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Countdown to Rio: Summer sports week in review

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History

Since man first created weapons with which to hunt for food and wage war, target competitions have become part of human culture. Just as competitive genetics make people want to run faster, throw longer and jump higher than anyone else, so to do they want to prove their ability to aim more accurately and shoot straighter than anyone else.

Up until the present day, archery has remained a popular sport – a popularity that has increased significantly since it joined the Olympic schedule in 1900.

Olympic History

Archery was a sporadic part of the modern Olympic schedule through the early 1900s, with events in the 1900, 1904, 1908 and 1920 Summer Games. In archery’s early years, competitors were allowed to compete in a more than one event, allowing them to win a multitude of medals. One of the best was Belgian Hubert Van Innis, who won six golds and nine archery medals in total in both team and individual competitions.

After a hiatus of 52 years, archery returned to take a full-time place in the rosta of Summer Games sports in Munich, Germany, in 1972. Team archery for three-strong squads was added to the events list for the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.

Technical

Modern Olympic archery competitions take place outdoors. Competitors shoot 70 metres to a 122cm-diameter target of 10 concentric circles. The largest outer ring is worth just one point, with the score increasing by one point per ring as they get closer to the centre. The smallest ring – the bulls-eye – is just 12cm in diameter and counts for a maximum of 10 points.

A maximum of 64 archers for each of the men’s and women’s competitions are ranked in a pre-tournament session. Each archer shoots six ‘ends’ of 12 arrows each – a total of 72 arrows. The archers’ total score is then used to determine their place in the ranking. In the tournament itself archers or teams compete against each other in head-to-head elimination matches, with the final match eventually deciding who wins the tournament.

equipment

The bow

Modern bows are manufactured from laminated wood, combined with aluminium, carbon fibre, fibreglass, ceramic or foam for the ultimate combination of light weight, strength, elasticity and power. They have a rigid central riser and more flexible limbs, and they can propel the arrows at speeds of 240km/h. The bow string is manufactured from an ultra-strong hydrocarbon product called dyneema. Competitors can use sighting devices, called ‘bowsights’, so long as they don’t contain lenses or magnifying glass, while the bows can also have stabilisers with shock-absorbing weights.

The arrows

The arrows are manufactured around an aluminium or carbon shaft that has a maximum diameter of 9.3mm. The length of the shaft is allowed to change, and matches the draw length of the archer. A metal point at the front of the arrow helps it pierce the target, while plastic flights or ‘fletchings’ at the rear help it to have a controlled flight. At the rear of the shaft is a small cut, or nock, that helps the arrow to be placed on the string. Arrows are colour-coded and tagged with the archer’s name to identify individual competitors.

 

The target

The target is constructed of a face – the surface on which the ‘rings’ are printed – and a buttress back layer in which the arrow lodges. It is mounted on a target stand in such a way that the centre of the target stands exactly 1.3m above the ground. The diameter of the target is 122cm, while each of the 10 concentric circles is 12.2cm wide.

The rest of the archer’s equipment consists of:

  • a quiver in which to carry the arrows;
  • finger tabs to protect the fingers when drawing the bow;
  • an arm guard and chest guard (or bracer) to protect the archer, should the bowstring snap back against the arm or chest as the arrow is released.

rules

Each competition is organised in two rounds: the 70m round and the Olympic round. A total of 128 athletes (64 men and 64 women) may take part.

Ranking round

Each archer simultaneously shoots 72 arrows (12 ends of 6 arrows) for a maximum score of 720. Archers are then seeded according to their final score, with the archer achieving the highest score in the ranking round seeded No.1. In the event of any ties, the numbers of 10s and Xs will be used as tiebreakers.

The ranking-round scores are also used to seed the team competition using the combined score of the three archers.

Olympic round (individual)

Based on the ranking round, the top seed plays the lowest seed, the second highest plays the second lowest and so on.

Archers compete head-to-head using the set-scoring system, which was introduced in 2010 and will make its Olympic debut at the London 2010 Games.

Archers shoot three arrows each (alternately). There is a time limit of 20 seconds per arrow. The archer with the highest score for that ‘end’ of three arrows (a maximum of 30 points) wins a set. Two points are awarded for winning a set, one point for a draw and zero points for a loss.

Matches are best of five sets (the first archer to six points is the winner). If after five sets the scores are tied at 5-5, the match goes to sudden death, where both archers shoot one arrow each (alternately). The arrow closest to the centre wins.

The competition is based on a knockout system, starting with 1/32 eliminations (last 64). Following rounds are as follows: 1/16 eliminations; 1/8 eliminations; quarterfinals; semifinals; bronze-medal match and gold-medal match.

Olympic round (team)

Teams compete head to head, with the top-ranked team playing the lowest-ranked team, the second-ranked team playing the second-lowest, and so on.

Each team shoots 24 arrows (eight per archer) and the team with the highest score wins. If the scores are tied after 24 arrows, each team will shoot three arrows (one per archer) with the highest-scoring team determining the winner. If the scores remain tied, the match will be won by the team with the closest arrow to the centre, with the second and third arrows acting as further tiebreakers if required.

The competition is based on a knockout system, starting with 1/8 eliminations. There are a maximum of 12 teams competing at the London 2012 Games and teams ranked 1–4 have byes in the 1/8 eliminations stage. The following rounds are as follows: quarterfinals; semifinals; bronze-medal match and gold-medal match.

Team HeroesEntire Team

Simon Terry’s two bronze medals at Barcelona 1992 ensured he was the first-ever British archer to win two medals at a Games.

He took a break after Barcelona, spending his time driving a lorry and racing motorbikes before returning...

The oldest and most experienced member of the British archery team in the 2012 Olympics in London, which will be Alison Williamson's sixth straight Olympic appearance, becoming the fourth Brit to do so. While British teammate Simon Terry to...

Larry Godfrey was the only British male to earn selection for Athens 2004, but was joined by two teammates for the second time in a row for London 2012.

An aerospace repair design engineer, Godfrey claimed mixed team bronze with Amy Oli...

Our Results

Total: 9 medals
  • 2 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 5 Bronze
London 1908
  • 2 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Munich 1972
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Montreal 1976
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Moscow 1980
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Los Angeles 1984
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Seoul 1988
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Barcelona 1992
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
Atlanta 1996
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Sydney 2000
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Athens 2004
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Beijing 2008
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
London 2012
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
View More