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Archery Information

In the sport of archery, an archer propels arrows using a bow, and attempts to hit on a target kept at a particular distance. Archery requires a superior level of concentration and practice to develop the desired skills. Historically, archery has been practiced for ages. In ancient times, the mankind used to hunt animals using bows and arrows. Later archery became an important weapon of warfare. Today, archery has been established as a competitive sport and has been part of all major athletic events such as the Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. The World Archery Federation (WA) governs the official rules and regulations related to archery. All professional players participating in a competitive event must abide by the rules set by the WA.

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History of Archery
The bow and arrows have been invented in the primitive era. Historical evidences say that people in the later Paleolithic age (about 10,000 - 9000 BCE) started using a bow and arrows for hunting animals. In that era, arrows were 6-8 inches long with a sharp flint point at their one end. Pine wood was used to make arrows, and earlier bows were also made of wood and a strong flexible cord. Archery has been part of almost all civilizations that evolved on the earth. From hunting to warfare, bows and arrows have primarily been used by the mankind in different eras. With the invention of firearms, the bows and arrows lost their charm as a popular fatal weapon. In modern times, bows and arrows have become obsolete, and modern competitive events are the best way to keep this age-old weaponry alive in the mind and psyche of the mankind.

Equipment of Archery
Modern equipment of archery has been designed to offer a great deal of comfort and safety to the archers who take part in competitive sports. Besides the most essential bows and arrows, several types of safety gears have also been designed for the archers.

a) Bows

Bows can have a great variety, in terms of their construction and design. In modern bows, wooden limbs have been replaced by a plastic or fiber material, which has a greater degree of elasticity. The string used to launch arrows is also made of a sophisticated material. However, bows can be classified in two categories which are used today in modern sports. One in which string can be pulled by the archer to launch arrows. And others come with a mechanized way of pulling the string and launching arrows.

Bows can also have different shapes. These include simple straight bows, recurve bows etc. The cross-section of the bow limb may also vary to a great degree. For example, a tall bow with narrow limbs is called the classic bow. On the other hand, D-shape bows usually have a rectangular cross-section.

b) Arrows
A common arrow usually has a shaft and an arrowhead at its front-end. Arrows, however, have donned various shapes across the history, and arrow shafts have been made using solid wood, metals and alloys. Modern arrows, which are used in the competitive sports, are typically made of carbon fiber or composite materials. Arrows made of carbon fiber are lighter and fly very fast. Today, composite materials are used to prepare arrows which are generally used in modern sporting events such as the Olympics.
c) Bow Strings
Modern bow strings are made of high-strength materials. A lot of design ergonomics is considered while choosing the strings for a bow. The weight, flexibility, smoothness etc are the desired factors that determine the selection of the strings.
d) Protective Gear
For ages, archers have been using a range of protective equipment to safeguard themselves, particularly while participating in the warfare. The archers had to protect themselves from their opponent's arrows and weapons and they used to wear various types of protective equipments on their body and arms. But in the modern days, archers participating in an event wear clothes that can prevent them from catching the bow string. Archers also wear bracers that protect the arm from being hit by the string.
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Techniques of Archery
The standard way of shooting arrows through a bow is to hold the bow in one hand and to pull the string from other hand to launch the arrow. Most archers hold the bow in the left hand and use their right hand to pull the string. For a consistent and accurate launching of an arrow, it's essential that the string is drawn smoothly without a jerk. A great degree of dexterity is required to draw and release the string, enabling the arrow to fly with accuracy. An archer needs to have a better concentration capability to focus his eyes on the target and hit it with accuracy. The hand used for holding the bow is called the bow hand while the other hand used for drawing the string is known as the string hand.

Modern Forms of Archery
In professional and modern archery, an archer needs to follow a discipline and has to practice regularly in order to achieve accuracy in hitting the target. He or she at first must have the correct body stance before shooting arrows. His or her body should be almost upright with the feet wide apart for drawing the string of the bow comfortably. An archer can assume several body stances, popularly known as "open stance", "closed stance" or a "neutral stance". However, each archer may have a particular preference when it comes to choosing a stance.

While loading the arrow, the archer points the bow toward the ground, and places the shaft of the arrow on the arrow rest, which is also called the shelf. There is a small locking groove at the end of the arrow, which is called the nock. And thus, loading of the arrow is also called the "nocking the arrow".

Modern Competitive Archery
In competitive archery, archers shoot arrows at a target kept at a certain distance. This is called target archery and is the most common type of archery to be found in most of the competitive events. In many competitive events, particularly common in America and Europe, targets are set at various distances. This type of archery is called field archery, where archers need to hit various targets set in a forest-like setting. Today, competitive archery events are organized for the people with certain forms of disabilities. This type or archery is called Para-Archery. There are also some lesser-known forms of archery, which are being seen in local competitive events which normally reflects the local culture and the ancient civilizations that would have thrived at those places.

Archery in the Olympics
Archery was included in the Summer Olympics for the first time at the Paris Olympics in the year 1900. In the Paris Olympics, archers participated to compete in seven disciplines. However, archery was excluded in the 1912 Olympics and it made its reentry in the 1920 Olympics. At that time there were no fixed international rules for archery and it was again dropped from the Olympics after the 1920 Games. In 1972 Munich Olympics, archery was again included as an individual event. At the 1988 Olympics, the archery team competition was also introduced. Since then, archery has been a regular event of the Summer Olympics.

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