Man historically relied on archery – the practice of propelling arrows with a bow – for hunting and combat. The first bow, according to historians, emerged in either the Paleolithic (about 40,000 years ago) or early Mesolithic (about 10,000 years ago) periods, before agriculture, when man was a hunter-gatherer. “The bow is an ancient weapon, and the ability to use it to hit a target is associated with manhood,” says Simon Ho of the Archery Club of Singapore.
Today, archery is mainly a recreational activity. In 1900, archery first appeared at the Paris Olympic Games, but was dropped after the 1920 Games (four Olympics later) due to a lack of uniform international rules. Standardised archery competition rules were later developed by the Federation Internationale de Tir a l’Arc (Fita), the international governing body of archery, founded in 1931.
Archery returned to the Olympics in 1972’s Munich Games, after countries adopted the new rules. Initially, only individual competition was available. In 1988, team competition was introduced.
The outdoor Olympics distance for men and women is 70m. A common range is 50m and the shortest outdoor range is 30m.
The individual competition consists of a ranking round followed by the Fita Olympic round. In the ranking round, archers shoot 72 arrows at a target 70m away in 12 ends of six arrows each. A perfect score is 720. The Fita Olympic round is divided into the elimination round and the finals round: Six ends of three arrows – a total of 18 – are shot at a target 70m away with a 40-second time limit per arrow. The winners of each round move on to the next. The same set of shots is used to seed teams for the team competitions.
Archery involves a complex set of skills. “It may look like point and shoot, but archery requires physical and mental coordination, and focus to hit the target accurately,” Ho says. An archer first assumes the correct stance before shooting an arrow. The body should be perpendicular to the target and the shooting line, with the feet placed shoulder-width apart.
He then loads the bow with an arrow, with the bow pointed towards the ground and the shaft of the projectile placed on an arrow rest,which is attached in the bow window. The back of the arrow is attached to the bowstring. The bowstring and arrow are held with three fingers. The bow is then raised and drawn in one fluid motion. The hand holding the string is drawn towards the face, where it rests lightly at an anchor point, usually at the corner of the mouth or on the chin. The bow arm is held outwards towards the target. The arrow is typically released by relaxing the fingers of the drawing hand.
The Benefits Of Archery
Steady arms, a good aim and concentration are hallmarks of a good archer. Simon Ho of the Archery Club of Singapore explains how the sport gives you both physical and mental benefits.
Shooting an arrow accurately requires upper-body strength and control. “It tests your accuracy – hitting the target to get the highest score,” says Ho.
Ho says an archer requires concentration and focus: “Mentally, archery tests how consistent you are in controlling your body.”
To develop accuracy in shooting with the bow,there are no shortcuts. “Physical and mental coordination can only be developed through training,” says Ho.