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“Thru My Eyes”
Written by: James Dean – Tangy’s Archery
My name is James Dean. I joined the Little Rhody Bowman Archery Club, located off Rt. 3 in Coventry, RI in 1967 BC (before compounds).
I first visited an archery club in Cumberland, RI called Diamond Hill Archers. My older brother had taken me to watch him shoot. The President and officers were African-Americans. The Presidents name was Arthur Shaffer who lived in E. Providence, RI. Arthur’s club was a member of the (USBBA) United States Bare Bow Association. I believe Robert Hitte was President of the Little Rhody Bowman Archery Club and the Rhode island President of the USBBA.
Since there were no compounds then, all archers were placed into classes by averages. A class was 400 out of 500. There were also B, C, D and E classes at lower averages. My first tournament was held at Pine Top ski area in Rhode Island in 1967. It was organized by George’s Sporting Goods located on Bald Hill Road where Town Fair Tire is today. I had only shot a few local shoots in Class E, but placed 1st at Pine Top’s USBBA Tournament.
After shooting without sights for two years, archers heard that a new archery organization had formed that allowed sights. This was the (NFAA) National Field Archery Association, which formed in 1965 in Rhode Island. It is believed that John Henneberry of South County Archers was the President of this new State Association. John also acted as the NFAA Director for Rhode Island. In 1969, a great number of archers joined the NFAA because they allowed sights. It wasn’t long after that we heard the USBBA had dissolved and the (RIFAA) Rhode Island Field Archery Association became the governing body for archery in Rhode Island. In or about 1970 Art Shaffer became the new RI State President and John Henneberry our NFAA State Director for seven more years.
Arthur, also the President of the Diamond Hill Archers, informed all the clubs that the Massachusetts Field Archery Association had bid and received the National Outdoor Archery Tournament, to be hosted by Ludlow Archery Club.
Having to build six archery ranges, each state in New England built a 28 target course and named them after the six New England States. This was in 1972 and it had 652 archers. This was also when Compound bows were introduced in a big way. The tournament was a great success!
In 1973, my close friend Tony Rego became the new RI State President. In 1975, I became the RI State President after Tony resigned. I also became the State Director, replacing John Henneberry, an office I held till 1983.
I formed the 1st State Indoor Tournament in 1978, hosted by Manville Sportsman Club, attended by 78 archers. A great part of that number was due to John’s Archery in Central Falls, with a club membership of 35 shooters, all of which had joined the RIFAA that year.
Fred Martinelli – 86 years old now, Heather – my wife and I would give demonstrations for any organization that would have us. Fred is still a lifelong member of the Narragansett Bow Hunters Club.
In 1978 & 1979 I received a plaque from the (NESFAA) New England Section Field Archery Association board members for having made the most contributions to the sport. Phillis Butlers was the N.E. Councilman at that time. The membership in RI at that time had increased from 25 State members to 159 in just two years.
In 1977, with compound bows producing such high scores, the NFAA changed the target scoring from 5/3 to 5/4/3, as perfect scores were becoming too common. The change outraged many clubs in N.E. and non-NFAA clubs were formed. As a result of this change in scoring, RI club attendance increased only to find within three years in 1980 the numbers declined from 159 State members to approximately 50 and dropped to about 25 archers at the outdoor shoots.
Soon after, 3D archery became more popular. The numbers at the State shoots dropped again. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, clubs were now promoting 3D events and the numbers at the NFAA Outdoor tournaments which had bolstered 250 shooters dropped to 25. Sad time!
We can blame it on many reasons: cost of equipment, parents both working, less free time, lots of other organized sports, and the list goes on. Let’s look on the bright side, indoor archery is alive and well. The major indoor shoots are breaking new records as we speak.
It is now 2019. My wife and I have made a lifelong business from our love and devotion to archery. We have been married 54 years and have been archers since 1967 (for 52 years). We pushed our two boys in baby strollers thru outdoor courses just to practice. My son Greg was RI State Indoor Champion at age 18, Compound Freestyle adult division. Paul, our younger son, was in archery until he was 14. Now he helps at our archery business.
Archery has allowed me, my wife and family to meet the most interesting and friendly people!
Yours in Archery,
Heather, Jimmy and family