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Archery History

From a survival tool to sport | The beginning of competitive archery

From a survival tool to sport The beginning of competitive archery

The bow as a tool for hunting or war has accompanied humanity from its first moments. But when did archery become competitive shooting for fun rather than survival?
It all started in 1545 in London when Roger Ashham published his book Toxopolis, the first book in English about longbow arches dedicated to King Henry VIII.


The book rekindled the British interest in archery, this time not as a weapon of war for the common soldier and poor citizen, but as a prestigious sport in which only members of the aristocracy took part.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries the rifle became the weapon of the common man and archery became a noble sport and archery societies began to pop up all over England among the aristocracy and served as social clubs and archery clubs. As a result of this, customs developed in the associations such as a pot where each archer puts money and the archer who hits the most “stamps” in training takes the whole pot for himself.
For those of you who are familiar with the rules for holding modern competitions here in Israel, the modern requirement to maintain a refreshment and coffee corner as a necessary part of holding a competition was not foreign to the clubs of the past where there were rules such as “lunch will be served at exactly 4 o’clock”.

The first archery competition was held in Finsbury, England in 1584 and included 3000 archers. The competitions of that time were held in the territories of wealthy lords who supported the sport. The societies were so rich that the prizes that were awarded were golden arrows, expensive jewelry or prestigious equipment for hunting. In one of the associations called “Lovers of the Royal Arch” once a year the Queen would come and present prestigious awards herself. It was only in 1727 that it was decided to allow women to participate in bows, which for some reason was forbidden until that year. In 1840 George Hansard published his book “The Book of Archery” which was the first written union of all knowledge up to that time on archery, and gave another boost to this sport and strengthened its popularity.

Archery began its process of becoming an Olympic sport in the first modern Olympics in 1900 but was kicked out about 20 years later due to the lack of internationally agreed archery competition legislation. To meet this shortage in 1930 the organization FITA (since 2011 known as world archery) was established which came to produce an international Olympic standard and acceptable shooting categories. In addition, the organization wrote and maintained the Olympic records over the years.

Archery broke into the Olympic arena again in 1972 in a format called FITA by the organization of course. The format consisted of shooting 144 arrows which were divided into 4 rounds of 36 arrows for 4 different distances: 90, 70, 50 and 30. The highest final score was the winner of the competition. The only problem with this format is the fact that such a competition is insanely boring to the average viewer and as a result the New Olympic Round was invented. The NOR consists of two rounds of rating shooting (60 darts in winter and 72 in summer) followed by head-to-head shooting until there is only one winner left.

And now we have reached the era of modern competitive archery and in this form competitions are held in Israel and around the world nowadays.



The “Archery Center IL” in Beit Lehem of Galilee develops the field of archery in Israel beyond the world of sports & the fields of education, culture & social development.

Telephone / WhatsApp | (+972) 0544407113

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