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Bishop sets archery record, qualifies for finals
ArrowSport — April 17, 2003

Donald Bishop
Donald Bishop set a new record at the "Speed Challenge" station, by breaking all four of its targets in 21.38 seconds.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Donald Bishop of Arden, N.C., gave notice that he belongs among the nation's top archers when he won the "Eliminator Qualifier" tournament April 4-6 at Oak Ridge, Tenn., securing his spot in this summer's ESPN Great Outdoor Games in Reno, Nev.

Not only did Bishop take the top spot with 51 of a possible 54 points, but he also set a world record in the tournament's "Speed Challenge" station, by breaking all four of its targets in 21.38 seconds. The next best time was recorded by second-place finisher Richard Leftwich of Salem, Va., (48 points) who shot the Speed Challenge in 23.83 seconds. Also qualifying for the finals were Tim Gillingham of Lehi, Utah, 44 points; and Ginger Hopwood, Marietta, Ga., with 27 points. Gillingham finished tied with Ohio's Wade Gautreaux, but won the tie-breaker with a faster time in the Speed Challenge.

The ESPN "Eliminator" tournament, which is sponsored by ArrowSport and the Archery Trade Association, was held in conjunction with the Archery Shooters' Association 3-D Pro-Am tournament, which attracted more than 1,500 archers. The Eliminator is a fast-paced, made-for-TV competition that features prize money and moving targets, most of which shatter on impact. The ESPN Eliminator finals at the Great Outdoor Games, which will be July 10-13, feature head-to-head, single-elimination competition.

The Oak Ridge tournament was the second of three qualifying tournaments for the Great Outdoor Games. The first was held in February at Las Vegas, and the third will be June 13-15 in McKean, Pa., during the second leg of the International Bowhunting Organization's Triple Crown. Only 16 archers make it to the ESPN finals, with four coming from each of three qualifying events. The final four slots are reserved for the top four archers from the 2002 Great Outdoor Games, which were held in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Jay Barrs — ArrowSport's director of promotions and the 1988 Olympics gold medalist and silver team medalist — supervises the Eliminator tournaments. He said Bishop "simply crushed" the Speed Challenge, which was somewhat surprising because he is a newcomer to the ESPN event.

"He's going to be tough to beat with a time like that," Barrs said. "The Speed Challenge is crucial to winning the event. It's an exciting head-to-head race against your opponent. They have to hit four 4-inch disks, which then release a plate that falls to end the competition. The archer whose plate hits the ground first wins. This should be very exciting at the Great Outdoor Games. I think it will be the make-or-break station for many shooters."

Bishop, 26, might be new to the Eliminator, but he shot competitive archery for several years before tiring of most tournament formats. However, after a friend returned from the 2002 Eliminator Qualifier in Oak Ridge and raved about its exciting format, Bishop decided to give it a try. "It looked and sounded like a lot of fun," Bishop said. "It's different. I thought I would enjoy it, and it lived up to my expectations. It took me a while to get used to the moving target on the 'Bermuda Triangle' station, but once I got a pin set up for it, I was OK."

What's the secret to his record time in the Speed Challenge? "You don't have to be fast, just smooth," Bishop said. "You have to load the arrow smoothly and do everything in a fluid motion. It helps that the release I shoot locks on when I push it against the string."

In addition to the "Speed Challenge" station, four other events make up the Eliminator:

Stop n Go: At this station, archers run to their bow — which is left on the ground at the 20-yard shooting line — pick it up, load an arrow and shoot a 2-inch circle for six points or a 4-inch circle for three points. Then they run back to the 30-yard line and shoot a second arrow at the 2- or 4-inch circles. Both shots must be taken in less than 30 seconds.

William Tell: In this two-shot station, archers shoot a3-inch apple off a base that swings into place at 20 yards. They have five seconds to shoot the first apple and three seconds to shoot the second.

The Bermuda Triangle: This station features two 25-yard shots at a large, wedge-shaped triangle with 4- and6-inch scoring circles. Both archers shoot one arrow as the target moves left to right, and then reload and shoot again as the target returns right to left. The sequence lasts 20 seconds.

Thread the Needle: This 40-yard station requires competitors to shoot as many 4-inch targets as they can in 30seconds. To complicate matters, the targets are placed at the end of an arrow shooting lane that is flanked by a forest of foam-covered PVC pipes.

The four qualifiers from the Las Vegas Eliminator tournament include Keith Brown of Greensboro, N.C., who won by edging Mike Slinkard of Johnday, Ore., in a tie-breaker after both men finished with 48 points. The other Vegas qualifiers were Jackie Caudle of Gadsden, Ala., who finished third; and Aya LaBrie of Aurora, Colo.

Those who qualified for this year's finals by taking the top four spots at the 2002 Great Outdoor Games are gold medalist Randy Hendrix of North Carolina, silver medalist Randy Ulmer of Arizona, bronze medalist Darren Collins of Kansas, and fourth-place finisher Butch Johnson of Connecticut.

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