“Women mixing up European Archery” – this is WAE´s motto to celebrate the International Women´s Day on March 8th, 2023. Therefore, WAE wants to focus on the reigning female European mixed team Champions and give them the opportunity to give an insight in their archery-lives.
During the WA Congress in Ulsan (KOR) at the end of August 2009 the voting on Motion 26 (called “Mixed Doubles Round”) brought 66 “Yes” and four “No” by two abstentions. This paved the way for female and male Recurve and Compound archers to shoot together in the mixed team event in Target archery – a direct result of the WA “Archery World Plan”. Ten years later during the WA Congress in ´s-Hertogenbosch (NED), the Motion 12 “Insert mixed team for Field & 3D” also passed the voting and opened up the possibility to shoot together in one mixed team for the female and male archers of the other WA bow classes – Barebow, Traditional (former Instinctive) Bow and Longbow.
Asked for his opinion on the mixed team round in 2017 [https://www.worldarchery.sport/news/148967/better-together-why-mixed-team-here-stay], WA General Secretary Tom DIELEN argued, “It’s a way of showing that in our sport there’s not much difference between men and women, and it’s a quick and entertaining event to add to the programme”.
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2023, the reigning female European mixed team Champions of Para-archery (Milena OLSZEWSKA/POL, Asia PELLIZARI/ITA, Jessica “Jess” STRETTON/GBR), Field (Sara RET/ITA, Bryony PITMAN/GBR, Cinzia NOZIGLIA/ITA – the latter also in 3D) and 3D (Ida KARLSSON/SWE, Rikke HOLTEN/DEN, Beate SCHOELMBERGER/AUT) gave their opinion on the following questions: Has the introduction of the mixed team competition helped to give more importance to women in your bow class and has the mixed team competition made archery more popular? And is there anything else you would like to point out?
“In my opinion women classes shouldn’t be considered more important just because they are shooting with men”, says Sara. Milena and Jess point out that there have always been great, strong and important women in archery. Nevertheless, the mixed team helped to put women and men in the same league and therefore could help people to understand that men are not necessarily stronger, thinks Sara. It gave the women the same visibility as men, Asia adds, and – as Milena emphasizes – it gave the opportunity to show that women and men are equal in sport, “we look at a man and a woman standing next to each other and see, above all, two athletes who are striving for the same goal, who are fighting and supporting each other as equals”.
Especially in archery there should be no difference between the classes (Sara) and Beate´s opinion is that women´s and men´s competitions are of equal value and that the mixed team makes it possible to achieve a top performance together. It shows that in this competition women and men have the same “importance” (Cinzia) and that it gives the teammates an opportunity to build relationships across the gender classes (Jess).
When looking at the statistics, it´s clear that “archery is still a pretty male-dominated sport“, says Bryony and continues, “I have known federations to not send any women to competitions because they don’t think they’re strong enough to compete individually or in a same-sex team”. For Ida the mixed team wouldn’t exist without the women so that could be a reason to get more women to aim for the international championships to be able to be a part of the mixed team competition. With the mixed team the federations have another medal opportunity, as Milena and Bryony agree. The federations “are interested in having a strong woman now and they will work to create her, to try to win one medal more”, Cinzia points out. This is a strong argument.
“I would say that the mixed team has become popular in archery but I’m not sure if the mixed team itself made archery more popular”, says Ida. Milena, however, thinks that archery has become more attractive. And popular, especially since its inclusion in the Olympics and Field archery, as Bryony emphasizes, “it’s a really great addition to competition for both competitors and spectators”.
Especially for Field and 3D, where the qualification courses are held on the course in the forest and are therefore rather unspectacular for the audience, it is great to have the mixed team event which is often hold on the final place. This is “exciting for the spectators and will also be broadcasted in various media”, as Beate says. The mixed team matches are very nice and funny, more beautiful and interesting for viewers and very enjoyable to watch as Cinzia, Asia and Milena agree. Milena even suggests that the mixed team “could be used in some kind of champion shows, just like it is in figure skating”.
Sara sees the mixed team competition as “just a start to make archery more popular. There are a lot more things we can do to make this happen”. Another good thing to do to would be to look for numbers of visualization of single matches on line, as Cinzia suggests.
In general, Jess thinks that “introducing mixed team has made archery more inclusive when it comes to shooting against and with different people with different ages, disabilities and genders, […] it’s a chance for an equal stage for both women and men to shoot together and I think that’s what makes it one of my favorite events”. She calls it “a new, tighter competition that encourages people to strive for more when competing and training”.
Cinzia hopes “that particularly thanks to the mixed team, in the future, we could reduce the difference between numbers of female archers and male archers”. “Especially in the last few years, in my division W1,” Asia says, “there is an increase in female archers. This is very important for the sport of Paralympic women”.
Sara summarizes, “the mixed team event is a great innovation in field archery and I’m very proud to be part of one of the firsts ever mixed teams. I hope that in the future eight mixed teams will be considered to compete (not only four) to spice up competition”.
One personal comment by the author:
I want to thank all these great women who answered my questions. I love their openness and honesty. One example being Rikke who answered on my question if the mixed team made archery more popular: “I don´t know. But for me it has“.
In all the comments of those remarkable women of the different classes, I could feel this proudness and happiness about having won this special European title – being a mixed team winner. Shown best by Beate when she was asked in an interview in Maribor 2021 to explain her feelings after her and her teammate´s victory: „I have no words“ 😉.
Bettina KRATZMUELLER (AUT)
WAE Gender Equity Liaison
Vienna, March 8th, 2023.