Do you love to impress your family and friends with random knowledge? Well, now you can add some cool archery facts to your repertoire of information. These fun archery facts will help you understand your favorite sport/hobby and give you a deeper connection to an ancient tradition.
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1. Archery has Latin roots.
Ever wondered how archery got its name? According to World Archery, the word “archery” comes from the Latin word “arcus,” which means “bow.” So, it’s surprisingly straightforward. I’d even say it’s … “on target.”
2. The oldest archery artifact is 64,000 years old.
The oldest known evidence of the bow and arrow, or archery artifacts, are small stone arrow points that were found in Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. They are a stunning 64,000 years old.
3. The second oldest archery artifact is 48,000 years old.
The points in South Africa have held the top spot for years, but a couple of years ago, a new artifact claimed the No. 2 spot. In 2020, archaeologists discovered arrowheads crafted from animal bone in a rainforest cave in Sri Lanka. They date the arrowheads at a whopping 48,000 years old. And we’re not referring to just one little point. The excavations in Sri Lanka produced 130 bow arrow tips. That’s a lot of archery being practiced.
4. The oldest archers to medal at the Olympic Games all received their titles in 1904.
We’ve all seen the cute statements on board games that note they are for “ages 9-99.” You could place the same notice on archery. At 68 years old, Samuel Duvall is the oldest — old being a relative term — archery medal winner at an Olympic Games, claiming silver. Galen Carter Spencer won his archery gold medal at 64 years old. At 63 years old, Lida “Eliza” Peyton Pollock is the oldest woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics. And get this: All three archers won their medals at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, where women’s archery made its debut.
5. The youngest archery medalist was 14 years old.
On the other end of the spectrum, the youngest archery medal winner at an Olympic Games is Denise Parker, who was just 14 years old when she won her bronze medal in 1988. Nothing like claiming Olympic gold before you get your driver’s license! Parker also went on to become the CEO of USA Archery in 2009.
6. The youngest archer to score a perfect 900 was 13 years old.
In 2021, Liko Arreola became the youngest archer ever to score a perfect 900 at the Vegas Shoot. She’s no stranger to perfection: She had just scored another perfect 900 only months before at the Rushmore Rumble competition. She’s also only the seventh female archer to achieve that score. These young archers are here to make their mark on the sport.
7. The oldest archery “tournament” started in 1483.
The oldest recorded official archery event is a papingo shoot. This is an archery game in which the archers shoot at a fake bird at various heights instead of at a target based on the ground. It was created by the Ancient Society of Kilwinning Archers in 1483 and is still practiced today. If you’re ever in Europe, give it a try.
8. The oldest traditional-style tournament started in 1603.
Though archery events date back further than this, the Musselburgh Silver Arrow archery tournament might be the oldest, longest-running, traditional-style archery tournament still practiced today, also in Europe. I sense an archery-themed European vacation on the horizon.
9. Arrows can travel up to 200 mph.
The average recurve arrow travels at about 150 mph and the average compound arrow travels at about 200 mph. That’s race car level speed!
10. The first compound bow was patented in 1966.
Though bows have been around for thousands of years, made with natural materials and with sheer strength and ingenuity long before you could buy one in a store, compound bows didn’t come around until 1966, created by Holless Wilbur Allen. That’s less than 60 years ago!
With these archery fun facts, you’ll be prepared for the range and your next trivia night. Hopefully this knowledge makes you feel closer to the sport and will maybe even help you encourage a new archer to give it a try.
Visit your local archery range to put your knowledge to the test.