Breakdown and Schedule of Olympic Archery at the 2012 Games

 Held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, the Archery competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games will call for pinpoint precision and nerves of steel.

Archery dates back around 10,000 years, when bows and arrows were first used for hunting and warfare, before it developed as a competitive activity in medieval England. A tense and testing sport that requires immense reserves of skill and nerve, Archery is now practised in more than 140 countries around the world.

Did you know?

  • The first known Archery competition was organised in Finsbury, London, in 1583. It attracted 3,000 participants.
  • Hollywood actress Geena Davis took part in US trials for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Archery team.

  • At the Athens 2004 Games, archers competed in the Panathinaiko Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896. The Stadium was built on the ruins of an ancient stadium built in 329 BC.
  • In the 14th century, archery was considered so important to the defence of the nation that an English law made it compulsory for every man aged between seven and 60.

  • The earliest known cricket match played at Lord’s Cricket Ground was 1814.

Competition dates

Friday 27 July – Friday 3 August

Competition venue

Lord’s Cricket Ground

Number of medal events

4 – men’s Individualwomen’s Individualmen’s Team, and women’s Team.

Number of competitors

128: 64 men and 64 women
Each country is limited to six athletes (three men and three women), which equates to three athletes in each individual event and one team of three athletes in each team event.

Field of play

Athletes shoot from the shooting line to the target, 70m away. For the elimination rounds, there are two targets, with each archer or team assigned to one target.

History of Archery at the Olympics

Archery made its Olympic debut at Paris 1900, was dropped from the programme after the London 1908 Games, and then returned for a single appearance in 1920. After a 52-year gap, the sport was reintroduced at Munich 1972 and has remained on the Olympic programme ever since.

Find out more about Archery at the Olympic Games on the International Olympic Committee website.

The basics

The object of the sport is simple: to shoot arrows as close to the centre of a target as possible. Olympic Archery targets are 122cm in diameter, with the gold ring at the centre (worth a maximum 10 points) measuring just 12.2cm. Athletes shoot at the target from a distance of 70m.
Athletes compete with recurve bows, distinctive as the limbs curve outwards at the top.
Men and women compete separately, both as individuals and in teams of three.

For a complete set of rules, please refer to the website of the World Archery Federation (WA), the international governing body for the sport.

Competition format

All four Archery events are played in a head-to-head elimination format.

At the start of the competition all athletes take part in a ranking round. Athletes must shoot 72 arrows in 12 phases of six arrows each, with each athlete allowed four minutes per phase. The total score of all 72 arrows determines the rankings of each athlete. These are used to make the seedings for both the Individual and the Team events.


Scoring judges sit in a protected area or blind behind the targets, and come out to score when shooting is complete. Sitting at the opposite end of the range by the shooting line are two spotters, who record each archer’s arrow values with the aid of a telescope.

Keys to success

Archery is a tense and testing sport that requires immense reserves of skill and nerve. The winning athlete will remain cool under the enormous pressure that an Olympic competition brings.

Jargon buster

Boss – the target, usually a square black block made of compacted foam, to which the target face is attached
Bowman – an athlete
Draw – the act of pulling back the bow string in preparation for shooting
Nock – a notch at the end of an arrow that attaches to the bow string

Get involved

If you want to find out about archery in your country, including clubs, facilities and coaching schemes, check the website of your National Governing Body. To find out how you can get involved in archery in the UK, go

For more information on the Archery competition at London 2012 and the rules, go to the website of World Archery Federation, the governing body for the sport.

WireShots Staff

WireShots is a news service provided by H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City. We cover all news related to the Shooting Sports including Firearms, Archery, Outdoors, as well as events at our range and retail store. You can reach us via email at . Shoot On!

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