Shooting at another Triple Crown

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Last month Smarty Jones' failed bid to win the Triple Crown proved how difficult a task that can be.

And then there's Rodney Huffman, who has shown the ability to win a triple crown over and over again.

Huffman, a 42-year-old Benton, Mo., resident, already has won the International Bowhunting Organization Triple Crown three times, and on July 10th he'll more than likely do it again.

The Triple Crown is awarded to the person who accumulates the most points during the three contests, which take place at different locations around the country. Huffman has already won the first two archery competitions in the Triple Crown. Unlike horse racing, Huffman doesn't have to beat all the other 30 shooters in the third event to claim the title. But he wants to anyway.

"My goal is to win the third leg," he said. "Twelve points is not really a lot, but it's better than being down by 12. I feel real confident. I've been there and done it before."

That's for sure. He won the amateur world championship in 1995, then turned professional and has since won six world championships and 34 national titles.

World competitions consist mainly of Americans, but also feature some Canadians and Europeans. The last time Huffman beat the world was in 1999, and he has placed second two of the last three years. Although he hopes to step up and take home his seventh title in August, Huffman believes the Triple Crown is more of an accomplishment.

"It's a two-day event," he said of the world championship in West Virginia. "The Triple Crown is three times that, and to me it shows how consistent you are. It shows that you're not just having a couple of lucky days."

Huffman has demonstrated his prowess with wins in the National Triple Crown events May 14-16 inBeford, Ind., and June 11-13 in McKean,Pa.

Huffman is involved with the Pro Limited Class, a division that requires the use of fingers as opposed to finger aids to shoot. He generally competes at about 15 national tournaments per year. Participants in the two-day competitions shoot at 40 artificial three-dimensional animal targets, 20 each day. The animals have scoring rings on them and are located anywhere from 20 to 55 yards away. Shooters spend nearly four hours shooting each day.

Huffman spends up to four hours practicing each day as well, sometimes before work depending on the time of year. He has 17 targets set up on his four-acre lot.

Huffman said although he competes all over the country, he rarely finds time to enjoy the scenery and occasionally gets worn out from all the traveling. Nevertheless, he thinks he'll tough it out and stick with the sport for a while.

"At times I get tired of it, but I usually get over that," he said. "By the time a couple weeks is up I'm ready to go again. It's been a pretty neat thing, and I feel gifted."

Mark Unterreiner is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian, and his Spotlight feature appears every Thursday. To report someone worthy of being in the Spotlight, contact him at 335-6611 (ext. 174) or sports@semissourian.com.

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