Archery Explained

Archery is the art, practice or skill of shooting with bow and arrow. Archery has historically been used in hunting and combat and has become a precision sport. A person practicing archery is called an archer or bowman, and one who is fond of or an expert at archery is sometimes called a toxophilite.


See main article: History of archery. The bow seems to have been invented in the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic periods. The oldest indication for its use in Europe comes from the Stellmoor in the Ahrensburg valley north of Hamburg, Germany and date from the late Paleolithic Hamburgian culture (9000 - 8000 BC). The arrows were made of pine and consisted of a mainshaft and a 15-20 centimetre (6-8 inches) long foreshaft with a flint point. There are no definite earlier bows; previous pointed shafts are known, but may have been launched by atlatls rather than bows. The oldest bows known so far come from the Holmegård swamp in Denmark. Bows eventually replaced the atlatl as the predominant means for launching shafted projectiles, on every continent except Australia.

Bows and arrows have been present in Egyptian culture since its predynastic origins. In the Levant, artifacts which may be arrow-shaft straighteners are known from the Natufian culture, (ca. 12,800 - 10,300 BP (before present)) onwards. The Khiamian and PPN A shouldered Khiam-points may well be arrowheads.

Classical civilizations, notably the Persians, Parthians, Indians, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese fielded large numbers of archers in their armies. The Sanskrit term for archery, dhanurveda, came to refer to martial arts in general.

Archery was highly developed in Asia and in the Islamic world. In East Asia the ancient Korean civilizations were well-known for their archery skills.[1] Central Asian and American Plains tribesmen were extremely adept at archery on horseback.

Decline, last uses, and survival of archery

The development of firearms rendered bows obsolete in warfare. Despite the high social status, ongoing utility, and widespread pleasure of archery in England, Korea, China, Japan, Turkey, Armenia, America, Egypt, and elsewhere, almost every culture that gained access to even early firearms used them widely, to the relative neglect of archery. Early firearms were vastly inferior in rate-of-fire, and were very susceptible to wet weather. However, they had longer effective range[2] and were tactically superior in the common situation of soldiers shooting at each other from behind obstructions. They also required significantly less training to use properly, in particular penetrating steel armour without any need to develop special musculature. Armies equipped with guns could thus provide superior firepower by sheer weight of numbers, and highly-trained archers became almost obsolete on the battlefield. However, archers are still effective and have seen action even in the 21st century. Traditional archery remains in use for sport, and for hunting in many areas long after its military disuse.

Modern primitive archery

In the United States, competition archery and bowhunting for many years used English-style longbows. The revival of modern primitive archery may be traced to Ishi, who came out of hiding in California in 1911.[3] Ishi was the last of the Yahi Indian tribe.[4] His doctor, Saxton Pope, learned many of Ishi's archery skills, and passed them on.[5] [6] The Pope and Young Club, founded in 1961 and named in honor of Pope, is one of North America's leading bowhunting and conservation organizations. Founded as a nonprofit scientific organization, the Club is patterned after the prestigious Boone and Crockett Club. The Club advocates and encourages responsible bowhunting by promoting quality, fair chase hunting, and sound conservation practices.

From the 1920s, professional engineers took an interest in archery, previously the exclusive field of traditional craft experts.[7] They led the commercial development of new forms of bow including the modern recurve and compound bow. These modern forms are now dominant in modern Western archery; traditional bows are in a minority. In the 1980s, the skills of traditional archery were revived by American enthusiasts, and combined with the new scientific understanding. Much of this expertise is available in the Traditional Bowyer's Bibles (see Additional reading).


Archers are deities or heroes in several mythologies, including Greek Artemis and Apollo, Roman Diana and Cupid, Germanic Agilaz, continued in legends like those of William Tell, Palnetoke, or Robin Hood. Armenian Hayk and Babylonian Marduk, Indian Arjuna and Rama, and Persian Arash were all archers. Earlier Greek representations of Heracles normally depict him as an archer. Yi the archer features in several early Chinese myths,[8] and the historical character of Zhou Tong features in many fictional forms.


Types of bows

See main article: Bow (weapon). While there is great variety in the construction details of bows (both historic and modern) all bows consist of a string attached to elastic limbs that store mechanical energy imparted by the user drawing the string. Bows may be broadly split into two categories: those drawn by pulling the string directly and those that use a mechanism to pull the string.

Directly drawn bows may be further divided based upon differences in the method of limb construction, notable examples being self bows, laminated bows and composite bows. Bows can also be classified by the bow shape of the limbs when unstrung; in contrast to simple straight bows, a recurve bow has tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is unstrung. The cross-section of the limb also varies; the classic longbow is a tall bow with narrow limbs that are D-shaped in cross section, and the flatbow has flat wide limbs that are approximately rectangular in cross-section.

A compound bow is a directly-drawn bow designed to reduce the force required at full draw to hold the string taut. Most compound designs use cams or elliptical wheels on the ends of the limbs. The cams on a compound bow are engineered in such a way that the archer can hold twice as much draw weight for an extended period of time. Although the archer starts the draw at full weight, there is a 65%-75% let-off at full draw. For example, a bow set at sixty pounds would allow the archer to draw 60lb for a short period but hold 65-75% less than that at full draw.

The unique Penobscot bows or double-bows of Wabenaki region (New England and the Canadian Maritimes) are sometimes suggested to be an ancient compound bow. They involved a small bow attached to the back of a larger main bow. This combination results in both substantially increased draw weight for a relatively small main bow, useful for hunting the moose and caribou of the region, and the ability to adjust the draw weight by tensioning the small bow.

Mechanically drawn bows typically have a stock or other mounting, such as the crossbow. They are not limited by the strength of a single archer, and larger varieties have been used as siege engines.

Types of arrows and fletching

See main article: Arrow. A normal arrow consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other. Shafts are usually made of solid wood, fiberglass, aluminum alloy, carbon/alloy composite or carbon fiber. Wooden arrows are prone to warping. Fiberglass arrows are brittle, but are more easily produced to uniform specifications. Aluminum shafts were a very popular high-performance choice in the later half of the 20th century due to their straightness, lighter weight, and subsequently higher speed and flatter trajectories. Carbon fiber arrows became popular in the 1990s and are very light, flying even faster and flatter than aluminum arrows. Today carbon/alloy arrows are the most popular tournament arrows at Olympic Events, especially the Easton X10 and A/C/E.

The arrowhead is the primary functional part of the arrow, and plays the largest role in determining its purpose. Some arrows may simply use a sharpened tip of the solid shaft, but it is far more common for separate arrowheads to be made, usually from metal, stone, or some other hard material. The most commonly used forms are target points, field points, and broadheads, although there are also other types, such as bodkin, judo, and blunt heads.

Fletching is traditionally made from bird feathers, but also solid plastic vanes and thin sheetlike spin vanes are used. They are attached near the nock (rear) end of the arrow with thin double sided tape, glue, or, traditionally, sinew. Three fletches is the most common configuration in all cultures, though more may be used. When three-fletched the fletches are equally spaced around the shaft with one placed such that it is perpendicular to the bow when nocked on the string (though with modern equipment, variations are seen especially when using the modern spin vanes). This fletch is called the "index fletch" or "cock feather" (also known as "the odd vane out" or "the nocking vane") and the others are sometimes called the "hen feathers". Commonly, the cock feather is of a different color, traditionally the hens are solid and the cock is barred. However, if archers are using fletching made of feather or similar material they may use same color vanes, as different dyes can give varying stiffness to vanes, resulting in less precision. Also, like-colored fletching and nocks can assist in learning instinctive shooting (i.e. without sights), a technique often preferred by "traditional" archers (shooters of longbows and recurves). When four-fletched often two opposing fletches are cock-feathers and occasionally the fletches are not evenly spaced.

The fletching may be either parabolic (short feathers in a smooth parabolic curve) or shield (generally shaped like one-half of a narrow shield) cut and is often attached at an angle, known as helical fletching, to introduce a stabilizing spin to the arrow while in flight. Whether helicial or straight fletched, when natural fletching (bird feathers) are used it is critical that all feathers come from the same side of the bird. Oversized fletchings can be used to accentuate drag and thus limit the range of the arrow significantly; these arrows are called flu-flus. Misplacement of fletchings can often change the arrow's flight path dramatically.

Bow string

See main article: Bow string. Dacron and other modern materials offer high strength for their weight and are used on most modern bows. Linen and other traditional materials are still used on traditional bows. Almost any fiber can be made into a bow string. The author of "Arab Archery" suggests the hide of a young, emaciated camel.[9] Njál's saga describes the refusal of a wife, Hallgerður, to cut her hair in order to make an emergency bowstring for her husband, Gunnar Hámundarson, who is then killed.

Protective equipment

Most archers wear a bracer (also known as an arm-guard) to protect the inside of the bow arm and prevent clothing from catching the bow string. The Navajo people have developed highly-ornamented bracers as non-functional items of adornment.[10] Some archers also wear protection on their chests, called chestguards or plastrons. Roger Ascham mentions one archer, presumably with an unusual shooting style, who wore a leather guard for his face.[11]

The drawing fingers, or thumb in the case of archers using the thumb or Mongolian draw, are normally protected by a leather tab, glove, or thumb ring. A simple tab of leather is commonly used, as is a skeleton glove. Medieval Europeans probably used a complete leather glove[12] .

Eurasiatic archers using the Mongolian draw protected their thumbs, usually with leather according to the author of "Arab Archery", but also with special rings of various hard materials. Many surviving Turkish and Chinese examples are works of considerable art; some are so highly ornamented that they could not have been used to loose an arrow. Presumably these were items of personal adornment. In traditional Japanese archery a special glove is used, provided with a ridge which is used to draw the string.

Release aids

Archers using compound bows usually use a release aid to hold the string steadily and release it precisely. This attaches to the bowstring at the nocking point and permits the archer to release the string by pulling a trigger. The "trigger" may be an actual trigger lever which is depressed by a finger or thumb (or held then released) but it may also be some other mechanism. Hydraulic and mechanical time delay triggers have been used, as have "back tension" triggers which are operated by either a change in the position of the release or "true back tension"; that is to say the release triggers when a pre-determined draw weight is reached. A mechanical release aid permits a single point of contact on the string instead of three fingers. This allows less deformity in the string at full draw, as well as providing a more consistent release than can be achieved by human fingers.

Shooting technique and form

The bow is held in the hand opposite to the archer's dominant eye, though holding the bow in the dominant hand side is advocated by some. This hand is referred to as the bow hand and its arm the bow arm. The opposite hand is called the drawing hand or string hand. Terms such as bow shoulder or string elbow follow the same convention. Right-eye-dominant archers hold the bow with their left hand, have their left side facing the target, sight towards the target with their right eye and handle the arrow and string with their right hand.

Modern international competitive form

To shoot an arrow, an archer first assumes the correct stance. The body should be perpendicular to the target and the shooting line, with the feet placed shoulder-width apart. As an archer progresses from beginner to a more advanced level an 'open stance' is used/developed. Each archer will have a particular preference but mostly this term indicates that the leg furthest from the shooting line will be a half to a whole foot-length in front of the other, on the ground.

To load, the bow is pointed toward the ground and the shaft of the arrow is placed on an arrow rest which is attached in the bow window. The back of the arrow is attached to the bowstring with the 'nock' (a small plastic component which is typified by a 'v' groove for this purpose). This is called nocking the arrow. As said above, typical arrows with three vanes should be oriented such that a single vane is pointing away from the bow.

The bowstring and arrow are held with three fingers. When using a sight, the index finger is placed above the arrow and the next two fingers below. The string is usually placed in either the first or second joint of the fingers.

The bow is then raised and drawn. This is often one fluid motion which tends to vary from archer to archer. The string hand is drawn towards the face, where it should rest lightly at an anchor point. This point is consistent from shot to shot and is usually at the corner of the mouth or on the chin. The bow arm is held outwards toward the target. The elbow of this arm should be rotated so that the inner elbow is parallel to the ground though Archers with hyper extendable elbows tend to angle the inner elbow toward the ground as exemplified by the Korean archer Jang Yong Ho.

In proper form, the archer stands erect, forming a 'T'. The archer's lower trapezius muscles are used to pull the arrow to the anchor point. Some bows will be equipped with a mechanical device, called a clicker, which produces a clicking sound when the archer reaches the correct draw length.

The arrow is typically released by relaxing the fingers of the drawing hand (see Bow draw). Usually this type of release aims to keep the drawing arm rigid and move it back using the back muscles, as opposed to using arm motion. An archer should also pay attention to the recoil or follow through of his or her body, as it may indicate problems with form (technique).

Aiming methods

There are two main forms of aiming in archery: using the sight picture or not.

The sight picture includes the target and the bow, as seen at the same time by the archer. With a fixed "anchor point" (where the string is brought to, or close to, the face), and a fully extended bow arm, successive shots taken with the sight picture in the same position will fall on the same point. This allows the archer to adjust aim with successive shots in order to achieve a good standard of accuracy. It cannot be used with short bows, which by definition do not allow a full draw. Modern archery equipment usually includes sights which mark the predicted impact point. Sight picture aiming is universally used with modern equipment and also by many archers who use traditional bows. It allows good accuracy to be achieved after a moderate amount of practice.

When using shortbows, or shooting from horseback, it is difficult to use the sight picture. The archer may look at the target but without including the weapon in the field of accurate view. Aiming involves the same sort of coordination between vision and motion that is used when throwing. With sufficient practice, such archers can normally achieve good practical accuracy for hunting or for war. [13] Aiming without a sight picture may allow more rapid shooting.

Instinctive shooting is a term often used, but there is no agreed definition. Some use it to mean shooting with a sight picture but without giving it conscious attention. Others use it to mean shooting without a sight picture.[14]


Bows function by converting elastic potential energy stored in the limbs into kinetic energy of the arrow. In this process, some energy is dissipated through elastic hysteresis, reducing the overall amount released when the bow is shot. Of the energy remaining, some is damped both by the limbs of bow and the bowstring. Depending on the elasticity of the arrows, some of the energy is also absorbed by compressing the arrow, causing it to "bow out" to one side. This results in an in-flight oscillation of the arrow in which its center protrudes out to one side and then the other repeatedly.

The straight flight of an arrow is dependent on its fletching. The arrow's manufacturer can arrange fletching to cause the arrow to rotate along its axis if desired. This improves accuracy by evening pressure buildups that would otherwise cause the arrow to slowly tilt in a random direction after shooting. If the fletching is not arranged to induce rotation, it will still improve accuracy by causing a restoring torque any time the arrow tilts away from its vector of travel.

Arrows themselves may be designed to spread or concentrate force, depending on their applications. Practice arrows, for instance, use a blunt tip that spreads the force over a wider area to reduce the risk of injury. Arrows designed to pierce armor in the Middle Ages would use a very narrow and sharp tip to concentrate the force. Arrows used for hunting would use a narrow tip that broadens further down the shaft to facilitate both penetration and a large wound.

See also: archer's paradox.

The speed of the arrow depends on the shape of its shaft and tip. The tip must be somewhat pointed and the shaft straight


See main article: bowhunting.

Using archery to take game animals is known as bowhunting. Bowhunting differs markedly from hunting with firearms as the distances between the hunter and the game are much shorter in order to ensure a humane kill. The skills and practices of bowhunting therefore emphasize very close approach to the prey, whether by still hunting, stalking, or waiting in a blind or treestand. In many countries, including much of the United States, bowhunting for large and small game is legal. Bowhunters generally enjoy longer seasons than are allowed with other forms of hunting such as black powder, shotgun, or rifle. Usually, compound bows are used for large game hunting and may feature fiber optic sights and other enhancements. Using a bow and arrow to take fish is known as bowfishing.

Modern competitive archery

Competitive archery involves shooting arrows at a target for accuracy from a set distance or distances. This is the most popular form of archery worldwide and is called target archery. A form particularly popular in Europe and America is field archery, shot at targets generally set at various distances in a wooded setting. There are also several other lesser-known and historical forms, as well as archery novelty games. Note the tournament rules vary from organization to organization. FITA rules are often considered normative, but large non-FITA-affiliated archery organizations do exist with different rules.

Target archery

See main article: Target archery. Modern competitive target archery is often governed by the International Archery Federation, abbreviated FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc). Olympic rules are derived from FITA rules. Target archery competitions may be held indoors or outdoors. Indoor distances are and . Outdoor distances range from to . Competition is divided into ends of 3 or 6 arrows. After each end, the competitors walk to the target to score and retrieve their arrows. Archers have a set time limit in which to shoot their arrows.

Targets are marked with 10 evenly spaced concentric rings, which have score values from 1 through 10 assigned to them. In addition, there is an inner 10 ring, sometimes called the X ring. This becomes the 10 ring at indoor compound competitions. Outdoors, it serves as a tiebreaker with the archer scoring the most X's winning. Archers score each end by summing the scores for their arrows. Line breakers, an arrow just touching a scoring boundary line, will be awarded the higher score.

Different rounds and distances use different size target faces. These range from (FITA Indoor) to (and FITA, used in Olympic competition).

Field archery

See main article: Field archery. Field archery involves shooting at targets of varying (and sometimes unmarked) distance, often in rough terrain.

Three common types of rounds (in the NFAA) are the field, hunter, and animal. A round consists of 28 targets in two units of 14. Field rounds are at 'even' distances up to 80 yards (some of the shortest are measured in feet instead), using targets with a black bullseye (5 points), a white center (4) ring, and black outer (3) ring. Hunter rounds use 'uneven' distances up to, and although scoring is identical to a field round, the target has an all-black face with a white bullseye. Children and youth positions for these two rounds are closer, no more than 30 and, respectively. Animal rounds use life-size 2D animal targets with 'uneven' distances reminiscent of the hunter round. The rules and scoring are also significantly different. The archer begins at the first station of the target and shoots his first arrow. If it hits, he does not have to shoot again. If it misses, he advances to station two and shoots a second arrow, then to station three for a third if needed. Scoring areas are vital (20, 16, or 12) and nonvital (18, 14, or 10) with points awarded depending on which arrow scored first. Again, children and youth shoot from reduced range.

One goal of field archery is to improve the technique required for bowhunting in a more realistic outdoor setting, but without introducing the complication and guesswork of unknown distances. As with golf, fatigue can be an issue as the athlete walks the distance between targets across sometimes rough terrain.

IFAA Field and International rounds are used in European Professional Archery competition.

Other modern competitions

The following are listed on the FITA website. These competitions are not as popular as the two listed above, but they are competed internationally.

3D archery

3D archery is a subset of field archery focusing on shooting at life-size models of game and is popular with hunters. It is most common to see unmarked distances in 3D archery, as the goal is to accurately recreate a hunting environment for competition.

On these animals there are 4 rings, only 3 of these are used in ASA shoots. The one that isn't used very often is the 14 ring. This can only be scored if you call it before you shoot, and even then it may not be allowed. Next is the 12 ring inside of the 10 ring, inside of the 8 ring. Anything on the target that is outside of the 8, 10, 12, or 14 rings is a 5. If you miss the target, you score a zero.

Though the goal is hunting practice, hunting tips (broadheads) are not used, as they would tear up the foam targets too much. Normal target or field tips, of the same weight as the intended broadhead, are used instead.

Clout archery (G.N.A.S. rules in the United Kingdom)

See main article: Clout archery. Similar to target archery, except that the archer attempts to drop arrows at long range (180 yards / for the men and 140 yards / for women; there are shorter distances for juniors depending on age) into a group of concentric circular scoring zones on the ground surrounding a marker flag. The flag is 12 inches square and is fixed to a stick. The flag should be as near to the ground as is practicable. Archers shoot 'ends' of six arrows then, when given the signal to do so, archers proceed to the target area. A Clout round usually consists of 36 arrows. Clout tournaments are usually a 'Double Clout' round (36 arrows shot twice). They can be shot in one direction (one way) or both directions (two way). All bow types may compete (longbows, recurve, barebow and compound).

Crossbow archery (IAU rules internationally)

The International Crossbow-shooting Union (Internationale Armbrustschutzen Union  - IAU) was founded in Landshut, Germany on June 24, 1956 as the world governing body for crossbow target shooting. The IAU supervises World, Continental and International crossbow shooting championships in 3 disciplines; 30m Match-crossbow, 10m Match-crossbow and Field-crossbow archery. IAU World Championships take place every two years with Continental Championships on intervening years. Other International and IAU-Cup events take place annually.

Field-crossbow archery was first adopted by the IAU during their General Assembly at Frütigen, Switzerland in 1977. Since then the sport has become the most poplar, in terms of worldwide activity, of the IAU's three target crossbow disciplines. A feature of this sport is that many crossbow archers make their own equipment. By following the detailed guidelines issued by the IAU’s Technical Committee it is possible to construct a field-crossbow from locally available archery materials and target shooting accessories. The IAU's Field regulations call for the wearing of light-weight sports clothing - thereby eliminating the need for specialized (and costly) shooting clothing. Shooting takes place on open sports fields or in sports halls using portable archery target buttresses, once again avoiding the need for the expense of permanent shooting ranges (subject to IAU and local safety regulations being met).

Crossbow archers shoot from the standing position and they must draw the bow string by hand without mechanical assistance. At outdoor competitions Bolts (arrows) are shot in "ends" (series) of three (3) at multi-coloured 10-zone archery target faces. A time limit of three (3) minutes is allowed per three shots. After a sound signal from the official in charge of shooting, all competitors walk forward together to score and collect their bolts from the targets. This sequence is repeated until the completion of the competition 'Round'.

An IAU Field-crossbow Championship (Outdoor) is a three day event. The competition round is known as the ‘IR-900’ and shooting takes place from three distances 65, 50 and 35 meters using 60cm archery target faces (40cm three-spot face at 35m). On Days 1 and 2 all competitors shoot a single 'IR-900' Round. The scores from Day 1 will decide the Team championships. For the Individual events, the top eight (8) competitors after two (2) IR-900 Rounds (scores from Days 1 and 2 combined) will qualify for the 50m Finals (10 shots on command) on Day 3. The winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals are the three competitors with the highest combined scores (two IR-900 Rounds plus the 10 shot Final). If scores are tied after 10 Final shots the competitors concerned continue shot-by-shot until a winner is declared

Equipment - Field-crossbows are designed to specifications laid-down by the International Crossbow-shooting Union (IAU). These rules limit the power, weight and physical dimensions of equipment for use in archery-style competition. Other restrictions include the use of mechanical triggers and open sights only. The bowstring has to be drawn by hand without the use of mechanical assistance. The materials used in construction include laminated hardwoods, aluminium alloy and composites. The prod, or bow, is usually made from laminated carbon-fibre or glass-fibre which is fitted with a bowstring made from synthetic fibres. The maximum permitted draw weight is 43 kilos at a maximum power stroke of 30 cm. Shooting a 20 gram bolt this set-up will generate an initial velocity of around 67 meters-per-second. Field-crossbow bolts are made from tubular aluminium or carbon-fibre archery shaft materials.

The majority of the crossbows used in this sport are custom-made in small quantities, often by the archers themselves.

IAU Championships Timeline - 1958 1st European Match-crossbow Championships Gent Belgium, 1979 1st World Match-crossbow Championships Linz Austria, 1982 1st World Field-crossbow Championships Mikkeli Finland, 1989 1st European Field-crossbow Championships Wolverhampton England, 1992 1st Asian Field-crossbow Championships Tainan Taiwan ROC.

Flight archery

In flight archery the aim is to shoot the greatest distance; accuracy or penetrating power are not relevant. It requires a large flat area such as an aerodrome; the Ottoman empire established an "arrow field" (ok meidan) in Istanbul and there were others in several major cities.[15] Turkish flight archery astonished early modern Europeans, whose wooden longbows and heavy arrows had much shorter maximum ranges. Modern rules have flight archers shooting in various classes and weights. Generally they shoot six arrows at each "end" and then search for all of them. Only four ends are usual in one shoot (as per UK rules - in the US only one end is permitted). At the end of the shoot, archers stay by or mark their furthest arrows while judges and their assistants measure the distances achieved.

Flight archery relies on the finest in performance equipment, optimized for the single purpose of greater range, and the search for better flight archery equipment has led to many developments in archery equipment in general, such as the development of carbon arrows.[16]

Ski archery

An event very similar to the sport of biathlon except a recurve bow is used in place of a gun. The athletes ski around a cross-country track and there are two stances in which the athlete must shoot the targets: kneeling and standing. During competition the skis must not be removed at any time. The athlete may unfasten the ski when shooting in the kneeling position but must keep the foot in contact with the ski. The shooting distance is 18 meters and the targets in diameter. In certain events, for every missed target, the athlete must ski one penalty loop. The loop is 150 meters long.

Traditional competitions

The following are not listed on the FITA website but are competitions that have a long tradition in their respective countries.


A traditional northern French and Belgian archery contest. Archers teams shoot alternately at two targets facing each other, 50 meters away. A perpendicular array of wooden walls secures a path parallel to the shooting range. After each round, the archers take their own arrow and shoot directly in the opposite direction (thus having opposite windage). One always shoots the same arrow, supposedly the best built, as it was difficult in medieval times to have constant arrow quality. The round black-and-white target mimics the size of a soldier: its diameter is shoulder-wide, the center is heart-sized.

Popinjay (or Papingo)

See main article: Popinjay (sport). A form of archery originally derived from shooting birds on church steeples. Popinjay is popular in Belgium, and in Belgian Clubs internationally but little known elsewhere. Traditionally, archers stand within of the bottom of a mast and shoot almost vertically upwards with 'blunts' (arrows with rubber caps on the front instead of a pile), the object being to dislodge any one of a number of wooden 'birds'. These birds must be one Cock, four Hens, and a minimum of twenty-four Chicks. A Cock scores 5 points when hit and knocked off its perch; a Hen, 3; and a Chick, 1 point. A horizontal variation with Flemish origins also exists and is also practiced in Canada and the United States

A Papingo is also hosted during the summer in Scotland by the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers. The archers shoot at a wooden bird suspended from the steeple of Kilwinning Abbey. Here only one bird is the target, and the archers take it in turn to shoot with a longbow until the "bird" is shot down.

Roving marks

Roving marks is the oldest form of competitive archery, as practiced by Henry VIII. The archers will shoot to a "mark" then shoot from that mark to another mark. A mark is a post or flag to be aimed at. As with clout a rope or ribbon is used to score the arrows. In the Finsbury Mark the scoring system is 20 for hitting the mark, 12 for within ~3ft, 7 points for within the next ~6ft and 3 points for within the next ~9ft. "Hoyles" are marks that are chosen at the time from the variety of debris, conspicuous weeds, and so on found in most outdoor areas. As the distances have to be estimated this is good practice for bowhunting, and it requires minimal equipment.

Wand shoot

A Traditional English archery contest. Archers take turns shooting at a vertical strip of wood, the wand, usually about six feet high and three to six inches (152 mm) wide. Points are awarded for hitting the strip. As the target is a long vertical strip this competition allows for more errors in elevation, however since no points are awarded for near misses the archers windage accuracy becomes more important. The wand shoot is, in some respects, similar to the traditional Cherokee game of cornstalk shooting. [17]

Other competitions

See main article: archery games. Archers often enjoy adding variety to their sport by shooting under unusual conditions or by imposing other special restrictions or rules on the event. These competitions are often less formalized and are more or less considered as games. Some forms include the broadhead round, bionic and running bucks, darts, archery golf, night shooting, and turkey tester.

Historical reenactment

Archery is popularly used in historical reenactment events. This sort of event usually combines education of the audience of aspects of archery (such as the bow, arrows, and practice drill), combined with a demonstration or competition of archery in the style most favored by the period on display, generally in period costume.

Archery education

A relatively new program has developed in U.S. schools called the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP). In this students use Genesis bows (a compound-style bow without a let-off). This is similar to a physical education programmes, and students who want to can also go to state and national shoots to compete against other schools. Though started in the United States, it has begun to spread to other countries.

Many sportsman's clubs and similar establishments throughout the US and other countries offer archery education programs for those under 18. These programs are commonly referred to as Junior Olympic Archery Development Programs, or simply JOAD. There are over 250 JOAD Clubs recognized by the National Archery Association.[18]

Archery with humans as targets, or very near the target

See main article: Impalement arts. Demonstrations of archery skill are sometimes featured as entertainment in circuses or wild west shows. Sometimes these acts feature a performer acting as a human "target" (strictly speaking they are not the target as the objective of the archer is to narrowly miss them, however they are frequently referred to as human targets). Archery in this context is sometimes known as one of the "impalement arts", a category which also includes knife throwing and sharpshooting demonstrations. Apache boys were trained to protect themselves by giving them a shield and having several warriors shoot at them with blunt arrows, which can still do severe damage. [19]

In some recreational groups, a form of archery known as combat archery is practiced, where several archers divided into "lights" and "heavies", namely those wearing armour or not, shoot at each other with rubber tipped arrows from low-powered longbows, with a maximum draw-weight of 30lbs. The rules of combat archery dictate that no archer may shoot at a light, however all may shoot at a heavy. Combat archery can be very popular, as it involves shooting at moving targets, and can be used to re-create battles.

It is important to note the strict separation between archery practised as a competitive sport and archery as an impalement art. For example, organising bodies for competitive archery prohibit activity that involves deliberate shooting in the general direction of a human being.[20] The separation between the worlds of competition archery and the impalement arts is more marked than that between, for example, knife throwing as a sport and as an entertainment. While some competition knife throwers have also performed circus acts and there are official organisations that embrace both worlds, there is little or no evidence of such crossover in archery, with perhaps the sole exception of reenactment groups (i.e. Society for Creative Anachronism), where archers can both compete in a tournament (target archery) and participate in combat archery, shooting with light bows and special safety arrows at well armoured warriors (often knights).[21]

However archery involving a person in the vicinity of the target is a particularly dangerous practice and, even with very experienced performers, there have been cases of very serious injury.[22] [23] [24]

Another situation where archery features as an entertainment is in its portrayal in movies. Howard Hill used his extraordinary accuracy for the archery in the movie The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) starring Errol Flynn. He used a heavy hunting bow to hit small reinforced target areas on the chests of actors in motion. Hill also performed stunts such as shooting an apple held by a volunteer and shooting a stone as it was thrown in the air. Some of his stunts can be seen in the short film Cavalcade of Archery (1946).

See also

Additional reading

Notes and References

  1. Korean archery
  2. Korean Traditional Archery. Duvernay TA, Duvernay NY. Handong Global University, 2007
  3. The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 4. 2008 The Lyons Press. ISBN 978-0-9645741-6-8
  4. Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America (Paperback) by Theodora Kroeber. Republished University of California Press 2004. ISBN-10: 0520240375 ISBN-13: 978-0520240377
  5. Saxton Pope. Hunting with the bow and arrow. New York. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1925.
  6. Saxton Pope. Adventurous bowmen. Field Notes On African Archery. G. P. Putnam's Sons. New York. 1926.
  7. Hickman, C.N., Forrest Nagler and Paul E. Klopsteg. Archery: The Technical Side. A compilation of scientific and technical articles on theory, construction, use and performance of bows and arrows, reprinted from journals of science and of archery. National Field Archery Association 1947
  8. Chinese Archery. Stephen Selby. Hong Kong University Press, 2000. ISBN-10: 9622095011 ISBN-13: 978-9622095014
  9. Arab Archery. An Arabic manuscript of about A.D. 1500 "A book on the excellence of the bow & arrow" and the description thereof. Translated and edited by Nabih Amin Faris and Robert Potter Elmer. Princeton University Press 1945
  10. Ketoh
  11. Toxophilus - the School of Shooting. by Roger Ascham. Read Books 2006. ISBN-10: 1846643694 ISBN-13: 978-1846643699
  12. The Great Warbow. Hardy R, Strickland M. Sutton Publishing 2005. ISBN-10: 0750931671ISBN-13: 978-0750931670
  13. Nine years among the Indians, 1870-1879. Herman Lehman. University of New Mexico Press 1927, reprinted with new foreword 1993. ISBN 0-8263-1417-1. "I amused myself by making blunt arrows... Plugging hats became one of my favorite pastimes. The boys would put their hats off about a hundred yards and bet me the drinks that I could not hit them. I would get the drinks every time..."
  14. Bear, Fred. The Archer's Bible. Doubleday, Garden City, NJ. 1980 pps. 36-43.
  15. Turkish Traditional Archery Part 1: History, Disciplines, Institutions, Mystic Aspects. Murat Özveri, DDS, PhD
  16. FITA Flight Archery official description
  17. Cherokee cornstalk shooting
  18. National Archery Association's page on JOAD programs.
  19. Nine years among the Indians, 1870-1879. Herman Lehman. University of New Mexico Press 1927, reprinted with new foreword 1993. ISBN 0-8263-1417-1. "I was given a shield and placed off about fifty yards. Four braves took bows and blunt arrows and began to shoot at me... torrents of blunt sticks came at me and I was too slow. One passed just over the shield and struck me in the forehead. I saw stars, - not those painted ones on my shield, but real fiery flashes - it downed me... I was knocked down several times before I became an adept. All Indians were thus trained."
  20. For example, impalement arts contravene rules 101(b) and 102(a) of the UK Grand National Archery Society (GNAS) Rules of Shooting (see Web site: Copy of Rules of Shooting. Berkshire Archery Association website. PDF. 2007-02-11.) and represent "substantial" or "intolerable" risk under GNAS Archery range health and safety policy (see Web site: Copy of health and safety policy from SportFocus website. PDF. 2007-02-11.)
  21. Web site: "Combat Archery: A Manual for Western Archers".
  22. Web site: "Artist 'undeterred' by crossbow accident". BBC News. 2001-01-16. 2007-03-27.
  23. Web site: Circus act turns into horror. The Tribune (copy from Reuters). January 17, 2001. 2007-03-27.
  24. Nine years among the Indians, 1870-1879. Herman Lehman. University of New Mexico Press 1927, reprinted with new foreword 1993. ISBN 0-8263-1417-1. "I amused myself by making blunt arrows, and it was fun for me to plug men away off who dared me and thought I could not hit them. One day John Davis, a young man at Loyal Valley, was off about one hundred and fifty yards. He dared me to shoot at him. He turned his back and tucked his head, and zip! my arrow took him right between the shoulders, and Mr. Davis plowed the sand with his nose. In a very few minutes there was a great blue spot where the arrow had struck."