tulare where I currently reside with my wife, Crystal, my daughter, Rebecca (8), and my son, Joseph (4). Both of my kids shoot with me.
13. Outside of archery, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
Spending time with the family. Fishing. Hunting. That’s about it.
14. If you had to be any type of athlete, other than an archer, what sport would you choose?
That’s a good question. I don’t know to be honest with you. I liked playing football and basketball when I was younger, but for a living, I have no idea. Archery is it.
15. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the leading role?
I don’t see that one happening, so I’m not worried about it (laughing).