Archery is for everyone. Whether you play team sports, another sport that has nothing to do with archery, or if you’ve never tried a sport in your life, archery is for you. Madison Cox, S3DA’s communications and member services coordinator, discussed with us how she got into archery, how it’s shaped her life, and how you can encourage more people to take part.
Madison's dad has been one of her biggest supporters. Photo Credit: Madison Cox
Cox discovered archery in 2018 as a junior in high school, after being an All Star cheerleader. She competed with S3DA Archery her junior and senior years and quickly realized she could earn a college scholarship through the program. “I had three teammates who signed with the University of the Cumberlands while I was a junior and it caught my eyes,” Cox said. “My very first S3DA tournament, I also realized they were handing out college scholarships at awards. It automatically made me want to figure this archery game out and get better at it so I could earn one of those cool scholarships.” And get better is exactly what she did. Cox recently graduated from the University of the Cumberlands in May, 2023, and is currently pursuing a graduate degree from the same university and is still a member of the archery team.
“When I first started, I was not very good at all and it took me a while to get the hang of it,” Cox said. “Let’s just say I probably hit more trees and things behind the target than the actual target in the beginning. It wasn’t until the last year that I realized I could actually compete in the pro class, and I actually stood a chance at this sport.” Cox’s experience demonstrates that not everyone is going to be good at archery right out of the gate, and that’s OK. A great coach understands that not being great from the get-go doesn’t mean you can’t get better. Practicing often and understanding form and technique are key to growth in archery. Everyone has the tools to become a great archer. It's up to the coaches to show the archer how to use them.
Programs like S3DA award college scholarship money as prizes at archery tournaments. Photo Credit: ATA
Having a supportive mentor and coach can be the difference between being good and being great at archery. Be that supportive coach and mentor for as many people as you can. Cox notes that she’s had many mentors who have helped her along the way. “My first ever archery coach was Bo Morris, and he was the only person I trusted to work on my bow for the longest time,” Cox said. “University of the Cumberlands coaches Kris Strebeck and Caleb Kirby have been great mentors in collegiate archery and figuring out archery in general. My dad is the main one that has been there through it every step of the way, from my very first S3DA tournament all the way up to my most recent World Cup debut. He has been my rock, my coach, and everything in between. He has pushed me to be better and still pushes me every day to be better. GAS BowStrings owner Eric Griggs has been a huge mentor to me and has helped me a ton. He believes in me more than I believe in myself most of the time, and I could never thank him enough for everything he does for me.”
These days, Cox is on the shooting line beside the same professional archers she’s been admiring for years. “Looking up to people like Tanja Gellenthien and Paige Pierce for the last few years and now I’m friends with them and I get to compete alongside them every weekend is crazy to me,” Cox said. Encourage the archers you coach, especially the young women, to find an archer they admire and keep them as a beacon to show them what they can be.
The data from our Industry Data Packet, for which the ATA commissioned a nationwide survey, shows that from 2017 to 2019, 6% of U.S. women were recreational archers, compared with 14% of U.S. men. Stories like Cox’s are important, as we hope it encourages more women and girls to get into archery and close the gender gap. “I would tell any young women or girls looking to get into archery to step out of their comfort zone and chase their dreams,” Cox said. “If your dream scares you, then that’s a good thing. I would tell them to believe in themselves and to soak in all of the advice they get from those they look up to.”
Cox says archery has made an impact that will last a lifetime. “The sport of archery has completely flipped my life upside down for the better,” Cox said. “Little junior in high school Madison had absolutely no idea that a bow would take her to all of these places. Archery has taken me around the world in the short six years I have had a bow in my hand. I cannot wait to see where it takes me in the next six years. My life actually revolves around archery now. I work in archery, I am always shooting, and everything is planned around archery. Basically, archery has made an outstanding impact on my life and has changed it forever. I plan to shoot competitive professional archery for a long time to come. As long as I can compete with the other women in the class, you can bet I will be giving it my all to be the best out there.”
What can your shop do to encourage new archers, especially girls and women, to join the sport?
An archer’s experience with a coach can make or break their experience with the sport. Make sure your coaches are the most supportive they can be, and they can help launch journeys as encouraging and empowering as Cox’s.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP THE INDUSTRY, TO HELP INDIVIDUAL BUSINESSES GET THE MOST OUT OF THE INDUSTRY, AND TO HELP YOU.