25 Archery Facts That Hit The Bullseye

Posted by , Updated on February 14, 2024

Archery has been one of the most important inventions in history. Though today it is practiced primarily as a sport, archery formed nations (and destroyed some others). Once it was adapted to warfare, generals and kings demanded their citizens be trained at archery to be ready at a moment’s notice if other armies invaded. Once their archers took to horseback, they became lethal weapons which made invading armies think twice.

Archery has seen a recent revival across the world, including in pop culture through expert sharpshooter Katniss Everdeen (on our list) from The Hunger Games. It continues to be a fixture at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In fact, the 1992 Olympic torch was lit by a flaming arrow fired from a Paralympic archer. The archery facts on this list aren’t your run of the mill facts – they span the history, culture, and significance of archery – from thousands of years ago to this very decade. Archery has significantly shaped our world – physically via warfare and hunting and allegorically via legends of famous sharpshooters such as the Greek god Artemis and do-gooder Robin Hood. Set your sights on this list of 25 Archery Facts That Hit The Bullseye.


A strong Paralympic history

man-in-wheelchair-shooting-archerySource: Team USA, Image: Wikimedia

The first official Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960. Eight sports debuted, including archery. Though the sport began for veterans with World War II spinal cord injuries, it has opened up over time to include all athletes. (Other sports at the first games included wheelchair fencing and table tennis.)


National sport

Bhutan_archerySource: History of Archery, Image: Wikipedia

Archery is the national sport of Bhutan, a mountainous Himalayan country just north of India. Almost every village has an archery range, but, since it’s a Buddhist country, archery is only for sport.


Pulling a "Robin Hood"

robin hood comic bookSource: Soft Schools, Image: Wikipedia

Famous do-gooder Robin Hood was reputed to be an expert at the bow. Legends of the bowman have become so popular that splitting an arrow with another is now referred to as a Robin Hood.


Archery in astrology

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Sagittarius_and_Corona_Australis,_Microscopium,_and_TelescopiumSource: History of Archery, Image: Wikipedia

The astrological sign Sagittarius is named after its constellation of the same name (not to be confused with the constellation Sagitta, “the arrow”). This Zodiac sign is depicted as a centaur pulling back on a bow, ready to fire its arrow.


Archery's history

Mongol_soldiers_by_Rashid_al-Din_1305Source: Team USA, Image: Wikipedia

Archery began in Ancient Babylon and Egypt as a hunting tactic but was soon adopted in warfare. Once it spread to Asia and the Middle East, its purpose broadened into sport.


Mounted archery

Hungarian_horse_archersSource: History of Archery, Image: Wikipedia

Mounted archery – the use of bows and arrows while atop a mount such as a horse – gained prominence during the Iron Age. It was a much more efficient killing method than the chariots used during the Bronze Age.


Archery gets an upshot

army man shooting archerySource: Encyclopedia, Image: armymedicine via Flickr

It took centuries for archery to advance beyond its basic roots. In the early 20th century, a group of scientists and engineers used high-speed photography to analyze different bow and arrow designs. The culmination was the 1947 book “Archery: The Technical Side” which led to new innovations such as fiberglass bows and making the bow grip more like a pistol handle.


Landing on the line

archery targetSource: Team USA, Image: Pixabay

When an arrow hits the line between two circles, points are awarded for the higher score. This situation is called a line breaker.



Kyudo_or_the_way_of_archerySource: Foresters Friendly Society, Image: Wikipedia

A toxophilite is the name for an archer, coming from the Greek words for “lover of the bow”. Toxophily is the study of archery and Toxophilus was the first book written on archery, in 1545 by Roger Ascham.


Hitting the bullseye

beer coasterSource: Foresters Friendly Society, Image: Pixabay

Though archery may look easy to the uninitiated, scoring within the central gold ring is the equivalent to hitting a beer coaster – seven bus lengths away.


Archery in mythology

apollo and artemisSource: History of Archery, Image: Wikipedia

Archery has long been featured in the mythology of many cultures, from the gods Artemis and Apollo for the Greeks to Osoosi for the West African Yorubas to Arjuna and Shiva for the Hindus.


The first Olympic archery targets

Rock Pigeon side viewSource: Business2Community, Image: Wikimedia

Archers participating in the 1900 Olympic Games used live pigeons as targets.


Women in the Olympics

3D_Archery_EC_Voral_2008Source: History of Archery, Image: Wikimedia

Archery was the first Olympic sport in which women were allowed to compete. Eliza Pollack, a one-time gold and two-time bronze medalist in archery, is the oldest female Olympic medalist, having won in 1904 when she was 63 years old.


A sacred sport

Tahitian_Ancient_Costumes_and_Weapons_(1898)Source: Soft Schools, Image: Wikimedia

Archery was revered so highly in Ancient Tahiti that it was considered a sacred sport; only high-ranking Tahitians were allowed to play.


Which hand archers shoot with

shooting archery bow close upSource: Soft Schools, Image: Wikipedia

Archers shoot with their dominant eye, not their dominant hand. Thus, even if an archer is right-handed, he/she may shoot with their left-hand.


The Six Noble Arts

Chinese_ArcherSource: Chinese Archery, by Stephen Selby, Image: Wikipedia

Archery was one of the Ancient Chinese’s Six Noble Arts: the basis of education which also included mathematics, music, and charioteering. Men who perfected the six arts were known as a junzi: “a perfect gentleman”. Over the past few years, archery has experienced renewed popularity in China.


The banning of archery

The_Fair_Toxophilites_William_Powell_Frith_RAMMSource: History of Archery & Foresters Friendly Society, Image: Wikimedia

Legend has it that King James II banned the sport of golf in Scotland in 1457. Why? He thought men were wasting time playing golf when they could instead be practicing their archery skills. Over a century before, King Henry VIII decreed all men had to practice their archery skills after Sunday church service.


3D Archery

3D_target_badger_with_arrowsSource: History of Archery, Image: Wikimedia

With the rise of guns, the use of bows and arrows has declined in hunting. A new field of archery, 3D archery, forgoes the old weapons and has hunters fire at life-sized animal models.


Ski Archery

Jeremy_Teela_2002_OlympicsSource: History of Archery, Image: Wikipedia

If 3D archery wasn’t cool enough on our list of awesomely accurate archery facts, have you heard of ski archery? While skiing cross-country, archers shoot at targets along the trail while slaloming.


Modern-day advancements

Flight_compound_UK_Champs_2007Source: Encyclopedia, Image: Wikipedia

Modern-day archery has become quite advanced. Nowadays, archers can choose from electronic sights which help them hone in on a target, stabilizers which dampen user movement while shooting, and compound bows where the string’s tension is achieved through a system of pulleys.


Marking arrows

bunch of arrowsSource: Foresters Friendly Society, Image: Pixabay

Most archery competitions require a sharpshooter to carve or engrave their name into their arrows.


Skilled bowmen

Battle_of_crecy_froissartSource: Foresters Friendly Society, Image: Wikipedia

A long bowman in the Middle Ages could fire an arrow every five-to-six seconds. That’s a rate of up to 12 arrows per minute! This skill helped England trounce the French at the Battle of Crecy (1346) where 2,000 French soldiers were killed compared to 50 Englishmen. It seems the kings’ insistence on archery really took off.


The French make up for their losses

Crecy_village_signSource: Express, Image: Wikipedia

The French blame their defeat at the Battle of Crecy on leaving their crossbows out in the rain. They’ve since learned their lesson and are now the country which has competed the most times in Olympic archery.


Katniss Everdeen's skills with a bow & arrow

katniss everdeenSource: Foresters Friendly Society, Image: prayitnophotography via Flickr

Katniss Everdeen, the sharpshooting archer in The Hunger Games, was taught by five-time U.S. Olympic archery champion Khatuna Lorig.


Lighting the Olympic torch with a flaming arrow

The_Olympic_Cauldron_in_VancouverSource: History of Archery, Image: Wikipedia

Antonio Rebollo, a Spanish Paralympic archer, lit the Olympic flame at the 1992 Olympics Games in Barcelona by firing a flaming arrow into the cauldron.