The sport and combat practice of archery has existed for millennia. From Greek gods and Centaurs, to knights and long bowmen – archers have both captivated the public and defended frontiers.
We caught up with Jacob from his apartment in Chula Vista, CA, where he is living and training to become the latest Team USA archery medalist.
Archery’s inclusion in the Modern Olympic Games began in 1900. Since then, Team USA leads all nations with a medal count of 31. However, since the rules were standardized in 1972, South Korea has dominated all nations with 30 medals. The US is second with 13 since that point and this year will field an ultra-competitive team including, Jacob.
You may remember Jacob from the 2008 Olympic Trials. There, he rallied to a personal best performance and notched first alternate on the men’s team. He did not shoot in Beijing. We asked Jacob if just missing the 2008 team fueled his desire in 2012.
In 2008 I was a lot earlier in my training. It was a huge blessing to get to that alternate position. Since then the US has improved so much. It is exciting to have made the team because we have so many people shooting at a high level. This team in particular puts us in good position to win a medal. I’m pushing really hard and giving it all I got.
Olympic competitions exclusively feature recurve bows, which do not have counterweights to aid the pull back (draw) like a compound bow. The recurve bow for men typically requires 50 pounds of pulling force pressure. While the bow weighs only a few pounds, athletes must condition themselves to repeatedly apply such pulling force with constancy.
Not only is upper body strength and stamina paramount to victory, athletes must also have rigid core back and abs to maintain technique and stability. Training requires a steady diet of muscle memory and core endurance.
To prepare for the games, Jacob has daily two-a-day shooting practices from 7:30 a.m. – noon and 1:30 – 4:45 p.m. He lifts three times per week and does countless reps for abs and back. All this work made him successful in the Olympic Trials. He describes,
It started back in September of last year. Where I got to the top 16. April of this year I got to the top 8. In the beginning of June we ended up deciding the team. Being down 9 points, all three trials combined I earned 103 points. Being down on the last day as a large portion, I lost a lot of ground. I knew I was down and it was not likely I could make up that many points. I have a strong faith in Jesus Christ praying that Lord you are in control and that you would be glorified through my actions.
I shot to the best of my ability and had an exceptional day, especially in the morning, and catch up. There were a lot of things depending on how the bonus points went. It was 25 minutes before I knew how I finished.
After those agonizing 25 minutes, he learned that he made the Olympic team.
Going into London, Jacob continues to apply his training plans. He has trained in many types of weather conditions anticipating rain, wind, and cool temperatures in London. There, archers will face targets about 75 yards away with weather that’s anybody’s guess.
Archery is one of the first sports to kick off the Olympics, where competitors each shoot 72 arrows with scores to determine bracket seedings. From there, it’s single elimination until the best archer takes home the gold. So after a brief appearance at the opening ceremony it’s off to bed to ready for the competition.
Until then, this man of deep faith will continue to apply his training plan.
I’m really excited about this next 45 days until London, as I do feel I am able to push so much harder then I did even up till now. I gave my best then, and I feel like my best is a lot higher, I’m really excited going to London that I can push a lot more.
We can’t wait to watch. Good luck Jacob!
#TeamUSA Olympian – Archery
Storified by James Hicks · Tue, Jun 19 2012 22:29:01
Image via: Toledo Blade