With the possible exception of spear or javelin throwing, archery (using a bow to shoot an arrow)
is probably the oldest sport in existence. It can be traced back to prehistoric times. Archery also
played a major role in military history for thousands of years. Today people participate in
archery for the sheer enjoyment of target shooting and bowhunting. It is also a relatively inexpensive
sport which can be practiced both indoors and outdoors. Bowhunting for deer, peccary
(wild pig) and other small game is gaining in popularity in the United States. Bow hunters often
participate in competitions with full-sized three-dimensional targets made to resemble actual game.
For example, the annual “Mountain Man Classic” bowhunting competition in North
Georgia involves running against the clock up and down 1-1/2 to 2 miles of steep wilderness
terrain, spotting and shooting at deer and turkey targets that have been placed in
obscure locations. This type of archery competition is extremely strenuous and requires
months of endurance conditioning in addition to skills with a bow.
HISTORY OF ARCHERY
In prehistoric times, people used bows and arrows to hunt for food and for self-defense.
During the Greek and Roman civilizations, armies used the skill of trained bowmen to win
many battles. Archery achieved new status as an American sport in 1828 when an
association called “The United Bowmen ofPhiladelphia” was formed. This group is still in
existence today. The National Archery Association (NAA) was founded in 1879. It still
sponsors annual national archery competitions.
HOW ARCHERY IS DONE
The purpose of archery as a sport is to hit a target with an arrow. The highest score is
made when a target designed with progressively smaller rings is hit in the center. This is
the familiar “bullseye” target. Lesser scores are made as the arrow hits rings farther
away from the center. Competition involves several archers, each trying to make the
highest score possible in a specified number of tries.
There is only one basic shooting technique in archery. An analysis of this technique
helps us to identify ten basic steps as listed below. If all ten steps are done correctly, the
shooting will appear to be graceful and almost effortless:
1. Assuming the stance. The archer should feel firmly placed but not stiff or tense.
He or she should stand at right angles to the target with the eyes looking directly
at the target.
2. Positioning the bow arm and grip. The bow is not really “gripped,” but is supported at
arm’s length from the body. The index finger or second finger is wrapped
around the part of the bow that is facing the target, while the thumb is wrapped
around the part of the bow that faces the archer. The shoulders are not “hunched,”
but are kept down and pulled to the back. The arm holding the bow is held as
steady as possible without the muscles being tensed.
3. Nocking. The fletched or vaned end of the arrow has a small notch that fits over
the bowstring. Slipping this notch over the bowstring is called “nocking.”
4. Drawing. Drawing or pulling back on the bow string utilizes both arms and the upper
body muscles. The bow arm is raised toward the target as the string arm pulls backwards. The
upper arm, shoulder and upper back muscles should not be too tense, or the draw will be
executed improperly. During this step, many archers find that it helps to take a deep breath
and hold it.
5. Anchoring. It is critical that the string be pulled back to a proper anchor point. This is
the point at which the bowstring arm has reached full flexion or bending at the elbow. The
position varies according to the particular individual’s skeletal and muscular lever system. As
little as 1/8 inch in anchoring can affect shooting accuracy.
6. Relaxing. Archers need to take time to assure that only the muscles involved in
supporting the bow and drawing the bowstring are tense. Overall performance
improves when archers pay attention to this point.
7. Aiming. The sight-shooting method is a popular way of shooting at targets. A
mechanical device is attached to the bow and can be both horizontally and vertically
adjusted. The “sight” is fastened to the back of the bow slightly above the
arrow rest. The archer should close the left eye or right eye (depending on whether
the archer is right- or left-handed) and look at the “sight” pin. Then he/she should
align it with the center (gold circle) of the target, also allowing for distance and
wind (if any).
8. Concentrating. As with all sports, the ability to concentrate in archery often makes
the difference between excellence and average performance. The archer should
put everything else out of his/her mind and concentrate on the target.
9. Releasing. Smoothly release the string, holding the string fingers steady and relaxed
without any snap or jerk to the hand. The arrow is now sent on its way.
10. Follow-through. Hold your stance for a few seconds after release.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
A first and major step in learning archery is identifying and understanding the equipment. A
potential bowman will choose either a straight bow or a recurved bow (a bow in which the tips
curve back to form an arc). The length of the bow depends on the individual needs of the
purchaser, including his/her age, weight and height. Some hunting bows have complex
compound curves, with equally complex systems of pulleys and bowstrings.
Bows range in length from 48 to 70 inches. Longer bows are used for target shooting and
shorter bows for hunting. Most hunting bows weigh more than target bows, which usually
range in weight from 10 to 50 pounds.
It is always best to buy a bow that is light enough to be handled comfortably. The “weight”
of the bow does not refer to how much it would weigh if put on a set of scales. Instead,
“weight” in archery refers to the amount of weight in pounds you would have to attach to
the bowstring to bend a stationary bow a specific amount. This is often called the “drawweight.
” Thus a 70-pound bow does not weigh 70 pounds. Instead, it requires 70 pounds
of pulling force to bend the bow a certain amount.
Bowstrings are made of synthetic materials such as Nylon or Dacron. Archers often wax
their bowstrings as protection against the elements.
Arrows are carried in an arrow holder called a “quiver,” or, in the case of hunting bows,
are often attached to a rack on the bow itself. The arrow is composed as follows:
A point or “pile,” which varies from a simple sharp point to broadhead, quintuple-sectioned
steeple-shaped heads. A shaft and a “shaftment,” or rear of the arrow. A “nock” or notch at
the end of the arrow that fits over the bowstring.
Feathers, vanes or “fletches” at the nock end of the arrow, which help the arrow to fly in a
straight line toward a target.
Some archers use a leather arm guard worn on the inside forearm of the hand that supports
the bow. A leather tab or a shooting glove is often worn to protect the fingers that
draw back the bowstring.
Archers should always wear comfortable, uncluttered, form-fitting clothes. Jewelry, large
buttons, scarves and big pockets will only get in the way of the bow and arrow.
Although it involves the use of one of the oldest types of weapons, archery is not necessarily
a dangerous sport. However, as with any physical activity, it is up to the individual
to keep the sport as safe as possible by observing certain rules, especially the following
Novice (beginning) archers should always be supervised. Don’t try to get started
in archery without prior instruction or supervision.
An arrow ready to be released should be pointed only at the target, never at persons,
animals or objects.
Arrows should not be shot straight up into the air. When that happens, they usually
come straight back down. This can be very dangerous!
Never take chances in archery. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
NOTES AND NEWS
In addition to being a form of recreation, archery is an Olympic sport. Olympic archery
competition has strict equipment rules. For example, Olympic bows are recurved, and can
propel arrows up to 150 miles per hour. The draw weight averages 50 pounds for men
and 34 pounds for women. Most arrows are made of either aluminum or carbon graphite.
XVIth WORLD FIELD ARCHERY CHAMPIONSHIPS: Austria, August, 1998
Event Winners Country
Women’s Compound Bow Pellen France
Men’s Compound Bow Andersson SwedenWomen
’s Recursive Bow Mayrhofer AustriaMen’s Recursive Bow Shales Britain
Gold Medalists in the 2000 Olympic archery competition in Sydney were as follows:
Men’s 70 meters Simon Fairweather, Australia.Men
’s Archery Team Korea
Women’s 70 meters Mi-Jin Yun, KoreaWomen
’s Archery Team Korea
WHAT TO DO:
The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding
of archery. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not enough
room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in complete
1. What are the physical benefits to be obtained from archery?
2. What are some of the factors an archer must consider in his/her choice of a bow?
3. What is “the draw weight” of a bow?4. What basic pieces of equipment are needed to get started in archery?
5. Describe the ten steps in shooting a bow and arrow.
6. True or False: A good archer keeps his/her body and arm tense and rigid at all times.
7. What do beginning archers need to do before they begin to practice archery?
8. Should you ever shoot an arrow straight up into the air? Explain.
9. Why is concentration so important in archery?
10. What does “follow-through” mean in archery and why is it important?
Short Answer Questions:
1. Describe the ten steps in shooting a bow and arrow.
2. True or False: A good archer keeps his/her body and arm tense and rigid at all times.
3. What do beginning archers need to do before they begin to practice archery?
4. Should you ever shoot an arrow straight up into the air? Explain.
5. Why is concentration so important in archery?
6. What does “follow-through” mean in archery and why is it important?7. Putting everything
out of your mind but the target
8. The point at which the bowstring is pulled back fully
9. When drawing, the bow arm is _____ toward the target
10. This is how one should release the bowstring
11. Another name for an arrow point
12. This is shot by the bow
13. This word describes pulling back on the bowstring
14. Acronym for the archery association founded in 1828
15. Type of bow that is often used for hunting
16. A sight-shooting method
17. The thumb supporting the bow faces this
18. Arrangement for rings in an archery target
19. Standing at right angles to the target
20. The fingers supporting the bow face this
21. The annual _______ man competition is for bowhunters
22. The end of the arrow with the nock
23. Letting go of the bowstring
24. When anchoring, the arm is fully ______ at the elbow
25. Placing the arrow against the bowstring
26. Arrow holder