Perhaps one of the most ancient arts to be found in modern sports competitions, archery owes its longevity to the many benefits it affords competitors. For example, archery--as most sports involving targets--improves mental focus.
Concentrating on a mark helps to shut out distractions and and maintain composure when the heat is on. Archery also enhances eye-hand coordination while strengthening the upper body. Less evident personal rewards include the sharpened social aptitude that comes from competing either as an individual or on a team. All of these synergize to improve the archer's overall confidence. Target archery, an Olympic sport, is a good starting activity for those new to bows and arrows. Other enthusiasts branch off to specialties like field archery, 3-D archery and bow hunting wild game.
One of the mest traits of target archery is the convenience: it can be done indoors, in a backyard or at a recreational facility. Most competitive archers adhere to rules set down by national and global organizations like USA Archery and the World Archery Federation. All shooters shoot at a fixed distance toward a uniform and multi-colored target, the bullseye of which measures 80 or 122 centimeters in diameter, depending on skill level and type of bow. Olympic shooting calls for a recurve bow, though compound bows are also popular with target shooters. A concentric circle pattern covers the target; each area represents a point value where the bullseye is the highest and the outer area receives the least. Indoor events place targets 18 meters from where the archer stands; outdoor competition, up to 70 meters.
As noted, the Olympic games require a recurve bow for competition. A recurve bow has a more basic construction than the compound bow: consisting of no more than three pieces, the recurve has limbs that curve away from the archer and toward the target, producing more power when the string is pulled back. On the other hand, the compound bow allows for easier shooting with greater accuracy. Working off of a pulley system, the compound bow has limbs turned toward the archer and one or two wheels that absorb the strain, affording the shooter a greater range of motion. A target archery arrow consists of:
- The nock -- i.e. the end where the string fits into the arrow
- The fletching -- i.e. those feathers just ahead of the nock that aid in the arrow's flight
- The shaft -- i.e. the spine of the arrow; made from varying materials
- The tip -- i.e. the point; could be blunt, broad etc.
Several large retailers sell archery equipment, as do countless independent stores. Among the larger ones is DICK's Sporting Goods. Prospective archers can choose from an array of bows and return to the store for tune-ups and adjustments. Consumers can consult staff as to the right material, weight and fletching of the arrows on sale, as well. Modell's is another chain with stores in the northeast, but selling online everywhere. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's have stores in the U.S. and Canada, while also operating thriving online businesses. Offering a wide range of bows--including those for crossbow shooters--these stores also market a broad assortment of arrows, heads and archery accessories such as cases, sights and releases. Questions are handled in-store or on the websites.