FORT BENNING, GA - Around 1,600 archers from around the world, including Britain and South Africa, competed in the Archery Shooters Association Classic, which featured junior amateur to Senior Pro classes, July 23 to Sunday at Uchee Creek. About 3,500 spectators watched the archers shoot 3D animal targets at various distances.

Aca,!A"Some of the best shooters in the world compete in this tournament,Aca,!A? said Cliff Hughes, Uchee Creek Campground and Marina manager.

SFC Mike Smith, an instructor with the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, competed for the third year.

The 39-year-old Ranger, along with his teammates, Hughes, pro Tim Gillingham, SFC Darren Cufaude and 1SG Randy Thompson, took first place in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation team shoot July 23. They won the CommanderAca,!a,,cs Cup trophy.

Smith, Cufaude and Thompson have competed together in the archery tournament for three years. The first year, they took eighth place, in 2008 they took third and this year they took first with a score of 217.

Aca,!A"Finally. We won,Aca,!A? Smith said. Aca,!A"It was exhilarating standing in front of a large audience being announced as the Fort Benning champions for 2009.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"I love archery,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a way to keep my hunting skills sharp year-round and when I shoot, I can relax and just think about the target.Aca,!A?

The key to archery is being mentally focused with every shot, said Smith, who has shot archery since he was 12.

Cufaude said accuracy is key in archery.
Aca,!A"If you are off an inch, it could be the difference between getting a 12 and getting an 8,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"I like archery because itAca,!a,,cs an individual sport. If you miss the target, you canAca,!a,,ct blame anybody but yourself.Aca,!A?