Perfecting exhaling techniques and shooting at a target is what every soldier has had to perfect at some point in their Army career. For Sgt. 1st Class Paul Miller those techniques proved crucial in proving his archery skills at the Vegas Shoot, the world’s largest and most prestigious indoor archery festival, held in Las Vegas in early February.
This year the festival broke attendance records by having 3,480 archers from 45 different countries compete in the event. The competition itself consisted of three intense days of no error competition. Each day the competitors fired 30 arrows at a distance of 20 yards for score.
“On the surface it sounds easy, and truthfully it is, the hard part comes with the target,” said Miller, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases located at Fort Detrick.
The infamous "Vegas Face" is scored sequentially with rings valued at ten through one with a bullseye ring for a tie breaker.
Miller knew he could not leave the ten ring and still remain competitive in his class, which consisted of 1,200 archers. To put that in perspective the ten ring is roughly the size of a 50 cent piece, smaller still is the bullseye which is the size of a penny.
The game has evolved into literally trying to shoot a penny at 20 yards 90 times in a row with a bow and arrow. Throughout the three days of competition Miller only left the 10 ring once for a total score of 899. A perfect score is 900.
Growing up in Walkersville, Maryland, Miller had a bow in his home that his uncle had given him some time ago. When he was first stationed at Fort Detrick, his then team leader was an avid bow hunter. His leader asked if anyone in his unit shot bow and would if they would be interested in hunting deer with him here on the installation as part of the deer management program. Miller figured he would pull out that dusty bow his uncle gave him and give it a shot. The first couple shots he says was horrible.
“It took everything just to hit the bale of hay,” said Miller.
All it took was a few shots and Miller was hooked. In his first year, he managed to get successfully hunt six deer.
In recent years, he became heavily involved with a Frederick archery group called Tuscarora Archers, who introduced him to tournament competitive archery. They taught him the correct way to shoot, and he is now a range captain with the group. Through the Tuscarora Archers he began shooting in local archery competitions which he used as spring board to enter bigger and tougher competitions. His first competitive event was the Lancaster Archery Classic in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This was also his first exposure to competitors who make a living shooting a bow.
“It’s an awesome sport. Everyone is so friendly and always giving each other pointers. The other thing is regardless of gender, disability or age, this sport can be done by everyone as long as they can pull the string,” said Miller.
He remembered watching a shooter who was legally blind at one competition and was in awe of his skill.
“This is really a sport for anyone. Take Matt Stutzman for example, he was born without arms and is arguably one of the best archers in the world and does everything with his feet. He won silver in the 2012 Paralympic Games”, says Miller.
Army duties prevented him from competing for six years but that draw was still there. While stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he managed to become a three time Texas State Champion and a member of the 32nd Medical Brigade shooting team. That team went to the Army Small Arms Championship at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 2014, and he finished in the top ten percent in the Army.
Miller continues to progress in the sport and hopes to have his certification to instruct by fall 2017.
“I just like to shoot. It’s my way to relax, and so far 2017 has been a good year so far for me,” said Miller.
This year he plans to compete in the Maryland State Championship and do more local tournaments.
Millers Career highlights include.
2017 Champion World Archery Festival in Las Vegas
2016 Maryland State Champion
3 time Texas State Champion
2 time NFAA Southern Section Champion
7th place at the National Marked 3-D Championship in Redding, CA.
2014 Earned U.S. Army [Rifle] Excellence in Competition (EIC) badge by placing in the top 10% of the competition versus Active, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers at the All Army Small Arms Championship as a member of the 32nd Medical Brigade Shooting Team from Ft. Sam Houston, TX.
2014 Earned U.S. Air Force [Pistol] EIC badge by placing in the top 10% of the competition during a match held at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
|Date Posted:||02.21.2017 08:00|
|Location:||FREDERICK, MD, US|
|Hometown:||WALKERSVILLE, MD, US|
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