Abe Burns adds intenational archerytitle to family’s long line of honors

Two points was all that separated Abe Burns from his nearest competitor after five days of competitive international archery shooting recently in Arndean, near Dollar, Scotland.

Burns, the son of Gary and Susie Burns of Sweet Home, earned a championship in the adult male bow hunter division among a field of 19.

Some 17 nations were represented by 500 contestants at the event that was cause for a week-long celebration according to the area newspaper, the Wee County News, Thursday, August 8.

Burns, a graphic designer in Portland, said he has been training since the age of 12 for this level of competition. He comes from a long line of archery champions including his parents and grandparents. Burns is a 1993 graduate of East Linn Christian Academy. He and his wife, Kristen, a native of The Dalles, live in the Portland area.

Burns was shooting a 60 pound compound bow that features carbon limbs and machined risers.

“Most of the intense training starts six months before the tournament, which consists of shooting two hours a day in the morning and at night every day of the week,” Burns explained. “I work on form most of the days and once or twice a week I practice on a range.”

Two months before the big tournament, Burns competes in local and state tournaments every weekend.

“I try to get at least eight hours sleep each night and cut out any sweets or any type of greasy food,” Burns said. “This helps me to stay concentrated and focused.”

Burns said the International Field Archery Association tournament is similar to the U.S. National Field Tournament. The shoot lasts five days and each day contestants shoot 28 targets set along a trail or range.

“You shoot four arrows at each target and the distance ranges from 20 feet to 80 yards,” Burns said.

The ranges in Scotland were “brutal” Burns said.

“They were set up on the rugged hillsides of Clackmann, Scotland,” he explained. “Just walking around the course each day was a challenge because the ground was wet and muddy. Several of the targets had ropes so we could manage to get up and down the trails. A couple days it rained, which made it even harder to maneuver around the course.”

Competing against Burns were shooters from Australia, England, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Ireland and the United States. His toughest foes were from the U.S., Chuck Sciacca and David Comacho, who came in second and third. Burns father, Gary, finished fifth.

“The highlight of the tournament for me was the last day,” Burns said. “I started the day in the lead by 17 points and was very nervous. I guess you could say that in the first half of the day I choked, by the end of the first round, my lead was gone and I was tied for first place and not far from third. At that moment I began to think of all the work I had done preparing for this and all the people supporting me and rooting for me. I realized I could throw it all away and still continue to think of being defeated or give everything I possibly had and think only about winning and a perfect shot.”

Burns edged his way forward during the next few shots, gaining his confidence back and staying in the game.

“The last few targets, Chuck Sciacca was shooting amazing and he shot a perfect 20 on the longer 53 yard target and an 18 on the last target,” Burns said. “He was pushing hard on the top. Out of 2,473 points, I finished with at the end of the tournament, I only won by two. Chuck shot a 2,471. It was a very close game.”

Burns said he was glad to win and could not have accomplished his goal without the support of his family and friends and the help of God.

According to the Wee County News, some 30 volunteer members of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service were in charge of preparing meals for the archers. They expected to clock some 600 hours of service.

The oldest competitor was Victor Matthews, 80, of Virginia. It was reported that Matthews nearly died of hypothermia while competing in Australia but was saved by Archie Scott, one ofthe organizing officials.

Competitors were given a traditional Scottish welcome as they were piped into the athletic ground by the Dollar Academy and the Bowmar and Alloa Collieries Pipe Bands.

Clackmannanshire Provost Walter McAdam welcomed the crowd and were treated to music provided by several pipe bands.

There was a falconry display and a demonstration of swordsmanship by a reenactment society.

While archers were competing, their families and friends were invited to tour the area on open-top buses and to take part in special events for children held at local sports centers.

A Scottish ceildh was held one night and a garden party was held on Saturday.

Now that Burns has an international championship title, he has set new goals of breaking state and national records, beginning with tournaments in February 2003.

In addition to archery, Burns enjoys music, especially performing in bands.

Although he spent up to eight hours each day competing at the tournament, contestants were able to tour Scottish islands.