Los Alamos archer Archie Nixon is heading to Terni, Italy in September to compete with Team USA at the World 3D Archery Championships. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Los Alamos Atomic Archers are hosting a Fun Shoot Saturday, Aug. 20 to raise funds for long-time Los Alamos resident and club member Archie Nixon who is traveling to Italy in September with the USA 3D Archery team to compete in the World Championships.
Nixon began shooting bow when he moved to Los Alamos in 1975 when he was 21 and he went elk hunting. Within a few years of buying his first bow, which happened to coincide with the onset of this new sport called 3D Archery, he was shooting some of the first 3D targets at the Sportsmen’s Club. At that time, Nixon said local archers were drawing pictures of animals on Styrofoam.
“I loved 2D Archery from the very beginning before I ever won anything and when I won I liked it even better. I’ve been winning competitions for 45 years. Most of that up to 2013 was with a compound bow. Since then I took up the recurve bow and that’s pretty much what I dedicate my time to these days,” Nixon told the Los Alamos Reporter.
This year Nixon competed in Las Vegas, Nevada and a national shoot at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
“As a result of the Albuquerque shoot, I got sponsored. I’ve had sponsors all along all my life but now the class I’m shooting in this year in the World Archery 3-D Championship is what’s called the traditional class and it requires a specific kind of bow, particularly one with a wooden handle. The person that made this bow for me specializes in that. His name is Ryan Rossing who owns Rossing Archery. He recently moved to Arkansas from Washington. He’s been building bows like this for many years and when I got hooked up with him, I got my hands on some bows that are really fine, high-quality instruments and they have helped me accomplish what I’m doing,” Nixon said.
He won four national 3D shoots – one in Shreveport, Louisiana, two in London, Kentucky – one of which was the USA Team Trials for the USA team traveling to Terni, Italy, about 50 miles south of Rome where he will join 320 competitors from 29 countries. Earlier this month he went to Cullman, Alabama and won the finale, which is the culmination of the numerous national events you have to do as a qualifier to go to the World Championship.
“This year I won five national shoots and at my age, for things to start to come together like they have just recently, I’m in awe. I don’t know what to think. I’m not really doing anything any differently, Nixon said.
There are 24 on the USA team – 12 men and 12 women – three each in each of four different classes. Nixon shoots in the Traditional Class. The competitors are aged 18 and up.
“The three on my team are grown men probably in their 40s and 50s. I will get my first opportunity to practice with them when we get to Italy and it will only be for a couple of days before the competition starts. I have run into some of them at some of these other tournaments that I have been to this summer but they are not all always there. These people are from all over the United States and consequently I don’t personally know many of them very well,” Nixon said.
For the completion in Terni there are 24 3D targets and the teams will follow the World Archery Rules.
“You shoot two arrows at each target but the targets are all at unknown distances and you keep the score from both arrows for each target for a total of 48 arrows for a round. You have two rounds – one round on each of two consecutive days and then based on how you place in those two days of competition, which would be 96 shots, they have a recipe by which they pair people up based on the scores that they have. It’s not based on No. 1 against No. 24, but there will be five or six different groups and I will be paired up on the third day with one of those people,” Nixon said.
Competitors will shoot one arrow at each of six targets and the winner goes to compete against another person. They call it the elimination rounds, Nixon explained.
“The score after the first two days determines which pairs are going to compete against each other. You shoot six arrows and if you win, you get to go and shoot against one of those other pairs, until they come down to the quarterfinals, and then the semifinals and then the finals. It’s a one-on-one competition after the first two days. It will be nerve-wracking,” he said.
Nixon and his wife, Teri, are traveling to Terni together. The trip is self-funded. They are going to go three days early to acclimate and then the competition starts Sept. 4.
“On Sept. 4 and 5 I’ll get to shoot these 24 targets courses and then on the following day, I’ll start the one-on-one and I may not make it past the third day. To make it all the way, it’ll take six full days of shooting to win. When it’s over on Sept. 10, the following day, we’re going to start a tour of Europe for 10 days. I’ve been watching videos of the countryside where we’re going to be competing and it’s amazing,” he said.
Nixon noted that there are places around the state to shoot competitive archery pretty much all year round. In the winter time, local archers use the indoor archery range at the Sportsmen’s Club.
“We have a league night where we’ll shoot for a couple of hours. Then there will be tournaments in different places like Portales and Gallup where you can compete. Once it starts to warm up you can go places further south,” he said.
Asked what distance he shoots at, Nixon said in the World Championships, his maximum distance will be 30 meters which is relatively close when it comes to archery in general.
“I do a competition at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque every summer where my first 72 shots are at 100 meters, so 30 meters seems very close compared to that. We finish up on the second day with 36 shots at 180 yards – with traditional equipment with no sights at an angle of about 45 degrees,” he said.
Last year he set a new national record in what’s called the “Clout Shout”.
“They put a stake in the ground at 180 yards and they put a white chalk ring around it every five feet. And from that distance, if you land in the inner circle it’s five points. I ended up with a score that was a new national record. It was fun!” he said.
One problem Nixon has with that competition is finding a place to practice.
“Around here there are trees everywhere and you have to have open space. I go up into the mountains and find places where I can practice. The Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque is a great place to do that particular thing because it’s all grass that’s mowed and the arrows are shot at a distance of 180 yards. They don’t hit the ground and skid; they hit the ground and stick so you can go find them. You never lose an arrow,” he said.
The Los Alamos Atomic Archers are hosting a fundraiser – a Fun Shoot – at the Sportsmen’s Club in Rendija Canyon on Saturday, Aug. 20 to help Nixon with his travel expenses for the competition. Registration opens at 7 a.m. and runs to 9 a.m. The Shoot starts at 9 a.m. with one round of 20 targets. Registration fees are $30 with prizes for top male, top female and top youth shooter. Raffle prizes will also be available. Frito pie lunch will cost $10 per person for all you can eat.