Originating as a military and hunting skill, archery dates back to at least 50,000 years ago. The ancient Egyptian civilisation was among the first to employ archery; both for hunting purposes and during warfare.
With the advent of firearms, however, the bow and arrow were almost pushed to extinction. The first sign of revival for this ancient skill came in the late 18th century at the hands of the Britons.
Today, archery is an Olympic sport, practiced by men and women of all ages.
The Daily News Egypt spoke to Captain Taher Karrar, the coach of the Egyptian National Archery team as well as the Shooting Club team, about the evolution of this sport and its popularity in Egypt.
“All you need to practice archery is a talent in shooting,” Karrar said. “All the other physical and technical skills can be acquired by practice.”
Practiced at the early age of six, archery is a sport with no age ceiling. It is also a sport which doesn’t require an early start; you can start practicing archery even if you are no longer a teenager.
“Archery teaches you to aim and to overcome your emotions,” Karrar said, speaking of the sport’s numerous benefits. “It also improves the player’s accuracy and speeds up their decision-making process.”
Despite being an individual sport, Karrar believes that archery endorses the team spirit. As different players have to share the same field, they have to take turns at using the target and they have to wait until everybody is done with aiming to retrieve their bows from the target, and they all have to adhere to the rules of the field.
“Moreover, during the camps set up in preparation of championships, it is the team spirit which helps best prepare and motivate the players,” Karrar said.
On an international level, archery competitions include; the World Cup, the Olympics, as well as other archery championships. Egypt organises two national competitions, including the cup championship. Egypt also takes part in the African Archery Championship, where it has maintained a top ranking.
The Shooting Club in Dokki is among the top clubs in the sport of archery. Almost 70% of the players in the national team originate from the Shooting Club, Karrar said.
The rules of the sport differ slightly based on the player’s age. Players are categorised into: cadets (under 17 years old), juniors (under 20 years old) and seniors. Children are categorised into: under 10 years old, under 13 years old and under 15 years old. The youngest group starts shooting at a 10-metre distance; the shooting distance expands until it reaches 70 metres.
Competitions consist of several rounds, where each player tries to score a sum of points throughout the rounds. Finalists then play against one another as eliminations take place.
Once a military skill, archery has evolved throughout the years into a sport which, despite not being the most popular, is definitely challenging and exciting.