Updated: Mon, 19 Mar 2012 21:13:56 GMT | By pa.press.net

ARCHERY

Requiring pin-point precision, well-honed technique and nerves of steel, archery is one of the most fascinating sports on the Olympic schedule.


An archery target. (© Press Association)

An archery target.

Archery

Requiring pin-point precision, well-honed technique and nerves of steel, archery is one of the most fascinating sports on the Olympic schedule.

The change in 1992 to introduce head-to-head contests served to give it even more tension and excitement from a spectator perspective, and also helped to attract new and increased television audiences.

While its popularity today owes a lot to the fact that it is part of the Olympic Games, the history of archery as a competitive sport actually goes back hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Archery has roots dating back to the use of a bow and arrow as a weapon for both hunting and war in ancient times, but the compulsion for competition soon saw contests devised to prove the ability to shoot straighter, and more accurately, than a rival.

Some of the earliest recorded tournaments took place during the Zhou dynasty (1027-256 BC) in China, while the sport was also a popular past-time with the English royalty and nobility in the 16th century, with King Henry VIII setting up the first archery club in England in 1537.

Since then, the sport has gained widespread appeal from the stories of the likes of Robin Hood, and archery is practised in more than 140 countries around the world.

Archery was first seen at the Olympic Games at Paris 1900, with women first competing four years later in St Louis, USA. After appearing twice more, in 1908 and 1920, the sport was then dropped from the schedule for more than 50 years before making its return at Munich 1972, with South Korea and the United States being the dominant forces since then.

The team event, for three archers, was introduced to run alongside the individual competition at Seoul 1988.

Competitors use a bow to shoot arrows from a distance of 70 metres, with the aim of hitting a target as close to the centre as possible. They score 10 points for hitting the gold ring in the centre, which measures just 12.2 centimetres in diameter, with the score decreasing towards the outside of the target.

Each competitor has 15 arrows, fired over five 'ends', with the highest total score winning the match.

The format of the Olympic competition sees archers take part in a ranking round to be seeded for the knockout stages of the individual event, with 64 archers taking part in both the men's and women's tournaments.

The team event is structured in a similar way, being contested between the 16 best national squads from the ranking round.

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