Summary

Archery is a sports item in which the archers use bows to shoot arrows, competing
for the accuracy of shooting within a certain distance.

Way back to the Mesolithic Age about 10,000 years ago, the human race had invented bows
and arrows to hunt beasts and catch fish; for a very long time thereafter, bows and arrows were
used as one of the weapons in wars; and now, archery is kept as a popular sports item.

In ancient China, archery was not only a folk sports activity and a military training program in the army, but also the entertainment of the general public and one of the major contents of physical education in school.

Ancient Chinese Archery---Ritual Archery

  • Ritual archery was the product of the ritual-respecting thoughts and ritual systems of the Western Zhou Dynasty. As the archery had rigid rules on rituals and procedures, hence the name ritual archery. The participants should strictly follow the rules and rituals to show respect for the old and the senior.
  • The ritual archery could be classified into dashe (great archery), binshe (guest archery), yanshe (happy archery) and xiangshe (township archery) according to the ranks. Dashe was held when the emperor needed to select someone among vassals and court officials to attend sacrificial ceremony through archery; binshe was held as a ritual when the vassals came to visit the emperor or when vassals officially met together; yanshe was the entertaining archery held when the emperor and the court officials had a banquet; and xiangshe was regularly held in spring and autumn when local officials would select talents through archery.
  • The core of ritual archery was the archery match. Each time six archers would be selected who would be divided into three groups, two archers in each group. The match would have three rounds; one archer shot four arrows in each round. The first round was preliminary, and the archers in the three groups would show their skill in turn; in the second round, the host and guests would also join in, and the loser would be required to drink wine for punishment; the third round was the most difficult: music should be played during the round, and the archers should shoot the arrows according to the beats of the music.

Modern Archery

The earliest modern archery tournament came forth in England. Starting from 1673, the "Scorton Silver Arrow" in Yorkshire of England has been held every year until now.