FORT SILL, Oklahoma (March 22, 2023) — During duty hours he plays a mean trombone but when the uniform comes off his aspirations include competing in the Olympic Recurve Archery.
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Bowman is a platoon sergeant with the 77th Army Band who started shooting archery as a recreational sport while in college working on his bachelor’s degree in 1995.
“I was looking for one more college credit. I hoped for a class to pad my GPA that was easy,” said Bowman. “When I saw archery, I was like, well, shucks, my name is Bowman and it’s archery. What could be better? It's like a match made in heaven.
“It was just a lot of fun. At the time, the professor was getting ready to retire and she asked me if I would like to take over the class,” he said. “That next year I taught the class. But then they stopped the program and after that, I was able to start getting into the youth programs teaching archery.”
In addition to shooting, Bowman also coaches archery. In 1997, he helped establish one of the first youth archery programs in Oklahoma. “This lasted until 2001 when I stepped away from the sport,” Bowman said. “I took an 11-year break when I started my master’s degree in 2001,” said Bowman.
After earning master’s degrees in Trombone Performance and in Positive Coaching and Athletic Development, Bowman joined the Army in 2005.
Then in 2013, after watching the 2012 Olympics, he decided to resume shooting, but this time as a competitive sport. He has been actively competing since.
The Army moved Bowman to Fort Sill in 2016 and started working with both the Lawton MacArthur High School and the Lawton Academy of Arts and Science archery programs. He currently coaches the Lawton MacArthur High School team.
“My most recent competition was the 54th USA Archery Indoor Nationals where I competed in the Olympic Recurve 50+ age category. The tournament was held at 12 different locations around the U.S. over the course of four weeks,” said Bowman. “There were 57 competitors in my division and age group across all tournament locations. I was the 1st place finisher in my age and equipment category. There were 703 total archers who shot Olympic Recurve ranging in age from 13 to 93. Out of the combined results of all Olympic Recurve archers (703), I was 27th.
“As a comparison, when I won last year's 53rd USA Archery Indoor Nationals, there were 35 in my age category (Olympic Recurve, 50+) and I was 16th out of 626. My score this year was one point higher than last year, but because this is also an Olympic Trials year, there are more archers trying to get tournament experience and the overall scores are higher,” Bowman said.
For the USA Archery Indoor Nationals, the distance shot is 18 meters, which is about six inches shorter than 20 yards.
Bowman said he practices every day in some fashion or another. When he has the time available, he physically shoots between 150 and 250 arrows.
“I try to actively shoot at least four days per week, but sometimes my schedule does not permit this. On days when I cannot get to the range, I use a stretch band at my house and work on technique, or I will do mental training.”
According to Bowman, mental training is when he thinks through the shot sequence and visualizes the specific muscle groups moving through the shot. When the 77th Army Band is out on a recruiting mission, he gets a lot of mental training done on the bus ride.
“The Army was very beneficial in getting me back into the sport. When I was a civilian, I didn’t really have a lot of time to shoot – especially at the amount I needed to for competitive shooting,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for the Army, I would probably not be shooting competitively because I’d be too worried about keeping a steady job and taking care of my family. I wouldn’t have had the time to do it.”
Bowman would love to qualify for the Olympic Recurve. “Obviously, I will have to take it one step at a time. The first step is the Olympic trials, which are later this summer. And anybody who wants to shoot Olympic recurve can come and shoot in the trials. I will have to make the cut at one of the top 16 archers,” he said.
The dates of the trials and process haven’t been published yet. Bowman said he doesn’t know when the tournament is or how they're going to evaluate it but the last time he shot the trials, he was recovering from an injury and scored 77th out of 140.
“I would like to do better this year. I think I can be in the top 20. I would love to make the cut at top 16 but that's a ways down the road,” said Bowman.
Bowman said the Army is pro-Olympics. “If I can qualify and get past the first cut, there's a good chance I could apply for the World Class Athlete Program, which is a program the Army has for Olympic athletes to train full time with national coaches or with a coach of my choice.”
WCAP Soldiers come from the Active, Reserve and National Guard components, and are selected for their ability to perform at the highest level of their sports. After joining the unit, they hone their skills with elite civilian and military coaches at America’s best facilities. Meanwhile, they keep current with Army requirements, attend military schools, and stay competitive with their uniformed counterparts.
“The Army offers so many opportunities for personal development. I would encourage anybody that has a goal or a dream -- whether they are in the Army or could potentially be in the Army -- to give it a shot because the Army provides a lot of opportunities for Soldiers to reach those goals,” said Bowman. “The Army can help you be all that you can be.”