What is a ”Professional Archer?” That was the question that recently circulated among people that subscribe to ArcheryTalk. I read a few of the responses. The question wasn’t novel. Every so often someone tosses that question out. Each time similar reactions occur. That is, a bunch of folks response with a bunch of opinions.
Being more long winded and having my own website I decide to put in my opinion here. It has no more value or greater clarity and the other opinions offered at ArcheryTalk. It may be less important to you than your own opinion.
First, to compete in a pro division, for the most part, all that is required is to pay a more expensive entry fee. That’s right, the Pro divisions cost more than the non-pro divisions should you want to shoot against the best. You know if you’re ready to make that investment. You know because you know your scores.
Say, you want to shoot in the Pro class at a 3-spot indoor event. You generally score a 600 with 55 to 59 Xs. By all means you are ready, pay up and shoot your best. Does this make you a pro? Nope.
I haven’t checked, but I heard that the NFAA now requires an archer to shoot a 300/48X minimum to enter the pro class during one of their 5-spot indoor events. Even if you can just do that, keep your money. A 300/48X in the senior men’s pro division will not land you in the top 10 by a long shot. Should you wait until you always score 300/60X? No, but wait until you are nearly there and mostly there. What I mean, by that is a 300/60X is not a rare score for you.
3D seems to have a lot of archers that compete in Pro divisions. Most are adding their entry fee to the pot to support the winners. Will you improve your shooting by competing in the pro divisions? No, you’ll improve your shooting by practicing. Really, you should know before you show up at an event pretty much how you’ll place. If you are a Professional you will know.
Certainty, things can happen that might cause your score on any given day to fluctuate a percentage point to two. Professionals know that range as well as their average score and X count. This knowledge does not make one a professional.
Professionals often know a lot more about their shooting, training, and tournament performance than amateurs. However, some amateurs know just as much about their abilities. Still, this knowledge does not make one a professional.
It is my opinion, despite all the professionalism displayed in the Pro divisions, is that unless you are earning a living wage as a Professional Archer, the sport is a past time. There are professional archers. They make a living wage competing. Their competition earnings along with sponsors that pay them and endorsements do provide the athlete with a good annual income.
I pointed out that Professionals are “paid” by a sponsor. Having a “Pro-Staff” shirt that you paid to wear and shooting a company’s equipment you bought with a 25% “Pro-Staff” discount does not make you a professional. It makes you a marketing asset. Nothing wrong with that as it is, in this sport, a first step on a pathway to earning a living wage for many archers.
On that pathway there is a lot of practice and training. If you can shoot about 30 arrows a day four to five days a week enjoy your dream but keep that day job.
If you are not earning a living wage as an archer but earning a good bit of money on the side shooting that’s great. Is archery you’re full time job that provides a living wage? No, well you are still not a professional archer.
There are very few professional archers in this sport. There are very few professional basketball players. There are very few professional athletes. You see that point – right? It is rare to be a professional athlete.
There are a whole lot of really great archers. Many are just as good or are very close to performing as well as the top elite professional archers. But most know there are better ways to earn more money. Those professional level archers enjoy the sport, get the ego stroking cash prize from time to time and support their families with their day job.
Most of all, whether you are a professional, consider yourself a professional or are a weekend warrior, remember why it is that you have chosen archery as your primary sport.