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Sport Archery

Updated on October 8, 2010

Archery as a Sport

Archery as a sport includes target, flight and field competitions, hunting and fishing.

Target Archery. Target archery is the sport of shooting at various targets from predetermined distances. Participants generally use either the point-of-aim or the sight system of shooting. Rules and regulations for target archery are established by the National Archery Association (NAA).

Rounds. In this form of target archery, the standard target is used in an upright position. The archers shoot rounds, consisting of various numbers of arrows released at certain established distances from the target. The most popular rounds in the United States are listed below.

Clout Shooting
. A clout is a target 12 times as large as the regulation target, but it is marked and scored the same. The target is set horizontally rather than vertically, and its center is marked with a white flag. Men shoot 36 arrows at 180 yards (165 meters); women, 36 arrows at 120 yards (110 meters).

Wand Shooting. This event was derived from the legend of Robin Hood's feat of splitting a willow wand at 100 paces. The standard wand is a white pole of soft wood, 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, stuck vertically in the ground so that 6 feet (180 cm) of its length project above the surface. Men shoot 36 arrows from 100 yards (91 meters); women and juniors, 36 arrows from 60 yards (55 meters).

Flight Shooting. In this sport, contestants compete merely for distance, without using targets. Specially designed bows and arrows are used. The event is conducted in various classifications based on the drawing weight of bows. Thus, those able to pull only light weights are not at a disadvantage.

In freestyle flight shooting, the archer lies on his back and straps the bow to his feet, leaving both hands free to draw the bowstring. This permits the use of bows with a pull of as much as 200 pounds (90 kg) and the attainment of much greater distances.

Field Archery. In field archery, the instinctive method of shooting is generally used. Various events are conducted regularly under rules set up by the National Field Archery Association (NFAA).

Field Archery Courses. Field shooting, called a field round, simulates actual hunting conditions. A round consists of 14 black and white targets with diameters of from 6 to 24 inches (15-60 cm). The targets are separated from each other by distances of between 20 feet (6 meters) and 80 yards (73 meters). The largest targets are for the longest shots. The archer does not know the distances in advance and must therefore be constantly alert. Four arrows are shot at each target from the same or different positions, called posts.

Archery Golf. Archery golf is played on a regular golf course, with archers competing against golfers. Originally, archers shot their arrows into the cups on the green. Later, to protect the cups and the greens, archers "holed out" by hitting a white sponge-rubber ball 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter placed just off the green. Adaptations of this game have employed double-faced targets with bull's-eyes 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.

Pope-Young Hunting Round. In this event, six broad-heads, or hunting arrows, are shot at each of six targets at six different distances. The archer is required to shoot each six arrows off within a time limit of 45 seconds.

Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. It was superseded only with the rise of firearms, which were at first much inferior to the bow and arrow in power, range, accuracy, and speed of fire.

King Charles II encouraged archery as a sport. In 1673 the Ancient Scorton Arrow Contest was established in England. Still functioning, it is the oldest existing archery tournament in the world. The sport of archery was introduced into the United States in the 17th century, but it was not until 1828 that a national organization was founded, the United Bowmen of Philadelphia. This organization was disbanded in 1859, but 20 years later a revival of interest in archery led to the formation of the NAA, which held its first national tournament in Chicago in 1879. In 1939 the NFAA was organized, and grew rapidly to a membership of 4,500 by the time its first national tournament was held, in 1946. Archery was featured at the 1904, 1908, and 1920 Olympic Games. It was not included again in Olympic Games until it was reinstated beginning with the 1972 games.


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