Archery first appeared in the Olympics in 1900 and was held again in 1904, 1908 and 1920. However, international rules had not yet been developed and each host country used its own format. Because of the resulting confusion, the sport was eliminated from the Olympic program, though unofficial archery exhibitions were held in 1956 and 1964.

In 1972, after enough countries had adopted the international governing body’s rules, archery was readmitted into the Olympic Games. Initially, there was only one event for men and one for women. Men’s and women’s team competitions were added to the 1988 Olympic program, doubling the number of archery events to four.


Prior to 1972, Belgium, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the United States had won all the archery medals. Belgium is the only country of the five that has yet to win a medal since archery’s reintroduction in 1972. But the all-time medal leader and most dominant nation in modern archery is South Korea. The women of South Korea have been particularly successful at the Olympics, collecting all seven gold medals in the team event and seven of the last eight individual gold medals. South Korean men have won four of the last seven gold medals in the team event. At the 2012 London Games, Oh Jin-Hyek became the first South Korean man to win an individual gold medal in Olympic archery. The U.S. is the second-most successful nation in archery, followed by France.

The Target

In archery, the target is 122 centimeters (4 feet) in diameter and sits 70 meters from the shooting line. Targets are proportionally divided into five colored rings and each ring is further divided in half, providing ten scoring zones in descending value beginning at 10 points for the inner-most circle. In 2010, archery’s international governing body introduced a new scoring system to the individual competitions that closely resembles tennis sets. In the 64-archer field, athletes square off in a match-play style of competition. With the set system, each match is a maximum of five sets with three arrows per set. The winner is the first archer to achieve six points. The archer who earns more points in a set receives two points and if they tie, then each archer receives one point. If, at the end of five sets, the match remains tied, a one-arrow shoot-off will be used to break the tie. The archer whose arrow is closer to the center will get one extra set point and win.