Archery at the Winter Olympics – what could it look like?

Archers around the world have experienced shooting in the snow

Archery in its modern Olympic guise, since its return in 1972, and its appearances in the early 1900s have purely been at the Summer Games.

And while some of the sites of the archery competitions at previous Games – the Englischer Garten of Munich 1972, Olympic Archery Field at Montreal 1976, Krylatskoye Sports Complex Archery Field used for Moscow 1980, Hwarang Archery Field at Seoul 1988 and most recently Yumenoshima Park for Tokyo 2020 – regularly receive snowfall, archery (in any of its form) has never featured in the Winter Olympics.

Currently, 14 sports appear on the programme of the Winter Olympics (which started yesterday in Beijing): alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboard and speed skating.

Archery does have a little link to Beijing 2022, with the 'National Speed Skating Oval' built on Beijing's Olympic Green (the Olympic Park constructed for the 2008 Games) which consisted of the 'Olympic Green Hockey Field' and 'Olympic Green Archery Field', used for the archery at the 2008 Olympic Games.

And while it might be fun to see An San drawing her bow mid-air during freestyle skiing, Mete Gazoz in sequins dancing around to Bolero in figure skating or even Kim Je Deok and Kang Chae Young suiting up to take part in a two-man bobsleigh team, unless they have a change of sporting heart that’s not going to happen.

But perhaps there are other options.

Ski Archery has a worldwide following

1. Ski Archery

Biathlon is the most obvious parallel for archery on the current snow-and-ice-based Olympic roster. And there’s already a version for bows and arrows, known as ‘ski archery’.

After recognising the discipline in 1991, World Archery built a partnership with the International Biathlon Union and as the international governing body, has organised world championships in the past, but there is no event currently on the international calendar. The rules recognise the use of a simple recurve bow, and athletes ski between target stations.

Some of the earliest pictures showing a skier carrying a bow are found through the work of Norwegian artist Claus Magnus, circa 1540, with his characters represented in shooting position with a very short recurve bow.

Today, ski archery has a small following in Russia and northern Europe but the discipline is not widely known.

2. Snow Archery

If not skis, then what about 3D or field ice archery?

Imagine targets hidden around a wintertime Siberian forest after heavy snowfall. Imagine judging distances with all your clues blanketed in white, the powder adorning the pine trees, the cold creating a muted atmosphere and just your heart beating against the stillness all around.

Let's be honest, the challenge of frozen fingers in archery is enough of a challenge to make this tough.

3. Indoor Archery

Or what about the normal winter-month pursuit for archers worldwide? (Like the 3000 currently competing at the Vegas Shoot, the second event on the 2022 Indoor Archery World Series.) Indoors.

The problem is – that at the Winter Olympics, sports have got to have a link to the snow or ice…

…so we’d have to look at archers shooting while wearing skates.

Perhaps it’s best to stick to the Summer Olympics.