It’s funny, but archers agonize over which bows, arrows and accessories to use, but barely think about what to wear on their feet. Stable archery shoes provide a strong platform to shoot from, but you’ll see many ways archers achieve that stable platform on the line. Brady Ellison once wore cowboy boots to an indoor World Cup event. If it worked for him …
Whatever you wear, realize that most tournament organizers require shoes to have a ”closed toe.” So, if you’re shooting in your backyard, you’re the boss of your footwear, but if you’re competing in archery, sandals and flip-flops are out. Good footwear is not the biggest part of archery, but getting the details right can boost your shooting confidence. In the long run, a little extra confidence can score many extra points!
1. Athletic shoes
Hundreds of models of athletic shoes are designed for dozens of sports, with many different cushioning styles inside. Try a few to see what feels good. You don’t want shoes that are too squishy or bouncy, though. Some archers swear by extra-wide models of their favorite shoes for a little extra stability. If you make a national team, you might be lucky enough to get sponsored and receive shoes in national colors, as with this pretty-cool pair spotted on the line at this year’s Shanghai World Cup.
2. Shot-put shoes.
These have been popular since Team USA Coach Kisik Lee recommended them in his book “Inside The Archer” as a great choice. The best-known model is Adidas’ AdiZero, which has a flat sole and a thin, firm inner sole. This model provides greater stability than regular athletic shoes. It also slopes slightly from heel to toe, which helps keep your center of gravity off your heels, as recommended by many coaches.
3. Skate shoes
Many archers use skateboard-style athletic shoes, especially indoors. These models tend to have a thick, firm, flat base that gives archers a solid shooting platform Skate shoes usually have minimal tread on the sole for maximum contact. They also tend to offer good value, and fashions change fast in the skate world so you can often pick up last season’s pairs cheaply.
4. Walking shoes
Some archers prefer the firmer support of walking, hiking or trail shoes. Most walking shoes have waterproof fabric outers that stand up to the elements, especially rain. At this year’s Shanghai World Cup, the Korean women’s team led the archery world in fashion and on the scoreboard by wearing shoes from Kolon Sport, a hip Korean outdoor brand. Their laces-free design uses a click-and-push dial to tighten the shoes on your feet. Unfortunately, you might struggle to find a pair outside Korea.
5. Golf shoes
Another popular choice for archers is golf shoes, which makes sense. Both sports involve a lot of walking outdoors in variable conditions, and shoes must offer stability and comfort. Golf shoes are usually made of breathable leather to keep your feet dry and cozy, and most feature removable plastic cleats, which can be useful in poor conditions.
6. Nike Akribis
How about a pair of shoes custom-built for archery? It’s a pity, but you won’t find them in shops anytime soon. The Akribis shoes (Greek for accuracy) were part of a range of specialist team footwear designed by Nike for Beijing 2008. Versions were worn by the USA, Chinese and Chinese Taipei archery Olympic teams. Nike described the Akribis like this: “With a nubby Astrograbber outsole that can penetrate and grip grass or synthetic turf, and a contoured footbed that elevates the heel to an athletic shooting position, the Nike Akribis provides comfort and sure footing on any surface.”
Unfortunately, demand wasn’t quite there and Nike never manufactured them for sale. Shame!
7. Archery Laces
Spanish company Flex Archery brightened the archery world the past couple of years with the colorful Cosmos shoe, which features target faces and finger-sling-style laces. You can order them in your club colors. They’ve appeared on the line at major tournaments too. However, they’re not the only sneaker sporting a target face.
8. Bare feet.
Go ahead. Give it a try, just once. Feel the ground beneath your toes. Feel exactly where your weight is going. Some archers train with bare feet for exactly this reason. Connect to the earth. And you can color coordinate your toenails with your bow.