PROVO Being successful in archery takes time and commitment, just ask Tim Gillingham's neighbors.
Gillingham spends hours on the property behind his house honing his skills with a bow and arrow. Archery isn't just Gillingham's hobby, it has become his livelihood. At one time Gillingham would have just been happy to have a job in the industry, but things have changed.
Two weeks ago, Gillingham won the Archery Shooters Association national championship, which helped him finish third in the ASA shooter-of-the-year competition, as well as cut him a check, something that seems to be happening a lot lately for Gillingham.
"Having something you have worked at for so long finally pay off is amazing," Gillingham said. "I have been doing it for 26 years and, realistically, I have only been making money the last four."
Gillingham, 39, will also make the trek to New York this week for the International Bowhunting Organization World Championships, where he will join 3,000 to 4,000 other people who will be competing in what Gillingham calls the "granddaddy of them all."
Gillingham won the IBO championship two years ago and last year won the IBO Triple Crown for scoring the most points in the three big IBO events. Along the way, Gillingham has won or placed in countless other professional archery tournaments, but he feels he is now hitting his stride.
"I have probably had as good of a streak over the past few years as any archer in the U.S.," he said. "If a guy can make $100,000 a year, he is doing pretty good. There are guys who have made more money than me each year, but I have been pretty consistent."
Despite the big winnings, Gillingham, unlike some other pros, is not a full-time archer. He also works for Gold Tip, an arrow company based in Orem. With the help of Gold Tip, Gillingham is able to travel to about 25 tournaments a year where he runs a promotional booth when he is not competing. The pairing is perfect for Gillingham, who says he loves working within the industry.
Gillingham competes in some target archery, but his bread and butter is 3-D animal targets, which initially began as a means for hunting practice. While Gillingham enjoys bow hunting, if he had to choose between the archery competitions and hunting, it would be the former, because he loves the competition.
As Gillingham is quick to remind you, his last few years have been quite a ride, but it all started when he was just a young kid in Rock Springs, Wyo.
"I would shoot six to eight hours a day when I was 16, 17 and 18," he said. "At that age, I was winning all the leagues, and I knew I was pretty good at it. I pretty much won everything at a local level, then traveled to a couple national tournaments and got my feelings hurt a little bit."
The hard work appears to have paid off, and Gillingham predicts that his success should continue in the coming years. He not only wants to be successful individually, he hopes that he might be able to increase the popularity of the sport he loves.
His neighbors were his first project, and several of them now shoot, but Gillingham has even bigger plans in the future."I would love to see archery promoted to the level that I think it can be," he said. "One of the problems now is it is basically only promoted to hunters. I think we need to promote the game to everybody, because it is really a lot of fun, and just about everyone you teach it to enjoys it."