Archery must be one of oldest human practices. Used for hunting and combat across thousands of years, it first emerged as a hobby in the late 17th-century. Elitist clubs for archers were set up around the UK, with the Royal Company of Archers formed in 1676, making it one of the oldest sporting bodies in the world. As the years went by, the activity gradually became more popular amongst all classes of people in Britain.
It wasn’t until the 1840s that it was born as a true sport, with standardised rules and new Archery techniques pioneered. Despite the emergence of other popular sports during this time, Archery entered a new era with its inclusion at the 1900 Paris Olympics.
Archery really is a test of the mind and body, with precision needed to hit the target and score maximum points. Olympic archers shoot at a 122cm-diameter target from a distance of 70m. To achieve the maximum mark of 10 per shot, they must hit the gold centre ring – the bulls-eye - measuring just 12cm.
There are a total of 72 arrows shot across 12 phases, with the maximum point-scorer taking home the coveted medal. Other distances vary by clubs, standard and age group. The equipment needed is quite literally a bow and arrow, with a safety arm guard and gloves also used at times.
Archery has been contested at many Olympic Games since Paris in 1900, with over 80 nations taking part. In this era, it was one of the few events that female athletes could participate in. After a long absence beyond 1908, it returned to the games’ line-up at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Originally dominated by the USA, South Korea has achieved a notable rise in excellence since the mid 1980s, with their athletes taking the bulk of medals back with them to Seoul. Qualification spots rest heavily on countries performances at the World Archery Championships, with the record of national teams rather than individuals in the spotlight. There are a total of five medals on offer, with individual men’s and women’s events being joined by three team competitions for women, men and a mixed event.
Team GB dominated the medal heist at the London Olympics in 1908, but since then the count has been patchy. Since William Dod took to the golden stage at White City, the team has won hard-fought bronzes in 1988, 1992 and 2004. Allison Williamson is our last medalist, an athlete that also became just the fourth Brit to appear at six consecutive Olympic Games. Ella Gibson and James Mason took home gold at the 2019 mixed team competition in Berlin to end a seven-year Archery World Cup Circuit medal drought.
As a proud partner of Team GB, we want to inspire the next generation of athletes. Practice your Archery skills with us and your little one could be an Archery star of the future.
Archery with us is an activity for the whole family. You’ll learn from some of the best instructors in the country, with all our instructors Archery GB-qualified. You'll be coached by the same people that nurture the finest archers in the country. Whether you’re young or old, mobile or immobile, Archery is an inclusive sport and suitable for all. Sessions cost £10 and are available at all Haven parks.