Archery is one of the most ancient sports that is still played today. Archery has played a significant role in many battles, including at Crecy (1346) and at Agincourt (1415). Versions of target archery were used as training for archers between battles, and there are records of archery events in the British Isles dating back to 1483. The Royal Toxophilites (f. 1781), Woodmen of Arden (f. 1785) and the Royal Company of Archers (f. 1676) in Scotland survive to this day to illustrate some of the ceremonial and historical activities of the earliest sporting societies.
Within the world of archery, there is great diversity of shooting styles, the seemingly endless variations of equipment and of course the great variety in courses and targets that can be shot. In all of these variations there is one single intent and that is to hit the specific point on the target that you are aiming at.
Of these varieties of archery, target archery is the only form of archery allowed in the Olympic Games and has over a hundred member nations throughout the world. These nations are represented by the Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc (F.I.T.A) which is the international governing body for the sport. Archery was an Olympic event as early as 1900 at the Paris Olympiad. Archery has now been a permanent fixture at the Olympics since 1972 and has been highly commended by the International Olympic Committee for its ability to adapt to the changing face of sport and the media.
Target archery generally consists of archers shooting a fixed number of arrows at a target from a specified distance. That target is circular with 10 concentric rings. The inner most ring of gold scores 10 points, with the outer ring of white scoring 1 point. After an end of arrows, usually 3 or 6, all arrows are scored. The person with the highest score wins, simple!
One of the wonderful aspects of archery is that it provides an opportunity for competitors of different physical abilities to compete. Neroli Fairhall from New Zealand became the first paraplegic competitor at an Olympic Games in 1984, two years after winning Commonwealth gold. Paralympics GB have enjoyed considerable archery success recently, picking up 13 medals across the last five Paralympics. Two of those were golds for Danielle Brown, who in 2013 won the able-bodied British title.
Archery is a simple sport to get into. In terms of equipment, all you need is a bow, arrows and a target which can be bought at Decathlon UK and there are over 1000 registered target archery clubs in the U.K.Therefore there is most likely one near you, most of them registered with the Grand National Archery Society (GNAS).