Archery is a sport without limitations. You don’t need to have a specific body type, athletic ability or Hulk-like strength. It’s a great sport for folks who want a fun way to exercise and challenge their skills.
We’ve seen this at the Paralympics, Warrior Games and recently the World Dwarf Games, a multi-sport Olympic-type event that included 430 athletes from 20 countries. The Games occur every four years, and archery was a big hit at this year’s event, which took place in Ontario, Canada. About 44% more archers participated in this year’s Games compared to the 2013 Games.
“People walked away from that event having the best time,” said Aric Smith, World Dwarf Games Archery Technical Advisor. “I think it was a big success for the archers involved and those that put on the tournament.”
The competition took place indoors at distances ranging from 9 meters to 18 meters. It was run similar to a typical indoor competition you might find at an archery club. Archers shot three arrows, and then scored their shots. Volunteers and judges assisted with scoring. Archers attempted 30 total shots for a maximum score of 300 points.
Volunteers and the judges are the heart of a successful archery tournament. The archery community is special in that there are always people willing to give their time to help the sport grow.
“It turned out so much better than I envisioned just because of the people I had involved,” Smith said. “What they brought to that tournament made it much more special than I could have imagined.”
Archers competed with crossbows and recurve bows. One standout in the recurve competition was Team USA’s Liam Smith, who is an accomplished archer and World Dwarf Games champion. At just 14, he is already a veteran of the Games and used his experience to secure two gold medals.
His competitive performance is extraordinary, but like many people, he started shooting at summer camp.
“I went to a cub scout day camp where archery was one of the activates and I fell in love with it,” Liam Smith said. “When I got home my parents helped be find a local JOAD club.”
JOAD stands for Junior Olympic Archery Development and it’s a youth archery program found in archery clubs and shops.
Liam’s success is not without challenge. “My draw length is than 20 inches,” Liam said. A shorter draw length means less arrow speed, which makes accuracy a challenge at long distance.
To help minimize the effects of a shorter draw length he shoots custom extra short limbs on his recurve bow. The shorter limbs maximize the efficiency of his draw length for more arrow speed.
Liam’s draw length hasn’t prevented him from having success outside the Games. He won the 2017 Scholastic 3-D Championship and finished fourth at the National Field Archery Association Indoor Nationals. He credits his success to his coaches and hard work. Liam also has an excellent positive attitude in life and archery.
“If you shoot a bad arrow don’t let it get to you,” he said. “Never let people tell you what you can’t do.”
This never quit attitude is displayed by Liam and his fellow Dwarf Games competitors. Their grit and determination are on full display at the Games, which is one of the few opportunities for people with dwarfism to compete in a world sporting event and represent their country.
“It’s a really cool thing for dwarfs to participate in because we don’t make teams due to our size, we don’t get to participate in things,” Liam said. “So when we have this opportunity to meet people and compete against people like us, it’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Feeling inspired to start your own archery journey? Start with an introductory archery lesson at an archery store.