Dueling Randys ends in Hendrix hitting Archery bull's-eye
By Steve Wright
Great Outdoor Games staff
Competing for the gold were two Randys 2001 gold medalist Randy Hendrix of Clemons, N.C., and 2001 fourth-place finisher Randy Ulmer of Cave Creek, Ariz. In the end, Hendrix would prevail.
But Hendrix, who earned the No. 1 seed in qualifying Thursday, and Ulmer, the No. 6 seed in the 16-man field, already had put on a show.
Hendrix beat 2000 gold medalist Jackie Caudle of Gadsen, Ala., 27-24, in the first round. He had to go to a shoot-off to edge Mike Slinkard of John Day, Ore., in the quarterfinals, 30-27. And he went down to the last target to beat Darren Collins of Galena, Kan., in the semis, 30-27. Three wins, all decided by three points.
Ulmer posted the best score of the day in beating Darin Cooper of Layton, Utah, 33-30, in the first round. He advanced by posting another top score with a 33-15 win over Brian Holloway of Clinton, Tenn., in the quarterfinals. And he beat Butch Johnson of Woodstock, Conn., 24-12, in the semifinals.
But that was only a taste of the drama that would unfold in the final.
The new format for the Great Outdoor Games Archery event features only four stations, instead of six used previously. It also puts a premium on time. A maximum of 30 seconds is allowed for a shot, with some requiring a much quicker release.
After the first two stations in the final, Hendrix and Ulmer were tied with 12 points. Station 3, "Thread the Needle" is the specialty of the fast-firing Hendrix. It rewards archers with three points for every four-inch target they break in an obstacle-lined lane. A maximum of 12 points can be scored here, but most competitors had to rush to get off four shots.
"That's Randy Hendrix's game," said Ulmer. "He's the only guy that can consistently hit all four targets on that station. I knew I couldn't miss one."
Instead of hitting the target, Hendrix hesitated as he drew his bow on the first target, causing an unintentional release of an arrow that loudly glanced off two obstacles before falling harmlessly halfway down the course.
Ulmer missed his first shot also, then hit two straight before missing his fourth. Hendrix recovered to shoot four more arrows, three of which hit the targets. Thus, he went to the final station with a three-point advantage.
Both went for the larger target on the "Hole in the Wall," which allows 30 seconds to shoot at a target that varies in distance. They shoot twice. Each time the archers turn their backs to the target as it glides on a rail to an unknown distance, then they must turn and adjust before shooting.
Both men hit the larger three-point targets on their first shot. As Hendrix turned his back to prepare for the second target, he realized that he didn't have an arrow. The extra shot at Station 3 had left him on empty.
But the rules don't call for a penalty there. Hendrix was allowed to get another arrow, while Ulmer stood at the line.
"That's always tough," said Ulmer of the delay. "You have a rhythm when you shoot." But Ulmer wouldn't use that as an excuse for missing a six-point smaller target that would have tied him with Hendrix on the last shot of the round.
"(The delay) didn't affect me," Ulmer said. "I just misjudged the distance of the target by about one yard."
"I think this format is 100 percent better than last year's," said Hendrix, and he should be a good judge after winning gold medals in both.
"It keeps the excitement going. It's just head to head all the way."
"It's quick, it's clean," he said. "The crowd can see the hits and misses better. It's very exciting. Many times it comes down to the last shot and that (Hole in the Wall) is a good tiebreaker."
Collins took the bronze medal after his three-point loss to Hendrix in the semis. He defeated Johnson 33-27 after going to Station 4 with a three-point lead.
Based on points and victories, the rest of the top eight included Johnson in fourth place, Slinkard in fifth, Holloway in sixth, Rod White of Sparta, Wis., in seventh, and Richard Leftwich of Salem, Va., in eighth place.