TISHOMINGO, Okla. – In 1307, William Tell used a crossbow bolt to halve an apple balanced atop his son’s head … or so legend has it.
Chickasaw world-class archer Shiloh Butts could probably do it, too, but thankfully it is not one of the competition shots he must make when shooting a Chickasaw long bow. It is his preferred weapon to win first-place medals in archery competitions throughout the nation.
For the 28-year-old pharmacist, targets are the size of pie plates, softballs and half dollar coins. If you put an arrow in the pie plate it is 8 points; the softball is 10 points, and half dollar is 11 points.
“I have won so many first-place belt buckles they are stuffed in a drawer at my house,” he explained. “We’ve just run out of room to display them.”
Competitions can last up to three days. He compares archery competition to golf. If he is able to shoot in the 270-280-point range, he knows he will finish high in competition.
“Hitting a softball-sized target would be the equivalent of a birdie in golf. Placing an arrow in the half dollar target would be an eagle,” Butts explained. “I just go and shoot to the best of my ability that particular day. Some days are better than others.”
Just weeks ago, Butts was crowned the International Bowhunters Organization champion in a Tennessee shoot.
So, how many championships have the Chickasaw citizen and tribal employee picked up in the course of competing 15 years?
“I lost count a long time ago,” he said with a laugh.
If you visit the home he shares with wife, Sahara, shoebox after shoebox after shoebox is sorted through to find the first-place awards. It isn’t disinterest in them; each is labeled with the date and score he shot to win them. There just is not a place to put them in his rural Sulphur home.
A Toddler Archer
His grandfather, Alvin Trammell, first put a bow and arrow in his hands at the ripe young age of 3. Butts took to it immediately. Competing as an archer would have to wait a decade, but some of his fondest memories are hunting and enjoying the outdoors with his grandfather.
“There were many ‘firsts’ for me in the outdoors with my grandfather,” he remembers fondly.
His uncles, Travis and Joel Trammell, are avid hunters and they “dragged me along with them,” Butts said. They passed down their hunting expertise to their nephew, who utilizes those skills to put deer meat in the freezer each autumn.
Outside his home, chickens run free among deer targets. It isn’t unusual for Butts to place a grouping of arrows within the softball-sized targets marked on the deer mannequin.
“I haven’t competed as much this year,” said Butts. He and Sahara married May 30 and purchased their home. Many pressing “chores” are vying for his attention right now, but he is looking forward to deer season, which begins Oct. 1. He may still participate in a few competitions, but for right now getting settled in is taking much of this time.
Helping Tribal Citizens
Butts graduated Sulphur High School in 2006. He began college at East Central University, but transferred to Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant where he graduated with a pharmacy degree in 2012.
One of the nation’s top competitive archers went to work for the Chickasaw Nation, dispensing medicines at the Tishomingo clinic. The Nation assisted Butts with his educational expenses making it possible for him to become a pharmacist.
Courtesy Chickasaw Nation
Sahara and Shiloh Butts are shown at their rural Sulphur home where they raise chickens, practice archery and enjoy life. Butts is a world-class archer and recently won first-place in the Primitive Bow competition at a meet in Tennessee sponsored by the International Bowhunters Organization.
“It is a great blessing to be a part of the tribe and have them supporting you through school. It made a very substantial contribution to my college education. In the end, I was not obligated to work for the tribe, but honestly there was nowhere else I wanted to work. In fact, I didn’t even apply anywhere else. I put all my marbles in one spot so to speak and don’t regret it one bit,” Butts explained.
He loves his profession.
“By far, knowing I am making a positive impact in the health and life of each and every patient I have come through the clinic is the most rewarding part. Whether they have symptoms ranging from allergies to heart failure and everything in between, being able to know you’re helping someone overcome whatever is bothering them is a great feeling to have,” he said of his duties at Tishomingo.