Brandon Tenner, Michigan Tech ’05, was born into an archery family and won his first archery competition at age 5. About 13 years ago, a family friend suggested shooting with an Olympic recurve bow. This bow is more challenging to use, but it intrigued Tenner because mastering it could make Olympic competition possible (the recurve is the only bow allowed in the Olympics).
The recurve bow required considerable practice time, but Tenner found a way to master the complex bow in spite of the obstacles. One obstacle was the weather – he was living in Houghton, Mich., where the average annual snowfall is more than 200 inches (third most in the United States). In 2004, Tenner attempted to qualify for Olympic trials but fell just short of the mark.
In a perfect story, Tenner bounces back and qualifies during the next Olympic trial. However, as it usually does, life has other plans. Tenner graduated college and moved to Oregon to work as a graphic designer. His once beloved bow was placed in storage to collect dust. Not until 2011 did Tenner pick up his bow again. Drawing inspiration from his wife and his Fraternity brothers, he revived his Olympic dream.
Tenner recalls relentless support from brothers like Jonathan DeCleene, Michigan Tech ’07, who traveled to numerous tournaments and encouraged Tenner to pursue his goal. Brother Tyler Wenzel, Michigan Tech ’06, always believed in Tenner’s ability to make the Olympic team and even custom painted some bows so they would stand out from the competition.
“I promised him I would take the bows to the Olympics when I make it,” said Tenner, “and I plan on keeping that promise.”
Sadly, Tenner recently lost both brothers, DeCleene to cancer and Wenzel to a traffic accident. But he found even more alumni and Volunteer News encouragement from another brother – Justin Fitch, Michigan Tech ’04. A year ago, Fitch was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 30. Fitch decided to fight the cancer with every ounce of his being. His strength and determination inspired Tenner, who hoped to exemplify strength and determination in his quest for Olympic qualification. In turn, Tenner supported Fitch by helping him spread the word about Viva la Cure, an organization to spread awareness of cancer to young people. He created customized archery gear to raise both money and awareness.
Drawing strength from his Fraternity brothers, wife and family, Tenner has been back on the fast track toward his Olympic dream. An Olympic training schedule is tough to maintain with all of the other responsibilities in his life, but he knows that excellence comes through diligence. Tenner admits there are plenty of times that he gets home from a long day of work and wants to simply relax. While that’s tempting and certainly deserved, he knows that hard work is the path to his goal.
“Once I get out to the archery range and put in my practice time, I’m glad I didn’t take the easy way out,” explained Tenner.
Tenner continues to compete in national tournaments leading up to major qualifying tournaments in the spring. He recently took first place in his Adult Male Freestyle Limited Recurve class at the Field National Archery Association Marked 3D Championships. He also won third place at the National Field Archery Association Outdoor National Championships.
He has his sights set on the 2016 Olympic trials, and his performance to date indicates he’ll be in position to qualify. Armed with diligence and supported by brotherly love, he is sure to stay on target.