- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - In the first flight shooting competition he ever entered, Robert Wood took on world champion archers from across the globe and managed to win every event he entered.

Wood, who lives in Rapid City, won first place in all three events he entered at the 2015 Flight Archery Championships held at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah, in early September. He brought back medals in the 50-pound field bow, the 50-pound flight bow and the 50-pound broadhead categories. The weights are the draw weight for the bows used.

In the field bow event, competitors must use a bow that is no shorter than 52 inches and is essentially designed for hunting or field archery. The flight bow contest has only one restriction besides the draw weight - every arrow must be at least 15 inches long. Pretty much any other modifications an archer wants to make are legal. The broadhead event has the strictest requirements: The bow must be at least 52 inches long, the arrow must have an inch-wide hunting tip, weigh 450 grains and have 12 inches of stabilizing fins.

Wood said he spent four months after work practicing prior to the competition. He practiced his form in his basement by shooting into a block of gel and practiced his distance shooting on his friend’s nearby alfalfa field.

Although Wood only spent four months working on his flight archery skills, he is by no means a novice archer, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1YBOxot ) reported. The 44-year-old from Hot Springs, Arkansas, has 25 years of experience as a target shooter.

The difference between flight archery and target archery is the ultimate goal. In target archery, the primary goal is to hit a target. In flight archery, the primary goal is to shoot the arrow as far as possible. One style focuses on accuracy, the other focuses on distance.

Wood said his experience as a target shooter helped him a great deal because he was able to make sure the arrow always had a straight flight path, if an arrow veers off course, it won’t travel as far.

“Basically, you develop good form in target shooting, which makes you more proficient in shooting with a good, clean release,” he said.

Wood, who works at Dakota Discount RV, won several state championships when he lived in Arkansas, which is where he grew up. His office is decorated with plaques, trophies, arrows, a couple of different bows and even one of his “Robin Hood arrows,” which is an arrow that was shot into another arrow.

People from across the world came to attend the Flight Archery Championships as there were competitors from Taiwan, Mongolia, Hungary and Australia to name a few. Wood estimated there were about 50 competitors, all elite archers, including some world-record holders.

“You wouldn’t fly from Mongolia to compete in a shooting event in Utah, unless you were confident you could win,” Wood said.

Wood said he is an archer because he loves to shoot, even if it isn’t exactly profitable.

Despite winning three first-place medals, Wood said that competing at the event probably cost him about $2,000 out of his own pocket, even with the help of his sponsors, which include Black Swan Archery, Turbonock and Dakota Discount RV.

“It doesn’t actually cost that much to shoot, but I have to take two weeks off work, I have to travel, the bows are expensive, the arrows are expensive,” Wood said.

The winner of each event gets medals and bragging rights, he said, but there is no monetary prize.

Despite his victories, Wood said he has still not achieved his ultimate goal - setting a new world record. He hopes that with a few adjustments, a little more practice and maybe a few more sponsors, he’ll achieve his dream next year.

“Next year, the goal is to crush (the current world record),” Wood said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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