2016 World University Championships
By: Paeton Keller
This year I was able to make my second world team. After shooting and qualifying well at the 2016 AAE Arizona Cup, I was on top for the Men's Collegiate division. This put me in the top spot to represent USA and USA Archery in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia at the 2016 World Archery Championships from June 1st to the 6th. I knew the practice I had been putting in would prepare me well for this competition and I was very excited to shoot.
After 2 days of travel, myself and the rest of the archers from USA arrived in the city of Ulaanbaatar. We wasted no time in adventuring around the hotel which was located in the center of the city. The city seemed to be always busy; Traffic was lined up and down the streets with pedestrians weaving around the continuous construction. It was clear that the city was growing rapidly.
The competition field was well set up, being housed in a FIFA stadium only a mile away from the hotel. Weather conditions seemed mediocre, with rain forecasted for only one of the days. The winds picked up after 11am and peaked in the early afternoon which made for interesting shooting. The whole team made great use of the practice days and we all seemed to be shooting well and adjusting to the new environment. During practice, I managed to break enough arrows due to various reasons to not have enough to compete. Fortunately, teammate Garrett Abernethy had brought enough to let me shoot some of his throughout competition. After changing rests and sighting in to accommodate the new arrows, I felt ready for qualifying.
After what felt to be a decent qualifying round given the conditions, I sat in 3rd with a 696 behind Korea in 1st and Russia in 2nd. Later that day, the Men's Compound team finished 3rd, bringing home my first world medal. The next day individual eliminations began, with daunting rain and wind. As the matches went on, the weather began to get better and scores increased. After making it to the semi finals and dominating the first three ends, my release failed. Luckily I had teammate David McNealy behind me to throw me his in time to shoot all the arrows for that end. I was unable to make up the points I needed to win the match, landing in the bronze medal match.
The weather on finals day was great, mild cloud cover and no wind. I would be shooting against Alexander Dambaev for Bronze. I was surprised how well I was handling the pressure in practice before hand, and was ready for the match. Once started, I could feel every muscle shaking during each shot but somehow managed to keep it together to shoot well. He and I tied on each and every end, resulting in matching 146s, bringing us to a one arrow shootoff. I shot first, and let the nerves get to me, shooting a mid 9. I knew there was a lot of room for him to win, After watching him shoot his arrow, I knew I had a great chance and looking to the jumbotron I saw his arrow was a 9 as well, a quarter inch further out than mine. I had won bronze!"