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July 22, 2015

Is Compound Archery an Olympic Hopeful? Part 2

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado - What would it take for Compound Archery to make it into the Olympics? Earlier this spring, Tom Dielen, the Secretary General of World Archery, which is the international federation for the sport of archery, answered our questions about what it would mean for Compound to join the Olympics. Now, with just days until World Archery Championships in Denmark, USA Archery is excited to share the second half of the interview explaining how this change might eventually come about.

How would the addition of compound potentially benefit the sport of archery? 

There would be increased exposure, the opportunity for more Olympic archery medals. It would give more chances for different countries to win medals.

Is there any sense of how soon compound might become a part of the Games? 

It will not be a quick process, but each step along the way will be beneficial. Realistically, we are possibly looking at 2024, but more likely 2028.

What are some of the changes that must be made in order to have compound added? 

We have to raise the level of competition in the discipline, not in terms of the top archers but the depth and variety of the field. Compound archery is popular in some countries - like the USA - but the Olympics is a worldwide sporting event and many less developed nations simply do not practice the discipline.

At a most basic level: the availability of equipment and technical expertise.

The other critical element is the gender balance in all aspects. This means in participation but especially in performance level. At the moment, the level of compound women's elite archery is not the same as the men's. At the last World Championships, 28 points separated the women's top 30 athletes over the qualification round - only 14 points the top 30 men. This pattern is echoed across other major events.

Alongside our development work, more investment needs to be made by member associations and manufacturers to make this a reality. Equal prize money in all events (World Archery already has this) is another related aspect to work on.

There's also work to be done in event presentation - making compound more and more appealing to a live audience - communicating the successes, stories and challenges of the sport more effectively, and working to maximize that "cool" factor of archery in the movies.

We tested a number of competition formats over the past few years - and that is part of the process of developing a sport product that is different enough to the recurve event to have a chance of being included.

We need to develop archery's version of beach volleyball. It doesn't need to be on a beach - but we do need to make it different enough from recurve archery to enhance the appeal!

How is World Archery working to help make these changes? 

Continued development of the compound competition format, presentation and standard, and our international events, is a huge part of the process. The shift to include compound archery in the World Games - the first being the 2013 event - another initiative, plus the discipline in the first continental multisport event last year. We also have had excellent compound competitions in the Universiades and the Commonwealth Games.

We are making changes to how we present athletes on our website and encouraging high levels of social media activity among archers - another marker the IOC assess.

Our development department works hard to promote archery of all levels in nations growing in the sport around the world, and we have an equipment assistance program sponsored by many archery manufacturers.

During the ATA Show, World Archery met with manufacturers to explain why we have put in place the rule against athletes using camouflage equipment at international events. As well as safety (in field and 3D) being a factor, the move is largely about the presentation of the sport looking towards the Olympics. Camo would not be allowed at the Games - and if we truly want compound archery into the Olympics, then we need to make it a sport that we can successful submit to the IOC for inclusion.

At World Archery target events (world championships and the Archery World Cup), the compound and recurve competitions are equal. We use Saturday as the compound finals day and Sunday for the recurve - both with identical schedules and prize money.

Is there anything that archers, coaches and others can do to help with having it included? 

Sports need personality and proactivity from elite athletes - as well as performance. Jesse Broadwater is a fantastic compound example: recently, his athlete Facebook page has grown to around 24,000 likes as he has put the effort in to better promote himself and the sport. It's this kind of attitude that helps make compound in the Olympics a viable suggestion.

At whatever level and in whatever field - be it as an athlete, a coach, a tournament organizer, a photographer or journalist, even in governance of a club, region, state, or country - it's about presenting compound archery as a global discipline that everyone can enjoy, participate in and watch.

Small things can help: wearing smart or sports clothes and shoes rather than jeans provides that positive sporting image to the external audience that we all know archery to have. If we want to be perceived as sportsmen and women in a real sports discipline, then we need to dress and act as such.

Remember, it's not archers that we need to convince that compound should be in the Olympics. It's those who don't shoot.

Anything else WA would like to add: 

Archery is archery no matter what bow we shoot. We all love the sport and we need to make sure we stay positive about archery as a sport, together - and give it the good image it deserves. If we work together, presenting a unified and larger group of athletes, then things will become easier and progress will be made.


[photo: World Archery]


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