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Archery Kicks Off 10 Months Of Olympic Trials In A Dozen Sports – And Literally Anyone Can Compete

By Todd Kortemeier | Aug. 13, 2019, 12:01 a.m. (ET)


The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, and while they may a year away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.

One fun fact that often comes up whenever an Olympic Games rolls around is that actress Geena Davis competed at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Archery.

Another fun fact that you may not know is that while Davis was indeed an elite archer — she finished in the top 32 out of 300 athletes — one need not be to enter the trials. All you need to be is a member of USA Archery and pay $125 to register. 

But while a Cinderella run by a no-name archer might make for a good movie of the week, it’s obviously not likely that an amateur will make a serious Olympic bid going up against a field that includes Olympians and world champions. This weekend’s first stage in Dublin, Ohio, is the first of four, and archers that want to qualify for the Games must survive all four. Athletes accumulate points in a variety of events based on their ranking or they can earn bonus points by achieving certain high marks.

The first stage is the 135th U.S. National Target Championships. Athletes will take aim from 70 meters out in two rounds of 72 arrows each to shoot as best they can and earn points based on their ranking. The second stage is the Texas Shootout Sept. 30-Oct. 1. That stage consists of another 72-arrow round. After this round, all but the top 16 athletes will be cut. Then, each athlete will compete against the other in a series of round-robin matches. Athletes earn one point for a win and zero for a loss.

The third event takes place next April in Chula Vista, California. After two more 72-arrow rounds and another round-robin, eight more athletes are cut. The remaining archers will then take part in a team simulation, shooting 36 arrows each across six ends after which they will be ranked relative to each other. Another round-robin, this time of seven matches, follows.

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Heather Koehl competes at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Archery on Sept. 6, 2015 in College Station, Texas.


Finally, the fourth event takes place in Newberry, Florida, in May. Competition consists of another 72-arrow round, a match-play elimination round, another team simulation and seven more round-robin matches. After all that, archers will be given a final ranking and a certain number of them will eventually qualify based on the number of Olympic quota spots that Team USA has earned.

At present, Team USA has secured one men’s and one women’s quota spot for the Games. With his gold medal at the 2019 world championships, Olympic medalist Brady Ellison locked up a men’s quota spot for his country. On Sunday at the Pan American Games, the U.S. mixed team’s gold medal also locked up a women’s quota spot. The U.S. will have a final chance to qualify three-person teams at the world cup in Berlin next June. In that case, the top three men and/or top three women at the conclusion of the trials would make the 2020 U.S. Olympic Archery Team. In 2016, Team USA sent three men and one woman to the Games. 

With his three Olympic medals and recent world title, world No. 1 Ellison will be one of the favorites to make the Olympic team on the men’s side. Ranked 10th in the world is Jack Williams, who has earned two bronze medals this year on the world cup circuit with the men’s recurve team. 

Tops among U.S. women are 15-year-old Casey Kaufhold, five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig and 2016 Olympian Mackenzie Brown. No U.S. woman has scored an individual world cup medal in quite some time, but Kaufhold and Ellison did win in mixed team in Colombia. She is the reigning outdoor national champion while Lorig is the indoor champ. Lorig and Kaufhold earned silver and bronze at the Pan Am Games.

But with the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games less than a year away, the first stage of archery is just the start of Olympic and Paralympic trials season. Over the next 10 months, Olympic trials will take place in 12 sports: archery, boxing, canoe/kayak, diving, gymnastics, rowing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, track and field, and wrestling. Additionally, Paralympic trials will be held in archery, cycling, swimming and track and field.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.