A Complete Guide to Archery


What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of archery? The Hunger Games? The popular Disney movie Brave, or the highly regarded Hindu deity Shiva aiming at the sky’s with his bow and arrow? Whatever the thought may be, the one thing that cannot be contested is the fact that archery is as old as mankind itself and has been a recreational activity and a professional sport for aeons!


In a nutshell

Archery has been an ancient sport since the time civilization started. Initially, the act of shooting arrows was primarily for the purpose of war or hunting, but archery has over a large period of time become a sport that requires enormous skill, great mental strength and the ability to focus well.

The sport has many international championships including the Commonwealth Games and Olympics, and even though archery has had its ups and downs in the Indian context, it is still regarded as one of the primary sports in the country. Some of the well known archers in India include Deepika Kumari, Limba Ram, Jayanta Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Dola Banerjee.


What is Archery?

Archery is an age old sport that is a simple yet highly skilled act of propelling arrows with the help of a bow. As an official sport, archery was first introduced in the 1900 Summer Olympic Games, and within the Indian sports framework, the Archery Association Of India has been solely responsible for conducting all national as well as international level tournaments within the country and beyond.


A Brief Overview And History Of The Sport

archery history

  • Historically, archery was used for hunting or combat, and the earliest traces can be found in the Paleolithic and Mesolithic period. It was not till the late 18th century that archery was first taken into consideration as a professional sport.
  • The sport experienced immense revival in the 1840’s where various attempts were made at converting it from a form of recreation to a full-fledged modern sport.
  • In 1844, the first Grand National Archery Society meeting was held in New York and standardized rules were put in place under the ‘York Round’ series which were comprised of 60, 80 and 100 yards.
  • Horace A. Ford, who was one of the greatest archers of his time, was responsible for improving and upgrading the sport’s standards in America, and he also introduced new and innovative techniques that were later imbibed by many other countries the world over. Ford won the Grand National 11 times in a row and went on to publish a highly influential guide for the sport in the year 1856.
  • Archery experienced a significant decline towards the end of the 19th century, and there were only 50 archery clubs in Britain that upheld the sport’s legacy.
  • In the US, primitive archery was revived in the early 20th century, and Saxton Pope who was known for his skills in bow hunting popularized archery to a great extent.
  • In India, archery has been prevalent since the Vedic age, and there are several mythological facts that revolve around this sport. Deities such as Eklavya, Karna, Drona, and Shiva have been associated with archery, as they used this technique to hunt or battle. In fact, the bow and arrow made up the classical warfare weapon in India, and till the advent of the Mughal rulers, archery was an essential martial skill.
  • Indian archery took the form of an official sport in the year 1970, and a formally organized association known as the Archery Association Of India came into existence on August 8th 1973. The main objective of this association was to encourage and promote the sport on a national as well as an international level, and also to provide novice archers with training facilities.
  • The first national meet conducted by the Archery Association Of India took place in Delhi, in the year 1973, in which 50 archers participated.
  • By mid 80’s, there were several promising and talented archers who dominated the archery scene in India, and that included Smt. Krishna Ghatak, Limba Ram, Shyam Lal, and Lalrem Sanga Changte.
  • India first entered an archery team at the Summer Olympic Games in 1988 at Seoul Summer Games.
  • India’s best performances as a group was at the Barcelona Olympic games in 1992 where Limba Ram won ranking among top 6 archers in the world.
  • Since its inception, the Archery Association Of India is affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association, International Archery Federation and the Asian Archery Federation which has 27 State Archery Associations and 6 other Para-Military Forces amongst other voluntary organizations.


The Rules and Basic Requirements For Archery

archery rules

  • The main objective of archery is to shoot arrows as close as possible to the centre of the target. On competitive levels, the target distance is usually 70 meters, and ranking rounds are included where the overall score determines the athlete’s ranking.
  • As a standard rule, the archers are not supposed to use any added equipment besides the basics, in which case it is considered unfair to the opponent.
  • The maximum time granted in order to shoot an end of three arrows is two minutes, and four minutes for an end of six arrows.
  • Athletes are not allowed to raise the bow arm until the start signal is given, and penalties can be given if the archer draws the bow after the official practice has been closed.
  • An archer cannot re-shoot the arrow under any circumstance except for one single case, in which the archer falls over or the target blows. Additional time is given to the archer in this scenario.
  • If an arrow hangs or rebounds from the target, it is still considered as a point. Arrows that stick in the nock of another shall score the same as the arrow in which they are embedded.
  • Archers can be disqualified, or have their points taken off from the competition based on the severity of the offense or on breaching of rules.
  • If the equipment is damaged, then appeals can be made to the judge for the equipment to be replaced.
  • The scoring process in archery is quite simple, where points are added up based on where the arrow hits the target board. The highest score for a single arrow is 10 points, which is in case the player manages to hit the inner gold ring. The least scoring point is 1, and this is in case the player misses the target altogether or does not score anywhere near the center point.
  • In Olympic tournaments, athletes are required to shoot 72 arrows in 12 different phases or intervals. The cumulative score is taken into consideration in this case. The players also go into a head to head knockout competition where they need to score one more point than their opponent in order to win.
  • Tournaments differ in format, where the number of arrows used and target distances vary.
  • In an archery competition, the winner is either the player who scores the maximum or the one who is able to knockout the opponent in a head to head contest.
  • In case there is a tie, the archer with the highest number of 10’s is declared the winner.


Additional Facts

about archery

  • The bow which is used in archery consists of a handle, riser, and two flexible limbs that end in a tip with a string nock.
  • The bowstring can consist of an unlimited number of strings as long as they fit the bow along with an adjustable arrow rest and a bow sight.
  • There is no standard type for the arrows that are used, as long as they do not cause any damage to the target board. The maximum diameter of the arrow shaft should not exceed 9.3mm and the diameter of the tips should not exceed 9.4mm.
  • The arrows should be marked with the archer’s name or his or her initials.
  • Several archers use chest protectors, arm guards, and accessories that provide comfort and ease while shooting. These accessories, however, should not in any way give the archer an added advantage while playing.
  • The target can vary in size; however those that are used in Olympic archery events measure 122 cm in diameter. All target boards contain 10 concentric rings which are a representation of the different scoring sectors.
  • The outermost rings are usually colored white, three and four are colored black, five and six are colored blue, seven and eight are colored red, and the innermost ones, which are 9 and 10 are in gold. The number 10 ring also has an additional ring inside which is known as ring ‘X’, and this is sometimes used to make a decision during a tie breaking round.


Who Are The Governing Bodies For Archery?

The Archery Association Of India (AAI) is the national governing body of India, and is headquartered in New Delhi. It is affiliated with the IAF, which is also known as the International Archery Federation, and is recognized by the Ministry Of Youth Affairs and Sports in India.

The AAI was first established on 8th August 1973, and was reintroduced to the Olympic Games in 1972. The sole responsibility of this association is to systematize, sponsor and control the sport of archery in India on a national as well as an international level.


Important Championships

On An International Level

World Archery Championship – This event is comprised of a series of competitions that take place with several countries as the participants. The first World Archery Championship was held in 1931 in Ukraine, and thereafter this event takes place every year. In 2015, India won 4 silver medals.

Commonwealth Games Archery has been a Commonwealth Games sport since 1982, but has only been featured twice; one in the 1982 Commonwealth Games and one in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In the 2010 games, India won 3 Gold medals along with 1 Silver and 4 Bronze.

Summer Olympics – Archery had its debut in the 1900 Summer Olympics, and has been contested in 14 Olympiads. Till 2015, France is the one country that has been featured the most in these games, although the Korean women’s archery team has been the most dominating one when it comes to winning contests.

In Rio 2016, Hubert Van Innis, Julien Brule and Louis van de Perck in men’s ategory and Soo-Nyung Kim, Sung-Hyun Park and Mi-Jin Yun in women’s category marked an outstanding performance and became the champions of the league.

Archery World Cup – This competition first started in 2006, and was organized by the World Archery Federation. The archers compete in four different stages and from four different countries, and the top 8 archers advance to an additional stage where they contest against each other for the final World Cup round. Till 2015, India has won 14 Gold, 27 Silver, and 17 Bronze.

Asian Archery Grand Prix – The first event was organized in 2014, and this was primarily to encourage the sport and spread its popularity in Asian countries including India, China, and Japan. In the 2014 games which were held in Bangkok, India bagged 2 Gold and 1 Silver medal.

On A National Level

National Ranking Archery Tournament – This tournament, which is sponsored every year by TATA steel, was first started with the prime objective of preparing the national level archers in such a way that they could compete with more dexterity on international levels. The first NRAT event was held in February of 2013, and since then the best archers in India compete on an annual basis and hone their skills with competitive rounds and contests. Some of the top scorers include Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee, Deepika Kumari and Bombyala Devi.


Famous Archers

deepika kumari indian archer

Deepika Kumari – One of India’s brightest and youngest archers, Deepika kumari has won many medals including the Gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and also qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Till 2015, Deepika has sustained the World rank number 5 in archery, and has received the prestigious Arjuna award for her significant victory and contribution in sports. In February 2014, Deepika was honoured with the FICCI Sportsperson award for the year, and the Indian government also privileged her with the civilian honor of the Padma Shri award in 2016. Her professional journey with archery began in the year 2006, and in the last several years she has become an inspiration for many women and young novice archers across India and beyond.

Limba Ram – One of India’s most popular archers, Liba Ram represented India in various international tournaments and events, including three Olympic games. He was awarded the Arjuna award in 1991, and the Padma Shri award in the year 2012 for his outstanding contribution to the sport. In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Limba Ram missed the Bronze medal by one point in a 70 meter segment, and finished with the 10th rank. In 1995, he stood with the second rank as the Indian team won the Gold medal at the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi.

Jayanta Talukdar – When we make a list of some of the most outstanding archers in India, Jayanta Talkudar’s name definitely figures in the top 3. He was India’s first Archery World Cup winner in the year 2006, and thereafter his career has been nothing short of fabulous in the world of archery. Jayanta Talukdar also won the silver medal at the 2004 World Junior Championship and in 2009 he was ranked as number 1 according to world rankings in the field of archery. He has received the Arjuna award besides various other accolades.

Tarundeep Rai – One of India’s most distinguished archers, Tarundeep Rai made his debut with archery at the age of 19, and has grown to become one of the leading athletes in this sport. Tarundeep was the first Indian to win an individual men’s silver medal in archery at the 16th Asian Games held in China in the year 2010. He was also a member of the Indian men’s recurve team at the 2012 London Olympics, and was placed 31st in the men’s individual ranking.

Dola Banerjee – Adding pride and glory to archery in India, Dola Banerjee has set high standards for all major athletes in this field. Dola Banerjee is India’s first ever international level women’s archer, and has won the gold medal at the 2007 World Cup, making her the second Indian to have accomplished such a victory. The bright archer hails from Kolkata and has been awarded various medals over the years that span her career. She became world champion in archery when she won the gold medal in the women’s recurve title of the fourth leg of the Meteksan World Cup archery in England in the year 2007.

All in all, there is definitely something regal about archery and the whole act of shooting arrows while aiming at the target board is an adrenalin rush that cannot be matched.

If you know some interesting facts about archery or have a question about this sport, then do feel free to ask us in the comment section below! At YoGems, we have experts who can counsel you on archery and provide you with trainers and instructors who can guide you in this sport.



Varsha Singh is associated with Yoachievers as a Content Writer.