Felix Wieser: I don’t know a better feeling in this world
World Archery hears from all four champions of this year’s Indoor Archery World Series, which concluded at the weekend in Las Vegas. In part two, we speak to recurve men’s winner Felix Wieser.
What is ‘more’ perfect? Shooting a perfect-150 in a final at an event on the Indoor Archery World Series or winning the circuit’s overall title?
For Felix Wieser, it really does not matter. He did both in 2022.
After taking a faultless final victory over Steve Wijler in Nimes in the final of the first of the two events on this year’s tour, he then took gold in the final in Las Vegas on Saturday night, defeating Thomas Chirault to claim the circuit crown.
But the German recurver very nearly did not make it to the US, only making it to Nevada thanks to support from his workplace and university, plus a last-minute donation from his sponsor, Beiter, towards his trip.
“I am studying engineering and I’m nearly at the end of it,” explained Wieser who called indoor archery a ‘beast’ after his podium position in France. “I wanted to put my main focus on university this winter and would have had an exam on the Friday of Vegas, but, fortunately, my university – Technische Hochschule Rosenheim – supported me and I got a second date. Normally we just have only one fixed date per semester.”
“I also have an internship with Barth GmbH in Tacherting/Bavaria and for Vegas, I had to get more free days than there are in my contract, but they understood the situation and supported me,” explained Felix.
“It actually wasn’t the plan to come. I decided on [the] Monday [before] and just came with the aim of ‘let’s try; we will see what happens’.”
Wieser himself admitted that all the last-minute organisation that was sunk into the trip might have been “stupid”, had he shot a “bad competition”.
But in the end, “everything was worth it for first place”.
The 28-year-old’s appearance in the Indoor Archery World Series Finals was near-guaranteed when he showed up in Vegas, having accrued the maximum number of qualifying points two weeks before in France. He would eventually seed first, before seeing off Matthew Nofel (6-0), Gijs Broeksma (7-3) and Alen Remar (6-0) in the eliminations.
A four-set defeat of Chirault in the arena in front of the vocal Vegas crowd would cap the event.
“I know this situation,” said Wieser when asked about the starkly different conditions, particularly the lighting, in the arena. “That’s why I was watching my first hits on the target very exactly. In Nimes, I started with high 10s, but this time [in Vegas], I had some luck and started straight in the middle.”
“Everybody has to find their own trick to handling the crowd, but I can promise you, I became better with every time I was down there shooting.”
After his success, the inevitable messages of congratulations came through on his social media channels and more personally, via WhatsApp, but how does Wieser feel now that he has tamed the ‘beast’ of indoor archery?
“Actually, I wanted to say another word, but that is not so good in an interview,” jokes Wieser. “What I want to say, is that it’s very difficult and hard. Outdoors, it’s way easier to equalise a bad end with a good one afterwards, but indoors that is not possible.
“You are just losing with every arrow out of the 10 and there is only one way to tame it: don’t shoot a nine.”
Ah, the secret to winning!
Wieser learnt archery from a young age, shooting his first arrows as a child at home, though “not good and not very often with a very bad self-made bow”. But from the summer of 2006, the then-12-year-old started concentrating on the art in a more professional way.
At the time, his best friend registered for a holiday programme held at his home club and the rest was history with Wieser admitting he was quickly addicted.
“It is the perfection of the moment in combination with power and precision,” says the 28-year-old about his romance with the sport. “I am still impressed by a bow, the strength, the speed of an arrow and the precision your body can reach with this stuff – you are not just behind a machine; you are in it, you are a part of it.”
“The perfection needed to hit with every single arrow and the moment of every arrow – time doesn't matter, the last arrow is past, the next is future, but this one is the one and only which counts,” he added.
“Have you ever had a range day when your shooting was perfect, everything feels comfortable, easy and stable, 10 by 10 or on whatever level you are? All you have to do is lean back and enjoy it. I don’t know a better feeling in this world.”
The indoor world, at least, has now been conquered by Wieser, wearing the German shirt at the very top level.
“It is an amazing feeling to see the German flag on your shoulder when competing,” he says.
“I am very proud of it and of being in the national team. At least, it feels a little bit like I am doing my duty for my country. Becoming a world series champion is such a great moment. It shows me that all the hard work, the hours at the shooting range, in the gym or of preparing my equipment, pays off and I am working in the right direction.”
And with 2022 already into its sixth week now, Wieser has plenty more to target before the year is out.
“My next university exam is this Friday [11 February],” he reveals, before moving on to more sporting endeavours.
"My hopes this year are to stay with such stable shooting in the outdoor season and then good results will follow, too. On Saturday [12th February] we go to a training camp in Berlin and I’m going to start shooting 70 metres again. A week later we have the indoor finals of the German Bundesliga.”
“This summer I want to go to as many World Cup events as possible and to the European Championship in Munich, which is just one hour away from my home.”
“I don’t want to lose anything.”
If he is able to maintain his form from this indoor season, Wieser will be a hard man to beat.