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archery, sport of shooting with bow and arrow, an important military and hunting skill before the introduction of gunpowder. England's Charles II fostered archery as sport, establishing in 1673 the world's oldest continuous archery tournament, the Ancient Scorton Arrow Contest. Clubs mushroomed throughout Europe from the late 17th cent. A revived interest in the United States led to the formation of the National Archery Association in 1879. Though field archery (using bows without sights), flight shooting (for distance), and crossbow are competitive sports, the primary international contests involve target shooting, the object of which is to score points with a specified number of arrows aimed at the target's center—a “pinhole” dot surrounded by nine concentric colored circles. The value of hits decreases from the pinhole to the outermost circle. Although archery competitions were occasional Olympic events until 1920, they took an official place on the program only in 1972. The Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc (FITA; est. 1930) governs international competition. In recent decades, the bow and arrow has also regained popularity as a hunting weapon.


See F. Bear, The Archer's Bible (rev ed. 1980).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) Until the widespread use of firearms, the principal method used to hit a target at a distance in hunting and war.

(2) One of the oldest forms of shooting for sport. A modern sports bow consists of the shaft and a bowstring. The shaft is made up of two wooden limbs reinforced with fiberglass and a wooden or metal handle equipped with a movable sight, a rest for supporting the arrow, and not more than four stabilizers. The string is made of strong synthetic filaments 3 mm in diameter. Bows average 1,580–1,770 mm in length. The force of the bow corresponding to the maximum allowable effort needed to draw the string is 14–23 newtons (14–23 kilograms-force); this range covers the three sizes established by the International Archery Federation. Special alloys of Duralumin and plastics are used for arrows—shaft, tip (head), and fletching. Arrows are 600–800 mm long and 6.4–8.0 mm in diameter. Bows weigh 1.5–1.6 kg; arrows weigh 15–32.5 g.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the art or sport of shooting with bows and arrows
2. archers or their weapons collectively
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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