Tazza thriving on world archery stage
When Tony Tazza realized he had a gift in archery, he began competing against some of the top talent on both a national and world stage.
Tazza held his own and eventually became a champion. This summer, Tazza won an International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) World Championship in the Senior-Pro Class. In the process, Tazza earned the title of IBO Shooter of the Year. Tazza also competes in the Archery Shooters Association (ASA) where he won three tournaments. For that, he was named ASA Shooter of the Year.
“You can compare it to shooting a big buck when you get on that line,” said Tazza of the emotions during a competition.
At the IBO World Championship this summer in Snowshoe, West Virginia, Tazza needed to score an 11, which is a dead-center shot to win the competition. He delivered in the clutch and claimed his third IBO World Championship.
“That is a shot like you are shooting at a trophy whitetail,” he said. “Your heart is racing and when you can pull something off like that, it is really, really special.”
The IBO holds six tournaments throughout the summer while the ASA contests seven tournaments. Therefore, it was a busy summer for Tazza.
But it all started for Tazza back in the 1990s. Tazza and his friends struggled harvesting a deer during hunting season. The group started shooting their bows more frequently to better their skill-set. As they got better over time, Tazza and friends began participating in local 3-D shoots to help in their development.
“I found out I was pretty good at it, even though I have never been that great of an athlete,” Tazza said. “I wasn’t real good at football or anything like that but I was pretty good at shooting a bow.”
He did research into the different levels of tournaments he could compete in. Tazza was always looking to challenge himself against the top shooters.
Tazza, who lives in Boswell, turned pro in 2000 and shot in the men’s Open-Pro Class. He held his own in tournaments and excelled from the start. Tazza won three tournaments in the Open-Pro Class. It is an accomplishment Tazza is proud of.
“Some people shoot in the Open-Pro Class all their lives and never win a tournament,” Tazza said.
The 52-year-old is the owner of The Archery Zone in Johnstown. Approximately a year-and-a-half ago, Tazza bought the shop off the original owner, Bill Puruczky.
Now, Tazza and his staff can help fellow bow hunters who are struggling or just looking to improve as a shooter.
“We love to help people get better in the sport,” he said. “In the past, I worked in the industry as an independent sales rep for archery products.”
For 11 years, Tazza worked for Hoyt and Easton, some of the biggest names in archery. But the amount of travel eventually took its toll on Tazza. Therefore, he looked into purchasing The Archery Zone.
“I knew I was going to turn Senior-Pro eventually, so I knew that this was a good move for me financially,” Tazza said.
Puruczky runs the shop when Tazza is at a competition. That allows the business to stay open while Tazza is away collecting hardware on archery’s biggest stages.
One on Tazza’s greatest memories was winning the IBO World Championship in the Semi-Pro Class in 1999. The event was held at Peek’n Peak Resort in New York.
“That was my first major win,” Tazza said. “That was the first time I really thought ‘I can do this.’”
Tazza began picking up sponsorships following the win at such a prestigious event. He is sponsored by Hoyt. Tazza shoots a Hoyt bow and Easton arrows. Another big sponsor for Tazza is Dead Center Archery Products. The company is based in Central Pennsylvania. Tazza uses their stabilizers on his bow.
To go along with his three IBO World Championships, Tazza has collected 20 National Titles while holding the National Field Archery Association record with a perfect score in Atlantic City.
After shooting in 17 events this summer, Tazza is looking forward to spending time with family, especially his wife Brenda. He is also making preparations for the upcoming archery season. After some time off, it is back to the competition grind for Tazza.
“I plan to compete in a full ASA and IBO tournament schedule in 2019,” he said. And as for the future, Tazza does not see anything stopping him anytime soon. “I plan to continue competing as long as I possibly can.”