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Olympic Archery Distance (All you need to know)




Series of straw archery targets in wooden stands inside football stadium

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Archery is not just a great hobby; it’s a sport worthy of Olympic glory.

From as early as the 1970s, archery has enjoyed a permanent seat at the Olympics. 

But how fast do you have to shoot to match the Olympic standards? Let’s find out.

How far do archers shoot at the Olympics?

The conventional range in Olympic archery is usually 70m or 70 yards ( that’s for a 1440 round).  However, because you will be straddling the shooting line when taking a shot, your arrow ultimately travels less than 70m. 

The shorter distance the arrow has to travel is because the arrow begins its journey towards the target in front of the shooting line, and the target is set to tilt back slightly.  

For you to qualify, you have to shoot over a distance of 30 to 90 yards for men and 30 to 70 yards for women.

olympic archery distances

During the Olympics, shots are frequently timed. According to the World Archery Federation, the time limit for three arrows is 2 minutes. 

While for an outdoor round, the two shorter distances  are set as  2 minutes for every three arrows, and for the longer ranges the time limit is set at 4 minutes to shoot six arrows.

Mainly, archery at the Olympics involves shooting a recurve bow at a target.

What’s the recurve shooting target?

In recurve shooting, the target is a colored board (5 colors) with a 122cm diameter.

The dead center (the bull’s eye) of the target is usually about 130cm from the ground. 

The target (butt) has ten scoring rings that have a 2.2cm width dimension for each. 

Each score is shown by a color consisting of  two rings with different colors.

If your arrow lands on a specific color, you score some points. 

archery sport arks and arrows in innovative materials
Recurve shooting target

To score the most points, your arrow must hit the inner parts of the recurve target. 

The inmost color is gold, and it scores either 10 or 9 points. Next are the red rings worth seven to eight points. 

Then comes the blue circles that give you five to six marks.

If you hit the black part you can get three points or four points at most. Lastly, white scores one or two points.

At the Olympics, the targets (also called butts) are set in line with a distance of between 4 and 6 yards in between them. 

There’ll be a flag on every third butt to show wind direction. 

For other qualifying competitions, before you get to the Olympics, the butt may be smaller or larger.

Woman with bow and arrow aiming at archery target in park

To advance to this high level of the sport, you can’t use any odd bow.

You will need to shoot with a recurve bow. 

Recurve bows reach about 48.5 pounds in draw weight. 

Women’s bows hit about 33 pounds when it comes to draw weight. 

How to compete in Olympic archery?

For you to be an archer in the Olympic games, you must be no less than sixteen years.

To earn a qualification, there are many competitions you will need to ace. 

These include the World Archery Championships and some continental qualification tournaments. 

The qualification slots are allocated to your country’s National Olympic Committees, you can’t get a slot by yourself. 

You can earn a position to compete as a team or individually.

Only twelve-team qualification positions are available for each team category.

In the independent competitions, you will be vying for one of 28 qualification spots.

That’s 28 in the men’s competition and 24 in the women’s section. So all in all, you get 64 individuals competing.

For the first round at the Olympics, you will have 12 ends of 6 arrows ( that makes 72 arrows).

You will have to shoot at a target placed at the Olympic archery distance of 70 meters. 

You will have to score very high when you hit the butt( the maximum score you can get is 720).

When all 64 participants are done shooting, the total for each participant is added up. 

Next is the elimination stage. Here two athletes face-off.

The one who gets the highest points proceeds to the next stage, while the losing party bows out of the competition. 

This elimination goes on until they get a winner.

Some fascinating Olympic archery statistics

The South Korean women’s team has not lost the team gold medal since 1988, when the Olympic team championship began. 

The team holds 8 gold medals. And most of the gold medals have been won by South Korean women too. 

The current world record in the men’s competition is 700 points (from a possible total of 720).

The record is held by Kim Woo-jin of South Korean descent, from the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

The archers from South Korea have set lots of more world top scores in archery at the Olympics.

That includes the 18-arrow rounds and 12-arrow contest in the men’s category. 

Final Thoughts

Contesting in the Olympics is not a mean feat. The official Olympic archery distance is a whooping 70meters(70 yards).

Plus, you have to compete against 63 other exceptionally skilled archers.

If you’re shooting for the big leagues, start practicing with a recurve bow and try to beat the 70-meter distance.

Even if the Olympic stage is not for you, have fun with your bow and arrow.  

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