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10 Strange Archery Facts That You Probably Didn’t Know

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Tim Rhodes

We will be discussing the top archery facts in this article.

But what is archery?

Archery is the act of using a bow to shoot arrows.

Nowadays, most commonly at a target in a controlled sports setting; however, some do still use Archery in a hunting environment.

The English word Archery is derived firstly from the French word ‘archier’ and before that the Latin word for bow ‘arcus.’
Popular not only amongst adults, but children can also start from as young as ten years old.

It is becoming the most interesting option for young kids in schools and after school clubs.

Archery has been around for a very long time.

10 Strange Archery Facts That You Probably Didn’t Know

If you have ever thought of trying this fun yet challenging sport, here are some strange and interesting facts you most likely never knew about Archery.

1. History Of Archery In Olympics

Archery was the first sport where women could compete in the Olympics.

The first reports of the Olympic games date back as far as 776BC.

However, women were only first admitted as participants in the early nineteen hundreds.

This was in the 1904 Olympic games held in St. Louis
.
Women were then allowed to compete in swimming in 1912 and then even later in track and field events as late as 1924.

Archery was the head start by a long way for women in the Olympics.

Even ‘Thelma and Lousie’ star Actress Geena Davis at the age of 41, started practicing Archery.

She even made it to the trials in Sydney before the 2000 Olympic games.

“I did it on a whim and became obsessed with it,” said the actress

“I trained and trained and trained like crazy and, 2 1/2 years later, I was a semi-finalist for the Olympic trials.

It was the most out-of-body experience I’ve ever had.”

Archery was removed as a sport from the Olympic games for fifty-two years!

In 1920 it was contested as a sport due to irregularities in the equipment.
Country to country the bows, and arrows had no standard form yet until reintroduced in 1972.

South Korea has won the most gold medals in history at the Olympics.

They hold an impressive twenty-three gold medals for Archery.

Now Archery is the most-watched sport in the Olympics.

2. Archery’s Move Named After Robin Hood

The move is called splitting an arrow, where the arrow is shattered from the nock to the point.

One of the most impressive moves in archery is known as splitting the arrow.

Once a player has hit the target in the center, there is still a remaining chance for the opponent to gain a tie.

If he manages to hit the arrow right in the center and split the arrow the whole way, he can save himself from losing and win a tie.

The first arrow must be made from wood and be hollow or bamboo for this to function effectively.

This move has been effectively proven on the popular TV show Mythbusters.

This has been named after Robin Hood himself, who was said to have performed the same move.

3. Arm Strength Required For Archery

Something frequently misunderstood about archery is that one would need a lot of arm strength to manipulate the bow.

For archery, you need to be flexible, have good posture, and be stable on your feet.

However, the strength comes from the shoulders and back.

The back muscles, the rhomboid, and trapezius pull back the arrow while the arm merely supports the equipment and holds it all in place.

However, you do need to be strong to be a professional archer.

Anyone can pick up a gun and start shooting, but the average man could not pull back a typical war bow as their starting weight is 100lbs, and they go up from there!

An archer needs a lot of endurance strength.

Professional archers keep up their fitness and strength in the gym, practicing on the field, and even doing yoga.

To draw the bow, you must be at least fifty percent stronger than your equipment.

If you do not have more strength than your bow, you are sure to get tired very quickly as you would be using all your strength just to pull it back.

Archers often end up with asymmetries on their bodies due to the repetitive movements on one side.

“We’re strong on both sides, but just in different places.

For example, my left side is larger than my right side because that’s the side I lift the bow with.

But on my right side, my fingers are larger, my forearm is larger, and my lower trap muscle is larger.” said Gibilaro, a 5-5 archer that holds a bow weighing 42 pounds

If you ever meet an experienced archer, you will be sure to find they have a nicely toned and muscular upper back.

4. Archery As A Sport

Archery is one of the safest sports in the world, according to statistics.

It is ranked even above golf; three times more so states the National Safety Council!

Even though the bow and arrow were originally used to attack in warfare and for hunting, they could also easily cause harm in accidents.

Out of 2,000 participants, only one injury gets reported.

According to USA archery, it is safer even than going bowling!

Only ten percent of injuries occur whilst target practicing; the majority take place whilst bowhunting.

According to insurance companies, there is only a 4.4% chance of sustaining an injury.

Bearing in mind, they have to take into account the worst-case scenarios and include those that are not fit enough to take part.

In the youth games of 2004, there were reportedly 82 injuries from Archery and 382 from bowling.

“no one gets shot, no one gets concussions, no one breaks an arm or a leg,” Gibilaro said.

Thanks to that, it is becoming a more and more popular sport in schools.

5. Arrows Typically Do Not Kill The Target Immediately

I know! I was surprised too.

What about all the movies I have seen and the video games where arrows kill the bad guy.

Although the bow and arrow are responsible for the highest number of deaths in history, they rarely cause direct death.

Well, unless they hit the heart or brain directly, they cannot cause immediate death.

Sure they can injure someone badly and can cause considerable damage.

Especially if an arrow hits someone straight in the stomach area, excessive bleeding would occur and would cause a great deal of serious damage.

For the most part, the most likely way to die from an arrow wound would be after the fact from infection or excessive bleeding.

6. British monarch’s Obsession With Archery

It is one of the strangest archery facts.

Throughout history, many British monarchs have banned other sports in favor of Archery.

Those sports, including football, tennis, and an early form of cricket, have all been banned so that people focused more on their archery skills.

Henry the Vll was an avid lover of Archery.

He even ordered ‘butts’ to be erected beside churches so people could practice Archery after church on Sundays.

He also decreed that each household should be equipped with a bow and arrow.

He then went on to pardon those that accidentally injured a passer-by while practicing Archery.

Toxiphilus is the strange name given to lovers of Archery.

It is translated from two Greek words meaning ‘lover of the bow.’

King Henry V was indeed a toxiphilus.

He had 500,000 arrows stored in the Tower of London for the army.

He even had someone appointed to guard the arrows ‘the keeper of the king’s arrows.’

However, this enforced Archery paid off as England won one of its greatest victories in history thanks to its long-bow men.

This was in the 1346 battle of Crecy, where almost 2,000 of the French opponents were killed than the mere 50 men lost by the English army.

7. Medieval Laws Linked To Archery

There remains a law from the middle ages that has never been amended in the city of York, north England.

A person born within the city walls of York can on any day, apart from Sundays, shoot down a Scotsman with an arrow.

The Englishman must be shooting from inside the city walls, and the Scotsman must be outside the city walls.

Current criminal laws would override this, so not to be attempted, please!

The other outstanding law states that an obligatory two hours a week of long-bow practice must be carried out by all English men over the age of fourteen every week.

In the village of Collingbourne, Ducis, in the UK on June 11, 2010, the reverend Mary Edwards called her parish to the village green for archery practice.

Reciting this medieval law that has never been repealed, she called the village together for archery.

She then rewarded them with a BBQ, music, and festivities, all in the name of celebrating a new loo in the church.

“We are celebrating the building of a new loo in the church. After all these years, we have at long last brought running water to the church,” said Mary Edwards.

8. Hunger Games Star Was Trained By Olympic Gold Medalist 

The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence was trained by the American Olympic gold medalist Khatuna Lorig before starring Katniss Everdeen.

Khatuna Lorig is a five-time Olympic champion.

Khatuna Lorig is a target recurve archer that uses a one over/two under hook that goes under the chin to anchor, not as a traditional style field bow user, used to hunt.

Hence there have been some discrepancies over Katniss Everdeen’s technique in the Hunger Games.

Archery USA even wrote a letter to Collins, the author of the Hunger Games.

“When Katniss Everdeen started brandishing her bow and arrows on movie screens across America, our phones began (literally, began) ringing nonstop,” he said in the letter.

9. Archery, Bhutan’s National Sport

The only country in the world whose national sport is Archery, Bhutan.

Although it’s their national sport, they have never once won the Olympic games.

When the Kingdom of Bhutan became part of the United Nations in 1971, they declared Archery their national sport.

Since its first appearance in the Olympics in 1984, Bhutan has only ever competed in one category, Archery.

Bhutan is a Buddhist nation, making it a nonviolent nation, so Archery would never actually be used as a weapon.

10. Archers Still Have To Compete In The Rain

Professional and competing archers still have to shoot in the rain, which seems like madness to me!

Especially when you take into account that not all rain is the same.

Rain can affect your equipment, affect how you take your shot, and affect you.

The droplets of rain will weigh down the arrow.

To avoid it being heavier when you are pulling the bow back, you may have to work faster, said the Japanese archer Hayashi Yuki.

“Rain can be hard or easy. I prefer to shoot fast and don’t take too long as arrows can get heavier with the rain and fall below your aim, rather than to the yellow rings,” she said.

The other major problem is the sight ring.

Small droplets of water can ultimately impair your vision and make the sight hole completely impossible to use.

The other major issue is the archers themselves must be in the rain to take the shot.

Big baggy clothing could get caught up in the bow, so a tight-fitting jacket is the only option.

Golf gear can be the best clothing to wear to do archery in the rain thanks to its tight-fitting nature.

Just imagine – you are in a storm; you are holding a bow constructed of aluminum and wood, which may not be the best material to have on hand.

A Brief History of Archery

Nobody knows exactly when and who created the first bow and arrow as evidence of ancient bows and arrows have been discovered worldwide.

Considered to be one of the oldest known sports, it remains popular.

The bow and arrow have been used as an essential weapon in war and hunting for over 10,000 years.

Let’s look at a little bit of history on the matter.

Archery most probably originated 20,000 years BC, but we only begin to see signs of it in the Upper Paleolithic period, around 10,000 BC.

The oldest excavated arrow stone and bone points found have been discovered in South Africa in a cave called the Sibudu Cave and most likely date to around 64,000 years ago.

The Babylonians are the first to be known for using bows and arrows in the war in 2340 BC.

Whereas the Chinese have the first reports of archery use dating back as far as the Shang Dynasty in 1766-1027 BC

There is evidence of the Egyptians using bows and arrows for hunting and war purposes.

In Stellmoor in Ahrensburg Valley, Germany, in a seasonal settlement, remains of 650 reindeer were discovered alongside arrow shafts made from pine and well preserved.

Each arrow had a shaft and a flint point and, most importantly, a small indentation at the bottom of the shaft, known to archers as a ‘nock’.

The first bow ever found was discovered preserved in the peat of a Danish bog In Holmegard.

Well preserved due to the lack of oxygen, this almost modern looking bow was well sculpted and nearly 10,000 years old.

The self bows found in the swamp belonged to the nomadic hunters from the Maglemosian culture.

The bow and arrow was a trusted war weapon until the Chinese invented gunpowder in the 9th century AD.

By the 16th and 17th centuries, archery had been completely phased out and replaced by guns, at least in Europe.

Archery’s role as a war weapon became something of the past but has remained a recreational activity since then.

There were 3000 participants at the first-ever archery tournament in Finsbury, the UK, in 1583

Archery has appeared in mythology from various cultures and religions across the world.

The most famous archer in mythology and equally well known today is Cupid, the god of love.

If his arrows were to hit you, you would be filled with love and desire for the intended person.

Still a popular image on today’s Valentine’s card, Cupid is society’s most beloved archer.

Kyudo is a version of archery hailing from Japan, and it’s considered an art form, so archery as we know it can be sport, weapon, or art.

Final Thoughts

Archery has been around for a very long time, for as far back as there are records, there is archery.

A magical, majestic sport depicted throughout mythology from the Greeks, Romans to Indian and Chinese in some of the greatest stories, from the Odyssey to Apollo.

Found in paintings depicted on the cavemen’s walls, we know it has been one of the very first ways to hunt and attack an opponent.

Archery’s connection to the past intrigues and inspires many.

For others, it is a great skill that is required, attention to detail, the delicacy of the arrow, and a target so far away.

For others, it is the strength and skill required to lift a heavy bow and pull back on those strings.

For others, the recent movies and TV series have awakened a long lost art form and made it more accessible in today’s world.

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