It all started because Jesse Broadwater wanted to go archery hunting with his dad.
Broadwater got his first hunting bow when he was 6 years old.
Twenty-five years later, the Sipesville resident is among the top professional archers in the world.
“I travel to 20 tournaments and events every year – in and out of the country,” Broadwater said.
He competes in both World Archery Federation and National Field Archery Association events.
His achievements include gold medals at the outdoor, indoor and field World Archery Championships and qualifying in first position for the 2013 World Archery Championships.
Winter months feature indoor events, where competitors shoot at dime-sized bull’s-eyes from 20 yards.
“To win, you almost have to hit the dime-sized ‘X’ every time,” Broadwater said.
The National Field Archery Association’s annual Vegas Shootout is the most prestigious indoor event, with top prizes of more than $50,000. Broadwater has won the Vegas Shootout twice.
But it is in outdoor field courses that Broadwater feels most at home. He grew up in the farmland of Garrett County, Maryland, and practices shooting up to 10 hours a day on his property outside Somerset.
“You are shooting with all different sized targets, at different distances and weather conditions,” he said. “You are dealing with wind, rain, sun and trying to read everything just right and compensate for it.”
His prowess for the field course brought international attention in 2013 when he shattered the course record in the Western Classic Trail Shoot in Redding, California.
The event featured 70 3-D targets of various sizes, with ranges from 12 feet to 100 yards.
Participants shoot two arrows at each target, aiming for an orange dot to get the highest score. Out of 140 arrows, only one of Broadwater’s shots struck outside the orange dot, scoring 1,539 points out of a possible 1,540.
“His crushing course record performance was an unimaginable feat in archery,” the online magazine Outdoor Hub said. “As awestruck spectators cheered him off the course, it was a very humbling and special day in archery.”
Broadwater’s interest in the sport goes beyond shooting.
Last year he introduced two handle releases that enable archers to maintain accuracy in different shooting conditions.
The T.R.U. Ball Fulkrum and the Abyss were designed under Broadwater’s supervision by engineers at Tomorrow’s Resources Unlimited in Madison Heights, Virginia.
With handle releases, the shooter clips the handle to the bow’s string, pulls the handle back to shooting position and activates the device’s release mechanism to shoot the arrow.
The idea is to eliminate any slight arrow movement during release. Even a 1⁄8-inch shift during release is multiplied over the distance to the target, Broadwater said.
What makes Broadwater’s signature products unique is that they are matching releases using two popular mechanisms.
The Abyss is a thumb-activated button release and the Fulkrum is a back-tension release.
The two are designed to feel identical in the shooter’s hand, allowing users to switch from one to the other with maximum accuracy.
“Jesse is a unique professional archer because he also has a technical mind,” said Gregory Summers, T.R.U. Founder.
“He came to us and said, ‘I want something different,’ ” Summers continued. “It took almost a year to design.”
Although tension releases are common in tournament shooting, Broadwater said many archers find a button release is easier to use when shooting uphill or in windy conditions.
The button releases are also popular training aids.
“It’s hard to have both of them that feel the same and shoot the same,” Broadwater said. “People wanted to use either a button or tension release and have them feel the same, but no one has ever delivered before.”
Broadwater said he always felt that way himself, but knew there would be a market because he listened to other shooters.
“It was not just a personal thing for me,” he said. “I wanted to help other people.”
His mantra of helping others goes beyond the archery world.
When the Abyss and Fulkrum were introduced last year, Broadwater announced he would donate a portion of his share from sales to Windber Research Institute.
Summers said his company was impressed with the generosity and agreed to match the donation.
The first three months of sales brought more than $30,000 to the Windber institute.
“This donation is fantastic and exceeds our wildest expectations,” said Windber Research President and CEO Tom Kurtz.
Although his profession frequently takes him away from his Somerset County home, Broadwater says his family comes first.
His wife, Lisa, and their three children are always with him in spirit.
When he competes, he wears one pink shoelace for their daughters, 6-year-old Molly and 7-year-old Gracie, and one blue lace for their son, Tristan. The family can watch Internet broadcasts of tournaments, which often make note of the laces.
When he’s home, the family joins him on the archery range.
He says Gracie is a natural shooter and has done well at local shooting events.
“It’s a great family sport,” Broadwater said.