Ready, aim, fire! It’s time to discover the history, origins and traditions of the bow and arrow with these fascinating facts about archery.
As the athletes who train everyday to become the world’s best archers will tell you, it takes a steady hand and impeccable aim to master the bow and arrow.
However, archery is very affordable and accessible to anyone who wants to try it. And it’s a lot safer than you think too.
Yes, shooting a pointed spear at speeds exceeding 100 mph (160 kph) is safer than golf or table tennis or bowling.
But how much do you really know about this elegant, precise, and traditional sport that the Ancient Chinese called a noble art?
These fun facts about archery will run the gamut from ancient artifacts, to English-French battles, to the Mongol Empire – and of course, The Hunger Games.
While many see archery as a sport or hobby in today’s world, the importance of the bow and arrow cannot be overstated. It has been used to hunt large game, wage massive warfare, and entertain people for thousands of years.
It also has an impressive tradition at the Olympics, including being the first sport competed in by women at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis.
We guarantee that after reading this article you’ll want to get out on the range with your bow and arrows and get a little target practice in.
Who knows, maybe you’ll hit the bullseye on your first attempt!
21 Fun Facts About Archery
1. What are the origins of archery?
To start to understand the origins of archery, we have to go back over 70,000 years ago! Sibudu Cave in South Africa is the location where the first stone arrowheads were discovered.
Definite bow and arrow evidence appears from Germany approximately 18,000 years ago. This is a seriously old hobby (a part of life back then!)
2. The strange name reserved for archers
Someone who practices archery is known as a toxophilite. This strange word is derived from the Greek words toxon (bow and arrow) and philos (loving). Other words in the same vein include bibliophile (book loving), cinephile (film loving) and technophile (tech loving).
3. Is archery dangerous?
Logically speaking, shooting sharply pointed arrows through the air seems quite dangerous. However, archery is one of the safest sports out there.
In fact, it was found that archery is three times safer than golf with only one injury recorded per 2,000 participants. This can be attributed to strict safety measures that all archers must follow while shooting a bow and arrow.
4. Archery led the way for women’s inclusion in sport
Here is one of the more interesting archery facts. It was the first sport to allow women to compete in the Olympics.
In fact, at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis the only sport open to women was archery. That year saw 63-year old Eliza Pollack win 3 medals.
5. Is archery considered a sport?
While some would call archery a hobby or pastime, it most certainly is a sport. Competitors at the highest level must have strong cores, arms and shoulders – as well as unparalleled mental focus.
Most of the world’s best archers have been perfecting their craft since a young age.
6. A young archery prodigy
American Denise Parker is the youngest person to ever medal in archery at the Olympic Games. Parker achieved this feat in 1998 when she won the bronze medal in the team event aged just 15.
Parker would also compete at the Olympics in 1992 and 2000. She’s also a 5-time Pan American Games champion. What a resume!
7. What is the Robin Hood shot?
The Robin Hood shot is often considered the toughest in all of archery. The aim of the shot is for you or your opponent to shoot the first arrow and hit the bullseye and then with the second arrow split the first arrow in half. Now this would be an impressive shot to see!
8. China’s 6 noble arts
In Ancient China it was important for students to become experts in these 6 activities: rites, calligraphy, music, chariot racing, mathematics and archery.
Known as the noble arts, these activities were only open to aristocrats and were especially important during the Shang and Zhou dynasties.
9. Archery is for everyone
WIth a low-barrier for entry in terms of skill, cost, and availability, archery is more popular than ever. In fact, over 160 countries have official national federations for archery.
Some countries where archery is extremely popular include South Korea, India, USA and Netherlands. Archery is also the national sport of Bhutan.
10. The lighting of the Olympic torch
Every Olympic cycle the host country finds new ways to light the Olympic torch to signify the opening of the Olympic games.
One of the most memorable torch lightings was the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where archer Antonio Rebello sent a flaming arrow through the air, igniting the Olympic cauldron.
11. The innovative archers of the Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire was one of the most successful empires to use archery in warfare. The Mongols were especially known for advancing the strategy of mounted archery. Or put more simply, archery on horseback. Even today, mounted archery is considered the toughest branch of the sport.
12. The archery GOAT
Howard Hill is often considered the world’s greatest archer. Not only did Hill win 196 competitions in a row, he was also an actor and producer of archery themed films.
Hill was also known for his impressive trick shots. One of his signature tricks was to shoot an apple off someone’s head from a distance of 60 feet (18.3 m).
13. How long have we been competing in archery?
The first tournament for archery was held by the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers in 1483. Archers were tasked to shoot at fake feather-filled birds at various heights to gain points in a competition known as a papingo shoot.
14. An impressive battlefield victory
The English longbowmen were one of the most formidable bow and arrow military units of all time. Most famously, 7,000 longbowmen were able to fend off 30,000 French soldiers in the battle of Agincourt in 1415.
15. Olympic archery facts
South Korea is by far the most successful country to compete in archery at the Olympics. They have won an astonishing 43 medals, including 27 gold. Following behind is the USA with 33 medals and France with 25 medals.
As of today, there are 5 Olympic archery events that include men’s and women’s individual as well as men’s team, women’s team and mixed team.
16. Archery as the king of sport
Henry VII even erected archery targets outside of church so people could keep practicing on Sundays. He also provided each house with a bow and arrow!
17. Girl power
For the Hunger Games film franchise Jennifer Lawrence was trained by 5-time Olympic gold medalist Khatuna Lorig to embody the character of Katniss Everdeen.
The Hunger Games is also credited with introducing archery to a new generation, especially young girls.
18. Celebrity archers
Jennifer Lawrence isn’t the only celebrity to train with a bow and arrow. Jeremy Renner, Hugh Jackman and William Shatner have all learned archery for film and TV roles.
However, the most impressive may be actress Geena Davis. Picking up archery as an activity in her spare time, Davis made it all the way to the semi-finals of the US Olympic qualifying tournament!
19. Indian mythology’s famous archer
In the epic Hindu poem Mahabharata, Arjuna is known as the Great Hunter. Equipped with a magical golden bow named Gandiva and two quivers that never run out of arrows, Arjuna is an unstoppable archer.
Regarded as not only a mythical hunter, Arjuna was also bestowed with supreme knowledge by his mentor Krishna.
20. Archery on film
We’ve already mentioned The Hunger Games, but have you seen any of these other archery related films?
There’s the Pixar standout Brave (2012), the Korean epic War of the Arrows (2011), the vampire action franchise Blade (2000), and the Japanese black and white classic Throne of Blood (1957).
21. The archer in the sky
Archery also has its place in astrology, with Sagittarius being represented by the archer. The constellation is usually depicted with a centaur holding a bow and arrow.
The archer is one of the easiest constellations to find because it resides inside the Milky Way. Check out even more archery facts in our fun facts about Sagittarius article!
We really hope you enjoyed all our fun facts about archery! Did you learn something new?
If there’s any archery facts we missed, you can let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article!