Archery Information

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dotMention 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.

dotPrehistoric 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 shooting.

dotMost 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.

dotIn 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 Ohayon.

dotA 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.

dotArchery 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 until 1976.

The most common type of archery is target shooting, which is done both indoors and outdoors.
Courtesy of: MIT Archery Club

dotIn 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 NAA members.

dotA 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 thousand dollars.

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 spare parts.

"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.

dot"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."

dotGood 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."

dotEntering 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.

dotShooting 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.

dotA 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.

Getting Started

dotArchery 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.

dotHolland 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."

dotJoining 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."

dotIt'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
Redlands , CA   92373

Briones Archers
P.O. Box 6325
San Pablo , CA   94806


Bow International Archery Magazine

Primitive Archer


International Archery Federation (FITA)
The world governing body for outdoor and indoor target archery and field archery

Bowhunting Net
Lots of information for the archery enthusiast