archery, sport of shooting with bow and arrow, an important military and hunting skill before the introduction of gunpowder. England's Charles II fostered archery as sport, establishing in 1673 the world's oldest continuous archery tournament, the Ancient Scorton Arrow Contest. Clubs mushroomed throughout Europe from the late 17th cent. A revived interest in the United States led to the formation of the National Archery Association in 1879. Though field archery (using bows without sights), flight shooting (for distance), and crossbow are competitive sports, the primary international contests involve target shooting, the object of which is to score points with a specified number of arrows aimed at the target's center—a "pinhole" dot surrounded by nine concentric colored circles. The value of hits decreases from the pinhole to the outermost circle. Although archery competitions were occasional Olympic events until 1920, they took an official place on the program only in 1972. The Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc (FITA; est. 1930) governs international competition. In recent decades, the bow and arrow has also regained popularity as a hunting weapon.
See F. Bear, The Archer's Bible (rev ed. 1980).