Liko Arreola is a young archer from Hawai’i who has already broken records and made her mark in history as the youngest archer to score a 900 at the Vegas Shoot at 13 years old. She broke yet another record at the 2022 JOAD Target Nationals on her 15th birthday. Liko is setting her sights on the Olympics and hopes to break many more records in her already promising career. We asked her about her journey and encouraged her to share her formula for success for other archers looking to rise in the archery rankings.
A360: What steps did you take to be able to reach the status you’re at now? For example: Did you start with archery clubs then move to local competitions, or did you jump straight into big competitions?
LA: I started archery when I was 6 years old. My dad trains me and also teaches me how to work on my equipment. I competed in my first tournament when I was 7 years old: It was a state tournament in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. I’ve competed in a few more tournaments locally since then. My very first tournament on the mainland was the NFAA Vegas Shoot, I was 8 years old at the time. Every year since then, I try to shoot as many tournaments as I can on the mainland, it’s usually around maybe four or five a year and once a month tournaments here in Hawai‘i.
When I was 12 years old, I started to get more consistent in my shot placements and my dad noticed it was competitive enough to shoot at the women’s pro level. An opportunity arose in 2021 when the NFAA Vegas Shoot allowed any age to compete in the professional division without restrictions. I was 13 years old and felt I was competitive enough to be able to shoot and compete alongside the professional women that I respect in this sport. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to compete in tournaments in Nevada, North Carolina, South Dakota, California, Arizona, Utah, Kentucky, Idaho, Alabama, and Ohio.
A360: What is your training routine?
LA: For my training routine, I try to train every day and emphasize on having perfect shot executions during my practice. I keep my shot count as short as possible, trying to keep quality over quantity theory. I’ll start by using resistance bands to stretch before I go into my warmups which can be anywhere between six to 20 arrows. Normally I’ll shoot about 40 to 50 arrows a day. Depending on what type of tournament is coming up, some of my training is focused on conditioning, too. We try to tune at least two bows to take with us for the upcoming tournaments and paper tune, bare shaft tune, blank bale, walk back tune, and do group tuning, so tuning bows are the only times I shoot the most arrows. Part of my conditioning comes from tuning.
A360: Could you talk a little bit about your experience scoring the perfect 900, twice, at the Vegas Shoot and the Rushmore Rumble? How did it feel to know you were the youngest archer to ever score a perfect 900 at the Vegas Shoot in the Championship Division? Do you frequently score 900s when you practice at home?
LA: I am grateful that I could compete in the Vegas Shoot and at the Rushmore Rumble because they were opportunities and enjoyable experiences for me. During the tournaments, it wasn’t easy at times to not think ahead because it’s always a constant grind to stay focused, so I’d take each end at a time and try not to think about the outcome. Whenever I would step on that line, I’d try to shut everything out and focus on my shot routines and then reset myself to do it all over again until the end of the tournament.
I felt really happy when I learned I was the youngest archer to score a 900 at the Vegas Shoot in the Championship Division. I do hope that it’ll encourage others to want to strive for and accomplish. I honestly feel I won’t be the youngest archer to have achieved it in the near future.
In practice at home, I don’t keep scores because, for me, it will lead to expectations and pressure in tournaments. My practices focus mainly on trying to perfect quality shot executions.
A360: You also broke the under-18 world record for compound women and the under-18 world record in the double 72-arrow round this year in Alabama. Is there another record you have your eyes set on to break?
LA: I don’t have a particular record that I have my eyes set on breaking, but I do know I want to compete in as many tournaments as possible and break any and all records.
A360: What’s the next step for you? Do you have Olympic aspirations?
LA: Train for upcoming tournaments and enter as many competitions as I can. I do have Olympic aspirations, I would love and honor the opportunity to be able to represent the United States in the Olympics and World Archery events. One of the many goals I’ve set for myself is to be at a competitive level where I can compete against archers from around the world in any compound format.
A360: What advice do you have for aspiring archers? What steps should they take if they want to reach the professional level?
LA: I’d say to love and have fun in what you’re doing and to be competitive as much as possible. Stay focused on your training and always be positive even though your results aren’t what you want them to be at times. I experienced a situation this year when I was in a shoot-off at the NFAA Indoor National Championships in Kentucky alongside Paige Pearce and Tanja Gellenthien. In the third end, the judges called one of my arrows out, which was really close. I ended up taking third and felt crushed. Walking off the shooting lines, Mel Nichols from Pineapple JOAD Archery was the first to approach me and say, ‘Hey, keep your head up.’ He asked if I felt I shot my best, and I said yes. He then told me, ‘Well, you have nothing to be sad or upset about. Keep your head up, always stay positive,’ and after hearing that, all of my heartbreak went away. I felt stronger, and I’m really looking forward to being in a shoot-off again. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that whatever the situation might be, always stay positive and keep pushing through.
Enter as many tournaments as possible and compare your scores to other archers. If you honestly feel that you’re competitive enough to be on a professional level, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, and just go for it. I don’t consider myself a professional archer yet, as I’ve seen what it takes to be one outside of competition. But I do know that I am able to achieve scores on a professional level and competitive enough to shoot against professionals.
Start Your Own Journey
As Liko said, how you feel about your own abilities is what matters the most. Whenever you feel you are performing well enough to compete against other archers, sign up for a tournament and go for it. Set your own practice routine. If you don’t like to keep score when you’re practicing, keeping track of your groups is perfectly fine. Do whatever works for you: There isn’t one right answer when it comes to practice. There isn’t a perfect time to get started, either, so jump right in whenever you’re ready. We hope to see you join Liko and all the other amazing archers out there on the tournament circuit.
Visit an archery range near you to get started.