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Archery is a precision sport where the competitors aim and shoot at a target using a bow and arrow. Archery competitions can be divided into the following disciplines:

  • Outdoor Target Archery
  • Indoor Target Archery
  • Field Archery
  • Run-Archery
  • Clout Archery
  • Flight Archery
  • Archery Biathlon is practiced under IBU now

There are three types of bows used in archery competitions:

    • Recurve bow

The recurve bow’s ends curve away from the archer when the bow is held in the shooting position. The recurve shape can reduce the loading when fully drawn and imparts more energy to the arrow than a longbow of similar top draw weight.

    • Longbow

The longbow is the most basic of bows. It is usually shaped from a single piece of timber and the grip is typically made from a strip of leather bound around the bow. A small shelf is cut into the side of the bow for the arrow to rest on. The tip of the arrow is kept at full draw to shoot.

    • Compound bow

A compound bow has pulleys set at the end of its limbs. The purpose of these pulleys is to make the cocked, ready to fire position of the bow easier to hold.

The middle part of the bow, that is, the part that does not bend is called the riser.

Every arrow is made of four parts:

    • Tip

There are three types of tips: field, hooked and silver. Arrow tips also have different designs. The point tipped arrow is most common. The small blades of the hooked tip may cause tearing and bleeding. Bladed arrows are more damaging than hooked tip ones, but they are easier to remove.

    • Shaft

Four types of materials are used to make shafts: wood, bone, ceramic and steel. The most common material used is wood. Steel is the strongest material, followed by porcelain and bone. Before making arrows, wooden shafts should be sorted by spine and weight. Aluminum and carbon composite shafts are light, durable and uniform, but are quite expensive.

    • Fletch

The fletch or the feathering of the arrow affects the distance it travels and its impact. Fletches could be feathers or plastic vanes. There are six types of fletch patterns: round, parabolic, shield, wood vane,bone vane, and ceramic vane. The round cut is the easiest pattern to fletch. The parabolic cut’s spin gives the arrow additional flight range. The shield cut has a shorter range than the round or parabolic cut, but its spin provides superior armor penetration.

    • Nock

There three types of nocks: large, medium and small. These are differentiated on the basis of the size of their groves. When the groove is large,the arrow is easier to make. When the groove is small, the arrow travels farther.

Fletching is the art of making arrows from component pieces.

History of Archery

Archery is an ancient art still practiced in modern times. The bow and arrow has been man’s means of subsistence and existence in the ancient times, providing safety, food and raw materials. Archery has played an important role in the civilizations of the world. Egyptians, Assyrians, Hittites, are all known to have been skilled archers. The term ‘parting shot’ is said to have derived from the Parthians ability to shoot backwards from a galloping horse. It was the major weapon of defense in England for centuries. Legends tell of the exploits of Robin Hood and William Tell using the bow and arrow. English longbows played an important role in the battles of Crecy and Agincourt in France in the 14th century. A royal decree in 1863 required all Englishmen to practice archery on Sundays and other holidays. The advent of gunpowder saw a decline in the use of the bow and arrow, but archery continued to thrive as a sport. Archery tournaments can be traced back to England. Competitions were held as a part of community festivals in the 17th century.

Traditional Archery

There are two classical traditions in archery, the occidental and the oriental. The occidental form of traditional archery uses wooden bows that look like a straight staff. A shrinking bowstring can damage the bow, so the bow is unstrung when not in use. The bow is made of yew, willow or lemon wood.The arrow is made from beech or boxwood, and is quite rigid,fletched with three fin-like feathers, painted with color rings to identify its owner. The points are bronze, brass or steel. Many types of bows are used in oriental archery and the arrow is typically long, slender and flexible.

In traditional archery, the bows are generally made of elastic materials, held bent and drawn by a string attached to the ends of the limbs. The Asian and Arab traditional bows are made of thin layers of horn and softened sinew glued to a central core of wood. They are shorter (42”-72”) than their European counterparts (60”-78”). The Japanese bow measured up to 84” in length. For a right-handed Asian archer, the arrow would rest on the right side of the handpiece. For those using a finger release, a right-handed archer will have the arrow resting on the left side of the grip. Arrows were fired from horseback. European, African and American Indian traditional bows were intended for use from the ground, though American Indians used shorter bows effectively from horseback.

Wood Used
Yew, Witch-Hazel, Elm, Ash
Hickory, Osage Orange, Lancewood,Dagame (Lemonwood), Yew, Ash, Juniper, Chokeberry,Maple, Locust
Asia / Pacific Islands
Bamboo, Lancewood

Bowstrings were made of hemp, silk or gut and either twisted or plaited with beeswax to make it waterproof. Arrows were usually made of single length of wood, but sometimes, different types of wood were spliced together to enhance the properties of the arrow. Arrow flights were almost always made of feather.

Clout shooting, popinjay, wand shooting,butt shooting, flight shooting and speed shooting are the various traditional archery competitions.

Target Archery

Target archery equipment consists of recurve bows with limbs made of laminated wood and fiberglass or carbon fibers,metal, wood, or carbon composite risers, carbon or aluminum carbon compound arrows. Plastic vanes or real feathers could be used in for fletches. The angle of attack should be very small to ensure that the airflow comes to the same side on each vane. The nocks can be attached to the arrow in two ways: either put the nock onto the cone at the end of the arrow or use insert type nocks. The bowstrings can be made of Dacron, Aramid fibers or polyethylene fibers. The target face consists of ten rings composed of five different colors. The scoring is done from the inner ring to the outer ring in the following order: 10,9 (gold), 8,7 (red), 6,5 (blue), 4,3 (black), 2,1 (white).

Archery Rule

For the individual events in the Olympics, there is a ranking round followed by the FITA Olympics round. In the ranking round, the archers shoot 72 arrows at a target 70 meters (229 feet, 8 inches) away in 12 ends of six arrows each. 720 is the perfect score.

The FITA Olympic round is divided into the elimination round and the finals round. The 64 competitors are seeded from the ranking round and advance to the elimination round. It is a single-elimination, head-to-head style of competition (seed No. 64 vs. seed No. 1, 63 vs. 2, and so on). Six ends of three arrows — for a total of 18 — are shot at a target 70 meters away with a 40-second time limit per arrow. Winners of every match move on to the next round.

There are eight archers in the finals. The round begins with the quarterfinals and continues with the semifinals and final. In the semifinal and final rounds, archers shoot four ends of three arrows each — for a total of 12 — with a 40-second time limit per arrow. The losers of the semifinals shoot in the bronze medal match and the two winners shoot in the gold medal final.

A tie is broken with ”sudden death” overtime. Each archer shoots one arrow and the highest score wins. If tied, a second arrow is shot for highest score. If still tied, a single closest-to-the-center arrow determines the winner. Archers have 50 seconds to shoot each tie-breaking arrow.

Archery Tip

To be a good archer, you need a steady hand, a good eye and the ability to keep calm. Archery competitions usually test the contestant’s accuracy. Focus is the key in archery and regular practice is important. Improve your accuracy gradually. Select a target and focus on it alone. Choose the right bow and arrows. Tune your bow to achieve consistent shots and good arrow flight.

Olympic Archery

Archery appeared for the first time in the Olympics in 1900, and was held in the Games of 1904,1908 and 1920. In these early games, the events varied widely, and the sport was dropped because of the lack of international rules. The Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc (FITA) is the international governing body of the sport. The FITA was established in the year 1930. The FITA implemented standardized rules for competition and archery returned to the Olympics in 1972. Team competition was introduced in Olympic archery in 1988.

Olympic archery consists of four events:

  • Men’s Individual
  • Women’s Individual
  • Men’s Team
  • Women’s Team

The scoring system is based on a ten-ring target. Each section of the target is worth from one to ten points. Arrows that bounce off the target or pass through are also counted. The target face is set at 70 meters (229 feet, 8 inches) from the shooting line and the center gold of the target is set 130 centimeters (4 feet, 3 inches) above the ground. The target is usually made of paper and has a diameter of 122 centimeters (4 feet). The target is divided into five colored rings and each ring is divided in half. The width of each color zone is 12.2 (4.8 inches) centimeters and the width of each scoring zone — half of a color zone — is 6.1 (2.4 inches) centimeters.

inner 10
outer 9
inner 8
outer 7
inner 6
outer 5
inner 4
outer 3
inner 2
outer 1

Olympic archers use recurve bows and the effect is that arrows are propelled at over 150 miles per hour. The bows are generally made of wood, fiberglass and graphite or carbon composite. The bows also contain stabilizers to reduce the torque and sights to aid in aiming and arrow rests to help align the shot. The bowstrings are usually made of Fast Flight (a hydrocarbon product) or Kevlar (material used to make bulletproof vests). The arrows are usually made of aluminum or carbon graphite.

The Olympic Archery competition will be held at the Panathinaiko stadium, Athens, where the first modern Olympic games took place. The venue is an ancient construction, declared as a Monument of the New Ages. 128 athletes will be competing in four events, individual men’s and women’s and team men’s and women’s.

National Archery Association

J. Maurice and William H. Thompson formed the National Archery Association of the United States in 1879 at Crawfordsville,Indiana. The National Archery Association conducts challenging tournaments and shoots, training camps, and provides coach certifications and other opportunities. The official publications provide the latest news and results of all that is happening in the exciting sport in the Untied States. The Association has various membership levels, from students to professionals.