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The Most Controversial Word in Archery…

Camo.

The word is enough to make people start spitting insults and turning themselves into victims.  Or, rather, the lack of the word and the thing itself at World Archery tournaments across the globe.

From the World Archer rule book, Book 3: Target Archery

11.3.3. Athlete equipment shall not include camouflage colours of any kind.

From the USA Archery Dress Code

2. No camo or blue denim (jeans) may be worn at target events. Accessories such as trim on shirts, caps, quivers, armguards, footwear, etc., are permitted to be camo. At field events, denim may be worn but camo may not be worn.

The 2016 World Archery Indoor Championships are happening now, in Ankara Turkey.  The United States has sent a good field.  But perhaps, not all of our competitors were as well informed as they could have been.  BowJunky posted a video of a US Compound competitor having to spray paint his bow because he had shown up in Turkey with a camouflage colored bow.  BowJunky serves mostly the ASA crowd, and there was an almost immediate riot.  As if, somehow, we were being discriminated against, victimized even, because World Archery wouldn’t let the poor man shoot his camo colored bow.  There were screams of discrimination against hunters, or rules being enforced inconsistently.  But what they didn’t realize was, the rules in Vegas, put on by the NFAA with a small World Archer event on the side, are different than the rules for a World Archery event (if you participated in the Indoor Archery World Cup in Las Vegas, you would have had to follow the same rules, but if you participated only in the Vegas Shootout, you would have been under NFAA rules, which are slightly different). Our American 3D competitors were up in arms and hurling insults about how World Archery is stupid, that the rule is stupid, that there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to wield their camo bows across the globe if they want to…

Except there is a reason.  Crystal Gauvin, who went directly to World Archery officials to ask for the reasoning behind the no camouflage rule, eloquently relayed their reasoning in a Facebook post that I hope everyone will read.  Twice.

I feel the need to address the WA camo rule. Many of you, particularly in the US, are very against the rule and think it is anti US or anti hunting. I can honestly say I was right there with you until the reasoning behind the rule was explained to me.

I want you to stop for a moment and take off your US bias hat and think for a minute what camo can bring to mind in other countries in the world. For many around the globe, camo makes them think of genocide, children soldiers, and war, as it is worn by dictators, military generals and some truly truly evil people who do terrible things.

I know I’ve been lucky in life to never witness any of those things, nor have I ever had to fear me or my family would be subjected to these atrocities. I for one would NEVER want to be the cause of reminding someone of these crimes, causing them fear or panic. For this reason, I fully support the no camo rule, as I hope you do to

I was appalled by the hue and cry of victimization that rose up on the Bow Junky Facebook post.  That somehow these archers felt their gods-given rights were being infringed upon because they couldn’t shoot a camouflage colored bow at a very specific, top level target competition.  That they somehow felt impotently spewing hatred at World Archery on Facebook would accomplish ..well.. anything.

It is the personal responsibility of each archer to understand ALL of the rules of the tournament they plan to complete in well before they show up on tournament grounds.  Especially if that tournament involves using a passport and flying halfway across the globe.

It is the responsibility of each archer competing in a World Archery competition to understand that, literally, their world just got bigger.  They are not limited to the US culture, customs, and symbolism anymore.  And since World Archery must represent a multitude of nations and demonstrate respect towards each culture, they will err on the side of being conservative in matters of dress and equipment.

It is the responsibility of each archer competing in a World Archery competition to understand that this is the governing body that works with the International Olympic Committee to present archery to the world every 4 years in the Olympic Summer Games, and therefor World Archery standards may mirror standards set by the IOC. By necessity, they have to.

It is the responsibility of each archer to understand that there is a fundamental divide between 3-D (ASA) archery, and FITA / Olympic / WA archery.  Compound archers desperately want to be able to represent their countries in the Olympic games.  But the only way that’s going to happen is if compound archers follow all the rules of the World Archery governing body until such time as World Archery and the IOC can hash out what it looks like to host a compound competition at the Olympic Games. Target archery is different.  You can disparage it if you like. One of the members of my team, who shoots exclusively ASA, calls it “country club archery”.  You can say that 3-D is harder, or more realistic, or whatever.  And maybe, one day, 3-D archery will be an Olympic sport too.  But  until that time it is important to understand that the IOC and World Archery feel there is a tradition to uphold.  Especially with sports fighting over spots, and some very deserving sports losing their place in the Olympic Games, it is supremely important that World Archery present a professional face to the world, and its archers do the same.

There is an uproar that World Archery may be trying to draw a line of separation between hunting and target archery by not allowing camo bows on the line at WA events.  I think that logic is pretty faulty, to be honest with you.  Because World Archery doesn’t care one whit if its target archers go bow hunting on the weekend (where legal).  I think the people drawing the line are the ones who immediately scream they’re being victimized by World Archery because they aren’t allowed to bring their camouflage bow onto the line of a World Archery event.  And they do it every time they scream and gnash their teeth and demand that they get their own way (I’m speaking mostly of US citizens here) without respect to the fact that World Archery is a global association with global concerns.

It makes me sad, really, that we can get into such a screaming match over… the color of our equipment.

It makes me sad that people think it isn’t important to read and pay attention to the rules of the international governing body of my sport, especially when they compete at an international level.  I’d give a lot to be able to compete at that level.  If it took saving my pennies and begging and scraping to get a non-camo bow together to do it, I’d do it in a heart beat.  Because I consider representing my country on an international stage to be a privilege.  To be *that good*.  That’s my dream.  It’s why I drag my tired ass to the range every day I can.  It’s why I give up time with my family, and have given up anything that resembles a social life.  I think we forget that representing our country on an international stage is an honor. And that in doing so we should act honorably.  Which perhaps means gaining a complete understanding of the rules of the game before we show up, and not making a fuss if we made a mistake, but owning our  mistake gracefully and moving on.

 

 

 

 

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