Archery is one of the oldest sports still practised, developing alongside human civilisation, initially for hunting and warfare. In 1200 BC, the Hittites and Assyrians used bows and arrows on the battlefield. The first recorded archery tournaments took place in China during the Zhou dynasty (1027‑256 BC). In 1931 the sport evolved around the globe and an international archery federation was founded, now known as World Archery.
Brief overview of the rules
Targets are 122cm in diameter and positioned 70m away from the archers, who must shoot their arrows as close to the centre of a target as possible in order to beat their opponents. Olympic archery comprises five events: two individual competitions for men and women, two team competitions (again divided by men and women) and lastly, for the first time in the 2020 Tokyo Games, a mixed event.
Archery requires great concentration and dexterity; archers must overcome their nerves as a single mistake can prove fatal, particularly in duels at the finals and in individual events. After the ranking round, where all the archers shoot 72 arrows, they compete in a knockout system until the final according to their ranking – with the top‑ranked archer facing off against the 64th‑ranked archer, the second‑ranked against the 63rd‑ranked, and so on.
It has featured at the Olympic Games in two different periods. The sport made its debut at the Olympics early on, with an archery competition held at Paris in 1900. It was contested again in 1904, 1908 and 1920, then was absent from the Olympics for over 50 years, until 1972.
Archery was reintroduced at the Games in Munich and has remained on the Olympic programme ever since. The Republic of Korea is the dominant force since its return to the Olympics in 1972, winning over half of the gold medals up for grabs (23 out of 40).
Events in 2024
- Individual (women’s / men’s)
- Team (women’s / men’s / mixed)
Venue in 2024
International federation : World Archery
© Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images