Since the London 2012 Olympics and the “The Hunger Games” debut, archery’s popularity has skyrocketed worldwide. For instance, the World Archery Federation – the sport’s governing body – now includes over 150 countries, all of which abide by World Archery’s constitution, vote on archery legislation at World Archery Congress, and participate in international World Archery tournaments.
But even before archery’s recent growth spurt, the world’s top archers often faced off in breathtaking venues. And now, thanks to the sport’s large, inclusive memberships and booming international participation, archers worldwide are enjoying unprecedented opportunities to compete in epic sites around the globe. Let’s look at the top 10 locations for global archery competition, past, present and future.
1. Antalya, Turkey
Konyyalti Beach, Antalya, has been a vital destination for the World Cups since the circuit’s launch in 2006. Archery tournaments held here enjoy oceanside appeal: this Mediterranean resort destination is known as the “Turquoise Coast” for its blue, beautiful waters.
Dubai’s crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches provided a picturesque backdrop for the 2007 World Cup Finals. Archers shot targets from a platform over the Madinat Jumeirah Lake. Burj Al Arab, the world’s tallest and most luxurious hotel – and a hotspot for celebrity sightings – provided the backdrop.
Dubai is also home to a palm-tree shaped island called Palm Jumeirah.
3. Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne played host to the World Cup Finals in 2008 and 2014. Home to World Archery and the International Olympic Committee, Lausanne is a special venue to archers worldwide, offering scenic views of the Alps and Lake Geneva.
4. Tokyo, Japan
The world’s 32 best archers competed in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park at the 2012 World Cup Final. The park originally served as the palace grounds for feudal lords and was later converted to military grounds. Hibiya Park opened to the public as an urban-style park in 1903. It attracts many visitors with its museum, restaurants, outdoor music domes and large flower gardens. This venue is near the Imperial Palace, located in Tokyo’s center, within the grounds of what was once Edo Castle. The palace is home to Japan’s emperor.
5. Paris, France
Archery tournaments meet European vacations? The 2013 World Cup Finals took place at the Trocadéro Esplanade in Paris. The esplanade, or “long, open, level space for walking,” provided a picturesque, panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower, its accompanying gardens, and several major monuments.
6. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is no stranger to archery or multi-sport events. Caribbean, Pan American, Central American and Olympic Games have all been played in Mexico City.
The 2006 World Cup Final was shot at the Mayapan Pyramids. The historic Mayan Ruins are a major tourist attraction, so it’s no wonder archers eagerly returned in 2013 for the inaugural Mexican Challenge. This competition pits eight of Mexico’s finest archers against eight of the most successful archers from around the world.
Archers will compete again in Mexico City at the 2015 Word Cup Final and 2017 World Championships.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
The 2015 World Archery Championships took place in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital. The finals were held in front of the Danish Parliament, located in Christiansborg Palace on the island of Slotsholmen. The palace is over 800 years old and attracts over 60,000 visitors annually. It’s also home to the Supreme Court, the prime minister’s office, and Copenhagen’s tallest tower.
Other top Copenhagen attractions include the Queen’s Tapestries, the 100-plus year-old Little Mermaid sculpture, and the Nyhavn Harbor, 2009 World Cup Final venue and home of the late Hans Christian Andersen.
8. Las Vegas, Nevada
Each year, Las Vegas hosts the “largest and most prestigious indoor archery tournament in the World.” The 16th annual Vegas Shoot takes place in January 2016. The tournament features the three-spot 20-yard “Vegas Round,” a tradition born at this event.
In true Vegas style, the Shoot offers big payouts. The motto “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” might cover most fun and games, but the Shoot’s top archers leave with a combined $300,000 in cash and prizes.
Registration for the Vegas Shoot opens in October. Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the bling and ca-ching of the Vegas Shoot.
9. Athens, Greece
The 2004 Olympic Games were shot in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece. The 2,300-year-old, full-marble stadium was home to the first modern Olympic Games, held in 1896.
The stadium is one of Greece’s most popular monuments and a major player in modern Olympics. Each year, the Olympic flame travels from the Panathenaic Stadium to the Games’ destination. In 2016, the flame travels to Rio.
10. London, England
London, England, welcomed archers to the 2012 Olympic Games at Lord’s Cricket Ground, owned by the Marleybone Cricket Club (MCC). The venue, named after founder Thomas Lord, is the “home of cricket.” Lord’s is also home to the MCC Museum, one of the world’s oldest sporting museums.
Archers competing at this venue made archery NBC’s most-watched 2012 Olympic event for spectators worldwide.
This year’s Archery GB National Series Finals takes place at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, England. Built in the 1580s, Wollaton Hall sits on 500 acres and houses the city’s Natural History Museum. Fun fact: Christian Bale’s Batman once walked the spacious, historic halls while filming “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Up Next: Rio de Janeiro
Although the preceding 10 global archery destinations are awesome, archers are especially looking forward to competing in Rio de Janeiro, home of the 2016 Olympic Games.
The U.S. men qualified a full team and Khatuna Lorig sealed an individual slot for the recurve women at Rio 2016. If their recent World Cup success is any indicaton of their potential, Team USA is sure to light up any venue.
You don’t have to go somewhere exotic to shoot archery, of course. Even top archers got their start by arrowing backyard targets.
From the backyard to the tree stand to one of these global destinations, you never know where archery will take you. Find an archery store near you, and begin your archery adventure today.