By Perry Smith
The words on the top right-hand side of the Junior Pro Talk website say it all.
At 17, Hartland High senior Chris Bee has already shot competitively on three different continents. Next year, he has his sights set on collegiate competition. And the future is pretty boundless for the up-and-coming archer who’s already part of a multimedia resource for his future competition.
His project with his sister Emily, who he’s following to Michigan State, and friends Jonathan Clark, Will Raper and Roy Green, who also shoot competitively, are using their experience and passion for archery to inform and entertain other archers with Junior Pro Talk.
“Juniorprotalk.com is an online source for all young archers to stay connected in the junior archery world” according to the website. With a burgeoning video library that offers everything from tournament results and updates to interviews with other competitors and pros, the website is gaining exposure among the archery crowd and they’re already getting noticed. When Chris and Emily playfully struck a pose of their competitive form at the Archery Trade Association convention in January — “air bows” drawn back in front of a USA Explore Archery poster. USA Archery posted the picture and received more than 1,100 “likes” on the organization’s Facebook page, which is using a different picture of Emily for its cover photo.
In the videos, the archers talk about their experiences in some of the various tournaments they compete in, as well as interviewing other archers. In one podcast, Chris and Emily are in Wisconsin for a tournament, while Roy and Will take part in George Ryals ALC archery camp, describing their experiences and offering advice for archers. “Junior pro talk (media group) was created in a hotel room in the summer of 2014 strictly for following the young up-and-coming archers,” said Emily Bee. “Archers that have the potential to become the future pros.” The five of them all take turns filming, interviewing and taking pictures, she added. There’s no shortage of competitions and events, since the group shoots year-round.
“In the busy months, we could have a tournament every weekend,” she said. Chris, who’s been shooting arrows since age 6, starting on practice targets in the family’s backyard with his Dad Chris, seems to enjoy the shooting itself as much as the competition. He’s been taking part in statewide and regional competitions since about that age, as well. But it’s definitely a year-round sport for Emily and Chris, who, not surprisingly, do have some similarities in their styles, since they both had similar coaches in their young careers. “We both shoot a compound, we both shoot the same bow,” Chris said. “In the summertime, we have an outdoor range set up in the backyard, and when outdoor season is over, we’re ready for indoor — and when indoor season is over, we’re ready for outdoor.” It’s not uncommon for Chris and Emily to shoot a couple hundred arrows each day in the summer, he said.
The only off-season I can really put down on paper is around October and November, he said, quickly adding, “that’s when I put down my compound bow and I pick up my recurve.” Chris Bee enjoys all types of shooting though, evidenced in his off-season plans. “I’d rather be sitting in a tree stand on the weekend,” he said, referring to a hunting perch. “Hunting and competition archery both share an adrenaline rush and the dedication,” he said.
But at the same time, like most people his age, he’s not sure exactly where his archery plans will take him just yet, only that he’s pretty sure it’ll stay a part of his life after Michigan State. “With support from my family, coach and sponsors, I will surely be shooting for the rest of my life,” he states on his Junior Pro Talk website profile. “I want to continue shooting for sure, I’m not exactly sure where it’s going to lead me — if I’m going to pursue it as a pro, or shoot for fun and work in the archery industry — I haven’t thought it through but I’m going to look at that.”
Which, of course, will eventually beg the question: Where next?
For updates on Chris Bee, his sister Emily, and their friends Roy Green, Will Raper and Jonathan Clark, and to find out what the up-and-coming archers are up to, you can visit juniorprotalk.com.