Learn about this Summer Olympic sport

April 27, 2012

Mariana Avita of Mexico of Mexico shoots an arrow at a women's individual archery event during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Archery is one of the oldest sports still in practice today. The ancient Egyptians used bows and arrows for hunting and warfare at least 5,000 years ago. It was a favorite sport of nobility in China during the Zhou dynasty (1027-256 BC). The first known organized archery competition occurred in 1583, in Finsbury, England, attracting 3,000 participants.

Archery debuted at the 1900 Olympics, in Paris, France. In 1904, it became one of the first Olympic sports to include women. After appearances at the 1908 and 1920 Games, archery was dropped from the Olympics until the 1972 Games, in Munich, Germany. Today, there are four events: two men’s and women’s individual and two team events.

Rules of the Game

Archery a simple sport but it requires great skill, accuracy and nerve. The object is to shoot arrows as close to the center of a target as possible, shooting from about 230 feet away. Each arrow is marked with the archer’s name or initial, but the competitors also use colors to help their arrows stand out. Olympic targets are 48 inches across, with 10 rings. At the center is a 4.8-inch gold ring worth a maximum 10 points. Archers compete head-to-head in a single-elimination tournament, each shooting 12 arrows. The winner advances toward the gold.


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