Archery The Original Sport For Gender Equality?

Rouchelle Gilmore | | BrainsBrains
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Women in completing in archery, in the early 1900s. Credit: World Archery.

When one thinks of sport and equality there are few sports that spring to mind, yet World Archery claims their sport was one of the pioneers to equality in sport. Archery, a sport that originated as a means of hunting and gathering food, dating back to the Ancient Greeks, became a sport that both men and women enjoyed in the late 1800s.

It was seen as a social sport that both genders could take part in, with little equipment needed including not having to wear sporting attire to participate. It was seen as a way of socializing, in most cases a way to attract a partner. What a way to be your own cupid. Although finding a partner may not be associated with equality always, the sport allowed for participation which many other sports did not allow.

With participation came the demand for equipment and the bowyers and the manufacturers at the time reacted with gear specifically for women. Considering, these days in many sports it can be hard to find female-specific gear, it was very progressive for the time.

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Archery has a long history, and perhaps a history of equality. Credit: Pixabay.

The modern era of the 1900s saw women being able to take a more equal role in competition and the running of organizations. World Archery was the first international federation to have a female as president. With archery being one of the first sports to include a women’s event in the 1904 Olympics, in St Louis, US. With Matilde Howell, an American, taking the first female Olympic gold medal.

The first time archery appeared in first the modern Olympic competition was in 1900. John Stanley writes in the World Archery article:

‘Not all Olympic sports were as welcoming in that era, and some have theorised that archery was perceived as acceptable partly because women could compete while wearing a dress.’

With archery’s popularity was in Great Britain, it drew large crowds as a spectator sport with large prizes. The popularity also grew in the late 1800s in the US, as it was seen as a sport in which women who were not into vigorous sports could also enjoy.
It is interesting to have these early facts highlighted as in most sports representation can be mostly male, with female representation falling to the wayside. 

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