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Olympic Archery The Beginners Guide

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Archery first appeared in the 1900 Summer Olympic and since then there have been 15 archery contest at the Olympics. It was contested in 1904, 1908, 1920, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and would make another appearance in 2020. The Olympic archery is governed by the World Archery Federation (WA), formerly, Federation of International Target Archery (FITA). Eighty-Four nations have taken part in the Olympic archery events, with France appearing 31 times. In the 1904 Olympics, women competed for the archery event making the sport the first to include events for both men and women. However, after a 52-year break from the Olympics, archery made a comeback in 1972, with individual events for both genders. 

In the first four games, the athletes had the opportunity to compete in numerous events and win several medals as well. The best all-time Olympian archer so far is Hubert Van Innis of Belgium, who between the years 1900 and 1920 won six gold medals, 3 silvers, making a total of 9 medals. The second in the archery medal ranking is Kim Soo-Nyong from South Korea with 4 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze, bringing the total of her medals to 6. South Korean archers have the most impressive performance, winning 23 out of 34 gold medals in archery competitions since 1984. It is worthy to note that Archery is also an event at the Games for the Paralympic, which is a multi-sport event for athletes with physical disabilities to compete in and is held every four years. The only type of bow used in Olympic archery is the Recurve Bow.

There is so much excitement from people watching archers during the Olympic games trying to hit a yellow dot with their arrows, and why some do not understand the fuss, others are full of questions on what archery is all about, how far the archers are shooting etc. and still there are a few who envisage being an Olympian archer and winning medals for their countries but do not know how to go about it. Whatever category you fall under, this article is a must-read. 

Archery dates back to the stone age, at this time the only weapons available to man were carved out of stone. The ancient Egyptians and the neighbouring Nubian cultures were the first people to have used bows and arrows. In early times these tools were used as a means of survival, mainly to hunt for animals or as a tool of warfare. However, with the development of firearms, the use of bows and arrows have been relegated to the back in the aspect of warfare but archery has become a sporting activity in recent times. In 1900, archery was introduced to the Olympics and after the 52-year break, it has been a contest in the games since 1972 till date. 

  • Target Archery

There are different forms of archery, however, the target archery would be of major focus because it is the only form of archery in the Olympic and Paralympic games. 

  • Field Archery; this involves shooting targets in a wooded, hilly area.
  • 3D Archery; aims at shooting at a 3D target that looks like an animal. These archers mimic real-life hunting experience. It can be done for fun or to win a 3D tournament or competition.
  • Clout Archery; is a traditional archery event similar to target archery, only that the archer shoots over long ranges into a cable on the ground that has various scoring areas on it.

There are two types of Target archery, they are the Outdoor Target Archery and Indoor Target Archery. Outdoor Archery is the most popular version of target archery and it is sometimes referred to as the Olympic Archery. The target is a maximum of 122cm in diameter. The target is large and so is the distance towards the target. The standard Olympic distance is 70m, but competition distance can get up to 90m. It is important to put into consideration the wind, weather and climatic temperature of the atmosphere when shooting Outdoors, this is because these elements influence the flight of the arrows.

On the other hand, when shooting Indoors, you need not worry about the wind or the weather affecting the flight of your arrows. The distance to the target of this form of archery is much shorter compared to Outdoor target. The distance is 18m or 25m, but the targets are much smaller. Shooting Indoors also involves shooting multiple targets in no particular order. 

For both forms of archery, the competition is divided into ends of 3 or 6 arrows and after each end, the competitors go to the target to get scored as well as retrieve their arrows. 

  • Rules of Archery

The World Archery’s rule-book governs the rules of the sport at international events. 

  • Every rule that has been given on the type and use of equipment must be adhered to, in the sense that archers should not use any equipment or accessory that would give them an unfair advantage over their opponents
  • The set time limit of shooting an end of three arrows is 2 mins and 4 mins for an end of 6 arrows
  • Under no circumstance should an arrow be re-shot. Extra time can only be given in certain instances such as if the bow falls or misfires, or if the target blows or falls over
  • Appeals can be made to the judge for a piece of equipment to be replaced or fixed if the equipment got damaged
  • Archers may not raise the bow arm until the signal to do so has been given, disobedience to this rule could lead to forfeited points
  • If an arrow lands on any of the lines separating the different circles, the higher point will be regarded valid.
  • The breach of rules by an archer can lead to disqualification, deduction of points or ban from the competition depending on the severity of the offence.

Summarily, the sport was dropped from the Olympics in 1920 because there were no internationally recognized rules to govern the manner in which the sport is to be played. As at this period, each archery event in the Olympics was played differently than the previous one. With the creation of FIFTA on the 31st of September, 1931, new international rules were set but it was not until 1972 that Archery was reintroduced with the individual event. By 1988, the team invent was included in the program.

To be a good archer, you have to work on your level of concentration and release. As a beginner, practice with a tutor regularly and as you get better you can take lessons on your own. 

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