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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity. One who practises archery is typically known as an "archer" or "bowman," and one who is fond of or an expert at archery can be referred to as a "toxophilite."

Archery competition in West Germany in the early 1980s
A Rikbaktsa archer competes at Brazil's Indigenous Games
Tibetan archer. 1938.



The bow seems to have been invented in the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic periods. The oldest indication for its use in Europe comes from the Stellmoor in the Ahrensburg valley north of Hamburg, Germany and date from the late Paleolithic, about 10,000–9,000 BC. The arrows were made of pine and consisted of a mainshaft and a 15–20 centimetre (6–8 inches) long foreshaft with a flint point. There are no definite earlier bows; previous pointed shafts are known, but may have been launched by atlatls rather than bows. The oldest bows known so far come from the Holmegård swamp in Denmark. Bows eventually replaced the atlatl as the predominant means for launching shafted projectiles, on every continent except Australia (though the atlatl persisted alongside the bow in parts of the Americas, notably Mexico (from which its Nahuatl name comes) and amongst the Inuit).

Bows and arrows have been present in Egyptian culture since its predynastic origins. In the Levant, artifacts which may be arrow-shaft straighteners are known from the Natufian culture, (ca. 12,800–10,300 BP (before present)) onwards. The Khiamian and PPN A shouldered Khiam-points may well be arrowheads.

Classical civilizations, notably the Assyrians, Hungarians, Persians, Parthians, Indians, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese fielded large numbers of archers in their armies. The Sanskrit term for archery, dhanurveda, came to refer to martial arts in general.

Archery was highly developed in Asia and in the Islamic world. In East Asia, ancient Korean civilizations, such as the Shilla, Baekje, and Goguryeo were well known for their regiments of exceptionally skilled archers.[1] Central Asian and American Plains tribesmen were extremely adept at archery on horseback.

Decline and survival of archery

The development of firearms rendered bows obsolete in warfare. Despite the high social status, ongoing utility, and widespread pleasure of archery in England, Korea, China [1], Japan, Turkey, Armenia, America, Egypt, and elsewhere, almost every culture that gained access to even early firearms used them widely, to the relative neglect of archery. Early firearms were vastly inferior in rate-of-fire, and were very susceptible to wet weather. However, they had longer effective range[1] and were tactically superior in the common situation of soldiers shooting at each other from behind obstructions. They also required significantly less training to use properly, in particular penetrating steel armour without any need to develop special musculature. Armies equipped with guns could thus provide superior firepower by sheer weight of numbers, and highly-trained archers became almost obsolete on the battlefield. However, archers are still effective and have seen action even in the 21st century. Traditional archery remains in use for sport, and for hunting in many areas.

Modern primitive archery

In the United States, competition archery and bowhunting for many years used English-style longbows. The revival of modern primitive archery may be traced to Ishi, who came out of hiding in California in 1911.[2] Ishi was the last of the Yahi Indian tribe.[3] His doctor, Saxton Pope, learned many of Ishi's archery skills, and passed them on.[4][5] The Pope and Young Club, founded in 1961 and named in honor of Pope, is one of North America's leading bowhunting and conservation organizations. Founded as a nonprofit scientific organization, the Club is patterned after the prestigious Boone and Crockett Club. The Club advocates and encourages responsible bowhunting by promoting quality, fair chase hunting, and sound conservation practices.

From the 1920s, professional engineers took an interest in archery, previously the exclusive field of traditional craft experts.[6] They led the commercial development of new forms of bow including the modern recurve and compound bow. These modern forms are now dominant in modern Western archery; traditional bows are in a minority. In the 1980s, the skills of traditional archery were revived by American enthusiasts, and combined with the new scientific understanding. Much of this expertise is available in the Traditional Bowyer's Bibles (see Additional reading). Modern game archery owes much of its success to Fred Bear, an American bow hunter and bow manufacturer.


Archers are deities or heroes in several mythologies, including Greek Artemis and Apollo, Roman Diana and Cupid, Germanic Agilaz, continued in legends like those of William Tell, Palnetoke, or Robin Hood. Armenian Hayk and Babylonian Marduk, Indian Karna, Arjuna and Rama, and Persian Arash were all archers. Earlier Greek representations of Heracles normally depict him as an archer. In East Asia, Yi the archer features in several early Chinese myths,[7] and the historical character of Zhou Tong features in many fictional forms. Jumong, the first Taewang of the Goguryeo kingdom of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, is claimed by legend to have been a near-godlike archer.


Types of bows

While there is great variety in the construction details of bows (both historic and modern) all bows consist of a string attached to elastic limbs that store mechanical energy imparted by the user drawing the string. Bows may be broadly split into two categories: those drawn by pulling the string directly and those that use a mechanism to pull the string.

Directly drawn bows may be further divided based upon differences in the method of limb construction, notable examples being self bows, laminated bows and composite bows. Bows can also be classified by the bow shape of the limbs when unstrung; in contrast to simple straight bows, a recurve bow has tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is unstrung. The cross-section of the limb also varies; the classic longbow is a tall bow with narrow limbs that are D-shaped in cross section, and the flatbow has flat wide limbs that are approximately rectangular in cross-section. Cable-backed bows use cords as the back of the bow; the draw weight of the bow can be adjusted by changing the tension of the cable. They were widespread among Inuit who lacked easy access to good bow wood. One variety of cable-backed bow is the Penobscot bow or Wabenaki bow, invented by Frank Loring (Chief Big Thunder) about 1900.[8] It consists of a small bow attached by cables on the back of a larger main bow.

A compound bow is a bow designed to reduce the force required to hold the string at full draw, allowing the archer more time to aim. Most compound designs use cams or elliptical wheels on the ends of the limbs to achieve this. A typical let-off is anywhere from 65%–80% – for example, a 60-pound bow with 80% let-off will only require 12 pounds of force to hold at full draw. Up to 99% let-off is possible.[9] The compound bow has greatly become the most widely used type of bow for all forms of hunting in North America. The compound bow has only recently become a highly popular form of archery, so much so that to day it is the most commonly used bow form in archery today.The compound bow was first developed in 1966 by Holless Wilbur Allen in Missouri, and a US patent was granted in 1969. The compound bow has become increasingly popular. In the United States, the compound is the dominant form of bow [2]

Mechanically drawn bows typically have a stock or other mounting, such as the crossbow. They are not limited by the strength of a single archer, and larger varieties have been used as siege engines.

Types of arrows and fletchings

The most common form of arrow consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end and with fletchings and a nock attached to the other end. Shafts are typically composed of solid wood, fiberglass, aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, or composite materials. Wooden arrows are prone to warping. Fiberglass arrows are brittle, but can be produced to uniform specifications easily. Aluminum shafts were a very popular high-performance choice in the later half of the 20th century due to their straightness, lighter weight, and subsequently higher speed and flatter trajectories. Carbon fiber arrows became popular in the 1990s and are very light, flying even faster and flatter than aluminum arrows. Today, arrows made up of composite materials are the most popular tournament arrows at Olympic Events, especially the Easton X10 and A/C/E.

The arrowhead is the primary functional component of the arrow. Some arrows may simply use a sharpened tip of the solid shaft, but it is far more common for separate arrowheads to be made, usually from metal, stone, or other hard materials. The most commonly used forms are target points, field points, and broadheads, although there are also other types, such as bodkin, judo, and blunt heads.

Shield cut straight fletching – here the hen feathers are barred red

Fletching is traditionally made from bird feathers, but also solid plastic vanes and thin sheetlike spin vanes are used. They are attached near the nock (rear) end of the arrow with thin double sided tape, glue, or, traditionally, sinew. Three fletches is the most common configuration in all cultures, though more may be used. When three-fletched the fletches are equally spaced around the shaft with one placed such that it is perpendicular to the bow when nocked on the string (though with modern equipment, variations are seen especially when using the modern spin vanes). This fletch is called the "index fletch" or "cock feather" (also known as "the odd vane out" or "the nocking vane") and the others are sometimes called the "hen feathers". Commonly, the cock feather is of a different color, traditionally the hens are solid and the cock is barred. However, if archers are using fletching made of feather or similar material they may use same color vanes, as different dyes can give varying stiffness to vanes, resulting in less precision. Also, like-colored fletching and nocks can assist in learning instinctive shooting (i.e. without sights), a technique often preferred by "traditional" archers (shooters of longbows and recurves). When four-fletched often two opposing fletches are cock-feathers and occasionally the fletches are not evenly spaced.

The fletching may be either parabolic (short feathers in a smooth parabolic curve) or shield (generally shaped like one-half of a narrow shield) cut and is often attached at an angle, known as helical fletching, to introduce a stabilizing spin to the arrow while in flight. Whether helicial or straight fletched, when natural fletching (bird feathers) are used it is critical that all feathers come from the same side of the bird. Oversized fletchings can be used to accentuate drag and thus limit the range of the arrow significantly; these arrows are called flu-flus. Misplacement of fletchings can often change the arrow's flight path dramatically.

Bow string

Dacron and other modern materials offer high strength for their weight and are used on most modern bows. Linen and other traditional materials are still used on traditional bows. Almost any fiber can be made into a bow string. The author of "Arab Archery" suggests the hide of a young, emaciated camel.[10] Njál's saga describes the refusal of a wife, Hallgerður, to cut her hair in order to make an emergency bowstring for her husband, Gunnar Hámundarson, who is then killed.

Protective equipment

Finger tab
The traditional bonnet of the Kilwinning Archers of Scotland.

Most archers wear a bracer (also known as an arm-guard) to protect the inside of the bow arm and prevent clothing from catching the bow string. The Navajo people have developed highly-ornamented bracers as non-functional items of adornment.[11] Some archers also wear protection on their chests, called chestguards or plastrons. Roger Ascham mentions one archer, presumably with an unusual shooting style, who wore a leather guard for his face.[12]

The drawing fingers, or thumb in the case of archers using the thumb or Mongolian draw, are normally protected by a leather tab, glove, or thumb ring. A simple tab of leather is commonly used, as is a skeleton glove. Medieval Europeans probably used a complete leather glove.[13]

Eurasiatic archers using the Mongolian draw protected their thumbs, usually with leather according to the author of "Arab Archery", but also with special rings of various hard materials. Many surviving Turkish and Chinese examples are works of considerable art; some are so highly ornamented that they could not have been used to loose an arrow. Presumably these were items of personal adornment. In traditional Japanese archery a special glove is used, provided with a ridge which is used to draw the string.

Release aids

Archers using compound bows usually use a release aid to hold the string steadily and release it precisely. This attaches to the bowstring at the nocking point or at the d loop and permits the archer to release the string by pulling a trigger. The "trigger" may be an actual trigger lever which is depressed by a finger or thumb (or held then released) but it may also be some other mechanism. Hydraulic and mechanical time delay triggers have been used, as have "back tension" triggers which are operated by either a change in the position of the release or "true back tension"; that is to say the release triggers when a pre-determined draw weight is reached.

A mechanical release aid permits a single point of contact on the string instead of three fingers. This allows less deformity in the string at full draw, as well as providing a more consistent release than can be achieved by human fingers.

Shooting technique and form

The bow is held in the hand opposite to the archer's dominant eye, though holding the bow in the dominant hand side is advocated by some. This hand is referred to as the bow hand and its arm the bow arm. The opposite hand is called the drawing hand or string hand. Terms such as bow shoulder or string elbow follow the same convention. Right-eye-dominant archers hold the bow with their left hand, have their left side facing the target, sight towards the target with their right eye and handle the arrow and string with their right hand.

Modern international competitive form

To shoot an arrow, an archer first assumes the correct stance. The body should be perpendicular to the target and the shooting line, with the feet placed shoulder-width apart. As an archer progresses from beginner to a more advanced level an 'open stance' is used/developed. Each archer will have a particular preference but mostly this term indicates that the leg furthest from the shooting line will be a half to a whole foot-length in front of the other, on the ground.

To load, the bow is pointed toward the ground and the shaft of the arrow is placed on an arrow rest which is attached in the bow window. The back of the arrow is attached to the bowstring with the 'nock' (a small plastic component which is typified by a 'v' groove for this purpose). This is called nocking the arrow. As said above, typical arrows with three vanes should be oriented such that a single vane, the "cock feather" is pointing away from the bow.

The bowstring and arrow are held with three fingers. When using a sight, the index finger is placed above the arrow and the next two fingers below. The string is usually placed in either the first or second joint of the fingers.

The bow is then raised and drawn. This is often one fluid motion which tends to vary from archer to archer. The string hand is drawn towards the face, where it should rest lightly at an anchor point. This point is consistent from shot to shot and is usually at the corner of the mouth or on the chin. The bow arm is held outwards toward the target. The elbow of this arm should be rotated so that the inner elbow is parallel to the ground though Archers with hyper extendable elbows tend to angle the inner elbow toward the ground as exemplified by the Korean archer Jang Yong Ho.

In proper form, the archer stands erect, forming a 'T'. The archer's lower trapezius muscles are used to pull the arrow to the anchor point. Some bows will be equipped with a mechanical device, called a clicker, which produces a clicking sound when the archer reaches the correct draw length.

The arrow is typically released by relaxing the fingers of the drawing hand (see Bow draw). Usually this type of release aims to keep the drawing arm rigid and move it back using the back muscles, as opposed to using arm motion. An archer should also pay attention to the recoil or follow through of his or her body, as it may indicate problems with form (technique).

Aiming methods

There are two main forms of aiming in archery: using the sight picture or not.

The sight picture includes the target and the bow, as seen at the same time by the archer. With a fixed "anchor point" (where the string is brought to, or close to, the face), and a fully extended bow arm, successive shots taken with the sight picture in the same position will fall on the same point. This allows the archer to adjust aim with successive shots in order to achieve a good standard of accuracy. A fixed anchor point cannot be used with short bows, which by definition do not allow a full draw. Modern archery equipment usually includes sights which mark the predicted impact point. Sight picture aiming is universally used with modern equipment and also by many archers who use traditional bows. It allows good accuracy to be achieved after a moderate amount of practice.

When using shortbows, or shooting from horseback, it is difficult to use the sight picture. The archer may look at the target but without including the weapon in the field of accurate view. Aiming involves the same sort of coordination between vision and motion that is used when throwing. With sufficient practice, such archers can normally achieve good practical accuracy for hunting or for war.[14] Aiming without a sight picture may allow more rapid shooting.

Instinctive shooting is a term often used, but there is no agreed definition. Some use it to mean shooting with a sight picture but without giving it conscious attention. Others use it to mean shooting without a sight picture.[15]


Bows function by converting elastic potential energy stored in the limbs into kinetic energy of the arrow. In this process, some energy is dissipated through elastic hysteresis, reducing the overall amount released when the bow is shot. Of the energy remaining, some is damped both by the limbs of bow and the bowstring. Depending on the elasticity of the arrows, some of the energy is also absorbed by compressing the arrow, causing it to "bow out" to one side. This results in an in-flight oscillation of the arrow in which its center protrudes out to one side and then the other repeatedly, gradually damping down as the arrow's flight proceeds; this can be clearly seen in high-speed photography of an arrow at discharge. Modern arrows are made to a specified 'spine' (stiffness) rating

The straight flight of an arrow is dependent on its fletching. The arrow's manufacturer can arrange fletching to cause the arrow to rotate along its axis if desired. This improves accuracy by evening pressure buildups that would otherwise cause the arrow to slowly tilt in a random direction after shooting. If the fletching is not arranged to induce rotation, it will still improve accuracy by causing a restoring torque any time the arrow tilts away from its vector of travel.

Arrows themselves may be designed to spread or concentrate force, depending on their applications. Practice arrows, for instance, use a blunt tip that spreads the force over a wider area to reduce the risk of injury. Arrows designed to pierce armor in the Middle Ages would use a very narrow and sharp tip to concentrate the force. Arrows used for hunting would use a narrow tip that broadens further down the shaft to facilitate both penetration and a large wound.

The speed of the arrow depends on the shape of its shaft and tip. The tip must be somewhat pointed and the shaft straight


Using archery to take game animals is known as bowhunting. Bowhunting differs markedly from hunting with firearms as the distances between the hunter and the game are much shorter in order to ensure a humane kill. The skills and practices of bowhunting therefore emphasize very close approach to the prey, whether by still hunting, stalking, or waiting in a blind or treestand. In many countries, including much of the United States, bowhunting for large and small game is legal. Bowhunters generally enjoy longer seasons than are allowed with other forms of hunting such as black powder, shotgun, or rifle. Usually, compound bows are used for large game hunting and may feature fiber optic sights and other enhancements. Using a bow and arrow to take fish is known as bowfishing.

Modern competitive archery

Competitive archery involves shooting arrows at a target for accuracy from a set distance or distances. This is the most popular form of archery worldwide and is called target archery. A form particularly popular in Europe and America is field archery, shot at targets generally set at various distances in a wooded setting. There are also several other lesser-known and historical forms, as well as archery novelty games. Note the tournament rules vary from organization to organization. FITA rules are often considered normative, but large non-FITA-affiliated archery organizations do exist with different rules.

Target archery

Outdoor target competition.

Modern competitive target archery is often governed by the International Archery Federation, abbreviated FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc). Olympic rules are derived from FITA rules.

Target archery competitions may be held indoors or outdoors. Indoor distances are 18 m and 25 m. Outdoor distances range from 30 m to 90 m. Competition is divided into ends of 3 or 6 arrows. After each end, the competitors walk to the target to score and retrieve their arrows. Archers have a set time limit in which to shoot their arrows.

Targets are marked with 10 evenly spaced concentric rings, which have score values from 1 through 10 assigned to them. In addition, there is an inner 10 ring, sometimes called the X ring or called a bulls eye. This becomes the 10 ring at indoor compound competitions. Outdoors, it serves as a tiebreaker with the archer scoring the most X's winning. Archers score each end by summing the scores for their arrows. Line breakers, an arrow just touching a scoring boundary line, will be awarded the higher score.

Different rounds and distances use different size target faces. These range from 40 cm (18 m FITA Indoor) to 122 cm (70 m and 90 m FITA, used in Olympic competition).

Field archery

A field archer shooting freestyle recurve at 60 meters.

Field archery involves shooting at targets of varying (and sometimes unmarked) distance, often in rough terrain.

Three common types of rounds (in the NFAA) are the field, hunter, and animal. A round consists of 28 targets in two units of 14. Field rounds are at 'even' distances up to 80 yards (some of the shortest are measured in feet instead), using targets with a black bullseye (5 points), a white center (4) ring, and black outer (3) ring. Hunter rounds use 'uneven' distances up to 70 yards (64 m), and although scoring is identical to a field round, the target has an all-black face with a white bullseye. Children and youth positions for these two rounds are closer, no more than 30 and 50 yards (46 m), respectively. Animal rounds use life-size 2D animal targets with 'uneven' distances reminiscent of the hunter round. The rules and scoring are also significantly different. The archer begins at the first station of the target and shoots his first arrow. If it hits, he does not have to shoot again. If it misses, he advances to station two and shoots a second arrow, then to station three for a third if needed. Scoring areas are vital (20, 16, or 12) and nonvital (18, 14, or 10) with points awarded depending on which arrow scored first. Again, children and youth shoot from reduced range.

One goal of field archery is to improve the technique required for bowhunting in a more realistic outdoor setting, but without introducing the complication and guesswork of unknown distances. As with golf, fatigue can be an issue as the athlete walks the distance between targets across sometimes rough terrain.

A home-made Archery target

IFAA Field and International rounds are used in European Professional Archery competition.

Other modern competitions

The following are listed on the FITA website. These competitions are not as popular as the two listed above, but they are competed internationally.

3D archery

3D archery is a subset of field archery focusing on shooting at life-size models of game and is popular with hunters. It is most common to see unmarked distances in 3D archery, as the goal is to accurately recreate a hunting environment for competition.

Though the goal is hunting practice, hunting broadheads are not used, as they would tear up the foam targets too much. Normal target or field tips, of the same weight as the intended broadhead, are used instead.

Clout archery (G.N.A.S. rules in the United Kingdom)

Archers shooting clout.

Similar to target archery, except that the archer attempts to drop arrows at long range (180 yards / 165 m for the men and 140 yards / 128 m for women; there are shorter distances for juniors depending on age) into a group of concentric circular scoring zones on the ground surrounding a marker flag. Traditional clout archery, up to Elizabethan times, was shot at 'twelve score', 240 yards. The flag is 12 inches (30 cm) square and is fixed to a stick. The flag should be as near to the ground as is practicable. Archers shoot 'ends' of six arrows then, when given the signal to do so, archers proceed to the target area. A Clout round usually consists of 36 arrows. Clout tournaments are usually a 'Double Clout' round (36 arrows shot twice). They can be shot in one direction (one way) or both directions (two way). All bow types may compete (longbows, recurve, barebow and compound).

  • Scoring. A 'rope' with a loop on the end is placed over the flag stick. This rope is divided into the scoring zones of the target: Gold (5 points), Red (4 points), Blue (3 points), Black (2 points) and White (1 point). The rope is 'walked' around the target area and arrows falling within a particular scoring zone are withdrawn and, on completion of the full circle, are laid out on the rope on the corresponding colours. The designated scorer would then call out the archers' names and the archers would (in turn) call out their scores as they pick up their arrows. The scores must be called in descending order as with target archery.

Crossbow archery (IAU rules internationally)

IAU ‘Field’ crossbow archery

The International Crossbow-shooting Union (Internationale Armbrustschutzen Union – IAU) was founded in Landshut, Germany on June 24, 1956 as the world governing body for crossbow target shooting. The IAU supervises World, Continental and International crossbow shooting championships in 3 disciplines; 30m Match-crossbow, 10m Match-crossbow and Field-crossbow archery. IAU World Championships take place every two years with Continental Championships on intervening years. Other International and IAU-Cup events take place annually.

Field-crossbow archery was first adopted by the IAU during their General Assembly at Frütigen, Switzerland in 1977. Since then the sport has become the most poplar, in terms of worldwide activity, of the IAU's three target crossbow disciplines. A feature of this sport is that many crossbow archers make their own equipment. By following the detailed guidelines issued by the IAU’s Technical Committee it is possible to construct a field-crossbow from locally available archery materials and target shooting accessories. The IAU's Field regulations call for the wearing of light-weight sports clothing – thereby eliminating the need for specialized (and costly) shooting clothing. Shooting takes place on open sports fields or in sports halls using portable archery target buttresses, once again avoiding the need for the expense of permanent shooting ranges (subject to IAU and local safety regulations being met).

Crossbow archers shoot from the standing position and they must draw the bow string by hand without mechanical assistance. At outdoor competitions Bolts (arrows) are shot in "ends" (series) of three (3) at multi-coloured 10-zone archery target faces. A time limit of three (3) minutes is allowed per three shots. After a sound signal from the official in charge of shooting, all competitors walk forward together to score and collect their bolts from the targets. This sequence is repeated until the completion of the competition 'Round'.

A typical Field-crossbow

Equipment – Field-crossbows are designed to specifications laid-down by the International Crossbow-shooting Union (IAU). These rules limit the power, weight and physical dimensions of equipment for use in archery-style competition. Other restrictions include the use of mechanical triggers and open sights only. The bowstring has to be drawn by hand without the use of mechanical assistance. The materials used in construction include laminated hardwoods, aluminium alloy and composites. The prod, or bow, is usually made from laminated carbon-fibre or glass-fibre which is fitted with a bowstring made from synthetic fibres. The maximum permitted draw weight is 43 kilos at a maximum power stroke of 30 cm. Shooting a 20 gram bolt this set-up will generate an initial velocity of around 67 meters-per-second. Field-crossbow bolts are made from tubular aluminium or carbon-fibre archery shaft materials.

The majority of the crossbows used in this sport are custom-made in small quantities, often by the archers themselves.

IAU Championships Timeline1958 1st European Match-crossbow Championships Gent Belgium, 1979 1st World Match-crossbow Championships Linz Austria, 1982 1st World Field-crossbow Championships Mikkeli Finland, 1989 1st European Field-crossbow Championships Wolverhampton England, 1992 1st Asian Field-crossbow Championships Tainan Taiwan ROC.

Flight archery

Shooting a specialised compound flight bow.

In flight archery the aim is to shoot the greatest distance; accuracy or penetrating power are not relevant. It requires a large flat area such as an aerodrome; the Ottoman empire established an "arrow field" (Ok-Meidan) in Istanbul and there were others in several major cities.[16] Turkish flight archery astonished early modern Europeans, whose wooden longbows and heavy arrows had much shorter maximum ranges; in 1795 Mahmoud Effendi, a secretary at the Turkish Embassy in London, made a shot of 482 yards on Finsbury Fields, and reportedly apologised for an indifferent performance by Turkish standards.

Modern rules have flight archers shooting in various classes and weights. Generally they shoot six arrows at each "end" and then search for all of them. Only four ends are usual in one shoot (as per UK rules – in the US only one end is permitted). At the end of the shoot, archers stay by or mark their furthest arrows while judges and their assistants measure the distances achieved.

Flight archery relies on the finest in performance equipment, optimized for the single purpose of greater range, and the search for better flight archery equipment has led to many developments in archery equipment in general, such as the development of carbon arrows.[17] Flight archery arrows are highly specialised. They are very short (Mahmoud Effendi's was only 14 inches), so that the point of the arrow is inside the arc of the fully drawn bow, requiring a support projecting back from the bow towards the archer to keep the arrow in position. Also, the shafts are 'barreled', tapering towards both ends from the middle, to reduce air resistance.

Ski archery

An event very similar to the sport of biathlon except a recurve bow is used in place of a gun. The athletes ski around a cross-country track and there are two stances in which the athlete must shoot the targets: kneeling and standing. During competition the skis must not be removed at any time. The athlete may unfasten the ski when shooting in the kneeling position but must keep the foot in contact with the ski. The shooting distance is 18 meters and the targets 16 cm in diameter. In certain events, for every missed target, the athlete must ski one penalty loop. The loop is 150 meters long.

Traditional competitions

The following are not listed on the FITA website but are competitions that have a long tradition in their respective countries.


A traditional northern French and Belgian archery contest. Archers teams shoot alternately at two targets facing each other, 50 meters away. A perpendicular array of wooden walls secures a path parallel to the shooting range. After each round, the archers take their own arrow and shoot directly in the opposite direction (thus having opposite windage). One always shoots the same arrow, supposedly the best built, as it was difficult in medieval times to have constant arrow quality. The round black-and-white target mimics the size of a soldier: its diameter is shoulder-wide, the center is heart-sized.

Popinjay (or Papingo)

Two papingos in the Kilwinning Abbey tower museum, Scotland.

A form of archery originally derived from shooting birds on church steeples. Popinjay is popular in Belgium, and in Belgian Clubs internationally but little known elsewhere. Traditionally, archers stand within 12 feet (3.7 m) of the bottom of a 90 ft (27 m) mast and shoot almost vertically upwards with 'blunts' (arrows with rubber caps on the front instead of a pile), the object being to dislodge any one of a number of wooden 'birds'. These birds must be one Cock, four Hens, and a minimum of twenty-four Chicks. A Cock scores 5 points when hit and knocked off its perch; a Hen, 3; and a Chick, 1 point. A horizontal variation with Flemish origins also exists and is also practiced in Canada and the United States

A Papingo is also hosted during the summer in Scotland by the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers. The archers shoot at a wooden bird suspended from the steeple of Kilwinning Abbey. Here only one bird is the target, and the archers take it in turn to shoot with a longbow until the "bird" is shot down.

Roving marks

Roving marks is the oldest form of competitive archery, as practiced by Henry VIII. The archers will shoot to a "mark" then shoot from that mark to another mark. A mark is a post or flag to be aimed at. As with clout a rope or ribbon is used to score the arrows. In the Finsbury Mark the scoring system is 20 for hitting the mark, 12 for within ~3ft, 7 points for within the next ~6ft and 3 points for within the next ~9ft. "Hoyles" are marks that are chosen at the time from the variety of debris, conspicuous weeds, and so on found in most outdoor areas. As the distances have to be estimated this is good practice for bowhunting, and it requires minimal equipment.

Wand shoot

A traditional English archery contest. Archers take turns shooting at a vertical strip of wood, the wand, usually about six feet high and three to six inches (152 mm) wide. Points are awarded for hitting the strip. As the target is a long vertical strip this competition allows for more errors in elevation, however since no points are awarded for near misses the archers windage accuracy becomes more important. The wand shoot is, in some respects, similar to the traditional Cherokee game of cornstalk shooting.[18]

Other competitions

Archers often enjoy adding variety to their sport by shooting under unusual conditions or by imposing other special restrictions or rules on the event. These competitions are often less formalized and are more or less considered as games. Some forms include the broadhead round, bionic and running bucks, darts, archery golf, night shooting, and turkey tester.

Historical reenactment

Four reenactors practice Tudor-style 'Skirmish' archery

Archery is popularly used in historical reenactment events. This sort of event usually combines education of the audience about aspects of archery (such as the bow, arrows, and practice drill), combined with a demonstration or competition of archery in the style most favored by the period on display, generally in period costume.

Archery education

A relatively new program has developed in U.S. schools called the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP). In this students use Genesis bows (a compound-style bow without a let-off). This is similar to a physical education programs, and students who want to can also go to state and national shoots to compete against other schools. Though started in the United States, it has begun to spread to other countries.

Many sportsman's clubs and similar establishments throughout the US and other countries offer archery education programs for those under 18. These programs are commonly referred to as Junior Olympic Archery Development Programs, or simply JOAD. There are over 250 JOAD Clubs recognized by the National Archery Association.[19] 4-H is also offering archery as an activity for those under 18. Usually members are have to have certain requirements for the bows they shoot (ex. use a Genesis Bow, no sights, no release, etc.). Members of archery 4-H clubs and those who use archery as their project can compete in target archery and field archery competitions.

Archery with humans as targets, or very near the target

Demonstrations of archery skill are sometimes featured as entertainment in circuses or wild west shows. Sometimes these acts feature a performer acting as a human "target" (strictly speaking they are not the target as the objective of the archer is to narrowly miss them, however they are frequently referred to as human targets). Archery in this context is sometimes known as one of the "impalement arts", a category which also includes knife throwing and sharpshooting demonstrations. Apache boys were trained to protect themselves by giving them a shield and having several warriors shoot at them with blunt arrows, which can still do severe damage.[20]

In some recreational groups, a form of archery known as combat archery is practiced, where several archers divided into "lights" and "heavies", namely those wearing armour or not, shoot at each other with cushion-tipped arrows from low-powered longbows, with a maximum draw-weight of 30 lb (14 kg). The rules of combat archery dictate that no archer may shoot at a light, however all may shoot at a heavy. Combat archery can be very popular, as it involves shooting at moving targets, and can be used to re-create battles.

It is important to note the strict separation between archery practised as a competitive sport and archery as an impalement art. For example, organising bodies for competitive archery prohibit activity that involves deliberate shooting in the general direction of a human being.[21] The separation between the worlds of competition archery and the impalement arts is more marked than that between, for example, knife throwing as a sport and as an entertainment. While some competition knife throwers have also performed circus acts and there are official organisations that embrace both worlds, there is little or no evidence of such crossover in archery, with perhaps the sole exception of reenactment groups (e.g. Society for Creative Anachronism), where archers can both compete in a tournament (target archery) and participate in combat archery, shooting with light bows and special safety arrows at well armoured warriors (often knights).[22]

However archery involving a person in the vicinity of the target is a particularly dangerous practice and, even with very experienced performers, there have been cases of very serious injury.[23][24][25]

Another situation where archery features as an entertainment is in its portrayal in movies. Howard Hill used his extraordinary accuracy for the archery in the movie The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) starring Errol Flynn. He used a heavy hunting bow to hit small reinforced target areas on the chests of actors in motion. Hill also performed stunts such as shooting an apple held by a volunteer and shooting a stone as it was thrown in the air. Some of his stunts can be seen in the short film Cavalcade of Archery (1946).[26]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Duvernay, Thomas A.; Duvernay, Nicholas Y. (2007), Korean Traditional Archery, Handong Global University 
  2. ^ Allely, Steve, et al. (2008), The Traditional Bowyer's Bible, Volume 4, The Lyons Press, ISBN 978-0-9645741-6-8 
  3. ^ Kroeber, Theodora (2004), Ishi in Two Worlds: a biography of the last wild Indian in North America, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-24037-7 
  4. ^ Pope, Saxton (1925), Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons 
  5. ^ Pope, Saxton (1926), Adventurous Bowmen: field notes on African archery, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 
  6. ^ Hickman, C. N.; Nagler, Forrest; Klopsteg, Paul E. (1947), Archery: The Technical Side. A compilation of scientific and technical articles on theory, construction, use and performance of bows and arrows, reprinted from journals of science and of archery, National Field Archery Association 
  7. ^ Selby, Stephen (2000), Chinese Archery, Hong Kong University Press, ISBN 978-962-209-501-4 
  8. ^ The Penobscot War Bow. Gordon M Day. Contributions to Canadian Ethnology 1975. Canadian Ethnology Service Paper no. 31. ISSN 0316-1854. Ottawa 1975.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Nabih Amin Faris; Robert Potter Elmer (1945), Arab Archery: An Arabic manuscript of about A.D. 1500, “A book on the excellence of the bow & arrow” and the description thereof, Princeton University Press, 
  11. ^ "Ketoh". Millicent Rogers Museum of Northern New Mexico. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  12. ^ Ascham, Roger (1545), Toxophilus - the School of Shooting, ISBN 978-1-84664-369-9 
  13. ^ Strickland, M. (2005), The Great Warbow, Sutton Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7509-3167-0 
  14. ^ Lehman, Herman (1927), Nine years among the Indians, 1870–1879, University of New Mexico Press, ISBN 0-8263-1417-1, "I amused myself by making blunt arrows… Plugging hats became one of my favorite pastimes. The boys would put their hats off about a hundred yards and bet me the drinks that I could not hit them. I would get the drinks every time…" 
  15. ^ Bear, Fred (1980), The Archer's Bible, Garden City, NJ.: Doubleday, pp. 36–43 
  16. ^ Özveri, Murat. "Turkish Traditional Archery Part 1: History, Disciplines, Institutions, Mystic Aspects". Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  17. ^ "FITA Flight Archery official description". Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  18. ^ Weavel, Tonia (18 October 2003). "Ancient Cherokee Games Are Still Played Today". Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  19. ^ "USA Archery JOAD website – club listings page". Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  20. ^ Lehman, Herman (1927), Nine Years Among The Indians, University of New Mexico Press, ISBN 0-8263-1417-1, "I was given a shield and placed off about fifty yards. Four braves took bows and blunt arrows and began to shoot at me… torrents of blunt sticks came at me and I was too slow. One passed just over the shield and struck me in the forehead. I saw stars – not those painted ones on my shield, but real fiery flashes – it downed me… I was knocked down several times before I became an adept. All Indians were thus trained." 
  21. ^ For example, impalement arts contravene rules 101(b) and 102(a) of the UK Grand National Archery Society (GNAS) Rules of Shooting (see "Copy of Rules of Shooting" (PDF). Berkshire Archery Association website. Retrieved 11 February 2007. ) and represent "substantial" or "intolerable" risk under GNAS Archery range health and safety policy (see "Copy of health and safety policy from SportFocus website" (PDF). Retrieved 11 February 2007. )
  22. ^ "Combat Archery: A Manual for Western Archers". 
  23. ^ "Artist 'undeterred' by crossbow accident". BBC News. 16 January 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2007. 
  24. ^ "Circus act turns into horror". The Tribune (copy from Reuters). 17 January 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2007. 
  25. ^ Lehman, Herman (1927), Nine Years Among The Indians, 1870–1879, University of New Mexico Press, ISBN 0-8263-1417-1, "I amused myself by making blunt arrows, and it was fun for me to plug men away off who dared me and thought I could not hit them. One day John Davis, a young man at Loyal Valley, was off about one hundred and fifty yards. He dared me to shoot at him. He turned his back and tucked his head, and zip! my arrow took him right between the shoulders, and Mr. Davis plowed the sand with his nose. In a very few minutes there was a great blue spot where the arrow had struck." 
  26. ^ Cavalcade of archery at the Internet Movie Database

Additional reading

External links

Archery at the Open Directory Project

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ARCHERY, the art and practice of shooting with the bow (arcus) and arrow, or with crossbow and bolts. Though these weapons are by no means widely used amongst savage tribes of the present day, their origin is lost in the mists of antiquity.

History somewhat shorter than a man, and their arrows varied in war. between 2 f t. and 2 ft. 8 in. in length. Here, as elsewhere, flint heads for arrows were by no means rare, but bronze was the usual material employed. The Biblical bow was of reed, wood or horn, and the Israelites used it freely both in war (Gen. xlviii. 22) and in the chase (xxi. 20). The Assyrians also were a nation of archers. Amongst the Greeks of the historic period archery was not much in evidence, in spite of the tradition of Teucer, Ulysses and many other archers of the Iliad and Odyssey. The Cretans, however, supplied Greek armies with the bowmen required. In the " Ten Thousand " figured two hundred Cretan bowmen of Sosias' corps. Riistow and Kochly (Geschichte des griechischen Kriegwesens, p. 131) estimate the range of the Cretan bow at eighty to one hundred paces, as compared with the sling-bullet's forty or fifty, and the javelin's thirty to forty. The Romans as a nation were, equally with the Greeks,indifferent to archery; in their legions the archer element was furnished by Cretans and Asiatics. On the other hand nearly all Asiatic and derived nations were famous bowmen, from the nations who fought under Xerxes' banner onwards. The Persian, Scythian and Parthian bow was far more efficient than the Cretan, though the latter was not wanting in the heterogeneous armies of the East. The sagittarii, three thousand strong, who fought in the Pharsalian campaign, were drawn from Crete, Pontus, Syria, &c. But the Roman view of archery was radically altered when the old legionary system perished at Adrianople (A.D. 378). After this time the armies of the empire consisted in great part of horse-archers. Their missiles, we are told, pierced cuirass and shield with ease, and they shot equally well dismounted and at the gallop. These troops, combined with heavy cavalry and themselves not unprovided with armour, played a decisive part in the Roman victories of the age of Belisarius and Narses. The destruction of the Franks at Casilinum (A.D. 554) was practically the work of the horse-archers.

In the main, the nations whose migrations altered the face of Europe were not archers. Only with the Welsh, the Scandinavians, and the peoples in touch with the Eastern empire was the bow a favourite weapon. The edicts of Charlemagne could not succeed in making archery popular in his dominions, and Abbot Ebles, the defender of Paris in 886, is almost the only instance of a skilled archer in the European records of the time. The sagas, on the other hand, have much to say as to the feats of northern heroes with the bow. With English, French and Germans the bow was the weapon of the poorest military classes. The Norman archers, who doubtless preserved the traditions of their Danish ancestors, were in the forefront of William's line at Hastings (1(366), but contemporary evidence points conclusively to the short bow, drawn to the chest, as the weapon used on this occasion. The combat of Bourgtheroulde in 1124 shows that the Normans still combined heavy cavalry and archers as at Hastings. Horse-archers too (contrary to the usual belief) were here employed by the English.

Yet the " Assize of Arms " of 1181 does not mention the bow, and Richard I. was at great pains to procure crossbowmen for the Crusades. The crossbow had from about the 10th century gradually become the principal missile weapon in Europe, in spite of the fact that it was condemned by the Lateran Council of 11 39. As early as 1270 in France, and rather later in Spain, the master of the crossbowmen had become a great dignitary, and in Spain the weapon was used by a corps d'elite of men of gentle birth, who, with their gay apparel, were a picturesque feature of continental armies of the period. But the Genoese, Pisans and Venetians were the peoples which employed the crossbow most of all. Many thousand Genoese crossbowmen were present at Crecy.

It was in the Crusades that the crossbow made its reputation, opposing heavier weight and greater accuracy to the missiles of the horse-archers, who invariably constituted the greatest and most important part of the Asiatic armies. So little change in warfare had centuries brought about that a crusading force in 1 104 perished at Carrhae, on the same ground and before the same mounted-archer tactics, as the army of Crassus in 55 B.C. But individually the crusading crossbowman was infinitely superior to the Turkish or Egyptian horse-archer.

England, which was to become the country of archers par excellence, long retained the old short bow of Hastings, and the far more efficient crossbow was only used as a rule by mercenaries, such as the celebrated Falkes de Breaute and his men in the reign of John. South Wales, it seems certain, eventually produced the famous long-bow. In Ireland, in Henry II.'s time, Strongbow made great use of Welsh bowmen, whom he mounted for purposes of guerrilla warfare, and eventually the prowess of Welsh archers taught Edward I. the value of the hitherto discredited arm. At Falkirk, once for all, the long-bow proved its worth, and thenceforward for centuries it was the principal weapon of English soldiers. By 1 339, archers had come to be half of the whole mass of footmen, and later the proportion was greatly increased. In 1360 Edward III. mounted his archers, as Strongbow had done. The long-bow was about 5 ft., and its shaft a cloth-yard long. Shot by a Welsh archer, a shaft had penetrated an oak door (at Abergavenny in 1182) 4 in. thick and the head stood out a hand's breadth on the inner side. Drawn to the right ear, the bow was naturally capable of long shooting, and in Henry VIII.'s time practice at a less range than one furlong was forbidden. In rapidity it was the equal of the short bow and the superior of the crossbow, which weapon, indeed, it surpassed in all respects. Falkirk, and still more Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt, made the English archers the most celebrated infantry in Europe, and the kings of England, in whatever else they differed from each other, were, from Edward II. to Henry VIII., at one in the matter of archery. In 1363 Edward III. commanded the general practice of archery on Sundays and holidays, all other sports being forbidden. The provisions of this act were from time to time re-issued, particularly in the well-known act of Henry VIII. The price of bows and arrows was also regulated in the reign of Edward III., and Richard III. ordained that for every ton of certain goods imported ten yew-bows should be imported also, while at the same time long-bows of unusual size were admitted free of duty. In order to prevent the too rapid consumption of yew for bow-staves, bowyers were ordered to make four bows of wych-hazel, ash or elm to one of yew, and only the best and most useful men were allowed to possess yewbows. Distant and exposed counties were provided for by making bowyers, fletchers, &c., liable (unless freemen of the city of London) to be ordered to any point where their services might be required. In Scotland and Ireland also, considerable attention was paid to archery. In 1478 archery was encouraged in Ireland by statute, and James I. and James IV. of Scotland, in particular, did their best to stimulate the interest of their subjects in the bow, whose powers they had felt in so many battles from Falkirk to Homildon Hill.

The introduction of hand-firearms was naturally fatal to the bow as a warlike weapon, but the conservatism of the English, and the non-professional character of wars waged by them added to the technical deficiencies of earl ?' as firearms, made the process of change in England very gradual. The mercenary or professional element was naturally the first to adopt the new weapons. At Pont de 1'Arche in 1418 the English had" petits canons" (which seem to have been hand guns), and during the latter part of the Hundred Years' War their use became more and more frequent. The crossbow soon disappeared from the more professional armies of the continent. Charles the Bold had, before the battle of Morat (1476), ten thousand coulevrines et main. But in the hands of local forces the crossbow lingered on, at least in rural France, until about 1630. Its last appearance in war was in the hands of the Chinese at Taku (1860). But the long-bow, an incomparably finer weapon, endured as one of the principal arms of the English soldier until about 1590. Edward IV. entered London after the battle of Barnet with 500 "smokie gunners" Amongst the great peoples of ancient history the Egyptians were the first and the most famous of archers, relying on the bow as their principal weapon in war. Their bows were (foreign mercenaries), but at that engagement Warwick's centre consisted solely of bows and bills (1471). The new weapons gradually made their way, but even in 1588, the year of the Armada, the local forces of Devonshire comprised 800 bows to t600 " shot," and 800 bills to 800 pikes. But the Armada year saw the last appearance of the English archer, and the same county in 1598 provides neither archers nor billmen, while in the professional army in Ireland these weapons had long given way to musket and caliver, pike and halberd. Archers appeared in civilized warfare as ]ate as 1807, when fifteen hundred " baskiers," horse-archers, clad in chain armour, fought against Napoleon in Poland.

As a weapon of the chase the bow was in its various forms employed even more than in war. The rise of archery as a sport in England was, of course, a consequence of its military value, which caused it to be so heartily encouraged by all English sovereigns.

The Japanese were from their earliest times great archers, and the bow was the weapon par excellence of their soldiers. The standard length of the bow (usually bamboo) was 7 ft. 6 in., of the arrow 3 ft. to 3 ft. 9 in. Numerous feats of archery are recorded to have taken place in the " thirtythree span " halls of Kioto and Tokyo, where the archer had to shoot the whole length of a very low corridor, 128 yds. long. Wada Daihachi in the 17th century shot 8133 arrows down the corridor in twenty-four consecutive hours, averaging five shots a minute, and in 1852 a modern archer made 5583 successful shots in twenty hours, or over four a minute.

Table of contents

The Pastime of Archery

The use of the bow and arrow as a pastime naturally accompanied their use as weapons of war, but when the gun began to supersede the bow the and his queen, Catherine of Braganza, interested themselves in English archery, the queen in 1676 presenting a silver badge or shield to the " Marshall of the Fraternity of Oxford," which badge, once the property of the Finsbury Archers, was transferred to the keeping of the Royal Toxophilite Society, when in 1841 the two clubs combined. The Toxophilite Society was founded in 1781; for though in the north archery had long been practised, its resuscitation in the south really dates from the formation of this club by Sir Ashton Lever. This society received the title of " Royal " in 1847, though it had long been patronized by royalty. It is an error to suppose that the Finsbury Archers were connected with the Archers' division of the Hon. Artillery Company, but many members of the Toxophilite Society joined that division, and used its ground for shooting, securing, however, a London ground of their own in the district where Gower Street, V.C., now is. When this ground became unavailable, the shooting probably took place at Highbury, and later in 1820, on Lord's cricket ground, the present ground in the Inner Circle of Regent's Park, near the Botanical Gardens, not being acquired till 1833. The society may be regarded as the most important body connected with archery, most of the leading archers belonging to it, though the Grand National Archery Society controls the public meetings. Among its more important events is the shooting of 144 arrows at too yds. for the Crunder Cup and Bugle. In the early days of the club targets of different sizes were used at the different ranges, and the scores were recorded in money (e.g. " Mr Elwin, 86 hits, Ls: 5: 6 "). The Woodmen of Arden can claim an almost equal antiquity, having been founded - some say "revived "- in 1785. The number of members is limited to 80; at one time there were 81, Sir Robert Peel having been elected as a supernumerary by way of compliment. The headquarters of the Woodmen are at Meriden in Warwickshire; the club has a nominal authority over vert and venison, whence its officers bear appropriate names - warden, master-forester and verderers; and the annual meeting is called the Wardmote. The masterforester, or captain for the year, is the maker of the first "gold" at the annual target; he who makes the second is the senior verderer. The club devotes itself to the old-fashioned cloutshooting at long ranges, reckoned by " scores," nine score meaning 180 yds., and so on. (Vide " Clout-shooting " infra.) The chief matches in which the Woodmen engage are those against the Royal Company of Scottish Archers. The Royal British Bowmen date back to the end of the 18th century. Like many others, during the Napoleonic war they suspended operations, revived when peace was made. The club was finally dissolved in 1880. The Royal Kentish Bowmen were founded in 1785, but did not survive the war. John O'Gaunt's Bowmen, who still meet at Lancaster, were revived, not created, at the same time, and still flourish. The Herefordshire Bowmen only shoot at 60 yds., while the West Berks Society is limited to twelve members, who meet at each other's houses, except for their Autumn Handicap, shot on the Toxophilite Grounds216 arrows at too yds. The Royal Company of Archers is the chief Scottish society. Originally a semi-military body constituted in 1676, it practised archery as a pastime from the time of its foundation, several meetings being held in the first few years of its existence. It devoted itself to " rovers," or longrange shooting at the " clout," among its most interesting trophies being the " Musselburgh Arrow," first shot for in 1603, possibly even earlier, in that town; the competition was then open to all comers, for archery was long popular in Scotland, especially at Kilwinning, the headquarters of popinjay shooting. Other prizes are the " Peebles Silver Arrow," dating back to 1626, the " Edinburgh Silver Arrow " (1709), the " Selkirk Arrow," a very ancient prize, the " Dalhousie Sword," the " Hopetoun Royal Commemoration Prize," and others, shot for at ranges of 180 or 200 yds. The most curious is the " Goose Medal." Originally a goose was buried in a butt with only its head visible, and this was the archers' mark; now a small glass globe is substituted. The " Popingo (Popinjay) Medal," for which a stuffed parrot was once used as the mark, is now contested at the ordinary butts. The Kilwinning Society of Archers, founded in 1688, did not disband till 1870; the Irvine Toxophilites flourished from 1814 till about 1867. But of all societies the Grand National Archery Society, regulating the great meetings, though comparatively young, is the most important. Various open meetings were already in existence, but in 1844 a few leading archers projected a Grand National Meeting, which was held in York in that year and in 1845 and 1846, and subsequently in other places. But the society did not exist as such till 1861, after the meeting held at Liverpool, since when, notwithstanding some financial troubles, it has been the legislative and managing body of English archery. The chief meetings are the " Championship," the "Leamington and Midland Counties," the " Crystal Palace," the " Grand Western " and the " Grand Northern." For some years a "Scottish Grand National " was held, but fell into abeyance. The " Scorton Arrow" is no longer shot for in the Yorkshire village of that name, but the meeting, held regularly in the county, dates back to 1673 by record, and is probably far older. The silver arrow and the captaincy are awarded to the man who makes the first gold; the silver bugle and lieutenancy to the first red; the gold medal to most hits, and a horn spoon to the last white.

In the United States archery has had a limited popularity. The only one of the early clubs that lasted long was the " United Bowmen of Philadelphia," founded in 1828, but defunct in 1859. There was a revival twenty years later, when a National Association was formed; and various meetings were held annually and championships instituted, but there was never any popular enthusiasm for the sport, though it showed signs of increasing favour towards the end of the 19th century. The longer ranges are not greatly favoured by American archers, though at some meetings the regulation "York Round" (vide infra under "Targets ") and the " National " are shot. Other rounds are the " Potomac," 24 arrows at 80, 24 at 70, and 24 at 60 yds.; the " Double American," 60 arrows each at 60, 50 and 40 yds.; and the " Double Columbia," for ladies, 48 each at 50, 40 and 30 yds. In team matches ladies shoot 96 arrows at 50 yds., gentlemen 96 at 60.

The Bow

As used in the pastime of archery the length of the bows does not vary much, though it bears some relation to the length History of pastime lost its popularity. Charles II., however,. P P P Y > sport of the arrow and the length of the arrow to the strength of the archer, to which the weight of the bow has to be adapted. The proper weight of a bow is the number of lb which, attached to the string, will draw a full-length arrow to its head. For men's bows the drawing-power varies from 40 to 60 lb, anything above this being extreme; ladies' bows draw from 24 to 32 lb. Estimating 50 lb as a fair average, such a bow would be 6 ft. i in. long for a 30-in., 6 ft. for a 28-in., and 5 ft. II in. for a 27-in. arrow, but the height as well as the strength of the archer have to be considered. Similarly a lady's bow on the average measures about 5 ft. 6 in. and her arrows 25 in. Modern bows are either made entirely of yew (occasionally of other woods), when they are called " self-bows," or of a combination of woods, when they are called " backed-bows." Self-bows are rarely or never made in a single stave, owing to the difficulty of obtaining true and flawless wood of the necessary length; hence two staves joined by a double fish-joint, which forms the centre of the bow, are used, tested and adjusted so that they may be as equally elastic as possible. The best yew is imported from Italy and Spain, and is allowed to season for three years before it is made into a bow, which again is not used till it is two years older. In backed-bows the belly, the rounded part nearest to the string, is generally but not necessarily made of yew, the back, or flat part, of yew (the best), hickory, lance or other woods, glued together in strips. The centre of the bow, for about 18 in., should be stiff and resisting, then tapering off gradually to the horns in which the string is fitted, the greatest care being taken that the two limbs are uniform. The bow of selfyew is generally considered more agreeable to handle and has a better " cast," throwing the arrow more smoothly and with less jar, and since no glued parts are exposed, it is less liable to injury from wet. On the other hand, " crysals " (tiny cracks, which are apt to extend) are more frequent in this class of bow. Self-yew bows cost £ 8 or Do, where a good backed-bow can be bought for about half that. The self-bow is more sensitive than other bows, and its work is mostly done during the last few inches of the pull, where the backed-bow pulls evenly throughout. The backed-bow should be perfectly straight in the back, but after use often loses its shape either by " following the string," i.e. getting bent inwards on the string-side, or by becoming " reflex " (bending the opposite way). Self-bows are even more apt to lose their shape than backed-bows, as there is no hard wood to counteract the natural grain. A bow that is strongly reflexed at the ends is known as a " Cupid's bow." To form the handle the wood of the bow is left thick in the centre, and braid, leather or indiarubber is wound round it to give a better grip.

The String and Stringing

The string is made of three strands of hemp, dressed with a preparation of glue, and should be perfectly round, smooth and not frayed, as a broken string may result in a broken bow. The string, at its centre, is 6 in. from the belly of the man's bow; 5 in. in the lady's bow. The clenched fist with the thumb upright was the old, rough and ready estimate, known as " fist-mole." For a few inches above and below the nocking point the string is lapped with carpet-thread to save it from fraying by contact with the arm; the nocking point being made by another lapping of filoselle silk, so that the string may exactly fit the nock of the arrow. When a bow is properly strung the string should be longitudinally along the middle of the belly.

Arrows and Nocking

The parts of the arrow are the shaft, the " p ock " or notch, the " pile " or point, and the feathers. The shaft is made of seasoned red deal, and may be " self " or " footed." Most arrows are " footed," i.e. a piece of hard wood to which the pile is attached is spliced to the deal shaft, which should be perfectly straight and stiff. The shaft is made in several shapes. Most archers prefer the " parallel " pattern - the shaft being the same size from nock to pile; the next is the " barrelled," the shape g bein thick in the centre and tapering towards the ends. The " bob-tail " diminishes from the pile to the nock; the " chested " tapers from the middle to the pile. The pile should not be taper but cylindrical, " broadshouldered " where the point begins. The nock is cut square. There are three feathers, the body feathers of a turkey or peacock being the best. They should all curve the same way, are about II. in. long and z in. deep, with the ends near the nock either square, or balloon-shaped. The weight of an arrow is its weight in new English silver; a five-shilling arrow is heavy for a man's bow, while fourshillings is light. A 28-in. arrow for a 50-lb bow may weigh four-andninepence; a 27-in. arrow four-and-sixpence. This may serve as a rough standard.

Other Implements

The archer uses finger-tips, or a " tab " of leather, to protect the fingers against the string, and a leather " bracer " to protect the left arm from its blow. Quivers are not now used except by ladies. A special box for carrying bows and arrows about; a proper cupboard, known as an " ascham," in which they may be kept at home in a dry, even temperature, not too hot; and a baize or leather case for use on the ground, are important minor articles of equipment.

Targets, Scoring and Handicapping

The targets, 4 ft. in diameter, are made of straw 3 to 4 in. thick, and are supported sloping slightly backwards by an iron stand. The faces are of floor-cloth painted with concentric rings, 45 in. each in breadth. The outer ring, white, counts one point; the next, black, three; the next, blue, five; the next, red, seven; and the next, gold - a complete circle of 41 in.


nine. The exact centre of the gold is called the " pin-hole." The targets are set up in pairs, facing each other, the distances for men being too, 80 and 60 yds.; for ladies, 60 and 50; for convenience, 5 yds. are added to allow for a shooting-line that distance in front of each target. The centre of the gold should be 4 ft. from the ground. Each archer shoots three arrows - an " end " - at one target; they then cross over and mark the scores. If an arrow cuts two rings, the archer is credited with the value of the higher one. In matches a " York Round " or a " St George's Round " is usually shot by men, the former consisting of 144 arrows, 72 at loo yds., 48 at 80 yds., and 24 at 60 yds., the latter of 36 arrows at each of these distances. One York Round only is shot on a day; a double York Round is shot, one on each day, at the more important meetings. Ladies usually shoot the " National Round " of 48 arrows at 60 yds. and 24 at 50 yds. At most meetings the prizes are awarded on the gross scores; at others, including the Championship meeting, on points, two points for the highest score on the round and two for most hits on the round, one point each for highest score and most hits at each of the three ranges, ten points in all. Ladies' scores are calculated similarly. To decide the Championship, the Grand National Archery Society passed a rule in 1894 that " The Champion prizes shall be awarded to the archer gaining the greatest number of points, provided that those for gross hits or gross score are included; any points won by other archers shall be redistributed among those gaining the points for gross hits or gross score." Handicapping may be done by " rings," the winner of a first prize not being allowed to count " whites " at subsequent meetings, and " blacks " and " blues " being lost for further successes. Better methods are (1) to deduct a percentage from the gross score of successful shooters, (2) to handicap by points, as in other pastimes, or (3) to rate a shooter according to the average of his last year's performances, re-rating him monthly, or at convenient intervals, the system being to add his average of the current year to his average of last year, and divide the sum by two to form his new rating.

Clout and Long Distance Shooting

This form of archery is chiefly supported by the Woodmen of Arden and the Royal Company. At 100 yds., the target (smaller by 4 in. than the usual one, but with an inner white circle instead of the blue) is set up against a butt only 18 in. from the ground, but for nine-score, ten-score, and twelvescore shooting it is a white target, 2 ft. 6 in. in diameter, with a black centre. The target, the centre and the arrow that hits the centre are each known as a " clout." Hits and misses are signalled by a marker stationed, rather perilously, by the side of the butt. The target is sloped backwards to an angle of 60°, with rings marked round it on the ground at distances of 12 ft., 3 ft., 6 ft. and 9 ft., a hit in the outer ring counting one, and in the next two, and so on. the clout or centre counting six. For the longer ranges lighter arrows are used. The Scottish clout was a piece of canvas, stretched on a frame; the range 180 or 200 yds.; all arrows counted one that were within 24 ft. of the target, the clout counting two. Modern archers have paid scant attention to mere distance-shooting, which is an art of its own, but their experiments prove that with a fairly heavy bow, say 60 lb or 63 lb, and a long light arrow, known as a " flight arrow," a good archer should be able to reach 300 or 310 yds. With a heavier bow, properly under control, 50 or 60 yds. might be added to this by a strong man. These experiments seem to be verified by a quotation from Shakespeare (Henry IV. Act iii. Sc. 2): " A' would have clapped i' the clout and twelve score, and carried you a forehand shaft a fourteen and fourteen and a half," i.e. 280 or 290 yds. Instances are recorded of Englishmen shooting 34 o and 360 yds., but in 1795 Mahmoud Effendi of the Turkish embassy shot 482 yds. with a Turkish bow, and Sultan Selim 972. The Turk, however, used a Turkish bow and a 14-in. arrow, with a grooved rest on his left arm along which the arrow passed, to compensate for the difference between the draw of the bow and the shortness of the arrow. The diplomatist's shot is supported by good evidence, but the sultan's is regarded as improbable at least.

Championship and Scores

The British championship meetings, instituted in 1844, are conducted under the laws of the Grand National Archery Society: the prizes, apart from the Challenge prizes, are given in money, there being also a rule that any one who makes three golds at one end receives a shilling from all others of the same sex who are shooting. The most notable champion was Horace A. Ford (d. 1880), who held the title for eleven consecutive years, 1849 to 1859 inclusive, and again in 1867. He made a fourfigure score at four other championship meetings, his highest, 1251 (in 1857) for 245 hits being unapproached. To him the modern scientific practice of archery must largely be attributed, together with its improvement and its popularity. The names of G. Edwards, Major C. Hawkins Fisher, H. H. Palairet, C. E. Nesham, and G. E. S. Fryer, are also notable as champions. Among ladies Mrs Horniblow was champion for eleven years between 1852 and 1881, Miss Legh for nineteen years between 1880 and 1908; Mrs Piers Legh, Miss Betham and Mrs Bowly claim the title on four occasions. Mrs Bowly's score of 823 (1894) was the highest made for the championship till Miss Legh made 825 with 143 hits - only one arrow missed altogether - in 1898; beating her own record with a score of 841 (143 hits) in 1904. It should not be forgotten that as the championship is awarded by points, the highest score does not necessarily win.

See Roger Ascham, Toxophilus (1545), edited by Edward Arber (London, 1868); The Arte of Warre, by William Garrard (London 1591); Country Contentments, by Henry Peacham (London, 1622); Archery, Ancient and Modern, by E. S. Morse (Worcester, Mass., 1792); The English Bowman, by T. Roberts (London, 1801); A Treatise on Archery, by Thomas Waring (London, 9th ed., 1832); The Theory and Practice of Archery, by Horace A. Ford (new ed., London, 1887); Archery, by C. J. Longman and H. Walrond (Badminton Library, London, 1894). (W. J. F.)

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|In Target Archery, the object is to hit targets such as this to score points. These arrows score as an inner 10 and a 9.]]

Archery is the practice of using a bow to shoot arrows. Archery has historically been used in hunting and combat and has become a precision sport. A person practicing archery is called an archer, and one who is fond of or an expert at archery is sometimes called a toxophilite.


The earliest evidence of archery dates back more than 5,000 years. The bow probably was used in hunting first and was then adopted as a tool of warfare. It was one of the earliest forms of artillery.

Classical civilizations, notably the Persians, Macedonians, Nubians, Greeks, Parthians, Indians, Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans, fielded large numbers of archers in their armies. Arrows proved exceptionally destructive against massed formations, and the use of archers often proved decisive.

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