Bonilla emboldened by quick success after switch to compound

Juan Fernando Bonilla strikes a pose after qualifying top at the 2021 Pan American Championships in Monterrey, Mexico.

Let’s not get carried away here. It’s still early in Juan Fernando Bonilla’s foray into the world of compound archery. 

The former recurve archer’s bronze medal at last month’s Pan American Championships  his first major tournament with a compound bow  was encouraging, to be sure. 

But Bonilla is taking things in stride. The Colombian archer expects the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City to feature a higher level of competition than that which he faced last month in Monterrey. 

There’s still plenty he has to learn before shedding the label of ‘former recurve archer’ from his name. 

“I came here with the best attitude, with the intention of giving my all and forgetting about the word losing,” Bonilla said Monday from the practice field in Guatemala City. “If I could win something for Colombia at a World Cup event, it would definitely be a goal completed, but let’s see how it goes.”

Bonilla’s talent appears to have a different time frame in mind. The 26-year-old didn’t waste any time making his presence known at the Pan Ams, joining world number two Sara Lopez in taking the top individual seeds for Colombia after qualifications – and ranking first as a mixed team.

Juan Fernando Bonilla reviews his score at the 2021 Pan American Championships in Monterrey, Mexico

He struck a Herculean pose next to the target to celebrate his field-leading a 705, suggesting a different attitude with a compound bow in his hand than the mentality he possessed in his former discipline. 

“When I was shooting recurve, I didn't believe in myself or that I could achieve good results,” Bonilla said. “Now that I’ve switched bows and I’ve competed, the team has supported and encouraged me a lot. It’s something that has definitely been key to me. ”

“I now know what I’m capable of, and I want to stick to that belief and do better every time.”

Bonilla carried that confidence to the semifinals in Monterrey before stepping into the arena for his semifinal against Colombian teammate Daniel Munoz. The score-damaging gusts that whipped across the finals field in Mexico contributed to Bonilla settling for an appearance in the bronze medal match, where he defeated Guatemala’s Julio Barillas to the last spot on the podium. 

His exceptional individual debut, along with gold medals in the mixed team and the men’s team events, makes him someone to watch as the competition begins in Guatemala City. 

Just don’t tell Bonilla. 

“Whether it happens here or later, it’s what I want to do,” he said of his chances of recording a result at his debut stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup. “It will come when it is the right time, so I’m also taking things easy.”

Competition at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup starts with qualification on Tuesday in Guatemala City.