Archery, a history

The use of bow and arrows has been around since prehistoric times, although the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks are thought to have been the first people to use them for sport and recreation. Although mainly used as a weapon, the earliest English archery societies date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The first known organised archery competition was held at Finsbury, England in 1583.

Archery, a Paralympic event

Para archery was introduced after World War Two for injured war veterans. It was one of the opening sports at the first International Games for the Disabled at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in 1948. There were two rounds: the St Nicholas Round (48 arrows from 36.6m away, and 36 arrows from 27.4m away) and the Albion Round (36 arrows from 73.2m, 54.9m and 45.7m away). It was then included as an event at the first Paralympic Games in Rome 1960.

Archery medal winners at the Summer Paralympic Games

  • 1960 Rome, Italy
    Cliff Bradley - silver in men’s FITA round open and silver in men’s Windsor round open.
    Kathleen Comley - bronze in women’s Windsor round open and silver in women’s FITA round open.
    Diana Gubbin - bronze in women’s Windsor Columbia round open.
    Carl Hepple - bronze in men’s Columbia round open.
    Robin Irvine - bronze in women’s FITA round open and silver in women’s Windsor round open.
    Margaret Maughan - gold in women’s Windsor Columbia round open.
    Tony Potter - bronze in men’s FITA round open.
  • 1964 Tokyo, Japan
    Valerie Forder - silver in women’s Albion round open.
    Robin Irvine - bronze in women’s FITA round open.
    Daphne Legge-Willis - silver in women’s Columbia round open.
    C. Tetley - bronze in women’s Columbia round open.
  • 1968 Tel Aviv, Israel
    Stephen Bradshaw - bronze in St. Nicholas round cervical.
    Ruth Brooks - gold in St. Nicholas round cervical.
    Derek Nicholson - gold in St. Nicholas round cervical.
    Tony Potter/John Robertson/Dennis Slough - silver in Albion round team open and silver in FITA round team open.
  • 1972 Heidelberg, Germany
    Barbara Anderson - silver in women’s St. Nicholas round tetraplegic and silver in mixed St. Nicholas round team tetraplegic.
    Jane Blackburn - bronze in women’s St. Nicholas round tetraplegic and silver in mixed St. Nicholas round team tetraplegic.
    Margaret Gibbs - silver in women’s FITA round open.
    Tommy Taylor - silver in mixed St. Nicholas round team tetraplegic.
  • 1976 Toronto, Canada
    Alan Corrie - bronze in men’s Short metric round open and gold in men’s Short metric team open.
    Nicky Biggs - gold in men’s Short metric team open.
    Mike James - bronze in men’s FITA round tetraplegic A-C.
    Gill Matthews - bronze in women’s short metric round open.
    L. Smith - silver in men’s Tetraplegic round A-C.
  • 1980 Arnhem, The Netherlands
    Ernest Arnold - bronze in men’s double advanced metric round tetraplegic.
    Ernest Arnold/Kevin Bowser/James Martin - bronze in men’s short metric round team 1A-6
    Jim Buchanan - bronze in men’s double FITA round paraplegic.
    Jim Buchanan/Alan Corrie/Ian Smith - silver in men’s Double FITA round team paraplegic.
    Jim Buchanan/Michael Harvey-Murray/Sandy Gregory - bronze in men’s double FITA round team 1A-6.
    Anne Gray - bronze in women’s double short metric round paraplegic.
    Helen Hilderley - gold in women’s FITA round division 3.
    Beverley Leaper - silver in women’s double FITA round division 3.
    Gill Matthews - bronze in women’s Advanced metric round paraplegic.
    Philip Thorne - gold in men’s double FITA round C3/C6.
    Valerie Williamson - silver in women’s short metric round paraplegic.
  • 1988 Seoul, Korea
    Wilma Anic/Joan Cooper/Karen Watts - gold in women’s double FITA round team 2-6
    Karen Watts - gold in women’s double FITA round 2-6.
  • 1996 Atlanta, USA
    Anita Chapman - silver in women’s individual standing.
    Anita Champan/Rebecca Gale/Kathleen Smith - bronze in women’s team open.
  • 2000 Sydney, Australia
    Anita Chapman - gold in women’s individual standing.
    Anita Chapman/Jane White/ Kathleen Smith - silver in women’s teams open.
    Kathleen Smith - silver in women’s individual W1/W2.
  • 2004 Athens, Greece
    John Cavanagh - gold in men’s Individual W1.
    Anita Chapman/Margaret Parker/Kathy Smith - gold in women’s team open.
  • 2008 Beijing, China
    Danielle Brown - gold in women’s individual compound open.
    John Cavanagh - silver in men’s individual compound W1.
    Mel Clarke - silver in women’s individual compound open.
    John Stubbs - gold in men’s individual compound open.
  • 2012 London, Great Britain
    Danielle Brown - gold in women’s individual compound open.
    Mel Clarke - silver in women’s individual compound open.

How archery has evolved

The first longbow was developed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and its development has come a long way since then. Developments in the materials used to make bows and arrows, affecting their weight and accuracy have made huge changes in the sport. Additionally Archery GB has made investments into new technology to help analyse athletes’ technique to improve their accuracy further. By using slow-motion cameras, video playback and mats which analyse posture, balance and body position, coaches can gain insight into athletes’ body movement which can help them make slight adjustments to improve their technique and consistency.

Rules of archery

Archery is a sport that tests competitors’ accuracy, concentration and strength. The different categories cater for athletes from a range of classifications with some allowing assistive devices for those with physical impairments. Current classifications are open, W1 and visual impairment. The size of the target and shooting distance depends on the category athletes compete in. In individual events, archers shoot 72 arrows, which are divided into 12 ends with 6 arrows per end. The athletes with the highest scores continue on to head to head elimination matches with 15 arrows.

Governing bodies

World Archery is the sport’s governing body and Archery GB is the British national governing body for the sport. It is an umbrella organisation for English Archery Association, Archery Northern Ireland, Scottish Archery and Welsh Archery Association.

Regional clubs

Local and regional clubs can be found on the Archery GB website here

References

  • https://www.paralympic.org/news/sport-week-history-para-archery
  • https://www.archerygb.org/
  • https://www.britannica.com/sports/archery
  • https://www.topendsports.com/sport/archery/history.htm
  • https://worldarchery.org/news/93847/brief-history-archery
  • https://www.paralympic.org/archery
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/archery/9146187.stm

Para archery stories

Margaret Maughan on wheelchair archery in the 1960s

Memories of what archery was like in the 1960s. Read more

Margaret Maughans gold medal from the Rome Olympics in1960

Margaret Maugham about the 1960 Rome Games

Britain’s first ‘Paralympic’ gold medal was won by Margaret Maughan for archery at Rome in 1960. Read more
George Brogan, Archer, at the games in Blair Castle 1965

George Brogan discovers archery

George was inspired by his experience at Stoke Mandeville to set up his own local disabled games. Read more
Jane Blackburn, Paralympian

Jane Blackburn's biography

Jane’s first taste of disability sport came just months after she became a tetraplegic when she competed at the 1970. Read more

Val Williamson with her medals from the Arnhem Games in 1980

Val Williamson's Journey to Silver and Bronze Medals at the Arnhem Games

Val talks about the club system, coaching and competing at the Arnhem games. Read more

Frank Bilson at the Royal Toxophilite Society

Frank Bilson was a British Archery Champion who helped to train the first paraplegic archers at Stoke Mandeville. This short video shows Frank shooting at the Royal Toxophilite Society in 1946.

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/archery-2