In 100 Meter Dash or Canoeing, there is no space to let all Participants run at once, hence there are numerous qualification rounds where 10 (or a little more) Participants run and try to get selected for the final round. This final round is not 1-on-1, rather it is all-at-once with all qualifying Participants. This makes sense, because each Participant has to run as fast as possible without competitive strategies or competitive tactics.
[[ If 100 Meter Dash were 1-on-1, it would take ages to complete ! ]]

Here, I have used and highlighted competitive, for lack of a better word; I am using it to mean that there are no reactionary or defensive actions in Racing.

In Boxing or Wrestling, it is 1-on-1 where each Pair has one winner who moves to the next round. This makes sense because the Participants fight with competitive strategies or competitive tactics. The final match is against the 2 Best Participants.
[[ If Boxing were all-at-once, the results would be random ! ]]

Here too, I have used and highlighted competitive, in the same sense; I am using it to mean that there are reactionary & defensive actions in Boxing & Wrestling.

In Olympic Shooting, according to the Schedule , there was one all-at-once qualification round with 50 Participants where 8 qualified for the all-at-once finals.
While Shooting is similar to Archery with some other weapon, there was no 1-on-1 format. There was some rationale to select all-at-once rather than 1-on-1 here.

In Archery, the participants have to hit the target to get Highest Points, without competitive strategies or competitive tactics. It is similar to 100 Meter Dash and not similar to Boxing. The Archery results would be the same if it were all-at-once (with qualification rounds, if required) and it would be completed faster. [[ faster in terms of total number of rounds & number of rounds to reach the finals ]]
In the Schedule [[ https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/archery/olympic-schedule-and-results.htm ]] we see that Archery is 1-on-1, taking too much time or rather too many rounds. Why is that ?
Here is an alternative : Why not let 8 teams Participate all-at-once in 2 qualification rounds ? The top 4+4 can move to the finals. In this way, there is the Possibility of having more teams Participate at the Olympics.
While Archery is similar to Shooting with some other weapon, there was no all-at-once format. I am looking for the rationale to select 1-on-1 rather than all-at-once here.

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    "taking too much time" <- how are you defining "too much time"?
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 21, 2021 at 7:27
  • If you don't think there is strategy or tactics involved in archery, you have not watched or tried it. This also means the question based on a misconception and cannot be answered.
    – Nij
    Aug 21, 2021 at 8:08
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    @Nij , I have intentionally highlighted "Competitive" because there is indeed strategy and tactic, but not "Competitive strategy" and "Competitive tactic". It is not like Boxing for example: "This opponent is strong with his right hand; I will avoid that side ... When he pretends to be falling, he is actually going to hit hard; I will be careful" ; In Archery there is no similar "Competitive" strategy or tactic eg "This opponent is good at hitting the bulls eye, so I will ..... what?" In Archery & Racing, the individual Accuracy & Speed matters. ....
    – Prem
    Aug 21, 2021 at 8:36
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    .... No one enters the racing track thinking "I will block this opponent and confuse that opponent and hence win the race" ; Rather the thinking will be more like "I have relaxed my muscles; I am going to concentrate and start as quickly as possible and then run as fast as possible while maintaining my stability" There is no reacting to opponents.
    – Prem
    Aug 21, 2021 at 8:38
  • 1
    @Prem Sure, it maybe could be done quicker. But you have failed to explain why that is better (with references, showing that archers would prefer it that way).
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 21, 2021 at 10:43

2 Answers 2


In Archery, the participants have to hit the target to get Highest Points, without competitive strategies or competitive tactics.

This is only true of the first round. In the first round, the archers shoot a set number of arrows (72) and are scored by where they hit the target (0-10). But no one is eliminated after the first round. After the first round, the archers compete one-on-one by shooting to see who can win three sets first. Sets in this context are like rounds within one match. Ties count as half. There might not be defense there, but there is competition.

One issue is that breaking up into sets encourages the archers to try their best in each set. Because it is winning three sets that matters. Someone can lose the first two sets by a lot, tie the third, and win the next three sets by one shot each and win the match. If it was simply the total score that mattered, archers who weren't doing well wouldn't have much reason to try in later shots. The sport would be less competitive.

Another issue is that those who make the rules feel that the stress of competition makes shooting more difficult. Example reference:

Shooting in a specific amount of time can be challenging for archers as they have to battle their nerves and stress from competition. The natural fear of competition can trigger the fight or flight response which makes it more challenging for archers to get a good shot.

Whether or not they are correct is another matter. But that's why they chose the format. Because they feel that it makes it harder.

Looking at the Men's Individual Olympic results, this changed who won. None of the top three after the first (ranking) round advanced to the semi-finals, so they didn't medal. The second and fourth scorers from the first round made it to the quarterfinals, but neither the first nor third did. The eventual winner defeated the second ranked archer in the quarterfinals and had been ranked tenth after the first round.

Under your system, all three of the medalists would have lost. Three different people would have won. So it wouldn't just have been faster. It would have produced different results.

If we switch to look at the Men's Team results, they finished the whole thing in one day.

I don't think that time was a significant limitation for them. If it was, they could have simply added more ranges. As it was, they finished all five competitions in only eight days (24th to 31st in July; out of seventeen for the Olympics). None of the three team competitions took more than a single day. They had time to support more competitors, at least twice what they actually had. Beyond that, they could have added more ranges. Just putting the men and women on separate ranges would have given them an extra day. Putting different brackets of the men's individual on separate ranges would have allowed them to pick up more.

  • +1 : Thanks for answering my question, instead of questioning my question !! This makes a lot of sense ; I am still Processing it. But one query, which is the core, is troubling me : In a nutshell, Why is Archery 1-on-1 while Shooting is all-at-once, given all the similarities ?
    – Prem
    Aug 22, 2021 at 5:53
  • I was Comparing Archery & Shooting in my earlier comments; I will update the question itself with this Point.
    – Prem
    Aug 22, 2021 at 5:57
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    I'm not sure that there's more to it than different people have different opinions of what makes for the best competition. Some other issues: there are more shooting events (multiple types of firearm, stances, and distances); shooting is newer as a sport but older at the Olympics; shooting is more dangerous; shooting is louder. And finally, shooting does get to one-on-one shooting at the end. It's the path to get there that is different.
    – mdfst13
    Aug 22, 2021 at 7:07
  • Yes, those might be some considerations too. Some more thoughts : Participants & types of events are more in Running & Shooting, hence use all-at-once and still get sufficient number of rounds to attract audience interest. Currently, Archery may have fewer Participants [[ citation needed ]] and all-at-once would be over too quickly and not enough to satisfy the audience. In future, when 100 Archery Participants turn up at the Olympics, there may be initial all-at-once rounds with 1-on-1 towards the end. [[ PS : I updated the question, while ensuring that it does not invalidate your answer ]]
    – Prem
    Aug 22, 2021 at 7:22

The answer, as with why they organize any sport in any fashion, is excitement, and history.

Archery was removed from the Olympic Games for several decades, due to lack of consistency in the rules1. In the 1930s, several countries joined together to create the first governing body of competitive Archery - then called FITA, now the World Archery Federation. Archery did not return to the olympics until 1972 (Munich).

They changed the format in 1992 to the "Olympic Round", which was introduced in 1992 to make the sport more watchable:

For Olympic medal competitions in archery, the Archery Olympic Round is currently used. This was introduced to make the sport more watchable as a competitive event, and was developed by World Archery.

As to why they didn't do that with shooting - apparently they didn't think they needed to. More importantly, though, shooting has been part of nearly every olympics since 1896, only missing two, 1904 and 1928, and has had a world federation for nearly the entire time (since 1907).

  • +1 : Thanks for hunting the history to answer my question ! I think this is quite near the truth ! In my earlier comment to the other answer, I had guessed something similar : "....all-at-once would be over too quickly and not enough to satisfy the audience" , the audience being those who want it to be "more watchable". Once the re-introduced Archery stabilizes and gains more Participants and more watchers, maybe years later, there will be all-at-once events in the finals.
    – Prem
    Aug 24, 2021 at 6:53

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