… and some background around them. Archery is a pastime/sport that can leave you thinking “what the .. flip?” at times when a little known and somewhat bizarre fact surfaces. Here are 12 wtf moments for you …
- According to the US National Safety Council, archery is more than three times safer than golf, with just one injury for every 2,000 participants. You have to wonder just how safe archery would be if bow hunting was excluded from those figures. Its so safe a sport that in the notoriously litigious USA, the insurance premiums for an archery range are roughly equivalent to badminton, handball, or golf. Check out this detailed study from Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the US promoting archery as a safe sport for children.
(At GA you are perfectly safe statistically speaking as our major injuries have already happened … an outdoor boss fell on one member while another managed to stab himself in the thigh with an arrow – DO NOT ask for proof or you will be shown the scar!)
- Five-time Olympican Khatuna Lorig trained Jennifer Lawrence for the Hunger Games films. This is why Katness Everdeen uses a one over/two under hook, under the chin anchor even though she’s shooting a traditional style field bow with no sights. Lorig is a target recurve archer, not a traditional hunter thus the discrepancy since you would expect Katness to use a three under hook/higher anchor.
Meh, Hollywood! Who can forget the “viking” armour in The 13th Warrior being everything from gladiator all the way to conquistador!
- On the subject of Khatuna Lorig … in the Olympics as Khatuna Kvrivichvili she competed while pregnant for the Soviet Union at Barcelona (1992) winning a team bronze. As Khatuna Lorigi, she competing for Georgia in Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000). As Khatuna Lorig, she was unable to participate in Athens (2004) due to citizenship issues (wait, she gets even more far travelled!). She then competed for the United States at Beijing (2008). Now somewhat settled down, at 38yrs old she competed again for Team USA at London (2012) and just fell short of qualifying for the Rio Olympics (2016) at the very last gasp. (I believe she tried to qualify for Tokyo but she was not on Team USA for that event so another favourite from London 2012 retires.)
- Archery is the national sport of the Kingdom of Bhutan. It was declared the national sport in 1971, when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. They take their archery VERY seriously. From its first attendance in 1984 till 2008, Bhutan ONLY competed in 1 sport at the Olympics – yup, you guessed it, Archery! They have never won a medal. 31yr old Karma carried the hopes of Bhutan’s archers at the Tokyo Olympics. She ranked 56 out of 64 but had the misfortune to face Deepika Kumari (ranked No.1 in the world) in the first round losing 0-6.
The traditional side of archery in Bhutan is a far cry from the western image of conservative, reserved archery and would be more inline with tribal conflict. If you pardon the expression … no shits are given when pride is on the line and its village team against village team.
- On the other hand, South Korea’s national sport IS NOT archery (which is more like a cross of religion and boyband fervour at times), their national sport is actually Taekwondo. However, South Korea has (so far) won the most archery medals in Olympic archery with an impressive haul of 42. That’s 27 golds, 9 silver and 6 bronze. Now in Korea, winning Olympic gold gets you a monthly stipend for life. These pensions were originally cumulative. Allegedly until Kim Soo-Nyung, one of the greatest Olympic archers ever, won three gold medals. At this point the finance department started to get worried and things were altered. Just as well as subsequently Ki Bo Bae achieved four Olympic medals (three of them gold) and An San collected 3 golds in one Olympics (Tokyo).
- And while the Olympics are our focus, Spaniard Antonio Rebollo lit the Olympic flame at the 1992 Olympics Games in Barcelona by shooting a lit arrow through the gas rising from the Olympic cauldron so igniting it. Video of this high pressure shot here.
Something to ponder: Where did the arrow end up AFTER the cauldron was lit?
- It was required by law that all English males over the age of 14 carry out at least 2 hours of longbow practice each week. Also if you lived in York, it was permissible to shoot a scotsman with a bow but not on a Sunday. Fortunately, while these laws are still on the statue books, they are moribund and superseded by later legislation although at least one GA member was demanding the 2hr a week legally mandated practice be reinstated while under COVID house arrest.
- Thelma & Louise star Geena Davis was a pretty enthusiastic archer who missed out on making the US Olympic archery team in 2000, placing 24th out of 300!
Need proof she’s an archer? Well check out this you tube video of her having some archery fun… Geena Davis Archery Trickshots
One of the punchlines in this video makes a hat tip to 1960’s film star Anita Ekberg who actually did shoot (and hit) with her flat bow, a paparazzi who was hounding her. Doubt this story? Here is the pic of what the paparazzi saw just before he felt a stabbing pain.
Other celeb archers include Brendan Fraser, Eliza Dushku, Eva Green, the peoples archer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and even the great Captain Kirk himself William Shatner!
- At the battle of Agincourt, a skilled long-bowman could release from 12 to 15 arrows per minute to create the “arrow storm”. This rate of fire would be “sprint mode” ie in the face of a cavalry attack. Sustained rate of fire would be less as the physical demands of 12 arrows a minute would be debilitating pretty quickly. Now contrary to what you’d think about medieval archery, it was weight of fire that was important here and not pin point accuracy. Area effect artillery rather than sniper. It’s believed there were 500,000 arrows in the baggage train at Agincourt which means the 5,000 archers at Agincourt could have run through their ammunition in 8 minutes assuming they could keep up their maximum rate of fire. Odds are after the French knights got bogged down, they would have slowed to a more deliberate, yet just as murderous, pace. (today there are archers that struggle to get 6 arrows off in 8 minutes!)
So onto the subject of where did all those arrows come from? … King Henry V (16 September 1386 – 31 August 1422) ordered 500,000 arrows for his army in 1421. The arrows were stored in the Tower of London under the watchful eye of the appointed “keeper of the king’s arrows. (I pity the fool who has to refletch them after the glue perishes!) Worth considering that during this time hundreds of “sub-contractors” would be required to supply those arrows making small batches each (Easton doesn’t exist yet ;o). This was literally a cottage industry with multiple people/skills needed for each arrow – metalwork (points), woodwork (shafts), horn carving (nocks), feather splitting/binding. An additional step might be “weather proofing” for arrows likely be stored for a while. Damp in Britain? Somethings never change! … and now you know why Fletcher was quite a common surname in medieval Britain. Final thing to consider … a half million arrows … where are the feathers coming from? I have heard of a royal edict requiring a tithe of 8 feathers from every goose in the kingdom being issued. That’s a lot of feathers and a lot of pissed off geese!
- Language: The word archery is derived from the word Arcus, a Latin term related to anything arched or curved ie bow, arc, coil, arch. You’ll sometimes see reference to archers being referred to as a Toxophilites. The word comes from two Greek words that together mean ‘lover of the bow’ and what archer doesn’t love their bow?! Being “Wide of the Mark” meaning not to the point comes from a mark being an archery target (see shooting the mark). “Highly Strung” might have been to do with stringed musical instruments but many believe its to do with a bow which has been over-strung, with a too-short string. The implication is that a bow with a string too tight is on the verge of a breakdown, “Parting Shot” comes from the term “Parthian shot” which is a shot taken behind you from horseback as you ride away. The Greek word ἁμαρτία – anglified as hamartia – is an archery term “to have missed the mark”. This was translated in the bible as “sin”. So when you don’t hit the 10/gold/the mark you are a SINNER! ;o) And finally a “Rule of Thumb” also known as a “Fistmele” which indicates the correct bracing height for a longbow. (think thumbs up gesture used as a unit of measurement)
- And finally … on the set of the 2004 Marvel superhero movie Blade: Trinity, Jessica Biel‘s compound bow wielding character Abby Whistler, was to make a dramatic shot in the final fight scene. The shot was framed straight into the camera as you can see in the picture to the left. To protect the camera, it was surrounded by Plexiglass with just a 5cm square (2″ square in old money) hole in front of the camera lens. From some 50 feet (16m) and 30 feet up (10m) Jessica shot the arrow through the gap and destroyed the $300,000 camera which was fortunately insured.
The original scene can be viewed on YouTube here and there’s a nice little 90 second Easter egg ‘documentary’ on the incident here .. I think its the director talking though the fun and games.
Bonus Fact: This one is a lot closer to home. The Glasgow Archers badge features 3 arrows pointing downwards on a black background next to a white disc. There is a reason behind this and its right out there. The club was formed in 1948 by archery enthusiasts some of who served during WW2. One was in Bomber Command flying bombing missions into Germany at night. He used to take his bow with him on missions and when their bombs had been dropped, he would add a few arrows to the ‘delivery’. Too outrageous to be true? Our founding fathers used to take their bows into pubs and shoot on dartboards against darts players! We don’t think its that outrageous at all!
* * *
All pictures used for the purposes of education and reporting. No ownership is implied.