Mike Schloesser reacclimatising to routine and competition cycle
Mike Schloesser was on the phone from Guatemala, embracing the arrival of the first major international archery competition in a year and a half, when his wife chimed in with a more pressing matter.
“And we miss our dog, for sure,” Mike confirmed, getting to the matter at hand.
The Dutch couple acquired their 1-year-old Shiba Inu, Shiro, at the beginning of quarantine, to combat the sense of restlessness and isolation thrust upon them by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their previous lifestyle of constant travel wasn’t conducive to pet ownership, he said. But with the 2020 international season cancelled and their lives brought largely indoors, the opportunity for the pair to own their first dog together finally presented itself.
“We normally wouldn’t have time to raise it, but if we’re going to be home for a while, why not?” Mike explained. “My parents are watching him right now. I FaceTimed with them this morning, and he was there as well. It was actually pretty hard to say goodbye.”
Shiro will have to settle for virtual walks and head scratches for the foreseeable future.
After an extended hiatus, the official start of the international outdoor season has arrived, with stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City, Switzerland and Paris on the docket as the world’s best archers reacclimitise to the perpetual competition and travel cycle that previously dominated their lives.
The compound men’s title Schloesser won at the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Moscow feels like a distant memory, he said. Irregular and infrequent competitions, compared to the roughly 35 tournaments he would normally attend each year, have made settling into a routine a challenge.
Now that a long-awaited sense of normalcy appears to have finally materialised, the reigning Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion is in the process of regaining the same command of his craft he had before the pandemic.
“To not compete for more than a year, the competitions are 10-times worse than I ever imagined,” he said, referring to the uncertainty wrought by the pandemic. “The competition routine, that was really normal to me. There are so many more nerves than what I’m used to.”
Even arriving in Guatemala presented its own set of challenges. Originally just required to provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 taken within 72 hours of departure, a last-minute change to the rules demanded that they reschedule ahead of their flight to meet the revised time frame.
The Schloessers’ desire to compete at the Vegas Shoot, delayed for professionals from February to April, ahead of the World Cup stage also meant leaving home – and their dog – earlier than expected in order to meet the 14-day quarantine mandated before entering the United States.
They have been in Central America since 28 March, 22 days before the start of the competition, for reasons unrelated to the actual act of shooting arrows.
Rest assured, the introduction of these additional considerations is a departure from their pre-pandemic competition process.
“Everything feels kind of new again,” Schloesser said. “It’s been a long time since we felt like this, so we’re feeling everything more. I have no clue why, exactly, but almost everybody I’ve talked with has had the same issues.”
Schloesser, for his part, has performed admirably since the pandemic. After going more than a month without touching his bow, the current world number two scored 1421 out of a possible 1440 points to set a world record for the 1440 Round in August and placed first at last month’s European Grand Prix in Porec, Croatia – his first major outdoor tournament in 18 months.
Despite the cancellation of the 2020 international season, he appears to have retained the imperious form that took him to that second Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion title at the end of 2019.
“A flame lit up again,” Schloesser said. “This is what we do archery for. This is why we compete.”
The 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup starts in Guatemala City on 19-25 April.