Mention the word archery and most people picture Robin Hood and Sherwood
Forest. It's a romantic vision, but in fact the bow and arrow was used long
before the medieval days of Robin Hood.
Prehistoric people were making bows and arrows as long ago as 8,000 BC.
The Han dynasty in China used the crossbow around 2,000 years ago to guard
the Great Wall. Throughout history people have used the bow and arrow to hunt
and make war.
Today, the sport of archery consists of recreational and competitive target
Most archers enjoy a combination of recreational archery and competitive
shooting. Here's a list of some of the recreational and competitive archery
games you can enjoy:
- 3D Archery: Life-size foam animals are placed in various hunting-like
situations and shot with one arrow per animal.
- Field Archery: Targets are placed in the woods at varying distances.
Four arrows per target are used.
- Outdoor Target: During an Olympic-caliber round, men shoot at
distances ranging from 33 yards to 98 yards. Women shoot at distances ranging
from 33 yards to 76 yards.
- Indoor Target: Indoor events include a variety of games that are
shot at a distance of 20 yards.
- Archery Golf: This game is played like real golf -- but in the
woods. Instead of putting the ball in the hole, you try to knock over a target
on the ground.
- Clout: Arrows are shot in the air at a target 180 yards away.
- Bowhunting: Instead of using guns, hunters use the bow and arrow
to hunt and kill game.
In northern climes, many indoor winter competitions are held. Thirty arrows
are shot in the morning and another 30 are shot in the afternoon. "It's a
little more repetitive than the outdoor competitions," says archer Jonathan
A major outdoor competition is the Federation Internationale de Tir a L'arc
or FITA. In this event, arrows are shot at four different distances. At the
end of the day, the person with the top score wins. Often the top archers
will go into an elimination round called the New Olympic Round (NOR).
In the NOR, each archer shoots against the other. The loser is eliminated,
and the winner goes on to challenge the next contestant. The finish often
comes down to one tie-breaking arrow.
Archery is one of the oldest sports in the Olympic Games. It was instituted
in 1900. It was abandoned in 1920 and didn't reappear as an Olympic sport
|The most common type of archery is target shooting, which is done
both indoors and outdoors.|
|Courtesy of: MIT Archery Club|
In the United States, more than 4,000 archers are members of the National
Archer's Association. The actual number of American archers is much higher
because high school students, recreational archers and bowhunters aren't registered
A great variety of equipment is used in archery. In the United States,
costs range from $500 to $1,000. Competition-level equipment can cost several
More equipment is needed for competitive archery than for recreational
archery. For a competition, an archer needs the bow itself, stabilizers attached
to the bow, arrows, a quiver, a spotting scope, spare strings, tabs and other
"I also have a shelter, a comfortable chair and a cool-box with food in
it so that I can get through a long day in comfort," says Angus Duggan, an
archer in Cambridge, England.
"The basic cost of archery tackle can vary depending on the equipment you
buy," says Andrea Holland, an archer in California.
"I shoot a recurve which cost me about $200. I buy custom arrows for about
$70 per dozen. Starter bows can be bought for much less. Rental equipment
is also available at bow shops that have shooting lanes."
Good equipment is important to archers. But once an archer has a reasonably
good bow, very little is gained by upgrading to more expensive equipment.
"Archery is the same as most sports," says Duggan. "It's 70 percent mental,
25 percent technique and five percent equipment. Unfortunately, it's nicer
to believe that buying a new gadget will gain extra points -- rather than
knowing that a year's hard physical and mental work will improve scores."
Entering competitions also costs a little money. Entry fees range from
$10 to $85, depending on the location and level of competition.
"Travel is the major expense of going to these tournaments," says Ohayon.
Shooting arrows isn't physically hard, but it requires fine muscle control
to achieve the accuracy required. In competition, physical stamina is required
to perform at your peak.
A love of archery could lead to a part-time or a full-time job. Some of
the top archers may own sports stores, run archery schools or make custom
archery equipment. A few have made a living shooting professionally, but the
pay isn't as great as in other professional sports.
Archery is a skill that takes a bit of time to learn. "It definitely helps
to start off with someone who knows what they are doing," says Jonathan Ohayon.
Holland echoes this advice. "For young people wanting to get into the sport,
I would suggest that they check out an archery shop that also has shooting
lanes," she says. "They can rent equipment and receive lessons so they can
try the sport before they actually buy equipment."
Joining a school club or an archery organization is a great way to get
started in the sport. Club members can help you pick out your first equipment.
"The main thing is to get good advice about bows and arrows when you start,"
says Angus Duggan. Notes Holland: "Some archery clubs have youth programs
where the kids can go for instruction -- sometimes for free."
It's important that beginners don't over-bow themselves. Don't get a bow
that is too heavy to control. "The pull weight of the bow you choose should
be light enough to shoot for a couple of hours," says Dennis Warren.
"Good technique can only be built by lots of practice. Practicing with
a bow that is too heavy will cause all sorts of problems," adds Duggan.
Don't forget your arrows! "The most important part of an archer's equipment
is really the arrows," says Duggan. "A good archer can shoot good scores with
good arrows when matched with a top quality bow. No one can shoot good scores
with unmatched and different arrows."
Archery Shooter's Association
National Field Archery Association
31407 Outer I-10
P.O. Box 6325
Bow International Archery Magazine
International Archery Federation (FITA)
The world governing body for outdoor and indoor target archery
and field archery
Lots of information for the archery enthusiast