Mama often told me, “It’s not what you know, and it’s who you know.” There’s a lot of truth to what Mama said.
When I worked a day job I knew a lot about my field of employment. Academically, I’d earned a doctorate and a law degree. Even so, I never let my schooling get in the way of my education (M. Twain.). Along the way, as I piled up college credits, if some credentialing exam’s testing requirements had been satisfied by my study I took the test. I piled up a lot of credentials as a result. Most I never needed.
Over the years I built up a lot of knowledge and made a lot of contacts. Those contacts eventually led me to a very satisfying career. Without the contacts I’d still have had a very enjoyable career in academia but not one that could have been as richly rewarding. As it turned out I was able to retire at age 57.
The early retirement offered me a chance to work at a sport. At 57 cycling or triathlons would have only been fun pastimes. Archery, which I stumbled upon by chance, meant if I got good enough I could earn a few dollars.
I have earned a few dollars here and there. Those rewards have been exclusively shooting league events. Among them all I’ve had to compete against archers often younger than my children.
In my age group I’ve done well at the NFAA and USA Archery events as a non-professional. USA Archery, of course, doesn’t have cash on the line. The ASA and IBO offer cash winning as does the NAA. There is also money available via contingency programs. However, the big money is set-aside for the young professional archers not the Master/Senior level athletes.
Shooting, as a Senior Pro and winning everything wouldn’t yield the return of a young professional winning one of the major events. On the bright side archery is not as age impacted as other sports. On the down side, all the young pros are really good. In other words, once you hit 50 and if you shoot outside of the Pro division you’re not going to reap much reward. That’s too bad if you consider most competitive archers are over 50. (1)
There’s the potential for an older archer to become a “Pro” Staff shooter. I have no idea to the extent of support a “Pro” staffer receives. I tried that pathway with minimal success. I mostly got support in the way of discounts on equipment. One company, that had known me as a triathlete, gave me some free stuff.
During a tournament I learned an opponent was a “Pro” Staffer with one of the companies where I held a “Pro” staff position. I further learned he’d received hundreds of dollars of free gear where I had been awarded a 25% discount. The gifted archer has never beaten me. But, he knows somebody at the company whereas I know no one at the company. Mama was correct.