When most of us think of the word “sport”, we think of football, hockey, or other field sports like tennis and soccer. This is partially due to the fact that most of these sports are televised as huge competitive events with sponsorships worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but there are other sports out there too. Sports that aren’t as popular and therefore aren’t as marketable tend to be left out of the public eye, but does that make them less of a sport? Archery is performed by over seven million people in the US alone, whether it be competitively or recreationally, and considering that this makes it more popular than football, we’d say that it deserves to be called a sport. Is archery a sport, though? What qualifies an activity to be referred to as a sport? Let’s have a look at whether archery can be considered a sport by definition and why or why this is the case.
Is Archery a Sport?
Weirdly, it’s not challenging to define whether or not something can be considered a sport. By definition, a sport can be defined as any practice, in a recreational or competitive capacity, through which one or more people participate in a mentally and/or physically exerting activity for the entertainment of spectators, in the interest of achieving mastery, or simply to test their skills against another team or individual.
However, archery isn’t always considered a sport. A defining aspect of a sport is the practice of competing with others in order to develop one’s skill, prove one’s proficiency, or simply enjoy it together recreationally (like a game!). This means that when you’re practicing archery in your backyard on your own, it’s more of a hobby than a sport.
Like most sports, archery can be practiced in various ways, in various locations, and in different types of competitions. There are various archery competitions that test different facets of the discipline, like field archery which tests accuracy at various distances, or 3D archery, which tests adaptivity, accuracy, and proficiency on different types of terrain and elevations.
There are also different types of bows for you to choose from, all of which have their own subdivisions and niche competitions you can participate in. There are longbow (or traditional bow) competitions, recurve bow competitions, and one of the most cutthroat divisions, compound bow competitions.
So, is archery a sport? The answer to this question isn’t a simple one. It depends on the intended outcome.
If you’re just messing around and trying some trick shots in your backyard to make a YouTube video, it’s pretty much a hobby. On the other hand, if you square up with one of your buddies in your backyard to decide which one of you is the better archer, or enter a competition, it’s considered a sporting activity.
Is Archery Considered an Olympic Sport?
There are loads of sports in the world, many of them being offshoots of existing ones, but what really adds an air of legitimacy to a sport is whether or not the sport is included in the Olympics. Does this mean that any sport that isn’t included in the Olympics isn’t legitimate? No. Some sports simply aren’t popular enough or don’t have a body that regulates and/or develops the sport to a point where it can be participated in on an Olympic level.
Archery is indeed an Olympic sport, and, as you can imagine, it can get quite competitive. The minimum age required for one to compete as an Olympic archer is 16 years old, and each event can have a maximum total number of competitors of 64 people.
There are loads of divisions and classes for you to participate in too, whether it be men’s teams, men’s individuals, women’s teams, or women’s individuals, or you could even join a mixed team, which is pretty cool.
How Long Has Archery Been an Olympic Event?
Archery has been around for well over 1,000 years, but it hasn’t been an Olympic event for a long while. The history of archery in the Olympics has been a strange one, as it wasn’t part of any field event sector for the better part of 50 years which is strange considering its popularity and application in warfare.
This trend continued as the Olympics were and still are an international event, and if there aren’t enough countries participating to make it a marketable event, it won’t be added. During the early 1970s, all of this changed as more and more countries became interested in the sport, and it pretty much skyrocketed in popularity.
This has led it to become the world-renowned pastime it is today.
As we mentioned previously there are loads of types of bows out there for you to choose from. Whether you’re a traditionalist who enjoys the feel of a longbow, a recurve bow enthusiast who enjoys the extra power and compactness, or a cutting-edge compound bow user, there’s a bow out there for you. However, if you intend on competing in an Olympic event, there’s only one kind of bow you can use.
The only type of bow you’ll be allowed to use in an Olympic competition is the recurve bow. Why? Well, longbows tend to be a bit impractical, and they lack power. Compound bows are considered overkill, and there aren’t enough countries that are interested in using them competitively.
This being said, recurve bows are the only viable option as they provide the practicality of the longbow and some of the power of the compound bow thanks to the way the limbs are shaped.
Is Bowhunting Considered a Sport?
This is an interesting question. Previously we defined a sport as any activity whereby you compete against another individual or group to test your skill or win a game based on points or overall performance. Where does this leave hunting though?
You’ve probably heard the term “hunting for sport”, which essentially means hunting as a test of your proficiency with your weapon and overall tracking hunting abilities.
This is in stark contrast to subsistence hunting, in which you would hunt an animal to eventually consume it for sustenance. If we’re comparing the two types of hunting, one could definitely consider bowhunting during hunting season with the correct permits and tags to be a sport.
It’s a bit strange considering that you aren’t competing against anyone else, but you are doing it as a test of skill and typically to earn a sense of prestige or reverence.
There are various types of bowhunting you can participate in, and unlike the Olympics, you can use any type of bow you’d like, as long as it’s powerful enough to ethically kill the type of game you’re hunting.
You could also try hunting with a crossbow, which is a lot easier if you don’t have the time or inclination to become reasonably skilled with a bow and arrow.
Why Should You Consider Archery as a Hobby or Sport?
Why should you consider archery as a hobby or a competitive sport? Well, like any sport, there are a few common reasons that people get involved in it. Bow sport provides some of the same benefits as practicing a martial art, as it takes more or less the same sort of dedication and repetition, without the physical combat element.
Mental and Physical Benefits
It has some of the same benefits too as many archers will tell you that it develops one’s confidence and improves your ability to focus and can improve your physical and mental fortitude. If none of these benefits interest you, and you’re more of a glory- and trophy-archer (everyone has their thing), then you’ll love the feeling of hitting your mark just right consistently.
Convenient as a Hobby and a Sport
If you have the space to practice archery and are looking for a hobby that you can practice in your spare time, and doesn’t require loads of gear to get started, then archery might be the sport for you.
Archery is also relatively inexpensive when you’re starting out, as there are loads of beginner kits available that include a bow, arrows, a quiver, and if you’re lucky, even a target or two!
Easy to Learn and Develop Your Skills
Unlike other solitary hobbies, there isn’t a big learning curve when it comes to bow sport either. Whether you’re practicing on your own or employing the help of a more experienced archer, it’s reasonable to assume that you could be hitting targets at a decent distance within a week.
Your effective distance will increase as your skills improve, and you might even decide to try more challenging targets and/or terrain.
Archery isn’t expensive in the long term either. Considering that all you need is a bow, some arrows, and some targets to practice archery as a hobby or sport, it’s relatively inexpensive. Your primary costs will be low maintenance, and some new arrows and fletchings once in a while.
If you decide to compete in high-level archery competitions, you might want to consider getting a better bow, weights, scope, and a better release mechanism, which can be a bit expensive.
What Types of Archery Competitions Are Available?
If you feel like you’re not quite up to Olympic competition as a beginner, you don’t have to relegate yourself to competing in your backyard. Thankfully, there are loads of completely open competitions all over the US that you can enter and they’re often free! These are usually friendly competitions where you and others in your community can show off their skills.
Once you’ve had the chance to cut your teeth in friendly competition and want to see how you are fair against more skilled opponents, you should consider signing up for the National Field Archery Association.
This requires membership fees, but you’ll be invited to national and state-level events where you can test your skills against like-minded individuals.
Is archery a sport? Considering that you can compete against other archers on a local, national, and international level and it’s an Olympic event, we think that it’s pretty safe for you to call it a sport without anyone looking at you all funny.
If you still want to compete against people from around the world but think that the Olympics aren’t for you, you can try your hand at the World Archery Championships.
This competition is held in a different country each time its held and takes place every two years. There are loads of classes for you to compete in, including field archery, indoor and outdoor archery, para-archery, and even university and 3D archery classes! The World Archery Championship started all the way back in 2006 and has since become a highly anticipated and competitive archery event.
Now that you know whether or not archery is considered a sport, what makes it a sport, what some of the benefits of archery are, and what types of competitions are available to you, its time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember to always practice proper safety precautions when using a bow and that consistency is key when it comes to any sport.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Calories Does Archery Burn?
How many calories does archery burn? The rate and number of calories that are burned during a given activity can vary considerably depending on the person. Generally speaking, though, a study at Harvard University found that around half an hour of archery can burn between 100 and 140 calories.
What Type of Sport Is Archery?
Archery involves shooting a bow and arrow or crossbow to hit a target or game. Like most sports involving firing a projectile, the sport focuses on marksmanship, which takes a fair amount of skill and practice to become reasonably proficient at.
How Difficult Is Archery?
Objectively speaking, archery is not difficult and is fairly easy to start off in. Considering that most people are able to hit a target at a decent distance within a day or two of starting out, you should be able to develop a good level of skill and muscle memory pretty easily.