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Archery at the Canada Winter Games is an Indoor Sport

So here is the official description on the Canada Games website:

"Archery began on the program of the Canada Summer Games during the 1977 Canada Games in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Its last appearance as an outdoor sport was at the 1997 Canada Summer Games in Brandon, Manitoba. The 2003 Canada Winter Games was archery’s introduction as an indoor sport on the Canada Winter Games program."

If the concept of archery being an indoor sport with winter competitions seems weird to you, I agree. It is weird. I mean, if it is a winter sport, then why have it indoors? To me a winter sport should definitely be outdoors (with the exception of figure skating / etc).

Also to me archery is, and always will be, an outdoor sport, and furthermore an all-season sport.

Yes, archery can be done indoors, but then you are missing a large aspect of the sport. Learning how to adapt to the weather conditions, like how to adjust your aim based on the wind.

Moving it indoors during the winter is somewhat logical, as it is warmer certainly, but you could just as easily make the same argument for all summer sports. Move them indoors where it is air conditioned. It is the same logic.

Take the CFL for example, the Canadian Football League. Maybe that should be moved indoors completely so there is zero snow on the football field and during the summer everyone is air conditioned. It is the same logic.

But again people would be missing the point. Snow and heat is part of the game in Canada. The CFL wouldn't be the CFL if it was always the same indoor temperature.

Same with archery.

High school students typically practice archery indoors because of practical safety reasons. That is the sole reason. The sport is considered to be too risky to be doing outdoors in a soccer field that most likely borders on a residential neighbourhood and/or local streets where cars could be driving by.

But for a large organization like the Canada Games to move archery indoors it shows the continued trend towards abandoning many of the traditional aspects of archery.

They only have two styles of archery at the Canada Games: Compound and Olympic Recurve. No barebow competition, no traditional recurves, no longbows, no horsebows.

Instead everything is compounds and Olympic recurves. Gadgets galore doing the job that traditional archers do by learning positive habits that improve their accuracy.

Now that doesn't mean I despise compounds and Olympic recurves, I happen to own 4 of them.

But it does bother me that the sport has become all about gadgets and elitism. There should be, at very least, a barebow category at the Canada Games. People across Canada, the USA and the rest of the world do compete at various types of barebow competitions. So it isn't like there aren't people competing at barebow. It is simply that organizations like the Canada Games, the Olympic Games, the Pan Am Games haven't bothered to include barebow category.


Elitism and Exclusion-ism. It isn't just a matter of being elitist, it is about excluding people.

It wasn't always this way. Archery was part of the sports rosters of various competitions decades ago, and the sport was dropped due to waning popularity and later brought back when the sport became more popular.

When archery returned to the Olympics after decades of absence the sport was so drastically altered. The bows were suddenly full of gadgets that act as crutches for archers, some of whom probably never learned how to shoot without the crutches. It is so full of gadgets it is actually a turn off for many spectators like myself.

Do you know what traditional archers call the cams on compound bows?

"Training Wheels."

So there is also some bad blood between "traditional archers" and the Olympic / compound archers.

There is also several competition problems... the current method of competitions at the Olympics is to have duels wherein two archers compete against each other and the winner proceeds up the rankings. They do this because the older method of competing was considered to be too boring for spectators. Honestly, it is still boring to watch. But there is a second problem in that this method can sometimes mean that a good archer could have 1 or 2 bad rounds and then is knocked out of the rankings by a lesser archer who had 1 or 2 lucky rounds. So while skill still matters, luck throws a wrench into the rankings.

The old system of shooting and the archer with the highest overall points wins gold may also be boring, but there was less chance that luck would play a larger role in deciding who wins.

Some competitions still use the old system. The archers might shoot a score out of 300. 30 arrows x 10 points for the maximum possible score. In the event of a tie for the top score, the archer with the most bullseyes wins the tie.

The more grueling competitions go for even bigger number. 400, 500, 600 or more. The higher the number is the more accurate the result is said to be, because it eliminates the factor of luck more and more.

Having competed outdoors I know that wind is a big factor in that luck and that it plays two key roles:

1. It effects the arrow. Which means the archer's skill at adjusting their aim for the wind is being tested.

2. The wind pushes the archer physically, making it more difficult to relax and stand still while performing the shot.

But lets pretend you have a competition and the weather that day is very windy. The archers that adjust for the wind correctly, and resist the effects of the wind pushing them, are going to score higher.

That isn't luck any more, that is skill and experience. The archer who likely wins the competition will be the one who is the most skilled at adjusting their aim for the changing wind conditions, often the archer who has practiced the most, had the most experience dealing with the wind, and is otherwise very skilled at archery.

That to me is the evidence of the archer who has truly practiced and excelled, because they shoot well even under the harshest conditions. It is one thing to shoot well indoors, in air conditioning, but to shoot well when it is too hot, too cold, raining, windy - that means the archer has practiced in those conditions and knows how to react.

So how would I fix these competitions?

#1. Make the competitions outdoors, the way archery is meant to be. Find a safe place where it can be done properly.

#2. Use a mixture of the duels system and the overall top score system. Shoot the duels, so the audience is excited to watch, but the archer with the top overall score should still win gold. The duels should just be for show. Every archer does 5 duels, with each duel consisting of 5 rounds of 3 arrows. Thus each duel produces a score out of 150. Do five of these duels and they get a score out of 750. The archer with the highest score wins gold. Who the archers face in their duels is based on their overall score, but again it is just for show, and they never duel the same archer twice.

#3. Add more categories. Get rid of the Elitism and Exclusion-ism.

  • Longbow
  • Traditional Recurve
  • Archery Biathlon *Winter Only*
  • Equestrian Archery

And I would bet money that when people go to the Olympic Games and see things like Archery Biathlon and Equestrian Archery and there would be no shortage of spectators for those sports. They would be a joy to watch.

Update - I have a newer post about how scoring in an Archery Biathlon works.

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