HomeSportsArcheryThe Evolution of Archery Game | All you need to know
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The Evolution of Archery Game | All you need to know

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Is Archery the oldest art still practiced? History will take you through a journey on the evolution of archery sport. Evidence of ancient archery has been found throughout the world and it has evolved since then. A person who participates in archery (bow and arrow game) is called an archer or a marksman in ancient times.

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A brief history of Archery sport

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The earliest evidence of archery dates around 10,000 BC, when bows and arrows were used for hunting and warfare in Egyptian and Nubian cultures.

The oldest known evidence of arrows can be traced back to Sibudu Cave situated in South Africa, where the ruins of bone and stone arrowheads have been found and can be traced back to approximately 72,000-60,000 years ago.

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The world has seen the archers of Classical civilizations like the Assyrians, Greeks, Armenians, Persians, Romans, Indians, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese who have a special place in history books

Archery was highly developed in Asia, especially in India. The Sanskrit term for archery, dhanurveda, refers to the study of archery. In East Asia, Goguryeo of Korea who hailed from one of the three kingdoms was world-famous for its regiments of exceptionally skilled archers.

The first known Archery competition organized by England was held at Finsbury in 1583 and saw 3000 participants take part in the competition. With the invention of gunpowder, the bow was discarded pretty much.

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Archery sport mythology

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In Indian mythology, we have heard various tales of legendary warriors and even gods like Karna, Abhimanyu, Eklavya, Arjuna, Bhishma, Drona, Rama, and Shiva who were known for their shooting skills. The famous archery competition of hitting the eye of a rotating fish while watching its reflection in the water bowl in the  Swayamvara of Drupada’s daughter Draupadi was one of the many archery skills depicted in the Mahabharata.

In Persian tales, Arash is considered a fine archer & the same goes with Hercules in Greek mythology Archery who is considered to be a legendary warrior, also in Greek books, Odysseus is mentioned as being eminently skilled in the art of archery and returns home in disguise of a shepherd after being absent for 20 years and then bests the suitors in an archery competition after hinting at his identity by stringing and drawing the great bow that only he can draw which was the challenge of his wife, Penelope. A similar tale can be found in the Turkic heroic poem Alpamysh.

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Archery as a modern sport

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In the sport of archery, the archer uses a bow to propel and arrows to hit the target from a particular distance. Derived from the Latin word ‘arcus’, it was only used for hunting in ancient times. But today both archery and crossbow have gained popularity among people.

Archery was approved as a Summer Olympics sport in the 1900 Paris Summer Olympics. The only type of archery featured at the Olympics was Recurve Archery – a type of Target Archery. The Archery game is also a Summer Paralympics event.

Types of Archery sport

  • Target Archery– The most basic form of archery. Target archery is the type of archery practiced at the Olympics. Archers shoot a set number of arrows at targets located at specified distances in indoor or outdoor premises.
  • Field Archery– A bit on the physical side, various targets are set in different terrains and woodlands, and an archer has to hit a particular type of target with a specified number of arrows before moving on the second one.
  • Clout Archery– It was used as military training in the middle ages, the idea is derived from ancient archery. The target is a small flag on a vertical stick aka clout, buried in the ground and placed at a specific distance.
  • Flight shooting– This form of archery simply consists of shooting an arrow over the longest possible distance.

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Equipment used in Archery Game

S.N Equipment Use/Specifications
1 Armguard To protect the arm from the bowstring
2 Bow Men: 22 kg. Women: 17kg
3 Arrow Diameter: 9.3mm. Also, 5.5 mm for faster flight & lower wind drift.
4 Bowstring made of high-tech polythene which is generally stronger than steel.
5 Shooting glove or Finger tab To protect the finger from arrow
6 Chestguard To keep body clothes away from the string
7 Fletching A feather-type material is at the end of each arrow, to make it fly straight.
8 Quiver A container is worn around the waist for holding the arrows.
9 Sight A machine placed on the bow to help the archer aim. Another name is bow sight.
10 Nock The rear end of an arrow is attached to a plastic holder. It keeps the bowstring in its position.
11 Stabilizer To stabilize the weight mounted on the bow during and after the shot.
12 Target The standard target provided in the Olympics is 48 inches in diameter. It is kept 70 m away from the archer. The height of the center of the target is 1.3 m above ground.

There are 10 rings of which the center ring is 4.8 inches in diameter. Another ring of 4.8 inches in diameter serves as a tie-breaker in the qualification.

Rules of Archery

Athletes competing in this bow and arrow game at the Olympics have to use a recurve bow, and arrows, and the targets are set 70 meters away from the starting point. The target has 10 concentric scoring rings, separated into five colors according to which points are presented to the archer.

The inner gold color aka bullseye, scores 10 or 9 points. The red scores 8 or 7 points, blue 6 or 5 points, black 4 or 3 points, and white 2 or 1 point.

Scoring and Winning

There are 2 types of scoring systems in the archery game. It depends on at what level the game is conducted. They are 5-zone and 10-zone scoring system

  • 5-zone Scoring − In this scoring system the target is divided into 5 different colored zones, and points are awarded according to the level the arrow hits. This method is followed in GNAS rounds and the distances are measured in yards.
  • 10-zone Scoring − In this scoring system, the target is divided into 10 scoring zones. Each color is split into two parts the inner ring and the outer ring. For world archery tournaments, the 10-zone scoring system is followed. This is used in most indoor archery and the length is measured in meters. The scoring is done in an even number order.

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For the Ranking Round, the archers have to shoot 72 arrows and they are given 40 seconds for each shot. The total points at the end of the round decide the seedings.

If the match is tied in the knockout stages, each player has to shoot 3 arrows which make up 1 set. Whoever has the most pts after the set is declared winner and is given two pts and the loser gets 0 pts.


The team events also work on a set system. However, instead of 3 arrows per set, there are now 6 arrows per set. Now the teams shoot the arrows in groups of 3. With each player of the team shooting 3 arrows. After both teams are done, the team with a higher score gets 2 set points and the losing team gets zero points in the set. The team that has won 5 sets is considered to be the winner.

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Archery sport dimensions

The commonly followed distance for shooting a target is between 20 to 80 yards. In the Olympics, target archery has a length of 18 m, i.e., about 20 yards indoors and between 30 to 90 meters outdoors. It depends on the age of the archer and the style of equipment.

Archery terminologies

Before taking a bow into the hand and throwing an arrow toward the target, it’s mandatory to learn a few terms in the field of archery for grasping little knowledge about the game and its features.

Terms Meaning
Anchor Point The point to be touched by the string before releasing the arrow.
Archer’s Paradox The effect is generated by the flexing of an arrow when it leaves the bow.
Brodhead A sharp-bladed hunting head attached to an arrow.
Bullseye The center of a target, for which hitting scores maximum points.
Crest Marking on an arrow
Crown The nock end of the arrow where it is colored.
Clout Archery A discipline in archery to shoot at a flag. The closer arrow scores maximum points.
Daikyu The Japanese term for a longbow.
Drawing The pulling of the bowstring to an extreme stretch.
Dry loosing To loosen the string without an arrow, causing damage to the bow.
End A round in which arrows are shot.
Field tip Head for practicing against the targets.
Flu-flu arrow A short-range arrow specially designed for practicing.
Judo point A target
Limb Lower and upper arms of a bow.
Kisser Button indicating vertical distance while a bow is drawn.
Longrod Rod on the bow is attached to sustain vibrations.
Mongolian Draw To draw a bow using the thumb.
Nock To set an arrow to a bow.
Vane The fin of an arrow stabilizes the motion.
Overdraw The situation when the bow is too large for the bowstring
lunger/ Pressure Button Device for correcting the flex of an arrow during its release.
Self-bow Bow made of a single material.
Tip Top-end of the bow, differentiated from arrow point

Archery Facts

  • Archery game has been practiced for over 60,000 years.
  • The first known use of arrows & bows was in 2340 B.C by the Babylonians.
  • It is one of the oldest sports in the world.
  • The word archery is derived from the word arcus. It is a Latin term that means bow and arrows.
  • Archery has been an Olympic sport almost from the beginning. Its debut in the Summer Olympics occurred in 1900. In 1924 it was discontinued and it was reintroduced in 1972.
  • In the 1900 Summer Olympics live pigeons were used as the target in the archery competition.
  • Archery was the only women’s sport in the 1904 Olympics.
  • Archery is the national sport of Bhutan.
  • The first country with organized archery competitions was England in the 1500s.

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Benefits of Archery Sport

  • No age limit. You can enjoy Archery at a young age of 8 & as elder as 80 can also play Archery.
  • Archery can be played in almost all-weather conditions.
  • This bow and arrow game increases concentration.
  • Shooting on target builds confidence.
  • Good exercise for the eye.
  • Enhances mental strength & stamina.

Famous Indian Archery Players

S.N Indian Archers
1 Dola Banerjee
2 Atanu Das
3 Abhishek Verma
4 Bombayla Devi Laishram
5 Jayanta Talukdar
6 Limba Ram
7 Deepika Kumari
8 Rahul Banerjee
9 Tarundeep Rai
10 Chekrovolu Swuro
11 Ankita Bhakat
12 Jyothi Surekha Vennam
13 Muskan Kirar
14 Laxmirani Majhi
15 Satyadev Prasad
16 Pravin Jadhav
17 Mangal Singh Champia
18 Purnima Mahato

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What kind of sport is archery?

In the sport of archery, the archer uses a bow to propel and arrows to hit the target from a particular distance. Derived from the Latin word ‘arcus’, it was only used for hunting in ancient times.

Which country invented archery?

In the later middle stone ages, Archery, or a game of bow and arrows, was probably developed in Africa.

Is archery a sport yes or no?

Yes, Archery is a sport and played in various tournaments across globe. It was approved as a Summer Olympics sport in the 1900 Paris Summer Olympics.

Why are Koreans so good in archery?

Archery has a special place in Korean culture for a long time. Historically, the founding fathers of Korea were all good at archery. The country has won numerous medals in this sport in the Olympics.

What are 5 facts about archery?

-It is one of the oldest sports in the world.
-This bow and arrow game has been practiced for over 60,000 years.
-Archery has been an Olympic sport almost from the beginning. Its debut in the Summer Olympics occurred in 1900.
-Archery was the only women’s sport in the 1904 Olympics.
-Archery is the national sport of Bhutan.

Is archery hard to learn?

The game of archery is easy to learn but hard to master. Consistency and daily practice are essential to polish your skills in archery game. Committing to repeat the technique exactly makes you a better archer.

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Aditya Mishra
Aditya Mishra
Aditya Mishra is currently working as a head of content and manager at KreedOn. He is an ardent defense enthusiast and was a SSB aspirant (SERVICE- SELECTION-BOARD) during his college days. Moreover he has represented his state of C.G in All India Senior National Athletics Championship (Lucknow) and winner of several state athletics tournament (400m). Aditya did his PG Diploma from the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication. With a vision to bring substantial change in India's sporting ecosystem, he along with his team are working for the development of Indian athletes.



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