The Olympic games are now over and I'm on my way to France for the World Archery Field Championships I figured I'd take this time to give a breakdown on the team rounds at the Olympic Games and how they work.
So a quick rundown on how it actually works: each team of three archers shoots a total of 24 arrows, eight per archer. We shoot them in ends of end arrows (two per athlete per end) for a total of four ends. We have two minutes to shoot those six arrows which averages out to just 20 seconds per shot including time to get on and off the shooting line as only one shooter may be on the line at a time. Each team shoots the end of six arrows in three arrow blocks alternating between Team A and Team B. So Team A shoots three arrows (one per archer) then Team B shoots three arrows then Team a shoots three and Team B shoots three. Then there is a break where runners an scorers mark down the scores and pull the arrows from the target. This happens four times to determine the winner.
So a team round is just that -- a team effort where all members of that team need to pull their own weight to compete successfully as one unit. There is a sort of forgiveness in teams rounds that you do not have in individual competition in that when you make a mistake your teammates can make up for a poorly shot arrow. I believe that no other team in the world works as well together as the American team did this year at the Olympics. We communicated better and more often than any other team constantly talking about the wind and our strategy while the match was going on. We often made corrections in telling the person shooting where to aim because of the frequently changing and swirling winds at Lord's. Now because we worked so well together we knew that no matter what each archer was going to give their all to try to win a medal. I trusted my other teammates so much that if they told me to aim off in a direction that I didn't think I should have I listened and it worked well.
Often you hear people in a team sport blame someone for not doing well enough and preventing the team from winning. Well I feel that no matter what each individual could have shot better to win us gold not one of us shot a perfect eight tens in the match. So anyone of us could have shot one or two points higher to help our score as a whole to be that one point higher needed to win. I have had people make comments to me saying "too bad you shot that eight on the last arrow" (making reference to the last arrow I shot in the gold medal match). Well apparently the three tens I shot in a row before that didn't matter because of the last arrow, or the three tens I shot in a row to close out the arguably tougher match prior against the Koreans. (In my defense, that last shot was more than good enough to catch a 10 on the right side but the wind switched on me at full draw and we couldn't see it.) Each one of us could have shot better to win that match. I dropped the fewest points in that last match compared to my teammates but I do not hold that against them. I could have easily dropped only four instead of five points in eight arrows and that could have made the world of difference. However it didn't play out that way and I hold us as a team responsible for that outcome.
The wind at Lord's Cricket Ground, to be honest, was terrible. There was zero reading the wind; in our sport we do not have accurate wind indicators as it is compared to other shooting sports. We were shooting in a stadium inside a stadium, the wind socks at the targets almost always pointed in opposite directions as did the flags atop the stadium. It was a total guessing game on the wind. We studied other archers' performances and groups when they shot in there prior to our time to shoot and made the call on a guess where to aim off. It took each team time to adjust and switched from moment to moment as we got micro bursts of 30-plus mph winds. This made the entire competition frustrating but it all worked out in the end. I hope one day archery can have regulated and mandatory wind indicators that have been tested and rated.
One thing that I urge people out there to consider before offering up criticism is to take a step back and analyze the entire competition as a whole. Food for thought: I dropped the most points the first match against Japan but my teammates made up for it by shooting well. We all shot about the same the second match and shot decently well and the last match I happened to shoot the highest score and the others did not. We wouldn't have made it to that good medal match without their great shooting in the earlier matches.
A silver medal is something to be proud of; it is a great accomplishment and is just as rare as a gold -- they gave out just as many gold medals as silver.