Pitman cites importance of field champs – including impact on Olympic qualifying

Bryony Pitman shoots during the 2022 World Games in Birmingham.

Bryony Pitman has a long and strong history of competing in field archery events.

The countryside discipline, which sees archers compete around a course of targets set in woods and hills and fields across diverse terrain, has been a fixture on the international archery calendar since the late 1960s. Presenting its own unique set of challenges, field is a popular change of pace for many of the world’s best target archers.

Pitman, the winner of this year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup season opener in Antalya, was the  silver medallist in the field event at the recent World Games in Birmingham. The recurve archer is aiming even higher at this week’s World Archery Field Championships in Yankton.

“I would like to come away with a medal,” she said before qualification started this morning, one day after being elected as the field archery representative to World Archery’s athletes committee.

“Definitely, the potential [for a podium] is there but this is a bigger event than the World Games in terms of the number of countries here. It is still a tough category with a lot of good people at the top. They can shoot well, especially at the marked rounds.”

At just 17 years of age, the British archer debuted in the senior field at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw and took fifth place. It is the same position she finished, in fact, at the last world field in Cortina in 2018.

This time in Yankton, the NFAA Easton Archery Centre is familiar for Pitman.

“It is my third time in Yankton. It is always windy but I got used to it. I am looking forward to getting out on the course,” she said.

The courses for qualifying at these championships are laid by the Lewis and Clark Lake, a drive of 15 minutes from the competition ranges Bryony, and other target archers, have experienced here before. And they’re a lot more challenging than the permanent courses next to the facility.

“In 2015, I did one of the [permanent] courses just for a bit of fun. But otherwise, I was here for the target events,” she said. “From what I remember, there was a lot of flat stuff but I think they built upper stands to shoot from and things like that. That was really cool and I am really looking forward to seeing what they have done for this week.”

The stakes in Yankton are high. 

A new calculation system for the Sandila World Archery Rankings was introduced this week. Results earned at international field (and indoor) competitions count, too – for the first time. Now up to number two in the world after a break-out season, Pitman knows just how valuable these bonus ranking points might prove.

“The world ranking also counts towards Olympic qualification. Getting as many points at events like this now has an extra meaning. I am looking forward to it,” Pitman said.

It’s likely that some individual quota places to Paris 2024 will be awarded on world ranking position after the final qualifying tournament.

A run of good results has Bryony feeling confident ahead of competition in Yankton.

“I do not feel any extra pressure,” she said. “I am here to do what I can. If at the end of the week that works out and turns into a medal, it is great. If it does not, I will go away, learn from that and come back stronger.”

Qualification in Yankton runs until the end of the day on Wednesday.