Competitive masters group growing in US says Olympic medallist Ochs

17 August 2018
Lausanne (SUI)
Deborah Ochs won an Olympic team medal 30 years ago.

Deborah Ochs took Olympic bronze in Seoul in 1988 with the USA recurve women’s team. A former national champion, she also won individual silver at the Pan American Games all the way back in 1983.

Her competitive drive has never really gone away. She returned to the international field at the first World Archery Masters Championships, held in 2018.

“Why am I here? It is a world championships. And I’ve been here before, at the 1989 world championships (also held in Lausanne). That was the last international I shot. I was shooting recurve in ’89, but I’m shooting compound now,” she explained. 

Like many here, she returned to archery after a break, in her case to have a family.

“I shot recurve [again] for a while, but there was just nothing left. I have my Olympic medal, I’ve been national champion, and I felt, ‘what else is there?’, so I went to compound. I took up compound about five years ago, and I’ve been on the US Archery masters team for the last two years.”

“So this is a new adventure. It gives me that drive to achieve more.”

She’s been on a roll recently.

“Not to say that I’m not here to win, but I’m really here just to see what I can do. My mental program is to be better than I was the last time. And I’m kind of on that high right now where I’m doing really well. I put in around six personal bests, took a silver and a bronze at the [USA] Nationals last week,” she said.

“I’m excited that there’s some international competitions for masters now. Because I’m a competitor.”

Ochs is shooting the indoor event, but it’s the outdoor that she’s focused on. She’ll readily admit she’s no good at judging distances, so has given field a miss.

The masters division has seen steady growth in the US.

When the US national squad added a masters list there was five or six compound women making the scores, said Ochs. At the national championships in 2018 there was 14.

“We have this group that keeps expanding and we’re a fun bunch of girls. We have a good time,” said Ochs.

“If you can get a child shooting and keep them shooting past the age of 16, they’ll stay shooting. It’s those teenage years that are difficult.”

“With the masters, there’s a real enjoyment of being around people of your skill level and your age, There’s a real benefit to enjoying what you’re doing.”

“You get out there, you’re active and you’re enjoying it. Anybody can do it.” 

The first World Archery Masters Championships take place on 14-18 August 2018 in Lausanne, Switzerland.