It was a Saturday night in the Louisiana Community Center and all eyes were on an arrow stuck in the side of a black panther made of Styrofoam.
“Ooh, that’s close,” whispered Leola P.J. Reilly while the judges debated whether the arrow hit a point worth 10 or 12 points. tie-break showdown. The referee stopped at 10.
“Hey, what do we love?” said Reilly, columnist for LNP outdoors | Lancaster online. Sudden death. We always want to keep filming.”
This time, two archers took aim at the foam deer as Reilly and his co-commentator, Oklahoma professional archer Nathan Brooks, shared their thoughts on the participants’ past and methods. The judges drew the line. The Utah archer won by 16 inches.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such closeness,” Brooks said. “And it was a little confusing. But we got a winner from the deal.”
This is an example of archery being broadcast live six times a year on the Sportsman channel thanks to Competition Archery Media of Leola.
For the second year in a row, CAM is covering the six-stage McKenzie/Archery Shooters Association Pro/Am Tour for Sportsman, which is broadcast to more than 36 million US television households.
This endeavor is in line with the mission outlined on the CAM website in a post by Rob Kaufhold, president of Lancaster Archery Supply and father of an Olympic archer. Kaufhold wrote that he felt a personal vocation to create a media team that could make archery mainstream and even “that” sport.
In 2013, he hired Reilly and a cameraman to build a media team at Lancaster Archery Supply. In 2018, CAM became an independent product. In 2019, he hired Josh Grine to be CAM’s general manager.
Green is a Bedford County native whose Lancaster County resume includes 10 years as a youth pastor and two years in the retail department of Stoltzfus Feed & Supply in the Gap.
Green also co-owns the Archery Shooters Association, a Georgia-based organization that hosts a professional tour that CAM covers for the Sportsman Channel. Green plans to gradually take over the ASA as longtime owner Mike Tyrell retires.
Green’s path to leadership positions in these archery teams began when he slung his eldest daughter, Hailey, on his back and went hunting in the woods when she was about 4 months old.
According to him, Haley felt at home there. She was 12 when she saw her father shoot a deer from a tree. She wanted to enter. Green thought he’d better find his lessons, because although he was an accomplished archer, he wanted his daughter to have an unbiased instructor. He discovered Lancaster Archery Supply and ended up working as an archery instructor there.
Haley Green did well and eventually wanted to enter one of the ASA’s national tournaments.
“She fell in love and said she wanted to do them all,” says Green. “That was, coincidentally, the year that CAM started. So I volunteered to do whatever was required of me. … It became a way for me to come in and help Hailey get to her shoot.”
This was in 2018. In 2019, he started talking to Kaufhold about the future of CAM.
“He wanted to figure out how to make CAM sustainable,” says Green. “It quickly became apparent to him that if Lancaster Archery employees were working part-time to keep CAM afloat, it wouldn’t work. He needed someone who would focus solely on that.”
Green is facing a problem.
“One of the things everyone told me was, ‘You’ll never see archery on national television,’” he says. – And a year later we signed our first contract with the Sportsman channel.
Archery aired on ESPN 2 in the early 90s.
“That was before the Disney ownership,” Reilly says. “ESPN 2 in the old days hunted and fished and all that. Now it’s a corn hole, darts and the like. So when that happened, (3-D) archery disappeared for decades.”
Reilly, who has been filling some breaks in tournament action with talk of things like the aforementioned panther’s eye color, laughs when asked if he feels any kinship with the dodgeball sportscasters. This 2004 movie invented ESPN 8 – what the real ESPN would later turn into the (sometimes) real thing.
“We started with a network very similar to Ocho,” Reilly says, referring to the Eleven Sports network. “It was a very unusual sport. Football was their big passion. But leagues you never see on TV. … It gave us the opportunity to improve what we do.”
From Leola to the TV next to you
Preparing for a competition is now like a well choreographed dance, choreographed from a gleaming trailer often parked behind the huge Lancaster Archery Supply warehouse in Leola.
“It’s a total mess right now,” Reilly says, unlocking the door. On the floor are a few leftover water bottles from a mostly drunk crate. In the southern regions where ASA tournaments are held, it is very hot.
The rest of the trailer looks like some kind of tech Jenga – stacked equipment and dangling wires that will be unpacked when the crew heads to Kentucky in early June.
This is an upgraded version of the same basic trailer created by Jason Will in the early days of coverage. He worked for about 20 years with cable provider Blue Ridge Communications where he played sports.
While at Blue Ridge, he was asked to cover the Lancaster Archery Classic, an annual event held at Spooky Nook Sports. That’s how Will got into the archery door. The rig he built for CAM is similar to the one he built for Blue Ridge.
Will and his wife now own Scratch Bakes in Lancaster and Ephrata. According to Will, baking and broadcasting requires everyone to multitask and work together.
“We just call him MacGyver,” says Green. “We have yet to find anything that could go wrong that he cannot fix at the moment and continue broadcasting. So he’s priceless.”
Reilly recalls one ASA event when a southerly storm hit and seemed to hover over the CAM trailer, pouring three inches of rain.
“We had wires that were underwater. It was the fuses that were blown. Everything shut down,” Reilly says. “Jason, when he stopped, fixed everything in 20 minutes and we were up and running again.”
This rain followed an earlier incident at the same event.
“Our internet connection was 300 yards from Big Jim’s grocery store. So we had a wire stretching 300 yards across that lawn,” he says.
A dump truck hit him. Only two of the eight strands of wire remained operational. The CAM team also noticed some marks on other wires this weekend.
“When we were filming it, it was dark and someone said, ‘Hey, there’s something there,’” says Reilly. “We shone the light, and these foxes came out. They chewed on the cable. So all that, and this guy was still working.”
One of Will’s least favorite calls was when the satellite provider couldn’t find a signal until the countdown to go on air hit the 5-second mark.
“These are hopeless situations. You really can’t afford not to make things work,” says Will. “You can lose your contract. People may never look at you the same way again. This is what plays in your mind. But you cannot allow it. I just always do it.”
Like most of the CAM team, Will is a subcontractor, as are most of the 18 people needed to cover the final event, says Green. The producer is flying in from Washington State. Some crew members came from Lancaster County. Others are local talent drawn from the areas around each event.
Reilly comments on ASA events this year. Another live personality, Greg White, handles some web-centric CAM outside of ASA events. White is known to many as a commentator in the world of motorcycle racing.
The professional, seated next to Reilly in the broadcast booth at ASA events, alternates between Brooks and professional archer Darrin Christenberry.
In addition to the broadcast itself, CAM produces segments for online venues such as “Shot of the Week”, which sometimes includes tips for hunters, and “Introducing the ASA”.
Reilly says he likes the latter in part because he covers archers who, unlike the pros who get most if not all of their equipment from sponsors, often spend $3,000 to $4,000 on bows and accessories.
“Think about the commitment they make,” he says.
Gasoline and airfare prices are making this year a nasty expense for CAM and its equipment-filled 40-foot trailer. The price increase hasn’t led to a significant drop in ASA attendance, Green said.
“Our last one in Louisiana? It’s not the easiest place, and we still had a big turnout,” he says, noting that people came from states all over the country to take part. “People still go to our events. We’re lucky they love it as much as we do and they make sacrifices to make it work.”
Green’s goals include expanding state organizations within the ASA and making state championships more like national championships.
“It’s like getting together for an archery tournament and a family reunion six times a year,” he says.
Hayley Green is still doing the round. She was the 2021 ASA Women’s Professional Rookie of the Year. In her spare time from the circuit, she moonlights as a technician at Lancaster Archery Supply.
Green says he’s not quite ready to move south. He wants to stay in Lancaster County until his youngest daughter Gabrielle finishes school. Gabrielle is not an archer.
“My wife is a dance teacher. It was her passion, her whole life,” he says. “So my youngest is dancing. They go to work together all the time, and Hailey and I go to work together all the time.”
Grine emphasizes that CAM will continue to cover not only ASA events, but will, for example, broadcast the U.S. National Outdoor Archery Championships live on its Facebook and YouTube channels, as well as on the USA Archery channels. It happens Aug. 10-12 in Malvern. CAM also covers national field archery competitions.
Yes, I am the majority owner of ASA. But I love archery,” says Green. “For the archery media, the ASA is our bread and butter. But we want to help all organizations and all disciplines grow.”