An Archer’s Guide to the 2016 Summer Olympics


The opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is Friday, August 5, so it’s a good time for a quick refresher on Olympic archery.

Men’s and women’s individual and team medals will be up for grabs, and while the purpose of this article isn’t to explain every detail of every competition, we do think it’s helpful to provide the basics.

Olympic archery 2 8-3-16

Men and women will shoot recurve bows from a set distance: 70 meters. Or, for those of you who live south of the U.S./Canada border, think 76.5529 yards.

While the entire target measures about 48 inches in diameter, and for many whitetail bowhunters that in itself would be difficult to hit consistently from nearly 77 yards (remember, you have a recurve), Olympic archers are better than average. Way better.

An Olympic archer’s goal is to place his or her arrows in the center bull’s-eye (worth 10 points), which measures 4.8 inches in diameter.

Each archer will shoot 72 arrows in the opening round. A perfect score of 720 points would mean every arrow found the inner 4.8-inch-diameter bull’s-eye (72 x 10 points). Has anyone every shot a 720? No. But one male shooter from South Korea once scored a 699 during the 2012 Olympics.

Click here for an outstanding article from Lancaster Archery on how shooters advance from the opening round until they finally reach the medal competition. It’s a lot of arrows that really identifies the best of the best. For more on teams that have dominated in the past and those predicted to do well in Rio, check out this “Beginner’s Guide to Archery in the Olympics” from World Archery, the international governing body for the sport of archery.

NBC Sports will be covering 2016 Olympic shooting competitions (guns and bows); click here for the complete schedule. And yes, you can even watch a live video stream of archery on your laptop or smartphone.

In the video below, Team USA Olympic silver medalist Jake Kaminski provides a quick overview of the archery equipment you’ll see at this year’s competition.


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