The young Robin Hoods earned their spot with Team USA during the U.S. FITA Field World Trials, held in June, on an exotic animal ranch near Eagle Lake. The four-day trials consisted of archery-based obstacle courses, designed by Rick Stonebrake who was the Director of the tournaments.
Team USA will be made up of archers from around the nation, including seven members from South Texas. Twenty-five countries will be participating in the World Tournament, with some archers Olympic athletes that competed in Sochi and other past Olympics.
Field archery requires much more flexibility and analytical thinking from the archer. Field targets are in a variety of sizes and distances, and any face can be used at multiple distances, to confuse the archer.
Archers shoot arrows at 20 centimeter (cm) targets as close as 5 meters awa, and 80 cm up to 60 meters away. In one round, there are no distance marks so the archer must guesstimate where to set the sight!
Course designers will “play” with the mind of the archer – for example place a target in shade and make them shoot from the bright sun. The target bales will be trimmed with a chain saw, so the size of the target is harder to guess, and the face of the target may be placed off center, or not in line with the ground. Targets can be up a hill, down in a gully, amidst bushes or over a pond. Archers may have to climb up a hill only to perch on a narrow ledge and lean over a chasm to shoot down at the target. Field archers shoot arrows much the same way target archers do, but they bring another level to the mental game.
“My coach says archery is 99 percent a mental game because it’s really easy; you go up there and just line up the site and shoot,” Tristan Frerich said, “ but then your mind starts playing games on you, and that can make you lose your cool and focus.”
Tristan, who’s been shooting in archery since the age of six, has been competing with a compound bow for five years. He is an incoming sophomore at Odem High School. Tristan’s distance for the World Archery Championship is 10-60 meters, and he will be competing in the Cadet division (ages 15-18). He is currently being coached by Adam Guggisburg, of Houston.
Megan, 12, shoots bare bow (no sites) and began shooting at the age of six and competing in competitions since she was eight years old. Her distance for the World Archer Championship is 10-50 meters, and she is being coached by Gene Kacir, of Victoria. Because Megan is above her age group in shooting abilities, she will be “shooting up,” or advancing, in the Jr. division (ages 15-20) at the FITA Field World Tournament.
The Frerich siblings shoot with the South Texas Junior Olympic Archery Development Club (SoTX JOAD), based out of Victoria. Both Tristan and Megan are extremely excited to be given the opportunity to represent the USA in the World Tournament, though Tristan is slightly nervous.
“Megan is a lot more relaxed than I am; she hasn’t been shooting as long as I have, but she copes easily with high stressed situations,” Tristan said.
The championship is governed by the World Archery Federation, which is the governing body of the sport of archery. It is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, composed of 156 national federations and other archery associations, and is recognized by the International Olympic.
Team USA is sponsored by USA Archery, which is based at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Tristan has already begun prepping for the tournament by researching weather and terrain in Croatia. Conditions show that the highs shouldn’t exceed 70 degrees and the winds are not as bad as they are in South Texas. The park the Frerichs will be shooting at show that the terrain is not as bad as the field that was used during their trials, according to Tristan, which eases the nerves of these archery enthusiasts.
Other ways these siblings are preparing for the tournament include workouts and dieting. Megan, who competes on a swim team, spends an average of two hours per day (morning and night) swimming, which helps her to workout her entire body and burn a lot of calories, so she doesn’t have to restrict herself to a specific nutritional diet. In addition, Megan practices her shooting three times a week, on her own, for approximately 30 minutes to one hour each time, and visits her archery coach in Victoria once a week for a session that will last 3-4 hours.
Tristan runs and lifts weights during the week and sticks to a nutritional diet, outlined by his coach. He also practices his shooting longer and harder than his sister. Tristan believes that the more you shoot, the better you’ll be, especially if you shoot while exhausted.
“I will work out and immediately shoot afterwards to teach myself how to cope while I’m tired, because that is what’s expected during competition,” Tristan said.
Three years ago, Tristan had an injury to his shoulder which has made it difficult for him to shoot at his best since his shoulder will sometimes lock up or give out. Tristan has increased his physical therapy and workouts to build muscle in his shoulder and make it capable of sustaining more strain for the upcoming competition.
The FITA Field World Tournament is the first Olympic competition for the Frerichs. “I’m kind of excited about going out of the country, but I’m also nervous about competing for Team USA,” Megan said, though she emphasized that competing in multiple tournaments has allowed her and her brother to meet a lot of new, fun people.
With seven members from South Texas competing on Team USA next month, the members are currently selling raffle tickets to assist with the funding of the long trip. Raffle tickets can be purchased from Megan or Tristan by calling 361-290-0988. SoTX JOAD will also be hosting a fundraising tournament for these competitors on Aug. 3 at Straight Arrow Archery in Victoria.