One of archery’s greatest traits is that anyone can do it. And if you’ve dreamed of Olympic or Paralympic glory, archery might—if you’re really committed—make that dream a reality.
What it Takes
To reach the Olympics, athletes in many sports must participate from a young age. But Sarah Boyd, a media and communications specialist for USA Archery, said archers often excel even if they wait until adulthood to start.
“You can participate at any age or skill level and be successful,” Boyd said. “Almost all of our Para team didn’t start archery until they were adults. Paralympian Lia Coryell was 50 when she started, and Para team members Martha Chavez and Tink Wallace started in their 40s.”
Boyd said making the Olympic team requires drive, dedication and determination.
“It takes a solid work ethic, a very strong mental game, and a lot of time and patience to become one of the best archers in the world,” Boyd said. “Archery is also known for great sportsmanship, and most Olympic and Paralympic archers are very respectful, kind and supportive of others.”
(For more on what it takes to reach the Olympics, read about 2016 U.S. Olympic archer Zach Garrett and his journey to the world stage here.)
The Selection Process
The World Archery Championships, held the year before the Olympics, are the main qualifying tournament for the Olympics. Other qualifying events are also held. Countries whose teams rank in the top eight in the men’s and women’s recurve team rounds send teams of three men and three women to the Olympics. Individual spots are also available.
USA Archery holds multiple events to fill spots the U.S. earns. The first such event is the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which are open to anyone who officially registers, provided they meet eligibility requirements for the Olympic selection process.
The Paralympic team has a similar system. Each country earns slots based on its performance at the World Archery Para Championships and other qualifying events. Paralympic hopefuls must have a World Archery international classification, and shoot a minimum qualifications standard for their division.
To make your Olympic dreams a reality, Boyd recommends getting into USA Archery’s athlete-development pipeline.
Athletes can choose from hundreds of Junior Olympic Archery Development and Adult Archery clubs across the country to work with certified instructors and coaches. “Archers can test and build their skills with the Achievement Award Program and the Virtual Tournament series, and then work their way up into competition from state championships to national events,” Boyd said.
USA Archery recently released the Athlete Development Model. This guide is a valuable resource for athletes, parents, coaches and administrators interested in building long-term archery participation.
To learn more details for making the Olympic archery team, click here.
Are you interested in trying archery? For information on lessons, programs and equipment, click here to find a nearby range or retailer.