John's Journal... Entry 111, Day 1
INSTINCTS OF THE TRADITIONAL ARCHER
Travis Fryman - Traditional Archer
EDITOR'S NOTE: As a big 8-point whitetail moved into bow range, Travis Fryman of Cantonment, Florida, stood in his tree stand and waited for the shot. Fryman, the former shortstop and third baseman for the Detroit Tigers, who now plays for the Cleveland Indians, recalled later that as soon as he saw the buck, his heart seemed to jump up in his throat. "My adrenaline was pumping, and I could hardly swallow I was so excited. To get off the shot, I knew I'd have to collect myself and calm down." To prepare for the shot, Fryman, who had a .275 batting average in the majors, went through the same mental processes he always had gone through before he stepped to the plate to take a pitch that could win the game for his major-league baseball team.
"I closed my eyes for an instant and took a couple of deep breaths," Fryman said. "I began to look at the line of travel I expected the buck to take. I tried to pick a spot to shoot to where I thought I could arrow the deer. Then I visualized myself taking the deer. I had to get my attention off the buck's head and his antlers and focus solely on the spot - a quarter size tuft of hair behind his shoulder - I wanted to hit."
Then Fryman only had to draw and shoot when the deer got into position. Fryman had learned that in bowhunting as in baseball he could rely solely on his instincts and the muscle memory he'd built up from thousands of hours of practice to shoot accurately without having to depend on any type of sighting device on the bow. But before Fryman could launch an arrow, a squirrel fell out of a nearby tree and spooked the buck. "I never heard the squirrel until it hit the ground and the deer broke to run because I was so in-tune to that spot on the deer where I wanted to place the arrow," Fryman admits. Traditionally archery requires that type of concentration and dedication for success. According to Fryman, "you must be totally in tune to the spot you want to hit. You must be as focused as you are when you're watching TV while your wife's standing over you telling you the water pipes in the basement are busted and the house is flooding. Even though she may be screaming at you, you're not conscious of her presence because you're so focused on the TV game. I'm convinced that the ability to concentrate and focus are the key elements to being successful with traditional archery."
BASEBALLS, BATS, RECURVES AND LONGBOWS
For many years those who taught traditional archery used parallels of throwing or hitting a baseball to explain the body mechanics and mental processes needed by archers. But what if a highly-trained baseball player who earned his living relying solely on his instincts, talent, training and muscle memory to recognize a swiftly-moving target and see the exact spot on that target he wanted to hit and throw an object an unknown distance to a small target where the trajectory of the object being thrown had to pass through an arc to hit the target accurately wanted to reverse the process? Travis Fryman, who as a 10-year old had begun hunting squirrels with his grandfather, asked himself these questions when he started shooting traditional archery. For Fryman, playing well in major-league baseball had represented the ultimate challenge for him as an athlete. Transferring those skills to his recreation of bowhunting became the ultimate challenge for him as a deer hunter. Fryman had taken numbers of big white-tailed deer with his compound bow in years past. But in the last decade, he's also dedicated himself to traditional archery and shooting the longbow and the recurve. Fryman draws parallels between the sports of baseball and instinctive hunting and transfers the skills he's learned in baseball to hunting and shooting instinctively.