Zoe Shippee’s Archery Story: Shooting Her Way to the Top


(Photo courtsey of Zoe Shippee)

Five years ago, Junior Zoe Shippee was introduced to archery and has been infatuated with it ever since. 

She started her journey using a barebow, which is a style of bow that doesn’t have any sights, stabilizers, or other clickers. 

“Using barebow helped me get my technique down, but when I was about 14 I switched to an Olympic recurve,” Shippee said.

“The Olympic recurve has useful add-ons that help me in my current level of shooting.” 

Most people can’t help but to stereotype archery into something regarding The Hunger Games and Katniss Everdeen, but Shipee explains that the reality of archery is much different. 

“The bow is taller than I am,” Shippee explained. “When I pull back the string, I’m pulling back 38 pounds of pressure. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks, most people think it’s just pull back the string and go. Right now I’m shooting at 70 meters (230 feet away), so it takes a lot of patience and precision.” 

To keep her scores up , Shippee practices around 2-3 hours a day, totaling to at least 14 hours a week. When preparing for tournaments, it can be close to double those hours. 

“You can’t make mistakes like you can in other sports, once the arrow hits the target it’s what you get,” Shippee said. 

“Everything has to be perfect to be right. It’s an individual sport, so there is only you to blame if you mess up. That’s why I have to practice so much.” 

Shippee displays her skills while playing in tournaments and placing impressively. 

“Ranking works differently than other typical sports,” Shippee said. 

“For [archery], you just have to go to qualifying state tournaments to get ranking in the state of California. Currently, I’m third in the Junior Olympic Archery Program, and fourth overall in my tournament over the weekend. This year, my goal is to try to make the USA archery team.” 

Throughout her years learning archery, Shippee reports that one of the hardest skills to learn is a good mindset. 

“The biggest challenge I’ve overcome is called target panic,” Shippee said.

“Looking at the target  and knowing you have to hit it exactly at the right point can sometimes become very overwhelming and I would start to freak out. Archery is 80-90% a mental game. In my last tournament, I did the best I’ve ever done because I overcame my mentality. I like to think that archery is the sport of overthinking.”

Shippee’s coach, Byron Burkhardt, is one one of her biggest influences and inspirations. 

“My coach is totally awesome and I love him. I go to Trident Archery [and]  he’s a very encouraging coach,” Shippee said.

“He knows all the ends of the sport, and he helps get through tournaments which are very stressful. I’ve been to multiple other studios and this one is definitely my favorite.”