by Chris Tobin
Timaru archer Bruce Shuker (43) admits he is still on a high having recently returning from Berlin after contesting four rounds of the World Cup compound bow competition.
It was a steep learning curve for the Timaru District Council data analyst.
Archery is a sport he fits around his job, unlike many of those he competed against who are full-time professionals.
But he has come back with his motivation rekindled and hungry for more in an event which demands enormous skill and nerves of steel firing arrows at an 80cm wide target 50 metres away.
“It was a fantastic experience; I’ve grown in self-belief knowing I can do it and perform under pressure,” he said.
In April, Shuker travelled to Shanghai for the first round with other members of the New Zealand archery team – the first sent to a World Cup competition.
“It was overwhelming – there’s no other way to prepare other than to go.”
He finished 78th in the ranking round and 57th after matchplay.
Then it was back to Timaru and work before flying out to Antalya, Turkey, in May for the second round.
“I was the only one from New Zealand to compete in all four rounds. The travel was hard but I decided it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Mixing with the top archers was a great experience. These guys practise six days a week and what they do in a day I do in a week.
“I’ve never had a coach.”
Shuker finished 79th in Antalya and flew back to New Zealand. A month later he was in Salt Lake City, in the United States, competing in round three.
“It was hot there and windy. My scores were down a bit. Unfortunately I was 50th and wasn’t rapt with that.”
In matchplay he competed against Martin Damsbo, of Denmark, the 10th ranked archer in the world who has been as high as No2.
“In the practice round my bow broke. He [Damsbo] pulled his spare bow apart to get me up and running.
“The level of sportsmanship he showed was fantastic. He prevailed in the end.”
With Salt Lake City behind him, Shuker came home again before flying to Berlin last month to contest the fourth round at a location next to the old 1936 Olympic Games stadium.
“I shot my best score of the season there and even though I managed a new pb [personal best] I only finished 77th.”
While not qualifying for the fifth and final round, Shuker acquired a world ranking for the first time – 139.
“I’m in recovery now and will soon start aiming for tournaments in October and November and the nationals in January.”
His aim is to return to the World Cup next year, although not all four rounds since it can be expensive.
Shuker said he was thankful for grants he had received and money raised by a Timaru fundraising team which helped him greatly on his 2018 World Cup campaign.