An activity associated with hunting and warfare dating back to the early years of civilisation, Archery became popular as a sport in the 16th and 17th centuries, when tournaments were held in England. In Olympic Games terms, it made its debut in 1900 at the Paris Games.
Women started to participate in the sport at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, USA, making archery one of the first Olympic sports to include women. The sport was part of the Olympic programme in 1908 (London) and 1920 (Antwerp, Belgium), but subsequently, it was excluded. Archery only returned to the Olympic programme at the 1972 Games in Munich, Germany. Long before this, in 1931, the World Archery Federation was established.
Two types of bows are used in archery. The recurve bow, the only type permitted in Olympic competitions, is made up of layers of materials, a grip and a string. In comparison, compound bows possess a leveraging system capable of achieving greater power with less effort. These are more readily used in hunting.
Olympic archery is practiced individually and in teams of three. The aim is simple: to get the arrows as close as possible to the centre of the target, which is placed at a distance of 70 metres, and has a diameter of 1.22 metres. In effect, whichever person or team gets the highest number of arrows closest to the centre of the target wins.
When they are fired, arrows can reach speeds of more than 240 kilometres per hour. It will be no surprise to hear that archers need to have strong shoulders, flexible muscules, precise movements, a steady aim and, above all, a cool temperament.