“Who’s Ready for some 3D?”

A fellow I know posted on his Facebook page, “Who’s Ready for some 3D?”

He’d purchased his annual new bow and new arrows.  He signed with an archery equipment company as a “Pro Staff” member and made a public, Facebook, announcement of his elevated status. He’d posted a competitive schedule and pointed out he’d be traveling to compete on a specific tour. He is a top dog.

Shortly afterward he showed up at the local  indoor range and exclaimed excitedly his eagerness for upcoming 3D season to everyone within hearing distance.  He’s loud so the audible parameter was large.

While standing at the 18-meter line of the range someone took a smart phone picture of him for Facebook application. Within hours of his departure that photo would land on Facebook with a caption announcing his newly acquired gear was launching arrows to perfection.

While on the range his new bow and arrows in hand he began flinging arrows 18 meters down range. He’s chosen a vertical three spot to destroy.  He was wearing out the eight rings.

After thirty minutes he’d shot about 24 arrows.  (6 ends of 3 arrows) He collected his shinny gear and departed the range. Eager to post about his superior equipment.

Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D?” isn’t really a top dog.  In fact, I don’t recall him winning any of the local 3D events.  He spends a lot of money at the shop and the workers there treat him like royalty.

Pro Staff doesn’t mean professional archer.  Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D,” is a perfect example.  He wears a pro staff shirt but is far from a professional level archer.  The archery shop is allocated a number of positions to fill with local archers as promotional marketing plan for the manufacturer’s gear.  The shop selects archers that are loyal, spend money and will promote the shop to complete those “Pro Staff” allocations.  Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D?” is well liked spends an abundance of money at the shop and wins an allocation.  Don’t be fooled, Mr. “Who’s Ready for some 3D?” isn’t a pro.  If you paid for your manufacturer’s kit and gear neither are you.

To be a true top dog it takes a lot of commitment. Practice is a focal point in your life. Training is always ongoing. A hundred arrows per week won’t cut it. Practicing on the weekends won’t work. Do the work and win.  Then, the manufactures will come looking for you.

In 3D where you only have 20 to 30 targets you can get through the shots with minimal practice.  But, with all the variance in targets getting through them is the best to hope for.  Getting great at 3D means knowing the variance in target view at all the potential distance you will see for that target.  It takes a lot of time and thousands of arrows to become excellent at finding those 12(ASA) or 11 (IBO) circles with an arrow.

If you are practicing a little bit for a few months out of the year you are not really ready for some 3D and you should plan on digging around for that lost arrow on the range at your next event. Still, it is fun to be out with your friends.  Heck, consider golf.  You can put in the same amount of effort only with golf you can drink beer with your buddies while you play.

The Pro/Staff Sponsorship Facade

If you’ve read this website for long you may remember there was once a page for sponsors.  I took it down.  Before I removed it I politely said good-bye to those companies that had once supported me.  They were all good companies and I used their products.  But, overtime I became tired of their game. The products on this site, now, are mine.

The sponsorship game was essentially this:  I promoted their gear, I got a discount, I submitted quarterly updates, if the company had a booth at a tournament where I attended I was expected help at the booth, I’d only use the company’s gear, and I’d pay for the gear out of my pocket. There would be a discount on my purchase of 25% to 70% depending on the company.  To be fair one company never charged me for their products.  Nevertheless, I parted ways with them, too. Two of the companies were carry over sponsors form cycling and triathlon (those were the ones with the big discount and free goods.)

The whole archery deal felt off to me. Actually, the whole deal is a marketing program where those sports companies use amateur athletes to help promote their products.  I understand, I was in business most of my working life.

During that time of my life, before I retired, I did all sorts of business activities including product development, marketing, and was Vice President of Marketing.  I was also an Executive VP & Chief Medical Officer, and VP of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs.  I wore all sorts of hats.

I, too, ran marketing programs aimed at promoting my products.  One thing I always did was paid attention to the folks helping me with their expertise.  In my area the expertise wasn’t 100% an athletic skill it was mostly brain skills. Essentially, the academic/clinical environment was where my work and products were placed – for the most part.

There was a segment of my work that dealt with sports.  There I worked with professional and amateur athletes.  That work ranged from professional football players, track and field athletes (pro & am), triathletes, cyclist, runners, and event mountain climbers.  One of our key athletes was Jerry Rice who you may remember wearing a “Breathe Right” Nasal Strip.  Our segment of that market was medical but it was still cool to see Jerry Rice making amazing catches while wearing the “Breathe Right” Nasal Strip.  We even had a nearly life sized cardboard ‘standee’ of him in our boardroom.

With both venues, the brains and the brawn, one key function of our marketing department was to stay close to these thought leaders and athletes.  As a result we built a community or network of individuals that benefitted from our support and we benefitted from their support. The goal, of course, was to benefit people. I can honestly say we succeeded.  There are people alive today that might not be had it not been but for the work we all did.

Furthermore, that combined group had crossovers, brainy people can be athletes and athletes are smart, and those people worked together on projects.  It was a pulmonologist that inspired me to become a triathlete, Dr. Nick Hill a tremendous athlete. One of the toughest cyclists I ever trained with is an anesthesiologist, Dr. Chuck Law. Another close friend, a World Championship level cyclist, later became a toxicologist earning his degree from the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Howard Taylor. These are just a few examples that come immediately to mind as I type this post.

Sometimes our company supported a project for the scientists or athletes and other times we did not.  Those times we didn’t provide support, financial or equipment, we did provide our help, if only to bounce ideas around, when it was needed even if the project held nothing for our benefit beyond the friendships we developed.  Years after retiring (We sold the company, I took my piece of the pie and called it quits.) that network still functions as a social group where ideas are exchanged.

The sponsorship or “Pro-Staff” arrangements I’ve been associated with thus far in archery have been extremely one sided.  There does not seem to be a commitment on the part of sport industry to create long-term associations with athletes beyond the young and the few. Personally, I could care less which bow a 17 year old is shooting.  Odds are that 17 year will be putting his or her bow down during their freshmen year of college.  A very few will continue with their advancement in the sport.

If you are fortunate enough and good enough that you are at a minimum getting free gear in return for donning that factory archery shirt good for you. If you paid for the shirt and get a 25% discount on products that has a  70% margin – well that’s your choice. If you see me wearing a company logo, you can bet that the arrangement has both benefit and detriment for both sides. That and I believe their gear helps me perform better.