Sweet Georgia Dream

It’s 9:00 in the morning.  I am on the road again, heading north to Snellsville Georgia, home of George Ryals III, and his amazing Archery Proshop and  Shooting School.

George is an archery prodigy.  He rose up out of the south as a top ranking shooter, joined the Martin Archery pro staff, and has become one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to the art of archery, not to mention one helluva shot.  We worked together for years as he built his Advertising Manager career with Martin Archery.  Having the opportunity to work with people like George were the best parts of being in the industry. 

I smile as I recall the first time I saw wind turbines.  It was just outside of Walla Walla, Washington as I was driving to visit George at Martin Archery years ago. I came up over a hill and saw an endless sea of big white windmills.  Thought I was driving up to a movie set –started looking around for Scully and Moulder….now whole towns and cities are powered by them and it’s common to see them everywhere.  Back then I thought to myself, ‘George!  You moved clear across the country to this eerie place!’   And then I passed by a vineyard for sale.  Well, I guess Walla Walla couldn’t be all bad….

George doesn’t know I’m stopping by today.  It will be a surprise.  The trip from Gainesville, Florida to Snellsville, Georgia takes the entire day.  Miles of wooded, hilly landscape.  Then at almost 4:00 I hit the outskirts of Atlanta and everything comes to a halt.  Literally.  I quickly pull off the highway into a Wal-Mart parking lot, next to an RV Coach.  Discussion with the couple in the Coach reveals that this is the beginning of Atlanta rush hour, and it could take hours to get around to the other side.  They are waiting until 7:00 to try to press on.  Me too.

 

Time to go shopping.

 

Dog treats, a loofa brush, and a small tub of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge ice cream.

Back at the trailers, I eat quickly made left overs with Jean and Larry, from Nebraska, while we wait for the traffic jam to subside.  Larry says there is nothing worse than sitting in bumper to bumper traffic pulling a rig or driving a coach.  You can see the gas gauge go down without getting anywhere.  Indeed.  Who needs that??

We look over to the highway with great anticipation for the next hours, until finally the cars are moving at a normal rate of speed.  It’s time to part ways.  Back on the road, my calculations tell me I will hit Georges shop 10 minutes before they close.  I make a call, just to ensure he is there.  He is.

I step through the glass doors and look around.  Racks of bows.  Isles of accessories.  A huge lounge area with couches and chairs.  There stands a reddish blonde guy with a goatee and a great big Southern smile.  George hasn’t changed at all!   “Patty?  Whaaatt are you doin’ here, girl?  Wow! How are you?”

We sit down in his luxurious lounge area and catch up for the next hour.

George is a classic example of going after and achieving a dream.  Founded in 2010, Archery Learning Center has been his dream his whole life.  After 20 years on the road as a Professional Archer and working a corporate job in the Archery Industry, George was able to roll out a unique Archery Retail storefront with an emphasis on growing the business of archery. His company motto is “Know More; Shoot Better”.  He accomplishes this though education and coaching, and is now producing some up and coming hopefuls that could have the opportunity to compete at the Olympic level.  His Elite Archery Team is headed by Coach Ginger Hopwood.  They run a complete program of Junior Olympic Archery Development Classes, and provide a full calendar of fun shoots, leagues and events.  If you walk into Georges huge archery retail store looking for some widget, chances are you will be drawn in as a regular shooter, and possibly a future competitor.  His favorite part of the process is introducing young people to archery for the first time, and hand picking the brightest stars to advance to serious training and competition.

He can spot raw talent a field away, and will absolutely be there to help a new archer reach their full potential.  After all, it’s his passion.  He initiates top level shooting events for the entire southeast, and people come from all corners.  His indoor range is top of the line, leading with safety first.  The overall atmosphere is welcoming, comfortable and most importantly, fun!  Everyone is treated equally, male or female. 

Yeah, George has developed a real gem with The Archery Learning Center and I am so glad I had the chance to stop in and see it all first hand.  Wish his place could be cloned and available across the country. Definitely a place to experience.  What a guy.  Way to go, George!

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