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You could say Joseph Hershberger is a quick learner.
The 21-year-old knew at an early age where his passion was, and already is at the top of his game -- and profession.
The Apple Creek native started working after school for Jerry Mullet at Insight Archery where he was able to put his interests in bows, hunting, and competition shooting to good use.
Now five years later, Hershberger is in charge of research and development at Mullet's other business, America's Best Bowstrings, and he's also a world champion.
"I'm like a kid in a candy store," said Hershberger. "I can't complain."
It all began because Hershberger, at age 16, wanted to learn how to work on bows.
"I started out working for Jerry after school, then when I was 17, I worked in the summer for him," Hershberger said. "Things just happened, and I fell into the role."
Mullet knew from the beginning that Hershberger was meant to be in the archery profession.
"Joe is a very talented individual," said Mullet. "He's determined. He loves to win and hates to lose. Yes, I saw something early on in his shooting ability and his work ethic. He has a desire to improve and get better."
So good, he quickly became the top archer in the 24-staff business of shooting buffs.
This past August, Hersh-berger won the International Bow Organization's World Championship in Seven Springs, Pa.
"It's the cat's meow of all the shoots," said Hershberger, who won the male bowhunter open class, just one step below the professional level. "You actually have to qualify to even shoot in the world championships."
However, Hershberger may never have developed into a world-class archer had it not been for Mullet.
"When he first came into the store he was shooting a bow 3 inches too long for him and he was shooting right-handed," said Mullet. "We set him up with the right bow and made him a lefty because he's left-eye dominant. From there, he took off."
Mullet knew Hershberger was a person he wanted working for him, and "playing the game," of archery.
"I've seen Joe mature as a person and hopefully we were a part of that," said Mullet.
Each year, Hershberger has progressed on the competition circuit, culminating with this summer's IBO world title
The male bowhunter class he won consists of 40 3D targets at unknown distances. After all the shooters complete the course, the field is narrowed to the top five scorers, who then shoot an additional 10 targets.
"I was second going into that last day," said Hershberger. "I caught the leader on the third or fourth target, and once I got the lead, I was really calm."
As well as confident, a trait that Hershberger certainly doesn't lack in.
His final score was 499 (out of 550) with 13 X's, earning him "a big check," a world champion belt buckle and a plaque. Nick Enmart, of Greencastle, Pa., was second with a 495.
Working at Insight Archery and America's Best Bowstrings allows Hershberger the opportunity to stay sharp as he has an archery range in the building that he can use at any time. He says he shoots at least three times a week throughout the year, and every day for 3-4 hours leading up to big shoots.
"Practice," said Hershberger when asked the key to being a good archer. "You've got to get into a rhythm and you've got to have muscles built up for it.
"And," he continued, "you need to know your yardage. You need to know what the wind is doing and you've got to know your angles. You need to add or subtract depending on if it's an uphill or downhill shot."
Hershberger, of course, shoots America's Best Bowstrings on a PSE Supra bow. He uses Gold Tip 22 arrows, and his custom bow includes all the bells and whistles allowed for his class, and is a set up with a short draw at 60 pounds.
And even though he's now a world champion at the young age of 21, Hershberger says competition shooting is not his first love.
"If you'd ask me if I'd rather be a bow hunter or competition archer, I'd pick bow hunter," said Hershberger. "I just love hunting."
Last year he arrowed an antelope on a Wyoming hunt, and spends as much time as possible chasing whitetails in and around Ohio.
He's yet to get the big buck of a lifetime, and currently counts an 11-pointer in the 140 range as his top trophy.
So, what's the future hold for Hershberger?
"In 20 years hopefully I'm shooting professional archery, and hunting a bunch," he said.
Hershberger has made good on his dreams so far, so there's no reason to doubt he'll continue to live them out.