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Worcester-Born Archer Missed Olympic Mark, But Keeps Shooting

Monday, July 30, 2012

 

After competing in the past five Olympics, archer Richard “Butch” Johnson will be watching the 2012 London Games from his home in Woodstock, CT. The gold medal winner took part in the Olympic Trials in May in Chula Vista, but fell short in his attempt to make the team for the sixth year in a row.

“I shot fairly well, well enough that I probably could have made the team four years ago, but the people are shooting better now,” Johnson said of his trial performance. “I just wasn’t on top of my game at the time. I wish I had made it, but I didn’t, and you know, life goes on.”

Johnson, who says his greatest achievement was winning team gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games, was born in Worcester and lived there until he was 10 years old. From there, he moved to Leicester and subsequently Webster until finally settling in Connecticut. It was in Webster that he discovered his love for archery.

A Minor Tweak Keeps Him on Top

Although he did not make the Olympic team, in the month after trials he proved that he is still one of the best archers in not only the United States but the world by winning a silver medal in the Hoyt World Open and coming in second at the National Target Championships. He said that the difference between his performance in the trials and his appearances since then was simply a minor tweak in his technique.

“After the trials… Brady [Ellison] was over my house, who is the number one player. And he was shooting and he discovered something that he was doing wrong. He was out here practicing one day for 12 hours straight… I started thinking about it and I was like, ‘I’m doing that.’ And I started working on it, and that’s what made me shoot better at the Nationals.”

That small change made a big difference in Johnson’s ability to hit the middle of the target. The constant changes to his game are part of an important lesson he has learned over his years behind the bow: “You can’t really stand still. If you stand still you’re never going to improve.”

Johnson’s mentality and drive to succeed are both part of the reason he still plans to compete professionally in the future. He admits that although he is “slacking off right now,” he is enjoying the break. Before, he would put life on hold to practice; now, he says he is enjoying himself more because there is no immediate pressure to do well.

High Expectations for Team USA

As for the men representing Team USA archery this year, Johnson has high expectations for them in the team competition: “I really expect them to go home with a medal. Team wise, they’ve got an excellent shot at a gold medal. It’s probably about the strongest team we’ve ever had.”

Although the trio of Jake Kaminski, Brady Ellison, and Jacob Wukie did take home the first overall medal for the United States in the 2012 Games, it was of the silver variety rather than gold. Drawing on his extensive experience, Johnson warned that a potential upset might play out: “All somebody has to do is get a little hot and they can beat you. Nine times out of 10 they wouldn’t, but they might have that one lucky time,” he explained.

Men's archery continues today for the individual competition, with the medal rounds scheduled for August 3rd.

 

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