Dentist Rushes To Spot On U.S. World Team Roster

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Not many dentist offices feature both indoor and outdoor archery ranges.

But the Payson office of Dr. Harold Rush has both one in the building's basement for cold weather archery practice and another range in a nearby forested lot.

Having two practice facilities at his disposal has helped the Payson dentist reach the pinnacle of archery success a spot on the United States 2002 World Field Archery Team.

Rush earned the prestigious honor by finishing third in the male barebow competition at the National Archery Association of United States World Field Trails held June 23 in Spokane, Washington.

As a member of the U.S. team, Rush will compete in this year's World Championships, Sept. 9 to 14 in Canberra, Australia.

On the U.S. male barebow team with Rush are Mark Applegate of Grass Valley, California and Skip Trafford of Tucson, Arizona.

At the World Field Trials, Applegate finished first with 595 points and Trafford tallied 569 to finish as runner-up. Rush was third, with 558 points.

In addition to the male barebow team, the United States will also send recurve and compound bow teams to the World Championships.

Barebow archery, Rush said, is much different than the other two divisions in that no sights or stabilizers are allowed on the bows. Without those, the task of accurately hitting the five ringed targets becomes much more difficult.

"The biggest question (an archer) has when taking up barebow is how do you (shoot) without sights," Rush said.

The barebow competition is conducted similarly to wild game hunts in that the competitor must trudge through rugged terrain to locate the targets that are often obscured by brush and trees.

"It's called field competition," Rush said.

Once a target is located, the archer is allowed three arrows that are most often shot from extreme angles at distances ranging from five to 50 meters.

"The first day, the 24 targets are at unmarked distances and on the second day another 24 are marked," Rush said.

Rush quickly admits that in the United States, barebow competition is not as popular as recurve in which he once excelled.

In the spring of 2000, while shooting at a recurve competition in Utah, Rush noticed that there were not many entrants in the barebow division. Rush mulled over the idea of giving the sport a try.

During the past two years of practice, he struggled to acquire the barebow skills that he admits were difficult to master. Once a world-class recurve archer, he quickly became an unheralded rookie in the barebow division.

"The rest of those archers did not have a clue who Harold Rush was," he said.

At the World Field Trials, however, the 57-year-old Rush became a topnotch barebow competitor.

Taking on the Europeans

As a member of the U.S. team, he hopes to prove that American athletes can compete on par with Europeans, where barebow is much more popular.

"I want to help narrow the gap," he said. "The best an American has finished (in the World Field Championships) was 18th two years ago."

Rush expects Sweden, Germany and Italy to field the most talented teams among the 18 countries that will send barebow squads to the championships.

But before Rush can entirely focus on outshooting his competitors, he must make sure that on this trip to Australia his archery equipment arrives Down Under.

Still fresh in his mind are the woeful memories of 1987 when he traveled to Australia as a member of the U.S. Olympic team entered in the recurve events.

Due to an airline snafu, his traveling case carrying his bow, arrows, sights and stabilizers were lost and have never been recovered.

Prior to the Olympics, he had spent months diligently fine-tuning the equipment. Using borrowed bows and arrows he was unfamiliar with, Rush struggled in the competition.

On this trip to Australia, he said he won't be putting all of his equipment in one case as he did in 1987.

"My main bow will go in my hard-backed suitcase and my backup (bow) will be in the bow case," he said.

Earning a spot on a United States archery team for a second time has stirred the competitive juices in the Payson dentist.

"Because I will be representing the United States, not just myself, I feel a heavy responsibility to be prepared and organized," he said. "That's what I'll spend my time doing."

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