Archery remains one of the most important inventions in history. Although it is mainly practiced as a sport today, archery built nations (and destroyed some others). It has long featured in the mythology of several cultures, including the Greek gods - Artemis and Apollo to Osoosi for the Yorubas in West Africa and Shiva for the Hindus. Archery has since then come a long way worldwide and continues to feature in the Olympics and Paralympic Games.
It is no news that at the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games, the Olympic torch was lit by a flaming arrow fired by a Paralympic archer, Antonio Rebollo. Yh, you read that right.
Olympics archery was at some point removed from the Olympic Games but has, since its return in 1972, been a mainstay. Presently, the Olympic program consists of 64 men and 64 women competing in individual, team, and mixed-team events.
Now, sit tight as we explore some mind-boggling facts you probably didn’t know about archery.
Fact 1 – Olympic Archers Once Shot At Pigeons
According to World Archery, following the introduction of archery to the 1900 Olympics, archers had to compete in a popinjay competition where the target was a ‘bird’ from a pole. The bird was, however, just a plastic tube with feathers and not an actual bird.
Fact 2 - Archery Is One Of The World’s Safest Sport
The National Safety Council disclosed that archery is over three times safer than golf, as just one injury is recorded for every 2,000 participants. Archery is also a safer sport than bowling as reported by USA Archery.
Fact 3 - Archery Lovers Are Also Called Toxophilites
You probably just chuckled, but it’s legit. Toxophilite originates from the Greek word “toxon” meaning “bow and arrow”, and “philos” meaning loving. The study of archery is referred to as Toxophily, and the first book written on archery was Toxophilus by Roger Ascham in 1545.
Fact 4 - Archery Was The First Olympic Game To Allow Female Competitors
Women were not initially allowed to participate in the Olympic Games, but archery changed that narrative. In 1904, Olympic archery allowed females to compete and was the only women’s sport in the 1904 Olympics. Now, conversations about the Olympic Games would be incomplete without mentioning female archers like Mackenzie Brown and Khatuna Lorig.
Eliza Pollack, aged 63, is the oldest female Olympic medalist. She won a gold medal and two bronze medals in the 1904 Olympics.
Fact 5 - In Competition, Archery Arrows Fly Over 2 Times The Speed Of A Sprinting Cheetah
Fact 6 - A Paralympian Archer Hold A Guinness Record For Longest Archery Shot
Matt Stutzman, a U.S Paralympian archer, born without arms and using his feet to hold and aim his bow set the Guinness World Record for the farthest accurate shot by hitting a target 283.47 meters away. That’s some really cool stuff!
In 1960, the world's first official Paralympic Games held in Rome, debuting eight sports that included archery events. The sport was initially for veterans with WW2 spinal cord injuries but later opened up to include all athletes.
Fact 7 - The Olympic Bull’s Eye Appears Danged Small From The Shooting Line
The Olympic-style 10-ring target’s innermost circle measures 12.2cm across. Now picture three-quarters of a football pitch between yourself and the target. And yeah, without any sort of magnification. I bet it looks as tiny as a thumbtack held at arm’s length. Yet somehow, these archers make it look effortless.
Fact 8 - Jennifer Lawrence Was Trained For The Hunger Games Films By Five-Time Olympian Khatuna Lorig
Well, we just had to put this out there. Khatuna Lorig coached Jennifer Lawrence through ‘The Hunger Games” movies, from the basics to her shooting style.
Fact 9 - Archery Is Bhutan’s National Sport
In 1971, archery was declared the Kingdom of Bhutan’s national sport after Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Bhutan is the only country in the world where archery is the official national sport.
Nearly every village in Bhutan has an archery range. Archery is, however, limited to only sports being a Buddhist country.
Fact 10 - Pulling A Robin Hood In Archery
The legendary Robin Hood was renowned for his bow expertise. In an archery competition, if an arrow hits another one that has already landed on the bullseye dead on and then splits it or gets stuck in it, it is referred to as Robin hood.
Now You Know…
You can tell the archery facts on our list span the history, basics, and significance of archery and aren’t run-of-the-mill facts. We know you've had some mind-boggling moments, but we’ll leave you with three bonus facts:
- Based on the discovery of arrowheads in Africa, bows and arrows are believed to have been used for at least 25,000 years.
- Archery is derived from the Latin term “arcus” which means bows and arrows.
- Archers shoot with respect to their dominant eye. Consequently, a right-handed archer may shoot using their left hand and vice versa.