Between pop culture buzz and the worldwide broadcasting of the sport, archery is having a moment in the sun right now. Here are the five biggest, most important archery competitions in the world.
NFAA World Archery Festival
The NFAA World Archery Festival takes place in Las Vegas, and it’s one of the major competitions in the sport, solidified by the fact that the purse of $165,000 is the biggest of any indoor archery tournament. As you can see from the videos, modern archery is hardly the Robin Hood/Medieval-type wooden bows and arrows stereotype. The bows they use today look like something out of the future, made of metal and complicatedly constructed; using them effectively takes an interesting combination of skill, strength, patience, and a steady hand. It’s like being a surgeon; if you’re the type of person whose hands tend to wobble or shake easily, archery probably isn’t the right sport for you. Fortunately, you can just watch the experts.
The 3 Star Tour
The World Archery Festival is the first leg of the 3 Star Tour, one of American archery’s biggest competitions. The other two legs are the Indoor National Championship in Louisville and the WAF Classic 600, now known as the First Dakota National Bank Archery Classic. Competitors in all three legs have a shot — literally — at a new car as well as the purse that comes along with the event, and it’s one of the major ways for the country’s most skilled archers to show their stuff outside of the Olympics. The three-leg feature also makes it a more authoritative event: if you can pull off an impressive showing in all three legs, then you’ve proven yourself as a true giant in the sport.
The World Archery Field Championships and Indoor Archery World Cup
Run by the official World Archery organization, the World Archery Field Championships and Indoor Archery World Cup are the major tournaments outside of the Olympics on an international scale. Unlike the 3 Star tour, these tournaments focus mainly on international archery instead of the American variety, and they also incorporate two different varieties of archery: the Field version, which takes place outside using barebows, and indoor, which happens on ranges inside. Brady Ellison, American archery’s top competitor and a medalist at the Olympics, performed well in these competitions, and they rotate between a number of different spots around the world. These competitions also fit into the Longines Prize, which measures how many 10s each archer hits in official competition. The 10 is the best possible shot, and requires an archer to hit dead in the middle of the target — a bullseye.
In the Paralympics, archers with physical disabilities compete. Archery requires an incredible amount of strength and precision, meaning that any sort of bodily disadvantage would seemingly make it an impossible feat. That’s why these archers are so amazing: they overcome what would appear to most of us to be impossible limitations. Most of us wouldn’t even know how to get an arrow off the bowstring, much less hit the target, much less get anywhere near the bullseye. These men and women do that despite battling physical disadvantages, and they do it very, very well.