Story: Archery, fencing, shooting and military re-enactment

Sports derived from military practices include archery, fencing and shooting. Since the 1990s groups have formed to re-enact historical battles.

Story by Megan Cook
Main image: Schools archery competition, Auckland, 2005

Story Summary

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Archery

In archery a bow is used to fire an arrow at a target.

  • Target archery involves shooting at a fixed target on an archery ground.
  • Indoor archery is target archery done inside.
  • Field archers move through an outdoor course, shooting at various targets.
  • Clout shooting uses a post or flag marker, with a target laid out around it.

The first archery clubs in New Zealand were set up in the 1870s. National championships have been run since 1944.

Jim Burton won 11 world titles in the 1940s and 1950s. Neroli Fairhall won a gold medal in the 1982 Commonwealth Games, and in 1984 was the first paraplegic athlete to compete in the Olympics.

Fencing

Fencing is fighting with swords. Three types of sword are used: the épée, foil and sabre. Fencing is dangerous, and competitors wear protective gear. Scoring is done electronically, when a sword touches the opponent’s body.

Fencing was part of military drill in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In New Zealand it became a sport in the early 20th century. New Zealanders have won medals at the Commonwealth or Empire Games.

Shooting

Gun clubs had been set up in New Zealand by the 1860s, and a national association by 1899. Pistols were used for target shooting from 1962. Internationally successful target shooters include Greg Yelavich, Ian Ballinger and Natalie Curtis.

New Zealand's oldest sporting competition is a full-bore target-shooting championship set up by the government in 1861. It was won several times by brothers Arthur and William Ballinger. Three-time winner Arthur could have kept the trophy – a black leather belt and silver cartridge pouch – but donated it for ongoing competition. It was renamed the Ballinger Belt.

Military re-enactment

Military re-enactment groups were set up in the 1990s to re-enact or perform battles. Some are concerned with historical accuracy, while others focus on weapon use and costumes. Some hold feasts, dance and perform arts from the era they are interested in.

An annual joust (fight between competitors on horseback, using lances) is held in the Wellington region, attracting people from across the country and overseas.

How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Archery, fencing, shooting and military re-enactment', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/archery-fencing-shooting-and-military-re-enactment (accessed 19 June 2018)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 27 Jan 2015