Amateur Corner: Tom Stanwood
Tom Stanwood is a busy man these days. But he still finds time to reach for his dream.
He’s a new dad, with his wife, Valerie, giving birth to twin boys – Graham and Niall – in 2018.
He’s an attorney, working as a civil litigator on long-term commercial leases.
And he’s training as hard as he ever has with his recurve bow in hopes of making the U.S. Olympic team that will compete at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
“I think everyone in this game dreams of the Olympics, right?” said Stanwood, of Massachusetts. “I mean, that’s the biggest stage.”
At 40 years of age, Stanwood is many years older than most of the U.S. archers he competes with and against.
But he has proven that he can hang with the best of them.
Stanwood recently won the silver medal in Men’s Recurve at the 2019 Arizona Cup, losing the gold medal match to – who else – Brady Ellison.
That silver medal was placed around his neck just two days after he qualified along with Ellison and teenager Jack Williams for the USA Archery Team that will compete at the Pan Am Games and World Archery Championships, both later this summer.
“It feels like my training is definitely on an upward trajectory,” Stanwood said.
In his youth, Stanwood competed with a compound bow, shooting with a clicker and his fingers. Then “life happened,” he said, and he “didn’t shoot an arrow for 15 years.”
While attending law school in 2009, he picked up an Olympic recurve at a friend’s urging, and he quickly found out that form of archery suited him.
“I was able to put in the time, and I had pretty good success fairly quickly,” Stanwood said.
He qualified for his first U.S. team a year later to compete in the 2010 Pan American Championships.
“That motivated me to keep going,” he said.
Stanwood fell short of qualifying for the national team that traveled to London for the 2012 Olympics, and then he didn’t shoot much in 2013 and 2014.
“Big mistake,” he said. “When I came back, there were a lot of new faces, and everyone was much better prepared than I was.”
Stanwood made it to the final eight qualifiers for the team that competed in the Rio Olympics in 2016, but, again, he was cut.
And since then, he’s been working hard on his archery game. He qualified for the 2017 World Championship team and he competed in every outdoor USAT tournament last year.
“Truthfully, I was in a kind of a slump the past two years,” Stanwood said. “It’s something I don’t fully understand why it happened or how, but it was something I'd never experienced before.”
At The Vegas Shoot this year, Stanwood said he “felt something awaken in my shooting that reminded me of what it was like when I was shooting really well.”
He spent a productive week in March training with U.S. Coach Kisik Lee, which Stanwood said solidified his form and propelled him to his stellar shooting at the World team trials and the Arizona Cup.
Stanwood’s accomplishments in archery so far are evidence that commitment and hard work can pay off.
He has no coach, although he said he lives near and often calls on legendary Olympic archer Butch Johnson for advice; regularly seeks training assistance from Coach Lee; and picks Ellison’s brain when it comes to equipment issues.
He works full time, although he said he’s very fortunate that his “boss thinks archery is super cool and is incredibly supportive of my archery adventures.”
And he’s a father of twins, although he credits his wife for carrying the lion’s share of the parenting role so he can pursue his Olympic dream.
“I’m really, really lucky in a lot of ways, and I’m very thankful for everyone who is helping me” train and compete, he said. “I learned my lesson from the Rio trials, and I plan to work hard at it going into (the Tokyo Olympic team trials) this summer.”