Details Of The Olympic Archery Bow

Oct 31, 2022Bows

Olympic archery bows are the tool of choice not only for those in the Olympics but thousands of archers who love the sport and challenge of archery. In addition to being used in the Olympics, these bows are fun to shoot and can be used in target, indoor, field, and 3D archery. If you have ever wondered what exactly an Olympic archery bow is or what makes it so special, then you have come to the right place!

Archery In The Olympics

Archery has a long history with the Olympics. It was first introduced in 1900, as well as in 1904, 1908, and 1920 games. It was dropped, however, due to there being too many variations of the sport. In 1931, the World Archery organization was formed with the intent of standardizing archery and getting it back into the Olympics.

This succeeded almost 40 years later when archery made its return to the Olympics in Munich in 1972. Since then, it has grown tremendously and is one of the most recognizable Olympic competitions. These days, there are specific rules that must be followed in order to compete. Archers must use the correct equipment and the tournament is an elimination-style match.

Olympic Archery Rules

During a competition, each archer shoots a total of 72 arrows in the qualifying phase. Their total score is used to determine rankings for the matchplay phase where archers face head-to-head. During this next phase, competitors determine a winner in a best-of-five format. Scoring is based on where arrows land on the target. The targets are around four feet wide and include ten different scoring rings separated into five colors. The inner color is gold and is worth the most amount of points. Points get lower the farther out you hit. The goal is to hit as close to the center as possible.

Olympic Archery Distance

Archers competing in an Olympic archery event will be shooting a distance of 70 meters (about 76 yards). This is much further than most people realize. It takes a great deal of practice and skill to accurately hit the highest-scoring sections of a target at this distance. Not many archers can shoot accurately at this range with a compound bow, so it is quite impressive for athletes to do so with a recurve bow.

Olympic Archery Bow Poundage

Because recurve bows are used in the Olympics, the average draw weight will vary slightly from archer to archer depending on their draw length. On average, men are pulling anywhere from 46 to 52 pounds with 48 to 50 pounds being the most popular. For women, most will be pulling 26 to 35 pounds with 33 pounds being the average.

Olympic Archery Bow Price

With a few exceptions, Olympic archery bows are often purchased as two separate pieces: the riser and the limbs. Risers can cost as low as $150 or as high as $1000. Limbs can cost as low as $100 or as high as $1200. The price reflects the quality and build, so the more you spend, the higher the quality parts and equipment you will use. At the end of the day, an Olympic archery bow can cost a little or a lot depending on your preferences.

Olympic Archery Bow Anatomy

The bows used in Olympic archery competitions are recurve bows. Most are ILF bows. This stands for International Limb Fitting and is a universal system that lets you match different risers and limbs to each other. ILF bows have quickly become the most popular option due to their ability to mix and match different risers and limbs. This gives them much more customization and performance potential.

Bow Riser

The riser is the central portion of the bow to which all of the other parts attach. The riser contains vital parts such as the bow grip and arrow shelf. It also includes attachment and mounting points to place things like rests, sights, and stabilizers on the bow. The limbs of the bow are bolted to either side of the riser as well. Olympic bow risers are generally made out of high-quality aluminum.

Bow Limbs

Limbs are the flexible planks found at the top and bottom of the riser. They store and release kinetic energy that is used to propel the arrow forward. The limbs are also what determines the strength and draw weight of a bow. With ILF limbs and risers, limbs are easily interchangeable and can be swapped out. Limbs are generally made of a fiberglass-carbon composite material.

Bow Sight

A sight is a simple device that attaches to the bow’s riser and is used to help aim. It provides the archer with an adjustable sight pin that is used as an aiming reference to make much more consistent shots. Bow sights are generally attached to the bow on the riser.

Arrow Rest

An arrow rest is another device that attaches to the bow’s riser and is designed to hold the arrow. This is done as the archer draws the bowstring back. They are usually made of plastic or metal. Olympic archery bows generally use a plunger-style rest. These rests feature a small cylinder that connects to the riser above the arrow rest. It has a spring and tip that makes contact with the shaft of the arrow. This serves two purposes, as it helps set the center shot and absorbs flex and imperfections of the arrow as it moves. Plunger-style arrow rests are one of the best choices for bows shot with fingers and not release aids.


A clicker attaches to the bow’s riser and is used to help the archer achieve a consistent draw length. It is placed to pass over the end of the arrows once the right draw length is achieved, producing an audible “click” as it does. By getting the same draw length every time, an archer can get more consistent shots.


A stabilizer on a bow serves two purposes. First, it helps to absorb the vibration and shock of a shot. And, as the name implies, it also helps to better stabilize the bow while shooting. It attaches to the riser and can consist of many different components and styles. Olympic bows generally utilize an entire stabilizer system. This includes a long rod, short rods, added weights, and a v-bar. All of these components work together to provide stability and balance. Additional vibration dampeners can also be added to help absorb even more.

Kisser Button

Kisser buttons are small plastic devices that attach to a bowstring. They align right between your lips and help give you an anchor point to get more consistent shooting. Not all archers choose to use a kisser button, and they are entirely up to personal preference.

Vibration Dampener

Vibration dampeners are often added on Olympic bows to reduce the shock and vibrations during shooting. Bow dampeners come in a variety of different styles. They can be added to the string, limbs, and riser. Most, however, are added to the stabilizer.

Olympic Archery Bow Accessories

Finger Tab

Finger tabs are usually made of leather and provide protection for your fingers while pulling on the bowstring. They also give you a much smoother surface for a consistent release of the bowstring upon release. Finger tabs can also help you avoid finger fatigue and pain if you are shooting for long periods of time.

Finger Sling

Many people often wonder why Olympic archers drop the bow after they shoot. This is because they are hardly holding their bow when they shoot to avoid hand torque. At the shot, the bow moves forward and drops out of their hand. To avoid having the bow fall to the ground, they often utilize a finger sling. A finger sling is a small piece of rope or material that wraps around the bow and connects to either side of the hand. It helps to catch the bow and prevents it from falling to the ground after the shot.

Chest Protector

Chest protectors are devices worn over the shoulder and across the chest of an archer. These work as the name implies and protect your chest while shooting. It only takes one time for the bowstring to slap your chest before realizing how much a chest protector can help. They also do a great job at keeping loose clothing out of the way of the bowstring.

Arm Guard

An arm guard functions similarly to a chest protector. Its purpose is to protect your arm from getting slapped by the bowstring during a shot. If an archer is wearing a long sleeve shirt, it can also help prevent it from getting in front of the string and causing accuracy issues.

Final Thoughts

Olympic archery bows have come a long way since their inception into the Olympics in the early 1900s. They may look a little different than they did back then thanks to modern technology, but these recurve bows are still the tool of choice for thousands of archers around the world. These bows are excellent pieces of archery gear that are capable of some amazing accuracy and results!

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