Fun Facts About Archery

Fun facts about archery. This sport had been around since the beginning of mankind, China, at large, discovered it in the 6th century and Apollo was the God of Archery. The most popular bow in the world is the compound bow, followed by the crossbow and sitting a close third is the recurve bow. The longbow is the least most popular bow.

Opinions vary on what archery actually is, is it one, or all, or none of the following ~

  • An art
  • A sport
  • A practice
  • A skill 
  • A recreational activity
  • A hunting implement
  • A weapon to use in combat

Confusing hey?

Today it’s basically considered 2 things ~

  • A competitive sport
  • A recreational activity

Those folk who engage in this confusing thing called archery are generally referred to as mad (just kidding), they’re referred to as ~

  • An archer
  • A bowman (sorry ladies)
  • A marksman (and again)
  • A toxophilite

I hope the last bullet point is not contagious!

History of Archery Timeline

archery historyThe pastime of archery has basically been around since the beginning of mankind and is still very popular today.

Signs of ancient archery has been discovered in many parts of the world. It’s generally accepted that its been around since the Stone Age, around 20,000 bc.

The earliest humans that were known to have definitely used bows and arrows were the Ancient Egyptians.

They took up archery around 3,000 bc for hunting as well as warfare.

However evidence has shown that China didn’t catch on until the Shang Dynasty in 1766-1027 bc. At that time war chariots had a team of 3 men, the driver, a lancer and an archer. In the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty of 1027-256 bc, which followed directly after the Shang Dynasty, court nobles regularly appeared at archery competitions that, in those days, included music and entertainment.

When China at large finally discovered archery in the 6th century it had a huge influence on the Chinese culture.

Kyujutsu (the art of the bow) was one of Japan’s most well respected discipline in the martial arts however it’s now known as Kyudo and it’s mainly used as a tool to improve physical, moral and spiritual development.

During the Greco-Roman period, archery in both warfare and hunting scenes regularly appeared on pottery.

For hundreds of years the Middle East was far superior in archery equipment and technique. They used bows like those used by the Pathians and Assyrians, who are thought to have been the first to perfect the skill of archery on horseback.

english archersDuring the middle ages the English longbow was the weapon of choice and was used in most of the more recognised battles in Europe.

One crazy law in England demanded every adult man to practise his archery each and every Sunday, it’s still in force though it’s completely ignored now days.

In modern times the original archery competition took place in England in 1583 at Finsbury and it’s estimated that around 3,000 archers were involved.

Ever since gunpowder was invented and revolutionised warfare the popularity of archery significantly reduced. Now it’s strictly a recreational activity and a sport.

When Did Olympic Archery Commence?

olympic archeryArchery first appeared in the Olympic Games in 1900 and was contested again in 1904, 1908 and 1920. It was then not seen in the Olympics for 52 years, returning for the Munich games in 1972.

For the Seoul games in 1988, teams of three were introduced and archery has been included in every Olympic Games since that time.

When and Where Archery was Included in the Olympics ~ 

  • 1900 Paris – Bois de Vincennes
  • 1904 St Louis – Francis Field
  • 1908 London – White City Stadium
  • 1920 Antwerp – Nachtegalen Park
  • 1972 Munich – Bogenschießanlage
  • 1976 Montreal – Olympic Archery Field
  • 1980 Moscow – Krylatskoye
  • 1984 Los Angeles – El Dorado Park
  • 1988 Seoul – Hwarang Archery Field
  • 1992 Barcelona – Olympic Archery Field
  • 1996 Atlanta – Stone Mountain Park Archery Center
  • 2000 Sydney – Sydney International Archery Park
  • 2004 Athens – Panathinaiko Stadium
  • 2008 Beijing – Olympic Green Archery Field
  • 2012 London – Lord’s Cricket Ground
  • 2016 Rio de Janeiro – Rio de Janeiro Olympic Stadium

Olympic Archery Rules

In Olympic rules archers must shoot within 20 seconds of the previous shot. They shoot one arrow each in turn with their competitor then their competitor has 20 seconds to shoot his/her arrow.

Archers win two points for achieving the highest score in the set and should the set be ruled a draw the competitors get one point each. The first one to accumulate six points is declared the winner. The gold medal round is only ever contended by two athletes.

Olympic Archery Regulations

When scoring, if an archer’s arrow happens to actually hit a division line between the target rings they receive the highest score. It an arrow bounces back off the target the archer notifies judges with a flag after completion of his round of 3 arrows.

Should an arrow hit the end of another arrow and remain there, the archer receives the score of his first arrow, This shot is referred to as a Robin Hood.

If an archer mis-fires or releases an arrow too early and that arrow travels further than the archer can reach, it’s counted as a shot. If the archer can actually reach the arrow the shot can be taken a second time without penalty.

  • Electronic devices are not allowed
  • Arrows must be manually released, mechanisms not allowed
  • Grip aids that touch the wrist are not allowed
  • Plain sights only, magnification, prisms or lenses not allowed

Olympic Bows

Olympic archers are not allowed to use a bow of their choice, they are restricted to using recurve bows only. These types of bows are basically just modern adaptations of an old traditional wooden bow.

Olympic Archery Distance

The standard outdoor Olympic archery shooting distance is 77 yards (70 meters) whereas indoor distances are either 20 or 27 yards (18 meters or 25 meters). Competition is divided into ends and the archers shoot 3 or 6 arrows from either end, based on the type of round their shooting at the time.

Archery Mythology

archery mythologyIn a number of mythologies Gods, Goddesses and heroes are referred to as archers, these include ~

And the legends ~

  • Wilhelm Tell
  • Robin Hood
  • Armenian Hayk
  • Babylonian Marduk
  • Indian Karna 

Who among you could ever forget the acclaimed archer’s competition of watching the reflection of a fish in water, while the fish is rotating and shooting it in the eye, I think it was the left eye.

What… you’ve never done that!!

Then there was Odysseus who fronted up to an archery competition where the winner would win the hand of a fair maiden.

Ever the the practical joker, Odysseus was wearing a disguise because he was a crack shot with a bow and did not wish to be identified.

However, he gave the game away after drawing his oversize bow because the mere mortals he was competing against were not strong enough to draw it, so they were onto him!

It goes without saying that Ody won the comp and the maiden and lived happily ever after… until they divorced.

Modern Archery Protective Gear

We’re a bit smarter today than we were all those centuries ago… Well, most of us are.

Generally we now wear protective archery gear.

archery protective gear
For example ~

  • We wear leather finger tabs to protect our pinkies that we use to draw the bow, back in the old days full gloves were preferred.
  • Most archers wear an armguard or bracer to protect not only the bow but the archer’s clothing as well.
  • Most female archers wear chest guards to protect themselves.
  • According to mythology those uber tough Amazonian chicks had one breast removed to clear up this issue, clever girls… I think!

We have not as yet reached the point of wearing bullet proof vests.

Modern Archery Form

For efficiently shooting an arrow, the archer needs to assume the preferred archery stance. Your body needs to be at 90 degrees to the target and your feet a shoulder width apart. 

As archers improve their skills and move from newby to a higher level, more options like the open stance and closed stance can be tried. 

That said, a proportion of archers choose to remain with a neutral stance for their entire archery career.

Usually the neutral stance involves the leg further away from the shooting line being up to a whole 12 inches from the other foot.

How to Fire an Arrow... the Modern Way

When loading your bow, it must be pointed down to the ground, held slightly to the right of vertical (for the right handers) with the arrow shaft placed on the arrow rest or shelf – refer ‘Unique Compound Bow Arrow Rest’

The tail or back of the arrow is held to the bowstring with the nock which is a tiny locking slot at the end of the arrow. 

This action is referred to as “nocking the arrow”. Typically, arrows which have 3 vanes (flights) should be position so that the vane known as the cock feather, is pointed outwards away from the bow.

This increases the clearance between the arrow and the bow so the vanes do not contact the bow as it’s fired.

The Unique Compound Bow Arrow Rest

The compound bow has a unique type of arrow rest when compared to a recurve bow.. The launcher, as it’s known, requires the arrow to be loaded vertically with the cock feather (or vane) pointing up, or down, based on the launcher style used.

The first 3 fingers, or alternatively a mechanical release, hold the bowstring and arrow and, usually for finger shooters, the pointer finger is positioned above the arrow and the next two fingers below.

Bow Shooting Styles

young shooting styleThe general accepted shooting style is the pointer finger above the arrow and the next two fingers below the arrow.

There are other fairly obscure techniques which involves placing all three fingers below the arrow, then there’s the thumb release style. 

Mongol Warriors preferred the thumb release style, although they possibly didn’t refer to it as that. This style was based on drawing the string with your thumb then wrapping a couple of your fingers around your thumb to secure the arrow.

There is a shooting style called Instinctive. This style does not allow for the use of bow sights and is usually the choice of traditional shooters of longbows and recurves. 

Can You Shoot a Left Handed Bow Right Handed?

The first time I tried archery, I was unsure of what kind of bow I required. Eye dominance is important to consider if you are right-handed.

As a rule, a right-handed person would use the bow with their right hand, while a left-handed person would use the bow with their left hand. The dominant hand is the one that pulls the bowstring back with the bowstring in place. Left-handed people would wield their right-handed bow in their left hand, while right-handed people would shoot.

Yes, you can shoot a right-handed bow with your left hand, but it will be extremely difficult for you to actually hit what you’re shooting at.

For one, the arrow rest will be on the incorrect side, and you’ll have to make a number of allowances for this, so it’s not recommended that you do it on a regular basis.

Selecting a bow according to your dominant hand will work well for most archers. However the dominant eye and hand may not be on the same side for everyone.

Some people call it handedness, and it refers to the dominant hand of an individual. However, the vast majority of people are already aware of which hand is their dominant one.

However, the type of bow you buy and how you hold it will not be determined by your hand dominance. Some people can use both hands interchangeably since neither hand is dominant. For those of you who are ambidextrous, eye dominance will be the decisive factor in whatever bow you choose.

Zen and The Art of Archery

E. Herrigel’s story of his stay in Japan in the late twentieth century was both amusing and intriguing. Many people were motivated by him to take up archery, both in its traditional form and in its Olympic form, which is now known as Recurve Archery.

The wonderful explanations of the spiritual qualities of the art capture one’s attention at first. The element of focus and being one with the bow, as well as the utilisation of Ki and devotion.

An archer is frequently asked if he practises “Zen” archery or “regular” archery, as if there were a difference between these two arts.

Making a distinction between normal everyday life and mystical practise is a common blunder in spiritual practise groups.

Recurve archery should not be regarded a “non spiritual” activity because the greatest teachings are frequently found in the more commonplace routines of life. Regular devotion to the bow may teach you a lot, and shooting an aluminum/carbon bow requires the same amount of power and focus as shooting a typical bamboo bow.

Although the concept of “letting go” is steeped in spiritual legend, it is a totally natural and conventional method of releasing the arrow. To simply let the bowstring push the fingers aside and fire forwards with the least resistance, the release has to be instinctive. It’s not the same as purposefully opening your fingers.

No Mind and Emptiness

When his master says that he must not let the string go with a deliberate effort, but rather that something lets go, Herrigel seems to be a little muddled with the ideas of “no mind” and “emptiness.” He’s merely recommending that the form be automated and leave the details to his subconscious mind.

Another important feature in traditional Japanese archery is shooting without aiming devices or a precise score board. This is ostensibly done in order to concentrate on spiritual matters.

Participating in contemporary recurve contests, counting the score while still focusing on the spiritual side, without allowing oneself to become emotionally invested in the shoot, is in actuality far more of a spiritual endeavour.

As a result, practising modernized archery with a traditional view and being committed to the spiritual symbolic meaning of archery while competing in contemporary archery competition with all the carbon and aluminium technology that comes with it is quite possible.

Archery Health Check

The sales of archery equipment is growing significantly and it’s anticipated that the annual compound growth rate for the past 4 years to the end of 2020 will hit nearly 7% according to a report on Toronto global market research company, Technav.

Archery is gaining popularity and the ever increasing number of archers are purchasing more and more archery equipment and accessories which is fuelling the growth.

Also, advancement in manufacturing processes and technology is helping the cause.

The most profitable market is North America which accounts for nearly 39% of world sales with Europe and Asia Pacific running second and third.

Over 50% of total sales revenue are made up bows and archery accessories, this is the segment that the experts are forecasting will enjoy an annual compound growth rate of over 9% by the end of 2020. 

This equates to a total market valued at more than USA $3 billion… did you read that again, THAT’S-$3-BILLION!!

Global revenue for the arrows market is predicted to be in excess of US$1 billion by 2020.

The most favored bows are ~

  • Compound bows 62% 
  • Crossbows 22% 
  • Recurve bows 21%
  • Longbows & misc bows 19%
  • Arrows 4%

These numbers are compelling and confirm that archery is in great shape and more popular now than it ever was.


“How Many Arrows Are In a Quiver?”

  • An English archer in Medieval times carried his arrows in a quiver (or sheaf) which held around 25 arrows. In battle however, an archer would generally be required to carry 50 to 100 arrows, based on the actual size of the arrows.

    This meant that up to 4 quivers would need to be hauled around by the archers.

    In ancient Greece, archers were required to carry up to 400 arrows during battle. In archery today a typical quiver carried around by an archer would contain about 25 arrows.

“Do You Fire a Bow or…”

  • When you think about, firing an arrow makes no sense there’s no ‘fire’ involved. However there is ‘fire’ involved in firearms.

    Firearms are fired, stemming from the actual fire that needs to take place for a bullet to be propelled from the barrel.

    So, bows are not ‘fired’ they are released or shot, the archer shoots an arrow from the bow.

“Why Do Archers Drop Their Bow?”

  • Prior to releasing, an archer does not actually have hold of the bow, it’s held in his grip hand by the tension on the string as it’s being drawn back.

    When the arrow is released and the string is loose, there’s nothing holding it to the archer’s hand and so the bow drops forward.

    Archers do this primarily because if the bow is gripped too tightly the direction of the arrow may change, by letting go of the string when releasing means the bow is now held at one point only so it can move.

“How Long Does it Take to Learn Archery?”

  • Clearly, some take longer than others to master this art and success is dependant on many factors like which form of archery do you wish to master.

    In the majority of courses you will learn how to shoot a low draw weight bow is at minimum 10 to 12 hours over a 6 week period. Like I said at the beginning, the speed of learning is based in many things including ~

    How keen you are.
    How much time you invest in practicing.
    The experience and knowledge of your teacher.
    The type of bow you choose.
    Your mental attitude.
    Your focus and dedication.

    Aside from the speed of learning, this sport is one that requires ongoing involvement. If you’re practicing the wrong habits, not practicing enough or not even practice at all, you’re going to who backwards, not forward.

    So keep focussed, retain the right attitude and don’t stop practicing and you will continue to improve.

“Can Archery Be Self Taught?”

  • Absolutely… how do you think the first archer got on, here’s no doubt that you can learn archery by yourself. However, there’s a rather large issue that you need to be aware of should you go down that road.

    Whilst teaching yourself archery keeps your costs down and sounds like a great idea you run the risk of learning bad and unsafe habits.This will cap your leaning at a low level and prohibit you from engaging in competition.

Learning archery is based around repetition, doing the same thing over and over again but, if you’re doing the wrong thing over and over again it’s going to time and effort to change a bad habit.