A brief overview of Archery in Holland


Early beginnings

In the course of the 13th century, several larger and smaller towns gained more autonomy from their rulers. With this came privileges like the privilege to maintain a group of armed men to defend the town. These groups of men formed the so-called guilds.
Able bodied men were obliged to serve in the guilds, like the military service some countries still have to this day. Usually, the richer families of the town held the higher ranks and benefited from the privileges associated with this.

Originally, the used weapons were the bow and arrow, but with the upcome of firearms, the bow became obsolete as a weapon of war.
Gradually, the activities changed from warfare to sports and socializing. The best known tradition started then: 'shooting for King' (Koningsschieten)

Shooting for King

Once a year, usually in spring, a club championship is held. A competition, with usually elaborate rules, is held. The winner is awarded the honorary title of "King of Archers" of the club and has to defend this title the next year. The person who wins this title three consecutive years, is awarded the title "Emperor of Archers". This does not happen very often and can be very frustrating for the ruling Emperor, as he is usually not allowed to take part in the King's shoot. When a second archer is entitled to the title of Emperor, this sometimes causes confusion, as there are clubs that do not have set rules for succession of the Emperor.

The first competiotion form that was used for this type of shoot was to shoot at a wooden bird (parrot, popinjay dutch: papegaai, gaai) placed on top of a wooden pole. This pole was usually erected on a market place. The first one to shoot the bird from the pole would become King of Archers.
The King's Shoot used to be quite an event in the villages were it was held and was one of the social events of the year.
In later years, this form of competition was replaced with the more conventional paper target and point scoring system, although a high degree of tradition was,and still is, maintained.

Shooting Forms


From these traditions came the traditional competition form of shooting 25 arrows at 25 metres, one arrow at the time. This form of archery is still practiced in the south of Holland. In the northern parts, where the archery traditions are not that strong, the modern FITA rounds are more popular. This caused some problems in the past and even to this day there are disputes between "north" and "south".

The archery season is divided in an indoor and an outdoor season. The indoor season consists mainly of a 25/18 metre indoor winter league, shooting either one arrow (usually if you are from the south) or three arrows (usually if you are from the north) at the time. There is no rule determinig that certain parts of the country should shoot in a particular way, everybody is free to choose. The differences that exist now are purely because of historical reasons.
Besides this league, there are also separate record status indoor FITA's.

The outdoor season has, of course, the outdoor FITA Star competitions and starts at the end of April and finishes somewhere in September. Usually, there is a FITA Star every weekend. Holland being a small country, this means that it is possible for a dedicated archer to shoot a FITA Star every weekend (and some do!).
Besides this, several local rounds are held with various distances and degree of seriousness.
Field Archery is also practiced and with a longer season. Lately, 3D-archery is also gaining popularity.
Hunting is not allowed, mind you, there are not that many places to hunt anyway, the country is just too small and too crowded.

Used Bows

Most archers shoot recurve, olympic style. Since the compound was accepted by FITA, their numbers are also increasing. The latest bow to gain more interest is the longbow. Recently, a chapter of the British Longbow Society, called 'Brother Tuck', was founded.

Organisation and achievements

The "Nederlandse Handboog Bond", short NHB, Dutch Archery Association, had 7155 registered members in 1994. The total population of Holland is 15 million, so archery is definitely a minority sport over here.

The achievements of Dutch archers are modest. It appears that there has been a Dutch archery world champion in the 1930's, and that a Dutch team won a medal in the early Olympics, but I'm not sure.
After this, Holland did not produce top archers until Tiny Reniers in the eighties (5th at the 1988 Olympics) and, more recently, the latest generation of Dutch archers, of whom the late Erwin Verstegen was the most successful until now, shooting the world indoor 25 metres record and winning the European Championships in Athens, 1989. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident in the spring of 1995, while on his way to the Dutch indoor championships.

Freddy van Zutphen was the latest succesful Dutch archer, winning a bronze medal at the Birmingham Indoor World Championships.

Very recently, in Norway, Twan Cleven became European champion Barebow and the Dutch Field team won first prize.

Other top recurve archers are: Henk Vogels (Dutch Oudoor Champion), Ger Koonings, Berny Camps, Christel Verstegen and Ludmilla Arzhanikova.
Top compound archers are Ton van Gorp (former outdoor FITA world record holder), Guido van den Bosch and Marion Pigney. Rumour goes that Freddy van Zutphen is also going to switch to compound next season after shooting a 1300+ FITA with a compound.

Dutch olympic team

The Dutch (olympic recurve) team consists of 8 men and 6 women. Every year, a number of competitions are assigned for qualification.
Usually, archers who took part in an Olympic, European or World Championship are automatically selected for next year's team. The remaining team members are those who achieved the highest scores at the qualifying competitions.

The current recurve team consists of the following archers:

Henk Vogels
Ludmila Arjanikova
Tiny Reiniers
Sjan van Djjk
Freddy van Zutphen
Tessa Paap
Ger Koonings
Christel Verstegen
Berny Camps
Mariet van Dorst
Marcel van Apeldoorn
Marion Camps-van Dorst
Perry van Dorst
Marcel van Sleeuwen
Coach: Rainier Groenendijk

Final remark

The previous is a brief overview of archery in Holland, largely from as how I experience it. Anyway, I hope it gives you an idea of how archery is practiced in Holland.

If you still have questions, please feel free to mail me at j.m.muller@student.utwente.nl.

Marcelo Müller.

Een noot voor de Nederlandse schutters op het Net:
Mocht je vinden dat er verder nog wat bij dit stuk kan, laat mij dat alsjeblieft weten. Ook als iets niet klopt hoor ik dat graag.

HomeArchery in Holland