FROSTBURG, MD., JULY 21 -- Greenbelt's Carol Pelosi was introduced to archery in March 1973. She grew comfortable with the sport in a hurry, winning her first national championship five months later and not relinquishing the title until 1988.
Pelosi, 44, has won 35 championships in all (16 each in national indoor and outdoor as well as three world) in crossbow archery. She competed today during Day 2 of the Maryland Sports Festival at Frostburg State University.
"I don't follow what the book says to do," Pelosi said, "I just do what's comfortable for me." Her comfort includes a bow that combines such high-tech advances as an adhesive bandage on the sight to prevent cuts on the bridge of her nose and a plastic bag on the side to cut down on glare.
Sporting a baseball cap with an extra-long brim and side blinders to prevent more glare, Pelosi's 12 practice arrows do not miss -- piercing the canvas with a "thunk."
Pelosi, who won world titles in 1982 (Finland), '84 (England) and '86 (Ohio) before finishing third two years ago in Sweden, plans to compete in September's world championships in Portugal. Crossbow archery is not an Olympic sport, unlike its counterpart, longbow.
Fort Washington's George McLean is Pelosi's partner for the day. "Crossbow is like shooting a rifle, but with more concentration," he said. The arrow, held in a horizontal bow, is fired by squeezing a trigger, instead of by pulling it back and releasing it.
McLean is a former Maryland champion (1986-88) who won a gold medal at the 1985 State Games. He has returned to the sport after sitting out two years. After playing with Pelosi for several years, he has nothing but praise for his competitor.
"Oh, she's hell. She beats most of the guys, including me," he said.
About 20 feet away from Pelosi stands Gaithersburg's Gil Frey, a man McLean calls "the grandfather of archery on our area." Frey, 72, introduced Pelosi to the sport, handing her a bow one day at the Greenbelt Sports Center and saying, "Here, shoot."
Frey is taking part in his third State Games. His wife Katie also has returned to the sport, shooting for the first time in 10 years.
The swirling wind caused a postponement of the competition by noon, the archers moving two miles down the road to a lower altitude at Beall Junior High School. The finals will be held Sunday.