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PHOENIX, Arizona - The 2017 United States Archery Team (USAT) Qualifier Series kicked off today with official practice for the AAE Arizona Cup. The warm and sunny field was a welcome way to open the season for many archers who traveled through storms to arrive in Arizona. The largest Arizona Cup in history, with nearly 550 archers competing from around the world, many new faces are shooting their first USAT event alongside archers who have been competitive for years, and even decades.
Cadet archer Olivia Huffer (Newberry, Florida) road tripped with her grandparents to compete this weekend. Olivia shared: "I'm really excited to be here. My favorite thing about being at the Arizona Cup is seeing all my archery friends. I drove 35 hours to get here and I got to tour the nation and see all these great sites on the way!"
The Arizona Cup will feature a qualification round tomorrow, which for senior archers, doubles as the first stage of qualification for the 2017 World Archery Championships, and for compound archers, triples as qualification for the 2017 World Games. With a jam packed national and international event schedule ahead, high scores are expected as archers continue to raise the level of competition in the U.S. Sunday, archers will compete in head to head elimination matches for event titles.
For collegiate archers, the USAT events offer a unique opportunity to compete alongside highly competitive archers, but also to measure their success against their peers who also take on a rigorous academic schedule. On the collegiate division, Columbia University's Varsity Head Coach Derek Davis (New York, New York) shared: "I think it helps, especially the experienced shooters, who were shooting these events when they were cadets and juniors and have expectations of shooting at a high level, it helps them continue high level shooting although they have the extra academic pieces on their schedules."
He added: "I know for the Columbia team, this event is a welcome break from school - it's always a challenge to balance the two but they always want to come here. My goal for them for this event, which is early in our outdoor season, is to take advantage of the chance to shoot in warmer weather and warm up for the regional championships and collegiate outdoor championships. We use this as a way to gauge where we are before those events, and not just in comparison with other collegiate shooters, but where are we against the resident athletes and other elite shooters in the country."
The USAT events also welcome para archers to shoot in special para classes. Paralympian Michael Lukow (Salt Lake City, Utah) commented: "It's great to see so many para archers on the field here. This is a sport that allows anyone to compete and to really see success on a competitive field if they choose to pursue that route. This is a World Championship year for us and I want to see our program continue to grow and improve."
The AAE Arizona Cup is held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility and is open to the public to attend. Live scores for the event will be available here. For photos from the event, follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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