Editor’s Note: Levi Morgan says, “I've been wearing Mossy Oak since I could walk, and I wear Mossy Oak on my TV show ‘Name the Game’ on the Sportsman Channel where I hunt a wide variety of game animals and also show tournament archery. I come from a bowhunting and competition archery background.” Morgan has built his reputation by winning some of the biggest archery tournaments in the world. He has proved to be consistent by winning the ASA (Archery Shooters Association) Shooter of the Year title for 8 consecutive years, breaking Jeff Hopkins previous record of 7 consecutive Shooter of the Year titles. Morgan also competes in the IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) and shoots in-the-field archery tournaments. Morgan shoots all the recognized disciplines of tournament archery, and he's an avid bowhunter.
Yesterday I talked about the possibility of going to archery tournaments and not having the pressure of trying to win Shooter of the Year next year. Although that’s a dream of mine, I don’t know how realistic that dream is. A true competitor is always a true competitor – it’s in your blood. Competition is almost the same thing to a competitor that adrenaline is to an adrenaline junkie. When I come to the final round of an archery tournament, my knees start shaking, and my wrist gets a little weak - but that’s when I shoot the best. I've always shot my best when I have to come from behind, where one arrow can mean the difference between winning and losing. If I’m real honest, deep down within my soul, I know I need pressure to perform my best. If I look a little deeper, no one can put pressure on me better than I can. I think I even may shoot better now than I have in the past, because after I won my fifth Shooter of the Year title, I was still totally focused on trying to win three more Shooter of the Year titles. Now when I go to tournaments, I think I’ll be able to focus on each individual arrow I have to shoot in the tournament. I can focus on just winning that tournament. I won’t be focusing on winning the upcoming tournaments.
In a 3D archery tournament, the 12 ring is about the size of a quarter on a 3D archery target, and I always shoot for the 12 ring. Different archers shoot 3D archery tournaments and manage their targets in different ways. I've tried to play it safe before, and that just doesn’t work out for me. Instead I have to mash the gas pedal to the floor and always go for the win.
I know my tournament experience has made me a better bowhunter. For instance, when I’m down to shooting my last arrow in competition, and that arrow can possibly produce $50,000 for the win, that’s a lot more pressure than I face when I'm in the woods aiming at a big buck. So, tournament archery has helped me develop a way to control my emotions and my nerves. When that one shot can make the difference in failing or succeeding, whether I'm hunting or competing, I've learned to shoot when my heart’s racing 100 mph, and I'm not even sure I can get my bow all the way back to full draw. So, when a 180-inch buck walks in, and I start getting nervous, I can tell myself, “Just settle down. You deal with this kind of pressure every day.”
When most bowhunters have an opportunity to take a buck that'll score 180 or better, they have a difficult time dealing with the pressure of that shot. They’re looking at what could be a buck of a lifetime. They know they have to be extremely accurate, have to still their nerves, make sure they go through their shot sequence and be certain that every aspect of the shot is executed perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, I still get nervous when a buck that size comes into range. I've just learned through tournament archery how to control those nerves and use them to my advantage.
When you have to make a shot of a lifetime, there are two forces working on you. You're getting excited, you're getting nervous, and you’re about as full of adrenaline as a hunter can get. But at the same time, to consistently shoot accurately, you have to shoot relaxed. The feeling is much like having two gorillas pulling on a rope in opposite directions.
In competitive archery, I’ve lost some tournaments, because I’ve choked and haven’t gotten my emotions under control to shoot relaxed. Going into the last shot of a tournament, I have to know how to deal with the mental pressure that every hunter and shooter experiences when he has to make a winning shot. So, I’ve started learning breathing techniques. I’ve found that chewing gum helps me relax. I don’t know why, but when I start to get nervous, chewing gum just seems to calm me down.
I've learned to be prepared, when I know I'll get nervous. I’ve learned that you can’t say to yourself, “I'm going to calm myself down and not get nervous - that just doesn’t work.” Another thing I’ve learned is not to dread getting nervous and excited before I have to make that critical shot. I say to myself, “Levi you're about to get nervous. You're going to have a huge adrenaline rush - so love that feeling. Embrace it, and use it to your advantage.” I've noticed a lot of archers and bowhunters dread the thoughts of getting nervous when a big buck comes in to them. However, I've learned to look forward to that adrenaline rush. There's no better feeling in the world than shooting your best shot when your heart’s racing, and you’ve got a huge dose of adrenaline. You know that all eyes are on you to see whether you break, or whether you make the shot.
To learn more about Levi Morgan, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Levi-Morgan/308973412532654?sk=info.