Although he owns Olympic Silver and World Cup Gold medals, Jake Kaminski said that archery is “the most frustrating sport in the world.”
“I know what it takes to make a good shot, but no matter how much you prepare, sometimes it just doesn’t happen,” he said. “You could be having the best tournament of your life and the wind will change or a bird will fly in front of your arrow.”
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., now living in Chula Vista, Calif., Kaminski said he started in archery when he was 6 years old when his father won a bow in a gun raffle.
He first started competing in the Junior Olympic program, and continues to love the sport, despite the frustration.
The archery event that has been taking place at Joyce Park this week includes the entire 2012 Olympic men’s team and the alternate.
“This is a mandatory event, so everyone has to come here to be ranked,” said Brady Ellison of Arizona, who said that he competes in about 15 events a year.
“I love shooting arrows,” he said. “It’s what I do for a living now, but it’s allowed me to travel around the world.”
Jacob Wukie, a resident of Fremont, Ohio, said that he has been shooting competitively for about 13 years, having started working with a bow while hunting with his family.
The road to the 2012 Olympics started nearly a year before the actual event, with trials in September 2011, which determined the top 16 competitors. The top 16 were then narrowed to eight in April 2012, and then the final three in June, just a month before the Olympics.
Wukie said that the silver-winning effort in London, along with a couple of recent archery-related films, has contributed to a renewed interest in the sport, especially among young people.
Joe Fanchin, of San Diego, Calif., who earned a spot as the alternate team member for the 2012 Olympics, is also on the range at Joyce Park this weekend.
He said one of the mos t challenging parts of the sport at this level is just getting in the practice while competing in a number of back-to-back events.
“Your body goes through a lot and it’s hard to stay at the same level, much less get better,” he said.
He said that most archers will carry two sets of equipment with them when they travel.
“To reach a high level, you have to know what you’re doing with your equipment,” he said. “Most of the time we work with manufacturers to get a set-up that we’re comfortable with.”
“There are a million ways to set up a bow, and none of them are perfect,” Ellison said. “If you move one thing just a little differently, it’s completely different.”
US Archery spokeswoman Teresa Iaconi said that although there are a lot of variables that make it a challenging sport, it is also an easy one to pick up, and that’s part of the reason archery is becoming so popular with young people.