So … can you ski? If it’s winter where you are, you probably aren’t shooting archery outside, unless you’re super hardy!
This is indoor season, right? Well, it is for most people. A handful of countries, however, have turned archery into an outdoor winter sport called ski-archery, which combines recurve archery and cross-country skiing. Watch this awesome video to see what we mean!
Winter sports fans will see it’s similar to the biathlon, which you might have seen at the Winter Olympics. In biathlon, athletes ski a loop course while carrying a rifle, and stop to shoot at five targets three or more times. If they miss a target, they must ski a short penalty loop that adds to their total time.
Ski-archery is similar, except you carry a recurve bow and arrows, and stop to shoot at four targets 18 meters away. The course is usually 12 kilometers long for men and 8 kilometers for women. The targets are only 16 centimeters in diameter (about 6¼ inches), but have no scoring rings. You just have to hit it. The competitors shoot some arrows while standing and some while kneeling, depending on the competition.
As with biathlon, competitors must be fit. They ski as fast as possible and then calm their heart rate to hit the target and win. If they miss a target, they must ski a penalty loop. Some races, however, simply add a few penalty seconds to the skier’s time.
The first skier to cross the finish line wins. And make no mistake: You must carry your bow all the way! Some competitors mount their quiver on the bow, but others prefer to wear a cool quiver backpack, like the one below that was designed specifically for the sport:
Ski-archery has been officially recognized as a sport since 1991, but it originated in Scandinavia hundreds of years earlier. It’s practiced in places worldwide that commonly play winter sports. Granted, it’s not the world’s largest sport, but you’ll find it in Germany, Poland, Japan and most commonly in Russia. It’s less common, but gaining in popularity, in the United States! Either way, pop into your nearest archery store to learn if it’s available locally.
If you’re handy with skis, and keen to try archery, too, you could even organize a competition yourself!
If you just want a taste of ski-archery, or if it’s warmer where you live, consider the related sport of run-archery, which is gaining popularity worldwide. It’s the same sport but with no skis. Competitors run a circular course and stop to shoot their recurve bow. People often enter these competitions even if they’re new to archery, so don’t be afraid to try it. Similar organized competitions feature archers on roller skates, too!
Whether you try it with skis, skates or running shoes, there’s no excuse to not take archery to new levels of fitness and competition. Check it out. Maybe someone is organizing an event in your area!