Why do the world’s best target archers shoot field?

Half of the individual medals at the last Olympic Games went to athletes from Korea; the other three went to athletes who’ve all won gold at the World Archery Field Championships. Lisa Unruh and Jean-Charles Valladont both finished with individual silver medals, Brady Ellison took bronze. 

Why is it that archers who shoot both disciplines find such success?

“It is not a coincidence. This is archery. When you like archery, you should practise all disciplines,” said Valladont, also the defending World Games Champion.

“Field is so different to target, and the archery season is so long – indoor and outdoor – but field is a small moment where it is possible to really practise archery. It‘s not bad for target, it’s good for your heart and mind, and it’s true archery.”

This cross-over between Olympic and field success is not a new thing.

Michele Frangilli, Jay Barrs, Darrell Pace and John Williams: all Olympic gold medallists, team and/or individual, and all World Archery Field Champions, stretching back to 1972.

“[Field is] more difficult because you have to concentrate on so many things, rather than just 70 metres,” said Unruh.

Four-time Olympian, and winner of the World Games in 2013, Naomi Folkard added: “Shooting both disciplines is so valuable, especially for intermediate and improving archers, because of what each teaches you about the other.”

“Shooting target, you can only blame your technique – but in field you need your technique, plus an understanding of so many other things.”

At the second stage of 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup, Ellison and Valladont took to the arena to contest the gold medal. Valladont came out on top.

At the World Games in Cali four years ago, the same thing happened: Brady and JC shot for gold, and JC won. But, in the meantime, Ellison has defeated the Frenchman in the last four on his way to taking two world field titles.

“I think it’s the final that everyone’s going to look for. I think that we’re probably two of the best field shooters in the current era of shooters,” said Ellison.

“It seems that every time we go out and shoot we’re shooting the highest field scores that have ever been shot, between the two of us, and I think it’s going to be exciting.”

And, with the new competition format in Wroclaw – where the two highest qualifiers are guaranteed places in the semifinals – the benefit over this flat course probably falls right at these Olympic medallists’ feet.

Or, as Ellison put it:

“The scoring possibilities for this competition might be the biggest, baddest things that have ever happened on a field course.” 

The recurve field archery competition at the Wroclaw 2017 World Games runs 23-25 July in Szczytnicki Park.