Stephen Havranek kept his cool among stray animals to clinch gold at the World Archery Field Championships in South Africa.
The sniper, originally from the hamlet of Knapp, recorded an overall score of 2,293 in recurve barebow to stand up to competitors from Spain and Argentina.
Conditions proved difficult in the town of Potchefstroom with heat reaching 40 degrees, but the gold was not a sweat for the Perth Archery Club member.
Participating in the event was a unique experience that Stephen will remember for many years to come.
“I went there thinking I could win,” the 55-year-old told the AP. âEight months before, I decided that was what I was going to focus on.
âI built an archery course around the house and trained two hours a day. It comes down to belief and practice.
âMy scores weren’t very good when I was there because it was very hot and very windy. There were no trees and normally with field archery you are in a forest.
âIt was a phenomenal experience. An example was when I was shooting at a target and there was a herd of zebras behind us.
âA few targets later, we had to stop shooting because an ostrich was walking in front of the target.
âThen we had a group of sitting monkeys waiting for us to finish the shoot. They knew we had to pick up arrows so we could steal stuff from our bags.
âIt was 35 to 40 degrees every day without any shade. We were prepared and the Scottish tops were all white to reflect the sun. But we didn’t expect the bows to be affected so badly, especially with the wax from the strings. I had never seen that before.
âI later found out that the South Africans use a different type of string that has a lower wax content so they don’t have this problem.
Stephen only got involved in the sport at the age of 49 after watching the Olympics and is now firmly committed to building on his global success.
He said: âI have to defend titles now. The type of bow I shoot is not an Olympic sport so it is as far as it goes for me unfortunately.
“The biggest part [at this time of year] is indoors now and the worlds are in New Zealand in February but I’m not going to that.
âThe next principal will be in Holland for the European Championships. My seat is already reserved so I’m good to go.
âIt can be very expensive and my partner has become a bit of an archery widow, but she is very supportive. You have to devote a few hours a day to it and your mind is still there. “
Achieving an outdoor world record is on the to-do list and Stephen’s quest for that feat is reinforced with the help of well-respected trainer Alistair Whittingham.
âDuring the competitions in Scotland I got two points off the world record so that’s the goal,â said Stephen.
âI already have a world record but not outdoors. I know the guy who has the record and he’s a nice guy so I would feel bad if I had to take him.
âAlistair is my coach and he helps me. It definitely helps to have a good coach and it brings me around 20 points.
“But you can shoot at any level and in Perth there’s an old lady in her 80s who shoots – and she’s awesome.”