Get Inspired: ARCHERY

From William the Conqueror to William Tell, archery has held an enduring popularity that far outstrips its standing as a minority sport.

Archers in the Olympics have to hit a target the size of a beer mat from a distance of seven bus lengths. Such accuracy is needed to score maximum points, in the 'gold' ring (diameter 12.2cm) - never call it the bullseye!

There are eight million archers worldwide, but it is South Korea who dominate the sport.

Why is it good for you?

As archery does not require mobility it is open to a wide range of people, with the gold medal in the 1904 Olympics won by 64-year-old American Galen Carter Spencer.

The strain in competition of pulling a weight of up to 50lb around 100 times burns about 313 calories an hour and helps improve cardiovascular fitness and core strength.

There are more than 34,000 members of Archery GB and archery clubs offer a variety of social events beyond simply playing the sport.

Get involved

Anyone interested in taking part  can contact their local club by using Archery GB's club finder.  With more than 1,100 clubs, one will not be too far away.

Did you know?

Archery is not the first sport other than cricket to be staged on the Lord's pitch. On 28 July 1917, 10,000 people watched a baseball game at the main ground between Canada and the USA to raise money for the Canadian Widows & Orphans Fund. Lacrosse was played on the cricket pitch in the early 1950s, and international and varsity hockey in the 1960s and 1970s.

For those just beginning their training, many clubs provide basic equipment for hire or, on occasion, for free. Specialist archery shops also offer advice on what equipment to purchase and often provide a rental service.

Some clubs specialise in particular types of archery such as 'target' or 'field',  and many have access to indoor facilities over the winter season for practising and shooting in competition at closer distances.

Those looking for a more informal experience should head to the many 'have a go' archery events at activity centres, holiday parks, game fairs, outdoor shows and tourist attractions across the United Kingdom.

Archery GB is organising an Archery Big Weekend  on 25, 26 and 27 August, where free taster sessions will be put on throughout England.

Further information about the sport can be found on the English Archery Federation,  Welsh Archery Association,  Scottish Archery Association  and Northern Ireland Archery Society websites. For more details, have a look at Archery GB's Beginner's Guide  .

More on the Archery GB website 

History

Archery is one of the oldest sports in the world, with records of competitions dating back to the Egyptian pharaohs and Chinese Zhou dynasty well over 3,000 years ago.

Lord's will host the archery events at London 2012

Archery at the Olympics explained (Part two)

Back in 1363, a royal decree required all Englishmen over the age of seven to practice on Sundays and holidays, such was the importance attached to the bow and arrow by the English army.

In modern times, The Lord of the Rings trilogy prompted a 10% increase in UK archery club members.

The power of the big screen transferred to television at the last Olympics, when archery's average viewing audience was in the top 10 of the 28 sports.

The sport first appeared in the Olympic Games in 1900, was contested again in 1904, 1908 and 1920, and then returned after an absence of 52 years in 1972.

Archer Neroli Fairhall of New Zealand was the first paraplegic to compete at an Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984.

More on the IOC website 

Are you inspired to try Archery? Or maybe you are a seasoned enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the activity by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.