[shhh-thunk] Hey guys, this is NUSensei.
As you’re probably aware by now there’s been a huge buzz with the Olympic
Games kicking off in Rio, and already in the archery events there’s been a lot of excitement and
success. The South Korean men’s team and the women’s team taking the gold medals in
their respective events. The USA men’s team taking silver, and the Australian men’s team
making history by being the first Australian team to win a medal at the
Olympic games having scored bronze over their Chinese opponents, and of
course, there will be more excitement in the days to come as we bear witness to the individual events. Now, for people who are watching archery
on TV right now and are completely new to the whole sport, there might be a lot of confusion as to
exactly what’s going on. What’s happening? What equipment are they using?
How far are they shooting? And how does the whole thing work? Perhaps by answering these questions
this might inspire you to take your first steps in archery and perhaps become a
future Olympic champion. Firstly, let’s talk about archery
equipment. For many people, the image of an archer is based on the figure of
Robin Hood shooting a wooden longbow, but the archery you see in world competition
on TV is much different. The bows are much fancier, looking
nothing like those used in times of olde, and you might say that these bows are heavily sport-ized. Just as the modern
competition pistols and rifles used in the shooting events look nothing like their military
counterparts, modern target sport bows are far different in design and materials
compared to historical war bows. The materials today include fiberglass, carbon, and aluminium as used in bows and arrow designs. Additionally, modern target bows have
more accessories to make aiming and shooting a bit more consistent and easier, including sights, stabilizers, and clickers.
These additional items don’t necessarily make it easier to
shoot, but it does make it more consistent for the archer to achieve tighter groupings
and higher scores over longer distances. Fundamentally, the function of the bow
is still the same. You pull it back, and you let go. The archer still has to do the work. It’s also important to note that the
archery you see at the Olympic Games is only one classification. In World Archery there are several different types of
bows that can be used. The one you see in the Olympic Games, and the only
recognized Olympic discipline, is Freestyle Recurve, which describes the type of
bow and accessories used. The other major classification which is used at a
competitive level is Compound. Now compound bows are far more technical,
they’re far more consistent, and they’re far more competitive in terms of scores. That
said, it’s currently not recognized as an Olympic event so you only see this in
other World Archery events. Another question that is frequently
asked is “how far do they shoot?” Now, the target you see here is a standard
Olympic target. It is 122cm across. Now, the distance I’m standing at is 7m. Now, on TV, these targets look really big, and it looks really easy. You do get to see the
arc of the arrow going over the target and slamming into the bullseye, but it isn’t actually that easy. While this 7m line it looks nice
and big, the actual distance shot in the Olympics is 70 meters. Let’s see what that looks like outside.
So this is the 70 meter shooting line at my archery range. Now the target you see
at the end is actually smaller, an 80cm target face, but you should
get a fair idea of how far this is. If this doesn’t make sense to you I’m going to actually walk the whole distance. Yep, it took me nearly a minute to cover the distance. It’s definitely not as close as it looks
on TV, and, for the record, an arrow could probably cover this distance in
around two seconds. The final question, and the one that
fascinates me the most, is how do you actually get there? How do you compete on the world stage at
the Olympic Games and get a gold medal, and the answer is starting in places like this. We are a long way from Rio, but the true dreams begin in grass roots clubs like this one. So how does one go from never holding a bow
to becoming a world champion. The first step is at club level. What you
should do is look for your closest local clubs and find out when they run their
introductory sessions for beginners. They will teach you how to
shoot using basic equipment and teach you good form and good habits.
Once you acquire a taste for archery you may then opt to look at going for a
more advanced course, or becoming a member, and lookng to buy your own equipment.
Getting your first bow kit is a huge milestone. Archery is a very personalized sport,
and owning your first bow means you can change things, swap things out, find out what works
for you, and owning your own bow means you take the first step in owning your archery journey. This journey is not a short journey. Don’t expect to become an expert
marksman within weeks or even months. Expect to spend years learning and honing
the skills needed to become a consistent archer. Archery is one of those sports which
take a short time to learn but a long time to master. You will go through the
highs and lows of archery as you practice practice and practice, and going
through those highs and lows is part of the archery journey. Even at an early stage
start looking at participating in club shoots. This may be a regular, casual club
shoot, or maybe a club tournament. Even inter-club tournaments, and low state level tournaments aren’t that daunting. You may think “no, I’m not good enough,”
but don’t worry. Many people take their first competitive
steps in archery through local tournaments. The more you do, the more experience you
get, and the more hunger you feel in trying to do better in your archery. When you
start doing regular events, including state championships and ranking
events, you’ll start accumulating ranking points. You may then start to appear in
state and national rankings, and your performance will be tracked by your
national archery association. If you perform exceptionally well over a period
of time you may be identified as a person of interest, and this may open up
opportunities for state team selection, high performance training, or even
national team selection, and let’s say you do make it on the national selection shortlist, what then? What events do you do to get
into the Olympics? The Olympic tournament features 128 athletes. 64 men and 64 women.
A national Olympic committee or country has the ability to send a maximum of six
archers, three men and three women, but the exact number depends how many spots have been
allocated based on previous qualification. A number of spots is allocated to the host nation, in this case Brazil is allowed to send the maximum
number of three men and three women. Additionally, a number of spots is also
given at the discretion of the tripartite commission. The remainder of
the spots is allocated based on national team performance in prior events. Each
event has a certain number of spots up for grabs, Which means that a country can
qualify from one to six archers based on how well their individual athletes
perform. The biggest allocation comes from the World Championships followed by
several World Cup events which happen throughout the year. Normally, the team spots take precedence.
What that means is that a national team that ranks highly in the team event,
will be given team spots. Now, a team consists of three archers. So, if a team
qualifies for the team event, all three archers also qualify for the individual
event. Once the team-based spots are given away, the remainder go to the individual
events. So individual rankings in these events will qualify the nation for
individual spots in the Olympic Games. This is why some countries will send three archers. Others will send only one. It’s based on whether the country’s qualified
for a team spot or an individual spot. Outside of the World Championship and the World Cups, there are also regional and continental
events, such as those based in Oceania, Africa, Europe, Asia, and so on. It’s important to note that an archer
does not earn a spot for themselves, they earn a spot for the national team. For
example, if I were to represent Australia at the next World Cup, and I finish second, that means I might qualify Australia
for the next Olympic Games. That doesn’t mean I get that spot.
The selection process is purely based on the National Olympic Committee, who might
have criteria such as ranking, recent performance, and so on. It’s not uncommon for an archer to earn
a spot for the national team but not get that spot. So, let’s fast forward a bit, and let’s
say I’ve been selected to represent Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Hmm, what happens then?
The first part of the competition usually isn’t broadcast on TV.
Not many people know about this. What you normally see on TV is the
knockout elimination round, which is in match play format.
The first event, however, which normally happens on day zero, before the Games begin, is a ranking round. This is shot at 70m, and all archers shoot 72 arrows for a maximum score of 720.
Your performance in this ranking round will give you a seed.
This will, therefore, match the best athlete against the lowest ranked athlete, and, ideally,
that means that the best athletes don’t face each other in the initial knockout rounds,
saving the competition to the very end. It is worth noting that you do need a
minimum qualifying score in this particular ranking round to even get
into the Olympic event. Now, that said, if you don’t perform well
on the day, you still get ranked and seeded, but you might not get a very high place, which
means you might face harder opponents or more higher ranking opponents,
much earlier in the knockout round. Additionally, this ranking round is where the
world records are drawn from. Unlike sports like running and swimming, where records are smashed in the actual race, the final
elimination round in archery are knockout only based on set points,
similar to, say, tennis. So the only scores which are valid for
world record claims are the ones in the ranking round. Once the ranking round is
done, and all the athletes are seeded, it proceeds to a traditional knockout format.
The round of 64, the round of 32, the round of 16, and finally the quarter-finals,
semi-finals, and the grand final. The knockout rounds are shots at 70m
using a set point system. The archer who shoots a higher score in each three arrow end will win two set points. If it’s a drawn end, it’s one
point each. The first archer to reach six points wins the set, and then goes through to
the next round. Should neither archer reach six points by 5 ends,
it goes down to a one arrow shoot off. The person who is closest to
the center of the target wins. That’s basically how archery at the
Olympic Games works. From the very bottom at the grassroots club level rising up
to the very top of the podium at the Olympic Games. So, hopefully, that answers most of
the questions you might have about Olympic archery. Of course, if I haven’t covered something that you want
to know about, feel free to ask below. This is NUSensei.
Thank you for watching, and I’ll see you next time.