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Intense competition and nail-biting shoot-offs were the norm at this year’s NFAA World Archery Festival at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. In the end, a trio of Hoyt shooters - Reo Wilde, Nichola Simpson and Jeff Fabry - stood atop the podium in their respective divisions. We recently caught up with them to get their thoughts on winning Vegas, and to hear what’s next for them as their tournament season rolls on …
REO WILDE - Freestyle Men's Division Champion
HOYT: This was your first Vegas victory. How did it feel to clinch the win?
REO: It isn't what you think. I had always thought about what it would be like and it was nothing like what I had ever dreamed. I have to say it took some time for it to sink in. It finally sank in when I watched the shoot-off video with my wife. I had finally won the shoot that I had been so close to winning before. It was a big shock and it felt great.
HOYT: What bow/arrow setup did you use ... and what do you like most about it?
REO: I have been shooting the new Vantage Elite with Spiral X cams. I have 2712 arrows with 250 grain pro points and 4-inch feathers. I love the feel of the cam with lower let-off and the speed is a great plus. It really spits those big arrows out.
HOYT: What was it like to be in the 18-man shoot-off? How do you block out the pressure - and the crowd - and focus on your shot?
REO: I have to say you don't think about how big it is. With 18 it was tough though and crazy to think of it being one of the biggest ever. I had to just think about the target being the same as it is at home. This helped with it all ... it made me feel more comfortable, and it helped me shoot good shots.
HOYT: You had an awesome 60-X performance at Lancaster ... followed by your Vegas victory. What’s next? What tournaments are you headed to, and what are your goals for the 2009 season?
REO: With all of these big things happening this early in the year, I still have a long list of shoots to come, and a lot of work to cap off this year. So I would say I just want to make a great showing in all of them - with a chance to win.
NICHOLA SIMPSON - Freestyle Women's Division Champion
HOYT: Congratulations on back-to-back Vegas victories! Was this year any different any different or more challenging than last year?
NICHOLA: Winning Vegas again was fantastic, as going into this shoot I had lots of pressure from different people and from myself because of winning Vegas in 2008. I only had the Friday before going to Vegas to try out my 2712s, but I knew just shooting the one day with them they were going to go well. So I was quietly confident with my shooting.
HOYT: What bow/arrow setup did you use to win Vegas? What do you like best about it?
NICHOLA: I was shooting the Hoyt UltraElite, 40-50 lbs., 27.5 draw, with Easton Eclipse 2712s with 120 points. This bow sits really nice on the gold.
HOYT: Your recent success has come a bit later in life. To what do you attribute your success?
NICHOLA: I started shooting when I was 37 and I didn’t think that for one moment that I would be shooting as good as I have been. I try to keep calm, relaxed and enjoy my shooting, focusing on one tournament at a time. Perhaps being on the other side of 50, one realizes you have to go for it while you can! Having my husband as my coach since I started shooting has been great. He is so positive with my shooting and always there for me - whatever the result.
HOYT: What tournaments will be shooting next? What are your goals for the rest of your 2009 season?
NICHOLA: My long term goal is to shoot for England in the Commonwealth Games next year in India. I just want to shoot well and try to improve on the previous tournament. It would also be good to shoot in the World Cup Series final again.
JEFF FABRY - Freestyle Limited Compound Champion
HOYT: Congrats on your 7th Vegas victory! That’s amazing. Why do you think you’ve had such a great run at Vegas?
JEFF: The Vegas shoot is the one shoot of the year that really pumps me up. I seem to put a lot of focus into this tournament and I have the desire to be on top. I know it takes three days of great shooting to win, and one poor shot can ruin you. So I shoot one arrow at a time and wait to see who the winner is at the end on Sunday.
HOYT: Despite your disability, you compete in the Limited Pro Division ... and you keep on winning your division year after year! To what do you attribute all your success?
JEFF: I think being dealt a disability has made me a stronger person in all aspects. Giving up is not an option, and a live or die attitude is what I take onto the shooting line. With this attitude and an extreme passion for competition I stay in my game.
HOYT: How was this year’s Vegas victory any different or more challenging than those of previous years?
JEFF: This year I was in second place going into the final day. Down two points I knew that I was going to have to shoot great. Pressure is on and that is what I truly love about compitition; the more pressure I have the more in tune I am with my shot. My first arrow for score was a nine, so I told myself to focus and make strong shots. I then cleaned the rest of the first half.
Then on my first arrow on the 2nd half I had a bounce out. We - myself and my competition - watched the arrow go into the X ring and come right back out and lay on the floor! Having never had this happen to me before I was a little confused on what to do next. One of the guys behind the line asked an official what I needed to do, and she said to continue shooting my remaining two arrows - and that I would make up the bounce out at the end. So that is what I did, and I shot the last 14 arrows of the game in the 10.
After everything was scored we went down to shoot my make-up arrow. At this time I knew I had taken the lead and the win was mine. As I settled on the target my dot drifted a little low as I released and automatically gave a little heal to the shot. An eight, pretty embarrassing, but at least everyone knows I'm still human. So instead of a 299, I ended up with a 297. But what a ride it was with a few new experiences!
HOYT: You no doubt work really hard at your shooting. How much practice is required for you to get to the level you’re at?
JEFF: This year has been a little different than the past when it comes to practice. In previous years I would do a morning and evening practice that was primarily physical shooting for five days a week. This year I still do a morning and evening practice, but I have split the two into a mental session and a shooting session. I have a great curiosity to see how far I can take my mental game and how it will help with tournament pressures. Also, I try to do some cardio training on a stationary bike and lift with some free weights.
HOYT: What tournaments will you be shooting next? What are your goals for your 2009 season?
JEFF: For 2009 I am planning on competing in most of the NFAA tournaments. Also, I will go to the Czech Republic for IPC World Championships and Stoke Mandeville for another IPC tournament. As with every shoot, I'll give 100% and look for my name on top of the list when we are done!