With the mind more at play than the body, archery is
the ideal game for us, say experts
By Sachie Fernando
Mankind has been associated with the bow and the
arrow since the days of the hunter-gatherer, with archery later
developing into a fine art. Archery as a sport was introduced to
Sri Lanka in 1999, with the man behind the idea being Commander
H.U. Silva, formerly of the Navy, being considered "the father
of modern archery" here. With the support of National Olympic
Committee President Hemasiri Fernando and coach Kesara Serasingha,
the Colombo Archery Club (CAC) was opened with just five members
at that time.
years on, archery in Sri Lanka has come a long way, with the greatest
triumph being achieved by 22-year-old Nimantha Fernando, a CAC member,
when he qualified for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Nimantha passed
the qualifying score of 1200 at the 13th Asian Games in Myanmar,
Bei, Head of the International Judges in Archery and Director for
Sports Administration in Shanghai, has hailed Sri Lanka as the first
country in the history of archery to achieve Olympic standards in
just four years.
Nimantha was unable to take part in the Olympics because only the
top 64 archers from those who qualify from all over the world actually
go on to the Olympics. Nimantha’s world rank was 157 and Asian
rank was 49.
for whom archery has been a passion for two and a half years, says,
"This is the ideal game for Sri Lankans whose bodies aren't
built for games like football or rugby. In archery, it's the power
of the mind.”
once you become a good player, he believes, it's hard to become
the finest and break the barrier between the good and the best.
"One requires a great amount of patience to maintain the dedication
the world of archery is dominated by the Koreans and most record-holders
come from Asia. This is one reason why archery is considered suitable
to Sri Lankans.
1999, 10 archery clubs, including the Uva AC, Race Course AC, Dambana
AC, Nalanda College AC, Army AC, Navy AC, Air Force AC and Police
AC, have sprung up across the country. Their membership comprises
more than 200 active archers with the numbers increasing each year.
College is the only school to have an archery club and hold an archery
competition at its annual sports meet while the Dambana Club is
unique with the Veddahs testing their skills in archery.
first formal archery competition was held in Sri Lanka in 2000 and
saw 40 archers taking part. Today more than 200 archers take part
in this competition. Every club holds an annual meet and all the
contestants gather in Colombo for the national competition held
nationals conducted at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium is the toughest
competition where new talent in marksmanship is spotted and rewarded.
This year 17-year-old Krishalika Kaluarachchi, a student of Bandarawela
Kuda Kusum Balika MV from Uva AC beat all novices at the Nationals.
archery equipment plays an important part in performance, the major
factor is talent," says coach Kesara giving instances of experts
performing brilliantly with basic equipment. "Talent beats
all other aspects."
to proponents, archery is different to other sports. It is a sport
of leisure, more like meditation. It's a battle between the player
and his mind. "Eighty percent of the results come through mental
capability and 20% from physical ability. It's a way of defining
yourself. Performance comes through self-analysis," says Kesara.
"In this game there is nothing to be sad or feel bad about.
It's your game and your achievement. The player himself rewards
himself by performing better today than yesterday."
become the best, Kesara says, an archer needs dedication, practice,
a passion for the sport and resources. Archers agree that it is
an easy sport to enjoy and achieve good results. Once you join,
archery becomes incredibly addictive. The age limit for archery
can vary from 8 to 80. The oldest person to win an Olympic medal
was an archer.
can shoot a dinner plate from 12m by the third day of practice,"
assures Kesara. "A new archer is like a rough diamond, priceless
but needs to be cut to see its brightness." That is his job.
"I am supposed to find talent in the players and make them
reach their potential."
coaches handle the training at the clubs and with support from the
National Olympic Committee 30 Lankan coaches have been trained at
two national level camps. There are dangers in engaging in archery,
like in any other sport, but they can be overcome by taking safety
measures. "That's why the first lesson on archery is on safety
rules," says Kesara.
those who haven't tried this sport, the message from Kesara is:
"Try shooting a few arrows. You'll never know if there is a
a bow - and arrow
The main equipment needed for archery is a bow, arrows
and a target. The bow consists of three main parts - the riser,
the two limbs and the bow string. The riser is the central part
where the grip is located, while the two limbs are mounted on its
tips. The elasticity and strength of the two limbs give the arrow
a controlled flight.
bowstring passes through the limbs at the tip and is stretched over
the whole body of the arrow. An adjustable sight and stabilisers
are fitted to the riser. The bow weight and the arrow length are
decided according to the potency and the draw length of the player.
The alignment of the bow is very important so as it is to adjust
the sight correctly.
arrow consists of a metal point at the front of the shaft, which
aids it to pierce through the target. The plastic fletching at the
back of the arrow allows a good flight. At the end of the shaft
is a knock, to enable the arrow to be placed on the string.
target consists of the face, the surface on which the 'rings' are
printed and the buttress, the layer in which the arrow lodges. The
face with the buttress is mounted on a target stand in such a way
that the centre of the target stands 1.3m above the ground.
archer would also need a quiver to carry the arrows, a finger tab
to protect the fingers when drawing the bow, an arm guard and a
chest guard for protection. Those interested in finding out more
about archery could contact the archery school at the Sugathadasa
Indoor Stadium, where a coach will give details about basic lessons.
CAC provides basic equipment for beginners. "Afterwards, it's
the flair in you, which will decide the path ahead," says Kesara.