Archery Equipment

Modern archery equipment is the evolution of the bows and arrows used by cultures around the world for millennia. World Archery recognises a number of equipment disciplines, or bowstyles, including the recurve bow, which is used in the Olympics, and the compound bow.


World Archery recognises official competition categories for archers using the recurve bow and compound bow for use at World Archery Championships and on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit.

Barebow, longbow, traditional bow and instinctive bowstyles are recognised for other world archery championships, while variations on these bows are permitted under the rules for flight archery. 


Recurve bows consist of a riser and two limbs that curve back away from the archer, linked by a bowstring that is drawn with the fingers. The use of stabilisers and a clicker is permitted – but the use of a magnifying sight and release aid is not permitted.

Recurve bows are used in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, at World Archery Championships and on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit.

The natural modern evolution of historical equipment, recurve bows have roots in traditional longbows, flatbows and the recurve shape is derived from a pan-Asian style, also seen in bows shot from horseback, that efficiently transfers stored energy into the arrow.


Compound bows use a cam system, through which a bowstring and cables run, to increase the efficiency of energy imparted to the arrow when the bow is shot. The use of a magnifying sight and release aid is permitted.

Compound bows are used at the Paralympic and World Games, at World Archery Championships and on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit.

Invented in the 1960s as an advanced mechanical solution for a bow and arrow, the compound bow emphasises extreme accuracy and aiming. Compound bows are more inherently accurate than recurve bows, which is why scores recorded by athletes using the equipment tend to be higher.

(A good comparison is high jumping and pole vaulting. With the additional equipment provided in pole vaulting, athletes are able to achieve comparatively higher results, however the two disciplines are very different in technique.)


Modern competition arrows are usually made of carbon or aluminium or a combination of both, which provides better aerodynamic and projectile qualities than the historical wooden arrow. Travelling at speeds in the region of 200m/s, arrows are efficient and highly-accurately made instruments – reused time and time again in competition.

The components of an arrow include the point, which is the metal tip at the front of the arrow that pierces the target, the shaft or body of the arrow, fletching and nock. Fletchings, or vanes, are the plastic or synthetic feathers that stabilise an arrow in flight, while the nock is a small plastic U-shaped component that clips to the bowstring between the nocking points.


Stabilisers are a rod and weight system mounted to the bow to balance it during aim and absorb vibration during release.

A sight is a device mounted onto the bow with which the archer aims. It has a block that is moveable up-and-down and left-to-right. An archer using a compound bow may have a magnifying lens and levelling bubble, but an archer using a recurve bow may have neither.

Recurve archers use a leather tab to protect their fingers from the bowstring when drawing the bow. Used with compound bows release aids are mechanical, hand-held devices that draw and release the bowstring, attaching via a D-loop, which minimise inconsistencies.

Archers tie a quiver around their waist to hold their arrows.

Armguards protect the arm from the string when an arrow is released; they are made of plastic (or leather) and are worn on the inside of the forearm. A chestguard covers the side of the archer’s chest closest to the bow, keeping clothes out of the path of the bowstring.

Additional accessories include plunger buttons, rests, dampers, sight pins, peepsights and finger slings.