SOURCE: 1996 U.S. Olympic Archery Team Fact Book, September 1995 (unedited)

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Did You Know?

Arrows in the Olympic (recurve) bow events can travel in excess of 150 miles per hour. The limbs on the recurve bow curve away from the archer, increasing power.

William Shatner (Capt. Kirk of Star Trek lore) is an avid archer. When quarterback Joe Montana retired from football, Sports Illustrated reported that archery became one of his new hobbies.

Of the 79 U.S. athletes who have competed for or made four or more Olympic Teams, two are archers — Rick McKinney and Darrell Pace. If McKinney, a member of the ‘95 Pan American Team, makes the ‘96 Olympic Team, he would become only the 13th U.S. athlete to make five or more Olympic Teams.

Archery became an official event of the modern Olympic Games in 1900. It was also featured in 1904, 1908 and 1920. It returned to the Olympic arena in 1972, after the Federation Internationale de Tir a l’Arc (FITA) was founded (1931) and a sufficient number of countries had adopted its rules and format.

James L. Easton, owner of the Easton sporting goods manufacturing company, is the current President of FITA. In 1994 he received a lifetime appointment as the United States’ second member of the International Olympic Committee.

Bows limbs are generally constructed of man-made materials, such as fiberglass, carbon and syntatic foam. Bow handles are made of aluminum alloys and are machined for strength. Some bow handles are made of magnesium and an aluminum mixture which are heated to liquid form and poured into a mold. Once cooled, it is cleaned and painted.

Bows have stabilizers to reduce torque (twisting) in the arrows upon release. They also have sights to aid in aiming and arrow rests to help align the shot.

It may not have to be said, but the sport of archery demands accuracy. The 10-ring target face for 90 meters is just 4.8 inches in diameter. Imagine standing on the goal line of a football field and hitting an apple under the opposite goalpost! The entire target at 90 meters compares in size to the head of a thumbtack held at arms length.

Although many are small in stature, archers are not limited in terms of strength and stamina. The average draw weight of a man’s bow is 50 pounds. In an average tournament, the bow is lifted and drawn more than 312 times for a total of 15,600 pounds (7.8 tons!) pulled over four days. Women pull about 5.3 tons with their 34 pound average bows. To put this in a different perspective, the world's strongest weightlifters lift up to 3,000 pounds (1.5 tons) in a competition.

Most bow strings are made of either Fast Flight, a hydrocarbon product that also has medical and other uses, or Kevlar, the material used to make bullet-proof vests.

Arrows are made of either aluminum or carbon graphite. Aluminum arrows are more uniform in weight and shape, while graphite arrows fly faster. Attached to the shaft are the point, nock (which holds the arrow in place on the bow string), and the fletching (also called feathers or vanes).

The Easton Archery Complex at the ARCO Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. is the largest permanent archery facility in North America.

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