An interview with British born Estonian shooter, Steve Morley. Steve is a multi-time World IFAA and European archery champion.
Steve – My Pleasure.
Jimmy – So, when did you begin shooting and what got you started in the sport?
Steve – I started in 1986, I had just got a tax rebate and wanted to do something constructive with the money. My best Friend Dana Chatoo told me about Field Archery and loaned me Ekin’s book on Howard Hill and I was inspired and I was totally hooked.
Jimmy – Did you begin with a compound first and then transition or is that a very American thing? Perhaps a longbow since you was in the UK.
Steve – No, it’s normal in the UK to start off shooting with a recurve or longbow and then maybe progress to compound at a later date, but many stay with traditional bows and never shoot compounds.
Jimmy – You have been very successful. How many titles have you one?
Steve – On a National level I’ve won around 40 titles in field, indoor and 3D, International World/European I’ve won IFAA worlds in 2004, IFAA Europeans in 2009 and Fita world 3D’s also in 2009 and around 18 2nd and 3rd place medals from World/European tourneys.
Jimmy – Now Steve, you are a Brit, but you live in Estonia and shoot for them. Explain that situation. Are you still a British citizen?
Steve – Yes I am still a British citizen, IFAA rules say you can shoot for the country you reside in, but for Fita 3D the UK had to release me on Estonia’s request. Archery GB refused to let me shoot Fita 3D tourneys so I complained through Fita’s governing body and that put pressure on ArcheryGB to allow me to shoot. I had support from ArheryGB’s field team manager and it was also good that I had won in 2009 as they then sent a British team last year. I hope I had some influence in ArcheryGB’s change of heart.
I’m happy to shoot for Estonia, they look after me and treat me as one of their own, I’ve had governmental sponsorship money and have been awarded Sportsman of the Year through the Estonian Field Association several times at the national level.
Jimmy – What is your most memorable shoot and why?
I would have to say my first win in 2004. I was with my mentor/teacher Dana [Chatoo, who is a British born U.S. citizen] on final day and I was up against three-time winner Larry Yien. He was on home turf and it was an unexpected win for me. I also met my Estonian partner Katrin Virula that year; she won the ladies Longbow setting 3 world records and shot the second highest animal round in the longbow division. Lucky for me I had the highest score — we became a couple in 2007 and we have two boys Paaren 3.5 years and Peeter 2 years.
Jimmy – What do you attribute to your success? What helped you become a champion?
Steve – I got a good start. Dana was a very good shot and teacher and I won my very first tourney around 5 weeks after picking up the bow. I joined a field club with two English longbow legends Jim Spooner and Ian Meeks. They had won European Field Championships 10 times between the two of them. They were very generous sharing their knowledge and experience with others and me.
Steve – During the Fita3D worlds. The whole tourney is geared for the greatest pressure. They eliminate half of the shooters after each round and reduce the number of targets, the courses are designed to allow spectators to see and by the time you shoot the final round your’re shooting in front of a few thousand people and a television cameraman is in your face. We had to wait 2 hours between semi-finals and finals and you have a lot of time to think. Five minutes before hand I was very nervous, but when I stepped up to the first stake I was able to shut all the distractions out. It was just me and the target.
Jimmy – What is the most popular style of shooting in Europe and why?
Steve – Longbow, Selfbows and then I think Recuve Bowhunter and then those wheel things (they call it ‘mountain bike’ div here). In the UK at least the Robin Hood legend inspires so many to learn Longbow.
Jimmy – Is 3D growing there?
Steve – Field and 3D have always been popular here (Fita) WA3D (World Archery 3D) is growing very fast from 10-14 countries in the beginning to 40+ countries now. IFAA Field is still very strong. The last worlds, in Germany, were fully booked 3 weeks after registration opened, 14 months before the tourney started.
Jimmy – I know you can’t hunt in most European nations so do you think that will limit the traction of 3D in Europe?
Steve – Around 10 countries in Europe allow Bowhunting, but regulations are tougher here and things move more slowly. People in Europe see 3D purely as a tourney sport and not as practice for Bowhunting. It is very rare that a person fails to hand in their scorecard. In UK at least its considered impolite not to hand in your card. They tend to send out search parties thinking you’re lost.
Steve – I enjoy the places I visit and the people I meet. Shooting in Namibia a few years ago with the Kalahari bushmen at IFAA worlds, they were each awarded medals and a standing ovation from all the competitors. It was like modern Archery meeting its roots. I felt very proud to be part of that moment
Jimmy – If you were king for a day and could change any one thing about competition shooting what would it be and why?
Steve – I would do like footballs man of the match and in World/European events offer a voting system for somebody showing outstanding sportsmanship. It doesn’t always mean the winners. Maybe somebody helping another by lending a bow or for just trying to do their best against all the odds, voted by shooters and officials — just to encourage and reward good sportsmanship in competitive shooting so we don’t lose touch with what’s really important in this sport.
Jimmy – Do you ever get a chance to hunt?
Steve – In England and in Estonia where I now live we have no bowhunting so no I don’t hunt. I understand it has been agreed to allow bowhunting in Estonia but no laws have been passed yet.
Jimmy – What bow / bows do you currently shoot?
Steve – I have many bows – English longbow, Saluki bows, American longbows, W&W Pro-Accent, Bernarndini Nilo, two Pinnacles, I have two bows in the pipeline being made for me, a wood Fita legal recurve by a German Bowyer and a longbow by a very talented South African Shooter/Bowyer Jaco Wessels.
Jimmy – What arrows do you use?
Steve – Wood cedar for longbows and Carbon Express for 3D. Navigators for Field Archery.
Jimmy – What # bow?
Steve – Most of my bows range from 40# to 50#
Jimmy – What aiming system do you use?
Steve – I shoot IFAA marked Field, Indoor 300 rounds and unmarked 3D so I use all the aiming unsighted methods available (Gap, Instinct, Split-vision etc) It just depends on the bow and type of round I’m shooting
Jimmy – What is a typical training session and how many days per week do you shoot? How many arows in a day?
Steve – Normally, 3-4 times a week otherwise if it’s a big tourney I’m shooting nearly everyday. I hope if everything is good I’m just shooting 40-60 minutes to maintain confidence levels. My favorite method is walkback from 10 yards to 80 yards. I know if I can maintain a certain group size I know I’m competitive on the international tourney circuit.
Jimmy – What are your archery dreams / goals?
Steve – I would like to shoot IBO’s [IBO 3D World Championships] one year to meet and shoot with the friends I’ve made on the Internet forums. My goal in tourney has always been to walk away feeling I did my best for those tourney conditions. I’m a bit like a dog with a bone that never gives up. I’m told I’m my most dangerous when I’m in the middle of the pack as I seem to shoot my best.
Jimmy – Do you have someone or something that motivates you? If so what?
Steve – Firstly, I just love to shoot bows and tourney shooting is really just a way for me to measure of my progress. Katrin encourages and motivates me to be the best I can. She has great natural shooting talent, I have to work at my shooting and she keeps me on my toes because if she beats me, I’ll never hear the end of it.
Jimmy – Steve, thank you for your time. I hope to see you at IBO 3D worlds next year.
Steve – You’re welcome Jimmy. I might just make it.