When I compete or practice in a group I am generally the oldest person in the crowd. This is especially true during indoor practice or league shoots. Heck, while practicing at the local indoor range, I’m older than the parents that have driven their children to train.
At large events there will be people my age and older. During an outdoor competition last summer there were a couple of archers in the 70’s. Excluding league events where there are no age divisions, I’ve shot in 12 tournaments so far this year. Of those I competed in my age group six times and in younger divisions six times.
In the senior division (the younger group), I won 3 times, got two second places, and one third. In the masters (my age group) I won twice, got three seconds and a fourth. You’d think I had a slight edge against the younger fellas but the bulk of the loses came during the time we were moving and my practice wasn’t great.
Being the oldest person in a crowd is a bit weird. There’s very little common ground for conversation. Most of the people I routinely see on the range are more concerned with getting a drivers license, turning 18 so they can move out of their parents’ home, or where they’ve applied to college. On the other hand, I worry about my portfolio, trade wars, and what my grandchildren are going to break next. (Either bone or property, I never know)
What strikes me most of the youngest sub-section of the group I see most often and shoot against on a weekly basics is the overall high degree of good manners and respectfulness of others they exhibit. There average age is 17 with a range of 15 to 22 years old. Each of them would make their parents proud.
They also make their coach proud.* As a group they have a 70% win rate at tournaments. Not just the local events, but national and international competitions. While taking a break on the range yesterday I was flipping though an archery magazine and there on the pages was one of the archers, highlighted for winning at a World Championship.
Here’s the competitive frustration about shooting with and against them – missing one X takes you out of the money on league nights. A nine among this crowd doesn’t cut it.
It’s fun to shoot with this group. But, I wonder, after some of them leave for college, get roommates, cars, and jobs will their performance falter. For a few yes, the writing is already on the wall. For others, will their future hold decades of shooting that provides an income to exceed that of those that sought a more traditional route to self sustainment? Probably.
- There coach, Big John Chandler is a USA Level 4 NTS Coach.