Four facts proving archery is the most interesting Olympic sport

With the Olympics rapidly approaching, many eyes will be looking to see if Usain Bolt can remain the fastest man in the world, or whether Team USA’s basketball all-stars can add yet another gold to their extensive collection.

But what about the sport of archery? For many, this event flies under the radar, but it a beautiful sport to watch, requiring unbelievable amounts of skill and grace.

Close up of an archery target as seen on our school residential trips

Archery is one of activities available on our school residential trips, and we have taken a look at four facts you might not have known about the sport, which might just make you want to tune in when the Rio Games start later this year.

Olympic history

Archery first debuted in the Olympics in Paris, 1900. However, it was a rather different affair than it is today. The competition lasted for a total 44 days, from May to August, and featured 19 events.

Two of these were known as “popinjay” events, in which a bird (a plastic tube with stuck on feathers) was placed on top of a pole and set at varying distances.

Captain Kirk is a keen archer

Although he never quite made it to the Olympic Games, William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk from Star Trek, loves a spot of archery. He is also a founding member of the famous Fred Bear sporting club in Detroit.

Elsewhere in Hollywood, Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis got even closer than Shatner, having reached the semi-finals of the US Olympic trials in the year 2000, despite only taking up the sport the previous year!

The most versatile female athlete of all-time

Having five Wimbledon singles titles to your name is no mean feat, but that wasn’t quite enough for Lottie Dod, who then turned to archery and won a silver medal at the 1908 Olympic Games. The archery skill gene clearly ran in the family, as her brother William took gold in the men’s event at the same Olympics.

Dod also won the women’s British amateur golf title at Troon in 1904 and regularly completed the Cresta Run, an ice skeleton racing toboggan track located in Switzerland.

Can South Korea be toppled?

South Korea have long been the powerhouse nation when it comes to Olympic archery, with 34 medals (19 of which are gold) to their name. But how have they become so dominant at the sport?

Their success has been credited to a rather extreme training regime, which has been designed to conquer fear, according to women’s coach Seo Geo Won. This training includes sending their archers platform diving and bungee jumping. They also hold events in crowded stadiums, in order to help them cope with pressure and learn how to react in the heat of the moment.