Southeastern Illinois College continues to make national waves with its archery program.
Three shooters from the region — Eli Bond of Galatia, Isaiah Conkle of Cave-in-Rock and Colton Goines of Vienna — took the gold medal in the Men’s Bow Hunter competition at the U.S. National Collegiate 3-D Championships Oct. 26-28 at Foley, Alabama.
The competition consisted of shooting 40 targets on Saturday. The top scores advanced to the finals Sunday. SIC coach Alli Armstrong was not surprised by the trio’s success.
“I knew who had been shooting consistently high scores at practice,” she said. “I kind of had an idea from the scores they were shooting, that is basically who came out on top.
“I knew every one of them was capable of winning a medal. It was just a matter if they did it that day. It was a matter of whether it was a good day or a bad day.”
“It (the gold medal) means quite a bit,” said Bond. “Us three that were in the final, we had been practicing every single day, just giving it our all. We set a goal and we made it. We are very happy to say we did that. I guess all of us were just very determined. I’m very proud of myself and the team.”
Unlike some other 3-D competitions, the shooters were allowed to use range finders. However, rather than being isolated on the range, they were surrounded by their competitors while shooting.
“Not only to you have to be an accurate shot, you have to be consistent,” Armstrong said. “You also have to be able to keep your composure. There is a lot of pressure in the competition. The stress does get to you, especially when you are shooting next to your competitors.”
“Prior to this year, what we’ve always done is shoot 40 targets, half in the morning and half in the evening,” Bond said. “Normally, the morning half would be all unknown (no range finders).
“This year, it was all known. Personally, I’m not a big fan of that, because I like to shoot unknown. I’ve always been kind of been more known to have a high strength of judging targets. I’d rather shoot it all unknown.”
Another quirk of this competition is that competitors go through the course together, standing next to each other as they shoot.
“There is a lot of pressure,” Bond conceded. “Everyone is really checking everything out. Everyone is really in the zone. It can get a little bit crowded. I tend to shoot a little better when I’m crowded. It think I get a little more determined.”
Conkle said having Bond to lean on was beneficial.
“He knew how things were going to go,” Conkle said. “It was a big help to have him by my side and walk me through how things were going to go. He just gave me tips on how to keep my nerves down. It was a great benefit for me and my other teammate.”
A freshman, Conkle admitted there were a few butterflies.
“Yeah, I’ve never been in a shoot down until then,” he said. “I had a lot of first time experiences and that was one of them. After that first shot and our whole team made good shots, the nerves started going away.”
In addition, Bond finished seventh overall in the Men’s Hunter Class and John Whalen of Boonville, Indiana, was sixth in the Men’s Compound Class.