Straight Shooting: Pursuing a Career in Archery
Joe Wilkin is a Russian major. He’s a senior now so when his parents call, they don’t ask if he’s been studying as they might have three years ago. They ask if he’s been practicing.
They mean keeping up with his bow practice, a regimen that led Wilkin to tie his close friend and UNH Archery Club teammate Seth Tremblay for first place in the bowhunter division of the U.S. Collegiate Archery National Indoor Championships in March. That victory came a mere two years after Wilkin started competing.
So, yes, he’s been practicing. Two to three hours a day, three to four times a week. In the summer that schedule bumps up to seven days a week. Here’s what it includes: meditation, distance shooting up to 90 yards close-up shooting indoors at 20-30 yards, and blind shooting at five yards.
“For blind practice, you focus only on your form, so that form becomes instinctual, and you can focus on the center of the target during competition,” Wilkin says. “In competition, you shoot 120 arrows. You need to be able to shoot the last one the same as you did the first.”
There are three types of bows: recurve, traditional and compound. A recurve bow curves away from the archer at the very end. A traditional bow arcs from one end to the other. And a compound bow, the kind that Wilkin uses, features a leveraging system of cables and pulleys.
“It is easier to be more accurate with a compound bow than a recurve, but the standards are also set higher. A ten (the center of the target) for a compound at 20 yards, for example, is the size of a penny. The ten for a recurve is a bit larger,” he says.
Wilkin had tried archery when he was young but as he got older tennis, rock climbing, and ultimate Frisbee became his sports of passion. Then, during his first year at UNH, archery caught his attention and he started practicing with the team. A year later, he was competing. And he was good.
“I’ve got my coaches to thank for that,” Wilkin says.
Wilkin has a job as an archery associate at the Kittery Trading Post in Maine and will be shooting for them, and tryng to secure sponsors for competitions. He also hopes to compete in the Olympics one day. Compound archery is not yet an Olympic sport but will be added for the 2016 games. Wilkin’s goal is to make the Olympic trials. And, to have archery be his career.
“I would love to become a professional archer,” Wilkin says. “It requires absolute perfection. You need to be at the top, top level. That’s something to strive for.”
The Phillips Andover Academy graduate knows about striving; he has been invited to join the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
Someday, he may put his Russian to work and pursue a job as an interpreter. But for now, his focus is on his sport.
“I really want see how far archery can take me,” Wilkin says. “No matter what happens, I know archery is something that is going to stay with me for the rest of my life.”
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Written by Jody Record, UNH Media Relations.