Q&A with Travis Tweet: Competitive archer and bow hunter
You climb and you climb and you climb. Seems like it never ends. The rocks. The heat. The sweat. The bow’s heavy. Then … the hard part. You stand on a precipice — a tiny outcropping of rock. The target, a life-size bull moose, ranges 107 yards. One. Hundred. Seven. Yards. You figure the wind. The drop. Your sight picture obscured by rain. It’s all instinct now … step by step by step. A clear mind. Focus. A single muscle twitches, and the carbon is launched.
Melodramatic? Not for 37-year-old Travis Tweet of Eatonville, Washington. The former U.S. Marine — thanks, Travis, for your service! — and software consultant turned professional archer knows the drill all too well.
Tweet is coming off a hard-fought and well-deserved third-place finish at the recent Northwest Mountain Challenge archery competition held at Tamarack Resort in Idaho. It’s the first of a Triple Crown challenge that will see him also shoot in July at Hoodoo Ski Area in Oregon and Stevens Pass Ski Resort in Washington.
Tweet is a busy man, shooting competitively at least twice a month, if not every week. Still, he found a few minutes when he wasn’t throwing arrows downrange to talk about competitive archery, the Northwest Challenge, and his admitted “obsession” hunting archery bears, bucks, and bulls.
Slayer: The toughest shot of the competition, Travis. What was it?
Tweet: Overall? It was that 107-yard moose. You’re standing on that precipice, so you have a little bit of vertigo going. The wind was ripping on that ridgeline. It was fogged in to the point you could barely see the target. I had rain all over my lens. That was the hardest shot, but there were quite a few with steep angles and long distance. Quite a few were at 75 yards or more.
Slayer: What was your biggest takeaway from the competition?
Tweet: Every tournament, I’m learning something. For this one, though, it was making the right adjustment in between [competition] days. What I did before Day Two was I shortened my anchor point. And adjusting strategy. If I had stayed with my strategy on Day Two, I had a good chance of finishing either first or second. That’s what I’ll carry forward — committing to a strategy and then sticking with it.
Slayer: Is competitive archery, like the NWMC, a good way to prepare for the field?
Tweet: There’s 100% carry-over [from competitive to the field]. A lot of archers spend time at short distances from an animal, and there’s a lot of pressure and energy that goes with that. Some would call it “buck fever.” There’s that pressure on you to make a good shot. And you feel that pressure during competition. Your mental game has to be solid, and solid on both. Then there’s the physical side. For the Mountain Challenge, we climbed 2,800 feet and still had to make a good shot. Your footing is poor; it’s not a flat range. So getting used to steep angles, poor footing … it’s definitely a great way to prepare for the season.
Slayer: Is it possible to be a good competitive shooter and poor in-the-field shooter, or vice versa?
Tweet: Absolutely! It can go either way, too. Last year, I shot two bears, a buck, and an elk, and all were shot through the heart. But in competition, it’s different. You’re shooting a different set-up. The mental game is different. The preparation is different. And vice versa. You’ll have people who shoot field [flat range] archery and just smoke the center, over and over again. But I can take them out to the woods, and they whiff it because they don’t have what I call “hunting instincts.”
Slayer: Do you visualize competitive target situations while hunting as a way to calm yourself? Is that a fair question, Travis?
Tweet: Last year … and I can’t recall if it was the buck or the elk … but I was rushing to get in front of these animals. I wanted to run up and take the shot. But somewhere during that rush, I stopped and told myself, “Go through your shot process. Work it like you’re trying to smoke the ‘X’ on a target.” My friend has this saying: Sizzle like bacon. In my head, I’m saying this — “Sizzle like bacon” — and I just began to work my shot process. To disconnect from that rush energy — that HURRY, HURRY, HURRY and get the shot off. So you stop. Work through that process. Run through that, and then stay in it.
Slayer: So, how’s the fall 2023 hunting season shaping up for Travis Tweet?
Tweet: Bears start in August, and I’m over the moon for that ’cause I have a pretty sweet spot. It’s where I killed my two bears last year. I’m looking forward to that. Elk? Washington and Idaho.
To learn more about what Tweet is up to, both competitively and in the field, check out his Instagram, American_Bowman.