I started racing motocross because of my big brother Fin who is 4.5 years older than me, I was only 2 years old when he started racing. We would normally go to races as an entire family; me, my brother, my mom and dad. When we were at the track my mom would watch me when it was time for my brother to race because my dad was my brothers mechanic. But when my mom couldn't make it to a race because she had to work, my dad would just hand me off to another MotoMom so he could be with my brother on the track.
I had a race number before I started racing because my brother's number was 711, he was born on July 11. My parents wanting our numbers to go with each other and my number became 117 since I was born November 17. Our team name was Walters Brothers Racing and my dad came up with our logo 711WBR117 that he got tattooed across his back. I was practicing on dirt bikes at the age of 3, but was too small to race it so I had to race a quad. I did not like it because Fin raced dirt bikes and I wanted to race bikes like him. I was pretty good at racing and was the runner-up track championships at Amherst Meadowlarks that first year on the quad. I kept practicing on my bike and my dad finally let me race it even though my mom was scared. I went 6 straight years of winning multiple track and series championships in motocross, flat track or motocross-country racing. Motocross country racing was my favorite type of racing because you got to run longer races and it was a few different types of racing rolled into one.
In 2012 Fin raced The Amateur National Arenacross Championships in Las Vegas at the South Point Hotel and Casino. I was 5 years old when we were there and I said I wanted to bring the family back to Vegas because I wanted to be like my brother. Luckily I didn't say for what I would be bringing us back for, because it ended up being for archery in 2019. When I found out that The Vegas Shoot was being held at the exact same place that Fin raced at, I thought that was cool. Even though we were there for archery and not dirt bikes, we still got to do some of the same things like going to the strip, swimming, bowling and recreated some photos.
If you don't know me I am small, I have always been small so it normally puts me at a disadvantage doing things. This year a friend made me a custom shirt that says, "Before you ask I'm 12 and yes I know I'm SHORT, next question.". Back when I first started racing I was on a Kawasaki 50cc quad, because it was the only thing that fit me. Racing is already very dangerous, and if you are not on something that is safe for you, you can get hurt really bad. Plus you probably won't finish good since you aren't able to handle your bike. I then moved to a Yamaha PW 50 bike which is a beginner level bike, I raced that bike for one year. Then I got on a KTM Mini Adventure, which is more of a race bike than the PW 50 was. Then in 2015 I moved up to my brothers old KTM 50 SXS that he raced at ANAC in Las Vegas. That bike was very fast, and had more racing technology in it. Later that year I got on his Kawasaki 65 that was way too big for me, I rode this because I wanted more speed and I didn't care if it fit me I just wanted more speed. I wasn't big enough to get on or off the bike by myself, but I was able to handle it on the track which is where it mattered. 2020 will be my last year on the KX65, but I don't think I will get to race anymore because of archery being my life now but if I do I will race Fin's old KX85 next year.
Through all those years of motocross racing I did a workout every morning for a few reasons. One was because I was so small, I needed to workout so I could handle the bike while racing and lift it up if I went down. Another reason is to help me not get arm pump or hurt on the track, working out does nothing to keep you from breaking something but does helps you not get hurt. Even with all the racing and championships I won, I was never one with my bike. I didn't know how to make it go faster, I didn't know how to tune it, I didn't know or understand the bike like my brother did. My brother and dad would check over my bikes to make sure they were 100% for me to race so I could do my best. But in archery I know my bow, I know what I'm shooting, I understand it and I keep messing with it to make it shoot and feel how I want it. I watch a lot of videos made by pro archers and industry companies. In archery I still do morning workouts every day, I do this so I can pull 40 pounds because I have such a short draw length. I also workout so I don't get hurt, shooting as much as I do I can really hurt myself by doing the same motion over and over again. Doing my workouts gives my muscles and bones lots of different ways to move, which I need to do since archery is just the same movement over and over again. I check over all my equipment to make sure everything is 100%, so nothing can go wrong. Things can still go wrong, but now there is a slighter chance it will happen.
Racing and shooting are both exciting but in different ways. In shooting I have to stay calm and concentrate so I don't screw up, because if I screw up I get mad and it takes me a little while to calm down so I can make the next shot good. In motocross I didn't stay as calm, when I was little and really liked racing at Amherst Meadowlarks I would always scream 'This is my home track not yours', then I would pass them and scream 'WooHoo' and then normally win.
I would get excited when I would hit a jump good and in shooting when I first started I would get excited when I got an X . When I started hitting Xs, I would get mad if I missed one because I wanted to keep hitting them. But it pushed me to shoot better and practice harder and better. Normally when I have a bad shot now I mostly come back with a perfect shot. But in racing if I didn't hit the whoops good or I cased a jump I would get mad. And when you race mad and are not concentrating you could crash badly and get really hurt.
In racing I would need to prep my bike by making sure that all the bolts are tight, gas is full, oil is changed, have a clean air filter and lots of other things. But I really didn't do any of that since my dad and brother did it for me. In archery to prepare for a shoot I need to make sure my arrows are good, release moves correctly, my sight and stabilizers are tight, my peep and D-loop aren't loose and more. I do all this myself because I want my equipment set for me, not how someone else thinks it should be set.
In racing I wasn't able to practice but once or twice a month since we didn't have our own track. In archery I can go in our back yard and shoot everyday up to 20 yards. If I want to shoot a farther distance then I go to The LaGrange Hunting and Fishing Club. If it's raining or snowing or just to hot or cold I go to Black River Archery and shoot indoors.
Like in archery as in motocross, you cannot just throw money at your equipment and think you are going to shoot Xs. You have to use beginner equipment and slowly move up to the next level until you are ready to advance and it fits you. It makes no sense to upgrade to a faster bike if you can't handle the speed of your slower bike. The same way it makes no sense if you can't shoot consistently to upgrade to a PSE Supra Focus with a 30" front bar, 15" back bar, with 3 pounds of weight, an Axcel sight with a Shrewd Optum scope. When I first started off shooting archery I shot a stock Bear Apprentice 2. Once I learned how to shoot that bow I needed something that would let me shoot longer distances and upgraded to the Hoyt Klash. When I got all I could get out of a part and it started holding me back, my dad would tell me to do research on what I thought I needed. He would then talk to people that would know more about it to see if I choose a good new part or not. Now my dad trusts me when I say I need a new part, especially since I am paying for half of it with my own money since I don't want to waste my own money on something that I don't need. When I said I needed the new PSE Perform X SD, my dad agreed because he saw what I was shooting against at National events. I'm happy that he didn't make me pay for half of the new bow so I now still have money to upgrade parts when I'm ready. My dad will not pay for half on a part if I just want to get a new color of, if I want to change a part to just get a new color I have to pay for that all myself. I make my own money by doing landscaping jobs, I started my own business called www.JaceWaltersRakingAndMORE.com
The last two years I have only had 1 or 2 weekends off once outdoors opens up. I choose to have this busy of a schedule because it helps me figure out what I like to shoot because I will shoot anything. And you learn so much more about yourself and your equipment in tournaments than you do just practicing in your own backyard. I do not enjoy always shooting at the same target at the same distance for 2 or 3 hours. This year I think unknown 3D is becoming my niche. If I have a bad shot I have something to fall back on and this is that I didn't know the yardage. Also, I have been shooting my best scores in unknown 3D, and I think that's because I put less pressure on myself with my aiming. Levi Morgan is the best unknown and known 3D archer in the world, but not the best at shooting at the same paper target at 20 yards over and over again which makes no sense to me. Maybe that will be me too, I don't know but I am really liking it right now.
In racing you don't get to practice or race with the pros, but in archery you can. I've warm up next to Matt Stutzman at the practice range at Indoor Nationals. In racing that does not happen, but one time Todd Krieg #531 who is a local pro came to the practice track that I was at to practice too, and I thought that was cool. In racing I don't think I had that many goals because I don't remember any of them. In archery my goals are to score even and then plus games at 3D tournaments, and then to become the best archer in the world. This year I shot my first plus games in unknown and then known 3D games, and they both happened at IBO and ASA National events.
If you didn't think there was a correlation between motocross and archery, there is and here is what they are. Workouts, practicing, progression of equipment changes, understanding and checking over your equipment and consistence. Since I did all that in racing since I was 3, it was easy for me to carry over that work ethic over to archery. And I still have to study and stay on the honor roll, that is the only way my mom will let me miss school to go to archery tournaments.
In racing my heart was never in it but I was good at local and regional events, but not anywhere else or at really big races. I still have fun racing to this day, but I don't want it enough to win anymore. When my good friend Todd Krieg #531 crashed and got paralyzed that really put an end to competitive racing for me. Because now I am scared of crashing like he did and becoming paralyzed, and you can't win or safely race scared. In archery I am now finishing in the top half at national events. I have had a lot of people come up to me at archery events and say that I am going to make it far and I know I will. I am not there yet, but with all the work that I put in and people that are standing behind me and helping me along the way I will.
Originally published in the July 2020 edition of The Young Archers of BowJunky Media