Sport Rulebook

Evolving Olympic Archery: From Recurve to Compound Bows

The Olympics Games is a global sporting event that features athletes from various countries competing against one another in different sporting events. Archery, which is a sport that involves shooting arrows with a bow, has been a part of the Olympics since the Paris 1900 games.

Over the years, the sport has undergone different changes, including the introduction of new equipment and new rules. This article will provide insights into the history of archery in the Olympics, changes that the sport has undergone, and the future of Olympic archery.

Olympics History of Archery

Archery made its debut in the Olympics during the Paris 1900 games. At the time, the sport was contested over a total of 50 meters, and targets were placed at different shooting distances.

The event allowed both men and women to participate, and it turned out to be a success. The event was also featured in the London 1908 games, where women were excluded from the shooting event, and it wasn’t featured again until 1920.

The archery sport structure remained the same until 1960 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that the event was too elitist and uninteresting. The committee made sweeping changes to the sport, limiting the shooting distance to 70 meters.

The event also barred women from competing until the 1972 Munich games.

Changes in Olympic Archery

Belgian athlete Emiel Hullebroeck introduced the compound bow to the sport in the 1960s. The compound bow was a technologically advanced design that utilized a series of pulleys and cables to offer increased accuracy and power.

Initially, the bow was deemed unfair and was banned from use in the Olympic Games. The South Koreans, who had been working with recurve bows, were quick to adapt the compound bow when it was legalized for use in Olympics events.

The introduction of the bow in Olympic archery games by South Korea marked the beginning of the South Korean domination in the sport. Compound bows are different from the traditional recurve bows.

Compound bows use cams or pulleys to leverage the bowstring, which results in a more stable shot and less accuracy variation. Recurve bows are simpler and rely on the tension of a string to launch an arrow.

The Future of Olympic Archery

The question of whether or not to include the compound bow in Olympic archery has been a topic of discussion over the years. Currently, the Olympics only feature recurve bows.

However, with the advancements in technology, the compound bow is becoming increasingly popular among professional archers. The World Archery Federation (WAF) and the Olympic organization have considered eliminating mixed team events.

They propose that this could create a chance for having two separate competitions, one with compound bows and another with recurve bows. With this change, athletes who have specialized in use of compound bows would have an opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games.

The prospect of a separate competition using compound bows has been debated for years and met with resistance from traditionalists who argue that it undermines the historical significance of the recurve bow in archery. The final decision on the matter is still pending and will be evaluated in future World Archery Championships.


The history of archery in the Olympics is vast, with a long journey that has witnessed significant changes. The sport has evolved from using recurve bows to include compound bows, which are more technologically advanced.

With the proposal of compound bow competitions in the Olympics, the future of archery looks set to be more interesting and competitive. Regardless of the outcome, there is no doubt that archery will continue to be a fascinating part of the Olympics, showcasing the physical and mental strength of athletes from around the world.

In summary, archery has been a part of the Olympics since the Paris 1900 games, with significant changes that have been implemented over the years. The introduction of the compound bow and South Korean domination have been significant advancements, with the future of Olympic archery proposing separate competitions of compound bows and recurve bows.

The importance of respecting the historical significance of the recurve bow should not be ignored, but the sport must also evolve with technological advancements. Ultimately, archery will continue to be an exciting and respected discipline in the Olympics, showcasing incredible physical and mental strength from athletes worldwide.


1. When did archery debut in the Olympics?

Archery made its debut in the Paris 1900 games. 2.

What changes have been made to the sport since its inception in the Olympics? Several changes have been made to the sport, including limited shooting distance to 70 meters, barring women from competing until 1972, and the introduction of compound bows.

3. What is the difference between compound bows and recurve bows?

Compound bows use cams or pulleys to leverage the bowstring, resulting in increased accuracy and power. Recurve bows are simpler and rely on the tension of a string to launch the arrow.

4. What is the future of Olympic archery?

The future of Olympic archery proposes separate competitions for compound bows and recurve bows and is still pending a final decision.

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