Archery is the act of using a bow to shoot arrows. It is a bow and arrow game where players are expected to shoot arrows from a bow to hit fixed targets. It could be used as an art, a sport or even a skill. Archery was historically used for hunting and combat. However, in recent times, it has evolved to become mainly used in competitive sports and recreational activities. An Archer or Bowman refers to anyone who participates in archery, while a toxophilite is a professional archer.

The Physics Of Archery

Before going on to be a professional archer, you must have an understanding of how archery works by understanding the physics behind it. Archery is way more than pulling an arrow on a bowstring; it is more complicated and technical than that.

A bow is a two-armed string which, when drawn and pulled back, stores up mechanical potential energy. When you draw the bowstring back, your muscles exert a force on the string which then causes the limbs to bend backwards. This force exerted by your fingers which causes the bow to stretch is known as the “draw weight”.

According to Hooke’s law, the draw weight is directly proportional to the draw length, that is, the more you pull back the strings, the more you increase the force thus increasing the potential energy. However, there is a limit to how far you can stretch a bowstring before it breaks; that is, its draw length is limited.

At full draw, the bow now has elastic potential energy stored. Without an arrow, the bow and its limbs would merely reabsorb this potential energy when let go of, which is known as “dry firing.” However, when an arrow is locked on the string, this stored energy is then transferred into launching the arrow, while some of it might remain in the bow. This is the physics behind launching and shooting an arrow during archery.

How Archery Works

It takes a lot of practice and dedication to really master archery. However, archery is a game any newbie can learn and become good at through regular practice and supervision.

Let’s explore the necessary steps in taking part in archery:

  • The Basic Requirements:

Before choosing to learn archery, it is essential that you make sure your vision is sharp and clear enough to see the target accurately. The targets are often placed very far away and you don’t want to be struggling to see them with the naked eye, otherwise you will not be able to hit your mark.

It is also essential that you have the right equipment on you, which includes a bow, arrows, as well as bodyguards which will protect your body from injuries while playing the game.

  • Clothing and Equipment:

It is possible to suffer minor injuries when you release an arrow, especially on your wrist areas and fingers. As such, it is essential that you be adequately protected before you begin archery. Protection for your arm, fingers and chest are all necessary before you start. Make sure your bow is a suitable size for you by ensuring you can comfortably grip it.

  • Just Before You Start:

Just before you start shooting arrows, make sure to do a full body stretch, this stretch is necessary to prevent you from pulling a muscle. Players are advised to do a full body stretch to avoid injuries that might affect their arm, shoulder and elbows while playing. Loose jewellery such as earrings and necklaces as well as loose clothing should be removed and any long hair should be tied back.

The arrow should be placed carefully in dent attached to the string, and placed on the rubber-rest.

  • Holding the Arrow:

Once the arrow is placed on the dent and the string has been stretched, ensure you put your index finger above the arrow with your middle and ring finger below the arrow. Your thumb and little finger should be placed away from both the arrow and string to allow the arrow to move freely without pressure.

To release the arrow, gently pull back the string until it touches the tip of your nose and your hand is below your jaw. If your muscles are tensed, ease up a little so as to warm up.

  • Aiming and Positioning:

The bow has a sight for aiming at the target. The red dot in the middle at the centre of the target should be your focus. Never hold a stretched bow for more than four seconds. Ensure that instead of your arm, you use your back muscles to hold the bow in position.

Focus with one eye closed (your non-dominant eye) to avoid any distractions. Maintain your stance while you slowly release the arrow. Listen to professional advice from your coach as they will be able to give you adjustments to make to help you perform even better.

  • Scoring and Winning:

Depending on the level of archery played, there are two basic types of scoring. They are:

5 – zone scoring: Here, there are five different colour zones for the target, which represent levels and points awarded depending on the area the arrow hits. This method is usually followed in rounds, and the distances the arrows travel are measured in yards.

10 – zone scoring: The 10 zone is divided into ten scoring zones. Here, each colour is split into the inner ring and outer ring; the distance here is measured in metres.

The reference method determines the point the bow is set up while shooting; that is, the point in the distance where the arrow and the shooter’s line of sight meet. The arrow lengths, speed, as well as the anchor point all determine the distance the arrow will travel. There are also various visual gap methods which include; the pick up point, short gap and shaft gapping.

The bow in prehistoric times was a weapon for war and hunting. In ancient Egypt and Greece, recreational archery was also a fundamental part of their societies, as such; recreational archery did not just start today. Today, archery has gone on to be an outstanding professional sport. Becoming a professional archer is not as easy as it might sound, but with dedication, practice and commitment it is possible.