Whether you’re new to archery or a fanatic, here are 25 of archery’s many rising stars and established heroes. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these athletes are all worth watching as the 2014 season gets underway:
1. From Bowhunter to Compound Star to Olympic Medalist: Brady Ellison
He had to content himself with an Olympic silver medal in London in 2012, but Brady Ellison is anything but second best. The two-time Olympian, who literally began shooting when he was in diapers, holds more World Cup wins than any other recurve archer in history. Look for him to get super-focused in 2014, with a World Championship coming up and the Olympic Trials just over a year away.
2. I Am: Jake Kaminski
You’ll know Jake Kaminski as the recurve archer who’s got tremendous competitive potential – and a little East Coast attitude (but in a good way). He also took a silver medal from his first Olympic Games, and it’s clear he wants more. Kaminski, a regular on the World Cup circuit since 2011, will come out swinging for this year’s World Cups and the World Field Championships.
3. The Shark Man: Rodger Willett Jr.
If archery fans know one thing, it’s to never count out Rodger Willett Jr. This top compound archer might love fishing as much as archery – hence the nickname “the Shark Man” – but Willett has the tournament experience to put himself atop the World Cup podium. Bonus points for kindness: Willett has a reputation for being a true gentleman on and off the archery field.
4. 3D World Champion and Bowhunter: Levi Morgan
Known for dominating the 3D tournament circuit, Levi Morgan is also an avid bowhunter and host of the hunting television show “Name the Game.” Morgan a multiple world champion in 3D archery, has found success in international target archery, taking two Indoor Archery World Cup medals this season.
5. Economist Turned Pro Archer: Crystal Gauvin
On her blog, Crystal Gauvin calls herself an “economist turned pro archer,” and she means that literally. Gauvin, who started shooting a bow in September 2012, decided she loved archery so much that she quit her job to shoot full time. She’s living her dream and finding success on the women’s compound circuit, with podium finishes at two Indoor World Cups and the Vegas Shoot.
6. Wants Gold to Go With Her Silver: Mexico’s Aida Roman
Aida Roman clinched an Olympic medal at London 2012 while shooting for Mexico’s archery team. She has proven herself a force in the recurve women’s division. Roman consistently leads the field in qualification rounds at international tournaments, and she’ll be tough to beat as she gears up for Rio 2016.
7. World Dominating Superstar: Erika Jones
If “World Domination” were an archery event, Erika Jones would probably win a gold medal. This former youth and collegiate standout has held the No. 1 world ranking for several months, and is rarely off the podium’s top spot. She recently set two world records at the World Games, and would be our favorite for a gold medal if compound were an Olympic event.
8. From NASP to World Stage: Mackenzie Brown
Mackenzie Brown started archery as part of the National Archery in the Schools Program, and quickly realized she had a special talent. After switching to the recurve bow, Brown rose through the ranks of the Junior Dream Team before moving to the Olympic Training Center in hopes of making the Rio 2016 Olympic Team. Watch for her on this year’s national tournament circuit.