150 15X: The compound archer’s quest for total perfection

Linda Ochoa-Anderson set a new world record with an incredible performance at the Gator Cup in Floria, USA, where she scored 150 points with 11 arrows in the X-ring for the 15-arrow match. It was a maximum score on points and had just four arrows outside of the very central, tie-breaking X-ring, which measures just four centimetres in diamater.

The score beat Sara Lopez’s old record of 150 10X, set back in 2013.

The compound men’s world record, 150 12X, was shot by Reo Wilde in 2015 – an increase of his own previous world-leading score of 10X from 2011. Prior to that, Jean Rene Pizarro (7X) and Braden Gellenthien (6X) helped drive the push for perfection.

With standards edging ever higher across the board, the question is: will we ever see a perfect match?

“I don’t think it will happen, no. I don’t see anyone who could do that,” says Stephan Hansen. “Nobody does it even in practice. The problem will be the pressure.”

Ochoa-Anderson disagrees: “It’s not crazy, it could happen. I honestly think every year archers are better and better. 

“The conditions would obviously have to be perfect, but it would also have to be one of those days where everything works [for you], everything is perfect. I’d like to do it, so hopefully it will be me.”

For an archer to shoot a perfect match, they’d first need the ability to shoot 15 perfect arrows.

“There are more than 10 archers [here in Antalya] that can shoot 15X in a row, but during a match there is much more pressure, of course, and the likelihood of dropping one gets higher and higher,” explains Sergio Pagni.

Like much of the sport, it’s more about the mind than the body.

“If you were on 14X, on the last arrow, it depends on your reaction at that moment. If you were totally confident on the target, in that moment, maybe that last one would be very easy,” adds Pagni.

Or maybe it would be hard.

Reo Wilde’s 12X match started with a run of 11 of his first 12 arrows in the middle. He was telling himself, he says, to not mess up the 150 – because he already had the record.

“I barely hit a 10 on the next arrows. I shot a good shot at the last, and shot it in the middle,” he said. “But I was mad, because if I hadn’t thought that to myself, I probably would have had 13.”

Reo’s still proud of that score.

“It will be broken one day,” he admits. “Because records are made to be broken, but I don’t know about 15X.” 

Mike Schloesser and Hansen have both shot perfect qualification rounds indoors, so why is this such a seemingly larger obstacle?

“The moment that you think you’re going to get 15X, I think that’s the moment you’re going to drop one,” says Danelle Wentzel, a newly-minted world record holder after shooting 357 out of a possible 360 points for 36 arrows at 60 metres.

“When I shot my record I didn’t think. I hadn’t shot 60 metres for so long, I was just shooting, and it was only when I finished I realised I was close.”

Linda didn’t have any idea she’d broken the 15-arrow-match world record until she totted up her score, either.

So, what’s the secret? How do you simply not think?

“That’s the million dollar question,” answers Wentzel. “If I knew that then I’d move on to the next sport, because this one would be too easy.”

The second stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup takes place in Antalya, Turkey on 20-26 May.