Hitting a bullseye 120 times in a row in two days was no problem for Beckley resident John Wheeler. After all, it is what earned him the title of national champion.
“It actually came down to on the last five arrows,” Wheeler said. “Me and another guy were tied and he had one just out. So, I kind of got lucky right there.”
The National Field Archery Association held their indoor tournament in Cincinnati starting March 9, 2018. Of the 68 total competitors in the Bowhunter Freestyle adult male division, 20 of them, including Wheeler, had a perfect score of 600. After rigorous competition in the shootout, Wheeler narrowly came out on top. Despite the nerve-wracking showdown, Wheeler says it was an exciting and fun experience.
“It’s a pressure-cooker,” Wheeler said. “It’s a good time. You get to see old friends. Guys you don’t normally see, you’ll see there. It’s a good event.”
Archery is not all easy. Controlling the 70-pound draw weight of the bow, which allows for a straighter shot, requires a different kind of strength.
“I know guys that can bench press 300 pounds, but can’t draw my bow because it’s different muscles,” Wheeler said. “There’s no way to really train those muscles except for drawing a bow.”
The hardware proves Wheeler has mastered the competitiveness of archery. But recreationally, he says the sport is also perfect to enjoy with the relatives, especially the kids.
“It teaches them discipline… (and) how to deal with pressure,” Wheeler said. “It’s a great thing to do with your family.”
Although he resides in Beckley, Wheeler is the second member of the Wyoming County Bowhunters Association to win the national title in its 30-year history.