Top 5: Archery’s best-ever water venues

The arena at the World Games in Birmingham.

Last month’s action-packed competition calendar featured the 11th edition of the multisport World Games in Birmingham, USA.

There were two distinct events: target archery for compound archers; and field archery for archers shooting recurve bows and barebows. New compound women’s world number one Ella Gibson and Swedish barebow legend Erik Jonsson were among the champions.

Finals for all the competitions took place across a large ornamental lake in Avondale Park.

It wasn’t the first time that archers have needed to find their sea legs for the arena. Over the past few years, we’ve had a number of ranges set across ponds. These are five of the best. 

The 2007 Hyundai Archery World Cup final in Dubai

5. The heart of Dubai

The 2007 Archery World Cup Final took place at the Madinat Jumeirah Souk in Dubai, UAE.

It was just the second year of the international circuit and it certainly made a splash. El Salvador’s Jorge Jimenez beat Braden Gellenthien to the compound men’s gold in the final, shot on a range built out into the ornamental lake in the centre of the complex.

It was international archery’s first real foray into becoming a water sport!

4. The Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen

Archery has always prided itself on fitting into the local landscape and the local architecture. Never was this more obvious than in the takeover of the Nyhavn Canal for the 2009 Archery World Cup Final.

The athletes were sunken down on platforms at the entrance to the waterway, with the targets floating on pontoons 70 metres downrange. (The 50-metre distance for compound archers hadn’t been introduced yet.) Spectators lined the edges of the busy tourist area on either side.

3. Szczytnicki Park in Wroclaw

The previous edition of the World Games took place in the Polish city of Wroclaw in 2017. There, the field archery competitions took place in Szyctnicki Park, over the road from the compound finals arena at Centennial Hall.

Lacking wide open spaces, the compact area was constructed very much in and around nature…

…which is really what field archery is all about.

2. Lujiazui Park in Shanghai

From 2017 to 2019, the Shanghai stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup was held in Lujiazui Central Green Space, moving from its previous (nearby) spot on the Bund.

(China’s been largely closed since the pandemic hit in 2020 – but the plan is to return.)

The targets were set on one side of an ornamental lake and the shooting platform, stand and technical areas were built on the other.

It was in this era that a Hyundai-branded remote-control car often returned the arrows back to the archers. Tests were made with a remote-control boat. But it was deemed a little too risky for archers’ rather precious – expensive, specific and tuned – arrows to be sent waterborne.

The 2013 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Paris at the Trocadero Fountains

1. Trocadero Fountains in Paris

Sure, with the Eiffel Tower in the background you probably don’t even see the water in the most recognisable imagery from the 2013 Archery World Cup Final

But the arena was constructed on and around the Trocadero Fountains, looking back on the Palais de Chaillot, with archers shooting across the water. (The fountains were turned off.) It was a brilliant show, with Oh Jin Hyek claiming the recurve men’s title one year on from winning the Olympics.

There’ll be no water when archery heads to Paris for the next Olympic Games in 2024. But the venue then, at Invalides, will no doubt be just as impressive.