SI Vault
Rick Telander
August 04, 1975
No one can shoot like Darrell Pace, says Darrell Pace. Don't argue. At 18 he's the world champion and holds 16 of the 20 archery records
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August 04, 1975

A Straight Arrow Aims For It All

No one can shoot like Darrell Pace, says Darrell Pace. Don't argue. At 18 he's the world champion and holds 16 of the 20 archery records

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If Darrell Pace, the world champion of archery, thinks you'll have trouble finding his parents' home in Reading, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, he puts a target in the picture window. Not just any target but one that appears to have been hit point-blank by a shotgun blast. Actually, the holes clustered within a one-inch diameter in the middle of the golden center ring were made by 15 consecutive arrows Pace fired from 60 feet away. "Nobody else in the world can shoot like that," he says, opening the front door.

A sort of matter-of-fact confidence—call it cockiness without excessive volume—is one of 18-year-old Darrell Pace's trademarks. Much in this manner, he leads a visitor on a march through the house calling out points of interest in the calm, dispassionate tones of a sight-seeing bus driver. There on the table is the two-foot world championship trophy, a carving of martyred Saint Sebastian, patron saint of archers, pincushioned with Roman arrows. Over by the couch is a drawn-glass figurine of an archer. Here on the wall is an oil of Pace with his bow taut, fingers just below the chin, nose compressed against the string.

Thus it goes, down the hall to his bedroom, where one is confronted by another of the champion's trademarks, total immersion in the colors red, white and blue. "You'll get used to it," he says. The colors swirl and swarm—red carpet, red star-covered bedspread, white and blue walls, red-white-and-blue pillow, red and blue ribbons—until one feels as though he had stepped into the threads of a giant American flag.

The color scheme does not end with the room; it flows on into Pace's closet where red, white and blue shirts, slacks, shoes and belts hang. And over to his quiver, to charms, to signs and personal effects, out to the family trailer, finally splashing to a halt at the red-and-white grille of Pace's blue Vega.

At a recent showing of Rollerball, the movie that blends roller skating and gang warfare, Pace cheered for the team that was trying desperately to skate over hero James Caan's head. The reason was its red-white-and-blue uniform.

"I'm patriotic," says Pace. "When you represent the United States a few times you get like that."

Behind the door of his room is a fresh 48-inch target, the type used in 70- and 90-meter competition. Tacked to what non-archers refer to as the bull's-eye is a photo of a girl, the target of Pace's affections, one assumes.

Pace grins. He is 5'11", 130 pounds, or less, with the sort of small-jawed, narrow-shouldered, countrified elongation one would expect of a pubescent Opie grown too large for Mayberry R.F.D., a near-perfect Charles Atlas "before" picture. His nickname is "Supe," short for "Superman with a skinny suit on," which is what a friend once called him after a big victory, adding that if Pace swallowed an olive he'd look fat. The fact that Pace took to the name is evidenced by the red-and-blue-suited Superman dolls scattered throughout his room.

"I got girl friends all over," he says with a twang local Cincinnatians label "brier," their term for country. "Where do you want to know?" He begins listing states and countries, matching them with feminine names, then pulls out a snapshot of his most recent admirer, a Swiss girl he met in June at the world championships in Interlaken.

If Pace's physique is no problem in the romance department, apparently it is suited to the mechanics of archery as well. "It's the best," says Pace, though one imagines that the effort of drawing a bow might be enough to snap his frail arms like twigs.

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