It's becoming a pretty familiar sound these days - twang, thud, record . . . twang, thud, record . . .
Not too surprising, really, considering the deliverer of this three-stage echo is Denise Parker, undeniably one of the world's finest archers. And now she's gone and done it again.Just when the world was ready to take a deep breath after a tense and tiring Olympics last summer, the 15-year-old wonder of the ancient art pops in a cluster of arrows that when counted add up to a world record. It's her first, but very likely not her last.
For that, Parker is, for the second time, being recognized
by the Deseret News as its Athlete of the Month.
Parker set her world record in early March during
the U.S. National Indoor Archery Championships in the Salt Palace. She entered seven events in the
national meet and with the shooting of the last arrow dead-on, she ended up setting seven national records, one of those being her world record.
In that meet no one was more on target than Parker. Her scores, in fact, even bet
tered those turned in by the men's contingent, which included Olympic gold medal
ist Jay Barrs of Arizona, two-time Olympian Rick McKinney of Arizona, and two-time Olympian Ed Eliason of Stansbury Park.
Looking back, the young archer said she knew she could do it, but was somewhat surprised it came when it did.
Her winter had been tied up mostly with basketball. Also, an attempt by some U.S. coaches to change her style had ballooned her score only a month before the shoot. Two weeks before the Salt Lake event, in Las Vegas, she did something very unusual for her - she finished a runner-up.
"I wasn't shooting well," she recalled. "So I came home, went back to my old way and started shooting every day. One day everything just went back to normal." Not quite normal.
The record Parker set dates back to 1983 when Soviet archer Natali Butuzova put 60 arrows in a target at 18 meters and scored what was than an incredible 583 of a possible 600.
Parker, shooting the women's 18 meter event in March, scored an even more unbelievable 587, which means that of the 60 arrows, 47 had to have hit in a bull's-eye smaller than a silver dollar and the other 13 had to land in the nine-ring that is only slightly larger.
Everything was right for her record, she admitted, and even before the final arrow flew - twang, thud, record - she knew she could do it.
"It was just exciting that I could get the record here (at home) and in a tournament. I was excited, but it really didn't hit me until later. Maybe the layoff was good for me," she said.
In all, Parker broke eight records - one world and seven national. The national titles were: In the Junior Olympic class she shot a 592 at 25 meters to break her own record of 590; in the women's 25-meter she shot a 582 to better the old record of 578; her world record 587 in the women's 18 meters also set a national record (578); her aggregate 1,169 broke the old record of 1,150; and she set three more national records in junior events she shot in. (She is only 15, after all.)
But it didn't stop there. Last week young Parker went to Arizona and set two more national records. In a Grand FITA she shot a 1,314 to break her own record of 1,301 set last year. In that round she also set a single shoot record at 60 meters - 331 over the old 330. She is, by the way, the only U.S. woman to shoot over 1,300 in a Grand FITA, and now she's done it twice.
The question, of course, is where will it end? Sixty bull's-eyes, after all, it a perfect 600. But then there could be bonus points on grace and style, or stacked arrows Robin Hood-style.
For now, she's preparing for a May 10th departure for tryout in Georgia for the World Championships that will be held in July in Switzerland. And, of course, the possibility of more twangs, thuds, records.