Archery demands focus, poise under pressure and sometimes a little luck. Even the pros do things to boost their confidence and gain favor with the archery gods.
Crystal Gauvin is a former professional compound archer who switched to the recurve to chase her Olympic dreams. She decided 2016 was her last season shooting compounds, and she enjoyed success by earning three World Cup medals, including gold at the World Cup Final.
She earned her success through hard work, but her “lucky routine” might have helped, too. The night before competitions, Gauvin changed out all her nocks. The next day, after the fifth end, she drank a Coke Zero. (An “end” is a round of shooting. In outdoor competition, archers usually shoot six arrows per end and 12 ends for a competition.)
Changing nocks might sound superstitious, but it also improves accuracy, especially when shooting many arrows at the same bull’s-eye. Professional archers group their arrows so tightly that incoming shots often damage nocks.
Brady Ellison is the nation’s top Olympic recurve archer, but he also gives a signature wave before every match. His double-wrist wave honors his idol Lane Frost while also acknowledging his rooting fans. Since debuting the wave in 2010, Ellison has racked up over 60 World Archery medals and three Olympic medals.
Professional archery might be a dream career, but it’s not all about adoring fans. It also involves lots of time on the road away from family. Some archers bring along a piece of home when traveling to stave off the travel blues.
Dutch Olympic archer Sjef van den Berg travels with a stuffed dog to remind him of his girlfriend. Jesse Broadwater wears a pink and blue shoelace to remind him of his son and two daughters. Those might not seem like lucky charms, but they can reduce travel-related stress and help archers focus on their shooting.
Many archery professionals we interviewed, however, still believe success is mostly about individual effort and lots of practice. “It’s all you on the shooting line,” said Sarah Sonnichsen, the world’s top-ranked women’s compound archer. “No one or nothing else; just you.”
Still, good luck charms can’t hurt, right? That lucky rabbit’s foot on your quiver might help your confidence, but make no mistake: Hard work fuels its lucky powers. If you spend a few extra hours of quality practice at the range, you’ll shoot more bull’s-eyes and place higher in your next tournament.
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