All About Archery

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I am so glad that you found my website to learn all about archery. I believe you’ll find this article helpful. It will give you a basic idea of almost every archery type, learn about different bows, and how to choose arrows to start your archery journey.  Let’s get into it

Different Types of Archery. Archery is divided into different categories. This is one of the greatest features of archery because it has a variety of activities that can be done with a bow and arrow. Every variation of archery use different bows, arrows as well as targets. Of course, an archer can be trained in different kinds of archery sports and use more than one type of bow. Below I will explain it in detail.

Target Archery

Target Archery

Target archery is the most popular type of modern archery. It can be practiced outdoors and indoors. The target distances are between 30m to 90m for senior Men archers and 30m to 70m for Women with the target size being from 80cm to 122cm.
The Indoor distances are either 18m or 25m and the target size is 60cm – 40cm. The World Archery Federation is the world council of the sport of archery. International target archery use two Bow types. The Recurve bow and the Compound bow. The Olympic Games include only the Recurve bow. Compound target archery included at the World Games and in the Paralympic Games but for now will not join the Olympics yet.

Field Archery

Field archery can be practiced outdoors and indoors. The archer has the ability to use different kinds of bows. This can be fun for everyone. Also, it has Field rounds, Hunter rounds, and Animal rounds. The target distance in Field rounds is even and the maximum distance of a target is 73meters. The field round has two14 target units with four arrows being shot at each target.
In Hunter Rounds the distance between the targets is uneven but the scoring is similar to Field rounds. There are 14 targets that form a unit. Twice around makes a full round.
Animal rounds have also 14 targets that form a unit. And twice around makes a full round. The longer target distance is 54m. The target has different animal photos on paper with vital organs as the main target. Each archer can shoot up to 3 arrows on a single target. The archer can also walk closer to the target if he had to. For example, if he shoots his first arrow and misses, then he moves to the second base to shoot again. If he misses again then he moves to third base for his last shot.

3d Archery

3d archery is another exciting activity. It has 3D animals targeting the vitals with a broadside shot.  The archer can use different types of bows. Although compound bows have different rules than Bare-bows. Barebow are not allowed to have a draw check device or stabilizers like compound bows. The 3D archery is great for hunting practice as the archer can shoot from high ground or lower ground in nature, like a real hunting situation in the woods.

There are also other traditional archery competitions as well as mounted (horseback) archery in Hungary, Korea, Japan, Iran, and China.

Hungarian Mounted archery (Horseback archery)      

This is a more challenging sport, as the mounted archer has 90-99 meters of the track to run and shoot the targets. These “modern-day warriors” have to focus on balance and rhythm. Riding the horse and shooting as they rotate between the targets, all at the same time. Based on Wikipedia this historical sport has roots in the Eurasian Nomads. Horseback archery is revived and adopted as a sport in Europe as well as the USA and Canada by the famous and one of the greatest horseback archers Lajos Kassai.

Korean traditional archery

Korea has a long history of archery. Going back centuries ago when they use their bows in wars and hunting. The modern traditional sport has both target archery on foot and also on horseback. The target is very far compared with the Olympic archery targets. It is145 meters from the archers standing line.

Korean Horseback archery they have different kinds of competitions based on the World Horse-back Archery Federation (WHAF)

Single shot. The track is 120 meters with only one target with square rings that has a tiger face in the center. Each archer has to do two runs and 15 seconds to complete each run.
The double shot where the target is in the first 60 meters which are faced the archer and the second target is 25 meters from the first target and it’s turned the other way so the archer must turn back to shoot it. So it’s a back shot.
The serial shot is a 160 meters track with five targets to the side. Every archer has 20 seconds to finish.
Mogu. This is different than other horseback sports. The track is over 100 meters long and at least 50 meters wide. One horseman is pulling a ball made from bamboo and cloth, with a 30-meter rope. The mounted archer follows and shoots blunted arrows at the ball. The arrows have ink on the tip to mark the target.
Team Mogu can be played with two mounted archers who follow and shoot the ball together.
A target is placed at the top of a tall pole 60 meters along the track. The horseman has to shoot high to the target with a blunt flu arrow.
The horse archer runs a 180 meters truck and shoots a blunt arrow at 5 targets within a measured time limit.

Japanese Traditional Archery

Japan is one of the modern countries that have old traditions to modern society. Japanese people keep their old culture alive by practicing their traditional martial arts.
Kyudo is a Japanese traditional martial art of archery, which has a ranking system similar to the traditional martial arts belt system. As the Kyudo practitioners continue practicing and pass the exams for each level, they advance to the next Kyu or Dan. Kyudo uses a bigger bow (about -2,21 meters) different than the other traditional archery systems. Kyudo has a 28-meter target distance and in long-distance shooting a 60-meter target distance.
Yabusame is Japanese horseback archery. The horseman has to run a track about 225meters long and 3 meters wide. There are three wooden targets, placed on the side of the road and the archer has to shoot each target with a single.

Iranian/Persian Traditional Archery

Persian history goes back thousands of years. It is known that Persians had the best archers in ancient history. They are probably the first who design the recurved composite bow that is used now by Korean, Hungarian, Mongolian, and Turkish archers. They are part of the World Horseback Archery Federation (WHAF) and their competitions are the same. You can find more about it on their website.

Mongolian Archery

Mongolia has also a huge history in archery. It goes back to the stone age. They were among the first who used horse archers in wars and hunting. They are known for their great horseback archers that hit their enemies strong and then retreat, letting their enemies into an ambush.
In the 13 century, the composite recurve bow was the main weapon of Genghis khan’s armies.
Archery competitions in Naadam.
Naadam festival is the most famous festival in Mongolia. Its roots go back to military parades and sports competitions with archery among them. The modern competitions are played by teams of ten. The target distance for men is 75 meters and for women 65 meters. The targets are wooden cylinders that are close and also on top of each other, forming a short wooden wall. Archers have to knock the cylinders out from the wall.

Turkish Archery

Turkish archery goes back centuries back, for Scythians, Huns, and Mongols. Their archery fighting skills were among the greatest in history. They also practice target shooting on different kinds of targets like Puta (Pear shaped wood/leather targets). The target distance was shot from 165-250 meters.

They also practice archery on horses like Mongols and Korean. Among their practices was the Qabak just like in modern horse archery.
Flight archery was another modern practice that Turkish archers used centuries ago, where the goal is to shoot an arrow to the longest distance. It is documented that the Ottoman archers had reached the longest distances ever made.

Chinese Traditional Archery

Chinese had lots of different archery schools in their history. Their history goes back more than 3000 years. Archery was one of the six noble arts of the Zhou dynasty.  Different techniques as well as different kinds of bows. The bows that were used was the Scythian-style horn bows,  Longbows, Wood laminated bows, Long-siyah horn bows, Ming dynasty horn bows, Qing dynasty bows (the Manchurian Bow)

Bow types that are available in the market

Recurve bows

Recurve bows are used in target archery as you see in the Olympic games. Their limbs curve away from the archer, that’s why they are called recurves. Most recurves like the Olympic recurve are takedown bows, which means that can be disassembled into 3 pieces to fit in a bow case, to be transported or stored.
There are two limps in the recurve bow that are attached to the riser (handle). The limps can be changed to stronger ones to have a greater draw weight and also can change to longer or shorter, depending on the archer’s needs.
Traditional Recurve bows can be similar to the Olympic style bows, but without the accessories like stabilizers, clickers, and sight. Sometimes it can be a single-piece recurve bow.
Olympic-style Recurve Accessories. In Olympic style recurve the bow has stabilizers that have weight at the end for stability, and a clicker which is a reference point for the arrow release. It clicks when the archers pull the string back and the arrow is on the correct draw length to be shoot. The sight is used to help the archer with his aim depending on the distance that he shoots.

Compound bows

Compounds bows are the fastest in arrow shooting. There are the best bows for accuracy. They are perfect for hunting as well as target shooting. These bows have different technology from the other bow types. With their cam system. (Cam is the pulleys) which is designed to help archers hold the string back longer.
So this is a big difference because if an archer wants to pull a 50-pound draw weight, it will actually hold 10-15 pounds of draw weight. It is less stressful to hold it back when focusing on the target. Compare with a recurve bow, the archer has to develop the muscles to hold back a 50-pound bow. Some compound bows come with a stabilizer, arrow rest, sight, cable slide which holds the cables out of the way when the arrow is shoot, and a string stopper that stops the string from vibrating after the shoot of the arrow.


A longbow is usually a single piece, which is long and narrow at the front and thicker in the middle. They have a slight D shape. Means that tend to curve inside towards the tip. The difference between the longbow and the recurve bow is that the recurve bows are shorter, wider in the front, and thinner in the middle.
Also in the longbow, the string comes out of the string groove, and it doesn’t make a contact with the limp outside of the string groove. With the recurve bow the string has contact with the limps outside of the string groove. Some people choose a long bow for field archery instead of a to recurve bow. It’s a matter of choice really.

Some longbow variations are:

Self-bow/ longbow is made from one piece of wood, (usually yew wood) and they are made in the same way as the ancient style longbow.
Flat bow (American Bow) Flatbows are similar to longbows but they are wider and flatter in the front and thinner in the middle like recurve bows. Their limps are rectangular in shape and straight than the longbow which has a little curve a D shape.
Modern Flatbows (also called Modern Longbows) are shorter than longbows and also have longer, wider riser (handles) most like modern recurve bows. Their shorter limbs and the wider riser help to reduce the vibration or the hand shock after each shot.
Takedown modern longbow/flat bow. There are also takedown versions of the longbow that are 3 pieces, a riser, and two limps. Their limbs can be changed to different draw weights.

Horse bows( Composite Bow)

Horse Bows

The Horse bows have a long history that goes back thousands of years. They are short, strong recurve bows that are used for hunting and warfare. Persians, Mongols, Huns, Turks, and Hungarians are the most known countries that use the composite bow. They’re over curved limps, and form a C shape when unstuck. Horse bows don’t have an arrow rest as the modern recurves bows and most archers that use them, are shooting arrows from the same site as their draw hand. Traditionally they were made from wood from the outside and horn from the inside, muscle sinew, and natural glue. Some composite bows have asymmetric limbs, with the upper limp being longer than the lower limp. However, all of the composite bows are perfect for mounted archery. Even now modern horse archers use them for their target practice.

Arrows that are used in all kinds of archery are:

Wood arrows (Used for target shooting, and traditional hunting)
Aluminum Arrows (Used for hunting, and target shooting)
Carbon Arrows (Use for hunting, target shooting)
Composite Arrows: Aluminum/Carbon ( Use for hunting, target shooting)
Fiberglass Arrows (Used for beginners, youth target archers)

It’s people’s preference on what kind of arrows they will shoot. The most important is to get the arrow spine right.

Why it’s important to choose the right spine for an arrow

The arrow spine refers to how much the arrow flexes. This depends on the stiffness of the arrow shaft. Some arrows can bend more and some can be stiffer. When the arrow is shot it flexes and the more weight or energy you push on the arrow shaft the more it flexes. If the spine is too soft for the draw weight you are using, it will flex more and wobble causing inefficient accuracy. You are also risking damaging the arrow and maybe wearing out the bow in time. If the spine is heavier the arrow will be stiffer and this will cause the arrow not to fly correctly.

Length of the arrow. The arrow length can also change the arrow spine. The longer the arrow the more the shaft will flex. The shorter the arrow the stiffer will it be. Knowing your draw length will help you determine the arrows you will use.

Arrow weight (GPI)

Arrow weight is measured by Grains per inch. And this is only for the shaft. Before adding the point, nock, and fletching. Most manufacturers have a measurement of at least 5-6 grains per draw weight. This means that if you are using a 60-pound bow then you will use a 360-grain arrow. No less.

Choosing the right arrow

There 3 main factors to choose the right arrow.
• To know how many pounds of draw weight you are pulling with your bow.
• To know the length of the arrow. (Measuring the shaft length)
• What point weight you are going to use (depends on how you are going to use the bow, hunting, target practice, etc.)

The manufacturer arrow selection charts

Fortunately, the arrow manufacturers provide arrow charts that you can find online, that help you choose the right arrows for you. So if you are using a 60-pound bow you will see the recommended arrow to match the 60-pound bow strength. Note that each manufacturer will have different charts for their arrows.

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