Archery Facts


• Historians believe people have been using bows and arrows for at least 25,000 years, possibly longer, based on arrowheads discovered in Africa. The practice first started in the Stone Age as a safer method of hunting by the cavemen. Eventually it became an important aspect of warfare in the days before gunpowder. By then it had also become a popular sport in many countries.

• Archery was first included as an Olympic sport in the 1900 games. It was discontinued in 1924 due to a lack of international rules, but it was reintroduced in 1972 for the Munich games.

• Supposedly, golf was banned in Scotland in 1457 by King James II. According to him, too many men were wasting their time golfing when they should have been practicing with the bow and arrow.

• Remember the story of how Robin Hood won an archery tournament by firing his arrow straight down the shaft of his opponent’s? To this day, people still call the occurrence a “Robin Hood.”

• Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. It’s so popular that nearly every village has its own archery range. Most competitors continue to use traditional hand-carved bamboo bows, though more modern equipment is gradually making headway. Surprisingly, Bhutani archers have not distinguished themselves in any international competitions outside of Asia (largely due to the equipment they use).

• With Bhutan being a Buddhist nation, the sport can only be used for play. In fact, when crafting the arrows, only feathers found on the ground can be used to make the fletchings. Actually killing a bird for use of its feathers is a big no-no.

• In ancient Tahiti, archery was considered a sacred sport and was practiced only by high-ranking people. Although they were expert marksmen, they never used bows and arrows as weapons for war.

• The earliest known instance of people using archery targets for sport is in China during the Zhang dynasty (1027-256 BC).

• The first compound bow was made around five hundred years ago.

• When competing in the Olympics, archers must engrave their initials on each arrow.

• Archery in Japan serves a more traditional and ceremonial purpose than for sport. Called “kyudo,” it is considered an art form. The bows look rather strange – they’re unusually long compared to the Western style. Because of this, the Japanese draw the bow string clear back to the shoulder instead of anchoring it against the chin or cheek. Archers also wear a traditional uniform of obi and hakama with a jacket. Kimonos are worn instead of jackets for higher-ranking shooters.

• In the 1500s, England became the first country to organize archery competitions. They competed with three different targets: those mounted on earthen butts, targets resembling small animals, and an eighteen-inch canvas with a wooden peg in the center.

• Just because you’re right-handed, it doesn’t mean you’ll be shooting with your right hand! In archery, archers shoot according to their dominant eye. Some right-handed folk are actually left eye dominant – and vice versa – and pull the bowstring back with their left hand. If you try to shoot with your non-dominant eye, it will throw your aim way off.