Archery is addictive. You have been warned!

Archery is the practice or skill of using a bow to shoot arrows. The word comes from the Latin arcus meaning ‘bow’ or ‘arch’.

Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat and was invented in the late Palaeolithic or early Mesolithic periods. The oldest signs of archery’s use in Europe date from around 10,000BC, while in Asia and the Middle East evidence suggests archery originated even earlier. In modern times, it is mainly a competitive sport and recreational activity.

A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer. Someone who is fond of or an expert at archery is called a toxophilite – ‘lover of the bow’, from Ancient Greek τόξον (tokson ‘bow’) and φίλος (philos ‘friend’).

As a sport, archery requires skills of precision, control, focus, repetition and determination. It is available to be practised by all, no matter age, gender or ability, and is a widespread pastime in both developed and developing countries.

Archery is often in the public eye, both as an important sport on the Olympic Programme, and thanks to popular culture.

Starting with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, archery was featured in a run of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters, including The Hunger Games, The Avengers and The Hobbit franchises, as well as in small screen productions like Arrow.

Archery is an extremely accessible sport in countries around the world. It is a sport for all ages and abilities – and can be as recreational or competitive as the person taking part wants!

While the elite athletes shooting at the Olympic Games might spend hours every day training, there is no need to dedicate so much time to archery if your goals are not so lofty. Casual archers make up the bulk of the archery fraternity and anyone can consistently hit the target with as little as an hour of practice. More advanced aspects of the sport, however, can take years to master.

Modern competitive archery is governed by the World Archery Federation, International Field Archery Association and various others. Olympic rules are derived from the World Archery rules. World Archery is the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) recognised governing body for all of archery and the South African National Archery Association (SANAA) is a member in good standing of the World Archery Federation and International Field Archery Association.

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