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Straight shooter shares arrow-flinging expertise with local archers

Bernie Pellerite, left, talks with Norm Paullus of La Grande Sunday while conducting an archery course. The Observer/DICK MASON
Bernie Pellerite, left, talks with Norm Paullus of La Grande Sunday while conducting an archery course. The Observer/DICK MASON
Listen up, archers.

Turn up your music, urge your children to annoy you and make an outrageous bet with your spouse.

A recipe for chaos?


And a recipe for archery tournament success...

This is the belief of one of the best, Bernie Pellerite of Blacklick, Ohio. Recognized as the best archery coach in the nation by the National Field Archery Association, Pellerite appeared in La Grande last weekend. Here he conducted a certification class for archery instructors and shared a quiver full of wisdom.

Pellerite emphasized that almost all archers shoot better in practice than at tournaments. A major reason is tournament conditions are far different from one’s practice environment.

At tournaments, chaos reigns because of crowds, noise, competitors and numerous other distractions. Adrenaline-generating elements are not encountered when one shoots in the backyard, and Pellerite believes these elements should be added to practice sessions.

“Get your adrenaline level up to what it will be at the tournament. The difference between a tournament and practice is the A word,’’ Pellerite said Sunday.

Pellerite encourages archers while practicing to ...

• Play loud, irritating music.

• Get their children to grab them.

• Make a bet with their husband or wife. “Tell your spouse, ‘I will clean up the garage tonight if I don’t shoot a 285.’ That’s pressure.’’

Pellerite also encourages archers to log where their shots land and record their efforts with a camera. Archers should not be shy about recording themselves.

“Nobody is going to see it unless you put it on YouTube.’’

Archers should speak into their cameras after a shot, explaining whether it was good or bad and what they thought they did right or wrong.

“Do it immediately while it is still fresh in your mind,’’ Pellerite says in his book “Idiot Proof Archery.”

Analyzing this “instant feedback’’ will help greatly, he said.

“By recording your practice sessions, you can analyze and discover patterns and flaws,’’ Pellerite writes. “To learn why and when you miss most often.’’

He also urges archers to put a mirror under their camera, leaning it against the tripod. This will show a profile view of their form. Archers should peek at the mirror before firing to see if they are doing something wrong like dropping their elbow.

Archers who detect a flaw should stop and start over. This prevents them from developing bad form, Pellerite said.

Archers who do not engage in self-analysis may go years or decades before discovering their flaws.

“You may stumble through for 25 years and then it will fall from the sky, ‘That’s what I’m doing wrong,’ ’’ Pellerite said on Sunday.

In addition to self-analysis, archers can also improve their tournament performances by slowing down when competing. Archers too often feel pressure to shoot quickly at tournaments because they believe everyone is looking at them, Pellerite said. Archers should resist the tendency to hurry because when one fires many arrows in rapid succession fatigue sets in, reducing accuracy.

“Don’t try to shoot three dozen arrows in three minutes,’’ Pellerite said.

He urges people to relax at tournaments and understand that everyone is not glaring at them.

“I don’t want people to feel eyes on the back of their neck,’’ Pellerite said.

Last weekend’s class, which provided close to 25 hours of instruction, was put on by Ben’s Archery of La Grande.Ten people attended the class, some who traveled from hundreds of miles away. All earned their National Field Archery Association instructor certification via the course. Those receiving their certification were Steve Porter of Idaho, Terry Patterson of the Salem area, Joey VanLeuven of Imbler, Norm Paullus of La Grande, Tom Lupa of the Ashland area, Amy Cate of Union, Gene Cate of Union, Ben Ward of La Grande, Jason Strebin of Umatilla and Mike Longhorn of Hermiston.

Pellerite said NFAA-certified archers carry greater instructional weight.

“If you are not certified, you don’t have the opportunity to help someone. Those (NFAA instructor) patches say, ‘I know all the answers, ask the questions.’”

Pellerite has certified more than 1,000 instructors. He has also produced, written and directed 37 instructional videotapes, founded the NFAA’s Shooters School and much more.

He is also an accomplished bow hunter. Pellertite has taken 10 animals that are in the top 10 of the Safari Club International’s bowhunting record book including elk, red deer, Sika deer, Axis deer and a European Mouflon sheep.



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