Forget the Last Arrow, Focus on the Next One

  • Leo’s Archer’s Dominate Accuracy Competition in NY
  • Michelle Zeller, Victoria Ruda win State Championships
  • Paul Calleri Inducted to NYFAB Hall of Fame

By Forrest Fisher

Humble trainer from Western New York, Bryan Zeller, also enjoys the rigors and self-discipline requirements of statewide competition.

The green light, the red light, the archer draws the bow string, heart pounding a bit, muscles straining a bit, remembering all the fine points to shooting an arrow that has an intended landing point.

Breath in.  Focus. Breath out. Hold.  Release.  THWACK!  

About 60 feet away, the soaring arrow ends flight, fletching’s wiggle in the distance.  It stops on a target spot that has significance for measuring accuracy skill of the shooter. 

The target center dot, the aiming point, is a mere one-inch or so in diameter, centered with a tiny “X”.

A tiny place for an arrow to find when it starts flight from a hand-held bow and arrow, especially in the setting of competition with other archers that share the same passion for shooting an arrow to find that same “X”.  It is a time for courage, a time for sharing and a time for humble thanks, win or lose.

In New York State, the competitive archery season just ended with the New York Field Archers and Bowhunters (NYFAB) State Championships in Oneonta, NY.  For individual archers that hail from Leo’s Archery Club in Western New York, observers might have to wonder what the secret is to training so well, as this group of individuals earned several titles and medals amidst heavy and stiff competition.  The group holds practice sessions at the indoor archery range located at West Falls Conservation Society in West Falls, NY, where members help each other fine tune their skills, and share learning sessions with others in the community that range in age from 5-years to 75 years old.  

A happy group of archers in training and competition, some young and not so young, enjoy the skill development sessions at the West Falls Conservation Society in West Falls, New York. Vicki Ruda Photo

NYFAB State Championships in their particular style were earned by Anthony Berti, Denton Lowe, Kiersten Mucha and Victoria Ruda.  Six other members won medals for placing in their divisions.

Happy Michelle Zeller earns a championship football during New York State NYFAB Competition. 

In the NYFAB Classic, first-place finishes were won by Denton Lowe, Kiersten Mucha, Victoria Ruda, Jon Zurek and Jim Ralston, in their respective categories.  Five other members also won medals with high rankings.

In NYFAB’s Superbowl Shoot (state-wide mail in shoot), some 20 Leo’s members competed.  Michelle Zeller and Victoria Ruda won championship footballs in their divisions.  Four other members brought home medals for placing.

In Western New York Championships held at Doc’s Archery Range, Leo’s Archer members brought home six first-place finishes in various divisions.

Also, there was a most notable lifetime achievement at Oneonta, as white-beard trainer and archery mentor for so many, Paul Calleri was inducted into the NYFAB Hall of Fame.  His friendly style and humble contributions were recognized by fellow archers for his many contributions to the organization of youth and adult archery, rules and regulations, meetings, competitive and fun shoots.  He is pictured with fellow Hall-of-Famer, Mark “doc” Irlbacher.

Bryan Zeller and his team of trainers have mentored kids and adults alike to discover and share in the fun of archery.  Zeller says, “Some of our students just enjoy a once-a-week shoot with us, some continue to want more and step up from simply shooting the bow for fun to try their hand at some of these competitions, a truly significant test of their developing skills.  Win or lose, they are all winners in my eyes.”     

White-beard archery mentor, Paul Calleri, was inducted into the NYFAB Hall of Fame, he is pictured here with fellow Hall-of-Famer, Mark “doc” Irlbacher.  Vicki Ruda Photo

With a warm-hearted training approach like that, maybe the reason for the success of this group under the pressure of competition is not difficult to understand. 

Hats off to all of Leo’s Archery Team from Western New York.