Jimmy Butts of n. Fox Jewelers on Broadway is not only a master jeweler, he’s also a professional archer. Speaking with Jimmy reveals a comforting slight Louisiana-drawl that goes hand in hand with his calm, jovial demeanor. Once you begin to learn of his growing list of accomplishments as an archer, it doesn’t take long to see that his skill and precision could only stand to benefit from being so outwardly laid-back. His competitive side, however, reveals a focus and determination that has propelled him to the very top of his sport.
Jimmy is a three-time member of the United States archery team and a former world champion. He was named the 2008 “Shooter of the Year” by the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) and has competed all over the world against the very best the sport has had to offer. For most jewelers, archery would be a hobby. For Jimmy, it’s close to being the other way around.
“Archery is not that difficult, it’s a game of exact repetition,” said Jimmy. “There’s a lot of problem solving in archery. You have to know why you missed so you can correct it. It’s the same thing with jewelry, just attention to detail and knowing exactly what you need to do to get the job done.”
To tell the story about how Jimmy got started in archery is to go all the way back to 1997. Jimmy was 29 years-old living in Colorado and his mother had come for a visit. She wanted to see him shoot, and that weekend happened to be the state championships. What happened next is the stuff legends are made of.
Jimmy, competing on a whim, shot a perfect score to win the Colorado championship. He wouldn’t pick up the bow again until about a year later, when, while bored, he decided to go shoot at the local archery range. Jimmy’s first night at league archery lead to him shooting another perfect score.
“The woman working at the range put two and two together and asked me if I was the one who had shot perfect at states,” recalled Jimmy. “She wanted to know why they never really saw me. I said it was because I like to travel and move around a lot, and she mentioned that if I made the U.S. team, I’d travel to wherever they were competing.”
Jumping at the chance to see some of the world, Jimmy made his way through the various channels involved with qualifying for the U.S. Team. The last leg of his journey would lead him to Houston, Texas, where he managed to qualify ahead of the defending world champion. In 1998, Jimmy Butts won a world championship in his very first tournament. He turned professional in 1999, and in April of that year was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” section, which announced his world championship performance as well as his role in securing a team title for the United States. Jimmy tied a world record at the event, scoring 598 of a possible 600 points for one round. The U.S. Olympic Committee would honor Jimmy as its “Male Athlete of the Month,” edging out professional golfer Jim Courier in the process.
“That was almost bigger than the gold medal, for me,” Jimmy said with a laugh.
Jimmy spent the better part of the next decade traveling all over the world to events in Cuba, China, Venezuela, France, Dubai and others as a member of the U.S. team. In 2008, Butts was named the NFAA’s “Shooter of the Year,” though they made sure he earned it. Jimmy and another archer had finished the entire year in a dead heat for the award. The NFAA decides things the old fashioned way – a four arrow shoot-off for the crown.
“We were tied in points, so we each shot four times from 70 feet, and I ended up winning this huge trophy and made the cover of their monthly magazine,” said Jimmy.
Jimmy knows his personality only serves to help when he’s competing.
“When you’re trying to shoot a target that is literally the size of a dime, you can practically see your heartbeat. You can’t be a high-strung person. You might not even be able to hold onto the bow,” he joked.
His attitude while competing, along with his tremendous ability, has earned him the respect of his peers throughout the archery world.
“Jimmy’s been a top guy for a number of years,” said Diane Watson of USA Archery. “He’s always been someone to be reckoned with, and his shooting speaks for itself. He’s a great guy, both on and off the range.”
As successful and as well-traveled as Jimmy is, you might wonder what it is that led him to call Saratoga Springs home. Turns out the Spa City’s proximity to a number of ranges and tournaments allows Jimmy to keep his game sharp.
“One of the reasons I moved up here is that this area is saturated with archery ranges. Most of the professional archers I shoot with live in the Northeast,” explained Jimmy. “If I wanted to shoot a tournament, there are two or three within driving distance every weekend.”
Jimmy is currently ranked ninth in the entire world, and recently competed in another world championship event, losing a very close gold medal match with fellow U.S. teammate Reo Wilde.
As for Jimmy’s immediate future, it seems to include a little time off. Jimmy says he doesn’t anticipate competing as an archer again until May. As a jeweler, however, he was recently selected to compete in a jewelry building competition to decide the “Ultimate Bench Jeweler” against three other master jewelers from across the country. The event is scheduled for Chicago sometime in April. To go along with being a master jeweler and a professional archer, he’s also recently been recognized as a master gunsmith. With a little time off, who knows what the future could hold for Jimmy Butts, but his past suggests he’s very likely to hit his mark.