Have you heard about the most underrated sport in the Olympics? It’s archery.
For some people, watching the Olympics is all about track and field and swimming. The athleticism of these sports is admirable. But for others, a thrilling display of competitive spirit comes down to a strong core and a sharp eye.
The ancient art of archery is having a bit of a moment. You can thank films like The Hunger Games and Brave for interest in the sport. Because of these movies, people have been tuning in to follow archery at the Olympics.
But if you’re new to archery, you might be wondering: How does the Olympic archery competition work?
Archery began in ancient Babylon in Egypt as a hunting tactic but was soon adopted into warfare. Once it spread to Asia and the Middle East its purpose broadened into a recreational activity. It wasn’t until the 1840s that archery turned into a modern sport.
Archery was introduced into the Paris Olympics in 1900. It appeared in 1904, 1908 and 1920 and then after an absence of 52 years, it reappeared in 1972. Did you know archery was the first sport that allowed women to compete in the games? It was quite progressive.
The rules for Olympic archery have changed over the years. Archers in the 1900 Olympics used live pigeons as targets. And the competitive events were different too. Today archery has been broken into several stages that span a period of eight days.
Archery at the 2016 Summer Olympics
There are four types of archery events at the 2016 Rio Olympics: men’s individual, women’s individual, men’s team, and women’s team. 128 athletes from countries all over the world shoot at targets 70 meters away.
The modern recurve bow is the only bow allowed in the Olympics. A recurve bow has limbs that start to bend away from the archer at the tips. This design gives the bow more power and energy enabling an archer to shoot arrows faster.
Archers shoot at a target made up 10 concentric circles or “rings”. A point value is assigned to each circle. The center-most circle worth 10 points and the outermost ring is worth 1 point. Hitting outside of the ring is considered a “miss” and is 0 points.
In the individual events, all archers start the tournament by shooting a round of 72 arrows. After the initial round, total scores are calculated to select the top 64 archers in each division. Those 64 archers then compete in individual elimination matches.
To establish rankings, brackets are established for the men’s and women’s divisions. For example, No. 1 will shoot against archer No. 64; No. 2 vs. No. 63; and so forth. The loser leaves the competition and the winner advances to the next round. The last two archers left will compete for the gold and silver medals. The bronze medal is awarded to one of the two semifinal losers.
Team competition is where groups of archers compete against one another. A team of archers is made up of three archers of the same gender from the same nation.
The combined ranking score is used to rank ends from 1 to 12 and give seeding for the knock-out brackets. Team competition progresses much like the individual competition in this regard.
The team with the highest score receives 2 points while the loser receive 0 points. The first team with 6 points wins the match. If the teams are tied after 5 sets, there’s a one-arrow shoot off. Whoever hits the arrow closest to the center wins.