BY JEREMY HOECK email@example.com
For whatever reason, Paige Pearce never really seemed to fare well in Yankton.
That all changed Friday for the 19-year-old professional archer from Red Bluff, California.
Pearce, one of the top female shooters in the United States, set a new world during Friday’s final round of the International Field Archery Association (IFAA) World Field Championships in Yankton. She shot a score of 559, out of a possible 560, in a 112-arrow hunter round.
“It’s always been something bad here,” Pearce said during Friday night’s awards ceremony at the Easton Yankton Archery Complex. “Either something happens with my equipment or something in my life isn’t going right.”
One of the times she competed in Yankton, Pearce broke all three of the bows she brought with her.
“Yankton was cursed for me,” she said, smiling. “I think I might have finally broken that curse.
“But geez, it took long enough.”
Pearce, who previously broke the record on Tuesday, missed hitting the center circle on the target by one arrow on Friday. The old record of 553 was set in 1988 by Becky Pearson, who now shoots in the senior division and was also at the World Field Championships.
“That (record) stood for a long time,” Pearce said. “It’s crazy to think how long. I mean, I was born in 1995.”
Pearce was also one of 43 archers to record a perfect round of 560 in the animal round on Wednesday (in the animal round, archers shoot 28 targets, one for each station).
Reaching a perfect round on a hunter round, however, is a whole different story, she said.
“It was a good eight days of competition,” Pearce said. “It’s a game of stamina.
“And I really don’t have much of that,” she added, smiling.
Much like a baseball pitcher would remember the lone hit they gave up to spoil a no-hitter, Pearce joked that she clearly remembers the one arrow she missed (or “dropped,” in archery terms) Friday.
“Oh yeah, it was on the third target,” she said, cracking a smile. “It was forty-eight yards, and I moved my sight a little bit, and it (arrow) went to the left.
“I moved my sight back and the rest of the day was fine.”
As the day progressed, the tension started to mount, however.
“My group was nervous, they were worried that I didn’t know what was going on,” Pearce said. “Trust me, I knew.”
Admitting to allow herself to think ahead a bit, Pearce said she remembered the point when reality started to set in — meanwhile continuing to hit the center circle with every subsequent arrow.
“When I started doing the math in my head and thinking of what targets I had left, that’s when I got nervous,” she said. “Normally I handle that stuff pretty well, but I was stressing out.”
Yankton Girl Wins World Title
Hailey Johnson, an 11-year-old archer from Yankton, now boasts something that none of her friends at school can.
She won a world championship.
Johnson took first place in the Cub Female Freestyle Unlimited division at the World Field Championships.
“Now I can brag to my friends,” she said, smiling, during Friday night’s awards ceremony.
Capturing a world title certainly wasn’t something Johnson expected to do as she geared up for the international tournament this week, she said.
“I thought it was amazing,” Johnson said. “I was shocked that I actually got first. When we started adding up my scores, I still didn’t believe it.”
Saying that she prefers bigger tournaments, Johnson said one of the biggest joys for her this week was competing alongside archers from across the globe.
“It was nerve-wracking,” she said. “I heard good comments about the South Africans being good shooters. But it was fun to meet them.”
Team USA Takes First
Also part of the World Field Championships was an international battle called the Team of Nations, which pits groups of archers from one country against archers from other countries.
The 7-man United States team finished first with a score of 118 points, well in front of Australia (80) and England (44). Team members for the U.S. included Gary McCain, Rick DeBrueler, Jeff Human, Bubba Bateman, Bob Gentry, J.C. Bradway and Dana Chatoo.
“When they told us in the beginning that we would be on this time, it made you try a little harder,” said DeBrueler, who lives in Naples, Florida.
The United States team, for example, was chosen by National Field Archery Association president Bruce Cull, based on previous scores.
It was a source of pride to represent one’s country in the competition, said Bradway, who lives in New Jersey.
“I’ve been shooting for 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve been part of something like this,” he said. “It’s exciting.”
Archers in the Team of Nations competition could earn as much as three points on their own. They received a bonus point if they won their division, if they beat an amateur in the same division, and if they defeated an archer from another country.
“It made it a lot more interesting, that’s for sure,” DeBrueler said.
Bateman, who lives in Canyon Lake, Texas, said he had planned to compete on the Team of Nations in past IFAA tournaments, but couldn’t afford the travel.
“Boy am I glad I did this time,” he said. “You get to meet a bunch of new friends have a good time.”
Plus, there’s an opportunity now to brag to friends back home, Bateman joked.
“Now when I go home, I can tell people that I beat Australia’s best,” he said. “Even if there was only one other guy (from Australia) in my division.”
You can follow Jeremy Hoeck on Twitter at twitter.com/jhoeck. Discuss this story at www.yankton.net.