Mimi Landström went undercover for Bow in Sin City.
As usual, it was a tournament of superlatives. The 2020 edition of the Vegas Shoot registered 3816 archers – getting ever closer to the elusive 4000 archers – with shooters travelling from 53 countries around the world to compete in this event. The compound flight division was the biggest yet, with 1356 archers registered to shoot. Over 368 archers competed in the recurve flights and 222 in the barebow flights – a new record and a 48% increase on last year. This year, the ‘main event’ – the Compound Open Championship division – had 263 archers trying their luck. Overall, the shoot had $490,000 in total prize money, with $54,000 on the Compound Open Championship division. As Paul Tedford described it on his Instagram, Vegas is the ‘Superbowl of Archery’.
Day one ended with 62 archers clean in the compound open, with eight archers on 29X. For the first year, The Vegas Shoot had a $10,000 secondary shootoff tournament on both Friday and Saturday night. This was for anyone who shot a 300 round during the day – not just compounders – as long as you ponied up an extra $25 at registration. The first ever winner, on Friday night, was the USA’s Justin Hannah. But it wouldn’t be Vegas without drama: Shane Wills, unfortunately, shot a pass through, forcing a reshoot to occur. Shane then shot a nine, meaning that Justin Hannah took the win and the large roll of cash.
Day two of the $10,000 shoot off was won by Belgian archer Sarah Prieels, against 41 other clean shooters. Sarah told the event, “it feels very good. I wasn’t expecting to shoot three-inside-outs in a row.” Included in that clean number was Brady Ellison, and 35 were from the Compound Open Championship division – and 2020 had the second highest number of perfect shooters on the third day. Day one had 62 archers, day two had 35 and day three had 22, just one less than 2019. The Lucky Dog competition, which took place on day three for those who shot an 899 in the Compound Open Championship, requires archers to shoot ‘inside out’ tens, and this year ground on for over six ends. There was more drama for Denmark’s Stephan Hansen, who brought no less than three judges over to check his arrow, which was deemed not inside out.
As you can see from the picture, it was very close, however, there is a faint line of gold around the arrow – isn’t there? – which would mean that it is inside out. But judges know best, right? In the end, Glen Bordwell, from New York, took the Lucky Dog title for the 2020 event and made it to the shootdown, however, as he did not win the event overall, he went back to his original standing in 23rd place.
Brady Ellison created the storm that really, only he could have made, by shooting a 900 with 66X – the first recurve archer to have ever done this at the event. Even Brady himself didn’t think he could do it; he claimed he only wanted to go there and shoot a 300, but said that it was “his biggest accomplishment to date.” (Those Olympic medals weren’t that important, obviously.) Needless to say, Brady took the 2020 title after his incredible performance.
Brady was also the only recurve archer able to enter the $10K-a-Day shootoff for 300-point shooters on Friday and Saturday, on lines that were otherwise entirely compound shooters. He actually had the option to switch bows and pick up a compound, but Brady stuck with the recurve. “In all honesty, I was shooting this good enough. I don’t have a compound set-up. I didn’t think to bring a compound just for that. I wanted to shoot one . I wasn’t expecting to shoot three. It just happened.” Paige Pearce also made history by shooting a 900, the sixth compound woman to have managed it. Paige won the compound female open championship outright as the only woman to shoot a perfect score this year.
Michelle Kroppen became the ladies recurve open champion and could not stop smiling when they announced her win over Aida Roman and teammate Elena Richter. All three women finished on 871, and had to shoot off for the title. Michelle put on Instagram, “still can’t believe what happened last night!”. Each year, the scores increase, the talent improves and it’s definitely looking like an interesting year ahead with the Games and scores at a all-time high.
Finally, Sunday brought the main event:the Championship Open title, which featured a raft of pros and previous winners including Mike Schloesser, Jesse Broadwater, Chance Beauboeuf, Levi Morgan and last year’s winner Christopher Perkins, who qualified in first. But in the end it was Kyle Douglas, a 22-year-old making his first appearance in the shootdown who took home the biggest ever pay cheque of $54,000, plus contingency.
There was a clunky moment afterwards when the organisers seemed to push Kyle off the screen too early, to continue the shootoff to determine the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place archers. Jesse Broadwater has led a call on social media for Kyle to get more recognition for winning ‘the most difficult tournament in the world’. Expect some changes next year, perhaps.
An overwhelmed Kyle Douglas spoke to World Archery and explained, “it’s insane, nothing like it, nothing like it for sure”. You could clearly see from his reaction when he won just how much it meant to him. Congratulations Kyle!
Indoor World Series Finals 2020
The world series finals, held on the Saturday evening, for the first time had a change of venue for the semifinal matches in order to accommodate the increasingly large audience who come out to watch the best in the world. Normally held on one of the upper floors, it was moved to the rodeo arena in the basement, aka ‘The Dungeon’. There were, of course, some grumblings about the hall change; the air conditioning was very strong, causing strong gusts randomly.
Crispin Duenas was heard saying that his “bow hasn’t moved that much in ages”. He was apparently shooting right under a vent, which probably did not help the situation. The basement also had very different lighting to all of the halls and the arena, so the first ends were a bit all over the place. The reasoning behind moving the matches into the rodeo arena was to give spectators viewing a better chance – and the stands were full. Chris Marsh, who left World Archery last year, gave a helping hand to this part of the event, so as you would expect, everything ran very smoothly. (He also finished first in his recurve flight. There’s clearly some archery life in him yet.)
With the Korean Hyundai teams, including defending champion Sim Yeji, missing from the Indoor World Series competition (it was rumoured they were not allowed to travel due to the coronavirus outbreak) it made for a much smoother ride in the recurve divisions. The main national side were also out of action to keeping working at 70m, however, top Korean pros Chang Hye Jin, Wi Nayeon and Kim Young Kyeong still travelled to attend the event in the recurve women’s division, with Chang Hye Jin taking the top ranking spot.
Pandemics aside, there were several other top recurve archers missing from the Indoor World Series circuit this year, including the GBR women’s team who medalled at the World Championships last year and who were not allowed to shoot indoors in order to focus on Olympic preparation, as well as multiple indoor champion Lisa Unruh, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery. The recurve men were also missing the Dutch teams; not having big names like Sjef van der Berg and Steve Wijler has definitely made an interesting men’s final this year. Brady was naturally expected to win, but in the end, an unexpected couple of nines from him saw German archer Florian Kahllund taking his first indoor title.
Paige Pearce took the win in compound women, just like she has been tearing up the indoor circuit all year. Indeed, she podiumed at all events expect Nîmes, where she took fourth place. Changing her wrist release for a trigger release aid has definitely paid off for her. Paige commented on the big win saying, “There was so much work, travel, stress, and effort put into the circuit this indoor season, I’m just so happy it all paid off!”, on her Instagram page.
“Mr Perfect” Mike Schloesser only dropped a single point during all of his matches, to take the win over fellow European Stephan Hansen. Interestingly, Kris Schaff was shooting in the finals, and took fourth place. After not being able to travel to Nîmes because of tinnitus, he rocked up to shoot the finals, and obviously did pretty well – all things considering!