Get to know: British compounder Ella Gibson
Ella is in a hurry. The British number one is making up for lost time having only taken part in her first compound competition in January 2017.
Fast forward five years and Gibson has broken world records, consistently challenges for major international podiums and is currently ranked 13th in the world after a breakthrough season in 2021.
The 21-year-old has started this year in fine form as well, recently securing individual bronze at the Lancaster Archery Classic – as well as her first major event victory. Gibson won the European Indoor Championships in Lasko, Slovenia, adding a continental gold to the silver she took at the European Outdoor Championships less than 12 months ago.
Despite the quick success, Ella has said that she will not stop until she is the dominant force in her sport. Her relentless drive to succeed, refreshing honesty and obvious gift are why her journey is bound to be box office.
Here are eight things you need to know about one of archery’s most exciting young talents.
1. She’s not here to take part, she’s here to take over
Gibson is confident, driven, ambitious and not afraid to share her hopes and dreams.
“I want to be the best in the world. Full stop. I don’t want to be in the top five forever, I want to be number one,” she says. “I want to be the best consistently. I want to have high expectations on me to always win, for it to be a normality that I go away and win. I want to be dominating.”
2. Ice cream and archery – the perfect match
Gibson’s father Rob runs Dolcetti Ice Cream in Cirencester which has a factory, warehouse and parlour in the English town.
Ella knows the flavours well, having previously worked in the family business. She’ll be spending a lot more time with Dolcetti later this year as the company will be moving to a new factory complete with a private archery range purely for her to train at.
“It will be hugely beneficial for the indoor season rather than relying on clubs and other spaces which are restricted by time and space,” she says. “I’ll have my own 25m range which will just be perfect. I can have all my targets and rigs in there and shoot whatever time of day or night I want.”
Whether free ice cream is part of her training regime remains to be confirmed.
3. Her nerves are a superpower
Gibson’s relationship with nerves and how she controls them on the biggest stage is intriguing.
“I take the view that when you get nervous, you get adrenaline responses which most of the time makes you feel shaky,” she explains. “But this is not a bad thing.”
“Shaking means I have adrenaline, and adrenaline makes you powerful, and being powerful makes you win. It can make you better if anything when shooting. Treat nerves as your superpower.”
4. An eye for gold
Good luck charms come in various weird and wonderful shapes for athletes. For Gibson, it is using a specific colour of eyeshadow the morning of a major competition – gold, obviously.
“It gets me in a nice mentality the morning of the competition, especially for medal matches,” she says. There’s only one reason to swap shade. “If I’m in a bronze medal match I will change the colour of the eye shadow to bronze as that’s the colour I’m going for that day.”
5. She’s got written reminders
Ella is not alone in writing words on her bow to help her focus during competition.
“Near the top, I have ‘remove tension’, which reminds me I shoot best not when I’m trying to be powerful, but when I’m trying to be smooth,” she says.
“On the inside of the bow, I have written ‘shoot for the 10’ and ‘direction’ and ‘feel’. This is to tell me to shoot for the 10, instead of trying to avoid the nine. It’s a mentality thing. Direction and feel are technical reminders about my aim and trying to hit the right axis.”
6. She’s got a sweet tooth
When not competing or training at the range, Gibson can often be found baking her latest masterpiece – a hobby that her teammates certainly reap the benefits of.
“I always bake and turn up to events with something: cupcakes, cookies, shortbread, flapjack,” she says. “When I went to the world championships I took a massive tub of brownies which went down pretty well with the team and sponsors.”
7. Tough love sent her down this path
Gibson’s compound journey began after being told aged 16 she was ‘middle-aged’ and too old to make it in the recurve ranks.
“It was a little bit of a hit but I knew it came from love. The person wasn’t trying to be mean; they were just being realistic, that I needed to start young and learn a specific position if I wanted to do recurve, that it was not natural to learn when you’re older.
“Compound, as I was told, was more muscular and required strength, so that’s what I did.”
8. Painting a picture
Alongside baking, Gibson enjoys painting as a way of relaxing away from the professional tour, with animals her favourite subject to put on canvas. However, her two loves could combine soon, with plans to pack her paintbrushes for use in her hotel room on future international trips.
“Recently I painted the eye of a tiger, the head of a panther and lots of cats. I also painted a beautiful leopard and her babies altogether,” she explains. “I paint in acrylic as I hate watercolour.”
Follow Ella on Instagram: @ella.gibson_archery
Some photos courtesy World Archery Europe.