By Perry Smith
For Jake and Amanda Kaminski, archery is more than just a hobby. It’s part of their lifelong love and commitment. Jake, an Olympic silver medalist who’s about to turn 26, and his wife, Amanda, 24, are both top level archers who use their passion for the sport to spur their respective careers. Jake frequently travels internationally for competitive shooting, product development and coaching; Amanda set her sights on a coaching focus, and developing the business, Kaminksi Archery, that the pair established at their Florida home.
The couple, who were brought together through competitive archery, literally, seem to live the sport as part of their daily routine. “We both actually made the Junior World Team for Mexico in 2006,” Amanda said. “We met at the airport.” The two married in 2011, and now they help train archers at all levels at their Florida home — that is, when Jake isn’t competing internationally or working on cutting edge product development that could help shape the future of the sport. Amanda helps prepare archers at all levels on the training grounds the pair have developed for archers on their property. “We have our own building that we built in our backyard,” Amanda said. “We have up to 70 meters at our house.”
The success of both archery careers remains impressive, but becomes easier to understand, once one learns how long and hard the two have worked at competitive archery. Both became involved in the sport at relatively young ages, Jake as a six-year-old in Elma, New York, near Buffalo; and Amanda as a ten-year-old in Kennewick, Washington. Long before Amanda was a coach at the Easton Newberry Archery Center in Newberry, Florida, and at their home base, in Bronson, Florida, which is near Gainesville, she was a teen phenom. “I was about to turn ten before I went to my first tournament in Las Vegas and I won it,” Amanda said. “So I said, ‘Wow, I’m going to stay with it.’” She earned a spot on the Junior U.S. World Team and competed at the Junior World Archery Championships in Merida, Mexico at age 16. She garnered an invitation to the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California only two years later.
Jake’s father, who was a volunteer fireman, won a bow at a gun raffle when the future Olympian was only six. “I found a local JOAD club down the road called Leo’s JOAD,” Jake said. “I was just doing it for fun until I was around twelve years old,” adding that he was also receiving attention for his baseball skills. But he must have recognized his potential with a bow and arrow from a young age. “When (baseball and archery) started competing for each other’s time, I decided to go with archery on the national scale (for competition),” he said. The rest is history, including the silver medal he earned alongside U.S. Olympic teammates Brady Ellison and Jacob Wukie in London.
Nowadays, the targets for Jake’s attention are split. He’s touring the globe, most recently taking part in the Arizona Cup, and a competition in Guadalajara Mexico, taking part in an annual shoot used traditionally by top quality archers to kick off the season. Amanda likes to travel with Jake when possible, and when she’s not doing that, she’s coaching and managing operations at Kaminski Archery. After any conversation with her, you can tell which part she enjoys the most.
“I love working with kids,” Amanda said, noting that Jake often coaches the more advanced-level archers who come to Kaminski Archery. “I’m the one that does most of the coaching,” she said, adding that their archery center will work with everyone from children “old enough to hold a bow and arrow in their hands” to those who are “really, really dedicated,” she said. Her experience at Easton’s Newberry facility also gives her a chance to work with top-notch facilities. “What they have there is amazing,” she said, comparing it to some of the best facilities in the country. “(At the Newberry facility) we have groups coming in from other countries because the weather’s so great and they have the technology to do videoing.”
Jake coaches and competes, but he also speaks with a passion about product development, which seems to be a job and something he truly enjoys. “I’m more than just a shooter, I do a whole lot of work with my sponsors to develop new equipment,” Jake said, adding that he’s using his competitive experience to further his career. He’s currently developing a recurve bow as part of a new product line with one of his sponsors. He’s also working on the Appitune, a mobile app to help archers calibrate their gear. “We basically redid the archery ‘holy grail’ of tuning manuals,” he said, describing the inspiration for his new app. “Archery is our passion,” Amanda said, so I’m really happy now that we have this company, and I can travel with him.”