Lawrenceville resident Jake Veit, 71, takes aim at a target. He has spent more than 60 years participating in archery. (Staff Photo: Deanna Allen)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Jake Veit Jr. always has his bow with him — he stows it in the rear of his SUV when he’s not shooting.
The constant presence of the equipment could be seen as a testament to Veit’s commitment to the sport of archery, and upon learning the 71-year-old has spent more than 60 years participating in this particular activity — competing, judging and teaching — it comes as no surprise.
Archery is therapy, the Lawrenceville resident says. And that’s the nature of the sport — “Your conscious mind can only think about one thing at a time,” he said, “so to shoot a continuous sequence of events in controlling a shot … you think about one thing at a time and build on it until the shot is completed and the arrow is in the target.”
Doing that consistently and accurately, Veit said, requires intense concentration.
“You can’t think about anything else. Everything from work and home, it all goes out the window,” he said. “It’s just me, my equipment and the target.”
At 71, Veit not only continues to compete in tournaments — his most recent win was first place in the State Games of America archery competition in the Master Senior 70 and older division Aug. 3 — he teaches at the Archery Learning Center in Snellville.
And yes, he’s familiar with “The Hunger Games,” a young adult novel, with a movie of the same name, about a teenage girl who uses her skill in archery to compete in an arena fight to the death.
“After ‘The Hunger Games,’ our new students doubled cause the kids want to learn how to shoot,” Veit said.
“If you want to teach a kid personal responsibility, archery is the way to do it,” he continued. “They have a structure, they have a process they have to learn, they have to follow rules and they have to behave themselves. … If they do make the effort, it builds their self-confidence and it definitely teaches them discipline.”
For Veit, archery was a family affair. He got involved in the sport after his father, Jake Sr., started bow hunting.
“He got into it with both feet … I wanted to do what my dad did,” Veit said.
His brother, Tom, and even his mother, Betty, also participated.
“It became a family sport,” Veit said. “We shot our first state tournament in Ohio in 1953.”
That initial competition led to countless other tournaments over the past 60 years garnering Veit trophy after trophy. He keeps the evidence of his accomplishments in a room in his basement that he has dubbed his “ego room.” Alongside the ego room is Veit’s “museum” of archery equipment, which includes antique and modern equipment, from long bows to recurve bows to compound bows, as well as souvenirs from the 1996 Summer Olympics, for which Veit served as an archery judge.
While judging and teaching have both been significant parts of his archery career, nothing can replace the thrill of actually shooting — and hitting the target at which he’s aimed.
“When we get a perfect shot, when you release the string and it just feels so good, you get a silly grin on your face ‘cause you just know it’s a good shot.”