Local free-throw shooter goes Hollywood

The Marysville Advocate by Julie Perry

Bob Fisher still spends two hours practicing free throws in the basement of his Centralia home even after he beat “Sir” Charles Barkley, the 11-time NBA All-Star player and hall of famer, on the Feb. 12 Tonight Show.

That shoot-out, which Fisher won 27-10, will be “tough to top,” Fisher said. “It’s not like NBA players are lining up to risk the possibility of losing to a 55-year-old guy from Kansas. Charles is one of a kind. He did me a huge favor by competing against me and I have to admire him for that, because nobody else would have stepped up to lose on national TV.”

Since Fisher has been home he has been interviewed on a couple of live sports talk shows and at some point would like to conduct shooting clinics in different Australian provinces for two weeks. He will perform at halftime March 21 during semi-finals of the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in the Salina Bicentennial Center. He will run clinics March 22 before tournament games.

Nothing has changed for Bob and wife Connie since arriving home from the appearance with Jay Leno in Burbank, Calif. Fisher returned Feb. 15 to his daily routine and work as a soil conservation resource technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Seneca.

“We got back Thursday (Feb. 14) and went to work Friday and quickly fell back in the same old routine … work, practice, eat, sleep, etc.”

Fisher’s long-term goal is to travel the country and give motivational talks at schools and events, something he’s been doing since setting 14 world records in the past few years.

“To do this we will need to find a sponsor who is interested in our message,” Fisher said. His message: Knowledge plus practice plus time equal world-class skill in anything.

Fisher’s world records, which he started breaking in 2010, are most free throws made in 30 seconds (33); most in one minute (50); and most in one minute made by a pair of shooters with unlimited balls (29 with Garrett Steinlage, Seneca.)

Records continued to fall in 2011: most shots made underhand in one minute (28); most in one minute while standing on one leg (49); most made in one hour (2,371); most in one minute blindfolded (22); and most in one minute by a coed pair (32 with Dana Kramer, Wetmore).

Last year’s records: most made in two minutes (92); most in 10 minutes (448); most in one minute using alternate hands (44); most in two minutes with alternating hands (88); most in one minute by a pair of shooters using two balls (24 with Steinlage); and most in two minutes blindfolded (37).

The biggest change since becoming a world record holder, Fisher said, is that the world has gotten smaller.

“It is nice to have people say I am the fastest free throw shooter in the world,” he said. “And appearing on Leno has brought more local attention. However, I have not changed as much as the way the world perceives me. For example, I received a very nice letter from a teacher in Iowa who thought I was an inspiration. With knowing that some people view me in that light comes a degree of added responsibility, because that is something to live up to.”

The path wasn’t a planned venture. It has taken the Fishers to China to participate on a television show with other Guinness Book of World Records holders, to the New York World Science Festival and a part in a documentary titled “Free Throw” and to California to work with youths vying for a college scholarship.

“My intent was to simply see how good I could become,” Fisher said. “When I first stepped in the gym, I did not really believe I could set a record.”

He started practicing in September 2009 at age 52 and from it discovered various shooting techniques that he has come to rely on during record attempts.

“Not in my wildest dreams,” Fisher said. “I never thought any of this would take place.”

He said he might have started earlier in his life with free-throw accomplishments, but he said he lacked the knowledge.

“Without knowing what you are doing you can practice, practice, practice and not get beyond a certain level of proficiency,” Fisher said. “Anybody could do what I do if they knew what I know. Plus, the book, ‘The Talent Code’ informed me of the substance in our brains called myelin, which helps make us better. Knowing about myelin provided the perseverance to stay with it.

“I know the researchers who claim that talent is built instead of born love me. I am a living example that you can develop your talents at any age. I am a late bloomer,” Fisher said.

“What we all tend to do is squander our talent. We are all really great at selling ourselves short. Probably the biggest change for me personally is that this has altered the way I view talented people. Anyone who is really good at anything has invested a tremendous amount of time and effort to get to where they are, no matter what the field.”

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