Jamie Van Natta
HOYT: How long have you been on Hoyt's Pro Staff? How has the relationship with Hoyt helped your career?
JAMIE: I’ve been a Hoyt Pro Staff member for enough years to not remember the exact number, perhaps six or seven. However, I’ve been shooting a Hoyt bow since I was 14 years old. Hoyt has always produced phenomenal equipment that is well suited to the way I shoot. My relationship with Hoyt has grown very strong over the years. With their increased support of my career, I’ve been able to travel more often and to more places than any other compound female currently competing.
HOYT: What bow are you currently shooting? What technologies/features do you like best about it?
JAMIE: I shoot an UltraElite with XT 3500 limbs and C2 cams at 60 lbs. with a 28.5" draw. This bow is perfect for me. Its long axle-to-axle makes it very stable and comfortable as well as forgiving, but the C2 cams give it speed and power. I’m an aggressive shooter and this bow matches me shot-for-shot.
HOYT: You've had a great run this season at both U.S. and international tournaments. Give us a recap of your recent wins and other podium finishes.
JAMIE: I’ve had another great year, and each year keeps getting better. During the indoor season this year I placed third in Vegas – cleaning the second two of the three days. I also won the NFAA Indoor Championships in Louisville – a first for me as a professional. I started the outdoor season just after Louisville with a win at the first World Cup in the Dominican Republic. The World Cup circuit continued with a 14th place finish in Croatia, a silver medal in Turkey and a bronze medal in France, which qualified me first for the World Cup finals in Lausanne, Switzerland in late September. Back at home I’ve been on the podium at all the USAT events this year, Arizona Cup (2nd), Texas Shootout (3rd), and Gold Cup (2nd). I took second in Redding at the Marked 3D Championships in a one-arrow shoot off that I am extremely proud of, even though I didn’t win it. I also won the NAA Field Nationals and secured myself the top spot for the World Championships in Wales. I won the NFAA Outdoor Championships for the third year in a row and broke the women’s animal round record. I won the NAA Target Nationals for the fifth year in a row, and I won the U.S. Open as well. Finally, I won both the World Field Championships and the World Cup Finals and held the rank of Number 1 in the World for most of the year.
HOYT: Had you set any specific goals for this season?
JAMIE: My goal for this season was the same goal I have for every season: shoot good shots, go places, and see things. The records and medals take care of themselves.
HOYT: What’s next for you?
JAMIE: Actually, the weeks and months ahead are pretty quiet. The season is over for me right now and I am focusing on my final goal of the year: getting married. There is a nice tournament in Mesquite, Nevada called the Big Sky Open that I will attend at the beginning of November, and my first indoor shoot of the year will be the Presley Open in Peoria, Illinois in the beginning of December. I am sadly missing the Face2Face tournament in Amsterdam because of the timing of the wedding and honeymoon.
HOYT: What are your favorite tournaments to shoot, and why?
JAMIE: My favorite tournaments are the long ones, both in terms of duration and distances to the target. My top favorite is the NAA Target Championships. The targets are far away and we shoot a lot of arrows at them for five days in row. My second favorite would have to be Redding, though it’s not as many days. It’s a completely different atmosphere. People go to Redding to have fun. My third favorite is NFAA Outdoor Nationals because of the five-day format and the smaller and more challenging dot sizes. On the international side, one of the World Cup events is held in Antalya Turkey every year. It’s gorgeous there. And finally, I do enjoy FITA Field. FITA Field is a whole different world than target archery and even vastly different than NFAA field. Half the course is unmarked distances for a start. Second, the terrain is often deliberately chosen to be both difficult to shoot and difficult to navigate – really challenging not only your ability to execute a shot but your general fitness level as well.
HOYT: Describe your practice routine. How many arrows do you typically shoot? How many hours a day/week do you practice?
JAMIE: Oh my. I always get asked this question and I get a little pang of guilt every time. I don’t practice nearly enough, but in my defense, I also hold down a full time job. I spent 120 nights in hotel rooms last year, which means that when I am home, my job is more than full-time to make up for all the time I spend away. I would say my typical practice session is 100 arrows, which takes me differing amounts of time depending on what format I am practicing. If I’m doing blank bale for form reinforcement, 100 arrows is less than an hour in my living room. If I’m working on FITA, then I shoot outside and usually for about an hour and a half. If I’m practicing FITA field, 100 arrows can take me 2-3 hours. During the outdoor season I’m shooting a tournament almost every weekend, so I practice 2-3 days during the week. On a week with no tournaments, I try to get in five days.
HOYT: You're one of the top female compound shooters in the world - and with that, you've become a role model for young women breaking into archery. Are you involved with any mentoring or coaching programs to help rookie shooters?
JAMIE: I have one student in the area I would say that I coach and a couple of people who come to me regularly for advice. I also have been known to do afternoon seminar-like sessions for the local JOAD groups in Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. I wish I could do more, but for now, I just don’t have a lot of spare time. However, I’m always available at tournaments to talk to people or take pictures with them. I welcome questions as much as I can and I truly enjoy helping people. I look forward to the day when I can do even more.
HOYT: Are you seeing more women getting involved in archery? If so, why do you think that is?
JAMIE: I’m seeing only a small growth in women, not nearly as much as I would like to see. But I am seeing the women’s scores skyrocket. The growth that I have observed has happened mostly in the FITA world, where there were more women this year at the beginning of the World Cup circuit then ever. The scores have taken a huge jump with more women than ever breaking the 1400 mark. I believe that the circuit itself has a lot to do with both of these changes.
First, the World Cup circuit is well publicized and advertised. The hosting country and town make a big deal of the tournament. The Internet coverage is updated every six arrows for those watching from home. The local media is often on site for the entire event and ArcheryTV covers the highlights very well. The medal matches are usually on Youtube within a week. What that does is expose many more people to archery, women included. The other thing that the World Cup does well is the payout. Every division gets the same prize money, with the qualifiers paying $2000, $1000, $500 for first, second and third respectively. Everyone gets a chance to qualify for the Finals to play for $20,000, $10,000, $5,000 and $1,000 (first through fourth), so there’s no impression that any one division is more or less important or populated than any other. That kind of paycheck happens rarely in the women’s division and it has brought a lot more women to the field.
In terms of increased skill, I think that has a lot to do with us meeting up more often. In years past, the World Championships were really the only times a large representative group of women would challenge each other. These tournaments occurred only once or twice a year, every other year. Now, we all face each other four times a year in addition to those World Championships. Everyone’s game has improved because it has to.
HOYT: Besides your professional archery career, you also hold down a full-time job. How do you find time to balance everything?
JAMIE: Well, I don’t sleep much honestly, especially in the summer. I often say, "I’ll sleep when I’m dead," because there are just so many things for me to do with my life. On top of the job and the archery career I am also planning my wedding this year. Two things help me balance it all, my love for the sport and my fiancé. When you truly have a passion about something, you will make sacrifices to continue to pursue it and they won’t seem like sacrifices. Fortunately for me, my fiancé understands this and helps me a lot, both in understanding my time away and in taking care of things when I need his help. He’s a reluctant spectator but a wonderful supporter, and I don’t think I would be as successful as I am without him backing me up.
HOYT: Anything else you'd like Hoyt.com readers to know about you?
JAMIE: This sport has provided me with amazing opportunities for which I will always be grateful. I view it as my privilege and my responsibility to share my passion and my knowledge with others. I would like Hoyt.com readers to know that I really do like helping people, that I am approachable. Often people get the impression that professionals in general are standoffish or snobby or intimidating. I love what I do and I want others to love it just as much. I don’t want anyone to feel that they can’t ask me a question or solicit some advice on the practice field.