Tom Nicoletti – Chairman
Archery as a game has many facets surrounding the basic action of releasing an arrow from a bow to hit a target. Whether one or more archers are involved, there are almost limitless variations in utilizing the bow and arrow from simple plinking to formal competition up to and including the Olympic Games. Basically, there are two divisions in competitive archery—target and field. Target competition centers around specific distances, usually from 20 to 90 meters or yards, with target faces of various sizes and concentric scoring rings marked off in centimeters. An exception utilizes paper simulations of animals.
A game in archery is called a “round”. Examples in target archery are the 600 Round and the 900 Round, named for potential perfect scores. In field shooting, there is the Field Round, the Hunters’ Round and the Animal Round, named for the type of target. Up to four archers may shoot at the same target in a given round, each using his/her own distinguishable arrows. An “end” constitutes the number of arrows shot in succession before a score is recorded and the arrows are pulled. In target shooting, an “end” may be from three to six arrows depending upon the size target and the distance involved.
One archery game that is growing in popularity is a spin-off of the rifle and handgun game “silhouette”. In archery silhouette, however, foam plastic targets replace the metallic version used with firearms.
The silhouette target shapes are the same as those used in the original game – chicken, pig, turkey and ram – but the actual contest has an additional challenge that makes it even more attractive to avid archers. Targets are placed at various distances in groups of three. The first target in each group is positioned at a known distance, from 25 meters for the chicken, out to 70 meters for the ram. The remaining two targets in each group may be staggered at varying distances up to, but not beyond, the next set, forcing the shooter to estimate the distance to the target. To score a hit, a target must be completely toppled.
While this game is ideal for the bowhunter armed with a high tech compound bow, the barebow archer is equally equipped to handle the course of fire, since much of silhouette shooting draws on instinct shooting for properly gauging distances.
In some archery silhouette events, an added challenge is a timed match, whereby the shooter may have just two minutes to get off 36 arrows. This type game all but eliminates the use of fancy or sophisticated sighting devices.
Most shooters use a bow with a draw weight of at least 40 pounds and draw weights in excess of 70 pounds, capable of dropping the ram target at 75 yards are not uncommon.
There are other popular games such as the Clout, wherein arrows are lobbed long distances (150 yards and more) at a single target. The Wand shoot, wherein a thin vertical stick of wood or reed serves as a target, is a carryover from ancient times.
Both the National Archery Association (NAA) and Field Archery Association (FAA) shoot similar games. The former, however, is more closely concerned with excellence on the target line and as such is the sponsoring organization for Olympic Shooting in the United States. National Field Archery Association activities are oriented primarily to the hunting scene, with targets simulating actual field shooting situations.
The NAA, in addition to its role as Olympic governing body, also implements a youth archery training program, Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD), which exposes thousands to the sport.
Internationally, Federation Internationale de Tir A L’arc (FITA) sets the rules for target archery for member nations, including the United States; The World Archery Center teaches various levels of learners and instructors from many nations.
There is a variety of archery equipment available today from ancient wooden bows and arrows to sophisticated compound bows and carbon-graphite arrows. While some archers have returned to primitive equipment for aesthetic reasons, most archers take advantage of technical advances in equipment.
This includes the latest in compound bows in various limb configurations and components of epoxies, carbon and graphite. Steel cables are affixed in various ways over eccentric wheels to permit easy holding at full draw. Better string material, sighting aids, draw stops, vibration dampeners, overdraws, arrow rests and stabilizers are some of the improvements added to the bow to make it more effective for those who can utilize their advantages. Arrows are available in wood, plastic, aluminum alloys and carbon-graphites. Fletching, the guidance system, comes in feathers or plastic vanes. The points of the arrow have evolved from the famous flint arrowheads of the Indians to the modern screw-on replaceable heads used today.
Since archers are joined to their inanimate equipment by muscle, selection of a bow is necessarily a personal choice that may change with need, physical development and practice. There is no one “best” combination to fit all archers.
In NAA events, most any bow (other than compound) may be used providing it subscribes to the accepted principle and meaning of the word bow as used in target archery; e.g., an instrument consisting of a handle riser and two flexible limbs each ending in a tip with a string nock. The bow is braced for use between the nocks only and in operation is held in one hand by its handle, while the fingers of the other hand draw, hold back and release the string.
Arrow rests and an aiming aid such as a bowsight or bowmark, are permitted as long as they are not electronic or use a lens or prism for magnification. Stabilizers are also allowed.
In standard FAA events, equipment is divided into four categories: barebow, freestyle, competitive bowhunter and competitive freestyle bowhunter.
Barebow: No sights or sight-marking devices of any kind or mechanical release devices.
Freestyle: Practically any sighting or release device, stabilizer or arrow rest is allowed.
Bowhunter: Must conform to many of the same rules that apply to Barebow, except may add a quiver to the bow and may shoot broadheads.
Bowhunter Freestyle: Probably the most popular category, archers may use sighting devices and stabilizers, but no mechanical release.
The only discovered proof of archery’s origin comes from the stone shelters of Spain where paintings of archers date back to the Mesolithic Period of some 10,000 years ago.
Evidence of archers (from the Latin arcarius) is prominent throughout the Old Testament and was the chief means of hunting and battle until the development of gunpowder. It was refined to a high degree in Asia and had much to do with the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. The first use of gunpowder to fire a hand-held weapon was 1326—to propel an arrow.
Made famous by the English in war and in legend, the longbow came to America and replaced the weak Indian bows found here by archery devotees. It remained the favorite for the then primarily target sport which was furthered by inception of National Archery Association at Crawfordsville, Indiana, January 23, 1879. The National Field Archery Association was founded in 1939. Oldest of any U. S. archery organizations still extant is the United Bowmen of Philadelphia, formed on September 3, 1828.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest advances in the last two decades has been the development of the compound bow. Wilbur Allen, a Missouri bowhunter, is credited with its invention and holds the patent for the compound bow that he built in 1966.