Archery – for the people who love to hit the bullseye
Archery is a sport in which the player shoots arrows using a bow to a stationary target. And, the target is a circular disk with ten concentric circles that represent different tracks.
The objective of the sport is shooting the target with an arrow and the score depends on the area of the circle where the arrow hits.
Archery – The history and evolution
Archery belongs to the starting of human evolution. By withstanding the ages, it survived and exists even today. We got evidence for the existence of archers all through the world, from the pre-historic period.
Archery sport belongs to the stone ages i.e) the period around 20,000BC. But the people who first used the bows and arrows regularly in their day to day life were the Ancient Egyptians. And those people belonged to 3000BC and they used it for hunting and warfare.
One instance which depicted the use of archery by Greeks was the competition in which Odysseus won the hand of Penelope.
In China, people who belonged to the Shang Dynasty, which extended from 1766BC to 1027BC, used chariots in the wars. It carried a driver, a lancer and an archer.
In the Zhou Dynasty (1027 – 256BC) that followed, nobles at court attended archery sport tournaments that were accompanied by music and entertainment.
The Chinese introduced archery to Japan in the sixth century and it began to have a great influence on the culture. And one of the most famous martial arts is known as ‘kyudo.’
Pottery belonged to the Greco-Roman period depicted archers in the war field and in hunting.
In the middle eastern area, the warriors mastered archery and maintained their superiority in archery equipment and techniques. With this supremacy, Attila the Hun, the Mongolian warrior conquered much of Europe and Asia.
In the middle ages, the English longbow became a formidable force and played a key role in many of the famous battles in Europe. And there was also a law in England that asked every adult man to practice archery.
During the period, in continental Europe i.e. in Switzerland, parts of Germany and France, the warriors widely used the crossbow. But, in the 16th century, firearms replaced archery as a military weapon.
As per the records, people witnessed the first archery sport competition in Finsbury in England in 1583 with 3000 participants.
After the introduction of gunpowder in warfare, archery lost its importance. Now it is having the status of a popular sport and a recreational activity.
Both the royalty and the general public in England practiced archery as a sport. And the societies formed for archery date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1787, the prince of Wales and George IV became the patron of the Toxophilite society. They were instrumental in the setting up of the prince’s lengths of 100 yards, 80 yards, and 60 yards. And these standards are still in use in British men’s championship York round.
The recreational activities then developed into the modern sport of archery. In the year 1844, the British Championship was held at York. And the Grand National Archery Society became the governing body of the sport in the United Kingdom.
In 1931, the Federation of International Target Archery was formed in Paris and the rules were standardized.
The United Bowmen of Philadelphia was the first American archery organization founded in the year 1828. Subsequently, many clubs came into existence in the 1870s. Among them, eight of the clubs formed the National Archery Association of the United States in 1879.
From 1930, the number of archers around the world grew in numbers after the surge in the numbers in the United States. In 1939, the National Field Archery Association of the United States came into existence to promote hunting, roving and field archery.
Bow in archery
The bow was the earliest device that attained a greater speed than in throwing. In the process of shooting, the bow stores the energy in the bow limbs, while pulling the string back, and releases it as the energy of flight in the arrow.
For a long time, people used single material like wood to make a bow. In making long staves, they joined two pieces of the same material.
Then began the practice of using two or more materials in the making of bows. And people used materials like wood and horn. They glued the layers and strengthened it with the bands of sinew.
The warriors in Europe used short self bows, until the late middle ages. With the beginning of the 11th century, the English people began the use of superior longbows, which was instrumental in their victories over the French in the hundred years’ war.
In the same period, the warriors in Asia also used the composite bows made of wood, horn, and sinew.
The longbow was used in archery until 1930 and the history of archery as a sport is the story of the longbow.
While using in sports, the longbow presented some disadvantages. The archers had to remove the strings while not in use to prevent the bow from different climatic conditions like temperature and humidity.
Then in the middle of the 20th century, bows with a composite design made of laminated wood, plastic and fiberglass came into use in archery. And these bows withstood the changes in the climatic conditions.
In the composite bow, the manufacturers used a thin wooden strip at the center and thin strips of fiberglass, on both sides of the wood strip. They used epoxy glue to fix the strips together.
The bows had a strong middle area that provided the essential strong grip to the archer and a thin and strong fiberglass limbs.
With the modern bow, the archers can attain a superior performance as it gives greater accuracy, velocity, and distance. By using the modern bow, an archer can get 30 to 40 percent higher scores.
The modern bow shoots a maximum distance of 775 meters while the longbow can attain a distance of 275 meters only.
The velocity of the modern bow is 65 meters per second while the velocity of the longbow is 45 meters per second.
With the modern bow, an archer gets double the amount of efficiency than what he gets from the longbow,
The manufacturers use aluminum-alloy or fiberglass in the making of modern bows. The present bows have plastic fins instead of feathers. They use steel to make arrow points and nylon to make strings.
Another innovation is the more recent compound bows that use cables and pulleys. From the introduction of two pulleys in the 1960s, it gained popularity. And now, the archers use it in field archery, in hunting, and in the international target archery sport competition.
Other equipment in archery
The average length of the modern target bow is 173 cm but it varies with the height of the archer.
The length of the arrow always varies and the average length is 56 cm. And the maximum prescribed diameter for the arrow is 9.3mm. But, most of the players use arrows with a 5.5 mm diameter, to get a faster flight.
The drawing force of the bow is the energy required to draw back the arrow to the fullest. It varies from 14 to 23kg for men and 9 to 18kg for women.
Archers use quiver, which is a container used to carry arrows. They hung the quiver over the shoulder or from the belt.
In archery sport, the participants use armguard to protect the arm from the string, when it is released.
The bowstring in modern bows is made up of high-tech polythene which not only has elasticity but also stronger than steel.
Chestguard, which is made of plastic or leather, is used to give a clear way to the strings when it is released. It keeps clothes down from obstructing the string.
Shooting gloves or finger tab protects the fingers while releasing the string.
Archers use fletching, which is a feather type material attached at the end of arrows. It helps in the straight flight of the arrow.
Handle or handgrip refers to the handle of the bow in archery.
Nock is a plastic attachment at the rear end of the arrow to keep the bowstring in the right position.
Sight is a device that uses pin or pins, circle, lens or another marker to help the archers hit the target. Archers place the sight in the center of the bow and use it as a reference point to aim the target.
The stabilizer is a weight on the bow to stabilize it during and after the shot.
The target provided in the Olympics is 48 inches in diameter, which is 70 meters away from the archer. And the center of the target is 1.3 meters above the ground.
Archery – Know the variants
Traditional Archery, Target Archery, Field Archery, Bowhunting, and 3D Archery are the variants people like to play and are mostly in use.
By continuing the tradition, people belonging to different regions use traditional equipment to play the game. In general, the archers shoot with a longbow without stabilizers, sights or any other equipment.
The archers prefer carbon fiber arrows or synthetic strings, short bows, and arrows made of natural materials like wood, horn and bird feathers, etc.
Longbow, Kyudo, Recurved Composite, Flatbow and Selfbows are some of the traditional bows used in different regions.
In this game, the archers shoot at a target with a bull’s eye. The bull’s eye is a variety of colored targets and is placed at a standard length. It is 18 meters in indoors and 30-90meters for outdoor.
The length of the target depends upon the age of the archer and the equipment style. The World Archery facilitates international championship events and popular world cup series.
It’s for the people who love nature as the sport provides a roving course through woods. In this type of archery, the paper targets are 20 to 80 yards away from the shooter. Indoor archery is also available in this game.
The archers walk through either wooden or open courses in this type of archery and they aim at animal shapes in 3D at different lengths.
The International Bowhunting Organization and Archery Shooter’s Association conduct these events at the international level.
It is allowed only during certain seasons and the archers have to acquire a license from the state government. It extends from a few weeks to four months.
Bowhunting requires professional techniques, good concentration, and patience. The archer should have experience in hunting. And most of the archers feel that bow hunting is more fun and a good sport than hunting with a gun.
Bowhunting is a very ancient practice used for survival and it still exists in certain parts of Africa. Though people are not trained in, they are experts in the field of archery.
The participants use compound bows and the arrows from these bows are much faster and accurate than the ones from normal bows.
The archers wear protection for the arm and the chest as the compound bow releases much higher torque. They also use sight to aim the arrow.
Archery – Terms used in the game
Knowing the terms used in archery, before starting to play the game will be helpful in learning it quickly and mastering it.
It is the position of the hand when the archer draws the string to the maximum. Anyway, it differs slightly with the archers as the anchor point for some players is near the ears while for some others, it is near the mouth.
When the archer pulls the bowstring, the arrow appears to move away from the archer’s aim. It tempts archers to adjust the aim when the bowstring is fully drawn and often misses the target. It is known as the Archer’s Paradox.
The front end of the arrow which hits the target upon releasing is called arrowhead and is made up of rubber, hardened plastic, metal, animal bones or stones.
The archery target, which is made up of soft material is called the Boss. The soft material softens the impact and stops the arrow without passing through. In the initial years, straw was used to make the target. Nowadays different kinds of padding materials like styrofoam are used.
It’s the string on the bow, that uses the potential energy on the bow to shoot the arrows.
In archery, it is the central point of the target and the archer gets the highest point when he/she hits it.
These are mounds of earth and are useful in safe archery targets.
It’s a spring-loaded contact on the arrow rest.
It’s the length to which the archer draws the string away from the original position.
It is the amount of weight an archer has to put to pull the bowstrings. The potential energy of the bow increases with higher draw weight and gives greater projectile velocity.
Dry fire is drawing the string and shooting without an arrow. Archers should avoid doing this as it induces pressure on the limbs and reduces the life of the bow.
Fistmele / Brace Height
It is the distance between the bowstring and the bow from the point of nocking to the arrow rest. The archers measure it when the bow is in a fully tensile position.
It is the feather attachment on the back end of an arrow which is helpful in making the projectile more aerodynamic. Fletching also helps to stabilize the mid-air flight and ensures a more accurate shot.
It is the amount of bend the recurve or compound bow has, with respect to its spine.
Index fletching is using fletchings in different colors to show that “this side up”.
It’s the action of setting the arrow loose and firing the arrow.
It’s the part of the bow which bends and stores the potential energy. The draw weight of a bow depends on the material of the limb.
Long rods / V-Bars
Long rods or bars are the attachment to the bow that helps in the reduction of vibration and recoil of the bow and provide more stability during firing.
It’s nothing but loading an arrow.
It is the point on the string to which the archers place the end of the arrow to knock it rightly. A fixed nocking point ensures more accuracy during the shot.
It’s a leather container, which holds arrows. Archers hang it around the back or waist so that they get easy access to the arrows.
It is a part of the bow where archers rest the arrow before shooting. With the nocking point, it ensures that the arrow is straight and perpendicular to the bow.
Riser is the central part of the bow and it has limbs on either side to make it a complete bow. If the archer wants to have more draw weight, he/she can detach the limbs and replace it with stronger ones.
Serving is a string around the bowstring to give it additional strength and it also prevents the fibers of the string from damages.
It’s the piece of a long shaft of wood in the arrow. That’s what she said.
Siper is a device that is shorter than the brace height and the average draw length. It is useful in shooting the arrow.
The spine of an arrow refers to its stiffness. It shows how flexible an arrow is and this measurement affects the trajectory of the arrow.
Top-end of the bow, but it doesn’t refer to the arrow point.
The last shot in an archery sport contest.
It is the fin of an arrow that helps in stabilizing the motion.
Yumi is a Japanese bow which is mostly asymmetric, and it is available in both short and long types.
How to play archery
Archery sport needs the regular practice of the game for a starter to become a professional. Passionate practice under regular supervision makes a professional archer.
The basic needs in archery
A player who is willing to practice archery should have the proper eyesight. A sharp vision to observe the targets which are small and far away is most essential to playing archery.
The players also need bow, arrows, and guards to play the game.
Costumes and equipment in archery
During the shooting of the arrows, the archers suffer injuries on the wrists and fingers. So, they should put on protection for arm, fingers, and chest to enter the game.
An archer has to choose the bow with the right grip and comfortability and also choose arrows of the right length and size.
What to do before the start in archery
Stretching the body is an essential pre-routine before the game. By doing stretching, an archer can avoid pulling off the muscles and thus can save the arms, elbows, and shoulders from any injuries and the subsequent pain.
As a precaution, loose clothing, ornaments like chains and earrings, and loose hair should be avoided.
Then, the player has to place the arrow rightly in the dent in the string. The strings are of synthetic material, so the archers need a tab to protect the fingers from minor cuts.
The rubber-rest helps the archer to place the arrow over the bow and it is the player who checks it right and makes the rest to happen right.
The method of holding the arrow in archery
To start with, place the arrow on the dent and stretch the string. In this position, place your index finger above the arrow, and the middle and ring fingers below the arrow.
Then, you should keep your thumb and little finger away and they should not touch the string. Placing your fingers rightly enables the free movement of the arrow without putting any pressure on it.
While releasing the arrow, you have to pull the string back and it should touch the tip of your nose and your hand should be below your jaw. Most importantly, you should feel comfortable. Otherwise, if there is any muscle tension, it will be better to relax and warm up the muscles.
Aiming in archery
Using the ‘sight’ fixed on the bow, you should aim for the target. Learn to use the red dot in the middle and you should never hold the string in the stretched position for more than 4 seconds.
Holding it for more time would lead to the stretching of the muscle, which further causes pain and shivering in the hand. And closing your left eye avoids distraction and helps in the locking of your view on the target.
To release the arrow, ease your fingers away from the stretched string. And you have to maintain your stance while the arrow moves through the air. Now, to loosen your stretched muscles, you could breathe three times after releasing your grip.
In the initial stages having an instructor aside and following his directions is the right option. Archery is a sport that works on the principle of striving for perfection. The attitude toward learning more yields the best results than the attitude to compete.
Scoring and Winning in archery
Depending on the level of the archery sport, there are two types of scoring available. They are 5-zone and 10-zone scoring.
In the 5-zone scoring, the target is divided into 5 different colored zones. The archer gets the points according to the level of the hits and the distance is measured in yards.
In the 10- zone scoring, the zone is divided into 10 scoring zones where each color is split into two parts as inner and outer rings.
In the world archery, 10-zone scoring is used. It is mostly used in indoor games and the distance is measured in meters.
How to Aim the Traditional Bow in archery
With the help of ‘sight’ fixed on the bow, an archer can locate and aim the target easily and release the arrow with more perfection.
But, with the traditional bows which have no facilities, it won’t be easy to get it right. The archer should have the right focus and should not allow peripheral vision to distract him/her.
Reference methods in archery
All reference methods are based on the point on the distance of the bow setup. In archery, the point on distance is the point where the line of sight of the shooter and the trajectory of the arrow meet.
The point on distance varies from shooter to shooter and depends upon various factors like arrow speed, arrow length, and hold on the string.
In general, the short distance shooters like hunters, 3D, and indoor archers prefer a closer point on. But, shooters who go for long-distance generally choose a longer point on the distance to minimize hold.
Split Vision in archery
In this method, there may not be any hard and fast gaps or references but the archers are aware of the arrow, riser, etc. Subsequently, they see these things in peripheral vision and line up the arrow and the riser to the target.
Various Gaps Method in archery
It’s the visual gap between the shooter and the target. Moreover, it depends on the shooter’s knowledge about the trajectory of the arrow at various times until it reaches the point on distance.
The archers have to pick up the point either above or below the target to coincide with the amount of trajectory that the arrow needs to compensate for gravity.
Pick up a Point in archery
The archers choose a point on the target and also include the trajectory of the arrow i.e. how high or low the arrow makes an impact along the path.
It differs from gaping the target in the focus which remains constant. When the shooter tries to hit a certain spot using the point, the trajectory takes it to a location slightly above or below the point.
Short Gap in archery
The archer looks at the target as a spot slightly above, or directly in front of the arrow. Getting it right would be difficult for some people as the archer needs to see the target as a picture while the brain visualizes it in 3D.
Shaft Gapping in archery
In this method, the archer uses the arrow shaft to measure the gap towards the target and he/she needs to know how to use the diameter of the arrow shaft. And also, the archers need good observation and concentration during practice to master this method.
You would also like to read about Wimbledon