It’s no secret that the pandemic has thrown us all a big curveball. Everyone has had to adjust their daily life in some way, including Olympians and Olympic hopefuls who are all too familiar with the change. We asked Brady Ellison and Casey Kaufhold of Team USA about their experiences during the pandemic and what they’ve done to adapt their training regimen to prepare for the rescheduled 2020 Olympics.
Editor’s note: Anytime Ellison says “we” he is referring to himself and his wife, Toja, who is also a professional archer.
A360: How has your training changed during the pandemic?
BE: It’s truly all still the same. We have a rule that there’s no working after a certain time of day. We take time for each other. It was that way pre-pandemic, and it’s not going to change during the pandemic or post-pandemic.
CK: I haven’t been able to practice with as many people as usual. I still attend JOAD practices but haven’t had the same tournament feeling in practice without the large groups of people.
A360: How have you been able to maintain a high level of training with health and safety at the forefront?
BE: I bought a house and property that I can shoot at. I built an indoor range and outdoor range. My range is 200 yards from my house, so training for me didn’t really change. I built a range so that I didn’t have to go anywhere to shoot: I can do it at the house.
When the gym shut down, I wasn’t able to go work out. I had been working out three or four days a week doing total body fitness — a little bit of everything. Even now that the gym’s open, I haven’t started going back yet.
CK: I’ve been focusing on working toward the Olympics by practicing in lessons with my coach. I have my goals in mind and my coach, Heather Pfeil, helps me reach those goals.
A360: Has training during this time fueled your desire for future competitions?
BE: Definitely! Now that we have competitions scheduled again, I’m definitely hungrier to go and compete than I ever have been.
CK: Yes, I think that the time being at home and away from competing has built up even more desire to travel again. I miss competing internationally and I have aimed my training toward my future competitions.
A360: What was competing in the virtual Lockdown Knockout like?
BE: It was nice — different, you know. I’ve never really done anything like that before. Once you get set up, it’s kind of cool that technology lets you compete. The thing about virtual events is even though you know you’re shooting against someone, it’s a lot different from when you have to stand face-to-face with them. It’s more exciting to shoot against someone heads-up than online.
CK: I found that it induced the same amount of pressure as a regular competition.
A360: What did you take away from that experience?
BE: That times are different. Hopefully it gets back to normal soon.
CK: I learned that not having a tournament for a couple months affected my mental game, and I had to build it back again.
A360: How was your experience with the Indoor Archery World Series?
BE: I liked how that was set up. The tournaments were really, really hard. There were 2,000 competitors in the recurve men’s division. I liked that they had the element of having to go somewhere — that was cool. I liked how they gave you the option that if you wanted to shoot at home, you could, but if you wanted to compete in the team event for the money, it had to be at registered events, and I think that’s a pretty good example.
CK: My experience was great. Even though it wasn’t a normal year with international travel, I enjoyed doing the qualification tournaments at home and the team finals. Having the finals on a virtual platform had a different feel to it than shooting on a stage. It was a little more relaxing since there wasn’t a big crowd, but I’m definitely excited for when those days of being on the finals stage come back.
A360: Is there anything you’ve started doing during the pandemic that you think you’ll keep doing post-pandemic?
BE: No. I mean, we really kind of have the same lifestyle, minus travelling for events. We’re at home spending time together and practicing; we just don’t have any events. Our practice routine isn’t any different.
CK: I started to take exercise more seriously. Over the summer I began swimming almost five times a week, and over the winter I took up running. I think it is an important part of my training now, and I will continue to do it.
Ready for Tokyo
Many archers have had to adjust their practice routines amidst the pandemic, and that includes Olympic hopefuls. Whether they’re adjusting their workout routine or their mental game, archers like Ellison and Kaufhold are preparing for the Tokyo Games as intensely as they would for any other Olympic year. They’ve both been actively competing, virtually and in-person, and they have their eyes set on the games in July.
The archery competition will be held July 23 to July 31 at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field in Tokyo. Keep an eye on the NBC Olympics website and the Olympic Channel website for more information on how to watch the competitions live.