The countdown to the Olympic Games in Tokyo is on, and archery fans will be among the first to see their favorite athletes in action!
Here’s what you need to know to follow the archery competition at this year’s Olympics.
NBC is the primary broadcast company with rights to the Games, so you can find Olympic coverage on the local NBC affiliate that serves your area. You can find more on NBCSN, CNBC, USA, Olympic Channel and the PeacockTV streaming service.
As of this writing, it had not yet been determined where archery coverage would be broadcast. Check the listings for all the channels mentioned as the Olympics begin.
We do know that the archery competition is scheduled to begin July 23 with the mixed team matches. That means individual qualifications will already have taken place — most likely on July 22 — since many countries use qualifications to pick the archers to compete on their mixed teams.
Archers in the Olympics will all be shooting Olympic recurve gear. Compound bows are not allowed.
The typical Olympic recurve bow has a metal riser with removable limbs made of wood, carbon or other composites connected at the tips by the bowstring. Archers must draw the string by hand — using the first three fingers — with most using a piece of leather called a finger tab to protect those fingers.
Above the arrow rest, the bow will have a sight extending forward that can employ a pin or a dot in the center as an aiming reference but that cannot have a magnifying lens.
On most bows, you will see a stabilizer system consisting of three bars. One stabilizer projects forward, while the other two extend back toward the archer. These are used to help the archer balance the bow through the shot.
Arrows will all be very skinny, with metal points fitted in one end and plastic fletchings attached to the rear. These help steer the arrow in flight. The small-diameter arrows are perfectly built to slice through the air and resist influence by the wind.
Before the mixed team rounds start, every archer in the Olympics must shoot 72 arrows for score. They shoot from a distance of 70 meters at a 122-centimeter target face. The target has a series of concentric rings worth 1 to 10 points, moving from the outside to the middle. The center ring in the yellow scoring area is worth 10 points. Surrounding it in the yellow is the 9-point ring. The red scoring area has rings worth 8 and 7 points; the blue area, 6 and 5 points; the black area, 4 and 3 points; and the white area, 2 and 1 points.
The qualification scores are used to rank archers for both individual and team competitions. The higher the score, the higher an archer ranks.
Archers in the Olympics will have the opportunity to compete in three separate events which offer an individual archer the chance to win three Olympic medals.
Going by the schedule of events, the mixed team competition is up first. This is a new addition to the Olympic archery schedule, making its debut in Tokyo on July 23. It will feature teams from qualifying nations of one male and one female archer each.
In the mixed team competition, each archer shoots two arrows at the 122-cm face per scoring end. The four-arrow total scores for each end are compared, and the team with the highest total earns two points as compared to zero for the other team. If the total-arrow scores are tied, each team earns one point. The head-to-head shooting then continues end by end for no more than four ends, or until one team earns six points. If a match ends in a tie, each archer will shoot one arrow, with the arrow closest to the center winning the match.
The mixed-team competition is scheduled to conclude July 24, with quarterfinals, semifinals and the medal matches all being held that day.
On July 25, the women’s team matches are scheduled, and the men’s team matches will be held July 26. Both the women’s and men’s team competitions work the same, and both will conclude on their respective days.
Each team consists of three archers, who each shoot two arrows per match for a total of six arrows shot for score per end. Again, two points are awarded to the winner of each end, or one point is given to each for a tie. The match continues for five ends or until one team earns six points. If the match is tied 5-5 after five ends, all archers shoot arrows to try to get closest to the center.
The individual men’s and women’s competitions will run July 27, 28 and 29, with the women’s finals scheduled for July 30 and the men’s finals July 31. Operating out of a ranking bracket from 1 to 64, archers will shoot head-to-head to whittle down the field until there are four left to fight for the medals.
In individual elimination matches, each archer shoots three arrows per end, following the same scoring as in the team rounds. The match lasts five sets, or until one archer scores six points. If there’s a tie after five ends, there’s a one-arrow, closest-to-center tiebreaker.
WHOM TO WATCH
There doesn’t seem to be an archer hotter than USA’s Brady Ellison heading to Tokyo. He’s ranked No. 1 in the world and he’s been racking up medals at an incredible pace this year, including two golds in World Cup competitions. Ellison holds the men’s world record for the 72-arrow, 70-meter round.
Having said that, we haven’t seen much of the always-strong Koreans, who have stayed away from many international tournaments over the past year. They have two incredible men in Kim Woojin and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Oh Jin Hyek.
On the women’s side, India’s Deepika Kumari is ranked first in the world and is coming off an impressive gold-medal win at the third stage of the World Cup in Paris in June. But be sure to watch Korea’s Kang Chae Young — world No. 3 — who has tons of big-stage experience and is the current women’s world-record holder for the 72-arrow, 70-meter round.