Sport Spotlight: Archery is the first installment in our new series of spotlight blogs. Each blog will focus on one sport that isn’t commonly publicized while explaining the basic rules and exploring how athletes in Minnesota can participate.

Archery dates back to 2800 B.C.E. with the construction of the first bow and arrow by the Egyptians. Today, archery is both recreational and competitive—the activities range from casual day bowhunting to shooting at a range to Olympic events.

Basic Rules and Regulations

The purpose of archery is to hit the desired target(s); points are then calculated based on where the arrow hits the targets throughout the course of a round. Regardless of the type of archery, most of the rules apply to all ranges or courses. There are many designated lines for each destination on the course like the shooting line, waiting line, and target line. The shooting and waiting lines are pretty self explanatory, and the target line acts as a warning mark for younger archers retrieving their bows from the target. When taking back arrows it is important to proceed with caution and stand on either side of the target while retrieving them.

These lines and the course are all monitored by whistle blasts, which are used to communicate when to shoot and when to stop. Each number of blasts has a different function: one whistle blast signals the archer at the shooting line to put the arrow in the bow and start shooting, two whistle blasts signals the next archer to move to the shooting line from the waiting line, three whistle blasts tells the archer to retrieve their arrows, and four or more blasts means to stop shooting.

Types of Archery

There are five different types of archery: field, 3D, traditional, bowhunting, and target.

Field archery takes place on a course set up in the woods where archers hike around and shoot paper targets from 20 to 80 yards away. In 3D archery , archers shoot at foam animals at a distance either on a wooded or open course. Traditional archery comes down to the type of arrow and bow the archer is shooting with and is subjective to the archer. Bowhunting is a form of hunting game with a bow and arrow—it requires a license and only takes place during certain seasons. Finally, target archery—the most popular form of archery—consists of shooting a bullseye like target from a distance of 30 to 90 meters outdoors and 18 or 20 indoors. The Olympics feature target archery, as do national and local competitions. Due to its stake in competitions, USA Archery governs target archery.

Archery in Minnesota

Target archery is becoming popular in Minnesota high schools: According to the DNR, over 300 schools participate through some form of school program. Archery has had a state tournament for the past 11 years, and the most recent tournament featured 1,313 athletes after regionals in January and February. There are many archery ranges in Minnesota to try out archery regardless of experience. To get started, take a beginner class either through a range or a community center.

For more on archery, check out Archery360.