Overview of Archery

Throughout history, archery has been considered mainly for combat and hunting purposes. However, in modern times, we generally associate archery with recreational activities and the sport itself requires a high level of precision and patience. Those who participate in the sport of archery are known as ‘bowmen’ or ‘archers’, while one who is particularly interested in the subject of archery will often be referred to as a ‘toxophilite’.

The History and Origins of Archery

The origins of the bow used in archery can be traced as far back to the late Paleolithic and early Mesolithic periods – or around 10,000 to 9,000BC. In Europe, there has been documented use of the bow in the Ahrensburg valley, situated north of Hamburg in Germany. During this time, it’s noted that the arrows had been made from pine, consisting of a flint point with a 20 centimetre long mainshaft.

Both bows and arrows have even been present throughout Egyptian culture since early ancient times. History details that archers have embedded themselves in the armies of many ancient civilizations such as the Persians, Indians, Chinese, Turks and the Assyrians, to name just a few.

Over time, archery became well-developed in many parts of Asia and the surrounding Islamic nations. Skilled archers known as the Goguryeo, were one of the kingdom of Korea’s finest regiment of archers. These tribesman as well as the American Indians, became skilled at using their archery abilities while riding horseback. Mongol horsemen in particular were highly disciplined and well-suited to the terrain when engaging in warfare with neighbouring nations.

Archery Equipment

There is obviously quite a great deal of complexity involved in the construction of bows used for archery; however, all bows from both modern and ancient times have consisted of a string attached to elastic-like endings. When the archer releases the arrow, the energy propells it forward in an attempt to hit a target at great speed.

Bows are generally classified by their shape and the construction of their limbs. Examples of these include composite bows, self bows and laminated bows. Differing to the basic form of straight bows, the tips of the recurve bow are predominantly curved away from the archer when it is not strung. The limb’s cross-section is also different, in that the shape of the bow can be flat, long or in the classic D-shape.

The most widely used bow of modern times is known as the compound bow. These bows are designed so that the force necessary to hold the string is reduced, which enables the archer to have a longer amount of time to aim and pinpoint the designated target. The compound bow is used extensively in North America for game hunting, and was invented in 1966 by Holless Wilbur Allen of Missouri.

Here’s what the standard arrow looks like: a shaft with an arrowhead connected to the front of the arrow, together with a nock and fletchlings at the other end. Arrows throughout history have been carried in a quiver, and usually shafts are made from either wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber or aluminium alloy.

As a general rule, arrows made from wood tend to be prone to warping, while fiberglass arrows are too weak and break easily. Shafts made from aluminium were popular at the end of last century, but carbon fiber and arrows made from composite materials are the most popular and widely used across archery sporting events today.

Competition and Events

Archery practised at a competitive level is governed primarily by the rules of the International Archery Federation (FITA). When the Olympics are contested, the rules laid out by FITA are used in archery medal events.

Competitions for target archery are held indoors or outdoors. Distances for indoor archery tend to be between 18 and 25 metres, while outdoor distances start at 30 metres, extending right up to 80 metres. Archery participants must walk to each end to recover their arrows, and have a predetermined time limit in which they must lauch their arrows.

The targets that archers must shoot at are marked with 10 circular rings, each one evenly spaced from the next. They also have score values that range from 1 to 10 – and archers’ scores are calculated by summing up the total points of their arrows. In the event of a tie between two participants, there is an extra round of archery where the competitor to score the most 10’s is deemed to be the winner.

The event that archers look forward to the most are the Summer Olympic Games. Since its inception in 1900, participants from 83 separate nations have contested for the medals. The country that has appeared the most throughout Olympic history is France, with 11 showings.