When it comes down to the Top Bow finals, you’d better be lucky AND good.
By Ken Piper
It’s hard to beat perfect, but when it comes to the Buckmasters Top Bow Indoor World Championship, there are varying degrees of perfection.
There had been few perfect rounds — when an archer hits the score pad on all 10 targets — leading up to the quarter- and semi-finals, but once the competition was narrowed down to eight, anyone who missed even a single target might be going home.
“I knew I was going to have to shoot a perfect round or pretty close to it to beat Justin [Martin],” said 2014 Top Bow champion Tyler Chubb. “It was the same in the semi-finals. I knew I couldn’t miss if I was going to beat Randy [Hendrix], too.”
Chubb missed only one target, a runner, once the quarter-finals started and the competition switched from high-score to head-to-head format.
He beat Cody Pearson in the quarters, advancing to face former champion Randy Hendrix in the semis. Chubb shot first, clearing all the targets and hitting the Last Chance Target in the bullseye (red).
“Sometimes shooting a perfect round won’t do it, and you have to hit that red dot on the Last Chance Target to advance,” Chubb said. “When I was up against Randy in the semis, he had a perfect round just like I did, but I hit the red while he hit green.”
In short, Chubb’s perfect round was just a little more perfect than Hendrix’s.
“All these shooters are so good that it often comes down to the Last Chance Target,” Hendrix said. “If you don’t hit the red, you might lose, and that’s what happened to me. Tyler didn’t give me any room for mistakes.”
Chubbs got past one former champion only to face another, Justin Martin, in the finals. Martin also shot a perfect round in the semis, defeating Alex Ballenger to advance.
With both shooters coming off perfect rounds, it was a matter of who was going to blink first.
Chubbs stepped onto the Top Bow treestand and quickly aced another round, hitting the yellow on the Last Chance Target. It was a great round, but it gave Martin a chance to win the title outright. A perfect round with a red on the Last Chance Target would win it for the tournament veteran.
“I hate shooting first,” Chubbs said. “After you shoot, you just sit and watch the other guy. It’s a terrible feeling knowing you’re done and you can’t do anything about it. I had left the door open a little, and Justin is more than capable of taking advantage of the slightest opportunity.”
Chubbs watched as Martin knocked down target after target ... until the tell-tale thud of a miss sounded on the long running buck.
“I didn’t know what Tyler shot when I got up there for my final round, but he was shooting so well that I figured I needed to be perfect,” Martin said. “When I missed that long runner, I pretty much knew it was over.”
Even though Martin hit the rest of the bucks and scored a red hit on the Last Chance Target, the point deduction for the long runner was too much to make up.
“I shot pretty well, but Tyler was just one shot better than I was today.” Martin said.
Martin, an avid deer hunter from Enterprise, Ala., is the host of “The Season” on Sportsman Channel. This fall, he’ll be out filming for his new show, “Down South,” which premiers in 2015.
Chubbs, meanwhile, will return to his hometown in Grove, Okla., where he owns and runs a bow shop.
“It probably sounds like I have an advantage since I have a bow shop, but the truth is anybody can compete in the Top Bow tournament,” he said. “It just takes practice. “There are some things you learn when you get here, and the other shooters are really helpful, but there’s no reason anybody who puts in their practice time can’t compete here.”
In other tournament notes, former champion Joseph Goza, who advanced to the quarter finals before falling to Hendrix, won the Easton Red Dot Shootoff. It was the first time in tournament history that a shooter center-punched the “O” in the word “Easton,” earning Goza double prize money at $1,000.
The Buckmasters Top Bow Indoor World Championship continues to be one of the top-paying events in competitive archery, with Chubbs taking home a check for $15,000. Martin won a Yamaha Grizzly 450 ATV for finishing in second, and cash prizes were awarded down to 20th place.
The Top Bow competition is held each year in August as part of the Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery, Ala.
2014 Buckmasters Top Bow Top 20
1. Tyler Chubb
2. Justin Martin
3. Randy Hendrix
4. Alex Ballenger
5. Joseph Goza
6. Cody Pearson
7. Randy Barley
8. Walt Pittman
9. Jackie Caudle
10. Dusty Bishop
11. Jamison Ward
12. Larry Goza
13. Daniel Simpson
14. Skipper Booth
14. Henry Bass
16. Joel Tate
16. Jim Fogle
18. Tim Gillingham
19. Luke Parker
20. Darren Collins