Brady Ellison is a three-time Olympian and Olympic medalist in archery, taking bronze individually and silver in the team contest at the Rio Olympic Games. Ellison had a career year in 2019 and made the podium – including two wins – at every World Cup event. He and his wife Toja, who is also a world-class archer, welcomed their first child in November 2020.
As part of our preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we learned about Brady Ellison:
Tell us about your family.
My amazing wife is from Slovenia. We met at a shoot in Columbia. She shoots professionally for Slovenia. It’s awesome to have somebody who shoots to travel with and who understands what it takes to be No. 1.
How did your parents influence your athletic career?
They did everything they could to help me get to shoots and to give me the best opportunities. We didn’t have a lot of money, so they would send me with friends to go to shoots and my grandparents drove me all over the USA to shoots
How much time do you train?
I wake up at 7-7:30 and cook breakfast. Try to start shooting from 8:30-12, then a couple more hours in the afternoon and try and lift four days a week when we are home. When on the road, we do the best we can to shoot and work out.
What’s the most grueling workout you’ve ever done?
Packing out an elk five miles after walking seven to get to him. I almost didn’t make it back to the truck. If it would have been any further I would have just stayed on the mountain and gone out in the morning. Was worth filling the freezer, but was tough.
What’s your earliest archery memory?
I had a bow in my hand when I was still in diapers. My whole family hunted with archery and that what I was going to do. I started competing when I was 10 with a compound and went from 3D style shooting, which is a course of foam animals with scoring, to more target-type stuff. I won junior worlds with a compound in 2005. It wasn’t until 2006 that I found Olympic recurve and wanted to make the Games. I ended up being pretty decent at it and was lucky enough to make a income at a young age and just chose to ride this bus as long as I can.
Did you have a specific breakthrough moment in the sport?
Everyone told me it would take four to six years to see if I would become good enough to make a team. I won my first senior event when I was 17 and just under a year of shooting a recurve. At that moment, I knew I could make the 2008 team just two years after switching to the Olympic event. I just have always pushed to be better and now I have won more international medals than anyone in my sport. And I hope to just get better and better.
What advice would you give to a younger athlete?
The harder you work the better it gets. Archery is tough, a lot more tough when you want to make it a career. Just take what you can get and make things better. It’s better to work your way up slow in companies than it is to say, "I am the best and demand the world."