Mister Perfect to Mister Legendary? Schloesser is the 600 machine
ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT is presented by WIAWIS.
When Mike Schloesser finished his perfect, 600-point qualification round yesterday in Taipei, it was perhaps most extraordinary that absolutely nobody in the arena was surprised.
It marked the fourth time of his career he had performed the feat in an international competition.
(And that doesn’t include normalised scores in Vegas, where he’s added at least three more.)
Already regarded by many as perhaps the greatest male archer to ever pick up a compound bow, in a discipline that is only about perfection, Schloesser has often set the standard.
This story began in 2015.
On a January day in Nimes, Mike stepped onto the qualification line for the 20th – and last – end of the 60-arrow round. A huge crowd had gathered, the gossip of a potentially historical result spreading around the two venues at the Parc des Expos like wildfire.
He’d shot a perfect 570 points so far. The previous compound men’s 18-metre record – 599, set by Canada’s Christopher Perkins – had stood for four long years.
It wasn’t easy. “I couldn’t keep the dot on the middle. I thought the first one was out… but I looked again and thought it might do it,” he told World Archery back in 2015. “My second to last arrow was a bit sloppy… I couldn’t hold my bow still.”
“But my last arrow… I held it in the middle and it went off in the middle.”
All three arrows were 10s.
Mike had made history, shooting the first perfect 600-point 60-arrow 18-metre qualifying in international indoor competition and setting a record that can (and since has) be matched but never broken.
His explanation of how he achieved it reads simply…
…but in a discipline of the sport that focuses entirely on coping with crushing pressure and staying on the right side of the tiniest of margins – delivering 10 after 10 – Mike Schloesser has arguably more often had the tiniest of bigger margins.
Those final three arrows in Nimes were just 60, but the product of countless 100s of 1000s in practice.
But those 60 branded Mikey with the nickname Mister Perfect.
Denmark’s Stephan Hansen became the second with a perfect, shooting 600 in 2017 in Orense, Spain. There have been others since. Mike shot clean in Macau in 2019 and then again at the Taipei Open last year in 2022, before repeating the feat in 2023.
Four perfect 600s*, on top of all the other major accolades.
*(He claims to have done it more than 20 times in practice, too.)
It won’t go in his record, but Mike effectively has two 600s in Taipei in 2023.
One from qualifying, one from the four perfect matches that followed.
“I feel like mentally very strong,” he said, ahead of a final against Prathamesh Jawkar. “I’m looking forward to it. Just keeping on going, doing the same thing. Because that’s been working.”
Casual and understated those words might be – but they are, in Schloesser speak, confident, too.
The nerves of the 2010s now seem long in the rear-view mirror, any struggle with his own nerves – a constant subject of his post-arena interviews prior to the pandemic – seemingly banished.
Doubt, the bane of the compound field, can strike at any time.
But with Mike in control, dialled in and firmly in his stride – as we’ve seen for the last two years in Taipei – he might be, literally, unstoppable.
And tomorrow in Taoyuan he has an opportunity to make history indoors, yet again.
A perfect 600 in qualifying, a perfect 150 in the first round, another in the second, followed by a clean quarterfinal and semifinal. One-hundred-and-twenty 10s. Fifteen arrows left to shoot.
Mister Perfect? Or Mister Legendary? Tomorrow we find out.