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Masters of Stringed Instruments
Best friends tie for first in the national archery championships

By Rachel M. Collins '81
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The first day Seth Tremblay '13 arrived at UNH, he noticed then-sophomore Joe Wilkin '12 carrying a bow case. "I didn't expect to meet anyone else interested in archery," Tremblay says. "But he told me he was actually in an archery club at UNH."

Tremblay had shot a compound bow since he was about 9, primarily for bow hunting, and his interest was piqued. "I figured I'd give it a try," Tremblay says. "From there it took right off."

Under the tutelage of head coach Carla Companion '04 and performance coaches like Mark Olson, UNH's former head coach, the two not only perfected their shooting techniques, they also became the best of friends. But when it came to competitions, they preferred shooting on separate targets to avoid being distracted by each other.

In March, at the two-day regional competition of the U.S. Collegiate Archery National Indoor Championships, hosted for only the second time at UNH, Tremblay and Wilkin asked to be on different targets as usual. Each in turn shot 120 arrows at a distance of 18 meters. By the end, they had done what seemed statistically impossible. They arrived at the same score, 1,144 out of a possible 1,200. They each hit the bull's eye, about the size of a penny, with 65 out of 120 arrows.

Tremblay, Wilkin and their coaches knew immediately they would be in the upper echelon of competitors. The year before, the national champion had shot a score of 1,125. Still they never expected that when all of the regional scores were tallied—the process by which the overall winners are decided—they would tie as national champions in the bowhunter division. "It's ridiculously unusual," Olson says. "It's like you can't even put odds on something like that, especially at the same shoot."

Wilkin, a Russian major, began competing in archery two years ago. He practices two to three hours a day, three to four times a week during the school year, and daily during the summer. His regime includes meditation, distance shooting at up to 90 yards, close-up shooting at 20-30 yards, and blind shooting at five yards. He hopes to compete in the Olympic trials once compound archery is added as an Olympic sport.

Tremblay has managed to fit in shooting practice three to four times a week with his coursework as an engineering major. "The more time you put in, the more you realize this does work, this doesn't work," he says. "You do need physical strength, but it's also about muscle memory."

"We both wanted to get that first place," Tremblay adds. "I couldn't have been happier with the results. It allowed Joe to go out his senior year with a bang and it still allowed me to get the place I wanted."

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