Want to Become an Archer (or just try it)?
The best way to get an appreciation for the sport (and to understand what is meant by being a responsible archer) is to undertake an introductory coaching course at a Club. Most Clubs regularly run coaching courses over about 6-8 hours and 3 or 4 Saturdays or Sundays for around about $100. You’ll be coached by experienced people who are accredited as Coaches with Archery Australia.
All the archery equipment needed to undertake the tuition is supplied by the Clubs. (It is recommended you do not buy any archery equipment until you have completed the course; there is a myriad of options available! But, by all means, do have a look.)
A Little History
Archery is one of the oldest arts still practised. The first recorded evidence of archery is attributed to the Middle Stone Age (formerly called the Middle Palaeolithic Period) – in North Africa; pre-dating Mesopotamia (the “cradle of western civilisation”) and Egyptian, Chinese, Roman and Greek Dynasties by thousands of years.
From its development in ancient times until the 1500s, the bow was Mankind’s constant companion and, during recorded history, has been the most widely used of all weapons. Its historical importance is confirmed by the number of contemporary family names directly derived from archery including Archer, Arrowsmith, Bowman, Bowyer, Butts, Fletcher, Stringer and Yeoman, to name some of the more common. After the bow’s replacement by firearms as a weapon of war, archery became a favoured sport, thus ensuring its continuous practice throughout history.
Archery ranks in importance as a cultural advance with the development of speech and the art of making fire, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Although its invention probably dates to the Stone Age, the use of the bow first appeared in the art of the Ancient Egyptians and is reported in folklore from more than 5,500 years ago. English literature honours the longbow for famous victories in the battles of Crecy (August, 1346), Poitiers (September, 1356) and Agincourt (October, 1415) . In fact, the bow was the principal weapon of national defence in England for centuries.
Ghengis Khan conquered much of the known world, employing the short, powerful bows of his Mongol hordes. For Native Americans, the bow was the principal means of subsistence before and during the days of English and later American colonisation. Many of the British monarchs, including Queen Victoria, practised archery. Henry VIII gained considerable renown as a bowman; organised competitions in archery for sport began during his reign. He helped found the first archery “club”, the Fraternity of St George, in 1537. As the Prince of Wales in 1787, King George IV established the “prince’s lengths” (targets at distances of 60, 80, and 100 yards) and the “prince’s reckoning” (values for various target rings of 9, 7, 5, 3 and 1 point). He went on to assign the Royal Company of Archers, established in 1677, as “the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers” in 1822.
The first known organised competition in archery was held at Finsbury, England in 1583 and included 3,000 participants! The first international competitions in archery began with Anglo-French matches around 1900 featuring both target and flight distance shooting.
Archery made its Olympic debut in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris (and then in 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920). (After a 52-year hiatus, archery returned and has been in every Olympic Games since 1972.) (In the USA, NBC said that during the first few days of its 2012 London Olympics coverage, archery was the most popular sport of any that it aired on its cable networks — bigger even than basketball. Archery averaged 1.5 million viewers when it came on TV. Source: ESPN)
Archery conveys strong images, ideals and values. It is often used in publicity and in communication. Qualities required in high level archery are quite similar to those needed for success in business.
The Target is the objective to be reached by the archer. In communication, it is the first parameter to define and to master in order to succeed in any business.
The Bow and the Arrow are the liaison between the archer and his target. In communication, it symbolises the ways that they are used to reach an objective with the greatest accuracy and speed.
Facets to consider and attributes to possess include Self-discipline, Stress resistance, Concentration, Consistency associated with Accuracy, Willpower, Physical and Mental Balance, Rigour, Exactitude, Team Spirit.
Even though Archery is an individual sport, team competitions are more and more widespread and good group dynamics lead to more impressive results. The ability to adapt to the changes in weather and environment also cannot be overstated. Archers must also have the knowledge to be able to prepare, maintain and repair equipment.
Archery can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Brute strength is not a pre-requisite; although general fitness and the ability to concentrate is useful.
To perform at the highest level, practice is essential. Mental training is also necessary and involves training the mind to be able to focus on the act of shooting to the exclusion of all distractions. The archer that can successfully do this has a head start on the competition.
The sport caters for all people. From the recreational archer to those who wish to compete at National or International level. From the person shooting the traditional longbow instinctively or using a recurve or compound “barebow” (i.e. no sights), to those who prefer to shoot with sights with the latest high-tech equipment.
The recurve is the familiar styled bow. The compound utilises a system of pulleys to create a more efficient bow. The crossbow uses a trigger mechanism to shoot bolts. In competition each bow type competes in separate divisions.
In tournaments, arrows are generally shot in groups or “ends” of six. When archers have shot their six arrows, they record their scores.
In target archery, the target face is divided into 5 zones indicated by different colours; gold in the middle, with red, blue, black and white concentric rings. These colours are further divided by a line to create ten rings. The central ring has the highest score value.
Scoring involves checking and recording where the arrows enter the target. Where an arrow is touching a dividing line, the higher score zone applies.
To shoot a round involves shooting several “ends” of 6 arrows at a set distance or distances. In target archery a round could consist of between 30 and 144 or even (occasionally) 210 arrows (35 ends).
In field archery, targets are sited in “bush” settings and arranged a bit like a golf course. Archers have to negotiate the course shooting 3 or 4 arrows at each target, which will be set up at varying distances and be a variety of sizes, depending on the distance.
Clout archery involves shooting at a target laid out flat on the ground and indicated by a line of flags. Archers shoot from long distances (over 100m and up to 180m) and try to “lob” the arrows into the target area. This form of shooting derived from the archers’ necessity in the Middle Ages to practice shooting from the battlements.
Flight archery is simply sending an arrow as far as it can go and measuring the distance shot. It might sound simple but, for the dedicated, this is a serious business! These days, flight archery is not practised very often because of a lack of large and suitable (& accessible) venues.
Archery is very adaptable; it is able to be shot indoors as well, which means that, no matter the weather conditions, shooting is still possible.
All these forms of archery employ the same shooting style and basic equipment.
Archery is governed in Australia by Archery Australia. It is affiliated with World Archery (the International Archery Federation) and the World Crossbow Shooting Association (WCSA). World Archery is responsible for the organisation of the sport up to and including the Olympic Games and World Championships for target, field and indoor archery. The WCSA is the international organisation representing the interests of crossbow shooters,