What is Archery?


Archery is a sport that actually comes from when archers were used in war. Archery as a method for killing has been around since 10,000 BCE. In archery, bows, made of a frame and a string, are used to fire an arrow at a target. In hunting, that target would be an animal. In war, that target would be the enemy army. In the sport of archery though, the target is a circle of rings with improving scores as you get to the middle. Archery today is rarely used outside of sport, but it is still a popular sport for many to play.


archery history

Archery as a sport is believed to have started in Japan after they were introduced to archery forcefully by China. Kyudo or "way of the bow" became a popular martial art as a sport and ritual. In Kyudo archers would stand 28 meters from the target which was circular and placed in front of a sand bank. Archery was popular in many ancient civilizations throughout history. Though it was mostly used for hunting and for war, archery as a sport existed throughout that time. Archers would compete against each other to see who could hit targets or who could fire from a moving chariot etc.

Archery found its way into the early Olympics in 1900. It stayed there in 1904, 1908, and 1920. Then it disappeared for 52 years only to return to the Olympics in 1972.


Archery Range

Archery is a rare sport in that the actual ground surface that it is played on doesn't actually matter a lot. Since archers stand in place and shoot in the air at a target that's raised from the ground, the surface doesn't matter all that much. In Olympic shooting there is one consistent grass-like rug that is laid out. Archery is usually played outside, in some kind of small stadium. It can be played inside too. All that matters playing surface wise is the distance to the target. In the Olympics that distance is 70 meters. In other competitions the distance can be shortened.


archery equipment

Archery is a pretty equipment heavy sport. To be a high level archer the quality of bow and arrows is crucial to be successful. Important archery equipment includes a bow, arrows, and quiver. Along with protective gear such as gloves, arm guards, and chest guards.


Archery Gameplay

There are two different styles of gameplay for archery, though the basics stay the same. In some archery competitions the highest cumulative score wins. Every archer shoots a set amount of arrows and the highest score wins. In these styles of competitions sometimes archers will go one at a time. In others all the archers will line up next to each other, in front of a target, and shoot at the same time. In the head to head model two archers will compete going arrow for arrow. The one with a higher score after a set number of arrows will win.

Rules and Regulations

archery rules and regulations

Archery has fewer rules than many sports because of the simplicity of the game. However, there are still rules that have to be strictly followed. Usually if an archer breaks a rule they are disqualified.

  • Time Limit: Per each round of 3 arrows the archer has a time limit of 2 minutes.
  • Starting: Archer's cannot raise their bow arm until after they have gotten the indication from an official.
  • Reshoots: An arrow can never be reshot. If the arrow falls without being shot the archer can pick it back up.
  • Line rule: If an arrow is touching the line between two rings the score defers to the higher number.
  • "Robin Hood" rule: If an arrow sticks in another arrow it gets the same score as the arrow in which it's stuck.

Archery Judges

Archery Referees and Officials

Archery officials, who are called judges, are in charge of overseeing archery events. Their job is to confirm an archer's score and maintain integrity of the match. Judges will watch the archer and the target to make sure there is no cheating. In the Olympics there are judges who score shots with eyesight and then backup judges with access to replay and cameras to look at arrows and officially decide what score they deserve.

Lingo and Terminology

Archery Lingo and Terminology

Archery is a very technical and fairly niche sport. Of course that means that the sport has developed its own lingo.

  • Bullet: Arrow
  • Sticks: Arrows
  • Chunk/Gunch: A bad shot
  • Fat Shafter: Wider arrows
  • Peeker: When an archer aims then lowers the bow to look at the target again.
  • Rig: An archer's set up: bow, arrows, protective gear etc.
  • Struggle stick: Someone who's bow is too heavy so they cant pull back the string well
  • Trad: Archery

Skills and Techniques

archery skills and techniques

Archery has pretty much only one skill. The motion is pretty simple. You notch an arrow in your bow, you pull it back and release. However, each of these movements have to be done extremely precisely to get it right. For beginners the key is to be sturdy. To be successful you need to keep your feet in a 'T" position with your front foot facing the target, your back straight and your wrist and elbow firm.


Archery Coaches

Coaches play a less important role in archery than in most sports. At higher levels, coaches stand behind the archer, usually on a raised platform with a scope. The coach might talk the archer through their breathing or remind them of the wind, and how to best aim at the target. The archer is by far the most important person in archery. However, there are a few coaches who stand out. Most good coaches will coach an entire team though at the higher levels coaches may be individualized. Good coaches, like the ones on this list, are sought-after by top level archers.

Moon Hyung CheolKorean Olympic Team
Park "Sally" Young-SookAreno David (Malawian Olympian)
Michael PeartBritish Paralympic Team


archery coaching

Coaching in archery is different than in other sports. In archery the coach's most important job is to help with technique. A good coach will pay attention to every detail of your body from your posture to your elbow positioning. In a sport as precise as archery these are the things that are most important. At higher levels archery coaches will have breathing techniques and other small strategies to keep archers calm under pressure and to have them be able to shoot their best.


Archery Strategy

Archery is not a heavily strategic game. The most important thing in archery is to have good technique, to stay calm and to hit the target. The only real strategy involved in archery comes when shooting outside. When you're outside there are factors to take into account, like wind, before aiming. If the wind is blowing right to left, for example, you might want to aim a tiny bit more to the right of where you normally would. A coach will often help with these strategy decisions. For beginners just aim for the center of the target and focus on technique.


Archery Drills

The only way to get better at archery is to practice. Shooting over and over and over until it becomes muscle memory is a good way to improve. Other than just doing archery there are some drills. One drill, though it seems silly, is to shadow shoot. You pretend to shoot with no bow and no arrow. This can help you focus on technique and the flow of your body. It also makes it easier to sport any mistakes you might have with your body. Doing breathing exercises can help with the nervousness and focus part of the game.

Olympic Archery

olympic archery

Olympic archery is by far the most well known type of archery in the world. Archery was at the second modern Olympic games in 1900. It then was at the 1904, 1908, and 1920 Games before taking a 52 year break. At the Olympics the target is 70 meters from the competitors. The Olympics are the pinnacle of competitive archery, only the best in the world make it. At the 2016 Rio Games South Korea were by far the best, sweeping the men's competitions and dominating the women's as well.


archery players and athletes

Archers might not be the most famous athletes in the world. In fact, ask people you know and 9 out of 10 times Robin Hood or William Tell is going to be the only name you'll hear. However, there are some archers who reached the pinnacle of success, especially at the Olympics.

Hubert van InnisBelgium
Chang Hye-JinSouth Korea
Ku BonchanSouth Korea
Jean-Charles ValladontFrance


Archery Leagues

Archery is not realy formed into leagues like other sports. At the elite level archery functions more like tennis with rankings based on points. However, at the local level there are archery leagues you can join to shoot for fun or to get competitive. These leagues are regional but also fall under national archery oversight.

US ArcheryUSAAmateur
World RankingsInternationalPro/Olympic
Gotham ArcheryNYC areaAmateur


Archery Brands

Archery is a sport that is heavily dependent on equipment. You need a good bow, good arrows and good protective equipment to be successful. Archers will take very seriously every little detail of their bow to make sure it will shoot with the utmost accuracy.

Bear ArcheryBows for both hunting and target shooting
Martin ArcheryTraditional and high performance bows
Hoyt ArcheryBows, arrows, and protective gear


Archery is a popular sport with many kids and organizations. A lot of people enjoy trying it because it is a low intensity sport and it's very fun. Therefore, there are competitive archery youth organizations all over the world and the US.

Horse Archery: Recreational Archery Organization

National Archery in Schools Program: Youth and Educational Organization


Archery Tournaments

Tournaments are the main method of competition in archery. Tournaments are chances for archers to improve their rankings and to improve. In the US alone there are tons of national tournaments you can join. A lot of them are connected so if you do well in one you can qualify for the next tournament.

National Indoor ChampionshipsYouth and advanced
US Team TrialsAdvanced and pros
The OlympicsPro


Archery Books

Since archery is so technical it's only natural that there are lots of books about it. Archery books are especially good at the mental side of the game.

  • Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugene Herrigel
  • Archery Anatomy by Ray Axford
  • Archery Fundamentals by Teresa Johson


Here are some of the countries where archery is most prevalent:

  • United States
  • Sweden
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Italy

What are the basic rules of archery?

In competitive archery, archers stand a specified distance away from the target and try to hit the center. A target is made up of ten rings, with the rings closer to the center being worth more points than those closer to the edge. Archers earn points for each shot they land on the target and are trying to hit the center bullseye as much as possible. The archer with the most points wins the competition or round.