Shoot-off specialist Wijler doesn’t care how he looks – if he wins

Wijler winning sequence at Indoor World Series Finals in 2023.

“A shoot-off feels literally like a do-or-die arrow,” says Steve Wijler, who won his second Indoor World Series title in a tiebreak last Saturday.

“I’ve done a lot of shoot-offs over the years and, to be honest, I don’t think my head can get quieter than in a shoot-off. Everything seems to slow down for a few seconds.”

Wijler beat Brady Ellison to gold with a tiebreak 10 at the Indoor World Series Finals in 2019.

This past weekend, Korea’s Kim Pil-Joong was his victim, as the 26-year-old delivered yet another perfect arrow under pressure to lift the 18-metre circuit trophy another time.

“Our sport isn’t made for archers to win all the time. It’s a sport of margins and millimetres,” says Wijler.

“But at the same time, we all work very hard, and we want it bad to perform good, and to win competitions. So for me, every win is a good win. I’m proud of what I’ve already accomplished and I’m looking forward to more.”

Currently ranked 14th in the world, Wijler’s had success both indoors and out.

He collected a silver medal in the inaugural Olympic mixed team event last summer in Tokyo – and was an individual bronze medallist at the World Archery Championships back in 2017.

The two formats – 70 metres and 18 metres – are not the same, he says.

“Outdoors feels more like a movement of expansion and direction. Indoors, I just put my sight in the middle and wait until the clicker goes,” explains Steve, who might be one of the few international recurvers to prefer the 18-metre format: “It’s way more fun.”

The difference in approach is perhaps indicative in the prevalence of more explosive-looking shots. (Although indoors or out, Wijler’s known for a bit of bow-quando on release.)

“It doesn’t matter how it looks. the only thing that matters to me is that they are hitting where I want them to,” he says.

“Shooting is all about giving control to my subconscious. I truly trust my body to take over and just do what is necessary to get the job done.”

“Sometimes it looks a little uncontrolled but at those moments, I feel completely in control and comfortable.”

It’s not, perhaps, the kind of talk most coaches would like to hear. 

But, ultimately, Wijler’s second Indoor World Series trophy is just further proof that he is getting the job done.