John Dudley- AKA- Dudley or Dud

dud bio

Archery for me began at an early age of 10. The culture here is in the U.S. is much different than other countries. Instead of target archery, I was first introduced for the purpose of hunting whitetail deer. Although my target archery is what people see me for now it is not where I started. When we weren’t hunting my father and I would practice at some local clubs and that was all the “target” shooting I did. Targets at that time were self made 3D animal targets from club members. I enjoyed shooting during club events but never looked at shooting a bow as competition. During my early years it was really just “practice” for hunting season.

During my junior and senior year in high school I didn’t spend much time behind my bow because of my pursuit for a college football scholarship. I did still shoot some archery and remember that I shot really well for my age. I liked to make gas money for driving my car by making bets with my friends on archery shots. I could always win 5$ for shooting eggs off a soda bottle at 40 yards! But other than that my real focus was on football. My football career ended with an injury and really changed what I thought life was about. To be honest I was very depressed for a period of time because it was the first time in many years that I was not able to compete in a big game. I loved the feeling of competition. I thought after football was over that life was over since I wouldn’t compete again. Luckily all that changed one weekend when I saw an advertisement for a archery competition.

I remember going to my first archery competition near my home town. It was an experience I have never forgotten. It was a 3D competition and the targets had become much more advanced and the distances were about twice as far as I remembered shooting with my dad at our club. To make a long story short, I made it about half way through that course before running out of arrows. I missed many targets and lost all my arrows. I had never felt so defeated! I was an athlete that had excelled at everything I had tried but yet was absolutely terrible at competitive 3D archery. I had a good attitude and saw this as a challenge! I’m embarrassed to say I had to leave the tournament and buy dozen arrows so I could go back to the shoot and finished up. I shot terribly, but I didn’t quit! Archery would be my next challenge in life!

The next day I headed straight to a local archery shop that had an indoor 3D range, as well as, some of the best local archers. I spent a lot of time there and was eye ball deep in archery. I watched the other archers and tried to learn from what they were doing differently to make them so good. This is what I feel most people do to try to get better! I started helping the archery shop owner by fletching arrows for him. Then one by one he showed me how to work on bows and build arrows. Archery is 100% of me and that is all I wanted to do. At first I worked every day for this shop and was never paid. Within a years time of starting college I realized that archery was more important to me than school. I left college to go work for an archery shop for about $4.50 an hour. My job was to come in and do warranty repairs, new bow set ups and arrow building. During this time I shot for hours every day, but still was only an “average” archer. I tried hard, but still there were many other guys at the club that were better than me! I lacked consistency at this point in my career. I could have a really good tournament one day but then the next day it could be bad. I see this to be the problem with most shooters. Inconsistency! You see, I know how you feel! It is a bad feeling because deep inside you know how good you can shoot when you do things perfectly but then the next day it can be so bad.

I kept fighting and I shot local tournaments every weekend and I did gradually get better. One day some friends and I decided to go to a Major tournament. My first major tournament was an IBO Triple Crown shoot with about 1500 shooters. I was overwhelmed and intimidated and I remember my score of 360 out of 400. It was not good and well below my scores at home. I went home and learned from my mistakes and worked on the things I did wrong. The following year I competed at all the IBO Triple Crowns and the IBO World Championships. My shooting was improving some but I still wasn’t satisfied and decided to take some archery lessons from a well known coach.

While learning from this coach, It was there where I met one of the legends in 3D archery Randy Chappell. Randy had just come off a season of shooting the first ever perfect 400 IBO score. He was also there to seek some coaching. (You see even the best in the game seek coaching) Randy and I became very close friends and I decided to take up Randy’s offer to come out to Virginia and train with him. Randy and his brother Sonny were my mentors and raised my game at least 30 points. That year I shot semi pro and posted some of my first consistently good scores. Still to this day I look back and think that if I hadn’t have met Randy and Sonny there is no way I would have come this far. Their time to teach me is why I realize the importance of veteran archers to relay the knowledge they have learned to the younger generation. This is why is important to me.

Although I had become a better shooter there was still one part of my archery that was not good! I had a serious case of target panic. During pressure situations I just couldn’t keep from punching the trigger. Some tournaments would be ok, but some would not. This is the #1 problem with archers. Target Panic! I think what makes me a good coach is that I know all the feelings of panic and know how frustrating it is. But I also know that it is possible to overcome it because I did. Luckily for me, a doctor came to the rescue. Legendary archer, Dr. Randy Ulmer introduced me to a Carter back tension release in 1996. It took some time but with the right coaching I made it through and the end result has taken my shooting to a whole new level. I remember going to my first tournament in Virginia without target panic. I shot a 30 target 3D tournament with the Chappell Brothers. I shot a 348! I had only missed six 12 rings out of 30 targets. That was the day I realized that if I shot like that I could compete with any other shooter out there. It was at that point the Chappell’s convinced me to turn pro.

It was in January of 1998 that I remember getting a call with an offer for a Pro Staff contract and also a factory sales rep position. At that time, I had just started my own archery shop and was in business about 12 months. I wanted the professional shooting contract but wasn’t sure about closing my shop to be a sales rep. I had a few reservations about the decision but eventually decided to move to Sparta Wisconsin and give it my best. I was trying to adjust to a new town, new home and a new job all while heading into my first season as a Pro. In the middle of all of this I got a call from the editor of a US archery magazine to ask if I would be interested in writing a column for the magazine called Rookie on Tour. I felt that there was plenty to write about so I added that amongst my long list of things to do for my rookie year. Thus my writing career started!

In 1998 I started competing in the Pro Class and shot on all 3 professional tours. That year I had won 2 National Titles and the Rookie of the Year. I set many goals for myself including scores, money winnings and rankings. I met all my goals and really felt that I had “made it” in archery. Once I overcame the target panic, to be honest, I thought I had perfected archery. Shooting on the tours was fun and I enjoyed it! I met some of the people that are responsible for “who” I am today. But------- over time I grew tired of traveling to the same places, shooting the same courses and witnessing the constant decline in prize purses with 3D archery. I was content with what I had done with my career and decided to focus my time in some other areas of my life. I put down my bow for over a year of competitive shooting.

However, a year later I got a call from Jeff Hopkins who is one of the best 3D shooters of all time. He told me he was considering shooting the IBO Triple Crown which was one tour he had never attended. He said that he wanted to go and win the individual events but also He wanted to win the National Triple Crown Team event as well. He told me that he wanted me to shoot alongside him, Colin Boothe and Michael Anderson. These were all mentors to me so this would be something that I would be proud of so I said yes. I blew the dust off my bow and I trained hard again for those 4 months and I did well in the Tournaments and we did win the National Cup. So that call from a friend is what convinced me to shoot competitively again. But again I made a decision to stop competing at 3D archery.

I enjoy 3D and find the game challenging. But for me the frustration came from reduced prize monies and the fact that in my opinion 3D doesn’t truly judge the archers ability to shoot the bow. At least the scores don’t reflect that. I could go on a course and make 40 perfect shots but if my distance estimation was off just a little I could quickly finish in 20th place. Then other days I could make terrible shots and have bad estimation all day and still luckily hit the 12 ring. Some days my best shooting showed the lowest scores all because of the unknown distance and I just personally felt that I could shoot much more impressive than my 3D scores were showing. I see 3D as a fun activity and I love to do it and its great practice for hunting.

The year following my last 3D event I decided to try shooting some target archery. It was mainly because a few “target” people had doubted my talents since I was a “3D” shooter. I looked at it as a challenge to prove what I knew I could do with a bow. I started shooting target archery to prove something but in the process I have found it to be the best way to really evaluate how you are shooting. Paper doesn’t lie. The arrow is either in or out. You know the distance and the target so you just stand on the line and make your shots. You score the arrows where they land. There wasn’t much money in Target Archery when I first started it so people shot it because they loved to shoot. Shooting on paper helps me evaluate myself and that is what is most important to me.

In 2004 I started shooting National Target events. I won my first event and qualified for the US Archery Team. I traveled with the Team for several years to different events and learned a lot about archery and competing in foreign places. I won medals and my team won medals but more importantly to me I started making a lot of new friends overseas. I also realized their need for technical and coaching support in some areas of the World. I saw totally passionate archers with much less knowledge than what we have in the U.S. I decided to focus a lot more of my time on working with foreign shooters and National Teams. For me there is no better feeling than teaching and seeing someone use it to be better than they ever have before. Coaching is very rewarding for me and I have shown some very successful shooters some tools to make them better than they already were. I sometimes miss competitive shooting and I do still compete against myself. (This honestly is more critical than shooting against others). I am thankful for all my travels because without them I wouldn’t have met my wife who is the one who keeps this all together for me.

I am 100% archery, everyday. Archery is who I am and I constantly continue to teach and write and test equipment. Without help from others I would never have this as my job though. There are many people who have helped me along my career. In fact, some of my best friends and most influential people to my archery you may never see or have never heard of. But, I want to be sure to mention them and say THANK YOU to those of you who help me or have helped me. You know who you are and you can be assured I appreciate it. Archery is life to me and hopefully some of the things you find on this website will help you on your journey! Medals and Championships come and go and they are fun at the time. But the one thing that will shine forever is teaching someone how to shoot and arrow into the middle.

Good Luck