What Bows do Archers Use in The Olympics?

Archery is one of the oldest sports featured at The Olympic Games. What started as a means for survival has become a skillful game of strategy and stamina. It’s no wonder that the sport has maintained popularity for generations -- it combines nature and physical activity for an enjoyable, personal challenge. 

Archery is a test of discipline, precision, and form. Rather than competing against someone else or a team, archery is a sport that allows you to compete with yourself and push yourself to new levels. Archers are self-motivated to improve their skill level, and they use a bow and arrows to reach new heights in their athleticism.

Archers all over the world still use the simple bow-and-arrow set-up that was established thousands of years ago.  Modern progress has preserved the effective design that first made archery possible. And while technology has provided us with compound bows and helpful add-ons, most bow-and-arrow systems are generally uncomplicated and fundamental. At The Olympics and most archery competitions, the beauty of the sport lies in the basics.

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Olympic-Grade Bows

Beginners and intermediate archers will be pleased to know that even professional competitors use archery equipment that is more manageable and straightforward than you might think.

Archers competing in The Olympic Games use recurve bows, which are quite similar to traditional ones. Think of an old-fashion, wooden bow; the design is so simple. 

Recurve bows consist of two limbs and a mid-section called the riser. It’s held upright for a sleek, tall form that harnesses core power. The riser holds the arrow and a few other accessories, depending on the archer’s preference. 

Heavy-duty bows that come equipped with flywheels and aim-assistance tools are meant for hunting large game and are not allowed to be used during an Olympic competition. Compound bows aren’t permitted, either, to maintain the integrity of the sport so judges can truly assess the archer’s skill. 

The Recurve Bow Structure

The shape of a recurve bow is a half-circle, bell shape with limbs that curve away from the archer when held to aim. The curve of these limbs is what helps generate the power behind each shot.

The frame and risers meet the archer’s midsection. The riser holds the arrow rest and a clicker. The clicker is a little flap near the arrow that will flip back when the archer reaches full draw. It gets its name from the clicking sound it makes to alert the archer when they’ve reached full draw. 

Most recurve bows are collapsable for easy carrying and transportation, so they are good for archers with active lifestyles. Whether you’re shooting in an indoor facility or out in a target field, you’ll be able to hold and carry your recurve bow without getting exhausted.

Some recreational and competitive archers choose to rig their recurve bows with various bars for stabilization. These stabilizers are permitted in The Olympics because they are mostly for balance and will not overly enhance performance. The main purpose of rigging your bow would be to help you center your balance and keep shots precise. 

The design is simple but highly effective, so of course, it’s the standard bow used in The Olympic Games.

Picking the Right Recurve Bow

For bows that last and perform just as well as you do, be sure to do your homework so that you pick the right bow for you. Depending on the brand, a bow could run you upwards of $500.

But keep in mind that you don’t need high-tech gadgets or heavy-duty lever systems if you’re practicing archery for sport and not to hunt. Riser technology progresses rather slowly and the limb design isn’t going anywhere, so don’t be fooled into thinking you need the most expensive equipment to start out.

We recommend holding a bow before buying it to get a feel for the size and weight. Buying a bow online isn’t ideal, but you should be okay as long as you do your research and read reviews. 

Takeaways about Olympic Bows

The recurve bow has an efficient design that helps capture maximum energy without overexertion.

Recurve bows are simple and lightweight so archers can truly exemplify their aim and accuracy. It keeps your shots consistent so you can focus on your aim without overthinking.

If you are considering picking up archery, think about getting recurve equipment. It’s the chosen bow type for both professionals and casual archers.