Putting in Sweat Equity with Professional Archer John Dudley

Growing up, being an outdoorsman was a family tradition for professional archer John Dudley. On hiatus from his high school and soon-to-be college football career due to injury, John spontaneously signed up for a competitive archery tournament and his passion for the sport was reignited. He put his football career on the back burner to work full-time in an archery shop for $4.50 an hour to hone his talents. After years of hard work, John is now a professional archer who has earned 13 World Medals, 3 National Titles and 45 career top three professional finishes.

While dexterity and a good eye might be the first thing that come to mind when thinking about archery, John shows us that physical stamina combined with a KILL THE QUIT attitude are essential to the sport and credits these traits with his success. Here are a few of our burning questions and insights from John himself.

KC: What workouts do you do to prepare physically for your hunts?

JD: I focus on a well-rounded regimen that includes real-world training and equal amounts of physical preparation and shooting/technique. Two areas of focus include:

  • High intensity cardio – my hunts require a lot of packing and hiking in backcountry, so I train both in the gym and the real world. In the gym I practice kettle bells and core lifts combined with machines. Most importantly I also include ruck hiking in the real world every chance I get (note: rucking is carrying a weighted pack on your back).
  • Weight training – this is often overlooked by many hunters and archery competitors, but a critical part of being a high-level archer. 

KC: How do you prepare for your hunts mentally?

JD: For me, being prepared physically is the key to maintaining mental stamina. This is what I tell all of the athletes I coach. When you’re not prepared, it’s easy to mentally give in. But when you’ve put in a lot of sweat equity prior to the competition, you’re more invested. Being over prepared and training year-round has helped me to excel as a hunter.

KC: What are some of the greatest challenges you or other athletes have encountered when it comes to this sport?

JD: One of the biggest hurdles that any athlete encounters is a plateau. When you feel like you aren’t making progress anymore, then it’s time to self-reflect. Overcoming plateaus is done by being transparent with yourself and taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, and focusing on how to make the weakest part of your sport a strength. For me, I’ve been focusing lately on building my back strength to improve my pull-up abilities, because this is an area where I’ve struggled. Since I constantly pull with my back to shoot, I struggle with the fine line of training it too much or not enough.

John Dudley is the founder of Nock On, a brand for everyone who rocks the archery lifestyle, and the Nock On podcast offering world-class archery information. He also travels around the world hosting seminars and personal training classes. To learn more about John, visit nockonarchery.com or check out his social media: @nockontv.

WATCH Badassadors John Dudley and Andy Stumpf track Chamois over some of the most treacherous terrain.