Sport of shooting with bow and arrow. As the bow began to be replaced by the gun as the principal weapon of warfare and the hunt beginning in the 16th century, it increasingly became a sporting device. By the mid-19th century, many archery clubs had sprung up in England and the U.S. Competitions including target-shooting were held at the Olympic Games in the early 20th century, but were then suspended until 1972. Other varieties of archery include field archery, or roving (a simulation of hunting), and flight shooting (a distance event).
Learn more about archery with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Currently 142 nations are represented by FITA archery governing bodies. The largest of these are the FFTA (French archery federation) with approximately 60,000 members, FITARCO (Italian federation), DSB (German federation), AJAF (All-Japan archery federation), and the GNAS (Grand National Archery Society) of Great Britain, with approximately 30 000 members. In the United States the FITA affiliated governing body is USA Archery (National Archery Association of the United States) which dates to the 1870s, making it the second oldest archery governing body after GNAS, which dates to the 1860s.
Target archery is the most popular form of archery, in which members shoot at non-moving circular targets at varying distances. All types of bow - longbow, barebow, recurve and compound - can be used. In Great Britain, Imperial rounds, measured in yards, are still used for a lot of tournaments and these have slightly different rules to FITA (metric) rounds, which are used internationally. Archers are divided into seniors and juniors, with juniors being those under the age of 18.
Archery competitions may be held indoors or outdoors. Indoor rounds are normally shot at one distance, whereas outdoor competitions normally consist of several distances. For lists of tournament rounds, see section entitled Tournament Rounds. Since archery involves the use of potentially lethal equipment, much attention is paid to order and safety. All competitors must wait for the command to start shooting and are not allowed to collect arrows while other people are shooting. These rules apply to all forms of target archery. Other rules, or points of etiquette, include:
Competition is divided into ends. An archer shoots either 3 or 6 arrows per end, depending on the type of round. After each end, the competitors walk to the target to score and retrieve their arrows. There are 20 ends of 3 arrows in a standard round of indoor competition (i.e. the FITA 18 or the FITA 25).
Archers have a set time limit in which to shoot their arrows. For indoor competition, under FITA rules this is 2 minutes for 3 arrows. Signaling devices such as lights and flags inform the archers when time is up.
Competition is divided into ends. An archer shoots either 3 arrows per end (indoors) or 6 arrows per end (outdoors). After each end, the competitors walk to the target to score and retrieve their arrows.
At all record status tournaments, archers must adhere to the GNAS dress code, which consists of wearing dark green and white clothing, or 'club colours'. Club colours are those which are unique to a club and registered on the GNAS shooting colour register.
In a tournament, awards are normally split into categories according to sex and, for juniors, age. All registered GNAS archers also have an indoor and an outdoor classification, and classification awards may also be presented - this allows archers to only shoot against those of the same ability.
|3rd Class||3rd Class|
|2nd Class||2nd Class|
|1st Class||1st Class|
|Master Bowman||Junior Master Bowman|
|Grand Master Bowman|
For indoor rounds, an archer has a classification represented by a letter from A to H, with A being the best and H the worst. This applies for both seniors and juniors.
Standard FITA targets are marked with 10 evenly spaced concentric rings, which generally have score values from 1 through 10 assigned to them, except in outdoor Imperial rounds under GNAS rules, where they have score values 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. 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. The number of hits may also be taken into account as another tiebreaker. In FITA archery, targets are coloured as follows:
Archers score each end by summing the scores for their arrows. An arrow just touching a scoring boundary line, known as a Line Breaker or Line Cutter, will be awarded the higher score. Values scored by each arrow are recorded on a score sheet and must be written in descending order (e.g. if an archer scores 5, 7, 6, 10, 9, 8, this must be recorded as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5). During and before scoring no one is allowed to touch the arrows. This is so that if there is disputed arrow score then a judge may be called and the judge will make a ruling on how the arrow lies. The archer in charge of scoring on a target at a tournament is known as the ''Target Captain'' and in larger tournaments, they may be assisted by a ''Target Lieutenant''; a Target Captain will make an initial judgement on all disputed arrows. Under FITA rules, in major tournaments, after scoring, each hole is marked before arrows are retrieved. In the event of a "pass through" (the arrow passes straight through the target) or "bouncer" (arrow hits the target and bounces out), points may be awarded to an unmarked hole. Under GNAS rules, and in some smaller tournaments, in the case of a bouncer, the archer must step off the shooting line and hold their bow in the air. A judge will then make a decision as to whether the archer is permitted to shoot a replacement arrow. If an archer accidentally shoots more arrows than they are allowed, the highest scoring arrow is not counted.
Different rounds and distances use different size target faces. Common sizes (and example rounds they are used in) are:
122 cm faces are used in Olympic competition. There are also versions of the 40cm and 60cm targets known as the "3 Spot". The targets contain 3 instances of the inner 5 rings of the 40cm and 60cm faces arranged in a line or an equilateral triangle. This is to stop competitors from damaging their own arrows by shooting a "robin hood".
Imperial rounds (measured in yards) are mainly shot in the United Kingdom. Metric rounds, also known as FITA rounds, measured in metres, are used for most other tournaments. These are the main rounds that are able to be shot in target archery:How to use the tables Go down the first column of the relevant table, until you get to the round you require. Go across this row, to find out how many arrows you shoot at each distance (yds=yards, m=metres, doz.=dozen). – means no arrows are shot at this distance.
|Round||100 yds||80 yds||60 yds||50 yds||40 yds|
|York||6 doz.||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–|
|Hereford||–||6 doz.||4 doz.||2 doz.||–|
|St. George||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||–|
|Albion||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–|
|Windsor||–||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.|
|New Western||4 doz.||4 doz.||–||–||–|
|Long Western||–||4 doz.||4 doz.||–||–|
|Western||–||–||4 doz.||4 doz.||–|
|American||–||–||2 ½ doz.||2 ½ doz.||2 ½ doz.|
|New National||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–|
|Long National||–||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–|
|National||–||–||4 doz.||2 doz.||–|
|New Warwick||2 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–|
|Long Warwick||–||2 doz.||2 doz.||–||–|
|Warwick||–||–||2 doz.||2 doz.||–|
|Round||Distance||No. of arrows|
|Portsmouth||20 yds||5 doz.|
|Worcester||20 yds||5 doz.|
|Round||80 yds||60 yds||50 yds||40 yds||30 yds||20 yds||15 yds||10 yds|
|Bristol 1||6 doz.||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–||–||–|
|Bristol 2||–||6 doz.||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–||–|
|Bristol 3||–||–||6 doz.||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–|
|Bristol 4||–||–||–||6 doz.||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–|
|Bristol 5||–||–||–||–||–||6 doz.||4 doz.||2 doz.|
|Short Windsor||–||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||–||–|
|Junior Windsor||–||–||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||–|
|Short Western||–||–||4 doz.||4 doz.||–||–||–||–|
|Junior Western||–||–||–||4 doz.||4 doz.||–||–||–|
|Short Junior Western||–||–||–||–||4 doz.||4 doz.||–||–|
|St Nicholas||–||–||–||4 doz.||3 doz.||–||–||–|
|Short National||–||–||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–||–|
|Junior National||–||–||–||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–|
|Short Junior National||–||–||–||–||4 doz.||2 doz.||–||–|
|Short Warwick||–||–||2 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–||–|
|Junior Warwick||–||–||–||2 doz.||2 doz.||–||–||–|
|Short Junior Warwick||–||–||–||–||2 doz.||2 doz.||–||–|
|FITA||FITA 18||18 m||5 doz.||–||–|
|FITA 25||25 m||5 doz.||–||–|
|Combined FITA||18 m||5 doz.||25 m||5 doz.|
|Bray I||20 y||2 ½ doz.||–||–|
|Bray II||25 y||2 ½ doz.||–||–|
|Stafford||30 m||6 doz.||–||–|
|Vegas||18 m||5 doz.||–||–|
|Round||90 m||70 m||60 m||50 m||40 m||30 m||20 m||15 m||10 m|
|Gents FITA||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||3 doz.||–||3 doz.||–||–||–|
|Ladies FITA||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||3 doz.||–||–||–|
|Metric II||–||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||–||–|
|Metric III||–||–||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||–|
|Metric IV||–||–||–||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||–||3 doz.|
|Metric V||–||–||–||–||–||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.||3 doz.|
[Source for tournament rounds: Dave Pritchard and Phil Hale, Bowmen Of The Tors: Handbook For New Archers DRP Publications, 2001]
The only type of bow allowed to be used at Olympic level is the recurve bow. Since the 1984 Games at Los Angeles, South Korea has dominated the women's event. At the Sydney 2000 games, the Korean women won bronze, silver and gold in the individual competition and won gold in the team event. They also won the gold team medals in the 2004 Athens games, and in the 2008 Beijing games. However, recently, China, Chinese Taipei, and Japan have emerged as serious challengers to the domination of the Korean women.