6 reasons why team competition matters

In 1988, archery’s team events were added to the Olympic Games. Teams consisted of three archers – all men or all women – and that will only change in 2020, when the mixed team makes its Olympic debut.

Each member of a team works in rotation on the shooting line, taking their turn on the shooting line. The ‘opener’, ‘middle’ and ‘anchor’ shoot two arrows each per set or end, usually one at a time – and especially when shooting in a finals arena.

Team competitions offer another medal, are fun, challenging – as time can be a factor – and bring camaraderie to a sport that is inherently individual. These are six reasons why some of the best archers in world think team competition matters…

1. Together

“Winning individual matches brings honour, pride and satisfaction for yourself, but when you win as a team, it means that you have worked together with someone else to achieve success. It means that you have committed yourself to achieve the same goal, to understand and support others,” said World Archery Champion and Olympic team gold medallist Kim Woojin.

“Sometimes, teams that consist of very good individuals don’t get good results and that’s probably because they can’t work as a team. To win as a team you have to work together consistently, trust each other and encourage each other when things aren’t working as expected.”

Juan Rene Serrano, who was part of the Mexican men’s team that lost to Korea at the London 2012 semifinals, agreed with Woojin:

“This is a sport where you grow and develop individually, but when you do it as a team, you prove that things work better when individuals look in the same direction and progress together. If a team achieves this, then it’s a successful team.”

2. Got your back

Most said that having someone else to rely on was the biggest difference – and best part – of team events when compared with individual competition.

“It’s someone to help you out when you have bad shots and someone that can push you further when you have good scores, too,” said Mackenzie Brown.

“It would be a very lonely sport if it wasn’t for the team events,” added Dutchman Sjef van den Berg. “They can give you information about the wind, they can give you advice on where to aim and how to shoot, which is something you can’t do while shooting alone. They’ve got your back.”

3. Spirit

“Bringing the team together, bonding and having good team spirit is what we focus on in Denmark,” explained Dane Martin Damsbo.

The secret is combining the right personalities, said Roberto Hernandez, and that’s not easy: “You really have to find the right combination of people that can work well together. A good team is one that makes each member feel confident and trusted.”

4. Leader

Colombia’s Sara Lopez, a world-leader in the compound women’s division after spending 1033 days as world number one, said leading a team is a valuable skill to learn.

“You learn how to identify mistakes, how to correct them and if there’s something you need to improve, and so do your teammates – as well as moving aside to let someone else take the helm if you’re not doing so well,” she explained.

“I think the confidence you gain while doing this is what really helps your results.”

5. Time challenge

“You have two minutes to shoot six arrows and everyone on the team has to prepare their own shot. This means that each member of the team has a maximum of 20 seconds to shoot, which is actually challenging,” said Seb Peineau.

One delayed shot can really hurt a team – especially the anchor that then has to squeeze their last arrow in before the buzzer goes.

“Having so little time to get ready and shoot is what makes team events fun. You enjoy, you work on your timing and you raise your confidence to shoot individually.”

6. FUN

Toja Ellison, who’s one of the only Slovenian archers to regularly shoot internationally, doesn’t get to compete in team events often – but did come third at the world field championships in 2016 in a trio, which mixed one compound, one recurve and one barebow archer.

“Shooting with someone else that can understand the adrenaline, the nervousness you are going through while shooting is awesome and fun. Having someone behind helps you feel more relaxed as you know that person is there to help you as much as you will help that someone, too, and that’s what archery is all about, enjoying and learning at every opportunity you have,” said Toja.

“I don’t get to shoot these events often but, when I do, we make sure we enjoy and give our best.”