About this time, each year, I begin thinking about the upcoming archery season. There are only two more tournaments on my calendar for 2019. As I begin planning for 2020 I review the results of tournaments where I competed and where I didn’t shoot in 2019. The data of other athletes are can be important to review. No team in the NFL would go to a game without reviewing film on their opponent. Why go into any other sports competition being clueless regarding your opponents.
The tournaments are expensive. There’s the entry fee to consider along with food, gas and lodging. If the data shows I’d wind up outside the top three then that contest is put on a second tier for consideration. A top three position and the event is on the ‘A’ list.
Just because a tournament makes the list doesn’t mean I’d enter. For example, while I won the USA Indoor 18-meter National Championship in Suwanee, Georgia it is basically a regional event not a true National Championship. The scores are eventually complied from all the regions in the US and even though I won in Georgia eight other archers scored higher than I did across the country. If my chance to compete had been in St. Louis rather than Suwanee I wouldn’t have made the drive.
Last year I considered going to the NFAA Indoor 18-meter. Looking over my numbers, there was an 80% chance I’d score 600 with 97 Xs. That would have earned me a 4thplace finish in the Silver Senior division. There was also a variance on the low end of my performance curve. Considering that section of the curve I’d have shot 595 with 81 Xs – not worth the trip for that score. The NFAA winner scored, in the Sliver Senior division, won with 600 with 109 Xs.
Still the 2020 NFAA Tournament is currently on the list. The drive to the 2020 shoot is 476 miles, two days hauling a camper each way. The total cost (gas, camping, food, entry fee) for the event would cost me $921.00.
First place money for my age group is $3000.00, second is $1500.00 and third is $1000.00. Right now there’s an 80% chance the event would cost me $921.00. My stats also suggest that using trend lines there is a 98.5% chance, if the trends remain constant, I’d win which means the event would end up in the positive side of cash flow by $2079.00. So, the NFAA Indoor Nationals remains a consideration.
There’s very little potential for income in sport for an athlete over 40. Archery isn’t great money maker for professionals of any age. Sport, in general, isn’t a career many athletes can bank on.
“The general salary range for Olympic archers is between $36,000 and $97,000. Serious archers who win tournaments on a regular basis can take in between $10,000 and $75,000 depending on their skill. They may also be paid for endorsements, training, running shops, and working with archery companies to develop better products.”(1)
Archery isn’t the most expensive sport and the total cost (entry fee, food, lodging, gas) for something like the NFAA Indoor Nationals just covers the entry fee for a major Ironman event. If I’d not had the help of a sponsor the Ironman World Championship would have cost me $10,000 at a minimum.
In 2011 I qualified for a second USA World Championship Team in the Long Course Duathlon. The race was being held in Switzerland and the event would again have been in the $10,000 range. I declined my spot on the team unsure of how I’d finance the trip.
Athletes, the professionals, don’t all make the big bucks. Archery isn’t alone when it comes to being tight fisted regarding supporting its players. (2) Many seasonal professional athletes maintain a ‘day job’ in order to make ends meet. (3)
As an athlete, you might expect the archery industry to help pick up your tab. That is unlikely to happen unless you become one of the very best. As a whole the archery industry grosses not that much than some of the top paid athletes in the world. (4)
Lionell Messi earned 1/3 the total revenue of that which the US archery industry grossed 2018. (4,5) Messi, however, isn’t even in Floyd Mayweather’s league or just barely when you’re talking $111 million versus $275 million US dollars. (4,6)
For most athletes, the dream of earning a living wage in their sport remains a dream. In some sports even the top athletes need a ‘day job’. Archery, for the most part falls into the ‘day job’ athlete category.
Once, I watched an archer shooting at his local range. He was firing arrow after arrow into the X on a vertical 3-spot. One of the employees at the range said, “He never misses.” In fact, I didn’t see him miss.
Later, I asked him way he didn’t compete at the major events. He replied, “I can’t afford it.”
Looking forward to 2020 I’ll continue to do the math (I’m enjoy math.) If the statistics suggest a break even or positive cash I’ll probably go to an event. Certainly, I dream of winning the big tournaments but reality keeps money in my pocket.