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Shooting with an arrow: The sport of archery

Anna Isabel C. Rodriguez
Learn more about the sport popularized by the Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen, one of the events for Palarong Pambansa

EYE ON THE TARGET. Bianca Gotuaco, Archer and Palarong Pambansa athlete shooting a Recurve bow.

MANILA, Philippines – What does Robin Hood, Katniss Everdeen, Cupid, and Legolas have in common? All these heroic characters are armed with a bow and arrow.

Whether it be for shooting the orcs of Mordor, or shooting game for food, archery is a skill that is both useful and effective.

In today’s time, archery has evolved into a sport. Still as equally challenging and exciting, archery is now usually played for recreational purposes. It is also part of prestigious sports tournaments — from the Olympics to the World Cup.


One of the oldest arts, archery also has a rich history.

The Egyptians were the first known people to practice archery for combat and hunting.

In China’s Shang Dynasty, chariots carried archers for war and archery tournaments have been held as far as the Zhou dynasty period. In the 6th century, China introduced archery to Japan which influenced the way the sport will be played in the future.

During the Greco Roman period, horsemen called Parthians were able to swivel around on the saddle and shoot the arrow while at full gallop. There is a history of successful conquests by the Mongolians, with their superior bows and arrows. Even the Turks used archery to repel the Crusaders.

Bow and arrow

Archery technology has evolved throughout the years. There are, now, 3 different classifications for the bow.

The classic bow, or the Recurve, has limbs (the upper and lower sides, which are the longest parts of the bow) that curve outward and away from the archer. This is the type used for the Olympics.

The Compound bow has cables and pulleys to help pull the limbs of the bow.

The last type, the Barebow, is similar to the recurve, except no accessories are used.

The object of the game is to be able to shoot the arrow, using a bow, to a specified target.

In the Palarong Pambansa, the targets are 30 or 50 meters away. Certain points are awarded to the archer depending on where he hit the target, with the bull’s eye, of course, having the highest score.

There are also time limits and number of allowed arrows per game. Depending on the type of game being held, there would be one to 3 archers per target. Usual Federation Internationale de Tir a l’Arc/World Archery Federation (FITA) rules and regulations apply.

Archery in the Philippines

Most consider archery as an elite sport — as opposed to the high-tech and expensive bows and arrows most archery athletes use in the NCR, some athletes from the provinces still used wooden arrows.

There are certain groups who exert effort to make the sport available to most. Recently, there have been programs to spread awareness about the sport.

FOCUS. Tim Bismark of Gandiva Archery shooting a Compound bow.

One such program involved the Boy Scouts of the Philippines with the aid of the Gandiva Archery group.

The “Shoot an arrow for a peso” program allowed tourists in Baguio to get a taste of archery and experience shooting arrows. The program not only fostered awareness for the sport, it was also a successful fund raising program by the BSP for archery equipment.

Archery is a sport that is slowly gaining distinction in the Philippine setting.

There have been outstanding, bemedaled Filipino archers of the past like Earl Benjamin Yap, Mark Javier, Jennifer Chan, and Kit Cojuanco (to name a few) that our young archers can aspire to be like. –