12 Strange Archery Facts …

… and some background around them. Archery is a pastime/sport what invariably leaves you thinking “what the flip?” when a little known fact surfaces. Here are 12 wtf moments for you …

  1. 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). “Parting Shot” comes from the term “Parthian shot” which is a shot taken behind you from horseback as you retreat. 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)
  2. JLSix-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!
  3. On the subject of Khatuna Lorig … in the Olympics Khatuna Lorig2as 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 traveled!). She then competed for the United States at Beijing (2008). At 38yrs old she competed again for Team USA at London (2012) and finally just fell short of qualifying for Rio (2016) at the last gasp.
  4. At the battle of Agincourt, a skilled long-bowman could release up to 12-15 arrows per minute to create the “arrow storm”. Contrary to what you’d think about medieval archery, it was weight of fire that was important here and not pin point accuracy. Think area effect artillery rather than sniper. Now it’s believed there were 500,000 arrows in the baggage train at Agincourt which means the 5,000 archers at Agincort ran through their ammunition in 8 minutes. (there are archers that struggle to get 6 arrows off in 8 minutes!)
  5. bhutanflag300Archery 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. 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.
  6. South Korea’s national sport IS NOT archery (more like a religion to be honest), that’s actually Taekwondo. However, South Korea has (so far) won the most archery medals in Olympic archery with an impressive haul of 38. That’s 23 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).
  7. barcelonaAnd 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 can be found here.
    Point to ponder: where did the arrow end up AFTER the cauldron was lit?
  8. 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, these laws 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.
  9. gdThelma & Louise star Geena Davis 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
    The punchline to this video makes a hat tip to 1960’s filmstar Anita Ekberg who actually did shoot (and hit) a paparazzi who was hounding her with her flat bow. Doubt this story? Here is the preparing to shoot pic and one showing what the paparazzi saw just before he felt a stabbing pain.
  10. 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 doesnt 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 .. and now you know why Fletcher was quite a common surname in medieval Britain. An additional step might be “weather proofing” for arrows likely be stored for a while. 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 kindom being issued. Thats a lot of feathers!
  11. 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 insanely 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!)
  12. ski biathlonand finally … archery pops up in many other sports. We have archery angling or bowfishing, archery hunting obviously (not in the UK though), archery golf and can even be found mixed in with cross country skiing in Archery Biathlon!
    Hang on, isn’t biathlon cross country skiing and rifle shooting?
    Yes, it is but there’s an archery variant as well! Just lay off the après ski til after the competition!

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