If you have paid attention to competitive archery over the last several decades, one name that you will recognize is Burley Hall. Over the past twenty-plus years, Hall has won fifty national titles and Shooter of the Year awards, plus six world titles. It is safe to say Hall knows how to win and even though he is now over sixty, he is still a consistent winner. Between the time I called him to do this interview and the time I called to finish the interview, he won a tournament.
Some people get into archery because they were born into a family that was involved in archery. Others get into archery because they like the competition. Hall got into archery because he wanted to extend his hunting season. “Taking up archery allowed me to spend more time in the woods hunting whitetail deer. I started out with a recurve bow and eventually switched over to a compound because I was more accurate with it,” Hall explained.
When Hall got into bowhunting, he also started competing in local archery tournaments. “I started shooting a bare bow, then fingers. I added a release and eventually added a sight. I didn’t find success right away. It took me awhile before I really started succeeding but eventually I started winning at the state level,” Hall recalled.
Things started going Hall’s way when his local archery club decided to compete nationally. “At the national tournament, they had about thirteen different classes. Our club took home eight or nine wins and that’s when things really started to take off. That was in the mid 1980‘s and from there, I started competing in the Manufacturers pro class of the IBO,” Hall said. The year was 1986 and Hall won the first leg of the triple crown which was held in Illinois. With that win under his belt, Hall started to set goals. “The man to beat then was Dave Powers. He was winning almost everything.” Hall beat Powers and then set a goal to win every tournament he competed in. “Setting my goals high kept me focused on winning. Sometimes I won and often I had to settle for less than first place but by focusing on winning, I was able to win a lot.”
Obviously setting his goals high paid off for Hall. He has been IBO Shooter of the Year several times and has won numerous world titles. When I asked him which win meant the most to him, he laughed and told me the next one. However, with a little prodding, one win did come to mind. “In 1993, I was won the IBO World Championship by beating Shannon Caudle,” Hall said. “Caudle and I were shooting well that day. In the shoot-off, he missed a 3/4-inch dot on a standing bear at forty-eight yards by a hair. Since the shot was so close to the dot, everyone congratulated him and clapped. Shannon said, “Hold on … this guy can shoot so don’t be clapping yet. With that, I shot my arrow, hit the dot and won.”
Winning a shoot-off like that is tough, especially when you consider how much pressure Hall was under. Hall has become a master at dealing with pressure. “Over the years, I learned what bad habits I had when under pressure and focused on dealing with them when shooting in tournaments. I focused on overcoming the habits,” Hall said. “Pressure is self-inflicted. You can simulate a high-pressure situation by shooting with friends and the loser buys the other guy a Coke. People should put themselves in pressure situations often when practicing so they can deal with it while competing.”
Hall shot at dozens of tournaments on the local level before winning one. He had target panic so bad early on in his career that he could hardly draw his bow but through it all, he focused on winning, had a positive attitude and became one of the best archers in the country. He learned by going to the school of hard nocks. He says people don’t have to do that today. “Today there are great pro shops and great coaches out there. People who are serious about competing should find a good pro shop and coach so they don’t have to go down the bumpy road I did,” Hall explained.
After all these years, Hall is still winning tournaments and hunting, which is why he picked up a bow initially. “I love bowhunting deer, elk and wild hogs. Hogs are made for the bowhunter. I love spot and stalk hog hunting,” Hall noted.
Hall is a focused competitor and competes to win. “I will shoot as long as I can. I love archery and bowhunting,” Hall said. Like most professionals, Hall is focused on archery. I think what has separated him from the competition is his ability to stay focused even when things aren’t always going right. He works through the tough spots in life and focuses on the good things. “God has given me this talent and because of him, I have been able to make a living in the archery industry all these years.”
Do you want to compete like Burley? Be prepared; it can be a bumpy road. However, with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.