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Paralympic Spotlight: Eric Bennett, Part 2

We recently spoke with Eric Bennett, para archer for Team USA, ahead of the 2024 Paralympic Games. He and the other members of the USA Archery Paralympic Team will be vying for gold in Paris from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5. In this installment of a four-part series, Bennett discusses his practice routine, how it changes during the year, and his advice for other others. Check out Part 2 below to learn more.

 

 

A360: What’s your practice routine like on a normal week?

EB: It kind of just depends on where we’re at in the season. I shoot year-round, so I’ll shoot indoors and outdoors, but when I’m in full outdoor season, I’m practicing probably at least five times a week outdoors. There’s been times, even in years past, where I was practicing pretty much every single day. I’m a full-time teacher, so during the school year where that overlaps with archery season, it’s hard for me to get a lot of practice in because I’ve got to do it after school and on the weekends, but typically I’m practicing about four to five times a week, usually for anywhere from two to three hours.

 

A360: Does your routine change leading up to a tournament or the Games?

EB: From now until Paris, it’ll pretty much be every single day, as much as I can possibly shoot and as much as my body can handle. I’m getting older, my shoulder is getting beat up, so I can’t shoot quite as many arrows as I used to, but I’m going to be practicing quite a bit leading up to that. During the off-season or indoor season, I’ll back that off a little bit. I’ll usually shoot a competitive league and then maybe practice three to four times throughout the week and sometimes just up-close stuff, blank bale, etcetera, but I’m trying to get my arrows in as much as possible. I can’t train every day, all day, but I do what I can.

 

A360: What would you suggest as the ideal practice regimen for a beginner archer?

EB: I think one of the best things that can help early archers is to not overdo it, especially recurve archers that want to try and get to a higher poundage quicker. That can lead to bad habits and injuries and things like that. I think the biggest thing to begin with is to work with someone and ramp that up. Start with a doable amount of arrows and work on perfecting form, work on perfecting rhythm, getting those things down rather than just throwing a bale out as far as you can and trying to shoot for score. Calculate, work through and figure out how many arrows that you should shoot that week with your coach, stick to that regimen.

The best piece of advice I can give to beginners is to just do everything and anything you can to not get down on yourself. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s not going to look great and even archers like me that have decades of experience are still going to have rough days of practice, so when you let those bad days, or days that aren’t going that great, affect you, it can stunt your growth and it keeps you from getting better. If you knowledge that it’s never going to be perfect and you’re continually trying to get better, and you can be happy with your positives and your good shots then you’ll grow and get better and stronger and be able to perform under pressure.

 

A360: What do you tend to look for when you’re choosing a bow?

EB: For me, especially competing at the highest level, I want the bow that is going to perform the best, that is the tightest tolerances and that is going to be well made and well-engineered from the get-go and that’s going to give me my best chance to win, definitely.

 

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for Part 3, publishing on June 25. Bennett will share how he got to the Olympic level, the other archery tournaments he competes in, and how he improves his form. If you missed Part 1, you can find that: here.

Watch Eric Bennett and the rest of Team USA go for gold at the Paralympics starting Aug. 29.

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