Path Beyond the Pavement

by | Jun 1, 2012 | Features

Fathers and sons share a special relationship. Within this relationship, Dad often wears many hats ranging from the guy that pays for everything to being the disciplinarian. However the hat worn the most by all fathers — like it or not — is ‘role model.’

John Boswell is an outdoorsman. The term ‘outdoorsman’ isn’t really an apt description. John’s life revolves around his family and the outdoors, period.
So it was of no surprise to anyone when John’s son Ryan came into this world it was only four short years until John placed a hunting bow in his hand. John led Ryan on a path beyond the pavement.
Ryan, now 12, took to the outdoors like a duck to water. What began as a father sharing his passions with a child has turned into what Ryan’s mom Tracy calls, “an obsession, there’s no other word for it. If you can’t find Ryan, I guarantee he’s either sitting in a deer stand at his grandparent’s house or outside shooting his bow.” John had created a monster.
Signs of Ryan’s obsession were evident even before that eventful fourth year according to John.
“One day when he was three I found him in the backyard throwing balloons up in the air and shooting them with one of those toy bows and suction cup arrows. After that, he made an elk call from a paper towel tube and then he made a turkey call out of a candle lid and a pencil. He would hide behind the television and try to work that turkey call. All of this was before I even got him his first real bow.”
At the tender age of four, John presented Ryan with that first bow and the young archer won his first 3-D archery tournament that very year. That autumn saw Ryan take his first whitetail deer.
While some folks might consider a four year-old too young to understand the complexities of life, death, and the food chain, young Ryan was not your typical four year old. When the question came up of whether he was old enough to understand the hunt while admiring that first deer, Ryan was quick with a reply. “We’re going to eat this one.”
John said that Ryan’s hunger for outdoor pursuits is his heritage. “It was important to me that Ryan enjoys the outdoors, hunting, and shooting because it’s our family hobby. It’s what we do.”
Ryan is trouble for any critters that cross his path and that deadly precision is a product of his other passion: tournament archery. Ryan’s dominance on the 3-D tournament circuit is legendary. To date he has won over 200 tournaments and three state championship titles. The state titles are impressive, but what is even more impressive is the fact is that some of the 200-plus tournament wins came against adults.
That’s right, 12-year-old Ryan is no respecter of persons or his elders when it comes to competition. And Ryan isn’t shy about explaining the reason he’s won so many times. “I want to win.” says Ryan “and I hate to lose.”
That fire was passed down from father to son, as John is a formidable competitor as well. A 1994 graduate of Russellville high school, John was an athlete during his school career. In recent years he has gained a reputation as the man to beat at archery tournaments throughout the state.
“I had to be good,” explains John. “I started entering the money divisions to put gas in the truck so Ryan could compete.”

The 2010 tournament season was the season of Boswell. Of 86 tournaments entered that year, John won 84; Ryan won all 86, and they both won the Archery Shooter’s Association (ASA) state title as well as State Shooter of the Year in their respective divisions; an incredible feat for a father/son duo.
“That year we would shoot two to four tournaments a weekend,” remembered John. “A lot of mornings we left the house at daylight and would come dragging in on Sunday night. It was a busy summer.”
John has pushed Ryan to excel by having him shoot in the men’s pro divisions at many tournaments. As mentioned previously, Ryan often beats grown men in long distance shooting competitions.
“He almost always shoots with the men at the local tournaments. It’s just not fair for him to shoot against other kids. He’s won several tournaments shooting from the men’s pro stake.” Of course the big question comes up. ‘Has Ryan ever beaten John in a tournament?’ “No.” says John. “Ryan has never beaten me on the pro stakes at a tournament.” When the question is posed to Ryan, he pauses. “Hmm…”

It’s easy to see that Ryan is frantically searching his memory, but to no avail. However, the competitive blaze won’t be quenched, even for dear old dad and he just can’t bring himself to form the words.
When asked about a backyard bull’s-eye competition against Pops, Ryan is quick with an answer. ”Oh, yeah! I can beat him.” John agrees. ”Yeah, he can probably beat me in the backyard.”
Ryan’s other passion is baseball and he has been selected an all-star for every year he has played. His success on the diamond is no doubt fueled by that burning desire to win. But, when asked to choose his favorite there is no doubt.

“I like baseball, but hunting and shooting my bow is my favorite.”
A faint smile is on John’s face as his son continues to talk about deer and bows and autumn afternoons. It’s an expression that says he understands exactly how Ryan feels. It says that he understands the thrill his son experiences in watching the flight of an arrow. It’s a look of pride in a son who follows the same trails his father chose so many years ago.
What is 3-D Archery?
Not commonly known, 3-D archery tournaments are a popular way for archery hunters to practice during the off-season, and they are plainly just a lot of fun for archers of all types.
The “3-D” moniker is due to the targets used during competition. The targets are made of durable foam and formed into three-dimensional shapes of animals. The most popular shapes are deer, bear, hogs, and turkey. However, target manufacturers have become very creative and “exotics” are common on ranges throughout the country.
Shooters may find themselves facing down anything from an alligator to a baboon to a dinosaur. Some types are very realistic and require a double-take to make certain that an actual animal isn’t standing in the line of fire.
The targets are placed at unknown distances in the woods and fields. Different divisions, such as youth, women, hunter, and pro shoot from colored stakes set at random ranges out from the target. Youth stakes are set closest, usually 20 yards or less from the target. Women’s stakes are next, usually 5 to 10 yards further from the targets than the youth, and so on. Pro shooters sometimes shoot a target from as far as 50+ yards.
Distance judgment is of utmost importance due to the arrows arching flight. Even with very fast arrows, a misjudgment of 10 yards can result in a clean miss.
Scoring is via score rings on the target that approximate the best shots on live game while hunting. In some cases, archers are shooting at a dime-sized scoring ring for the highest score on that particular target.
Age appropriate, 3-D archery is a great sport for the whole family. Most events require a nominal entry fee and several ranges are within an easy drive of Arkansas River Valley archers. For more information about archery and upcoming tournaments contact Ron Poole at or visit any area archery shop.


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