Wednesday, June 26, 2024
HomeSportArchery: What it's like to compete at the top-level

Archery: What it’s like to compete at the top-level

Bryony Pitman, 24, lives in Shoreham By Sea. She is a British archer and Olympic hopeful.

Archery is a sport where repetition is so important, so a lot of my training is just shooting loads of arrows to get my technique as consistent as possible.

It also requires a lot of fine control around the moment you release the arrow so we do a variety of drills to make that really smooth too.

In finals at competitions, we only have 20 seconds to shoot each arrow so we do a lot of timing drills and team drills too so that we can shoot quickly if we need to.

I shoot five or six days a week. We tend to measure it in arrow count so at the moment it’s like 300 to 450 arrows per day (which takes four to six hours) but I’ll taper closer to competition. I like to put a lot of focus on strength work too so I train in the gym four times per week and I also run three times a week.

What drew you to archery?

My dad competed for Britain years ago so growing up I heard about all the cool places he’d been and what he’d won and so I always wanted to make the British team too and travel the world competing. It just sounded amazing!

What are the common misconceptions about the sport?

People always think archery is easy.

Beginner’s bows are usually quite light so easy to pull back and also the targets are really close. It actually requires a lot of effort and strength to pull back a competition bow and to reproduce the same shot hundreds of times.

The main competition distance for a recurve bow is 70 meters and the 10 ring is only the size of a CD! No one expects archers to train as much as they do but it really is a full-time job to be at the top level.

People also think it’s boring, but I think competitions are really exciting. Our competition format is head-to-head style and if you tie you have to shoot one arrow and closest to the middle wins. We also have team events that can be really energetic and exciting to be part of!

What is it like competing for Team GB?

It’s amazing, I remember how excited I was the first time I made the team and it still makes me just as proud to wear the shirt 10 years on.

I love archery a lot so having the opportunity to represent my country and travel the world doing it is just incredible. I’ve had so many more experiences and opportunities thanks to archery and I would do it all over again!

What is your greatest achievement?

With the team, probably a tie between our World Championships bronze and our European Games gold in 2019.

We also won our full Olympic quota places that year and it was just such an amazing feeling to be consistently performing at such a high level internationally.

Individually probably when I won a stage of the Indoor World Cup in 2016, that was my first big win as a senior and also came at the end of a year where I collected a lot of silvers.

What things do you still want to achieve in the sport?

Loads! I’m nowhere near done yet.

I’d like to achieve more individually, one of my main goals, when I started, was to win the world field championships so I’m still aiming for that. I’d like to do multiple Olympics if I can and obviously many athletes dream is an Olympic medal. I’m no different there.

What do you enjoy about the sport?

I love being outside all the time and it’s just really calming. Even in winter when it’s freezing cold it’s such a good stress relief just to get to the club for a couple of hours.

Field competitions are my favourite because you just get to spend the weekend wandering around the woods. There’s also something for everyone: indoors, outdoors, field, 3D, and several different bow types too. It’s just all round a great sport to get involved in.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into sport and archery in particular?

There are loads of clubs about. On the Archery GB website there is a club finder tool which tells you all your local clubs, facilities etc.

From there you can find out if any beginner courses are available and book in. Also don’t be worried about being rubbish to start with, just get started and have fun!

I want to say a huge thank you to my family, friends and sponsors who have helped me get this far.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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