Why a couple from Iceland shoot both bowstyles

Since 2014, Gudmundur Orn Gudjonsson – whose nickname is Gummi – and Astrid Daxbock have travelled around the world together, competing in international archery tournaments and, more often than not, in both compound and recurve divisions at the same event!

Neither had tried archery until 2012.

“There was nowhere to shooting in Iceland, but it just looked quite cool and I was crazy seeing as there was no facility around where you could try the bow,” said Gummi at stage four of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Berlin, Germany.

A friend got hold of a beginner Samick bow and Gummi started shooting at a flag and then a target face made out of leftover cardboard.

“I had only one 70-metre target face and I used that for two months. After I had shot the entire yellow out, then I thought of shooting the red out,” he said.

Six months after picking up a bow he opened an archery centre in Iceland.

Living and working in the country since 2005 after emigrating from Austria, Astrid visited the range soon after it opened – and that was where she met Gummi – and Kristmann Einarsson, and Gummi’s friend and business partner Gudjon

Kristmann had been shooting for 10 years, travelling to the worlds in 2003 in New York City and an Archery World Cup stage in 2008 in Boe, France.

Now he, Gudjon and Gummi would travel to the indoor worlds in Nimes in 2014. It would be Gummi’s first tournament and, although he was shooting recurve, he decided to purchase a compound so that the three could compete as a team.

“Now I was stuck with the compound as well,” Gummi recalled, laughing.

He tried to shoot both styles in Marrakesh in 2015, but wasn’t permitted, then when Latvia’s Julia Oleksejenko shot both recurve and compound in Nimes in 2016 Gummi pushed harder to be able to shoot both styles.

When Astrid started shooting in 2012, she started with the recurve.

“Gummi also tried to teach me how to shoot the compound bow, and I must admit I hated it at the time and said that I would never touch a compound in my life again,” she said.

But the day they started dating – in 2014 – and she had to wait while he was shooting a compound event, Astrid decided to give it another try. For some time, she switched – but then went back: “I really do like the Olympic recurve bow more.”

So, now, the couple both shoot both bows in all events they can. The pair travel together, they shoot together and they work together at the archery centre.

“It’s actually fun to be in events with my boyfriend, even if we don’t see each other a lot since we both shoot in both categories, so we always shoot at the same time,” said Astrid.

“Maybe that’s why I like competing so much, so that I can get away from her,” Gummi added, laughing.

With up to nine hours of competition each day, it’s a challenge shooting both styles – not least technically. Gummi said he tries to keep his compound and recurve as close to each other as possible. His recurve is 44lbs to draw, compound 50lbs – and the physical weights are close to matching, too.

For Astrid, recurve is physical and rhythmic. Training is a necessity – especially when it gets windy – while compound is more about precision, and a few days of rest don’t show that much on the target.

Gummi’s better scores have come with the recurve, which – he said – doesn’t make sense: “There are more things helping you shoot higher scores with a compound. I’m not a compounder, I’m a recurver who shoots compound for fun.”

Challenges remain for archers in Iceland, although day-by-day Gummi’s archery centre and those who use it progress the sport.

There are no 70-metre outdoor facilities in the country, yet, and ownership of archery equipment is still restricted, meaning growth in participation is slowed. The Icelandic Archery Committee is currently part of the National Olympic Committee – but, slowly, thanks to enthusiasts like Gummi and Astrid, it’s becoming a fully-fledged federation.

“We’ll probably apply to become a federation in 2019 so we’ll get funding to assist our archers to go to tournaments, because now there is no funding,” said Gummi. 

“Even for our national uniforms.”

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