Archery Need to Know About This Olympic Sport

Archery is probably one of the sports that I consider the best in the Olympics simply because it requires a lot of training, patience, and focus. If you are one of the people who are interested in Olympic archery, then you have come to the right page. I will share with you everything you need to know about this sport.

Though I know everyone already has an idea on the basics of the game, there are some guidelines and rules that players and avid fans of the Olympics must know. Let’s start by looking into a short history of this sport, the rules of the game and the equipment needed


History of Archery in Olympics

It was believed that archery has been around as early as the Stone Age (20,000 BC) and primarily used by our ancestors as a means for hunting and survival in the wild. Earliest records of archery being practiced in tournaments were found during the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt (1567-1320 BC) and the Zhou dynasty in China (1027- 256 BC).

Archery was first introduced in the Olympic Games in 1900, and during its second run in 1904, both team events and women events were introduces making it one of the earliest sports to include female competitors. Archery was also played in the 1908 and 1920 events before going into a 52-year break in the Olympics. During the first four games, players were allowed to compete in different events and win several medals.

In 1972, archery was re-introduced in the Olympic games with a new set of rules and guidelines introduced by FITA (Federation Internationale de Tir an l’Arc). In 1988, team competition was introduced as a new event, and in 1992, the format of the game was changed to head-to-head elimination. Before the 1992 Olympics, archers used to shoot a total of 288 arrows, and winners are decided by the players that accumulated the highest score. Since then, archery has evolved into the sport that we all love and enjoy now.



Unlike the World Archery competitions such as World Cups and World Championships, wherein both Compound and Recurve bows are included in the events, only the recurve bows are allowed in the Olympics. This type of bow is an evolution of the traditional one, and it has limbs that curve away from the archer at the top.

The bow consists of the handle or grip, bowstrings, and two limbs. Sighting accessories and stabilizer rods are also allowed in the bow. The bowstrings can have as many strands as possible as long as it fits the bow.


Players can use any types of an arrow as long as it does not cause undue damage to the targets and complies with the maximum diameter allowed in the Olympics which is 9.3mm. The diameter of the top should also be at 9.4mm or below.

Archers should also mark the shaft of the arrows that they will use with their name or initials. Identical arrows for each round must be used by the players.


The target used in the games typically measures 122 cm in diameter and consists of 10 concentric circles with five scoring sectors identified by colors. The two innermost rings with a gold color can give you 10 or 9 points; the red circles are equivalent to 8 or 7 points, the blue circles for 6 or 5 points, black for 4 or 3 points and the white for 2 or 1 point.

Other Accessories

Aside from the three basic equipment above, archers can also opt to have finger protection gloves or tape, arm guards and chest guards as long as accessories do not provide an unfair advantage to users aside from aside from safety and protection.

Archery: Definition and Rules

Archery is a sport of using a stringed bow to shoot arrows towards a target. Competitive archery has one objective only which is to shoot as close to the center of the target as possible to earn the greatest number of points.

In the Olympic competition, targets must be set 70 meters away from the shooting spot with a height of 1.3 meters above the ground. Archers must attempt to hit the innermost circle or bulls-eye of the target to get 10 points. The outermost circle would mean only a score of 1 when hit by the arrow.

Players must participate in the Ranking Round wherein 64 archers in each gender category have to shoot 72 arrows in groups of six with the highest possible score of 720 points. This round will determine the ranking of the players and will decide the line-up for the next round. The player with the highest point will be ranked first followed by the player with the next highest point.

In the next round, the top player must compete with the 64th player, the 2nd player against the 63rd player and so on in a head-to-head competition. The emerging winners will then compete in the 32nd round followed by pre-quarterfinals, quarterfinals, semifinals and the final round.

For the team competitions, 12 teams for each of the gender category must go through the Ranking Round. Scores of all players in a team are compounded to form the overall team score. The top four teams will automatically have a spot in the quarterfinals while the remaining teams must battle for the last four spots. After the head-to-head competition in the quarterfinals, the winning teams will proceed to the semi-finals and the final round.

Olympic Event Formats

There are currently four different types of archery events held during the Olympics which includes the Men’s Individual, Women’s Individual, Men’s Team and Women’s Team.

Individual Events

For the individual games, players must go through the Ranking round wherein they must shoot a total of 72 arrows given a 40 seconds time limit for each shot. Following this round is the head-to-head competition, also known as the knockout rounds wherein winners are decided based on a set system. Archers must shoot three arrows per set on a 20 seconds time limit and the player with the highest score are awarded 2 set points. If the set is a tie, both players are awarded 1 set point. The player to accumulate a total of 6 set points first will win this round. In case the score is still tied in the 5th set, each archer must shoot one arrow, and the winner is determined as the player who shot the arrow closest to the bullseye.

Team Events

In the team events, archers must undergo the ranking round which will determine whose team will compete in the next round. In the knockout rounds, team events comprising of three players also follow a set system.

Each team is given three arrows per set to shoot meaning each member can shoot one arrow per set. The team with the highest accumulated score per set will be given 2 set points. The team to reach a 5-set point score wins the round.

In cases of a tie in the fourth set, each team member must shoot an arrow, and the team arrows closest to the bullseye wins the match.

Past Winners and Record Holders in Olympics

In the Olympic history, Hubert Van Innis from Belgium remains as the most decorated archer winning six gold medals and three silver medals during the 1900 and 1920 games. Next on the ranking would be Kim Soo Nyung of South Korea with four gold medals, one silver and one bronze from the 1988, 1992 and 2000 Olympic Games. He was also named as the World Archery’s best Olympic archer of all time.

In terms of World Records, Kim Woojin of South Korea holds the title for earning the highest point in the ranking round with a score of 700/720 points. He was able to beat the previous title holder, I’m Dong Hyun, also from South Korea who scored 699 points in the 2012 Olympics.

As a reference for the ranking of all past winners in the Olympics starting the 1972 games, I’ve listed the top 10 players below based on the number of medals obtained.

Rank Athlete Country Medals Total

Gold Silver Bronze

1 Kim Soo Nyung South Korea 4 1 1 6

2 Park Sung Hyun South Korea 3 1 0 4

3 Ki Bo Bae South Korea 3 0 1 4

4 Yun Mi-Jin South Korea 3 0 0 3

5 Marco Galiazzo Italy 2 1 0 3

5 Jang Yong Ho South Korea 2 1 0 3

5 Park Kyung Mo South Korea 2 1 0 3

5 Lee Sung South Korea 2 1 0 3

5 Darrell Pace United States 2 1 0 3

10 I’m Ding Hyun South Korea 2 0 1 3

Upcoming Archery Olympics

The 2020 Archery Olympic game will be held on July 24, 2020, in the Dream Island Archery Field in Tokyo, Japan. Aside from the four different types of events held on the previous games, a mixed team event will be introduced.

It is expected that a total of 56 nations will participate in the upcoming archery Olympics similar to the 2016 Rio games. For the four events, qualification tournaments include 2019 World Archery Championships, continental events, and a final qualification tournament. For the mixed event, there will be no qualification process needed, and players will be decided on the ranking rounds. ‘

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