The World Games showcases compound archery amid push for Olympic inclusion

Compound archery put on a high-level showcase at The World Games 2022 as dream of Olympic inclusion picks up pace.

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Archery at Avondale Park. Photo Credit: IWGA
Archery at Avondale Park. Photo Credit: IWGA

Birmingham, Alabama - A sweltering Avondale Park was site of the compound archery finals on Saturday. Curious spectators filled the grandstands and the adjacent hill for view of the high tech archery discipline athletes hope will one day feature at the Olympic Games.

Those gathered were in for a show, with the women’s compound final billed as the “pay-per-view title match” of women’s compound archery. Great Britain’s Ella Gibson, world number two, faced off against Sara Lopez, world number one and reigning champion of The World Games, in a never before contested match.

In the end, it was Gibson who came out on top. However, it may have been compound archery that benefited the most.

It was announced last month compound archery would be put forth by World Archery for inclusion at the 2028 Summer Olympic Games. Saturday’s theatrics offered a sample of what the discipline could offer the Olympic program.

“It’s a really different sport honestly,” said Gibson. “It’s a different bow for one.”

Women’s compound archery medalists (Ella Gibson [center], Sara Lopez [left], Paige Pearce [right]) pictured at Avondale Park in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Marvin Gentry | WG2022Photo) Photo Credit: The World Games 2022
Women’s compound archery medalists (Ella Gibson [center], Sara Lopez [left], Paige Pearce [right]) pictured at Avondale Park in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Marvin Gentry | WG2022Photo) Photo Credit: The World Games 2022

“It’s a different level of accuracy,” she continued. “I think you can see a lot closer matches in compound than recurve. It can always be down to the last arrow.”

Paige Pearce, winner of the bronze medal match, offered another view of the discipline.

“I think the interesting thing that people aren’t talking about [in] archery, as a whole, is that it’s truly compound archery that actually drives the sport of archery and the companies.”

“I think it would be nice to see the Olympics recognize that because compound archery is growing,” she maintained. “It has now way surpassed recurve, and it is here to stay.”

World Archery’s proposal calls for the inclusion of compound events alongside the recurve events already present on the Olympic sports program. The compound events will be held indoor and over a distance of 18 meters, a stark difference from the recurve events held outdoor at 70 meters.

Pearce further expounded on the differences between the two disciplines, stating, “the way that the two bows function is very different.”

Archery at Avondale Park. Photo Credit: IWGA
Archery at Avondale Park. Photo Credit: IWGA

“Recurve is an older bow…a stick and string. Compounds are more high tech. There’s a lot more work and tuning things that you can do with them.”

World Archery Secretary General Tom Dielen commented on the proposal when it was revealed last month. He stated, “for nearly 30 years, compound and recurve have been treated equally within the sport of archery, while World Archery has invested considerable resources in developing the discipline at grassroots and elite levels worldwide.”

“Compound is now an important event, alongside recurve, in many major continental and regional Games as well as the World Games,” he added. Indeed, compound archery has featured at the Asian Games, European Games, Pan American Games, and at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama.

He offered his own reason for why compound archery should be featured at the Olympics.

“The compound bow was born in the USA in the 1960s,” read a statement from Dielen. “Millions of people across the Americas, and the world, shoot a compound bow each year. With the Games returning to Los Angeles, we see no better opportunity to put compound forward for Olympic inclusion.”

Archery at the Avondale Park in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Marvin Gentry | WG2022Photo) Photo Credit: The World Games 2022
Archery at the Avondale Park in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Marvin Gentry | WG2022Photo) Photo Credit: The World Games 2022

Pearce told Around The Rings what compound’s inclusion would mean to her and many other archers.

“As an athlete, everyone’s dream and goal is to go to the Olympics. Growing up in compound that was never something that we got to consider.”

She added, “if it doesn’t happen, I know it’s going to be a huge letdown for a lot of archers all around the world.”

“There are so many people that know about archery, that would be interested in trying archery, but don’t know how, where to go, or just haven’t had that opportunity,” she explained.

“If they walk into a local archery shop today, compound is what they are going to see.”

She made one final push in favor of the discipline, commenting, “I grew up shooting with my family. [Archery] is a very family oriented sport. You can all shoot. It’s a sport for everyone.”

If it’s a sport for the Olympic Games will be decided by the International Olympic Committee. Discussions surrounding the sports program for the LA28 Summer Olympics are ongoing.