When we see athletes participating in athletics, swimming, or soccer at the Olympic games, the sports feel instantly familiar. Other sports – such as Archery – are largely a mystery to most people. Archery began as a necessity for hunting, but the modern sport has come a long way from those beginnings. The International Olympic Committee call it a prestigious sport that values strong focus and technical precision, archery requires absolute concentration to perform at the highest level.

The term “archery” comes from the Latin “arcus”, meaning bow. The simplest definition of archery is the act of using bows and arrows, and it is believed to have been invented roughly 12,000 years ago. Whilst the hunters of the middle-ages built their own bows and arrows from the wood they could find on the land, modern archery uses a variety of equipment and multiple disciplines. 

Getting to know a sport is the best way to improve your odds when participating in sports betting, so stick around and we’ll investigate what it takes to make it as an Archer at the Olympic Games.

Target Archery

The most well-known form of modern archery is Target Archery, and it is the discipline that is used at both the Olympic Games and the World Archery Championships. Target archery requires archer to shoot at a stationary circular target from a set distance and is the basis for calculating the world rankings of the sport. For a recurve bow (see below) the regulation distance is an enormous 70 meters, whilst compound archers will usually shoot at a distance of 50 meters in a standard competition.

The target has five colored rings with 10 scoring zones presented in red, blue, black, white, and gold rings. The innermost golden rings score nine and 10 points, red rings score seven and eight, blue rings score five and six, black rings score three and four, and finally the outermost white rings are worth either one or two points. At a distance of 70 meters, most people will struggle to hit the target at all without significant practice and training with their bow.

Others Forms of Archery

Two other common archery disciplines are field archery and indoor archery, however neither of these are contested at the Olympic Games. Instead, the Indoor Archery World Series and World Archery Field Championships are held every one or two years, each of which has their own league tables and rankings.

Indoor archery is similar to target archery, but the regulation distance is much smaller at 18 meters, as you might expect for a sport that is played indoors. 

Field archery is a little more complicated; circular targets are still used, however each archer is required to shoot at several different targets of various sizes to score points. These targets are positioned at different angles, heights, and distances, testing an archers’ skills to the absolute maximum.


There are three common types of bow used in modern archery – recurve, compound, and barebow. The recurve bow is the only one of the three that is used at the Olympic Games. A recurve archer pulls the string towards their face with their fingers and then aims at their target through a sight. An additional sight pin is used to help the archer position their arrow before shooting, and different rod sizes are permitted which can help in windy conditions. The archer will wear basic protective gear such as finger tabs and arm-guards to ensure they are protected from the bowstring. 

A compound bow looks similar to a modern recurve bow but uses a pulley system rather than having the ends of the bowstring wrapped around the bow. This makes compound archery less physical and allows the archer to put more power into their shots at a greater accuracy. 

The barebow is a much more primitive form of bow that is rarely used in modern sporting archery. No additional equipment is permitted in a barebow archery event, so participants have to be extremely well practiced to compete.