By Justin Hunter
CHURUBUSCO — While he failed to qualify for one of three positions on the Team USA, Dan Haire said his experience at the World Archery 3D World Championship event in Robion, France, last month was thrilling.
The 62-year-old Churubusco man participated in the world competition, Sept. 19-24, which took place in a small Provence village in southern France.
Haire was among 22 American hopefuls who attempted to join the three-man American team. He shot two days of qualifying rounds before being eliminated.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but for everyone it was a huge learning experience,” Haire said. “The sport is done much differently over there. The targets aren’t quite the same and the scoring rings aren’t in the same places as they are here either.”
Haire also had to shoot on mountain inclines and declines, something that was new to him.
“The terrain was unlike anything I’ve ever shot on. It was physically, the hardest two days of shooting I’ve done in my life,” said Haire.
After failing to qualify, Haire stayed to support Team USA, made up of two younger men from North Carolina and one from Mississippi.
“I didn’t do any sight-seeing over there,” said Haire. “I was there to support my teammates. I couldn’t help the team with my shooting, but I could calm the young guys down when they were getting frustrated.”
It was the first time that Team USA was able to compete at the world championship and the Americans came out on top, winning the gold.
Placed as the eighth seed, Team USA faced Hungary in the first round, winning easily. They then faced reigning world champion Italy in the semifinal. The Italian team claimed that one of the Americans crossed over the line when taking a shot, Haire said.
“We would have lost if we didn’t send in an appeal to the judges along with the video. By the grace of God we had an American shooting film. We won by one point after the decision was made,” Haire said.
Team USA faced off against Spain in the championship final. It was a close match that came down to Spain’s final shot. Spain needed to shoot an eight or higher to win, but missed the target entirely.
“It was complete pandemonium on the American side,” said Haire “To send a team for the first time, and win it all is beyond all expectation.”
Haire’s greatest thrill of the trip wasn’t shooting, nor watching Team USA compete for gold. It was listening to the national anthem after the win.
“The highlight for me was an emotional one. It was watching the American flag being raised with the national anthem being played. It was the most emotional moment I’ve ever had in sports.
“It’s the greatest archery experience I’ve had in my life,” said Haire. “I’ve met some amazing people from all over the world.”
He also traded his Team USA pins with other athletes and now has a collection of pins from around the globe. “It’s a pretty cool collection and I’ll put them on display,” he said.
Haire said he learned a lot in his time in France, and was blown away with the hospitality he received.
“I came in to the event with some prejudice,” said Haire. “I had thought that since we were in France, that we wouldn’t be treated very well. I did not find that to be true in the two towns we were in. So many people were welcoming us in the parade of nations. It was overwhelming the amount of support we had from the French and other archery teams.”
USA Archery did not provide any funds for the trip. Haire was able to attend the event through some generous contributions made by the community of Churubusco.
“There were many people in our community who gave me funds to go,” said Haire. “I want to thank everyone who helped me get to France,”
Haire’s international competition days are not over. He’s already preparing for the 2019 World Championship in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
“We only had three months to prepare for something we didn’t know how to prepare for this time around,” said Haire. “Mark my works, Team USA will be much stronger in 2019.”