“Bull’s-Eye Guy” Bob Owen continues to teach shooting technique to youngsters
By Anthony D. Alonzo Post-Tribune correspondent August 8, 2012 11:12PM
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:47PM
The contest of 10,000 free throws starts with a single eyes-closed shot and then plenty more, enough to exhaust even the most fit young athlete.
Enter Gary resident Bob Owen. At 67, the “Bull’s-Eye Guy” is not tiring of his relentless pursuit of perfection. He recently spent portions of 40 days in various gyms and outdoor courts around the region putting up hundreds of shots from the charity stripe.
“When I shoot I wait to hear for (the sound of the ball) hitting the floor,” said Owen, who is an assistant boys basketball coach at Merrillville High School. “Then it was easy for me to walk over to get it. Sometimes the ball was rolling down the gym floor and I had to get it. That was the frustrating part.”
Eventually he reached his goal of 10,000 shots attempted and tallied a free-throw accuracy above 85 percent. That doesn’t match his regular mark of 98 percent. Chalk that up to wind, fatigue and other factors, he said.
What the 2011 Huntsman World Hall of Fame member and World Olympic medalist has accomplished under normal free-throw shooting conditions, however, has been what has gained him fame in the basketball world. He’s shown his eyes-closed “hard to miss shooting technique” to NBA All-Stars Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury, Glenn Robinson and Spud Webb.
“I broke every shooting movement process down to a moment,” Owen said recently at the Southlake YMCA in Crown Point.
He starts with lining up the feet for balance, and making sure his index finger is at the center of the ball. The elbow should always be underneath the index finger, he said.
“Then… ‘bull’s-eye back of the rim, eyes closed,’” he said before letting the ball swish through the net.
The youths at Owen’s recent basketball shooting camp at the Y were well versed on the Bull’s-Eye Guy’s basketball resume.
“I think this is the Y’s best basketball camp,” said 9-year-old Sean Tully of Crown Point. “Mom told me that Bob Owen taught Kevin Garnett how to shoot.”
Several of the players were spot-on at the camp. The Thompson brothers of Schererville — Gavin, 7, and Ryder, 6, — led the way. Gavin fluidly repeated the “bull’s-eye” steps, seeming to shut out all distractions.
Teen camp attendee Renz Buenavista said he noticed significant improvement in his shooting abilities.
“My shot’s improved by 50 percent,” said the 13-year-old Crown Point resident. “I’m going to practice a whole lot more.”
On matters of perseverance, Owen is not living with eyes closed, but rather he has a vision of body-mind-soul health. Everyone will face doubt and struggles, he said, noting Jesus’ 40 days of prayer and fasting in the desert.
He realizes others may doubt his approach to basketball.
“(Doubters) don’t test it long enough to find out what the end result is going to be,” said Owen. “They don’t put themselves through that longsuffering. If I hadn’t had the (World Senior Games) experience, I probably wouldn’t have endured the 10,000 eyes-closed (shots.)”
The Mid-America Regional Coordinator and founding member of the National Basketball Shooters Association said muscle memory can only take someone so far. So he hits the books; behind every “bull’s-eye back of the rim” is hours of concentration on his Bible, science and other literature.
For more information about instructional camps and lessons, call Owen at 678-3880, or e-mail him at email@example.com.