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Nathan Brooks grew up in Northeast Oklahoma where a strong Native American tradition of bowhunting means many children are shooting bows by the time they are old enough to stand up in their moccasins.
The competitive sport of archery, however, is much less common in the mountains of Oklahoma. While Nathan spent his childhood, like other children in the area, building bows out of small hickory trees and twine, he began blazing his own trail when he took an interest in archery competition.
“My dad is an avid bowhunter and archer,” says Nathan. “I wanted to be as good as dad and he gave me every opportunity that he could possibly provide.”
For years, Nathan and his father traveled together to local and state archery events.
Nathan experimented with a number of archery setups before he settled on his first “real” bow, a Proline Point Blank.
“I got very serious with archery at the age of 13,” says Nathan. “I had won the Oklahoma state championships at the age of 12 and wanted to try my hand on a larger scale.”
Nathan turned pro in 1999, but recalls that he barely made it out of the Semi-Pro division. “I had a serious case of target panic in 1998. But somehow I managed to pull out a win or two, just enough to win my way out of the class.”
Nathan’s professional performance has ranked him among the few who have made archery a full-time job and source of income. He has lined up corporate sponsorship and taken home wins from ASA, NFAA and IBO events.
Archery is life
“I can say I chased a dream and caught it,” says Nathan about his success at making a career out of shooting a bow and arrow.
But he didn’t catch his dream alone. Nathan credits his family and sponsors for allowing him to build a life around archery.
“As a professional shooter, I now have obligations to those who support me and my family. Years ago, I did this for me. Now, I do it for them. All of them - family and sponsors.”
At times, it can be difficult for Nathan to draw a line between archery and the rest of his life.
“Archery eventually affects almost everything I do,” says Nathan. “I don’t mean that I live, eat and sleep archery, but archery has been my primary source of income for quite a few years. Every time I make a decision to take a vacation or go to Wal-Mart, my successes in archery follow me.
For Nathan, life and archery are not only intertwined, but they follow similar rules. “In archery, every decision you make affects the outcome of your total score. In life, we live by the same code.”
“If I had to name one person that helped me take my game to the next level, it would be Bobby Ketcher,” says Nathan.
Bobby Ketcher is another Oklahoma native that has provided Nathan with inspiration for his career.
Nathan recommends that new archers start with a coach or pay close attention to those who are doing well. “Study the best and try and mimic their form and actions,” says Nathan.
“I always train with a goal in mind. I work on issues until I feel that I get them right or until I am satisfied that I have done my best in addressing the situation.”
Nathan has observed a few things about his own shooting style, noting that mental preparation is the most important factor for consistency.
“I start with a pre-shot routine that involves setting my feet, loading my arrow and release, then focusing on the target. Then I change to the shot mode which has three levels. First, I draw, anchor and pre aim. Next, I start my final aim and release motion which fires the shot. Lastly, I follow through and remember how good the shot was. If it was not good I forget it.
“My favorite indoor target is the Vegas face. However, I have had more success on the 5 spot targets. My strongest venue would be 3D archery.”
Shop talk and bow setup
Nathan maintains his equipment in a 20 x 24 shop building that includes a Last Chance Archery electric bow press.
Nathan keeps detailed records of his performance with different equipment configurations as a way to identify and eliminate problems. Among other things, he pays careful attention to the valley of a draw cycle and how a bow feels while aiming at full draw.
Nathan believes that stabilizers can affect the aiming of a bow in a positive and negative way. “The key is finding what works for your style,” says Nathan. “Only through a lot of shooting and competing can you make that determination.”
Based on years of evaluating what works best for him, Nathan prefers a scope with a housing size of 1 3/8-1/2” diameter and prefers a 2x or 3x lens with an etched dot.
Nathan chooses carbon arrows for durability and uses a combination of paper tuning and finer tuning methods.
Nathan modifies the setup of his Scott Longhorn release depending on whether he is shooting indoor or 3D. “For indoor shooting I use the release set-up without a click. For 3D, I use a click in the release. I do this for many different reasons but primarily for the up and down hill shots that could cause a misfire if improperly anchored.“
Goals for the coming year
“I would like to be more consistent this year by having only top 10 finishes and most often top 5s.”