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Archery is the sport of shooting with a bow and arrows at a target. It is one of the oldest sports known to mankind. For centuries, the bow and the arrow have been used for food hunting as well as a weapon of war.

There are 4 main categories of competitive archery; target, field, clout and flight. Target archery is the most commonly practiced form of archery. It is practiced both outdoors and indoors. The ‘aim’ of the sport is simple – archers must hit a target consisting of five coloured rings. The closer to the centre of the target the arrow lands, the more points are scored.

Shooting distances vary from 18 meters (indoors) and 90 meters (outdoors), with target sizes of 40 to 60 centimetres (indoors) and 80 to 122 centimetres (outdoors).

There are a number of “rounds” or types of competition. Each round consists of a specified number of arrows shot from specified distances at specified target faces.

The circular paper target has concentric rings around a bull’s eye. Going from the centre to the outside ring the colours of the rings are gold, red, black, and white. The innermost ring (in the centre of the gold) has a value of 10 points, down to the outermost ring (in the outer part of the white ring) with a value of 1 point.

Modern bow handles or risers are made from various grades of aluminium and the bow limbs are made from laminations of wood with carbon fibre, fibreglass, ceramic or hard foam.




The recurve bow is so called because the tips of its limbs curl away from the archer. When the string is drawn back, the curves straighten to provide the energy to shoot the arrow when the string is released.

The compound bow, invented in the USA in 1967, has a stiffer limb than a recurve so a cam wheel system is necessary to make it bend.

The arrow shafts are made of carbon, aluminium or a combination of both with a steel point and plastic fletchings.

Archery first appeared in the Olympics in 1900 and was included in the Commonwealth Games programme in 2010. Both the recurve and compound bows feature in the Paralympics but only the recurve bow is currently used in the Olympics.