While most of the world has it eyes fixed on London to see who brings home the gold, a group of over a 1,000 archers are making their way to the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in southwestern Pennsylvania to find out who the best bowhunter in the world is.

The 2012 McKenzie International Bowhunters Organization World Championship and Archery Festival draws archers from over 20 countries with the lure of $200,000 in cash and prizes— not to mention the title of World Champion.

People who watch Olympic archery know that it it’s about accuracy over distance: how many bulls-eyes can an archer shoot and from how far away?

The IBOWC approaches the question of who is the best archer from a different perspective. Competitors have their skills tested under simulated hunting conditions. Instead of aiming for the center of a bullseye, the shooters aim at life size replica animals and aim for kill shots. There are scoring rings marking the best possible shot but, according to IBO President Ken Watkins, “At distances of 20 to 50 yards, you can’t see the rings you’re shooting at. You have to have a good working knowledge of hunting and of the animals […] We want the hunter to learn what a good ethical shot would be.”

The IBO uses existing ski runs and natural terrain to create challenging ranges designed to test the visual acuity and balance of the competitors. The courses force the archers to shoot in low light, uphill, downhill, and deal with natural vegetation— all of which are challenges Olympic archers never have to deal with.

The event will showcase 24 ranges throughout the woods and more 400 3D targets which will resemble domestic and exotic species. The opening ceremonies will take place Wednesday, August 8 and the competition will run through Saturday, August 11 with awards distributed that evening. The public is invited to attend.

Image courtesy Jerry Feist on the flickr Creative Commons

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