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The Archery Rules of the Olympic Games

Archery Rules for the Olympic Games

Archery is one of the oldest sports as it evolved along with human civilization. Indeed, the bow was initially conceived as an instrument for warfare and hunting. But today, it has become a full sport that can even be practiced during the Olympic Games. So, what are the archery rules for the Olympic Games? To find out more, in this article, we will talk about how each archery competition in the Olympic Games is conducted. Enjoy your reading.

The history of archery in the Olympic Games

The Olympic game is an international sporting event that is under the authority of the IOC. It takes place every four years.

The introduction of archery in the Olympic Games has taken place over two periods. It first appeared in 1900 during a competition organized during the Paris games. Then, it was played in 1904, 1908 and 1920 and then removed from the program for more than 50 years in 1972 at the Munich games. The archery rules for the Olympic Games have been modified continuously since 1972 to make the discipline more attractive and easier to follow. These changes include the introduction of the team event in 1988, the introduction of the knockout duel system in 1992, the introduction of the set system in 2012 and the introduction of the mixed event in 2020.

What are the main concepts of archery at the Olympic Games?

At the Olympic Games, archers competing in the archery event must use conventional bows only. They will shoot their arrows at targets positioned 70 meters away for both men and women. Each archer will have to place their arrows as close to the center as possible to defeat their opponent. Measuring 122 cm diameter, these targets have 10 concentric rings with equal dimensions that are divided into five colors:

  • The yellow color in the center scores 10 or 9 points
  • The red color which scores 8 or 7 points
  • The blue color which scores 6 or 5 points
  • The color black which scores 4 or 3 points
  • The white color which scores 2 or 1 point


What will the individual event be like at the Olympic Games?

64 archers will participate in the individual archery event at the Olympic Games. The competition always starts with the qualifying shot.

The qualifying event will consist of shooting 72 arrows in two rounds of six flights and six arrows. The ranking of the 64 archers will result in a table that will determine the place of each athlete.

Next, the archers will go through the elimination match. During this stage, they will face each other and the one who loses will leave the competition. The winner will move on to the next round and the match will continue until the semi-final where there will be only 4 athletes left and the final where there will be only 2 athletes left.

The last two athletes will face each other in the final for the gold medal. While the other two losers of the semi-final will fight for the bronze medal.

This individual event is based on a set system. Each athlete will shoot three arrows with 20 seconds/arrows. The scores will then be added up and the one with the highest score in the set will score two set points. In the case where both players have the same score, each player will get one set point. In the end, the athlete who scores six set points wins the match.

Concerning the shooting order, the athlete with the best score will decide who will shoot first. And during the next set, the archer who lost will shoot first. In case the athletes are tied, the order of the initial shot will be restored. After 5 sets, if the score is tied, each athlete will shoot an additional arrow. The athlete with the closest arrow will win the match.

How does the team event work?

To form a team, each team will consist of three athletes from the same country, of the same gender. Sometimes the athletes who are ranked highest during the qualification will compete in the event. These matches are also played according to the set system. Unlike the individual events, each set consists of six arrows. The team with the highest score will always get the two set points. In the event of a tie, each team will receive one set point. The team that wins all five set points wins the match.

During the team competition, each team shoots their sets in flights of three arrows. Each athlete on a team must shoot.

To decide which team will shoot first, the procedure is the same as in the individual event. In the event that the score is tied after 4 sets, i.e. 4-4, all athletes on each team will shoot an extra arrow. The team with the arrow closest to the center wins the match.  In the event that the two best arrows are at the same distance then they count and then the third.

What about the mixed doubles event?

In addition to the team competition, the Olympic Games can also include mixed doubles competitions. This event should have made its first appearance at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, but has been postponed until 2021. Each team will be composed of two athletes, one male and one female from the same country. This event will be played in single elimination matches in a set system identical to the team event.

How many Olympic titles will be won after the archery events at the Olympic Games?

5 titles will be won after the archery events including:

  • Men's individual event
  • Women's individual event
  • Men's team event
  • Women's team event
  • The mixed doubles event.