An introduction to archery | Living the Country Life

An introduction to archery

Archery is a fun sport for rural families to enjoy together.
Luke Prater learned archery in Cub Scouts and enjoys practicing at his home in the country.

Archery, although not a common sport in today's society, can be a fun activity for rural families to enjoy. With a little practice, you'll be hitting targets like a pro in no time at all.

According to Yale University and the National Archery Association, archery is a sport in which the participant uses a bow to shoot arrows at a target which has ten concentric circles. The score of each arrow depends upon where it lands on the target. The highest score, a ten, is achieved by shooting an arrow into the center, or bullseye. Scores go down from nine for the next circle out to one for the outermost circle. Missing the target results in a score of zero for that arrow. For indoor compound archery, a ten is scored only when the arrow lands inside the inner ten ring.

After each end of arrows is shot, the arrows are scored. The number of hits (non-zero scores), tens and Xs (hits within the inner ten ring) are also recorded for the purpose of breaking ties in the final scores.

Outdoor archery

Most major outdoor target archery competitions in the U.S. follow the same format of a FITA Round followed by an Olympic Round.

The FITA Round consists of 36 arrows shot at each of four distances (90, 70, 50 and 30 meters for men; 70, 60, 50, 30 meters for women) for a total of 144 arrows. Scores are then totaled to determine seedings into the Olympic Round. Arrows are generally shot in groups (called ends) of six within a specified time period.

The Olympic Round is a direct elimination, head-to-head style of competition, all at 70 meters. The winner of each match advances until a gold medalist is determined. All matches are 18 arrows, except the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, which are 12-arrow matches.

The U.S. Target Championships utilize a FITA followed by an Olympic Round. FITA scores are totaled to determine seeding into the Olympic Round. The targets used at outdoor events have 122 cm diameter faces.

Indoor archery

Indoor tournaments are held for the Olympic (recurve) and Compound Divisions. Olympic Division events are generally held at either 25 meters or 18 meters.

In a 25-Meter Indoor Round, archers shoot 60 arrows at a 60 cm diameter target face. In the 18-Meter Indoor Round, archers shoot 60 arrows at a 40 cm diameter target face.

Championship events employ a Grand Indoor Round which starts off with a Combined Indoor Round (both 25-Meter and 18-Meter rounds) followed by a direct elimination competition for the top 16 archers. These direct elimination matches are 15-arrow matches shot at a special 20 cm diameter target face.

For the compound division, a Combined Indoor Round includes 60 arrows shot from 25 meters at 40 cm diameter target face. A Double Compound Indoor Round includes two successive Combined Indoor Rounds.

The Grand Indoor Round is used in championships. It consists of a Double Compound Indoor Round from which the top 16 archers go into a direct elimination with 15-arrow matches from 25 meters at a special 20 cm diameter target face.

The costs of getting started

Beginning level equipment can be rented for approximately $3. Used beginners' equipment (bow, arrows), can be bought for less than $100. Beginners' equipment (new) can be bought for about $100. Basically, archery is like golf when it comes to equipment - if you want to go out and buy top of-the-line equipment at the start, you can spend up to $1,500 or more. Competitive level equipment (bow, arrow, sights and other accessories) can range from $800 to $1,500 or more.

The metric system in archery

Since FITA is an international organization with a French name, started in France by Europeans it is not unusual that it should have chosen to use metric measurements rather than English one. However, the English system, and the influence of British Archery tradition, have not gone unfelt. The traditional indoor shooting distance was 20 yards; the metric equivalent of 18 meters is only about a foot shorter, a trivial, though duly marked, difference. The target sizes of 40, 60, 80, and 122 centimeters closely match English equivalents of 16, 24, 32 and 48 inches.

In the end, archery is a mental game of skill and coordination. The ultimate aim is consistency; the ability to do exactly the same thing over and over again. The skill must be learned into habit through practice, while providing the ability to recognize and selectively correct out or incorporate changes into the archery routine.



Armguard: Protects the bow arm from abrasion by the string when the arrow is released.

Clicker: A spring loaded finger that sounds an audible cue to the archer that the arrow has been drawn to a repeatable distance.

End: A group of arrows, usually three or six, which are shot before going to the target to score and retrieve them.

Finger Tab: A flat piece of leather that is worn to protect the string fingers when the arrow is released.

Fletching: Feathers attached to an arrow which help stabilize the arrow during flight.

FITA: Federation Internationale de Tir a'lArc, archery's international governing body.

FITA Round: A round of 144 total arrows shot at a target from four different distances, the most common round in target archery competition.

Group: (n) The pattern of arrows on the target. (v) To shoot three arrows on the target.

Inner Ring: A ring printed on standard FITA targets inside the ten ring. It is used only for indoor compound scoring.

Limb: Part of the bow from the riser (handle) to the tip.

Nock: (n) The attachment on the rear end of an arrow which holds it in place on the bow string. (v) To place the arrow on the string.

Quiver: A case for holding arrows. Usually, a long leather container worn on a belt at the waist.

Release Aid: Mechanical device used to release the arrow, used by most compound shooters.

Riser: The handle of the bow. The side facing the target is called the back. The side near the string (closest to the archer) is called the belly.

Sight: A mechanical device placed on the bow with which the archer can aim directly at the target.

Stabilizer: A weight mounted on a bow, usually extending some distance from the handle, used to minimize undesirable torques of the bow string upon release.

Robin Hood: An accomplishment named after the legendary character and the feat he performed in the famous archery contest. It occurs when an archer drives the tip of the shaft of one arrow deep into the end of another arrow already in the target. Archers display their Robin Hoods as golfers display their hole-in-one balls. The arrows stuck end-to-end can be found hung with pride above mantles, next to hunting trophies or in offices alongside letters and diplomas.


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