Archer Headed For World Championships In Sweden

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A sure indication an archer is serious about his sport is when one of his practice ranges includes shooting from the front yard of his home through two open doors into a target positioned in the back yard.

As if that wasn't enough devotion, the archer -- also a long time small town dentist -- has both indoor and outdoor ranges at his medical office.

Plenty of hours spent at those practice facilities have earned 62-year-old Dr. Harold Rush the pinnacle of archery success -- a spot on the 2006 United States Field Archery Team that will participate Aug. 27 to Sept. 2 in the world championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Rush nailed down a berth on the U.S. team at trials held June 9 and 10 in Spokane, Wash.

There, he shot his way to a second place finish in the men's barebow competition. The U.S. archery teams, which also include compound and Olympic recurve squads, are comprised of the top three finishers at the trials in each of the three divisions.

Barebow archery, Rush said, is much different that 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.

Also in recurve, the competition is conducted similar to wild game hunts in that the competitors 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 that 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.

At the qualifying match in Spokane, "all archers shot for two days and the group was cut to the top 16 in each division," Rush said. "On the third day, another round was shot and the group was cut the top eight."

Finally, a medal round was shot and the top three were selected to represent the United States in the world championships.

"I qualified in the second position," he said.

With the berth on the team in hand, Rush is excited to be able compete in Sweden which he considers a mecca for barebow archers.

"Sweden has the top three male barebow archers in the world," he said. "They have won the gold medal in the past several championships so it will be interesting to go to their home territory and see what kind of challenging course they build."

Being a member of the U.S. Field Archery Team is nothing new for Rush. He was a member of the team in 2002 and in 2004 was an alternate.

"I have changed equipment since 2002 and I am excited to see now how I stack up with the big boys," he said.

From recurve to barebow

What renders Rush unique in the world of barebow competition is that he is the oldest member of the team and only took up sport six years ago. Most successful barebow archers have decades of experience.

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

In the beginning, he struggled to acquire the barebow skills that he admits were difficult to master. Once a world-class recurve archer, he suddenly turned into an unheralded rookie in the barebow division.

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

In 2002, however, he became a hit on the barebow archery scene by earning a spot on the U.S. team that traveled to Australia for the world championships.

Traveling abroad later this month might rekindle in Rush some woeful memories of 1987 when he traveled Down Under as a member of the U.S. Olympic team entered in the recurve events.

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

Prior to the Olympics he spent months diligently fine tuning the equipment.

Using borrowed bows and arrows he was unfamiliar with, Rush struggled in the competition.

For his upcoming trip to Sweden, he won't be making the same mistake he did then by putting all his equipment in one case.

Instead, he'll have a main bow in one case and a backup in another.

With time winding down before the start of the World Championships, Rush is using time away from his busy dental practice to gear up for the competition.

He said the thought of representing the United States is a heavy responsibility that has him preparing, organizing and practicing.

"That's what I'll spend my time doing," he said.

-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail mfoster@payson.com.

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