Minutes before her quarterfinal match in the compound archery
competition at the World University Games in Daegu, South Korea,
on Aug. 27, Mary Zorn noticed an unusual black dot in the center
of the target. Puzzled, the American queried an official, who
told her it was the half-inch-wide lens of a video camera
embedded in the target and hooked into the JumboTron at the
Yecheon Jin Ho International Archery Field. "Well," Zorn told
U.S. teammate Evan Clarke, "I'm taking that camera out."
Standing 70 meters from the target, Zorn pulled back her
bowstring and sent her fifth arrow flying through the air. The
JumboTron went fuzzy, and the crowd of 1,000 erupted into cheers.
In front of some of the most ardent archery fans on the planet,
Zorn had done what she'd promised: She'd pierced the lens with
her arrow. As if to prove the shot wasn't a fluke, she did it
again three arrows later on another target. It was the archery
equivalent of Babe Ruth calling his shot--twice.
"An official gave me the broken camera as a memento," says Zorn,
21, a Texas A&M junior who finished second behind Mi-Yeon Choi of
South Korea in the competition. "It was a great moment."
This summer there were plenty of those for Zorn. In July at the
2003 World Outdoor Archery Championships in New York City she won
the women's individual title in compound archery, which uses a
bow with cables and pulleys that help the archer hold and aim it.
A month later in Reading, Pa., she took the U.S. Open title.
Since June she has set five world records. "I've never seen
anybody tougher mentally than Mary," says A&M coach Frank Thomas.
"To do well in this sport you have to block out so much--your
opponent, the crowd, how your previous shot went, all sorts of
things. For Mary it's never a problem. Right now she's clearly
the best in the world."
Though her mother, Nancy, is a world-class compound archer, Zorn
didn't take up the sport until 1997. That year she traveled with
her mom to Victoria, B.C., for the world championships. Thomas,
then an assistant with the national team, saw Mary in the stands,
and--based on her mother's skill with the bow--decided to try to
persuade Mary to give it a try. "If you practice you can be very,
very good," Thomas told her. Says Nancy, "After she talked to
Frank, Mary started practicing almost every day. That was the
Last May, Zorn helped the Aggies to their fourth straight
compound archery national title. Because compound isn't an
Olympic event, she's contemplating a switch to recurve archery,
which employs bows with only a string, making it more difficult
to shoot accurately. Very few compound archers have made the
transition to recurve and remained world-class--but then again,
there haven't been many compound archers like Mary Zorn. "If
anyone can make the switch, it's Mary," says Thomas. "She's as
talented as I've seen. This summer she was almost perfect."
And if Zorn ever wants to remember it, all she has to do is look
at a certain mangled keepsake from Korea.
COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON ON TARGET U.S. champ Zorn, who set five world records thissummer, is the best in the business with a compound bow.