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Add another string to your bow. From Cupid to Robin Hood, history is full of keen archers. However, despite its associations with ancient warfare, archery is also alive and well as a modern sport. Whether shooting competitively or just for fun, today’s archers take aim at a brightly coloured target, and score points according to where their arrow lands. We wonder what the medieval soldiers would make of it all...

How does it work?

Strangely enough, shooting an arrow isn’t as easy as it looks. Before loading the bow, the archer must assume a particular position designed to optimise shooting technique. Then, the bow is pointed towards the ground and the arrow inserted, with the shaft resting on the arrow shelf. Once the bow has been successfully loaded, the tip of the arrow must be pointed at the target and the string pulled back in order to release it. There are various ways of doing this, depending on the style of bow being used and the part of the world the archer is from – but all can be successful if practised properly.

From long bows to compound bows, there are a number of different bows in use around the world. Arrows can also vary, but all are tipped with feathers or plastic vanes to help stabilise them.

As you would expect with any sport derived from war tactics, archery has strict safety rules. If several people are shooting, it’s important to wait until everyone has finished before you collect your arrows – you don’t want to meet the same fate as King Harold.

Is it for me?

If you are keen to develop a good eye and superb coordination skills, archery could be the discipline for you. The focus required to shoot accurately makes this activity a brilliant way to de-stress, whilst the opportunities to compete and meet new people often appeal to sociable types.

Think there’s not enough exercise involved in standard archery? You could always try the more unusual ski archery or run archery to get that heart rate going a bit more...

Good to know

Target archery has been a part of the modern Olympic Games since 1972. It is also one of the sports that make up the Paralympic Games.

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