International Bowhunter Organization (IBO) World Championships


The Adventures of Holly Heinsohn, Archer

August 15 - 18, 2002
Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia

by Kathy Heinsohn

Approximately 2000 archers of all ages and backgrounds from across the US traveled to West Virginia to make their bid for the title of IBO World Champion.

To get to this competition, archers must have qualified at a sanctioned IBO World qualifier 3-D shoot, by placing in the top 10 in their division and be a member of IBO. Qualifiers are held throughout the US during the months before the Championships. An official invitation from IBO after qualifying is the archer's "ticket" to the IBO Worlds.

The championship is held at the beautiful Snowshoe ski resort in the mountains of W Va. The 24 to 26 courses are strategically placed down the sides of the mountains and once the archer completes their course - ski lifts take them back up to the starting point. Each course consists of 20 animal targets, set at unmarked distances up to 50 yards, depending on the division. The animals are marked with scoring rings. The area circling the vital area (also known as kill zone) of the animal is the 10 point ring, the small circle centered within the 10 ring is considered the X ring. Arrows inside this ring or touching the line, would be scored as 10X on the scorecard. The "X" is important because it is often used as a tiebreaker in the event of a tie. Vital area other than the 10 point ring, is the 8 point ring and the remainder of the animal is considered 5 points.

Probably the most challenging part of 3D archery is the distance judging. Even a slight mistake in judging the yardage to the target can mean the difference in 10 points or 5 points. Archers are allowed to use binoculars up to 8X magnification. No cameras or range finders are allowed on the course. Range officials monitor the courses closely and rules and shooting time allotments are strictly enforced. Competitors shoot one course on Friday and the second course on Saturday, usually in groups of 4. The mountainous terrain is usually very hard to navigate, especially if there is rain. Although they are rarely spotted, bear and mountain lion roam the mountain side as well. Archers are challenged by strategic target placement - often at angles up or down, through gullies or in very low light. Part of the adventure is for the archer to keep their footing while taking the shot.

The top five scores in each division enter the Final Shoot Off on Sunday morning to determine the final top five placements. When archers (and families) are not competing, there are booths set up with all of the "Who's Who" in archery. You can see ( and buy ) anything and everything you've read or heard about. Easton and McKenzie were big sponsors for the 2002 Worlds. For the second year in a row, Holly Heinsohn from Hallettsville was among those trying to claim the title of World Champion. At the 2001 World Championships, Holly finished 24th out of a field of 112 in the Cub Division. Her goal going into this year's competition was to finish in the top 10 and shoot a score better than 360 out of a possible 400. She was using the same PSE Carrera compound bow that she had used the year before. She started her first course on Friday at 11:00 after heavy rains on Thursday evening. Her first shot was a 10 and we all breathed a sigh of relief. She finished that course with a score of 185, after struggling on a few targets and shooting one 5. She was very disappointed, guessing that her score would put her in 15 or 16th place. When scores were posted Friday evening, she was in 5th place. She smiled.

Saturday morning at 9:00, Holly started her second course, in a misting rain. First target - a turkey. We all held our breath, Holly hates to shoot turkeys. She scores a 10 and once again, we breathe. The second course proved to be even more difficult. She fell several times (everyone in the group did) just trying to get from target to target. Distance judging cost her some points in the first 10 targets, but she finished strong with a score of 190. Because of her scores after each course, she had to have her equipment checked to ensure that she was within the accepted range for arrow weight and peak bow weight. The limit for the Cub class is 40 pounds, but they allow a small percentage for difference in scales, etc. Holly's bow peaked at 42 pounds. Equipment check passed, now to wait for results. The leader board that night revealed that Holly had the 4th highest score in the Cub class with a combined score of 375! There was a 3 way tie for 1st with a score of 390. Next stop: Finals on Sunday morning.

Mother Nature had other plans, however. Fog rolled in and by Sunday at 8:00, you could not even see out of the hotel window. The officials delayed starting the finals due to fog and by 9:00, there was a "red alert" on the mountain. Impending high winds and/or lightning storms meant that no one was allowed out on the course. At 9:20, officials announced that the Finals would be cancelled and scores as of Saturday night would be final. This announcement did not set well with those who were going to use the final 10 targets to gain ground. Not to mention, the finals are highly publicized and a great way to obtain sponsors from what we understand. In the Cub division however, we were told that all of the top five scores would be "in the money". Competitors 18 years of age and under receive certificates for scholarship money to be awarded after their 18th birthday. At that time, officials were unsure if the 1st place tie would be broken by X's or left as a tie. Official scores posted to the IBO web site later revealed that the tie had been broken and that Holly had finished 6th. Goal accomplished. She looks forward to going back in 2003 to compete in the Youth Female Division.

One of the fun events at the IBO Worlds is the Future Bowhunter Event. Children under the age of 8 shoot 10 targets noncompetitively and prizes are generously donated for all those participating. In addition to receiving a World Championship medal, the kids receive various prizes ranging from sights to targets to bicycles. Ty Heinsohn participated in this event and came away with a new sight for his bow.

The International Bowhunter Organization is active in promoting and preserving bow hunting in our country. The have recently formed an alliance with "Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry", a non-profit, faith-based organization that pays for the processing of donated venison and coordinates the distribution to churches, shelters and community food banks. For more information on the IBO, including schedules, log on to their website at

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