How difficult is it to become a professional archer?
Archery is historically not a professional sport – not, say, like football or tennis or golf. But, over recent years, more and more people have been able to earn a good living from representing their country, professional team or sponsors on the international archery tournament circuit.
The world’s top-ranked compound man, Stephan Hansen, is one of them.
“I have been doing archery since 2002, and have been a real professional since 2015,” says Hansen. “I’ve never had a job outside of the sport, and this is better paid than almost any other I could get. I have long term contracts and enjoy it, surviving with the money I earn. It’s a job for me now.”
Becoming a pro is not easy. Hansen says you need to dedicate your life to the pursuit of excellence – and that means practising, day-in, day-out.
“A key part of things is winning! A pro archer’s salary is based entirely on how much he wins, and having good contracts. Also, if you win more, you attract more attention. With that coverage you can build up a good social media base and make good money as more people start to follow you,” the 22-year-old Dane explains.
“I think it helps to start early; I was seven when I started and was able to learn things gradually. It’s good to take steps slowly.”
Hansen now shoots at major domestic events with significant prize pots in the USA, as well as the international events run by World Archery: “It’s how I earn my living!"
It’s a long, hard road to reaching professionality in the sport, but Hansen believes that there’s only one essential ingredient:
“Some people might be missing some determination, some might just not have the confidence to go all the way. For some people, they may want to go all the way but physically cannot achieve a high enough level.”
“But really it comes down to the passion.”
If that’s the key, then passion is something that this two-time World Archery Championships finalist has in abundant supply.