Jul. 9—PETERSTOWN — A Monroe County resident will be off to Italy in September as a member of Team USA to compete in the 3-D Archery World Championships.
Sydney Phipps, a junior at Concord University majoring in molecular biology, will be up against the best archers in the world, and she is excited, and ready.
"This is the first time I have been on Team USA," she said, and the second time trying out.
Phipps, 19, and a resident of Peterstown, has been working toward this goal for 10 years.
She started competing in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) when she was 9 and has since won numerous state, national and world competitions, but this is the pinnacle of competitive 3-D archery.
Phipps said 3-D basically mimics bow hunting and uses mostly game animals as targets as competitors walk through a forest and shoot, with targets at various yards away and at different elevations.
"We don't know the distance for sure," she said, but there is usually a maximum of 25 yards (plus or minus 10 percent), which may actually be farther depending on elevation. "As soon as you get on the stake (shooting place) you have 2 minutes (to shoot), but normally you don't need that much."
The number of targets may vary.
For example, she qualified for Team USA in London, Ky. USA Archery World 3-D team trials last month.
"You shoot 24 targets and two arrows at each target," she said. "It is split up two days so you are shooting 48 targets over two days."
Local shoots may just have 25 total targets and an IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) competition has a total of 40 targets but only one shot at each.
Targets vary in size and are scattered throughout the course featuring different elevations and angles.
"A big part of course management is realizing how big your target is and how it can look at different distances," she said.
"I started shooting competitive 3-D in the seventh grade," she said. "That is when I won my first world championship (in NASP competition). I shot that with NASP until my sophomore year in high school."
After that, she switched to competitive barebow, which is similar to an old-fashioned simple bow and arrow.
"But it is a little more than the traditional recurve," she said, which gives her a few more options in controlling yardage, but not nearly as many controls as on a modern compound bow. "There is no sight. You aim off the arrow (as with the traditional bow and arrow)."
The barebow is a basic style of recurve bow, which uses the same modern materials but does not permit accessories to aid in aiming or stabilization.
Phipps is sponsored by CD Archery, out of Pennsylvania, and her equipment, including her CD Archery Riser bow, is given to her by the company.
"They are an amazing company to work with," she said.
Phipps has won the IBO world championship twice (in 2020 and 2021) as well as the IBO triple crown (competitions at three different locations).
She has a total of eight IBO world championships in different types of competition, including indoor, traditional and outdoor.
Phipps said she is one of 24 archers from around the country who made the team, but she is the only one from West Virginia.
Other states represented include Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Wyoming, among many other states. "We are from all over the country."
Phipps said she knows of only one other West Virginia resident who made Team USA in the past. "He was from the Northern Panhandle ... i think it was in 2019."
"For 3-D there is not a youth division," she said. "So it's all adults. There are a couple of 19 and 20 year olds and a couple of maybe around 60. There is wide range of ages, a wide range of places we are all from."
"They are all great people," she said. "They are amazing. A few of us have known each other for a long time and a few of us are just meeting."
Phipps said 25 countries are usually represented in this world championship.
"It is the Olympics of barebow," she said. Barebow competition is not yet included in the Olympic games.
Her mother, Roseann Phipps, said she is "very excited" to see her daughter reach a goal she has had for many years. "It is overwhelming."
But it happened with a lot of hard work and dedication.
"She has put in the hours and time and work for this," Phipps said. "She really gave up a lot to get here. She did not have a normal childhood or teen years. She gave up a lot of sleepovers and birthday parties."
Even with all the hard work in training and competitions, Sydney took dual enrollment courses at James Monroe High School, allowing her to be a year ahead in college, a rising junior.
Roseann Phipps at one time shot with her daughter, but "she was only 10 when she started beating me."
Sean Phipps, Sydney's father, is a bow hunter and sparked Syndey's interest, working with her over the years.
He will accompany her on the trip.
"He is her backbone," Roseann Phipps said of her husband's experience working with Sydney. "She has to have him. They have worked together to get her this far."
Sydney said she did have to sacrifice a lot to reach this point, but she has no regrets at all, adding that it will also help her to achieve her professional and career goal of being an orthopedic surgeon, which also takes a lot of work and dedication, as well as steady hands.
Phipps will fly from Roanoke to Charlotte on Sept 1 and land in Rome on Sept. 2, returning (landing in Philadelphia) on Sept. 10.
She anticipates having some time to tour Rome and possibly other places while she is there, with two practice days before competition starts on Sept. 4.
The championship is held in Terni, Italy, about 60 miles northeast of Rome.
Although the U.S. is being represented, it is the only country participating that does not provide financial support for its team in this tournament.
"We have to raise our own money," Phipps said, which is why she has an online gofundme site, gofund.me/cdac9f1f.
This is a dream come true for Phipps.
"I am very excited. The entire team, we are all very excited," she said.
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