It can be hard to accept it as an archery enthusiast, but archery is not the most popular sport in the world. Soccer is still number one, but that doesn’t mean archery isn’t popular. It’s easier to find archery clubs in some countries and territories than others, as well as countries with a more competitive national team, but still, this amazing sport will always be the number one in our hearts. Am I right?
South Korea is considered the country where archery is the most popular. Archery is embedded in the culture from an early age and celebrities get involved in archery competitions as representatives. Unsurprisingly, South Korea archers dominate the list of Olympic medals, closely followed by the United States.
What countries play archery?
I reckon there must be at least one archer in every country on earth. There must even be some crazy man living on an undiscovered island who hunts with a bow! The following list is all the countries with at least one medal in the Olympics at archery, and probably gives a good representation of the popularity of archery around the globe at the highest level
- South Korea
- United States
- Belgium, France
- Great Britain
- Soviet Union
- Chinese Taipei
We could also make a list of the countries who participate in archery events at the Olympics, the way you decide to make the cut to consider which are the countries where archery is played is totally up to you. Either as I see it, the entire world, or with a filter like medals or participation, you get a much-reduced list, which is a good indicator of how competitive the country is and how embedded in sport society archery is.
How popular is archery in the world?
It depends where in the world you’re standing. There are some countries with a really strong foundation in archery and strong Olympic teams. For example, archery is a popular sport in South Korea, one of the leading countries in the discipline. The United States also has a great number of archers and archery clubs where anyone can develop and learn the sport.
Besides the two most dominant countries in the Olympics, Japan is another country where the sport has a historically rich background. They are a country with a huge traditional respect for archery. Also, France, the UK and Italy are countries with deep archery history and great support for the sport. However in many countries a more traditional form of archery is dominant. These tend to be countries on the Asian step, and African countries where traditional archery is still a way of life and a useful skill for catching and killing for food. From that perspective, archery is one of the most ‘useful’ sports in the whole world and still widely practiced.
Which country has archery as a national sport?
Although it might sound odd, there is a country with archery as a National sport. It is curious that it is not one of the dominant countries in the discipline, or a country with a medal in the Olympics. Nevertheless, it declared archery as a national sport. Let me present to you, “Bhutan”.
Bhutan declared archery their national sport in 1971, and Bhutan does have a national team which competes in the Olympics regularly. So, why don’t they win? It is probably because they mostly practice an ancient style of archery rather than the modern style with an Olympic recurve bow. They even do archery at some social and religious events.
Their way of archery is a more traditional one, although they don’t have an Olympic medal against our modern recurve bows, they do have a long archery tradition known and trained by most of their citizens. Can you imagine living in a city where everyone practices archery? Maybe I’m just dreaming since I don’t really know much about Bhutan. Maybe it would be dangerous, it means that the entire population is armed and trained with bows. I don’t know, nevertheless, it’s an amazing fact and one of those great obscure facts to share with your friends.
Who has the best archers in history?
This is a tough thing to say since USA had the best archers for years if you look at Olympic medals, but over the last decade, South Korea has dedicated a lot of effort into training and offering incentives for their athletes with one goal, securing gold medals.
In my opinion, the countries with the best archers are The United States, South Korea, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom. History aside, the latest generations of archers have been made with technology and training. The best archers come from countries with the money to buy the proper equipment, and also the willing to train archers and develop specific programs for their development.
For a country to become one of the very best in history, it will require a lot of preparation and some vision to create a national archery program. Historically, when archers were used for military purpose, the UK was one of the strongest countries in the world. Now, with its purpose focused on Olympic competitions and the need for the administration support, only the nations with eyes directly on sports are able to achieve the medal success to mark themselves as a leader in the sport.
Which country has the most medals for archery?
Currently, it is South Korea. A few years ago, they passed the US with a great selection of archers and a lot of training. They also hold the greatest number of gold medals among all the nations, they have 23 gold medals, follow by the US with 14 (correct at the time of writing!). Don’t be surprised if the US manages to climb back to the top of the table in the next couple of Olympic games. There has been sustained and massive financial support in the hunt for medals in the US Olympic teams.
The most important thing I want you to remember is that a sport becomes popular when people spread it. It is up to us, as archers, to show how much fun and beneficial the sport is. How can we help archery? Videotape yourself shooting, show on your Instagram how you shoot. Publish the competitions, share events from your team, show your competition.
Several people in my team don’t like to share any kind of content on their networks. You might not like it but you’ll do a lot of good for the sport and your club. If you’ve got the chance, schedule an event at a school, go with your coaches and teammates, organize a competition in a school and a masterclass. Go do it in a university, in a community or in remote villages from your country. If we all do our piece, archery might get a little more attention.
Happy shooting everybody!