Archery skills built from a young age can be honed on the collegiate circuit, a popular gateway into professional archery.
College offers many opportunities for aspiring archers, including scholarships and shooting as part of a club. As you’ll read, professional archer Maddy Brown excelled in collegiate archery, and thinks it benefits anyone pursuing an archery career.
The first step toward professional archery is getting involved in the Program and Junior Olympic Archery Development program. Once you advance from NASP to JOAD and beyond, it might be time to apply to a collegiate program. To achieve eligibility for archery scholarships through the National Field Archery Association, you must be an NFAA member and have been a member at least two years.
The NFAA offers scholarships to high-school graduates and current college students. The funds are held until the high-school recipients’ graduating year. Scholarship amounts vary by each archer’s level of competition, with Olympic qualifiers receiving more than NASP archers, for instance.
Scholarships are awarded to individuals, not specific collegiate teams. The scholarship check is sent to the college and deposited into the student’s account. The student doesn’t have to shoot with an official collegiate club, but if the scholarship exceeds $500 the student must submit an “Archery Activity Report” twice a year to prove they’re competing in archery on some level.
The Scholastic 3-D Archery Program’s National Indoor Championship awards scholarships to student-archers based on their competitive performance. These annual awards also go to the archer’s school. S3DA tournaments often attract college recruiters scouting for talented archers. The University of the Cumberlands, for example, recruits archers at S3DA competitions year-round, passing out scholarships to top student-archers.
The Vegas Shoot also presents scholarship opportunities for archers of all ages. It’s the NFAA’s largest indoor tournament, and is open to all archers from novices to Olympians. The Vegas Shoot awarded over $400,000 in scholarships in 2017, so it attracts many aspiring student-archers.
Maddy Brown competed for the University of the Cumberlands, and was recruited by its head coach, who watched her shoot at a tournament. Brown helped her school achieve three National team titles while also winning many of her own, including a third National Championship in 2015. She said her class enjoyed four years of constant success.
Collegiate teams can be just as competitive and challenging as professional teams, so it’s a great way to build competitive skills while also building close friendships.
“I fell in love with collegiate archery, and it opened so many doors for me,” Brown said. “Not only did I get to earn a bachelor’s degree while shooting, but I also made so many friends all over the nation who have become some of my closest. I also got to shoot with and against some of the best archers in the nation.”
Brown credits Coach Kris Strebeck for recruiting her to shoot at Cumberlands, noting that great coaches are the first step to success in all sports. Other prominent college-archery programs include Columbia, Texas A&M, and James Madison.
Brown has kept competing professionally since graduating college. She wants to continue competing with the Archery Shooters Association, and strives to shoot more NFAA and International Bowhunting Organization tournaments.
“I got the chance to go to Vegas last year by placing top eight in the nation, and I want nothing more than to be able to compete at that level again,” she said.
Brown is also using her post-grad time to coach. “I’m back at it, and preparing for the first ASA of the season in Foley (Alabama),” she said. “I now have the chance to focus on 3-D, and cannot wait to get this season started.”
She urges young archers to be willing to learn. “Be a sponge, absorb information and be coachable,” she said. “That’s the most important. Share information with others and be willing to teach.”
Brown also urges patience and understanding. “Everyone has their moments,” she said. “Be willing to take the good with the bad, and you’ll achieve greatness one day. If you have questions, ask! Any of the pros are more than willing to help!”
Getting started in competitive archery can seem daunting, but no pro ever starts at the top. To prepare for the future, look for programs and tournaments open to youths of all ages. And when it’s time to apply, pursue an archery scholarship. It might just keep your passion alive during college.
Realize, of course, to have a shot at a collegiate team, you must hit the range regularly. Visit your local range and start polishing your archery skills. Your talent might just land you the college of your dreams.