Tokyo Olympics 2020, Archery: Rules, format and points system

Two-time Olympic champion- Chang Hye-Jin
Two-time Olympic champion- Chang Hye-Jin

Archery was first introduced at the Olympics in 1900 and since then has been contested in 16 editions of the quadrennial event. A total of 84 nations have participated in this event, with France having made the most appearances in this discipline.

South Korea's domination in the sport is highlighted by the fact that they have clinched 23 gold medals, 9 silver medals and 7 bronze medals to account for a total of 39 medals in the Olympics medal tally, with the United States of America second best with 16 medals.

With quite a few Indian archers qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, we have a look at the rules and regulations of the archery event.

Objective of the sport

The purpose of the sport Archery is to aim the arrow at the circular target as close to the centre as possible. At the Olympics, the distance between the archer and the target is set at 70 meters. Here, there are ranking rounds where the grand total and overall score of each player will determine their standing.

The score earned by a player will be determined by how close to the centre the archer shoots the bow. The closer the better.

Equipment required

Olympic Archer's Bow
Olympic Archer's Bow

The main types of equipment required in archery are bowstyles, arrows and a target. The equipment used in modern archery is an evolvement based on the usual bows and arrows used around the world.


There are two types of bows used in international archery and both have separate events for them and are the compound bows and the recurve bows. But at the Olympics, the only type of bow that is permitted is the recurve bow. These bows are very well designed such that they help the archer aim better. It consists of two limbs, a bowstring and a handle. Rods that help in stabilising are also enforced.


The arrows used by the archers are typically 5.55mm in diameter. A smaller diameter ensures that the arrow travels faster and smoother towards the target.


At an international scale, the target varies in size, but at the Olympics, it is 122cm in diameter. On the target, there are 10 concentric rings that get smaller and smaller towards the centre. Each ring has its own scoring. The largest has the least points and the smallest has the most points.

If an archer hits the innermost ring, it is known as a bullseye. That will fetch an archer 10 solid points.

Rules of archery

All archers should comply with the rules
All archers should comply with the rules

The rules of Olympic archery are -

  • All archers must use equipment from the permitted list and not any other equipment or accessories that will give them an unfair advantage over the other competitors.
  • 2 minutes to shoot 3 arrows and four minutes to shoot and end of 6 arrows is the permitted time
  • Points can be deduced if the archer raises his/her bow elbow before getting the go-ahead signal.
  • Once an arrow has been shot, it cannot be re-shot in any given situation. In the event of an arrow falling down, or the target getting blown away by the wind, then a player can shoot that shot again and extra time will be provided in a situation like this.
  • In the course of the competition if a player finds that his/her equipment is damaged, that player can ask the judge for permission to replace their equipment and get compensated with extra in, but this on the discretion of the judge.

The format used in archery

The Ranking Round is played first by all the archers. 64 archers take part in the event across both in the men's and women's categories. In groups of six, each archer gets to shoot 72 arrows. The points/ rankings are decided after the cumulation of the round. The archer having secured the most number of points get the first rank and so on.

The ranking round is played so that in the next round, the line up for a round of 64 can be decided. The archer ranked 1 will face the archer ranked 64th, the archer ranked 2 will face the archer ranked 63rd and so on.

After this round comes the round of 32, round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

There are a total of 12 teams in both the male and female categories combined. This round helps determine the seeds for the team events and each team will consist of only three archers.

The scores from the ranking round of each player will be aggregated in order to calculate the total score of each team. The top four teams with the most points are seeded from 1-4 and are given a bye till the quarterfinals. The other eight teams have to compete for a spot in the last eight.

Point system

There are two types of events, the individual and the team event. The point system is different for both.


For the first round, i.e the ranking round, each archer has 72 shots to take that has to be taken within 40 seconds of the other. At the end of this round, the total points will determine the seedings.

During the knockout rounds, each archer goes head to head with another archer. Each match is played using a set system. In each set, an archer must shoot 3 arrows. The archer who wins the set gets two points. The other archer who loses gets 0 points. If their scores are tied, both are awarded one point each.

The player who reaches 6 points first, wins the match. If the scores match, both the archers get one last and final shot. Here each archer must make the shot in 20 seconds. Naturally, the highest score wins.

Team event

Like the individual event, the team event also works on the set system. Here, instead of 3 arrows per set, 6 arrows per set are shot by each team. In the team event, the teams shoot arrows in groups of 3s. This means a team of three archers shoots 3 arrows, one per archer. The other team does the same. After both the teams finish shooting, the team with a higher score gets 2 points.

The team that gets to 5 points first, wins the match. In an event of a tie, every player from each team shoots one arrow. Whichever team's arrow lands closest to the centre wins. If the first arrows shot are of the same distance, then it goes on to the second and then third.

Edited by Prasen Moudgal


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