Archery as a tool for hunting and a form of combat has a history stretching back 10,000 years but it became popular as a competitive activity in Medieval times (if you just had a Robin Hood moment you are not alone).
The sport first appeared in the Olympic Games in 1900 and was contested again in 1904, 1908, and 1920. Women competed in the 1904 Olympics, making archery one of the first sports competitions to include women. It then fell out of favour, but reappeared in 1972 and has remained a fixture of the programme ever since. Archery became a Paralympic sport in 1960.
Olympic Archers shoot at a target with a recurve bow from a distance of 70m. There is an individual women’s and men’s competition, as well as a team competition – teams of three – for men and women. Both are played in knockout rounds, culminating in a gold medal head to head. Olympic Archery takes place at Lord’s Cricket Ground between 27 July and 3 August.
Paralympic Archery is competed in three classes: Standing, Wheelchair 1 and Wheelchair 2, with W2 athletes’ impairments having less of an impact on their ability to compete at Archery than a W1 athlete. There are medal events for the compound bow and recurve bow, both shot from 70m. As with the Olympic contest there are individual events for men and women, and team competitions too. Paralympic Archery takes place at the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich between 30 August and 5 September.
We’ve a strong British field for the Archery Classic, including five-time Olympian Alison Williamson plus Naomi Folkard and Amy Oliver, who is chasing her first appearance at the Olympic Games. The same three men who represented Team GB at the Beijing Olympic Games compete at Lords this week, that’s Simon Terry, Larry Godfrey and Alan Wills. Team GB’s archers did not fare well in Beijing but are determined to bounce back for the home Games. Great Britain is fifth in the all time Olympic Archery medal table.
Our Paralympic archers brought home two golds, a silver and a bronze from Beijing and finished second overall to China. There are 13 spots for Team GB’s Paralympic Archers at London 2012 – watch out for Danielle Brown aiming to retain her gold medal.
Think you’d be a dab hand with a killer aim given a bow and arrow? There’s a list of London Archery Clubs at the County of London Archery Association website. Find out more at Archery GB and the British Wheelchair Archery Association.
Get the Londonist lowdown on all Olympic and Paralympic sports in the lead up to London 2012.